Reflections on Umoja: Unity

Umoja- Unity
One of my boy’s who said the other day, “Having a Black family without drama is like having China without rice.” First off, it made be laugh, but it made realize how every year I get a rash of calls from friends and mentees who loath the trip home for the holidays because the last thing practiced is unity. See, as adults, returning home means we see how we have grown and tragically sometimes how that growth becomes increasing incompatible with the folks we grew up loving and continue to love. This is not to suggest that our families are unchanging, but being away, regardless of age, often means returning homes presents new challenges to family unity. 

Unity can be thought of in grand terms, but of late I’ve been thinking about what it takes to keep a family together.  The reality is that as times become more challenging, financially in particular, the fabric of families are challenged. How can I, as a returning family member, respect the differences of those at home and the new ways that I’ve adapted to living under? How can I honor the traditions and norms that have been established in home that sometimes challenge me?(And no, it ain’t about completely compromising your practices. I certainly don’t have to eat pork, but it certainly don’t have to turn my nose up at my great aunt who has been using hogma’s for decades.) For me, the greatest solution to dilemmas of unity in the family are humility and forgiveness.

Humility, loosely, being about recognizing when you are out of line or when others are out of line but making sure to offer them correction without attitude or with ill intention. Too often, the issues that we face when we get home get compounded when someone “checks” someone else and people’s positions and statuses get challenged. For me, when I’m home, I will always be a child, but an adult child who loves his family enough to offer correction in a loving way. Secondly, forgiveness can help you find some form of healthy balance when, inevitably, offense occurs.

These are a couple of ways that I’ve been trying to build unity in my family, but making sure there is mutual honor and respect. What about you?

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