Habari Gani? UMOJA!
Today, on the first day of Kwanzaa we celebrate Umoja or Unity which is about striving for and maintaining unity in the family, the community, the nation, and people. Today’s reflection comes from Executive Director, Trina Greene Brown.
For Trina, music is healing and connects her to her roots, her ancestors, and her power. It’s not just personal, science shows that when folks sing in unison not only do they create harmony, they also sync their breath and therefore their heartbeats. Singing together leads to taking deep inhales and exhales together, breathing together, all of which leads to our heartbeats beating together.
Medicine woman gina breedlove taught us that singing also taps us into our vagus nerve which helps us remain calm when we are stressed. Singing is powerful medicine ya’ll!
Today we invite you and your family to UNITE & SING! Uniting our voices in harmony as one can be a transformative and fun experience. Read the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice & Sing”, aka the Black National Anthem, (yes, the whole song!) and sing it aloud together. Learn more about the history of the song and its importance to Black freedom struggles.
Shana Redmond, professor and author of the book “Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora”, reflects on the importance of “Lift Every Voice & Sing”, “Black communities across the globe continue to be vulnerable in very unique and unsettling ways. To sing this song is to revive that past — but also to recognize, as the lyrics of the song reveal, that there is a hopeful future that might come of it.”
For today’s reflection on Umoja, reflect on the ways song and singing unites you and your family to your past. How can song be a through-line into the future? What is your family song? What lyrics would you include? What story does it tell?
Practice Umoja by creating your own song, add drums or anything around the house to perform that song and make music together. Give it a try and work on uniting your voices and breath to make something new and fun.
Check out our Kwanzaa Playlist here for Kwanzaa-inspired tunes for the week and stay tuned for more Kwanzaa Celebration!