Happy Kwanza’Cac: a brief and personal overview of Kwanzaa

Habari Gani! UMOJA (Unity)

It is the first day of Kwanzaa! This holiday is one that has always been dear to my heart. Since I was young my mom and I would prepare for the awesomeness that is Kwanzaa. However, I have realized there is a lack of awareness of Kwanzaa in the ‘Cac for a completely legitimate reason. If there was ever a thing for Black people, Kwanzaa is.

Founded in ’67 by Dr. Maulana Karenga through the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa served as holiday celebration for African-Americans to celebrate their history and culture instead of submitting to the dominant culture (Sorry ChrismaKuh). The celebration allowed Blacks to create their own holiday culture. It however is in no way a substitute for Christmas or Hanukkah (Sammy Davis Jr./Lenny Kravitz/ Slash). It is not a religious holiday but centered around the Nguzo Saba or Seven Principals (One for Each Day of the Week):

  1. Umoja (Unity): Showing togetherness, our the nation, race, community and family.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): We create our identities, our success, history.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To take on the problems and concerns of our own and create a communal effort to progress.
  4. Ujamaa: (Cooperative Economics): Maintain our communities businesses, shopping locally and black owned.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To return ourselves to our race’s greatness; taking our ancestry and reclaiming its strength
  6. Kuumba(Creativity): To leave the world more beautiful than we received it.
  7. Imani (Faith): Believing in the heart and passion of our community

The principals are in Swahili, an East African language  which is now a symbol of Pan-Africanism. It is that language that unites Black people all across the country. As a part of Kwanzaa, like the Menorah for Hanukkah or The Candles of Advent, Kinaras are lit with Pan-African Colored Candles ( 1 Black, 3 Green, 3 Red) for each day of Kwanzaa. There are also daily feasts as the name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili word for “first fruits” or “harvest” .

Personally, I love Kwanzaa. As a child it meant 7 more days of presents, 7 more Christmases, 7 days of lighting candles. As a teen it meant, I had a Black Hanukkah with socks and other academic or smart kid gifts. As a young adult, it reminds me the power of the Black community. Despite any systematic inequality, or constant fighting for our rights. It reminds me that we all connected to the world in which we live. It is not a time for point blame or being angry. It is about glorifying an otherwise ignored part of the Black experience. It gives a space for my culture to be celebrated. I doubt there will be front page news or extreme commercialism but its an awesome holiday because it is just for us. There are rare moments when whole nations are united. We have the 4th of July but that’s only a day of unity. We as American of every race, should strive for the sense of community and togetherness that Kwanzaa offers. Its principles are reflected in any community where geographic, ethnic or otherwise. If there is an aspect of your identity you feel disconnected from, try to connect through these principles.

Stay Connected this holidays season.  For any more questions about Kwanzaa feel free to comment or email me personally at dodd.jayy@gmail.com / tweet at me @jayydodd on twitter.

1st Annual Blackinthe’Cacmas: The Plight of the Non-‘Cac World

Season’s Greetings and a Merry ChrismaHanaKwanza’Cac to all.

This winter break has been quite interesting. I am in DC for Christmas and my family here are great. My uncle, my mother’s brother, his wife and two baby girls are precious but they are far from ‘Cac life.

I didn’t realize how used to ‘Cac/college life I was until I came here for break. My uncle didn’t have Google Chrome or Spotify. No one talked about Occupy, social inequalities, I haven’t heard: systemic, problematic, discourse, framework, or rhetoric is what feels like years. However, the constant inquiries about Tufts and in what league are we were prevalent. Also, there is some suble shade being thrown about the ‘Cac, several “oh my niece or family friend or grandson applied to Tufts but when to Harvard or Darthmouth etc instead.” Thanks for being rude. IntheCac or die, please. Today at dinner I had to defend going to school in Boston, as if that was hard.

A particular highlight are my two babies cousins.

The older one, M, is Blair Waldorf Jackson, (oh btw, my uncle and family are like the Afro-1% ). She is going to marry a count yet run her own Fortune 500 company and the free world. She is smart as a whip, super logical and endearing when not screaming her little head off. She was apprehensive of me for the first 5 years of her life (she is 9 years old so liking me is new). The other is literally me as a little girl; she is sassy, swagtastic, and moody. Either way they both are wearing me OUT.

In ‘Cac culture, going to bed at a reasonable hour is unheard of even on vacation nights. However waking up by 9 am is causal for these children, they are up and spry and running round upstairs. The first night I was up until 5 or so catching up on my extensive Hulu queue and I barely get one cycle in when “Cousin JJ, its time to get up!” I, then, feel 50 pounds of baby human jumping on my back. After stumbling out of bed like the day after the Zeta Box Wine Party,  I make it upstairs to my uncle, aunt, and two grandma’s all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Then the daily request start.

1) Can we take pictures?

