Kwanzaa Forgotten Holiday?

Reason‘s Michael Moynihan notes that Kwanzaa seems to have been quietly dismissed from the zeitgeist.

In the days leading up the Christmas, one couldn’t help but notice that references to Kwanzaa, the decades-old African-American holiday that captured so many dull minds during the Great Culture Wars of the 1990s, were almost nonexistent. Kwanzaa, an afrocentic celebration of black self-reliance (or something) that so spooked the “war on Christmas” types, has largely disappeared. Back in the day, its champions and critics alike thought it could potentially replace Christmas in the very Christian African-American community.

But now, silence.

Does anyone remember that back in the early 1990s, AT&T ran television ads suggesting that blacks call their families during Kwanzaa using their telephone service? That stores stocked Kwanzaa candles and  kente clothes? That student unions were festooned with Marcus Garvey’s pan-African flag? In 1995, a local activist triumphantly told The Boston Globe, “We’re at the point now where Kwanzaa has gotten so big that we feel like Santa Claus is really on the way out.”

So, what happened?

It is, perhaps, an encouraging sign of the times. In many respects, the Great Culture Wars are over, and while most black studies departments still embrace the balkanizing principles of multiculturalism, the great majority of African Americans have little interest in dressing up like Jim Brown and lighting candles that symbolize the workers controlling the means of production.

Or, perhaps, it was just a fad and, like pet rocks, mood rings, and disco, the novelty wore off.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DavidL says:

    Kwanzaa is gone and does anybody care? The reason for the holiday seemed artifical and totured to me, an alternative to Christmas for blacks.

    The suppose principals of Kwanzaa weren’t African. They were socialist. Are blacks particularly socialist? I don’t think so.

    Did black Christians ever need an alternative to Christmas? Not as for as I can tell. Jesus was never meant as as the savior for only those of us who resemble Sheets Byrd.

    Now on the other hand, there was seem to some rational behind Festivus, a holiday for those who don’t believe in holidsys.

  2. rodney dill says:

    A Festivus for the rest of us.

  3. Roger says:

    “It’s a Festivus Miracle!”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Every time I hear or read about Festivus, I remember Kramer yelling that.

  4. mike says:

    Aaah – the death of a fake holiday started to ensure continued racial divides.

  5. Drew says:

    “Or, perhaps, it was just a fad and, like pet rocks, mood rings, and disco, the novelty wore off.”

    Or politically convenient, like Hillary and Ramadan…….

  6. Zee says:

    I am sorry to bust your bubble but Kwanzaa has not gone away. Just because the commercials have gone away does not mean it is not celebrated. It is still celebrated in several places around the world. Anything that has been going on since the 1970’s ( not the 1990’s) is not fad. Do not comment on things you don’t understand. How about attending one of the celebrations? You might learn something.

    I’ll give you a hint
    December 26 – Umoja
    Buffalo Science Museum
    Buffalo, New York
    7pm.

  7. rodney dill says:

    People still wear bell-bottoms

    and they’re still just a fad.

  8. Bithead says:

    CLUE

    And another:

    Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy ’60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven “principles” of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life — economics, work, personality, even litter removal (”Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.”) It takes a village to raise a police snitch.

    Asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from “classical Marxism” in the 1995 interview, Karenga basically said that under Kawaida, we also hate whites. While taking the “best of” — I’m not making this up — “early Chinese and Cuban socialism,” Kawaida practitioners believe one’s racial identity “determines life conditions, life-chances and self-understanding.” There’s a happy Horatio Alger story for you. Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy ’60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven “principles” of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life — economics, work, personality, even litter removal (”Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.”) It takes a village to raise a police snitch.

    Liberals have become so mesmerized by the hegemonic multicultural nonsense that they have forgotten the real history — the violence, the Marxism, the insanity. Most absurdly, for leftists anyway, is that they have forgotten the FBI’s tacit encouragement of this murderous black nationalist cult founded by the father of Kwanzaa. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, blowing away Black Panthers and adopting invented “African” names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named “Jamal” currently sit on death row?)

    Now the “holiday” concocted by these violent stormtrooper stooges of the FBI is a “tradition,” a celebration of the “value of our past.” This is not a tradition. This is a ’60s psychosis grafted onto black community, while the Christian leaders at the forefront of the civil rights movement are washed out of the picture.

    The thing that sticks in my mind about this more than anything else, is the insistence of breaking away from traditional American culture, while declaring their replacements as equals or superior. It strikes me that so many people are so very desperate to tie themselves onto something that is not additional American culture that they are willing to tie themselves onto anything that passes by… Kwanzaa, Festivus, what-have-you, all because , seemingly, being anti American is “cool”. It means being accepted in certain circles.

    Certainly, that is a fad. But more, it serves to weaken western culture, on which American culture is based.

    Notice the groups that are documents as having started this monstrosity. Now ask yourself; would these groups benefit from the dilution and ultimate destruction of the unique American culture?

  9. Brett says:

    It seemed like a holiday without any particular deep roots. Take Christmas for comparison. Forms of the holiday go back centuries, and before that there was “Saturnalia” (think Christmas with pagan gods, lots of drinking, and sex) among the Romans, and Winter Solstice celebrations in Europe and elsewhere. Christmas is simply the latest iteration of this, and the roots go deep.

  10. Floyd says:

    “”that so spooked the “war on Christmas” types””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    RICH!!![lol]