Habari Gani?! Ujamaa! Chance the Rapper Embodied Cooperative Economics in 2017

Chance the Rapper (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for EIF); photo illustration by GMG/The Root
Chance the Rapper (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for EIF); photo illustration by GMG/The Root

This year, for each day of Kwanzaa, The Root is highlighting one person from the community who exemplifies the principle of the day.


On the fourth day of Kwanzaa, Dec. 29, the principle is Ujamaa, or “cooperative economics.” To practice Ujamaa is to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

The person who we felt best exemplified cooperative economics this year is Chance the Rapper. Actually, Chance personifies all of the principles of Kwanzaa: He did everything from renting out black movies in Chicago movie theaters and participating in My Brother’s Keeper with former President Barack Obama to putting out his own record independently and getting Chicago to allow voter registration in Boost Mobile shops—but this year, because of the magnitude of his economic efforts, we chose him for Ujamaa.

Chancelor Jonathan Bennett is the man our official #MakeKwanzaaGreatAgain ambassador, The Root staff writer Michael Harriot, says gives him hope in a cruel, cruel world:

Pretty soon, Chance the Rapper is going to have to change his name to Chance the Really Good Dude Who Seems to Take Every Opportunity to Do the Right Thing, Giving Hope to People Like Me Who Think This World Is Cold, Cruel and Filled With People Who Would Put a Puppy in a Blender and Crush an Infant’s Windpipe With Their Bare Hands, and, Oh, He Also Raps Sometimes.

Oh, yeah, the money. Chance gave a cool $1 million to Chicago public schools, putting his money where his heart is, where his family is, where his community is. He earmarked most of the funds to go into the rapidly depleting arts programs in Chicago public schools, and laid a template for others to do what they can with what they have.


Chance the Rapper is truly special, an exemplar extraordinaire who is creative and introspective, innovative and the real deal.

And he raps, too.

The runners-up for Ujaama are Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who themselves give much to charity; as well as the triumvirate efforts of Diddy, Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry to buy the Carolina Panthers, a true example of cooperative economics in action.


Who do you think exemplified Ujaama, or cooperative economics, this year? Sound off in the comments!

Sidenote: Those practicing Kwanzaa greet each other with the words “Habari Gani?!” roughly translated as “What’s the good news?” To which participants respond with the principle of the day, in this case, “Ujaama!” (the antithesis of “get money”).

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.