Just admit it. Kwanzaa has always kind of felt like a knockoff end-of-the-year holiday. Most black people don't even give it any love (I do, of course, but that's just because my parents were persistent.) Maybe it's time to change all that and give a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T and a lot less shade to the little holiday that could.
Lots of well-meaning people make jokes about Kwanzaa.
And yes, some of them are pretty darn funny. But apparently, it isn't just the nice, witty coworkers at your office holiday party who make fun of this stepchild African-American tradition.
*Record scratch* People like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter have joined the fun, which should be a sign that perhaps we ought to investigate a little further, lest we be seated next to them in "making fun of black things" class.
First things first: What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a weeklong secular (nonreligious) holiday that honors and celebrates African heritage, traditions, and culture in African-American life. It is observed annually from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.
Kwanzaa focuses on seven key principles and commitments (one for each day of the holiday).
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
If Kwanzaa is so wonderful — it even has a national stamp! — why isn't it given its due with the other major holidays?
Probably because it's the baby of the bunch. Kwanzaa was created in 1965 by professor, activist, and author Dr. Maulana Karenga. And while most people get that humans created all holidays (even the religious ones) to honor meaningful and special things, thereby making Kwanzaa no less "valid," it's sometimes hard to remember when so few people acknowledge it and the creator is still alive.
Kwanzaa was actually pretty hot in the '80s and '90s. But according to Duke University's Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Kwanzaa has waned in popularity recently because the energy of the cultural moment in which it was created (the black freedom struggle of the 1960s) has changed. It is much easier to connect with African and uniquely African-American culture today (thanks, Internet!), so there isn't as much of a hunger for a separate holiday.
But that doesn't make it any less dope.
And there is no real reason to slander it. There's no imaginary characters climbing down chimneys, no red-nosed animals flying with toys through the sky. Nothing to see here except a little community, solidarity, and cultural appreciation.
So get it together, folks. Stop the jokes.
Let Jessica Williams from "The Daily Show" and funny woman Phoebe Robinson break it down for you as only two black female millennial comics can: hilariously.