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  • Writer's pictureNajah Amatullah

Unified Collective

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Each family gets to decide what they unify around. Many families choose religious or moral ideologies (“As for me and my house…” Biblical book of Joshua; Kindness over everything). Some choose fun ideologies (We look for adventure). But when I think of what we can unify around as a community and a nation, I hope that we haven’t been unifying as a race around principles that harm others. And I worry about what other communities would unify around. 

And then I remember intersectionality, and how our ancestors in the civil rights, women’s rights, and gay pride movements did so much of this work for us. Thankfully, they left us their books and articles and poems and video interviews. They said “no one is free until we are all free.”

So as I’m considering what I would unify around, what my family can connect with other families around - whether those families are Black, Indigenous, Latin, Caribbean, Asian, Middle Eastern, Pacific, European, or mixed - as a community, I wonder if we should unite behind the principle of collective freedom. Freedom, to me, includes equity, justice, inclusion, and belonging. Striving for freedom for each group separately does not harm but advances the collective goal.  

High functioning organizations are made up of efficient and focused teams. Marketing can’t neglect its PR campaign to look over Finance’s shoulder and make sure the math is mathing. HR must take care of onboarding and let Professional Development plan its own workshops. When everyone does their part, the job gets done. There’s more to say about getting the job done on days three and four. 

So even though I identify as Black first, woman second, and I don’t have a lot of allegiance to any nation-state, I want to be united to anyone who lives their lives striving for and maintaining unity around the principle of collective freedom. 

What does freedom mean to you?

How can you help promote others’ freedom?

What holidays do you celebrate?

Does your family have a mission statement?

(End of Post)

Notes below

This post is meant to speak to the first day of Kwanzaa, umoja, unity. But I wouldn't celebrate Kwanzaa if I didn't think the principles were applicable beyond this holiday.


The last couple of years there have been folx who are against the practice of Kwanzaa because of the person who originated it and the idea that it "culture vultured" Hanukkah. Especially, in winter 2023, I am sensitive to the problem that would arise if the Black community were stealing the Jewish community's holiday. My response to that is this: no one has a monopoly on candle lighting. Also, the principles of Kwanzaa are different. Most importantly, Hanukkah is religious holiday while Kwanzaa is not tied to any religion. You can be Jewish and celebrate both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. And of course there are a ton of Black people who practice Judaism.

While I intend for this writing to be evergreen, I am not blind and deaf to the struggles for freedom happening in Gaza and Africa, and all of the cities and communities who get less news coverage. I truly believe that there should be a free Palestine, because I believe that there should be “open” borders, and freedom for all humans. I believe in a “permanent” ceasefire, because I am anti-war as far as is possible. Politics is messy and hard and land ownership is a habit that will be hard to break. I just believe that as we free ourselves, our families, our communities, we can also free our nation-states. Oftentimes corrupt government officials are motivated by money. What can we do to ease the pain so many feel around money so that we can stop fighting over it? What if we stopped fighting over oil and assessed how much we all need to last us until we collectively create better renewable power and energy? 

I’m a political optimist. As James Baldwin is quoted saying, “I can't be a pessimist because I am alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I am forced to be an optimist. I am forced to believe that we can survive, whatever we must survive.”  Because we have the internet and because I’m a person of deep faith in powers we cannot see (more on that for day seven), I talk Uncle Baldwin’s statements even further. I’m forced to be an optimist who believes we can and must thrive, and that we need not thrive at anyone else’s expense.

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