Friday, September 16, 2011

The Black Community Needs To Live Up To The Nguzo Saba Principles

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica, of TransGriot

We transpeeps are your brothers and sisters as well and I hope that instead of hating, disrespecting and directing violence against us, you will do a much better job this year and from now on of incorporating African descended transpeople into our shared African descended family.    TransGriot   January 2, 2011

That's what I wrote the day after I finished a series of posts putting a trans spin on the 2010 Kwanzaa celebration and how each one of the Nguzo Saba principles were congruent with our chocolate trans lives.

And as a refresher before I start musing on that comment, here are the seven principles of Kwanzaa that are celebrated each night:  .


  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • 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.

It's now mid-September, and I have witnessed the opposite dynamic happening from when I wrote those optimistic words on January 2.

I have seen a disturbing spike in anti-trans violence and killings   We are several weeks away from another somber November 20 TDOR ceremony in which the list of names read will disproportionately have a non-POC flavor.  I angrily witnessed the NAACP, one of our legacy civil rights organizations hosting a trans free panel discussion on LG(bt) issues at their recently concluded convention in Los Angeles.  I have noted displays of transphobic ignorance in our African descended community aimed not only at transwomen but cis African American women as well.And yes, I occasionally wonder will I see in my lifetime African American transpeople not only having our human rights respected and protected, but being openly embraced and welcomed as full partners at the African American family table by our own people.

But at the same time I lament what is negatively happening, I see the unity building amongst African American trans people as we close ranks in order to become a stronger, more viable part of the overall African American community.  

I see Black transpeople defining ourselves, reclaiming our history and increasingly using whatever means we have at our disposal to speak for ourselves as trans African Americans

I see Black transpeople collectively working to take ownership of our problems and attempting to come up with viable solutions in order to solve them together.

I see Black transpeople trying to work on ways to address the crushing 26% unemployment rate that hampers our ability to support the efforts of African American businesses that welcome the money that we have available to spend. 

I see African descended transpeople diligently working on building our trans community so that we are in a better position to achieve the greatness waiting to be unleashed within us for the benefit of ourselves and the African American community at large.

I see African descended transpeople using their creativity and talents to make the chocolate trans community and the African descended one we are intimately a part of better than when we encountered it.

And despite my faith being severely tested at times this year, I still have an unwavering belief in my heart and soul that our human rights struggle as African descended transpeople is not only on the correct side of the moral arc of history, that we will prevail despite the odds and whatever negativity is marshaled against us. I'm also prayerfully confident that you will realize that loving Black people means loving Black transpeople as well. 

As I have stated before, our issues and problems as African descended trans people are intertwined with those of our parent African American community due to our shared cultural and historical ties.  As members of that community we have a vested interest in seeing it survive and thrive.

Translation: The problems that adversely affect trans African Americans are your problems as well cis African Americans, and it's past time you recognize that reality.  .    

We're doing our part in the African descended trans community to live up to the Nguzo Saba principles.  It's past time for our African descended cis brothers and sisters inside and outside the TBLG community to do their part to live up to them as well.