Social Policy

Recognizing Ujima, Celebrating Kwanzaa at Kuzzo’s

Ujima means Collective Work and Responsibility

In thinking about Unity and Self-Determination an important aspect in order for both of these to function are collective work and responsibility. Collective work and responsibility spread the burden of obligation over multiple parties instead of them all falling onto an individual. Ujima is popularly described as, “To build and maintain our community together and to make our Brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together.”As noted in yesterday’s article, on Kujichagulia or Self- Determination, being in Michigan for the holiday brings me back to the city i continually drive past, Flint. The Flint Water Crisis is our collective responsibility and it’s solution requires collective work from the community nationwide. If every Black person in the United States made it apart of their responsibility to solve the water situation in Flint then it would be done. As a whole, we have more than enough resources to provide a solution to any portion of our communtiy in need.

On the third day, the lighting of candles starts once again with the black candle following with the farthest left red one and then the utmost right green one. After gathering together to light the candles, the family members discuss the meaning of the 3rd principle, Ujima, and share Unity cup. The candles are then extinguished. As a part of my collective work and responsibility I’ve embraced Kwanzaa and celebrated this year like no other, dedicating myself to spending word about the little known holiday in our communtiy and sharing my thoughts on each principal every day while supporting Black owned business and encouraging others to do so.

We should as a community should see poverty, hardship, ineffective schooling and health crises in our community as our collective responsibility to resolve. Part of the solution to these issues is rising the average amount of time that the black dollar is spent in our community, I’ve focused on doing this by supporting as many Black businesses as possible this holiday season. The Black owned business I supported today was another restaurant, Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles. When I walked in i initially noticed that the space is decorated nicely with sleek wooden tables and red with black walls that add a brightness to the eatery that make the original artwork and chalkboard menus stand out. In the restaurant I was pleased to see that there were other Black owned businesses in collaboration on display like the beautiful artwork sold by Diseree Kelly for sale that decorated the walls. The restaurant was filled with beautiful Black families, it warmed my heart to see parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins and dates all together enjoying the food. Fortunately as soon as we walked in my date and I were able to get a booth immediately, but by the time we were finished eating we were just about pushed out by the waitress as there were many people waiting for seating.

The menu, like at yesterday evening’s River Bistro, is cleverly organized with dishes that sound more like Grandma’s nicknames for her family favorites. This beautifully ties together the theme of friends and family, the restaurant has the definition of Kuzzo posted on the wall by the bar and on the back of the menu: pronounced: cuz-oh, a term of endearment for one who is a friend or family member; someone who has a cousin-like relationship with another person, regardless of blood-relation. The restaurant gave you that family reunion feel, surrounded by good food and long time no see cousins. I order Tender Love, a dish with 3 chicken tenders and a soft buttery waffle. My date had Connie’s Fish and Grits. Their beautiful kool-aids were tempting, but we both opted for hot chocolate during this cold winter season. The warm creamy drink was a comforting compliment to both our plates of comfort food.
The largest lesson we can learn from focusing on ujima is that we have the collective power to fix any of our collective problems. Our collective problems are made up of all of our individual problems: from financial burdens like the inability to pay bills to social, educational and health issues that stifle our growth as a community. Blacks in America on a worldwide scale are not as impoverished as we may think, around the world there is real poverty that many of us don’t experience like in third world countries where a lack of electricity, sewage or running water are the norm. We are wealthier than we can understand from our limited perspective in this country, but when we come together and work collectively only then can we understand the power of our collective work in order to responsible address the many issues our community faces.
Check out Kuzzo’s full menu and visit them online here:
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About Amani Sawari

I am a University of Washington alum, Class of 2016. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in two majors: Media and Communications AND Law, Economics and Public Policy. It's a mouthful but it illustrates how I have a hard time doing only one 'thing'. I am a writer, poet, singer, songwriter and much more. I enjoy sharing my experiences and perspectives with those who are interested and I am a proud member of the black diaspora!
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