Kwanzaa’s Second Principle Kujichagulia | Self-determination

Kujichagulia | Self-Determination

by Joecephus Martin

Steve Biko’s quote, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed,” has resonated with me deeply for a long time. I realized the key to most things would be defining me, especially in a place where everything exists to tell me I am not what I think I am. Some philosopher I was told to respect said, “I think therefore I am.”  He’s since become an afterthought. His message though, I took that to heart. Self Determination is the key.

Self-determination is defining your wins and losses, successes and failures, opportunities and threats all for yourself. Too often people believe what they have been told they can and should do to remain compliant. Kujichagulia means identifying what you think is best and acting in that. It’s walking in the power you have.  

Kujichagulia is making all your choices. It is all your decision to make. Deciding on all aspects of your life—large and small choices alike are yours. You define yourself for yourself. My colleagues talk about the pressures of being women. I try to listen and understand. I just don’t understand sometimes.  

We stood in a circle after a meeting having a tense conversation. We all agreed on the what. The how though? Yikes. I was told there was enough work for all of us to do. My work was understanding how people might not understand their power. Their work was accepting the power they had to impact change they wanted to see. This year, vow to walk in the power you have. You owe us all your greatness.

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