The Parent’s Notebook

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By Aminisha Black

Post-Kwanzaa Ujima
Nine days before Kwanzaa as I was picking up my grandsons from their school bus stop, a conflict between some young males escalated with two of them standing on the corner of Washington Avenue and Fulton Street shooting towards a group of fleeing youth. Unsure of what would follow, I boarded the bus to prevent my five- and six -year -olds from coming onto the street.   Asking if we could ride to the next stop, the driver informed me that adults weren’t allowed to ride the bus.  Following the maternal instinct to protect her young, I kept the boys on the bus, holding the bus hostage until the melee cleared.
My role as protector of my offspring was seriously challenged to say the least.  Although a mother waiting for her son with a toddler in the stroller was caught in the same predicament, I felt totally alone.  Interestingly enough, the thought of calling the police did not enter my mind.  Although these young men were endangering the lives of my grandchildren and other innocent people, I didn’t want to put them or us at greater risk.  After all, they too, were my children.
Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the importance of putting the principles of Kwanzaa into our daily practice became crystal clear once more.  We must be about the business of creating a community where children can walk or ride school buses home safely; where shootings at 4 pm or any other hour is not met with acquiescence; where residents understand that police cannot solve problems that call for Ujima (collective work and responsibility), a commitment to active and informed togetherness on matters of common interest.  Put another way, instead of feuding with folk whose positions or beliefs differ from mine, I look for the common interests.  No one wants to be shot down and all parents want their children to be safe.  Ujima requires a commitment to take responsibility for our failures as well as our achievements.  Maulana Karenga says, “Such a commitment implies and encourages a vigorous capacity for self-criticism and self-correction which is indispensable to our strength, defense and development as a people.” Needless to say, Kwanzaa celebrations held from December 26th – January 1st revive and rejuvenate our African spirits, the practice must begin or resume January 2nd  to create a community that nurtures all its young.  It’s good to remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
The Magnolia Tree Earth Center, carrying out its founder’s vision of protecting natural resources, will host the seminar, Home Works! Unleashing our Children’s  Potential beginning Saturday, January 27th.  It is designed for parents who want to nurture responsible, confident, capable and courageous youngsters who excel in school and in life. The seminar is grounded in the 4 Rs – Responsibility, Relationship, Resources and Results. Parent and child teams will select a change project to implement in their family and share the results at the commencement event. Graduates of the seminar will be eligible to attend Ujima Circles where problems will be turned into projects and collectively solved on an ongoing basis. With the experience of solving family problems, Ujima Circles will use problem skills outside their homes.
For those of you who know in your heart of hearts that our children are being short- changed and are willing to do some deep soul-searching and healing in order to free yourself in order to free the children, I invite you to attend. 
Consulting with Stephanie Alston-Nero, author of Kiss Me on My Face of God, a book of poetry honoring the ancestors, I recognize a need for us as a people to confront and redeem the sacrifice made by our enslaved ancestors.   It’s really not about competing for equality in a values-rupt culture, it’s about unleashing the potential of our children so that we, through them, return our community to its traditional greatness.
For more information or to register for Home Works! Call 718-783-4432 or E-mail: parentsnotebook@yahoo.com.  Registration ends January 17th  and space is limited to 20 parents.
For information about Kiss Me on My Face of God and the Ancestral Workshop call Stephanie Alston-Nero at 212-234-1369.   
The transformation of a nation begins in the homes of its people.