Kwanzaa Imani Bennett
Image: Kwanzaa Imani has an open smile that lights up her glowing brown sugar skin. Her deep brown eyes, childishly large, wrinkle with her smile, lending themselves to the smoothness of her skin and the button nose that make up her babyface. She wears light makeup with skin tone gloss and baby blue eyeshadow ; golds decorate her neck, face, and moss-green dipped shoulder-length locs. Her dress--a sheer white top over a pale pink undershirt--is formal yet playful, matching her pose: a chipper but confident hand-on-hips posture with her gaze just a bit off-camera.
Contact Kwanzaa Imani: kwanzaaimani at gmail.com
Kwanzaa Imani is a composer, singer/songwriter, saxophonist, poet, and journalist from Dallas, Texas. Her love of writing was born at a private Montessori in East Dallas, where she devoured their books upon learning to read. By first grade she was writing stories and poems, and since then writing has followed her in many ways. Her artistic interest has evolved into a multitude of forms that all boil down to putting small pieces together to find a greater value. Because of this, Kwanzaa often says her true love is for puzzles.
In fifth grade she joined her school’s band, and soon began to dabble in songwriting and composing. Her musicality grew, and she was accepted as a Saxophonist for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts by auditioning with her own work. While there, Kwanzaa developed her composing and songwriting, and her singing group, The Kymani Three, was formed.
Because it was expected of her, Kwanzaa pursued music at Arizona State University. But after exploring all of the musical options offered at the school, she chose to focus on songwriting. However, since it’s not offered as a major, Kwanzaa moved back to poetry. There, she studied as an honors student for four years, discovering that her writing talent extended to fiction, critique, and analysis as well. Unfortunately, multiple episodes of Sickle Cell pain crisis prevented Kwanzaa from finishing her degree at Arizona State, and while this was sobering for her at the time, she attempted to complete her education at the University of Texas at Dallas before health once again made this unrealistic.
After leaving UT Dallas, Kwanzaa had to come to terms with the possibility that she may not obtain a bachelor’s degree at all, much less in some years of consecutive learning. Still, she has made an effort to keep up her crafts in one way or another, whether this be by continuing to write via online roleplay, media analysis, and paid journalism, or whether it be by pursuing private instruction in her musical fields.
It is her prerogative to continue to learn and grow even if this is without formal education. Because to Kwanzaa, education is a pursuit that should be never-ending; it is an essential part of her identity and one that she has no intention of dismissing just because her disability makes the act of learning more challenging. Writing, and the pursuit of knowledge, keeps her sane, keeps her questioning, and keeps her growing. And when a person can barely leave their bed on most days, sometimes that’s the most one can ask for.
For Harriet, July 2015: abigail fisher, please stop blaming people of color for your mediocrity
For Harriet, May 2015: black women with disabilities need more support than just financial aid
For Harriet, March 2015: the power of the selfie: #blackoutday and the need for unapologetic black self-love
Kwanzaa Imani is available for personal essays and opinion editorial
Additional communication availability: Phone, text, chat, videoconference