So not everybody learns about Kwanzaa, I discovered. It should have been less surprising than it was. I remember learning about it in elementary school, mostly because we were taught by my friend’s father, who was a fun and active (and frequent) visitor to our classroom. My school was predominantly African American, and I imagine that his visits, which were not always, but predominantly, centered around exposure to the idea of African roots, and around African American culture and themes, are remembered very differently by my African American classmates than by me and my few white classmates. I really liked him though – he was an excellent and fun teacher (one year he brought in a radio that we got to smash with a hammer to break the casing and find out what was inside). I credit a lot of my desire to come correct about race to him.
Anyway, Kwanzaa has always been in the back of my mind as one of the big winter holidays, along with Christmas, Hannukah, and Solstice, so if you haven’t been exposed to Kwanzaa, you should check it out.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga (professor of African Studies at CSU) and is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Kwanzaa uses terms derived from Swahili and was created with the intent of recovering and affirming African roots and culture, as well as providing an opportunity to strengthen the ties of community, in the context of the Black Liberation Movement of the time. The seven nights of Kwanzaa each have a principle to discuss and meditate on and candles to light in the kinara. Here is sheridf, on the Crunk Feminist Collective, on the seven principles of Kwanzaa:
So have a joyous second night of Kwanzaa, and I’m sorry this wasn’t posted on the first one.