Perusing my Facebook page, I came across this 'news' story about a Senator that thinks that Kwanzaa is a waste of a holiday. http://ow.ly/gujo5
I mean, if I'm honest, I have to say I barely thought about Kwanzaa this holiday season. Isn't the way that we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year as designed by consumerism to zap of our time, money and energy not enough? You want me to add another holiday for being black?
So, I thought it was interesting that this Senator Glenn Grotham had something to say about Kwanzaa, first because I was like, dang can't we have a holiday if we want to without homeboy steppin' all up in our territory. Then, I was irritated because he is a white man telling other people that "almost all black people ignore" Kwanzaa. He don know me. So, ahem, for not having met me, (loud sigh and neck roll inserted here) how did he know that I am one of those black people that does not observe Kwanzaa?
After my mild irritations subsided, and because I laughed at my own ridiculousness, I decided to do a little research thinking that maybe I'd read all about it and decide that Kwanzaa is something I'd like to start preparing to celebrate in 2013; I mean, I could open a Pinterest board and starting planning now.
Honestly though, I will admit that I've often felt guilty about not taking on more responsibility and educating my own kids and students I have taught, about Kwanzaa. A perfect example of doubting my own blackness.
Never mind that my parents and extended family hardly talked about Kwanzaa and did not celebrate it. I am straining my mind to recall whether there were any decorations, books or talks about it all. Huh. Nothing comes to mind, but somehow I've still allowed this holiday to cause me shame about not being the proper amount of black because I do not celebrate it.
In my research efforts, I found a lot of information but for the purposes of this post, I will not explain Kwanzaa in depth, but will refer you to the Official Kwanzaa website here: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml
The website introduces the cultural celebration by stating the following:
'Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from 26 December thru 1 January, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.'
The 7 Swahili principles of Kwanzaa:
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (self-determination)
- Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
- Nia (purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (faith)
Created by Ron Karenga back in 1966, the holiday is a bit controversial for many reasons and I believe that it is wise for any person to research Mr. Karenga and his checkered past before simply accepting the pillars and living the traditions of the holiday.
I won't argue the authenticity of the holiday's foundation in Africa - Karenga says it originates from the first fruits, hence the name Kwanzaa (in Swahili) other journalists and historians argue that Kwanzaa's principles are not at all founded on African principles over a technicality that Kwanzaa in Swahili is only spelled with one 'a'. No matter its origin, continuing to celebrate without understanding more of who this man is, is in my humble blogger author opinion, unwise.
Karenga is quoted as admitted that he created the holiday as a way to bring people together around shared culture.
“I created Kwanzaa,” laughed Ron Karenga like a teenager who’s just divulged a deeply held, precious secret. “People think it’s African. But it’s not. I wanted to give black people a holiday of their own. So I came up with Kwanzaa. I said it was African because you know black people in this country wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods (blacks) would be partying!” - Ron Karenga
Read the 2007 article, "The Story of Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa's Founder" for more details. http://www.wabashunion.org/dec2007/the-story-of-ron-karenga-kwanzaa’s-founder
In and of themselves, the principles of Kwanzaa seem fine to spend time looking into. However, I don't think that I need another holiday to celebrate just because it was created by a black man for black folks to "party" in order to be more connected to black culture.
Asking one of our children what he knew about the holiday, he said, "Isn't that the one with the 8 candles?"
Why confuse him? We'll stick with Christmas.
***Photo from Google Images (www.communities.washingtontimes)