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

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!

Tufts Alums Go Big

We’ve got a female in the personal cabinet of the Prez (that’s Obama, you non-Cac’ers), and now we’ve got Time Warner Inc. on Nov. 30 naming Laura Lang the chief executive officer of Time Inc. She’s honored among our list of successful alumnus that includes Scott Brown (MA Senator), Roy Raymond (Victoria’s Secret), and others. For a good list, look no further than Wikipedia HERE.

To quote from the Tufts Daily article: “She joins Time from her position as global CEO of Digitas, the largest digital marketing agency in the world. In 2007, she was named one of Advertising Age’s Women to Watch, and has also been honored by Women’s Business Boston. Lang graduated with an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.”

BAM! Congratulations Laura!

In case you weren’t already in the mood

CHRISTMAS is in less that a month. Which means the radio finally grows some and starts playing some amazing holiday pop. I being so inspired decided to post some of my favorites.

ENJOY or you don’t love the holidays which means you have no soul. (#hereslookingatyougrinch)

First up is Christmas in Harlem by Kanye + friends. In a world where Hip-Holiday isn’t really a legit field, this is a great jam. Laidback and warm Kanye  and company (too many people for me to actually list them) offers up some aural hot chocolate.

Next up: All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. This song should literally be featured in hymnal, this song is like beyond classic. It is a sure-fire sign we are in Yuletimes. Since the day after Thanksgiving I have had this song be my wake up song. Also if you listen to the Justin Beiber version, you lose your right to listen to music.

For every 7-year-old girl in 1998, N*Sync makes you squeal in happiness and this song makes you takes you back. Ignore Gary Coleman and enjoy this quintessential 90’s jam.

For those who like to cry around Christmas, this Maroon 5 cover of Happy Christmas (War is Over) is literally beautiful.

Either way, have a most happy of holidays, from blackinthecac


Being BlackintheCac: How Hard is it ?

I write this in the hope that there is a similar dialogue going on at other ‘Cac campuses.

As a Sociology major, I take classes that theorize virtually every aspect of our society. One of my favorite classes is Making Social Change Happen. While it does sound extremely vague and abstract there are time-tested ways to create community organizations and create actual social change. We, as most college students, are completely aware of the increase in social activism across our nation with the Occupy Movement. This movement has many strengths and weaknesses. It has utilized all that social media has to offer and has mobilized a variety of people. However their lack of inclusive language and vague goals seem to be a major barricade for their participants.

However, this is not what got me going today in class. We began to explore other tactics and strategies in getting what you want out of social change. One student brought up April Open House last year and the Race Dialogue/Demonstration that occurred during the activities fair portion.  A group of students (of a variety of backgrounds and races) wore shirts instructing prospective students and their parents to “Ask Me About White Privilege at Tufts’” or “Ask Me About Being Student of Color at Tufts.” The student noted how this was extremely effective because it makes school officials extremely aware of the immediacy and urgency of improved race relations on campus. From my understanding this group is the same coalition petitioning the school for an Africana Studies department, with other racial/ethnic studies departments. While their effort was valiant and unarguably admirable and bold, we also had some of the lowest numbers of students of color come to Tufts this year. While we in no way are an evenly split school, liberal arts schools tend to be some of the most diverse in the Northeast.  How effective, then, are the efforts?

A big argument against ethnic studies departments is the “lack of interest.” That line may be a load a crock but consider the backlash to a demonstration like the one at AOH. If there is a lack of students of color in attendance, who are gonna take classes? Students are looking for a school environment that can validate or solidify aspects of their identity. If Tufts, or any school, is presented as a toxic place for people of color, who is gonna be here to take those classes? You are setting yourself up to be shut down. It is cutting off your nose despite your face. In our fight for more racial and ethnic inclusion we cannot isolate potential supporters by categorizing our schools as racially toxic places.