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#EmbracingKwanzaa Day 2: Kugichagulia

Self Determination.

#EmbracingKwanzaa is an original series by Grits & Gospel and exclusively distributed through Blavity that is dedicated to putting a spotlight the importance of Kwanzaa's seven principles and how embracing them can better lead to our collective progress.

“Stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

Why does everyone hate Lavar Ball? At his core, he is a black man in America who has defined success for himself. By ultimately taking control of his own life, he hasn’t allowed himself to be deterred from his goals. No matter how anyone feels about it, he is creating and speaking for himself (and his family), unapologetically. As a respectful person, you can’t be mad at that.

To whatever extent we can, we also have to take control of our circumstances. We can only control so much of what goes on around us, so why waste energy focusing on the negative? Our energy is better served actually making strides towards the positive things we can change. That can be as small, or personal, as working out or dieting, or as large as establishing your own basketball league for high school players, and disrupting the way the NCAA exploits college athletes.

Kugichagulia can be broadly applied in terms of black people as a collective unit. Let Fox News tell it, and we're somehow more inherently violent or dangerous than other races. And if you took a quick look at hip-hop without proper context, you could possibly think along similar lines. But we all know that’s only one, uninformed side of the story. At the end of the day, nobody’s opinion matters but our own, and no one can dictate our purpose or direction other than ourselves.

If you don’t define yourself, someone else will for you. People can love it or hate it, but here we are celebrating our own holiday, and in the process, we are evolving our sense of identity both at the individual level and as a collective! Self-determination can be defined as the process by which someone controls their own life. Feel how you want about Lavar, but I believe there is something to be taken from the way he continues to rumble along, disrupting the way America knows and experiences the basketball world, and beyond.

Along those same lines, so much can be said about the way black people have continuously risen in the face of adversity. No matter how anyone feels about us or our culture, we should feel proud about our resilience, our innovations and the fact that so much of the world is intrigued by it. They can be fascinated all they want, but our ultimate direction is determined by nobody but ourselves — no matter what external factors may come into play.

When we take pride in our own identity, we strive for Kugichagulia.

Next up, Ujima.

Missed a day? We got you!

#EmbracingKwazaa: Series Intro

Day 1: Umoja

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Inspired junk science from a group of friends whom occasionally have a lot to say.