Umoja: loving the skin you’re in and ancestor relevance

Alyssia Flores, Reporter

The Umoja program at Bakersfield College offered a unique experience to students of African American heritage on Feb 8. This experience is part of a three-part Zoom series that will continue to take place during Black History Month.

Dr. Paula Parks, adviser of the Umoja community club, stated, “I want my Umoja students to appreciate the struggles of their ancestors as well as their collective achievements in order to develop a healthy self-esteem, which can propel students to persevere and achieve,” as to why the program was put on. In the first session, which was titled “Ancestor Relevance,” presenter Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd talked about the importance of “self-love and ancestor relevance.” Ancestor relevance is a form of self-love, because according to Salahud-Din Floyd, “through our love for them and their love for us that we are able to achieve.”

Salahud-Din Floyd continued to say that there is an ancestry shrine filled with photos of important historical African-American figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and also deceased family members. She went on to discuss that going into someone’s home is a form of ancestor relevance. She also said that being able to talk about what you did with them while they were alive is also a form of ancestor relevance. She also emphasizes that when you speak about your deceased family members it carries their spirit into the next life peacefully. She brought up the movie “Coco” as one of the best representations of ancestor veneration because it discusses the importance of remembering your deceased loved ones to keep the tradition going, to keep our memories going, and to honor our ancestors.

Parks also stated that everyone who is of African descent is welcome to attend the other two sessions. The other two sessions will take place on Feb. 22 and March 8 both at 3 p.m. Parks says that the reason why the Umoja program is focusing on loving the skin you’re in and ancestor relevance is because “the three-part series is on acknowledging and appreciating one’s ancestors and how that ties into student success.”

Salahud-Din Floyd was chosen to speak by the Umoja program because of “her studies in African American topics and her life coaching business.” If you are interested in attending one of the other sessions or would like more information you can contact Parks at [email protected]