The last day of Kwanzaa is represented by the principle of Imani, or faith—the essence of what has gotten us through when there seemed no way out. Black people, in general, are a spiritual people. But we are also a people of faith, which is not necessarily attached to formal religion. In the words of the King James version of the Bible:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Our ancestors, brought here in bloodied, excrement-encrusted, death-eating chains, saw Barack Obama, a man borne of a man of the continent and a woman from the heartland, who would one day rule the free world. That is the knowing, the intention, the realized dream of the slave.
This week, I randomly happened upon an essay by Elizabeth Wurtzel, “Bastard.” One sentence, totally unrelated to the larger theme of the essay but nonetheless remarkable, read: “Bob taught me that there has never been a legitimate election in Georgia.”
You don’t say?
We saw it happen in 2018, and still, Stacey Abrams, probably the smartest, most sincere politician I’ve seen since Barack Obama (present freshman class in Congress excluded), continually walked in faith, believing that she could win an election with a support base made up of people historically disenfranchised.
And in the post-Obama era, (which might be likened to reconstruction in its backlash) Abrams emerged expressing the ultimate faith in an election system that was clearly stacked against her.
Sometimes, during the Jim Crow era, with real danger to their lives and the knowledge that they would not always win, lawyers for organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund fought not only because they knew the fight was worth it, but also because it was necessary resistance to an entrenched injustice and they wanted their arguments entered into the official record.
As such, Abrams fought a strategic and admirable fight despite the fact that her opponent for governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, was the Secretary of State and had suppressed the vote to the point where, to Wertzel’s point, the election could not be classified as anything fair, or even legitimate.
Nevertheless, she persisted. Abrahams registered tens of thousands of Georgians who heretofore had not been part of the political process, and whom, to Terrell Jermaine Starr’s point, got “Obamafied,” electrified and even inspired by the so-called least of these, a black woman, who was obviously the most qualified to lead a state ensconced in the cradle of the Confederacy.
Sometimes we fight knowing we can’t win. But we enter the arena clear that it is the right thing to do. And it is faith, that abiding faith, that guarantees that all will be well regardless of the outcome. That eventually, the whispered prayers of our ancestors will prevail.
For each day of Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday that eschews the typical commercialism of the holiday season, we will be highlighting a person or persons from the past year who exemplifies the principle of the day. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 to uplift a sense of community through the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Happy Kwanzaa!