Why Do You Keep Asking Whether We “Need” Kwanzaa?


Former White House Fellow, Harvard grad, and Black dude, Theodore Johnson, wrote an article at HuffPo recently that questioned whether we still need Kwanzaa.  I don’t understand the endless need to minimize or delegitimize Kwanzaa. Rarely, if ever, do we read similar articles about holidays for Jews, the Irish, Germans, the Chinese, etc. Their holidays are legitimate. Ours, on the other hand, are questioned and protested, often by other Blacks. Holidays primarily serve the function of reuniting families and reconnecting us to principles, traditions, and values. That’s good for everyone, regardless of race, culture, or ethnicity.

If you aren’t interested in the Kwanzaa tradition and its values or message, fine, don’t celebrate it. God knows I could care less about a lot of holidays. But I don’t defecate on them and attempt to run them out of existence using the technology of the day.

And I’m saying this as a guy who doesn’t particularly love Kwanzaa (the whole seven day thing kinda wears me out and drags on). I acknowledge, however, that of all people, African Americans–who still by and large are called by the surnames of the Whites who once owned our enslaved forefathers, think about that for a moment–are better off with a holiday that affirms, values, and reconnects us to something greater. Nothing’s wrong with that.

2 thoughts on “Why Do You Keep Asking Whether We “Need” Kwanzaa?

  1. You are aware of the “holiday’s” origin and its founder, aren’t you? I think that may be why people continue to ask the question. That, and the fact that very few people actually celebrate it. It seems more people wish “happy Kwanzaa” than actually celebrate it.

    • Thanks for the comment, John. Here are the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Would you say any of those are questionable?

      On another note, your response sort of makes my point, though I appreciate it nonetheless. Do people loudly and continuously question the origins and founders of St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, or Hanukkah? I’m not even sure people protest Columbus Day as much as they do Kwanzaa.

      As for Dr. Karenga… He’s become sort of a mythical figure to me, and I’m not sure what public information is trustworthy. All I can say is that every time I’ve heard him speak he’s made a lot of sense.

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