Stop Making Kwanzaa Jokes

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Now before you try to say Kwanzaa is a joke or a holiday that shouldn't be taken seriously, take a moment to let Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson explain why you shouldn't.

I first heard about Kwanzaa in elementary school in the U.S. when a teacher briefly mentioned that it was an African holiday. I’d always been confused by that statement since Africa’s a continent of many different countries, so I didn’t know how all of them could have this one holiday that I'd never heard of before. I was born in Nigeria and my family still very much held on to Nigerian values even though I was raised in the U.S, but Kwanzaa had never been mentioned in my home so the little I learned in school didn't make sense to me. But that never stopped people from asking me if I celebrated it.

It wasn’t until I really learned about the history of the holiday that I finally able to clear up a common misconceptions about the holiday.

Kwanzaa is an African holiday.

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday. It was created in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to provide a sense of culture and pan-Africanism to the black community. It uses Swahili words to express Nguzo Saba , its core principles, such as unity (umoja), faith (imani), and creativity (kuumba).

Kwanzaa isn’t a real holiday.

Why, because it’s made up? Here’s a secret: Every holiday is made up. Every. Single. Holiday. So maybe the real reason Kwanzaa hasn’t sunk in for people yet is because, like Williams and Robinson point out in the video, it’s the newest holiday. But “new” doesn’t mean “not real.”

All black people celebrate Kwanzaa.

Not really. As I’ve mentioned, it was a holiday created in the U.S., so therefore still a primarily American holiday. A 2004 survey by BIG Research gathered that roughly 4.7 million people would celebrate Kwanzaa that year.

Basically, Kwanzaa is a holiday that was created to provide a sense of community and culture to a people who were kidnapped from their homelands, stripped of their cultures, and enslaved by a country that still doesn’t fully understand their humanity. So if for some reason you can't take Kwanzaa seriously, it's really black people you're not taking seriously.

Watch the Upworthy video and take this holiday season to learn a thing or two about Kwanzaa.