The purpose of the Ujamaa Collective is to formally establish unity between the Black student organizations and the overall Black community at Carleton to combat systemic, structural, and institutional anti-black racism.
What Ujamaa Means
The word Ujamaa (oo-jah-muh) originates from Swahili, meaning family-hood.
The holiday Kwanzaa is a cultural and political celebration of Black community members' lives and incorporates afro-centric symbols and traditions during the seven-day long celebration. Each day, one of the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) is taught and highlighted, focusing on unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa and is described as a commitment to the practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it. Historically, Ujamaa was introduced as a socialist philosophy by the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere. In his discussion of Ujamaa, he explains that social wealth belongs to the masses of people who created it. No one should have such a disproportionate amount of wealth that gives them the power to impose exploitative or oppressive relations upon others.
Furthermore, Ujamaa also accentuates self-reliance in the building, strengthening, and controlling of the economics of Black communities. This advocates for Black communities to harness and maintain our resources and put them to the best possible use in the service of the community.
Our mission as a collective aims to create a sense of unity in the Black community for the current and future Black students at Carleton and the broader Black community. A joint initiative sprouting from the Black student organizations: African and Caribbean Association, Black Femmes Collective, Dark Humor, Men of Color, and the Black Student Alliance. These groups composed a list of demands to implement anti-racist policies and programs.
As Black students at Carleton, we desire to see our institution take swift, clear, and forceful actions on issues that affect the mortality of Black people and the well-being of Black students.
While there is a ready acknowledgment by faculty, staff, and students of the egregious and heinous nature of the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Michael Brown, and Dana Martin, Matthew Lee, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Chynal Lindsey, and so many others, there also needs to be a recognition that Black students at Carleton are not always made to feel safe, supported, or equal to their peers. Members of Black student organizations endure persistent racism at Carleton by faculty, staff, and students. Carleton prides itself on "diversity," yet we do not see the mechanisms implemented nor the resources deployed by the College to ensure the safety, security, and viability of Black students.
The College is reluctant to quickly take action against police brutality and white supremacy--realities that resonate deeply with Black students when, aside from our social lives and studies, we are compelled to focus on the multiple ways that whiteness is weaponized against Black people. To take responsibility for and to demonstrate a commitment to curing the ills of white supremacy, anti-blackness, institutional racism, and micro-aggressions Black students face on and off-campus, we demand that the following mechanisms be implemented to promote our safety, our intellectual and social viability, and our overall well-being on campus.