The celebration of Kwanzaa officially kicked off on Monday, and yet for for some black Americans, Kwanzaa is a holiday we don’t really know much about.
- For more on Kwanzaa, and black entertainment in general, join our growing Facebook fan page!
And really, we don’t care to know. When it comes to Kwanzaa, we’re all too willing to take a pass, content in decorating our Christmas trees and embracing the idea of Santa Claus.
And that’s cool. I admit to being “that guy” too. Caught up in buying gifts and watching X-mas flicks, I’ve so pushed Kwanzaa to the periphery of my mind that it only seems to become relevant after the celebration has begun.
The widespread “erasure of Kwanzaa” is likely due to the celebration being misunderstood. You won’t get a history lesson here, but suffice it to say that this 40-year-old non-religious holiday (founded by Maulana Karenga) was created to help those of African descent reconnect with their roots.
Instead, like in this article from The Grio, we lambast Kwanzaa and call it “wack.”
So it’s no surprise that the indifference (or should I say contempt?) towards Kwanzaa by African Americans has spilled over into our entertainment.
We can’t expect shows like TI and Tiny to break down Kwanzaa’s seven symbols of African culture or have Love and Hip Hop’s Chrissy and Jim spend a quiet night at home lighting a kinara, but the complete absence of any mention of Kwanzaa within the entire realm of black entertainment—from film and music to awards shows and TV specials (remember “Harambee!” in 1996?)–truly shows how disconnected African Americans are from the holiday.
Depending on how you see it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just because something is “made for us” doesn’t mean it should be blindly followed or widely adopted.
But with each passing year, I get the sense that neither is the case. That folks aren’t giving the Heisman to Kwanzaa due to some rebellious act or a staunch devotion to Saint Nick.
It’s the fact that, despite having started on Monday, Kwanzaa is simply nowhere to be found on our radar.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Aaliyah’s death and why it still matters
Phillip Sheppard’s ‘crazy’ rant shows ‘Survivor’ race problem
Is Ashley Judd right about hip hop and its ‘rape culutre?’
- For more on black entertainment in general, join our growing Facebook fan page!