The seven-day Afrocentric holiday from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 is a period of rededication to basic principles we can all embrace. Some are especially relevant for surviving a deep recession.
Kwanzaa has arrived in another sense: It has become accepted.
Even though the holiday was controversial in its beginnings because it was viewed as a challenge to Christmas, it has taken on a life of its own. Nowadays it is considered a secular holiday celebrated by people of all religious faiths or no faith at all.
Proof of its maturing as a holiday is the commercialism that has grown up around it. When you can buy holiday cards, order holiday merchandise on scads of online Web sites, meet young adults who were raised with family celebrations and find it on most calendars, the event is a real holiday.
But Smith herself admits its beginnings were "contrived."
I have to confess I never felt totally enthusiastic about Kwanzaa because it seemed so contrived and because Karenga seemed intent on creating a cult of personality...Credit to Smith for admitting Kwanzaa's beginnings were phony. But other than little Unitarian churches or left-wing nationalist groups, does anybody celebrate Kwanzaa? I don't see it. I skimmed the Sacramento Bee today and didn't see anything on Kwanzaa. It might have been there; I just didn't see it. Just a few years ago, the Bee had a black columnist who wrote columns about Kwanzaa every year. As I remember it, around Christmas the Bee would give a prominent place to her Kwanzaa columns. But she has retired and the Bee hasn't had the heart or motivation to devote space to Kwanzaa. So if The Bee has given up on Kwanzaa, how alive can it really be?
The liberals in West Hollywood seem to have abandoned Kwanzaa, too. Michael Moyhihan paid a visit to a Hallmark store in West Hollywood and found plenty of Christmas cards and Chanukah items - but no Kwanzaa cards.
UPDATE: From comments, maybe we need to put Kwanzaa to work!
"The universal principles of Kwanzaa will help solve the California State Budget Crisis".
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