Athenia Rodney of United for Brownsville was named a 2020 Robin Hood Hero. Photo: Robin Hood

December 28, the third day of Kwanzaa, observers of the holiday honor Ujima, the commitment to active and informed togetherness on matters of common interest. It is also recognition and respect of the fact that without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible and liberation unthinkable.

Moreover, the principle of Ujima supports the fundamental assumption that African is not just an identity, but also a destiny and duty, i.e., a responsibility.

In other words, our collective identity, in the long run, is a collective future. Thus, there is a need and obligation for us as self-conscious and committed people to shape our future with our own minds and hands and share its hardships and benefits together.

Ujima principle teaches each family member to recognize that their own well-being is derived from their family and community’s well being and that they must be concerned with the overall health of their family and community; and that the lives of each family member and that of the community are bound together.

Ujima: “To build and maintain our community together and to make our Brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together.”

Brownsville wife, mom-of-three and entrepreneur Athenia Rodney has dedicated her life to practicing Ujima, advocating for education and empowering those in her Brownsville community to get the resources they deserve and need.

When the pandemic hit in March, Rodney kept up her hard work and went into overdrive, tirelessly caring for her community, even as her family battled COVID-19, a fire and a stroke.

As the pandemic tore through Brownsville, Rodney was there; organizing mutual aid, getting information, food and supplies to anyone who needed it, and supporting local parents. But as she looks back, it isn’t what she’s done, but what the community has done, that makes her emotional. Recently, she was awarded the Robin Hood 2020 Hero of New York award.

“Robin Hood asked me, ‘What’s one takeaway?’ And I said the fact of seeing Black people coming together and working together to support each other, because the narrative is always that we don’t,” she told BK Reader.

You can read more about her story and how she practices Ujima everyday here on BK Reader.

Today, let’s think of ways to build collective work and responsibility for one another!


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