Kwanzaa may be fading into obscurity, but the Lansing State Journal apparently didn’t get the memo: African-American celebration brings community together
Lansing resident Lucy Stevenson was introduced to Kwanzaa when she joined St. Stephen’s Community Church five years ago.
Since then, she’s learned about the holiday’s principles of responsibility and unity.
Stevenson said she considers Kwanzaa’s message a lifestyle.
“It’s about loving one another,” she said. “Love covers it all.”
…Kwanzaa is a seven-day observance that begins the day after Christmas.
…Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Ron Karenga, an African-American scholar.
That African-American scholar, aka Ron Everett and Maulana Karenga, served 4 years in California State Prison for felony sexual assault and false imprisonment. While leader of the racist “United Slaves” organization he and his friends assaulted and tortured Deborah Jones and Gail Davis for two days. The Los Angeles Times reported that, “Deborah Jones, who once was given the title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vice. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said”.
Not precisely what you’d expect from a moralist exhorting blacks to “leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it”. Some people can look past this, however,
“We stress the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It’s not just an event, but a way of life,” said Renee Boyd of Lansing. “Things are definitely improving.”
When Kalenga founded Kwanzaa he called these principles “The 7 Principles of Blackness.” Here’s the complete list:
- Umoja (Unity): “to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race”
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): “to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves”
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): “to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together”
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): “to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together”
- Nia (Purpose): “to make our collective vocation the building and development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness”
- Kuumba (Creativity): “to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it”
- Imani (Faith): “to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle”
Here’s how principle number 4 is perceived in Lansing:
Bennie Boyd said one of Kwanzaa’s principles, cooperative economics, is a vital cog for the black community.
“If black people don’t support black businesses, there won’t be any,” he said.
In fact, Ujamaa is what Julius Nyerere, the socialist leader of Tanzania, called his disastrous policy of putting tens of thousands of Tanzanians on collective farms. By following that principle there wouldn’t be any black owned businesses to support, they’d all belong to the government.
So, celebrate any set of principles you want, but let’s not pretend Karenga’s “7 Principles of Blackness” are about loving one another. Nor as
Karenga explained in his 1977 Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice, ‘Kwanzaa is not an imitation, but an alternative, in fact, an oppositional alternative to the spookism, mysticism and non-earth based practices which plague us as a people and encourage our withdrawal from social life rather than our bold confrontation with it.’
…appropriate for celebration in a Christian church.