“It doesn’t matter if only one person celebrates [Kwanzaa]. It is part of African-American history and in a way that suggests that it’s permanent, it’s never going away.” —Keith Mayes, Ph.D. It’s that time of year again! While we all know that Christmas is the Beyoncé of holidays, among the trifecta of December festivities exists (what I like to refer to as) Black Christmas, or Kwanzaa. But, Black people, my people: How many of you all plan on celebrating Kwanzaa this year? Better question: With the year’s racial reckoning, and the insatiable appetite for Black culture (because everybody wants to be Black, until it’s time to actually be Black), s hould Black people be celebrating Kwanzaa? For those who are new to Kwanzaa, the seven-day celebration was founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, co-founder of the US Organization, and is a part of the Black Nationalist tradition. It begins on Dec. 26 and every day promotes one of seven core principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). But the celebration, which is about affirming Black power and pride, is not without its criticisms. Keith A. Mayes is an associate professor of African-American and African studies at the University of Minnesota. He’s also the author of Kwanzaa : Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition. Mayes points to three main critiques about Kwanzaa, including one about its founder Maulana Karenga , who served time […]