Liberals: Crazy For Kwanzaa?

So, I got a bit of a kick out of this. Apparently, Wisconsin Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman decided to go on a bit of a rant against the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, claiming it is a “supposed” holiday and saying, “Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”

“Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa? Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa?”

So, as someone most people would call a left-winger, and some right-wingers would describe as “hard-core,” though I’m not exactly certain as to why, this entire thing just makes me giggle. First off, I had to look up Kwanzaa just to be sure I knew what it was. The ONLY people I’ve heard mention it are Sen. Grothman, author of the newspaper comic strip Curtis Ray Billingsley and Lonely Island, in their famous song “Dick in a Box.” Maybe there’s a rash of Kwanzaa conversation going on in Wisconsin that I haven’t heard about, but I feel like Grothman’s just being a bombastic fool.

See, Grothman goes on to attack the creator of Kwanzaa as a “violent nut” that apparently just didn’t like Christianity or something. For those that are having to Wikipedia Kwanzaa to find out anything about it, it was created by a professor at California State University, Long Beach, named Maulana Karenga, back in 1966. Apparently, though this may be rumor/falsehood, Karenga did originally rail against Christmas as a “white holiday.” However, nowadays, many black Christians celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. And while Karenga was jailed for assault (though he maintains his innocence), the ad hominem thing is rather ridiculous. Should Christmas not be celebrated since it was made by the Catholic Church, which hosts a very violent and suspect past?

What I find funny is all the defenses people have for Grothman. Apparently, Kwanzaa is just a “made-up holiday,” so people should stop celebrating it. As though other holidays were discovered in the wild, growing on a tree. And when you point out that Grothman, a white man, might not actually have the insight necessary to determine whether Kwanzaa is something black people care about, you tend to get these types of responses:

“Only white liberals know what’s best for blacks.”

“All the black people that I know and I know many, don’t give a damn about Kwanzaa.”

“like obama knows what white people want right????”

It’s funny because, to the best of my knowledge, Kwanzaa is harming absolutely no one. It does not harm the people celebrating it, nor does it harm the people not celebrating it. So, it’s not an issue about “what’s best” for people. Nor would I say white liberals have a pulse on the African-American community. I tend to think African-Americans are the ones best able to talk about what they want. As for this idea that “I know a bunch of black people” therefore let’s make a sweeping statement about ALL of them… Do I really need to point out how ridiculous that is? Kwanzaa is celebrated. Black people that celebrate Kwanzaa do exist. Billingsley’s black and he talks about it, so there’s at least one person. As for the President Barack Obama comment… Seriously. It’s just stupid.

Honestly, I hadn’t heard a thing about Kwanzaa this year until I heard about Grothman ranting about it. Seems like another case of someone so obsessed with something that he makes is a bigger deal than it really is. Wonder if he’ll start ranting about liberals shoving Linux operating systems down everyone’s throats next. Because that’s totally something that happens.

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2 thoughts on “Liberals: Crazy For Kwanzaa?

  1. mharper says:

    “No one can say for certain how many people celebrate Kwanzaa, which began in 1966 and has roots in the Black Nationalist movement. Keith Mayes, author of “Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition” (Routledge, 2009) said that conservative estimates are that between 1 million to 2 million African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. Organizers of The African American Cultural Center in Los Angeles put the figure at 40 million worldwide but that includes similar festivals in Africa and elsewhere.”

    From: http://articles.philly.com/2010-12-21/entertainment/25292844_1_kwanzaa-black-power-black-families

    Now, according to the 2010 US census, there are a little over 42 million people in the US who identify as black or of mixed race (almost 39 million identify as black alone). http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-06.pdf

    So, taking the outside (albeit conservative) estimate of 2 million, about 4% of those of black/mixed race descent (or 5% of those who are black only) celebrate Kwanzaa.

    If we take the rounded estimate of the total population of the US (based on the 2010 census) of 309 million, the percentage that celebrate Kwanzaa is .6% of the total population.

    According to the article you cite, “He [the state senator] also blasted what he called “irresponsible public school districts” in the state for attempting “to tell a new generation that blacks have a separate holiday than Christians.” ”

    Presumably, he’s responding to schools that are trying to talk about different cultural traditions and holiday traditions. Without seeing the lesson plan, I have no idea what the goals of these lessons were. Was equal shrift given to Hanukkah? To Diwali? To Ramadan? To…I don’t know, the Chinese New Year?

    And, while this was not part of the senator’s argument, we would be bothered by teachers proselytizing by having all the children read the story of the birth of Jesus. At what point does teaching about different cultural traditions become less about informing and more about trying to persuade one’s audience? I think it cuts both ways, whether one is talking about a majority or a minority, and it’s a very fine line.

  2. sylvanfox says:

    ROFL! Really, complaining about Kwanzaa? Why doesn’t anybody ever try to address things that are actually causing problems?

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