2011 marks the 45th anniversary of Kwanzaa, but do Black people actually care to celebrate it? Dr. Maulana Karenga created this holiday for African Americans and Pan Africans all over the world to celebrate family, community and culture. On paper, Kwanzaa is a chance for Black people to connect and uplift each other post Christmas, but are we actually practicing?
It’s not uncommon to hear a “Happy Kwanzaa” along with “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” holiday greetings in ones effort to be politically correct and inclusive. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find Black people who truly celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
Black people just don’t care about Kwanzaa the way they should. Here are five reasons why Kwanzaa isn’t as celebrated as it used to be, along with suggestions on how to make it better.
Too Hard To Remember
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are mentioned first in Swahili, a language most Black people are comfortable with. All of the principles are uplifting and positive, but the quality of the message is literally being lost in translation.
Suggestion: Focus on the English versions of the principles to simplify them and make them more memorable.
Blame It On The Economy
During the seven day celebration of Kwanzaa, gifts are to be exchanged on each day. Everyone would love to receive a gift a day, but who’s really trying to buy more gifts after Christmas? Even if you buy inexpensive gifts for your family members and exclude your friends, seven for each can add up quickly. Budgets are tighter than ever thanks to the recession, and it’s just not economically feasible to purchase more gifts for Kwanzaa, when many are tapped out from buying Christmas gifts. Even though Kwanzaa gifts can be homemade, people simply may not have the time to give to make the gifts.
Suggestion: Eliminate the gift giving element of Kwanzaa and focus on the principles.
Kwanzaa is distinctly different and separate from Christmas, but since it begins immediately afterwards, Kwanzaa is at a huge disadvantage. Even though Kwanzaa has been around for over four decades, celebrating the birth of Christ is still a priority for many Black people, who don’t seem to have the bandwidth to give Kwanzaa the energy or attention it deserves.
Suggestion: Move Kwanzaa out of December.
Since the Christmas season begins after Thanksgiving, December is all about Christmas and the recovery. And of course New Year’s Eve and day get a lot of attention, too. Instead of trying to get people to celebrate Kwanzaa while we’re in holiday mode, maybe it would make more sense to include it another month focused on celebrating Black History.
Suggestion: Move Kwanzaa to February and make it a part of Black History Month.
The best way to make a day feel like a holiday, is to get the day off. But since it’s not likely that employers will give all Black people time off to celebrate Kwanzaa. If there was a day dedicated to recognizing the seven principles, maybe we would give Kwanzaa more attention
Suggestion: Collectively take a day off to celebrate Kwanzaa.