Hodgepodgeatorium 01.01.04


I’m not a fan of Kwanzaa.

Now I know you’re thinking “but Mathan, aren’t you the token African American guy for 411African American? I thought Kwanzaa was for African Americans by African Americans.” Yeah, I may be Black (or as some of my anti-fan have posited, I may not be) but that doesn’t mean that I’m all for Kwanzaa.

Don’t get me wrong it does have good points. It makes a weak attempt to drive a wedge between Blacks and a tool that has been used to subjugate us, Christianity. I say weak attempt, because while it tries to supplant Christmas, it also tries to coexist. But it does it’s part to keep Black children from believing that in order to get what they really want they will bow to the will of a jolly white man’s idea of what constitutes “naughty” and “nice,” so it should be commended on that. Oh yeah and Kwanzaa has a pretty nifty color scheme.

But is has plenty of cons to go with it. Firstly it is a made up holiday. While it may not be made up in the Hallmark sense of selling cards, it is made up nonetheless. It was invented in 1966. Do you know what else was invented in 1966? Cued Speech. Oh you don’t know what Cued Speech is, then clearly 1966 wasn’t a good year for inventions.

I mean Ronald Regan was elected Governor of California in 1966. Isn’t that absurd, an actor the governor of California? Obviously not too many good things came out of 1966, and Kwanzaa wasn’t one of them. Compact Discs and Gatorade are older than Kwanzaa, and probably have more social impact.

While I think the intention behind Kwanzaa is a good one, the principles it teaches suffer from poor placement. Can Kwanzaa really compete with those two major religious holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah? Those are two powerhouses. And honestly Kwanzaa’s lack of religious affiliation really hurts it in the credibility category. Everyone knows what Christmas is, and respects Hanukkah. But Kwanzaa gets snickered at. I can’t really see myself saying to my boss “um chief, I can’t work on Wednesday, we’re having this Karamu, and I kind of have to be there.”

Christmas is part of the countries consciousness. And thanks to Adam Sandler I know Hanukkah is composed of eight nights. But what do you know about Kwanzaa? For that matter what do I know about Kwanzaa? Perhaps all Kwanzaa needs is a good P.R. push. But even with that it still is a cultural thing for a pretty splintered community.

And back to that cultural thing, it’s about a culture that, for the most part Blacks don’t know much about. Now I’m sure that my detractors are thinking “Ah ha! So if you can’t relate to Africans and their culture then why do you constantly bring up slavery? Both aspects of the past are pretty far removed from your present.”

Ok, the way I see it we are still dealing with the affects of slavery. So it does affect the present. But whatever cultural ties Blacks had to Africa were severed as a result of slavery. That culture was taken from us, just as we were taken from it.

Honestly, in my eyes Black in America and Africans aren’t really “brothers and sisters.” We are more like cousins. We share a family link, but not a family history. And if I know nothing about that culture, then why would I claim it for seven days, spouting some foolish rhetoric. It’d be like an American who had some Irish blood celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to the fullest. Or a guy who had a German surname going full on for Oktoberfest. And how often does that happen?

Besides the Black community has more pressing concerns than legitimatising Kwanzaa. Increasing voter turn out should be high on that list, so that our voice could actually be heard. Personally I feel that the portrayal of Blacks in the media should also be kind of high on that list. I for one am kind of tired of the type of roles I see many Blacks in, which basically perpetuate stereotypes.

Another concern should be the strengthening of the community itself. During segregation we may have been kept down, but at least we had a modicum of unity. Perhaps if Kwanzaa’s principles were taught and practiced year round instead of for just seven days, the Black community would be looked at as something to fall back on, instead of turn your back on.

So there you have it. Kwanzaa suffers from a complete lack of credibility in my eyes. Why should I celebrate something that was a product of one of the most divisive decades in U.S. history? But more importantly why should I celebrate something that is just a made up holiday? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take down my Festivus Pole.