Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Sun Aug 20



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Kwashing Kwistmas is a Kwime

Greg Piper

We don't need dark-skinned Americans to Stockholm Syndrome their affinity for the Diabetes Grain.

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Christmas is under attack on all sides. Lady Gaga dominatrixed the venerable pre-Christmas special, uber-hipsters She & Him permanently ironyzed the Christmas album with their Zoobiquitey, and my house spent $40 on a tree -- after a 50 percent Groupon discount. What the fir? My parents paid 10 bucks for an identical tree when I was 10. Maybe it's because all the elf jobs have gone south since NAFTA.

And making small but measurable inroads for the past 45 years has been Kwanzaa, created by Uncle Phil before he started hurling Jazz out of the mansion. The decorative mat, the peacockin' muumuu, the proto-soccer flag - it's been cute.

No more. It's time to dump this celebration of pan-African unity, godless carbo-loading and unearned stamps.

The central aim of Kwanzaa, to recapture unity among Africans, is laughable: Tribes hunted, killed and enslaved each other for hundreds of years before whites stole the idea (the first among many white thefts). Black people still can't stand each other today, as illustrated by R. Kelly's touching documentary "Trapped in the Closet" and the explosion of interracial children. Dogs barking at each other, women throwing drinks in each other's faces, reality shows - people and animals in the same broad demographic loathe each other.

The name of this "holiday," which no one gets off from work, comes from the Sangalese phrase for "usurper." Considering that Jack Bauer saved Sangala from a violent coup in 2008, you'd think the least the Web-illiterate founder could do is give Kwanzaa a proper English name, like Christmas, Hanukkah and Festivus have. This ingrained hostility to English leads Kwanzaa into ridiculous territory - its second principle of Kujichagulia (self-determination) was ripped off from an Australian one-hit wonder New Wave group, which itself took the name from an Aboriginal phrase meaning "hastily conceived" that originally applied to no-strings-attached pregnancies in the Outback.

Kwanzaa's dietary and hygiene practices also run counter to our enlightened and science-based holiday norms. Venerating an ear of corn on your Sangalese yoga mat? America already worships the Corn God in the form of ethanol subsidies and low-grade sweeteners targeting our little fatties, a fight in which our heroic non-Midwestern lawmakers have only started to gain traction. We don't need dark-skinned Americans, hearkening back to a vaguely-familiar lineage, to Stockholm Syndrome their affinity for the Diabetes Grain.

Sharing libations in a communal cup is also incredibly disgusting. Kwanzaa's kweator apparently thought that the Middle Ages' tradition of clinking glasses together as a sign of mutually assured destruction (via poison seepage) didn't go far enough, so he instituted mass infection instead. Nothing serves a communitarian ideology so well as a house full of equally miserable people - no richest 1 percent, no whiniest 99 percent, just 100 percent oozing, bleating Ujamaa (family) united in one Nia (purpose), which is Jimmicarta (self-defeat).

I hope you're happy with what you've created, Suge Knight.

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Kwanzaa: The Other White Meat

Jeremiah Lewis


Man, I love Kwanzaa. And not just ironically. I'm white, but if Futurama has taught me anything, it's that people of differing cultural backgrounds can absolutely identify with and embrace the made up holidays of a beleaguered race. Oddly, Kwanzaa is absolutely a holiday filled with ironies, like a red, black, and green stocking filled with corn cobs and leopard-spot painted letter openers.

And that's what it's all about: Irony. And race. And that's okay. Jackass white people would use that as an argument against the holiday: "What, Christmas is too Caucasian for them?" I guess that's what they mean when they sing about it being a white Christmas. As a prelude to Black History month, Kwanzaa sets the stage for a world-wide celebration of African tradition and hope for a more unified black community, which, let's face it, would be a terrifying prospect for white people if it ever truly got off the ground. Unified blacks have created the best sports franchises, bonified movie stars, and loud mouthed comediens, and it's not unreasonable to assume they'd transform pasty-white America into a seething cauldron of angry power if they could ever get past that 12.6% minority status.

If anything, Kwanzaa has more cultural validity than Christmas does. Christmas was compromised long before Dickens created the most unintentionally ironic character in Scrooge, having given up its calling card as a "holy" day when the druids co-opted it for their freaky Chestnut Balls. At least Kwanzaa still stands for its roots. Christmas hasn't been remotely Christian since Caligula used us as torches for his garden orgies. Christmas, easily the second most commercial, capitalistic holiday (after the abominable Valentine's Day), has more in common with the self-aggrandizement and money-oriented hip-hop than its blacker, purer, and poorer cousin, furthering the distance between those who say Kwanzaa is all about black empowerment and those who say it's about wearing silly clothes while rapping about goodness and unity. Jay-Z has 99 problems, and a misunderstanding about how best to elevate one's fellow man might be one of them.

Kwanzaa also has more longevity than its similar-sounding but less legal file sharing peer-to-peer network, Kazaa. This is in part due to its innocuous blend of native, yet non-descript exoticism, evoking something you can feel safe putting up in front of old racist Grandpa or Oprah. Looking for a gift for a brother from a different mother? Pin it under the donkey tail, or present it with roots and branches of the bayoban tree, or something like that. Why do we have fir Christmas trees? That's right, you can't say, so judge not lest ye be judged.

Kwanzaa is a cross-pollinized experience of mild and amorphous theology rendered not from Africa, but from blacks in America as a response to the commercialism of Christmas. The principles of Kwanzaa have more in common with Christian thinking than Christmas in its present form, so believers should find common ground there, while atheists who think they can live a moral life without the need for "God" can feel a little better about themselves knowing they're following a code for unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith (oops, maybe nix on the last one). Hey, actually sounds like something Barack Obama could convince Joe Biden to write about in the White House Holiday letter.

Humans have never been very good at following the moral codes we create, but we're great at inventing new ways of feeling better about ourselves for two weeks in December. Maybe that's the true spirit of Kwanzaa, and that's all nzuri (good) by me.

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