Is It A Bad Year to Celebrate Kwanzaa?

8 years ago

I ask that question as I performed a blog search using the African-American holiday (which starts on December 26th until January 1) and all I got was vitriol....well, more than usual. There has always been a healthy skepticism about the holiday which was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State University, who started the cultural holiday to preserve and promote African Heritage.

It is a time, like all holidays, to eat, relax and chill with friends and family. And the food is good, too. Years ago I even bought my white English grandmother a Kwanzaa cookbook and received a stunned, confused look in return. I got it back after she passed away two years ago - the rest of my family didn't know what to do with it.

However, perhaps because of President Obama, the Conservative bloggers (not all, but enough to make me shudder), have now used the holiday as another excuse not only to cry reverse racism, but to also call the holiday as a chance to spread a socialist, marxist agenda.

No Warning Shots Fired! also worries about how this holiday will be celebrated this year in the age of Obama:

'Tis the season to be jolly; a time of gifts, celebrations and endless debates over whether black folks should celebrate Christmas or Kwanzaa. This is an especially touchy subject in the era of America's first black president , when any outward expression of "blackness" is subject to a vicious attack by Fox News for being separatist, divisive or just out of sync with the times.

Over at the Kwanzaa Chronicles, they have dedicated a blog post as to how Kwanzaa can help a brother out:

As Kwanzaa, the African American cultural holiday based on seven guiding principles and values- Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith- approaches, President Obama would do well to consider the following: What is most lacking about him and his administration is the lack of a transformational theory and value framework that would provide a cogent and coherent programmatic direction for the country.  What we have and experience from Obama now is  one day it’s the war in Afghanistan; the next day the economy ;followed by his promotion of science; and then, of course, health care; the Middle East; climate change and the Climate Conference; unemployment; Wall Street compensation; and the crisis of the week. No matter how well Obama handles these issues, his performance and these issues are divorce from a larger framework that is needed in order for the American people to grasp their meaning and implications, and attach themselves as participants rather than passive observers.

 Jill Tubman over at Jack & Jill Politics asked why Oprah didn't ask the First Family if they celebrated Kwanzaa at the White House:

No one mentioned Kwanzaa at all during Oprah’s special. Not even once. Do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Is there a kinara around somewhere in the East Wing? Some black, red and green candles? Are you at least going to use those Kwanzaa stamps from the Post Office on some of your holiday cards like other black people? I really love those stamps. They’re so colorful.

I believe Jill was being trite. A comment from that post:

Why would it be mentioned? Why would they celebrate Kwanzaa?
I don't know anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa? Or who even mentions Kwanzaa.
The next thing you will be expecting is that the President and Mrs. Obama start wearing do-rags or that the President starts wearing his pants so that his behind hangs out just because many black people do this.
Stop this foolishness. Not all black people eat chitterlings. And I have NEVER cooked collared or any other kind of greens in my life. Not do I eat neck bones or pig's feet. Or celebrate Kwanzaa.
This means that I am not black?
God, some black people are so disappointing.

Andrew from Pleasure for the Empire believes that Kwanzaa was conceived by a communist:

Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

We're supposed to unquestioningly obey our leaders like sheep? Hey, that's cool with Pol Pot and Ceausescu. Wait a minute, aren't the leaders the ones who got us into this mess in the first place? Isn't the unquestioning "belief" in leaders exactly what Malcolm X's problem with Elijah Mohammad was?
Whether our leader is George W. Bush or Gustav Stalin, I don't see any reason to "believe with all our heart" in them. Heck, I don't even "believe with all my heart" in Barack Obama. I think he does a good job at a variety of things. But when the facts change, I change my mind.

The reason why I ask this question about whether this is a good time to celebrate Kwanzaa is because of the heightened reaction about race. The ethnocentric differences have been heightened since Obama started his presidency and everything that is overtly 'blackified' in western society is now targeted.

While my family does not celebrate Kwanzaa, I think that people who do have to remember what it is about and what it is not. It is about celebration, remembering  (primarily) African-American history and of course pride. What it is not about is separatism, 'bad pride' which means that the acknowledgement of one's cultural ethnicity means demeaning someone else's, and purposefully isolating one from the rest of society.

Yes, it is a blatant man-made holiday - but Ron Karenga never alluded that it was to be referred to something other than that. We have the right to acknowledge it, and we have the right not to. But to those that choose to, happy Kwanzaa!

 

 

 

 

Contributing EditorRace, Ethnicity & Culture

Blog: Writing is Fighting: www.lainad.typepad.com

Writer: Hellbound: www. hellbound.ca

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