You know, my father the Howard history professor once met Dr. Maulana Karenga, father of Kwanzaa at a conference in the 1970s. This was way, way before you could buy Kwanzaa stamps and Kwanzaa-themed gift cards at Best Buy, y’all! He was so inspired that he came home all excited to celebrate this innovative new holiday that communicates values like creativity, purpose, unity and faith to counter-balance the materialism of Christmas. In fact, today is the last day of Kwanzaa and the day dedicated to Imani or Faith.

Anyway, my mother was like: “Well that sounds very interesting, but…do they give gifts?” At the time, Kwanzaa was not down with presents so that was mostly the end of that conversation. Hmm…Harambee!

That said, both my parents would sneak in a little Kwanzaa spirit each year and it’s a holiday that’s actually very compatible with Christmas and other winter celebrations IMHO.

Faith is mighty powerful and it’s through having faith that we overcome obstacles to creating a better world. Thanks for sharing that with us here at JJP and we look forward to more work together in 2011. We wish you and your loved ones all the best that true faith can provide in the New Year.

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite songs right now in a nod to Kwanzaa’s principle of Kujichagulia or Self-Determination. It’s K.O.S. from Blackstar. Video above, lyrics below. K.O.S. stands for Knowledge of Self. I hope that for all of us in the New Year.

Let’s get it-get it in 2011 y’all…

K.O.S. Determination Lyrics:

So many emcees focusin on black people extermination
We keep it balanced with that knowledge of self, determination
It’s hot, we be blowin the spots, with conversations
C’mon let’s smooth it out like soul sensation

We in the house like japanese in japan, or koreans in korea
Head to philly and free mumia with the kujichagulia true
Singin is swingin and writin is fightin, but what
They writin got us clashin like titans it’s not excitin
No question, bein a black man is demandin
The fire’s in my eyes and the flames need fannin

Yes yes come on, yes yes
Knowledge of self is like life after death
With that you never worry about your last breath
Death comes, that’s how i’m livin, it’s the next days
The flesh goes underground, the book of life, flip the page
Yo they askin me how old, we livin the same age
I feel the rage of a million niggaz locked inside a cage
At exactly which point do you start to realize
That life without knowledge is, death in disguise?
That’s why, knowledge of self is like life after death
Apply it, to your life, let destiny manifest
Different day, same confusion, we’re gonna take this
Hip-hop shit and keep it movin, shed a little light
Now y’all bloomin like a flower with the power of the evident
Voices and drums original instruments
In the flesh presently presentin my representation

With that what? (knowledge of self) determination

The most important time in history is, now, the present
So count your blessings cause time can’t define the essence
But you stressin over time and you follow the roman calendar
These people enter cona like gattaca, you can bet
They tryin to lock you down like attica, the african diaspora
Represents strength in numbers, a giant can’t slumber forever
I know you gotta get that cheddar whatever
Aiyyo i heard you twice the first time money, get it together
You must be history, you repeatin yourself out of the pages
You keepin yourself depletin your spiritual wealth
That quick cash’ll get your ass quick fast in houses of detention
Inner-city concentration camps where no one pays attention
Or mentions the ascension of death, til nothing’s left
The young, gifted and black are sprung addicted to crack
All my people where y’all at cause, y’all ain’t here
And your hero’s using your mind as a canvas to paint fear
With, broad brush strokes and tales of incarceration
You get out of jail with that knowledge of self determination
Stand in ovation, cause you put the hue in human
Cause and effect, effect everything you do
And that’s why i got love in the face of hate
Hands steady so the lines in the mental illustration is straight
The thought you had don’t even contemplate
Infinite like figure eight there’s no escape..

From that what? (knowledge of self) determination

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