Great Ujamaa in this week of Ujima:
These are two beautiful principles especially when they come together like today. we are forced to look at them and then take a hard look at ourselves, and think about whether we are exercising them. Ujima (which is the week that we are in) speaks to us about collective work and responsibility, but also in our system it represents the powerful and necessary principle of respect. Without respect nothing moves. Respect is like oil; it allows different parts to run smoothly together, and it reduces friction. Today's Principle is Ujamaa which talks to us about cooperation and resources, but it also represents the principle of gratitude, and reciprocity in our tribe. When we take the time and put these two principles together we get an unbeatable combination. A combination sorely needed in our communities.
"Ujima reminds us of collective work and responsibility; but also respect, without it nothing moves."
Today, I want to take a look at the concept of respecting the cycle of reciprocity. Those who have been tuning in know that I speak often about the importance of reciprocity especially when it comes to the idea of economics. Reciprocity is a natural cycle that I believe if we plug into it we will change the world. Reciprocity requires all of us to put in and to take out. What we have now is a few putting in and many taking out. Now I just don’t want to talk about money. I am talking about all of the resources that we have. We have many people taking advantage of the cycle and it affects all of us. I believe that our growth is being stunted by those who have no respect or belief in reciprocity. We can see the effects on a large scale. Now I will be the first to point to the fact that there are many pockets of tribes, villages, and communities around the country and the world of Black folks doing and respecting the process, but unfortunately it has not reached a critical mass. So at this moment many of us are stuck in Limbo.
"Plug into the natural cycle of giving and receiving"
The challenge for many of us is to get out and begin to teach about the process, and in some cases enforce the process. We need to follow the idea of respect that we spoke about earlier this week when discussing "Respect Our Umoja". We need to teach our people to take a second look at reciprocity and begin to exercise this principle. By showing this principle respect we allow for the process to happen for us rather than happen to us. We have been on the bad side of reciprocity I believe because we are practicing an open system. What I mean by this is that we allow anyone in and we allow anyone to do anything. We allow others to take out of our community, but never bring anything of true value in. Because we operate like this we are being hollowed out. When we close our system, we allow for a flow to move through our community.
"The challenge for many of us is to get out and begin to teach about the process, and in some cases enforce the process"
Talking about money alone is part of the problem. Our community is wealthy with resources that others depend on to make their living. Just like there are five parts of being there are many parts to our resources. I won't go into that because that is not my focus. We have been educated against ourselves and as time goes on it becomes more apparent.
"Talking about money alone is part of the problem"
What are some of the things we can do to begin to respect the cycle of reciprocity? I believe one of the things we need to kill is the whole idea of volunteerism. We are out doing things in our community like we are monetarily straight. We need to stop asking people to volunteer and in some way compensate everyone for the things that they do. it doesn't have to be money. We can exchange skills, books, clothes, etc... but the cycle of reciprocity depends on an exchange, let me restate that a respectful exchange should take place. This will be the beginning of a cycle in our community that will eventually be able to support a few people.
"We have been educated against ourselves"
I also believe that each tribe, village, community, club, etc.. that is in our community and working for our community need to have someone working for them. Someone that can be responsible to that community and speak up for it. They can also handle some of the logistics that every Black group needs. They can keep the archives for the community and represent the community at political events. They should also have time to go to some of those meetings downtown to look out for our people.
"Someone responsible to that community and speak up for it."
The last and final thing that we can do is to pick a product in our community that we pledge to buy from no one outside of our community or culture. This product has to be something that everyone in that community needs on a daily basis. This is called a staple, and the first thing that I considered for this because Black folk in North America have a serious ash problem. I suggest that we take over the sheabutter trade, and pledge to not buy shea butter or shea butter products from anyone outside of us. We have connections in Africa, we have ways of shipping etc..Now I'm just using shea butter as an example but it is a real possibility. No one should be taking money out of our communities that is not us dealing with our hair and skin. We need a staple that will jump off some real reciprocity in our communities.
"There are connections in Africa we can tap into"
As a matter of fact, share some of your ideas on how we can get reciprocity flowing in our communities, and also what ways can we get our folks to respect reciprocity once again.
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