Meaningful Gifts For Kwanzaa

BlogHer Original Post

Conceived in 1966, Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday, celebrated between December 26 and January 1. The seven days represent seven principles to unite African-American communities. On each day, some families gather to reflect or demonstrate a principle.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are based on the basic values of African culture, or Nguzo Saba, in Swahili. While the traditions do include some gift giving, the presents are intended primarily for children -- and even then, always include a book and a symbol of heritage.

For some, Kwanzaa has waned in recent years. On his show Totally Biased, comedian W. Kamau Bell recently noted that only a handful of people even celebrate the holiday:

Bell has also noted that the holiday has become a multicultural marketing tool. Professor Keith Mayes of the University of Minnesota believes that a commercialized Kwanzaa portrays the holiday as a signifier that we live in a “post-racial” society -- which we don’t. He says:

Part of Kwanzaa's embrace by multicultural America is self-serving. Whereas black power uses Kwanzaa to connect black Americans with the continent of Africa, multicultural America uses Kwanzaa to sell products and consumer goods. Whereas black power expected Kwanzaa to liberate African-Americans, multicultural America has tried to use Kwanzaa as evidence of racial diversity and black inclusion.

So instead of a traditional “gift guide,” full of things you can wrap up with a bow, I’ve found some gifts that foster thoughtful celebration and discovery – both of this holiday itself, and of the community at large. Read on for suggestions on ways to reflect meaningfully on each of the principles of Kwanzaa.

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