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Kwanzaa 2014

It is that time of year that I always think about Kwanzaa. Yes, there was a time in my life where my family got together to try to celebrate this cultural tradition. This seems silly now, but I choose not to celebrate the past few years, because I felt embarrassed to not be with a Black person, and celebrate this holiday. These days, I figured, it is simply best to show someone my full self, so they are not completely surprised. I have grown up to find that dating someone is not Black, does not mean they cannot understand you, or that I have to hide my blackness. I certainly do not want someone who is colorblind, but someone who accepts me as whole.

( I didn’t want to be this guy)

I digress. Kwanzaa was established by a professor of mine back in college by the name of Mulana Karenga. The man himself is to be debated, but he did start this tradition back in 1966. The time is me ants to honor African heritage while celebrated culture, community, and family. During this time, the Black Power movements among other were in full swing. This celebration was a time to reclaim and celebrate the heritage of people of African descent, since it was stripped away over the last few hundred years during slavery. The name has its origins in Swahili and translates “matunda ya kwanza” or first fruits in English.

When is it celebrated

– December 26th to January 1st

Colors-

Red – blood shed during slavery, jim crow, and civil rights movements, in addition to symbolizing the blood united everyone with African ancestry.
Black – Represents the people
Green- Represents Africa

There are 7 principles that are celebrated daily throughout the time of Kwanzaa.

Umoja: Unity
Kujichagulia: Self-determination
Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
Nia: Purpose
Kuumba: Creativity
Imani: Faith

When we celebrated, we would light a candle and exchange words or handmade gifts. My father even purchased some traditional clothing from Nigeria that we wore. I hated it at the time, because I was completely into Christmas, and could not understand the reason behind it. Thanks parents for forcing me to learn. There would also normally be a small dinner on the 1st.

Kwanzaa, though still not widely celebrated, I believe still is important, especially to those in the diaspora (people of African descent living outside of Africa/descendants of victims of the transatlantic slave trade). It is a nice way to put life in perspective, and make the season less about materialism but about honoring one’s heritage. I think many people do not realize what it is like to be raised in a place like America, where as a Black woman I was taught the history of people who looked like me started with slavery, and ended with MLK, and now everything was fine. There was no connection to Africa, and absolutely no way of knowing where you came from on the continent. It helped spark and interest in me to learn about my roots (or as much as I could find) by trying to get back to them. It is a start, but of course you cannot paint African traditions as if they are all one monolith. My goal is to afford an actual DNA test to figure out where I could of possibly came from in Africa. Would be nice to finally answer that question.

So for those wondering what Kwanzaa is, and why some people celebrate it, hope this helps you discover something new.

kwanzaa-kinara

  • Craig

    As for Kwanzaa u explained it well, My family did not celebrate any holidays, one day I’m gonna create my own, I’ve been looking into some already existing ones like Nat Turner day, our true heroes would never get a national holiday(think about that). The fight against white supremacy lies in understanding ourselves as black people. Not putting white on a pedestal or making them comfortable. First question every black person should ask themselves when they wake up is “What are we going to do about systematic white supremacy?”. U are on the right path.

    I think many people do not realize what it is like to be raised in a place like America, where as a Black woman I was taught the history of people who looked like me started with slavery, and ended with MLK, and now everything was fine. << That is so true an sad, I've heard the 1st part but it ending with MLK I was like whoa.

    This seems silly now, but I choose not to celebrate the past few years, because I felt embarrassed to not be with a Black person, and celebrate this holiday. << I actually consider u conscious, but thats where temptation comes in. I don't know if u went looking for white men or not, but thats a form of escape not saying its easier or harder but its an escape its assimilation, it doesn't change racism but the approach is much less abrasive if you assimilate which is fine if thats what one wants(I'm being way too nice)…and one way to do that as a Black man is to date white women. if you assimilate…and one way to do that as a Black person is to "date" white people., some black guys say it easier to be with a white woman, probably is since white people are ahead on the scoreboard but the connection u are giving up is a big downside.

    Embarrassed is a big word an feeling. U were right to feel embarrassed, scratch that, u wouldn't have felt embarrassed if u were SURE, cause depending on your partner u wouldn't be representing what the holiday is about, its funny we as black people can do anything good or bad in the world but when we get pro black we always try to make white people feel comfortable an they try to make us feel guilty, I'm guilty of that an I'm working on it. why do they have to be comfortable an not feel threatened in order for us to express ourselves? Don't think just b/c you are laying with a white person they are still not practicing systematic white supremacy. A white supremacist does not have a problem interacting with black people as long as the black person is in an inferior position same goes for black men.

    Some white people are down for the cause but its way less white men down than white women, them being down for the black cause is also being down for poor whites they just dont realize it or care. I feel that most of the time black women who date white men adopt their white supremacist views an that white women who date black men tend to be more in tune with black culture, I know thats not your case though, I see your posts an sometimes u are on a island by yourself which is brave.

    Does not mean they cannot understand you, or that I have to hide my blackness << Thats true an I say the relationship doesn't make sense if they dont understand your history or present an those are few an far in between, hell they could love everything about u but hate every black person u know. Whites who like blacks can be racist as well, I know some queen of spade type women who are racist.

    I have a big question which can also be asked of black men (although I recognize male an female are different) for u not to offend but I would love your answer: How can u fight u white supremacy(which is a part of everyday life) from up under a white man?

    • Dai

      There is no such thing as biological race. It is nowt but a political idea. We’re all sub-species homosapiens.

      • Craig

        true, but there aint no way around it. People are oppressed by race an bolstered by race, its a fact of life, race is in everything, black people weren’t allowed to read or write at one point based on race.