Wednesday, December 28, 2011

F**k Yo Kwanzaa (not my words)

A, what appears to be dated, opinion piece where the author took a stance against celebrating Kwanzaa sparked some thoughts (Kwanzaa Is Wack: There, I Said It). Now I do not wish to proclaim whether or not I participate in the celebration of Kwanzaa, nor to I wish to confer to whether or not I agree with this blog post – that’s unimportant (by the way, those who know me know I give little credence to blog posts, including my own, which is why I rarely post anything). However, in this “open forum” era I would like to focus on what seems to be a continuing trend that I find interesting.

For disclosure, my understanding of Kwanzaa is that it is not a holiday in the current conventional sense, nor should it ever be observed as such. This is not because I agree with the writer of the piece, but rather, I look towards the initial intention of its creation. Yes, I lean towards the thought that it was not set up to be a Christmas replacement. Having said that, and for the purpose of this ‘little post,” the facts and personal views (mine or the blogger’s) regarding Dr. Maulana Karenga are an aside. My vision of Kwanzaa, or to further my point - the “Observance of Principles,” leaves me to being a bit more expansive in thought.

We are clearly living knee deep in the “freedom” era; thanks to the Internet and the relaxation of former moral/cultural norms, our freedom of speech and expression sometimes goes well beyond the parameters of where it belongs or needs to go. We also are draped in the freedom to believe in what we choose to believe in and/or observe, as well as enjoying the freedom to agree or disagree with one another – in particular, or in this case, with our elders and the foundations they’ve laid and established. Now I don’t necessarily think that any of this is “bad,” however, like Integration there’s a thin line between this train of thinking being a free and thoughtful inclusion of Black life in America, and a less than helpful side of that same life.

Just like not believing in or celebrating or observing Christmas, not believing, celebrating, or observing Kwanzaa falls into the territory of one’s own prerogative. However it remains that in this “Freedom Era” articles in this realm are becoming more and more common place – almost like Black republicans (and no, I’m not opening up that can of worms right now… I’m just saying). My point is, Black folk, in particularly young Black folk, are more and more feeling free or okay to express their opposing point of view on the so-called “Black Monolithic Thought.” While I think that’s perfectly cool, or fine, or whatever, there’s a tin lining in such a cloud with a low rust-point where, like in the metal, cohesive and malleable elements breaks down and such a streams of logic can become brittle and fragile.

In essence, this article speaks to a larger issue at hand – in my opinion, and that is on Black cohesion on a whole. I agree and believe that as Black folk we should, and have always had, the ability to express differences of opinion on all topics great and small. However, in the larger sense, we also need to be historically conscious of the theoretical, and proverbial, “other side of the coin.” In specific regard to the Kwanzaa piece, I think the immature mind can whole-heartedly embrace its sentiment. Nevertheless, what seems to be missing or maybe not fully understood is the sentiment behind Kwanzaa and other Cultural Nationalist "trends" established during the era of “Black Beauty” and awakening. At the accepted risk of sounding antiquated, there’s a foundation we have no choice but to steady ourselves on – freedoms were fought for, and won, in order for us to have the ability to disagree, or even disregard, our past.

The flip side to the negative speculations as to why Dr. Karenga possibly created Kwanzaa can easily be subverted with an argument that suggests a more positive spin – such as maybe he did it to atone for his alleged sins against the Black community (and more particular those against Black Panther Party, and/or members of the Us Organization). Regardless, my point is that there are positive elements to everything; this is what we call Equality.

In this age of contrarians and instant “snarkiness” for the sake of establishing a name for one’s self, it is very easy to jump on the “yeah I was feeling this way too, and now I can anonymously say this” band wagon. For many, in their rush to prove that they are not apart of the mythic “Black Monolith” the cause, effect, and purpose behind our traditions and general history in this country (and the world) is either overlooked, misunderstood, or ignored. We need to be more conscious about embracing the positive elements concerning our culture. Dragged here we were stripped of everything historical and traditional, so it only makes sense for us to create and establish new customs based on what some may perceive as myths and half or un-truths. Yes, the truth is the truth, but when we begin to dismantle all that has supported us and built us up until this point, what do we have left? This aim of reasoning will lead us wondering in the desert of ignorance – which, if one turns on the TV/radio/Internet will look rather familiar.

I look at it like this; Kwanzaa could possibly be an element that exists for the sole purpose of reinforcing the tin lining, almost similar to the idea that many of us have chosen to believe regarding the flip of the N-word into having a more positive meaning and connotation. Being a “Black alternative to Christmas” aside, Kwanzaa’s observance could possibly be used as a means to keep some degree of cultural awareness and/or historical context in the minds of our people, the youth in particular. As we wade deeper and deeper in the waters of free expression, or the “non-monolithic era,” I fear the Black or cultural foundation (some may refer to this as pride) will rust, disintegrate, and blow away leaving, as many of us are today, longing for the “good old” pre-integration days when we were “together.”

While I’m no more complaining about non-celebration or observance than I am promoting it, I will say it may not be such a “bad” thing to remember or introduce elements that provide some degree of positive cultural direction and foundation into our consciousness which seems to be bombarded daily with ignorance and negative reinforcements. For that reason alone, who cares whether or not corn is native to The Continent of Africa, fact is there may be those on the lower side of intelligentsia who may need symbols and rituals to keep our collective hope alive. Just like the lone Black candle on the Kinara, the idea of Black unity needs to shine to some degree for all of us, including those who believe or not, think they know or honestly don’t know, and for those who choose to embrace or discard elements of our collective foundation.

Now playing: Parliament - Chocolate City

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