Kwanzaa – what is it REALLY?

There are candles involved.

Around this time of year, religion can get pretty confusing (we’re looking at you Kentucky). And, since no one discusses race-related things like the President encourages us to, you might not have had a discussion with someone about Kwanzaa-question-mark. So, we thought we’d do some extensive research Internet searching to probe more into this Kwanzaa business. Here’s what we found out from the “official Kwanzaa website” (literally):

  • “Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach, author and scholar-activist who stresses the indispensable need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture.”
  • “[I]t is important to note Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness.”
  • “Kwanzaa is clearly an African holiday created for African peoples. But other people can and do celebrate it, just like other people participate in Cinco de Mayo besides Mexicans; Chinese New Year besides Chinese; Native American pow wows besides Native Americans. The question is, under what circumstances? There are both communal and public celebrations. One can properly hold a communal celebration dedicated essentially to community persons. But in a public context, say public school or college, we can properly have public celebrations which include others. How this is done depends on particular circumstances. But in any case, particular people should always be in control of and conduct their own celebrations. Audience attendance is one thing; conducting a ritual is another.”

Hmmmmmm… still pretty confusing.

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