Kwanzaa is a annual cultural celebration innovated by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. (Who will be speaking in Baltimore at the Reginald F.Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture at noon on the 28th!) For almost fifty years this weeklong commemoration has been an enduring part of the African American story. Kwanzaa has taken on a life of its own and has contours defined by the global and local stories of African people around the world. I am grateful for the generation that decided to resist oppression through reclamation of knowledge. Without that generation this site has no context.

I invited an artist I met at Swarthmore College (I did a successful scholar residency there in October), Miyuki Baker, to do some more artwork after I saw her “zine” stylepiece about my visit there. We put together this graphic in honor of the first day of Kwanzaa to discuss my genealogical connections to West and Central Africa. You can find out how to contact her and follow her work at the bottom of the page. I hope you will enjoy this post as much as we enjoyed the collaboration. If you donated money to us a portion if that went to support the involvement of artists and allies like Miyuki…so PLEASE keep donating down on the right side by hitting the button that links you to our PayPal! My key principle is that everybody comes up..not just me.

In winter and spring I will be doing a special series of classes on tracing your ancestry back to West and Central Africa; more information to follow! There is so much information to get out there about, history, genealogy, folklore, and the complex and ever evolving tool that is DNA research.



Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap.  She is a freelance artistjournalistqueer barber, translator, seamstress, lecturer and performer. Visit her website: and her illustrated blog: to learn more or contact her at for further inquiries.

3 comments on “Happy Kwanzaa 2013: The Genetics of an American Cook

  1. This is beautiful and inspiring. We adopted an African American son (we are of European descent) and we have no clues about his heritage. After hearing the 21 and Me was somewhat fraudulent, we decided to wait it out. Your success is encouraging~ that answers are available, and that adoption isn’t the only issue. His biological people most likely don’t know either.


  2. Pingback: From Parts Unknown to The Cooking Gene: An Engraved Annoucement | Afroculinaria

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