Don't Be Ignorant This Kwanzaa

January 2, 2011

I'm gonna be honest here-my fibromyalgia is back and the pain is making it hard for me to concentrate long enough to write what I want to write. The pain isn't the worst I have ever felt by a long shot, but it's enough for me to lose my motivation and concentration. I am also really busy. I am trying to fight all these things and still write, but it does mean that my blog posts will probably be a little shorter than usual for a while. I must do what I can...
Did you know? Kwanzaa is almost over-today's principle is Imani, or Faith.

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and the victory of our struggle.

I really like the concept of Kwanzaa and how it is about remembering our ancestors, building community, and looking forward to the future. I did not really know a lot about Kwanzaa before today, but my church had a beautiful Kwanzaa service today and I learned a lot. I am grateful for that, as I do not want to be ignorant about such a beautiful holiday.

Speaking of ignorance, I heard a person claim that because he does not know any black people that celebrate Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa must not be a real holiday. *sigh* This kind of logic makes my head hurt. There are other people outside of one's own sphere of influence. If this person really wanted to know if there are black people that celebrate Kwanzaa, then all he would need to do is simply google Kwanzaa and America and he would have discovered all the places where people are celebrating the holiday near him. When this person made his ignorant observation, instead of looking up the information for himself, he asked me to ask my black friends if they celebrate Kwanzaa-because if his friends cannot be representatives of an entire race, then surely mine should be. *note the sarcasm here* This person tried to hide his ignorance behind the fact that he does have black friends, but how many times has this excuse been used to justify racism? We've all heard someone say, "Oh, I can tell this joke-I have friends who are black! I can talk this way-I have a black friend!" Don't be fooled-what I heard was not just ignorance, but willful ignorance, which leads me to think this person is rascist. This person could have done his research in less than a minute and the fact that he did not proves that he does not really care about the answer. Instead, he wants to put a race of people down by proclaiming their holiday "not real." He may not be thinking that the way he is talking and thinking is racist, but that does not matter-the fact remains that he is, which makes me frustrated and sad, for this person is in a position of power. I cannot reveal the identity of this person, but I wanted to analyze what I heard in a public forum anyway. I want to take this moment to remind everyone that if you have an assumption or question about a cultural practice, instead of finding someone that fits the cultural stereotype and asking them a load of questions, do your own research first. It's really not that hard and you'll be less likely to put your foot in your mouth. It is the person with privilege's job to do the research, not the minority's job to explain everything.
By the way, if you want to learn more about Kwanzaa, go to the official website.

One comment on “Don't Be Ignorant This Kwanzaa”

  1. Thank you for this informative post. I will admit I really do not know much about Kwanzaa and have never looked into it. I know a little bit more about it now after reading this. It's easy to remain ignorant by default when we don't come into contact with certain aspects of the world, like holidays we do not celebrate. But of course, it is much better to educate ourselves!

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