Happy Kwanzaa + East Coast Blizzard

HAPPY KWANZAA! Habari gani.
Photo courtesy of the Official Kwanzaa website.

Kwanzaa, which has been around since I was a year old or so, is not a holiday I've regularly celebrated, though occasionally I have participated in friends' and community-based Kwanzaa observations in the past. More than anything I try to take its seven principles (the Nguzo Saba) to heart, and not just during the designated holiday week. The principles are ones I remember memorizing as a child: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
These were concepts I not only memorized, but steeped in growing up in the 1970s, an era when various strands of political and social "liberation," collective economic principles, and cultural nationalism and resistence were in the air.

While this new decade marks a distinctly different moment, I continue to believe that many of these principles remain aluable not only for African Americans and for black people across the globe, but also for people of all races throughout this and other societies, especially now that we face sustained economic, political and cultural assaults particularly from those who already have most of the power and money.  Even if you don't celebrate Kwanzaa, do consider how these principles might apply to you and how you can apply them in your life and to the communities you belong to.

For a bit of comedy (or outrage, depending) around Kwanzaa, there's always Food Network star Sandra Lee's (in)famous Kwanzaa cake (which food writer Denise Vivaldo apparently created out of the air), in all its awfulness (and yet I'm strangely drawn to it):


***

I've been scoffing about the hoopla surrounding the current East Coast blizzard, since Chicago has already received multiple snowstorms, including a severe one that delayed my return a few weeks ago, but it really is coming down here in Jersey City. And it's cold, almost Chicago cold. Earlier today it was 24°F and now it's 21°F. It was a comparatively balmy 27°F in Chicago.

When I peeked out back, I saw easily over a foot of snow, and a view from the front door confirms the same.  According to the news, over 14 inches have fallen not too far south of here.  All of the local airports are closed, as are Amtrak from Maine to New York, and the Long Island Railroad also has been shut down.  The Philadelphia Eagles even canceled tonight's game against the Green Bay Packers, though I seem to remember teams playing in blizzards in past years, and even played in snow myself as a teenager, but perhaps the winds truly were too strong, and players, who make a lot more than they once did, have it in their contracts that they won't play in snow bowls if they can help it.

The trains that allow people to ride "in a hole in the ground," the MTA subway, are running, however, as are New York City's buses, but people all across the metro area have gotten stranded in snowdrifts. (I assume the PATH trains are still running, perhaps on the reduced schedule that the New Jersey Transit trains are.)  As I finish this entry, it's still snowing and the snowfall is forecast to continue until tomorrow morning, which means a day of digging out. Since early December, I've more than enough practice.

East Coast snowstorm, at night
Snow in Jersey City, tonight
East Coast snowstorm, at night
Snow in Jersey City, tonight
East Coast snowstorm, by day
Snow in Jersey City, late this afternoon
East Coast snowstorm, by day
Snow in Jersey City, late this afternoon
Snow in Chicago
Snow in Chicago, December 6
Chicago snow
Snow in Chicago, December 9
Chicago snow
Snow in Chicago, December 9