Fewer African Americans Celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa started Monday and continues until Sunday, but you’d never know it to talk to most folks.

It was a nice idea back when it was conceived in 1966, but this afrocentric  cultural celebration never took off in a big way. 

Last year, I wrote a column pointing how the vast majority of African Americans don’t celebrate Kwanzaa and the way some readers carried on afterwards, it was if I’d condemned the observation.  I didn’t. I had just pointed out that it wasn’t popular with most folks.

Think about it. How many people do you know who actually celebrate it? It has  been years since I’ve been to a Kwanzaa event. A lot of folks don’t know about the seven principles behind it and have no idea about the lighting of the candles and how to even commemorate it. As I did my research for my piece, I remember asking one suburban, African American teenager if he even knew what Kwanzaa was, and he thought it was a Jewish holiday.

That was sad.

But a whole lot of folks are just like that kid, completely ignorant about the 45-year-old celebration or else apathetic about it. As Charles A. Gallagher, a professor of sociology at LaSalle University pointed out when I interviewed him last year, Kwanzaa “appealed to a generation of people who are now in their 50s and 60s...It doesn’t resonate in many ways with a lot of young people today. It’s the same argument that you hear with the NAACP. For me, they are still sacrosanct. But you hear a lot of young people saying the NAACP is irrelevant.

"Kwanzaa just doesn't resonate with young people because they don't understand the political and sociological reverberations of when it was developed,” he added.

Personally, I think it was a mistake to schedule the holiday for December, which is busy enough as it is. Kwanzaa would have gotten a whole lot more attention if it had been scheduled for, say, February during Black History Month, don’t you agree?

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