Are Black People Still Celebrating Kwanzaa?

“As family and friends gather to celebrate Kwanzaa, our citizens are reminded of the many African Americans who have contributed their talent and strength to this great Nation. I commend those observing this holiday for taking pride in your rich heritage. May the coming year be filled with the blessings of health and happiness. ” – GEORGE W. BUSH

Did you know that President Bush issues a Kwanzaa message?  Probably not…because you don’t care. 

I remember when Kwanzaa was in vogue.  When we were are wearing leather medalions with a red, gold and green Africas in the middle.  When my mom used to make and sell those…lol.  Custom, custom people.  Kente cloth sashes, headwraps and fake kswahili greetings.  You know the drill.  LOL

I wish that the holiday had caught on.  Other than Martin Luther King Jr.’s B-day and in some states Juneteenth, Kwanzaa is the most known but least celebrated black holiday.  Maybe if it was in the summertime when Negros could bar-b-que or plan an outdoor festival sponsored by Crown Royal or Hennessey.  Maybe someone should write a Kwanzaa anthem with a party line dance, like the “Booty Call”.   Even better,  if black folks could get the full 7 days off of work for the holiday we would happily celebrate with handmade cultural gifts and create a atmosphere of afrocentric celebration during the winter holidays.  I’m sure that marketers would see the opportunity to harness the collective, random, wanton consumerism that so radiates from the black community.

Kwanzaa themed Nikes and Timberland boots in the liberation colors
Red, black, and green (Rubies, Onyx, and Emerald) grills for your mouth
Kwanzaa themed mixed tapes sold all around the hood
Kwanzaa ring tones (Something like “Today is Nia!”…or something like that)

Eh…just a thought.  You never know.  I found an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday about the holiday…

These days, though, I fear for the future of Kwanzaa. The latest figures, from a 2004 study by the National Retail Foundation, say that just 13 percent of African Americans observe the holiday. When I go to Kwanzaa ceremonies, the audience is mostly folks in their 40s and older. I don’t see the younger people, the ones who need to embrace Kwanzaa and keep it vibrant.

Even though Kwanzaa harks back to Africa, it didn’t originate there. It’s the brainchild of Maulana Ron Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University, Long Beach, who headed the Organization Us, a black nationalist group based in Los Angeles. According to, Kwanzaa was created in 1966 “to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture.” He decided to use Swahili for its rites because he says it is the most widely spoken African language.

But Karenga didn’t need to create a holiday to emphasize our ancestral connections. He could have reached into our past and revived an authentic African American celebration.

In the colonial-era celebration Pinkster, New England slaves spent the week following Pentecost Sunday dancing and drumming. In the John Conny festivals our ancestors held during antebellum times, slaves in North Carolina and Virginia dressed in masks — like their African ancestors — and paraded from dwelling to dwelling in the “free time” between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Although I didn’t champion Kwanzaa when it began, I didn’t condemn it, either. As a journalist, I wrote feature articles about the holiday in the late 1980s. But the ’90s, with their revival of black nationalism, seem to have been the heyday of Kwanzaa.

Now, it seems to be under attack.

Click here for the full article: Kwanzaa’s Lights Go Dim

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Filed under africa, african american, black, black man, black women, community, culture, politics, race, society

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