Kwanzaa-Christmas: No Conflict

Reality Check


Those people, who for whatever reason, are nervous about or hostile towards the celebration of Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1) among an increasing number of Black people, need to chill. They are way off the mark.

Christmas, as celebrated by Christians is, or at least is supposed to be, a religious celebration, whereas Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration. Both have a strong spiritual element. It is not the fault of Kwanzaa celebrants that too many people treat Christmas more like a cultural celebration than a religious one. That is something that Christians have to deal with, the re-taking of their religious celebration from the merchants who regard it as an opportunity for dollar bills to be rained upon them.

The mission of the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration is to encourage Black people, no matter what their personal religious beliefs, their personal political beliefs, their nationality or their ethnicity, to strive for individual and group achievement and excellence. The seven principles of Kwanzaa – unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, faith -provide a solutions-oriented guideline that, if adhered to by just 25 percent of our people in this country, will greatly advance our individual and group economic, political and cultural interests.

Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as a call for both reflection and action. It has remained just that for the past 42 years. As more and more of us commit ourselves to its principles, there will be a much-needed psychological change among significant numbers of our people. After a while, the major holdouts will not be those people who have religious concerns about Kwanzaa, but those pathetic secular types who are vehemently opposed to anything that has a Black perspective. They prefer to remain exotic pets of White folks. This is good because such accommodationists are irrelevant to Kwanzaa’s overall mission.

Happy Kwanzaa! Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony and a former president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, can be reached at apeterb@verizon.net .


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