The Seven Principles: A Model for Community Standards

October 18, 2012

Central and essential to the restoration and revitalization of black and poor neighborhoods is establishment of community standards or norms. Community norms set the standard of right and wrong behavior. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are well-suited to serve as community standards for African American neighborhoods. What is important here and can not be overstated is for these neighborhoods to collectively embrace the Seven Principles. In this way, children and adults know what to expect from each other and can hold each other accountable.

Moreover, history is replete with examples of well-ordered black neighborhoods that had community standards, allowing for collective parenting practices and monitoring and reinforcing of those community standards. Hence, embracing the Seven Principles would give neighborhoods a sense of common life or common (collective) good. Accordingly, residents would come to see themselves not as a mere collection of individual persons and families whose interest and ends are contingently congruent, but as a group of persons and families linked by interpersonal bonds (the basis for collective parenting and cooperative community endeavors), biological and/or non-biological who consider themselves primarily as members of the group who have common interest, goals and values.

The Seven Principles as Community Standards

Unity/Umoja: Commitment by adults and children to engage in practices and behavior which promote harmonious relationships. The African proverb, “I am because we are and because we are I am,” best expresses this standard. Put another way, members of the neighborhood see themselves as an ongoing association who have a special commitment to one another and a developed sense of common life.

Self-Determination/Kujichagulia: Pledge to ground our practices, values, and worldview in our own history and culture. This means at heart, for example, using history and culture as the starting point for family formation and rituals, parenting models, and the roles and functions of institutions (schools and others) in the neighborhood.

Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima: Duty to actively work to promote the welfare of others. In the classical southern communities, African Americans came together in times of need to aid each other, making the problem of one the problem of all. Families and persons are therefore embedded in a thick set of concentric circles of obligations and responsibilities.

Cooperative Economic/Ujamaa: Vow to support and engage in cooperative endeavors which build and increase to the wealth of the neighborhood for the benefit of all. This is standard embodies the notion of sharing one another’s fate, common assets, collective assets all for common benefit.

Purpose/Nia: Duty to use the skills, talents, and resources to build and develop the neighborhood. This standard makes it a duty to provide the best context and condition for family and child development.

Creativity/Kuumba: Commitment to work toward the continuous improvement of the neighborhood as expressed in the safety and well-being of everyone. This standard requires the active involvement of all members of the neighborhood in bettering the neighborhood.

Faith/Imani: Commitment to display in thought and practice trust and belief in the members of the neighborhood as evidenced by building more hope and promise in among families and children.

Self-Determination/Kujichagulia: Pledge to ground our practices, values, and worldview in our own history and culture. This means at heart, for example, using history and culture as the starting point for family formation and rituals, parenting models, and the roles and functions of institutions (schools and others) in the neighborhood.

Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima: Duty to actively work to promote the welfare of others. In the classical southern communities, African Americans came together in times of need to aid each other, making the problem of one the problem of all. Families and persons are therefore embedded in a thick set of concentric circles of obligations and responsibilities.

Cooperative Economic/Ujamaa: Vow to support and engage in cooperative endeavors which build and increase to the wealth of the neighborhood for the benefit of all. This is standard embodies the notion of sharing one another’s fate, common assets, collective assets all for common benefit.

Purpose/Nia: Duty to use the skills, talents, and resources to build and develop the neighborhood. This standard makes it a duty to provide the best context and condition for family and child development.

Creativity/Kuumba: Commitment to work toward the continuous improvement of the neighborhood as expressed in the safety and well-being of everyone. This standard requires the active involvement of all members of the neighborhood in bettering the neighborhood.

Faith/Imani: Commitment to display in thought and practice trust and belief in the members of the neighborhood as evidenced by building more hope and promise in among families and children.

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