Kwanzaa 2016: A Celebration Of African-American Pride

While many people are off celebrating Christmas, there is one holiday that tends to get overlooked because of an erroneous misconception of “The War on Christmas”: Kwanzaa 2016. Rather than a religious holiday, Kwanzaa 2016 is more of a secular holiday focused on African-American pride rather than any particular set of religious beliefs.

According to the Root, the recipes one can enjoy during Kwanzaa 2016 are, in fact, an homage to two different parts of African-American history: the first, of course, being food from the African diaspora (most commonly West Africa), and the second, being food from slave times. For example, Chef Alexander Smalls presented a recipe based on yassa chicken from West Africa, but he changed it up so that it featured a turkey and not chicken. In addition, Chef Ashbell McElveen provided a recipe for corn pudding, which hearkened back to a time in Colonial America when African Americans would mix their traditional foods with First Nations’ foods.

The Root further goes on to say that the actual holiday is not about gifts, but about African-American unity.

“Kwanzaa seems like the giftless black cousin to Hanukkah, replete with a daily candle-lighting ceremony. However, Kwanzaa’s principles and the celebration of Pan-African foods can be an impactful unifier for all, some of which might already be incorporated into your current Christmas celebration.”

Of course, this does not mean that Kwanzaa 2016 is without its misconceptions. On her website, Ann Coulter recently dedicated an entire article to excoriating the founder of Kwanzaa in America, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Calling him an “FBI stooge,” Coulter calls Dr. Karenga’s United Slaves movement “violent” and accuses him of creating Kwanzaa not as a celebration of African-American pride, but as a means of keeping African Americans in the United States in a system of oppression.

“Kwanzaa praises collectivism in every possible area 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. When Karenga was asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from “classical Marxism,” he essentially said that, under Kawaida, we also hate whites.”

But Dr. Maulana Karenga has refuted these claims about Kwanzaa 2016. In an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Dr. Karenga stated that his entire intention with the creation of the holiday was to provide a source of pride for men, women, and children of African descent who otherwise wouldn’t have a holiday to celebrate. In addition, he wanted to encourage people to research their history and to find their own sense of pride and unity in the celebration.

“I created Kwanzaa in order to give us a time when we as African people all over the world could come together, celebrate ourselves, reinforce the bonds between us, and meditate on the awesome meaning of being African in the world. And now more than any other time during the year, millions of Africans come together throughout the global community to do just this. We get e-mails and photos and youtube presentations from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the islands of the seas describing and showing Africans celebrating Kwanzaa.”

Kwanzaa 2016 begins on December 26, which is the day after Christmas. It ends on Sunday, January 1, 2017.

What are some of your thoughts about Kwanzaa 2016? Do you agree with Ann Coulter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]