Can People Who Are Not African American Celebrate Kwanzaa?

November 9, 2012

One of the most frequently asked question is can people who are not African American celebrate Kwanzaa. The answer to this is an emphatic yes! Like Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Chanukah, Kwanzaa can be celebrated by all peoples or races. Kwanzaa, to be sure, is a non heroic and non religious African American specific holiday recognized and celebrated in the same way that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican American specific holiday, but is celebrated by all races.

Moreover, the approach which mixed families and schools with diverse student populations should take toward the celebration of Kwanzaa is to first recognize it as an African American holiday. However, like all holidays, Kwanzaa has universal elements which can be embraced and celebrated for the contributions to the advancement of humanity. The 7 Principles, for example, are universal values which are embedded explicitly or implicitly in all cultures. To be sure, the Kwanzaa principle Unity/Umoja is a universally relevant and important to all races, and is a fundamental aspiration of all peoples and faiths.

More specifically, the 7 Principles should be celebrated and practiced in a way which gives meaning and value to families, school students and the public in general. Non African Americans can and should embrace the spirit of Kwanzaa and the values with are compatible with their belief systems.  All families, schools, work places can benefit from harmonious relationships (Unity/Umoja). Too, they all will be better served if they work toward self-definition of who they are and how they want to live their lives (Self-Determination/Kujichagulia).

Further, working together to solve individual and collective problems, and participating in increasing the social and financial resources, while benefiting collectively from those resources, will certainly lead to better outcomes for families, schools and work sites (Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima/ and Cooperative Economic/Ujamaa). Besides this, maximizing the talents of family members, students and teachers and employees in the service of continuous and improved outcomes will make more probable that everyone will perform and achieve at their highest level (Purpose/Nia and Creativity/Kuumba). And, believing in each other will make everyone more hopeful, which is the basis for a more motivated family, student, and employee (Faith/Imani).

In sum, the African American holiday Kwanzaa can be celebrated and can be of benefit to all nationalities and races. Let’s all celebrate Kwanzaa and embrace it’s the richness of its spirit and values.

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