Youth & Family

Prep for the New Year through a Kwanzaa Process

By December 27, 2020 December 30th, 2020 No Comments

Seeking an ethical process to prepare resolutions for the New Year?

Try Kwanzaa.

Through the vision of intergenerational ETHICAL EDUCATION, Kwanzaa is exciting, important and relevant.  I (Audrey Kindred) write this as an ethical educator (currently leading Young Ethical Explorers at NYSEC) to recommend and guide a Kwanzaa contemplation for human beings of every age and demographic, committed to the endeavor of cultivating an ever more ethical culture on Earth. Kwanzaa provides a bridge of thoughtfulness between the past year and the one ahead by offering a framework for personal and communal development.  Workshopping ethics through a Kwanzaa process fits nicely into the Ethical Culture value of embracing an inter-faith, inter-racial, cross-cultural, global community.

Kwanzaa is a relatively modern holiday, created in a society wounded by racism, to offer a healing African-American vision that affirms age-old African values for modern American times.  As a self-proclaimed “invented” holiday,  it gives license to invention itself — modeling how to thoughtfully invent ritual for strengthening our deepest values.  

As ethically-driven America works diligently with anti-bias rigor toward a more harmonious society, MAY WE humans of ALL demographics honor — not colonize, but thoughtfully contemplate — the values of Kwanzaa as an African American offering toward our humane development.  While the Kwanzaa structure was synthesized by visionary Maulana Karega, and has been practiced primarily through a self-selected minority of Black Americans to this date, the work outlined by Kwanzaa is a mindful project to be handled with caring respect. Timed to culminate on New Years Day, it offers a constructive, non-commercial and celebratory process by which one can organize New Years’ contemplations and resolutions.

Workshop with YEE: young ethical explorers. Kinara: the seven candles of Kwanzaa

WHY Kwanzaa? 

  • First of all: honoring Kwanzaa connects us ALL to our root, the cradle of ALL civilization, the root of ALL humanity — the African continent. 
  • Second: honoring Kwanzaa affirms that Black lives matter TO ALL life, to all of our lives. 
  • Third: Kwanzaa itself organizes values through which each person can contribute thoughtfully to a more just, fair, mindful and joyful world. 

As we enter 2021 and welcome new American leadership in the Oval Office, Vice-President-Elect, Kamala Harris, offers us her Kwanzaa greeting, in celebration of her own African American tradition.

Below, I offer a template for readers to journey through the seven Kwanzaa principles.  You may enjoy workshopping them (on your own or collectively), by implementing the ideas that you find compelling, and by adding your own ideas to this framework. The traditional celebrations culminate in the arrival of the new year — so, you can do it on Kwanzaa-timing, culminating on New Year’s Day, or consolidate or stretch the process out as you choose — since, as ethical values, the relevance of these concepts persists, always. Traditionally in Kwanzaa, each of the seven principles is celebrated with a candle (of the color marked on the chart below).  The concepts are traditionally expressed in the Pan-African language of Swahili (listed on the right side of the chart below). Each section of the chart below ends with two things: An anti-bias offering in gold ink, honoring the African American origin of Kwanzaa; and an Ethical Culture vision in blue print, honoring the source and context of this article.

Kwanzaa is an exquisite recipe of deep ethical quests — so let’s start cooking!

So as not to get overwhelmed, we’ll start with the first few of the seven quests.  Get started if you didn’t start already with the official first day of Kwanzaa, (Dec. 26th)… and keep coming back for more. All seven missions will be posted soon. 

First Kwanzaa Quest: Unity

Second Kwanzaa Quest: Self Determination


Third Kwanzaa Quest: Collective Work & Responsibility

Fourth Kwanzaa Quest: Cooperative Economy


Fifth Kwanzaa Quest: PURPOSE

Sixth Kwanzaa Quest: Creativity

Seventh Kwanzaa Quest: FAITH

Audrey Kindred

Audrey Kindred

Audrey Kindred leads programming for youth and families at Ethical NYC

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