Kwanzaa Not a Christmas SubstituteI feel almost as chary of disputing an African-American's views on Kwanzaa as I was of talking about Jewish identity. Still, here goes:
Tony Pierce rips Kwanzaa as "some watered down bullshit made up strip mall phony holiday so you can wear a koofi," and even sees the holiday as contributing to the white supremacist cause:
black folk, the racists want us to have kwanza. it makes us look ridiculous and lost. kwanza represents something missing from being Christian. racists dont want black folk being Christian. they dont want to be equals to us. they dont want to share beliefs, they dont want to have anything to do with us, cuz they know that familiarity destroys ignorance, and only the ignorant can remain hateful.Interestingly, at the beginning of the post Pierce also deprecates non-Christian Christmas symbols like lights, snowmen and a Winnie-the-Pooh Santa as a distraction from the true meaning of the holiday, the celebration of Jesus's birth.
worst thing you could do to a racist is go to his church, stand next to his daughter, sing the songs better, know the word better, and exclusively talk about america as if its your home and has been for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years longer than him.
watch him smile when you talk about africa, cuz thats where he wants you.
Yet my underderstanding of Kwanzaa (as vaguely remembered from Dean Turner's class on the African American Community) is that it is not a substitute for Christmas, nor is it part of the essentially meaningless secularity now associated with the season.
Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture.To emphasize that it does not attempt to replace the Christian holiday, Kwanzaa begins on December 26, and the values celebrated (one each day) can be seen as supplementary to the values of Jesus's life. Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith surely are not contrary to Christianity. Indeed, the centrality of family and community in Kwanzaa celebration counters the festivals of gluttony and materialism that most people's Christmases are.
To be honest, I am troubled by Pierce's saying that talking about one's ancestors' home is somehow unAmerican, and that one "beats" the white supremacist by one's family's having been in the United States longer than his. By paying attention to the opinions of racists, Pierce is buying into their value system.
No American, blackwhitebrownwhatever, is made more or less American by the length of time in which her family has resided here. No American is made more or less American by knowing something about non-European traditions and by having celebrations that did not originate in Europe. Celebrating Kwanzaa need not take away from celebrating Christmas.