Oluwajoba Ogun | Staff Writer

Self-determination. A word that is commonly used and displayed in the lives of many students on campuses. The typical ones pertain to academics; being determined to get straight A’s or applying for and being accepted into internship programs as well as fitness goals. Many students try to stay determined and set goals for exercising at least two to three days a week, myself included.

But what about self determination in one’s identity? Defining who one is as an individual and creating spaces for others to do the same.

Kujichagulia, (koo-je-cha-goo-LEE-yah), the second day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to self-determination. This principle encourages self-expression; creating and speaking for oneself.

The ever so popular Disney Channel show, the Proud Family, was one of the few cartoon shows that discussed many topics that deal with the Black community, like the importance of knowing one’s history, the difference in families and most importantly celebrating people’s cultures.

The show is centered around a young African American girl and the social challenges she goes through being a teenager at school and and with her family and friends. One episode focused on Kwanzaa, breaking down the different days and explaining the soul purpose of this celebration, instilling strong values and becoming in tune with the past, present and future.

With Kujichagulia, they showed Penny, the main character (with the help of her friend, Stephanie), becoming one with her history as she began learning intrinsic parts to herself. She displayed this by wearing a native scarf as a sign of knowledge of her background.

This prime example depicts the emphasis on the meaning of Kujichagulia, not to just find your value, but by aiding others as well. Building a strong community.

With a student population like NC State, it can be difficult to decipher diverse communities. That’s why it’s a crucial aspect for a person to have a sense of who they  are, without anyone’s input so that they can navigate through a world like NC State to find a sense of their belonging.

Some may feel or think that in a university like NC State, where the majority is Caucasian, that it is hard for the ethnic groups to be given a platform and to be taken seriously. And yes, I agree, it is hard for students of color to be represented correctly at a predominantly white institution, (PWI). But instead of making that an excuse, it should motivate us even more to educate the uncultured and the ignorant about the beauty of diversity; creating an atmosphere of freedom to express one’s self and giving others the opportunity to understand.

We see this with the GLBT Center as they continuously put on events and provide information for people of that community to be informed as well feel safe — safe enough to share their experiences without judgement.

With over 700 student organizations and clubs, many of them deal with culture and identity, spreading awareness to their group and/or inviting others to express themselves and  to promote personal development; allowing people to grow within the community.

Organizations like the African Student Union, (ASU), Asian Students Association, (ASA), Carribbean Student Association, (CSA), as well as Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), one of the four community centers on campus, and many others all share a common goal: to share the beauty of their culture, allowing the opportunity others to create and speak for themselves, in hopes that they will find their purpose as well as other nationalities will have an understanding of its values.

As the semester begins to wind down and we start the tedious journey to finals, take a look back on the events that you attended and ask yourself, “What did this event teach me?”, “How can this be displayed in my everyday life?” and most importantly, “How can I help others reach their fullest self?”