(Todd A. Smith)
Around this time of the year, social media becomes so predictable in so many different ways.
As a Christian, my favorite holiday is probably Christmas.
Therefore, I love seeing all the festive posts of people opening their gifts and spending time with loved-ones.
As someone who respects all religions, I also love to see all the Happy Hannukah posts from those that observe that celebration.
Furthermore, I always look forward to what the new year will bring for my family and I, as I reminisce on how great the Lord has been for the past 365 days.
While I have never actively celebrated Kwanzaa yet, I support the principles that the celebration attempts to teach to my community, the African-American community.
Kwanzaa has become so mainstream that I have begun seeing social media posts from professional sports teams and professional organizations like fraternities and sororities honoring the celebration.
Unfortunately, with honor also comes hate as many non-African-Americans spend the better part of a week complaining about Kwanzaa and debating its relevance.
Many say we should ignore Kwanzaa because it is a made-up holiday or celebration.
The standard reply to such a statement is what holiday or celebration isn’t a made-up occasion or man-made holiday?
America just celebrated its second Juneteenth national holiday after President Joe Biden signed a bill last year, which made the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas found out about their emancipation in 1865 a national holiday.
In the 1980s, former President Ronald Reagan signed a bill which made Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.
Similar scenarios have made Columbus Day, Presidents’ Day and Thanksgiving national holidays.
None of those days were holidays until men in very high places designated them as a holiday.
Even many Christian holidays exist because Christian men and women thought celebrating certain days would make it easier to assimilate pagans into Christianity.
So why all the vitriol for Kwanzaa?
The answer is the same answer that could explain the vitriol that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day received back in the day.
That vitriol reared its ugly head again when President Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday.
Holidays and celebrations often honor the best that society has to offer.
Furthermore, holidays often celebrate momentous events in the history of a country, state or area.
Obviously, this country was built on White supremacy.
Therefore, many people of a certain hue have no problem celebrating the slaughter of many Native Americans.
Some of those same people do not have a problem with Europeans stealing a country away from the aforementioned demographic.
Anything that honors White supremacy and dominance is O.K. to celebrate.
However, the minute that America attempts to celebrate the great accomplishments of the African-American community or that community’s day of independence, all you know what breaks out.
I do not recall such vitriol for celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo.
Unfortunately, I only see hate for “Día de Negro” (a.k.a. any day designated for the greatness of the African-American community).
Many people would rather work on a holiday than to honor a great African-American or a great day in African-American history.
That shows that while progress has been made, America still has millions of miles to go before it can call itself the melting pot that it attempts to be.
However, the disrespect that Kwanzaa receives from some non-African-Americans shows hypocrisy as well because many other communities practice the principles of Kwanzaa within their communities and families daily.
Inadvertently, practicing Kwanzaa is one of the reasons why many non-African-American communities have more wealth than African-Americans and arguably sometimes have more unity than our community does.
More importantly, if the country and world practiced some of the principles of Kwanzaa, we might lessen some of the problems we now face.
The first principle of Kwanzaa is Umoja or unity.
Wouldn’t America look much better in 2023 if we had more unity and less disharmony?
We need more unity interracially, politically and philosophically.
The lack of unity almost tore the country apart over the last two years when looking at all the political violence that erupted.
The second principle of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia or self-determination.
America has always preached Kujichagulia because it has falsely believed in the narrative of pulling oneself up from their bootstraps.
Therefore, when African-Americans want to practice self-determination to succeed despite the obstacles, imagine having a problem with that.
The third principle of Kwanzaa is Ujima or collective work and responsibility.
Many racists often say that African-Americans are lazy and do not take accountability for their own mistakes, instead blaming everything on racism.
Therefore, how could anyone get upset when African-Americans encourage their people to work and take responsibility for their actions?
The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa or cooperative economics, which basically means pooling resources together in a community to succeed together.
African-Americans preach this all the time by encouraging people to support African-American-owned businesses.
Nevertheless, African-Americans are often notorious for supporting businesses owned by people of other races, even when many entrepreneurs from those communities treat our people poorly.
Furthermore, many people from other communities often refuse to support African-American-owned businesses, especially if the owners of the company are professionals like doctors, lawyers, etc.
Many instead support professionals from their own community.
Therefore, if other communities can practice cooperative economics, why can’t African-Americans?
The fifth principle of Kwanzaa is Nia, which means purpose.
It is important that all people find out their purpose in life.
There is a saying that the two most important days in a person’s life is the day he/she is born and the day they figure out why they were born.
The sixth principle of Kwanzaa is Kuumba or creativity.
A person showcasing their creativity should not offend anyone.
Furthermore, the creative arts can often bring people together despite differences.
The seventh and final principle of Kwanzaa is Imani or faith.
For a Christian, or member of any other religion, faith should be the most important thing in life.
That my friends is what Kwanzaa represents.
So, while Kwanzaa has its critics, especially from outside the African-American community, if people actually educated themselves on the principles of the celebration, many would realize that those principles should be exercised daily throughout the world.
More importantly, critics would realize they have been practicing Kwanzaa themselves this entire time.