Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters began by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

From January 2021 through June of 2023, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters collaborated on a project to provide information on prominent Black and Indigenous Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

In May of 2022, Kevin D. Hofmann was named the founding Director of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion for the Congregation. With the goal of normalizing conversations about race and culture and discussing what it means to feel included and excluded, Kevin began contributing to this blog in June of 2022. He shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit and educates on topics of equity and inclusion.

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Black Catholic Project: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa kinara with colored candled lit and harvest produce

Black Catholic Project: Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is a time for families and communities to come together to remember the past and to celebrate African American culture. Created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan African holiday that incorporates history, values, family, community, and culture. The ideas and concepts of Kwanzaa are expressed in the Swahili language, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A Brief History of Kwanzaa

Ron Karenga, an active participant in the Black Power Movement in the 1960s, conceived Kwanzaa in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Oakland, California. He described Kwanzaa as a way for African Americans to celebrate themselves and their history. By the end of the 1970s Kwanzaa began to move into mainstream America with the publication of an article in Essence Magazine in 1979, followed by articles in Jet and Ebony Magazines in 1983. The Smithsonian Museum hosted its first Kwanzaa celebration in 1988 while some school systems, including the Catholic School system in Chicago, began to develop curriculums to teach students about Kwanzaa.

In the 1990s Kwanzaa became more widespread especially when, in 1997, President Bill Clinton gave the first declaration marking the holiday. The United States Post Office issued the first Kwanzaa stamp in 1997 and a second stamp was issued in 2004. Although Kwanzaa is primarily an African American holiday, it is also celebrated outside the United States, especially in Caribbean countries. Kwanzaa is not a religion, but was conceived as a nonpolitical and non-religious holiday and it is not a substitute for Christmas.

The Seven Core Principles or Naguzo Saba

Dr. Karenga created seven guiding principles to be discussed during the week of Kwanzaa. The seven principles represent seven values of African culture that help build and reinforce community among African Americans. Each day a different principle is discussed, and each day a candle is lit on the kinara (candleholder). On the first night, the center black candle is lit, and the principle of umoja, or unity, is discussed. On the final day of Kwanzaa, families enjoy an African feast, called karamu.

The seven principles are:

  1. Umoja: Unity – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia: Self-Determination – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility – To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics – To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia: Purpose – To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba: Creativity – To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani: Faith – To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

 

Resources

World’s Largest Kwanzaa Kinara to be in Downtown Detroit during celebration by ClickOnDetroit Local 4 News. The Kwanzaa Kinara is set to be unveiled during the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting at Campus Martius on December 26, 2022.

What is Kwanzaa and How is It Celebrated? - Video by Inside Edition

A Brief History of the Kwanzaa Holiday and Six Amazing Facts - Video by Matter of Factx

Christianity and Kwanzaa by Professor Adam Clark, December 30, 2011 on KineticsLive.com

Official Kwanzaa Website

 

Reflection Question

Have you ever had the opportunity to experience a Kwanzaa celebration? What did you find most meaningful?

Kwanzaa is rich in ritual, symbols, and values embraced by the African American community. As you reflect on this (if you identify as white), what can you and your community learn from our African American brothers and sisters?


Prayer

A Prayer for Kwanzaa by Rev. Addae Ama Kraba
Used with permission

O come all you faithful, rejoicing and victorious.

Come, let us embrace the mystery in the spirit of life, as we celebrate the goodness of Kwanzaa and the the African American heritage.

Come and give thanks for companions on the journey in the struggle for freedom and justice.

Our roots in the soil and soul of Mother Africa reach far and wide.

Creator of all, lead us to be true to our nature with respect and dignity for life, from conception to its natural end at death.

Bless and keep us in solidarity one to another.

Ache.

 

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