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Dec 30 2011

Kwanzaa: The Other “Other” December Holiday of Lights

By at 3:15 pm

kwanzaa illustrationDespite some people’s–whose business it really isn’t, but what can you do?–taking offense at it, my husband and I identify our children as Jewish African-Americans.

The reason for that is because both the Jewish and the African describe the kinds of Americans they are, giving the latter designation top billing.  (I’m a Soviet immigrant and my husband is a former Boy Scout–we’re big on that patriotism thing.)

We go out of our way to make sure that all three kids are cognizant of their dual heritage, though, ironically enough, I’m usually the one pointing out, “You know the architect who laid out Washington DC was an African-American,” while my husband is the one likely to note, “Jews have won more Nobel Prizes than any other group.”

As a family, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day in the Winter, and Juneteenth (the end of slavery in America) in the Summer.  What we do not celebrate is Kwanzaa.

And not merely because, come December 26, we’ve already lit enough candles in our household.  (Last year, my then 3-year-old daughter announced, “Mama, I’ve figured out how to say Hanukkah in Russian.  It’s Kwanzaa!”)

We don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, the best-known African-American holiday, because, to paraphrase Mike Meyers’ Saturday Night Live Coffee Talk creation, “Kwanzaa is neither African nor American.  Discuss.” Read the rest of this entry →


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