This is a public service update.
The first Umoja (Unity) candle was lit by Kwanzaa’s inventor in a lightly attended celebration (family and close comrades) on December 26, 1966.
This time of year there’s always an uptick in searches for information about Kwanzaa. I know this simply from observing the search engine hits on this TOC post: Nguzo Saba The 7 Principles of Blackness
Noting a few of those hits today, I reread that 2008 post. I wasn’t surprised that links have rotted. Most notably the Lansing State Journal article which prompted it, and a reference to The Dartmouth Review. The relevant portions of the LSJ piece are quoted in my post, but the Dartmouth article was the source of much of the Kwanzaa founder’s (Ron Karenga) biographical content.
My Nguzo Saba post hasn’t attracted a comment in a long while, but there are some interesting ones from earlier times should you wish to read it. One of those comments:
So, what the commentor [sic] above me is implying is that, we, as a community or race, need to rely on the white community to survive? You are suggesting that the white community is superior, that they “feed” us, and in todays society that is just wrong, no matter who you are. Nobody is above another just because of the circumstances of their birth.
How times have changed. That commenter had the concept right. But, now it’s a few very vocal, white, snake oil barkers convincing a few black people that unless ‘Black’ is capitalized (and white is NOT) everyone should riot, loot, burn.
And, it should be noted, Ron Karenga thought some people were more admirable than others because of the circumstances of their birth.
IAC there still seems to be Kwanzaa interest, so for latter day internet searchers I unearthed an archive of the Dartmouth article. You should read the whole thing. It’s not long.
I saw a number of things in it that register differently now than they did in 2008. The atavistic tribalism that is BLM has its ‘Roots’ here, and you’ll see predicates for CRT and racialist apologists such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin D’Angelo.
The 7 Principles, Nguzo Saba, of Ron Karenga’s contrivance are noted in my earlier post. But there are 7 other principles listed in his book The Quotable Karenga. “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black.”
OK. But define “black.” Right now it’s being done mostly by white people.
That was the challenge to Kendi and, especially, D’Angelo. How can we make more money off this and achieve more privilege than Karenga did?
IAC, here are 2 snippets from that Dartmouth piece:
Initially, Kwanzaa proceeded from Karenga’s hostility toward Western religion, which, he wrote in his 1980 book, Kawaida Theory, “denies and diminishes human worth, capacity, potential and achievement. In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who’ve sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation’s head.” He similarly opposed belief in God and other “spooks who threaten us if we don’t worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives.”
In Critical Race Theology, white “humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who’ve sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation’s head.” You might object that the slave owning ancestors are not mythical. Well, for the vast majority of non-black people and at least a large plurality of black people, they are entirely mythical. And those “spooks?” They’re white Progressives.
James Coleman, a former Black Panther, argues, “By only stressing the unity of black people, Kwanzaa separates black people from the rest of Americans. Americans must unify on whatever principles ensure we live in a safe, prosperous, God-loving country, with the race and ethnicity of any American seeking to abide by those principles being of no consequence.”
Yeah. That’s a passé MLK thingy. On his journey to anathema (statue destruction) MLK is now solidly in the objectionable phase. Because to say “All Lives Matter” is racist.
Will Karenga’s fanciful 1960s inventiveness see a revival among the newly faithful? In 2008 it was seen to be in decline.
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.”
That short 2008 post from Reason is also worth a read. How has the “culture war is over” prediciton turned out?
I guess we’ll be able to tell based on the number of Kwanzaa candles sold. If anyone can tell.
A Kranzaa resurgence would be a mixed blessing for the black isolationists. By numbers most of the Kwanzaa forelock tuggers to this intensely African theme park are Progressive white women, or Jamaican/East Indian politicians.