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How Kwanzaa Was Created To Celebrate And Honor African American Culture

If it’s odd or foreign for you to hear Kwanzaa mentioned in conversations about the holidays, 2020 might be a time to read up about it.

Sure, with its origins in the Black Power and Civil Rights movement, the holiday is pretty new in comparison to other December holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. But with so many of its traditions based on the celebration of individuals with African roots, 2020 ought to be the year you consider contemplating the importance of Kwanzaa particularly because of its celebration of African American communities and those across the world with links to Africa. 

Particularly because 2020 has seen so much attention being poured over the Black community for the first time amidst protests and calls for justice.

Unlike other holidays in December Kwanzaa is not centered on commercialism and embraces Black power.

Only a small portion of the African American population actually celebrates Kwanzaa. And unlike the other holidays it stands next to Kwanzaa is grounded rooted in recognizing the diaspora. According to The Guardian, “Kwanzaa (literally, “Harvest,”) is a seven-day commemoration and call to action innovated by Dr Maulana Ron Karenga in 1966. That Kwanzaa was born amidst social and cultural unrest – as both segregation ended and urban unrest in reaction to poverty and police brutality sparked rebellion – should speak volumes to us 48 years later. Kwanzaa is organized around seven days of reflection and action based on the Nguzo Saba (the Seven Principles).”

The principles include Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).”

The holiday draws on familiar holiday tropes including candle lighting and meals. Sometimes even gift-giving.

As The Guardian notes, “it also occurs at the time of year that was once the only full respite allowed enslaved blacks – a time that usually coincided with the end of the harvest.”

Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates the power and endurance of the Black community. Unlike the other December holidays, it also encourages those who take part to reflect on the struggles and successes of the Balck community in particular. And not just for those who are African American. Communities of color across the globe are standing up for Black people and defending their humanity. Kwanzaa is another way to remember that #BlackLivesMatter and to embrace and celebrate the movement, its history, and its victories as well.

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