A recap of the seven-part series about why Kwanzaa can help white allies reflect on their work

Over the past week, I have written a series of articles designed to encourage white anti-racism allies to use the concepts from Kwanzaa to reflect on their allyship. The premise of the series was that the Kwanzaa framework, while created to help people from the African diaspora connect with important and nourishing concepts from African culture, is so sufficiently grounded in universal principles that anyone committed to community building and social change might benefit from reflecting with this conceptual tools.

I thought that the Kwanzaa framework would be useful because it does a great job of directing attention to oneself…

The final day of Kwanzaa encourages you to reconnect with you deep motivations and beliefs.

The theme of Day 7 of Kwanzaa is Imani, which roughly translates to “faith.” This issue is most relevant to two of the issues that allies need to consistently reflect upon — how to sustain your own lifelong allyship journey and your ability to be persuasive to racism skeptics. (The other key issues are: your support of communities of color and your work to grow the anti-racism ally community).

In the literature on Kwanzaa, Imani is purposely framed as the capstone to the week of celebration and reflection. The focus of the day is to remind us of the importance…

Creatively Working on the World Means Working on Yourself

Day 6 of Kwanzaa focuses on Kuumba, which roughly translates to “creativity,” but means much more than how Westerners use that term. One of the descriptions of Kuumba on the official Kwanzaa website points to the idea of using creativity in service of creating societal betterment: “As a moral and social vanguard, we must see ourselves in our ultimate agency, as injured physicians, who will heal, repair, renew and remake ourselves in the process and practice of repairing, renewing, and remaking the world.”

Allies would be well served by examining how this multi-layered concept applies to their anti-racism endeavors, especially…

To better serve others, sometimes it’s good to take a hard unblinking look at yourself.

Day 5 of Kwanza focuses on the concept of “Nia” which linguistically translates roughly to “purpose” but conceptually has many layers. One description of Nia is “the collective vocation of constantly building and developing the capacity of our people to bee ourselves and free ourselves to pursue an expansive good and come into the fullness of ourselves.” The concept provides a useful focus for anyone — including white allies — who are reflecting on their developmental journey. …

The anti-racism movement can benefit from allies being both more generous and more financially strategic.

The themes of Kwanzaa can be readily applied to the four issues that allies should consistently reflect upon, which concern: 1) your personal journey toward more energetic allyship, 2) your degree of support for people of color, 3) your capacity to effectively influence racism skeptics, and 4) your ability to positively affect the anti-racism ally movement. The theme of Day 4, “Ujamaa,” concerns issues #2 and #4 above.

The typical definition of ujamaa is “cooperative economics;” when I reviewed commentary about what this meant from the creator of Kwanza as well as others, two related but somewhat distinct meanings emerged…

Expanding Others’ Concept of Allyship Can Be Done in a Way that Helps You Too

Although created to specifically resonate with the people from the African diaspora, Kwanzaa is a time of reflection during the interregnum between Christmas and New Year’s Day that can have value for any social change agent. This includes anti-racism allies.

As mentioned in the previous articles in this series (Day 1 and Day 2), white allies need to think seriously about four important domains of allyship: 1) sustaining their own journey as anti-racists, 2) supporting people of color, 3) converting racism skeptics to new thinking, and 4) growing the ally community. It is this last domain, working to expand the…

Committing to smartly directing financial resources is an important but under-discussed aspect of allyship.

Though Kwanzaa is talked about as a time of celebration and reflection for people from the African Diaspora, the fact that it is grounded in universal principles means that it provides a good framework for anyone doing some year-end reflection, especially for those concerned with social change. In this year of some degree of racial reckoning, anti-racism allies would be well served by using the themes of Kwanzaa as prompts to think about one or more of four key questions that aspiring anti-racism allies need to keep in mind.

How are my thoughts and actions helping me:

1. sustain my…

Reflecting on some key questions puts you at no risk of cultural appropriation, and may boost your allyship in the new year.

photo by Lucas Thors

The holiday Kwanzaa, a multi-day event lasting from Christmas to New Years — was created to encourage to foster celebration, reflection and recommitment to the causes of equity and spiritual renewal among people from the African diaspora. The core principles of Kwanzaa, commonly expressed in Swahili and usually talked about with respect to black people, have actually been designed to have universal application to any person or group concerned with making the world a better place.

At the end of a tumultuous year in race relations, anti-racism allies could benefit from some additional reflection on how…

A five-step process for persuading white friends and family with compassion, not contempt.

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

Calling people racist won’t change hearts and minds, but conversations about racism can. If you want to make a difference, persuade your white peers with respectful dialogue. Here’s how.

As a black racial dialogue specialist, I pay a lot of attention to how white people talk with each other about race and racism. From what I see on social media, a lot of white progressives— folks who are doing a great job marching with my brothers and sisters of color — are having some really bad conversations with their more conservative white friends and family. Not only are these dialogues unpersuasive, but they are making it harder for the white community to get past racism denial.

The current moment is a tremendous opportunity for shifting how white folks see…

Top 10 reasons why your demands are getting the side-eye

Official White House Photo (Public Domain)

Let’s get one thing straight. Hating on Biden for being less woke than you doesn’t help black people. Electing Biden president will.

On Twitter today, I’ve seen lots of white folks calling on Biden to drop out of the presidential contest because of his most recent racial gaffe. For those who missed it, here’s a clip and coverage from the Washington Post:

Certainly, Biden’s cringe-worthy attempt at banter was not his finest hour. But by the way that some folks in the Twittersphere have been trashing him, you would have thought that Biden was the Joe that called a black baby the N-word and slapped him on the plane. Here’s just a small sample of the vitriol being tossed Joe’s way:

Dr. David Campt

dialogue maven, civic engagement enthusiast, race relations expert, caregiver to elderly parents

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