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 Kwanzaa, knowledge, ignorance, and pointless pc
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2006 :  22:11:11  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
I work at a small liberal private school, preK through 8th grade. Lately, many of my students have been asking me “Do you celebrate Christmas?” They ask this because they are liberal-raised children, therefore very aware of the fact that not everyone is Christian. This conversation always goes this way: I say no, then they say “Hannukah?” I say no and then they say, “Kwanzaa?” I saw no and then they ask “What do you celebrate?” And then depending on my mood I either answer “HumanLight, I'm an Humanist”, or “Nothing, I'm an atheist.”

Every kid in this school knows of Kwanzaa. The kindergarteners are learning the 7 principles, and they all know what a kinara is. So I read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

The best part is the “Evolution of Kwanzaa”:
quote:
In 1977, in Kwanzaa: origin, concepts, practice, Karenga stated, that Kwanzaa "was chosen to give a [/b]Black alternative to the existing holiday[/b] and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."[13]
In 1997, Karenga changed his position, stating that while Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday, it can be celebrated by people of any race: "other people can and do celebrate it, just like other people participate in Cinco de Mayo besides Mexicans; Chinese New Year besides Chinese; Native American pow wows besides Native Americans."[14]
Currently, according to the Official Kwanzaa Website authored by Karenga and maintained by Organization US, which Karenga chairs, "Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday. And it is not an alternative to people's religion or faith but a common ground of African culture...Kwanzaa is not a reaction or substitute for anything. In fact, it offers a clear and self-conscious option, opportunity and chance to make a proactive choice, a self-affirming and positive choice as distinct from a reactive one."[15]
Karenga's most recent interpretation emphasizes that while every people have their various holiday traditions, all people can share in the celebration of our common humanity: "Any particular message that is good for a particular people, if it is human in its content and ethical in its grounding, speaks not just to that people, it speaks to the world."
So from black empowerment with sepratist undertones to generic humanism in under 4 decades, all with the same dude in charge. Now that's integrity and vision!

But just look at the success! Everybody has heard of Kwanzaa! There's a bloody Kwanzaa stamp for heck's sake!

So what intrigues me is that I live in a black neighborhood, but the only place I've seen a kinara is in a display at the local library, right next to the Christmas and Hannukah display. (Funny, the neighborhood has a huge Muslim population, but they haven't make up or hyped up their own holiday yet to compete with Christmas.) I couldn't find any black candles (needed for a kinara) at the dollar store, though they had plenty of Christmas crap. And none of my black friends celebrate Kwanzaa. According to a survey cited on wikipedia, less than 2% of Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. I wonder how many white suburban liberal kids and their families are included in that statistics. Lots of my students say they do or want to celebrate Kwanzaa, and two years ago my white-as-a-sheet husband's workplace had a Kwanzaa party (they do a different holiday each year).

One frustrating aspect of all this political correctness among my well-intentioned students is that apparently none of their teachers taught them the real history and meaning of Kwanzaa. They all know the name of the holiday and what a kinara looks like, but when I ask for more all they say is that it is an African holiday

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com


Edited by - marfknox on 12/15/2006 22:13:24

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2006 :  22:52:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I consider Christmas capitalism's biggest holiday.
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McQ
Skeptic Friend

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2006 :  11:11:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send McQ a Private Message
marfknox, you are in a unique position to not only understand this holiday's evolution, but to properly instruct and inform the youngsters. I'm glad you show the intelligence and integrity to do so. Very cool.


Elvis didn't do no drugs!
--Penn Gillette
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2006 :  11:39:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Wow, thanks for the compliment, McQ. While I realize I'm in that position, I'm not always totally comfortable with it. It's hard to figure out exactly what question to ask a 12 year old compared with a 6 year old, let alone what answers to give to their questions. For instance, I'm so used to "atheist" being a bad word that I just now (after 4 months) started telling the kids I'm an "atheist and Humanist" when they ask what my religion is. Before I only said I was a "Humanist", knowing they'd have no idea what that was. I don't know what I was afraid of. Yesterday one of my 7th graders said she and her mom were both atheists, so it really isn't a big deal at this school. They like and want diversity.

I think the approach I might take with this, at least with the older children, is that when they ask what "HumanLight" is, I'll say it is sort of like Kwanzaa for atheists. And then when they get confused about that, I can go into an explanation of the similarities between Kwanzaa and HumanLight (both being invented in recent times in America for minority groups who felt excluded or marginalized by the majority.) Especially since Kwanzaa today is basically humanistic, it actually has a lot in common with HumanLight.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2006 :  15:16:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox
But just look at the success! Everybody has heard of Kwanzaa!


I've never heard of Kwanzaa...

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2006 :  15:55:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

quote:
Originally posted by marfknox
But just look at the success! Everybody has heard of Kwanzaa!


I've never heard of Kwanzaa...


Scratch up another notch for team ignorant...


John's just this guy, you know.
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2006 :  22:18:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

quote:
Originally posted by marfknox
But just look at the success! Everybody has heard of Kwanzaa!


I've never heard of Kwanzaa...



It's an American thing.

Marf, look up the history of the originator of Kwanzaa. Might shed some light on why he started it.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2006 :  03:55:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Goodness, one only needs to look at the Wiki site. It may not be reliable for everything, but it certainly should for something like Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa
The founder



Edited by - beskeptigal on 12/18/2006 03:56:12
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