The current state of black male and female relationships demands attention and correction: declining marriage rates, increasing rates of single black women with children , 70 percent of all African-American births are out of wedlock, nearly 45 percent of Black men have never married and 42 percent of Black women have never married, and the increasing rate of divorce among black men and women (two thirds of all black marriages end in divorce).
Marriage is the basis for a stable and sustainable family life. Hence, the state of African Americans as a people is best measured by the state of the black family. The practice of Kwanzaa contributes both to strong marriages and stable families. Kwanzaa advances that the starting point and foundation for restoring healthy and lasting marriages among African Americans begins with its 7 Principles.
Principle One- Unity: the unity principle instructs that modes of communication and behavior among men and women in relationships or marriage should promote an atmosphere of harmony and togetherness. Joining two hearts as one requires self-conscience practice to build into the relationship perpetual sharing, empathy, dedication and commitment through daily practice. The 7 Principles advises that relationships or marriages fall apart day-by-day, not through one single argument or misguided act.
Principle Two- Self-determination: the self-determination principle assists couples in defining their relationship or marriage in terms that are in their own best interest, not that of others, practicing their own cultural values. This principle urges the setting of terms (e.g., no violence, no name calling, especially the “N” and “B” word, setting aside time each week for just the “two of us”), to avoiding misunderstanding and drift in the marriage.
Principle Three- Collective Work & Responsibility: the collective work and responsibility principle is straightforward: each person in the relationship is responsible and accountable for its success or failure. The principle is clear that blaming and finger-pointing have no place in a relationship. It is always about “us” and “we” not ‘I” and “my.”
Principle Four- Shared Resources: the shared resources principle obligates those in long-term relationships to support and care for each other and to see their interest tied together. It also suggests that all finances and financial responsibility are shared among mates. No one person is the “bread winner” or has total say over management of family finances. Even when only one person is employed, the other person is entitled to & should be fully involved in financial transactions.
Principle Five- Purpose: the purpose principle says to couples that one of their central goals in life is the building and developing of our relationships. For it is through the building of strong and lasting marriages that they contribute to stable families, the index of the strength and viability of a people. Further, the purpose principle instructs that mates find their social meaning and human identity in their union.
Principle Six- Creativity: the creativity principle renews the freshness, energy and excitement in relationships, especially marriages through the practice of continuous improvement. The principle says that couples should always seek to find new and better ways of enjoying each other, and of recreating the magic which first attracted them to each other.
Principle Seven- Faith: the faith principle is what sustains couples through difficult times and crisis. Equally important, the principle keeps couples hopeful. Influential philosopher and theologian Howard Thurman asserts: “Faith is the substance and spirit which makes “tired hearts refreshed and dead hopes stir with the nearness of life; faith is the “promise of tomorrow at the close of everyday, the triumph of life in the defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than fate, right is more confident than wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.”
Each month, couples should take inventory on what they have done to practice the seven principles, celebrating their successes, and recommitting themselves to practice in greater measure those areas which need attention or improvement.
At Kwanzaa time, December 26 through January 1, couples can assess how their relationship against the 7 Principles and celebrate their joy and happiness of their union.
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