There are probably 100 just like these

2) Can we watch The Annoying Orange:

The Least Annoying Annoying Orange3) Just Dance on Wii

Screen Shot from Just Dance

Not to mention every possible kids movie every made (currently watching Mary Poppins). They, however, aren’t the worst. The high society Christmas guests are the true issue. Some random family/ work friends came over and I got asked How’s Tufts? literally once an hour on the hour. As if my answer would change. The worst was the “look how big/fat/old you’ve gotten” comments. I know you haven’t seen me since I was 10, get over it. Then there was the what are you going to do with sociology question. I said pre-law because explaining that I want to advocate for LGBT rights isn’t riveting dinner conversation. After being curt enough the questions finally stopped and my Grandma just started speaking for me. Love her. Sort of. She is old fashion and thinks I’m hiding a white girlfriend at school. I’m not, for a few reasons. (GAY AS THE EGGNOG ON CHRISTMAS, for one). Little does she know, my gay uncle and his white husband are coming tomorrow. So BOOM this holiday season is gonna go for drab to fab in 24 hours. I’m also seeing my tres chic cousin (like 3rd cousin closest to me in age) tomorrow and she is gonna take me to hookah, thank jesus.

So ready for this break to be kickstarted cause family drama makes for the best tweets.

Speaking of which, follow me on twitter as I live tweet my BlackInThe’Cacmas @jayydodd


It’s finals week. You know what that means. Find any possible distraction to help avoid actually studying for finals. Most people resort to Hulu for a quick catchup on last week’s new episode of Community or maybe even a little Youtube action for some hilarious idiots who have even LESS of a life to have time to make up that crap.

I digress.

It happened last night. I was studying for my human neuropsychology exam when my mind started to wander (coincidentally, one of the topics I had to know for this morning’s exam… HAH) and my fingers found themselves typing “F-A-C-E-B-O-O-K” into the search browser.

My newsfeed popped up and a list of “similar posts” that all had to do with this one website appeared: quickmeme.com. Within this link was embedded “Hamilton Hypocrite” (see http://www.quickmeme.com/Hamilton-Hypocrite/?upcoming for all the amazing sarcasm, irony, and hypocrisy). All the posts were relatively intriguing, so I had to check it out. I clicked the link and up popped a couple of these “memes” (e.g., LOLcats).

Side note: for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term meme I am here to help since I learned all about them in my evolution and human behavior psych elective last semester! Defined as “the basic unit of culture transmission, or imitation” or “an element of culture that may be considered to be passed on by non-genetic means,” memes are essentially ideas that are transferred from one person to another (e.g., via the internet) and the evolve by imitation or mutation if we want to get biological. They are analogous to genes in that they “self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures” much like natural selection (THANKS M.J. FREDERICK, my ev psych professor, and WIKIPEDIA!).

So this morning I wake up and there are even more of these meme-related facebook posts. Last night when I spotted this absurd trend on facebook, there was a single page. That page grew to 6 pages. That was as of midnight last night.

I did some research and discovered that as of this morning at 11 am there are now 21 pages of these ridiculous meme creations. Goes to show you how much time Hamilton College students really have on their hands during finals… or maybe the lack-of?

I have also realized that these Hamilton-related meme creations are very insightful to the inner-workings of the culture here, and so I thought I’d share some of them here…

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All I can say is, the Hamilton community has quite a lot of time on their hands during finals week.

EOQS (Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll) + Winterfest

Winterfest activities were …. lacking snow this year. But to give PBoard credit, they did dedicate an entire weekend to fun things that Tufts students definitely got involved in – Fan the Fire on Saturday was packed (Go Jumbos!), the Winter Carnival was fun, the Bingo Night I went to Sunday night was also full (although I didn’t win. Anything.) and last night was the final event: Pancakes with President Monaco and ScatterShot in the Campus Center.

Gifford House...we aren't allowed to drink out of plastic water bottles, but President Monaco can use unsustainable decorations ALL NIGHT LONG

Bingo...well played PBoard. Not one of my friends won.

Scattershot! Always exciting. Find them Thursdays at the Burren in Davis Square.

And then Monday night was the EOQS (Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll). Read about it on the Medford Patch HERE. EOQS was meant to replace our beloved 40 year old tradition of NQR, in which pale and cold and drunk Tufts students run around the quad naked.


As the Bacow years have come to a close, the time for NQR has certainly passed. We must embrace a tradition that suits the British sensibility Anthony Monaco brings with him. Dress classy: suits and dresses are encouraged. Peasants are cold, so stay warm. Running is so passé. How about a dignified stroll? Let’s celebrate final exams in style.Invite your friends!

Unfortch, by 10:45pm everyone was done strolling. There were a few people who ran in the nude body suits, and a few brave souls who wore just running shorts and/or sports bras and underwear (read: Wilderness, TMC, and  XC/track members). Unfortch I do not have those photos available (yet).

There was also an incredible amount of police activity that Tufts students were very clearly not happy about:

To be honest, it probably was totally unnecessary to have the emergency medical teams and various special forces on call. I lied. It WAS completely unnecessary.

Happy finals Jumbos!


This is an order!

Although we are all cracked out on zero sleep, just remember to try to drink some extra water (to balance out the amount of caffeine you’re ingesting), and to take some vitamins.

Or, you could always just eat some veggies.

om nom nom

Happy studying, y’all!


P.S. If you don’t quite feel like studying you can, of course, check out my twitter and my blog. But probably you should be studying.