About That Kwanzaa Life: The Ladies of KFC Were the Embodiment of Umoja in 2018

Illustration for article titled About That Kwanzaa Life: The Ladies of KFC Were the Embodiment of Umoja in 2018
Screenshot: Instagram (Bobbie_Holliday)

As with last year, The Root is celebrating the blackest holiday of them all!

For each day of Kwanzaa, we will be highlighting a person(s) from the past year who exemplifies the principle of the day. Kwanzaa remains an African-American cultural holiday that eschews the typical commercialism of the holiday season, and uplifts a sense of community through the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith—all things which have helped us to survive since we were dropped on these shores some 400 years ago.


The first day of Kwanzaa, which is always Dec. 26, is defined by the principle of Umoja, or unity. To practice Umoja is to strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Or, as it happens … in the workplace, specifically a Philly-area KFC where four black women stood together to thwart a scurrilous prankster coming in to start drama at the expense of an unsuspecting cashier just doing her job.

What I (and apparently thousands of others) found so compelling in the short but sweet clip was the way in which these ladies fell into formation. Immediately. Without question or hesitation. From the rip, the manager of the team, Denita, firmly and calmly told Mr. Prankster to greet the women properly and to take that shit to a specific place that she designated as “Back there.”

In its visual slice of regular schmegular black life, the viral video disabuses us of the notion that “black women don’t get along,” destroying the stereotype of the angry black woman getting loud when aggrieved. And again, for me, the viral Instagram clip highlighted the beauty of African American speech, vernacular, and regional culture while being so gangsta that I just wanted to be loved on like that.


But mostly, it is about fam, fam. And the way that black women have consistently, unequivocally, and historically stood up for one another.

And so, to the brilliant Philly jawns who personified this Juelz Santana line in “The Second Coming”: “So, together we stand, divided we fall / United, we form Voltron and take on all”—Salute! And thanks for showing up and showing us what unity looks like in everyday life.


Who do you think best personified the principle of unity in the ’18?

Sound off in the comments.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



This might be a little out there but bear with me. The word “becoming” is very powerful. When I have worked to make changes to myself, I always had it set in my head as “I am becoming.” Full stop. It’s an acknowledgment and embracing of the journey. I think M.O. using it as the title for her book was brilliant, because it’s not only the journey but also the other meaning “attractive.”

What does this have to do with unity? Duuuuuude I told you to bear with me.

M.O.’s whole publicity tour has really turned her into Tornado Michelle. She is moving through the culture sucking everyone up in the whirlwind and setting us gently down, shook up and eager to see where we landed. First Lady Obama was wonderful and really, she demonstrated how to be the partner and mom many of us wish we are and have. The woman she is showing us now is equally as charismatic as her husband, she has so much to say, she reaches out to her roots and but also includes women from different backgrounds.

So that is my pick for who best embodied unity.