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Happy Kwanzaa?



Two days into the latest celebration of Kwanzaa, are black Americans finally embracing “their” holiday?  It sure doesn’t seem that way …

Created by black nationalist Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa was established in 1966 to provide blacks around the world with an alternative to Christmas – part of a broader “cultural revolution” envisioned by its founder.

“You must have a cultural revolution before the violent revolution,” Karenga stated at the time. “The cultural revolution gives identity, purpose and direction.”

For those of you unhip to Kwanzaa, the holiday runs from December 26 through January 1 and celebrates the “matunda ya kwanza” (Swahili for “first fruits of the harvest”).  Each day commemorates one of the holiday’s seven core principles (“nguzo saba”) – including the decidedly socialist notion of “ujima” (collective responsibility) and the inherently discriminatory “ujamaa” – a form of “cooperative economics” that encourages blacks to confine their purchasing power within their own community.

Kwanzaa was explicitly anti-Christian in its early years.  In 1967, Karenga referred to Jesus Christ as “psychotic.” He also referred to Christianity as a “white religion” with a “white God” and that “any ‘negro’ who believes in it is a sick ‘negro.'”

Oy …

Karenga has softened his tone in recent years, insisting that his holiday was “not created to give people an alternative” to other religions.  He has also invited whites to participate – and even invited whites to his own family’s Kwanzaa celebration.

That’s commendable …

Is anyone else celebrating Kwanzaa, though?

According to a 2015 survey (.pdf) commissioned by the National Retail Federation, roughly 92 percent of America’s 252 million adults celebrate a winter holiday.

Of those, 94.3 percent (or 218.2 million American adults) said they celebrated Christmas and 6.5 percent (or 15 million American adults) said they celebrated Hanukkah.  By contrast, only 1.9 percent (or 4.3 million American adults) said they celebrated Kwanzaa – and a chunk of those obviously aren’t celebrating it exclusively.

Given the survey’s margin of error was 1.2 percent (i.e. three million people), Kwanzaa is essentially a rounding error.  And given that nearly 13.5 percent of the American population is black, it’s clear that a majority of our nation’s largest racial minority continues to prefer celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah.

Does it matter to us?

No.  As libertarians we don’t really care what holiday people choose celebrate – or if they choose to celebrate at all.  To wit: You can do unspeakable things with your aluminum Festivus pole if you wish – just be sure to keep children and non-consenting adults out of the equation.

Having said that, we believe the holidays are a time for people to come together (ahem) … and a holiday that originated in exclusivity isn’t exactly promoting unity.



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