Having a Happy Kwanzaa with My Little One: Umoja (Unity)

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Quinn Demonstrating Umoja by Becoming a Part of the Ceremonial Dance

Kwanzaa is a week long celebration which celebrates and honors African heritage in African American cultures, and it pleases me that this is the third year my two and a half year old has attended a Kwanzaa celebration. Though my daughter initially clung to my husband and me this evening, she was a shining example of Umoja the first day of Kwanzaa, which means unity.

Part of the evening involved gaining some historical knowledge about Kwanzaa along with different aspects of African heritage. One of the people offering insight also performed a ceremonial African dance with roots from Mali. My daughter was captivated by the woman’s movements, so when she extended her hand to Quinn, she surprisingly took it without hesitation, even with the huge crowd of onlookers. Perhaps she could feel her positive energy and knew she would not do her harm. Maybe she was just moved by the familial setting and togetherness of so many people.

The woman remarked on how brave Quinn was and how we can all learn from her. In knowing how shy my daughter can be, I was astonished at how she stepped out of her comfort zone to unite with someone she did not even know. My little one actually played a significant role in getting some of the adults out of their seats to actively participate in the celebration. Quinn reinforced the importance of how bravery is sometimes essential to establish unity among people. Sometimes extending a hand with a welcoming smile is enough to make a person want to unite. It worked for Quinn!

All the best,

Tanya H. Franklin

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