Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stop Playing Games with Kwanzaa

Yesterday, I was subjected to visual assault by this video:

I really, really wish people would stop treating my beloved holiday as a joke.

As a child of the early 70s, I share a common social history with countless of individuals born during a time of social awakening. Our parents changed their names, cut off (or grew) their hair, and embraced all things Afrikan. We were the vegetarian, communal living, family structure experimenting, arms bearing, organic garden growing, politically organizing, Marxist-Lenninist elite. And we longed for a holiday that celebrated the principles upon which our ideal society could be built.

In our home, we had a Kwanza book. (You will note that I spelled Kwanza with ONE a because at the time, Kwanza was spelled with ONE a, and not two – which would come later to differentiate kwanza the Angolan currency from Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday. I TOLD y’all I’m a veteran at this.) And our Kwanza book, lovingly designed and illustrated by my mother, was our family handbook for the holiday. The meaning and practice of each principle was defined in detail, and we reviewed the book as we lit our candles that sat snuggly in the kinara made by my father.

We decorated our home with colorful masks made by my mother, and all of our Kwanzaa supplies were kept in a wooden window seat that was also made by my father.

You see where I’m going here?

Aside from espousing the values of unity; self determination; economic independence and cooperation; strong community work ethic and responsibility; creativity; purpose; and faith, Kwanzaa challenges us to put all those values into action. We grew our own food. My mother sewed and knitted our clothes. My father made much of the furniture we used in our home.

Our gifts were handmade or were given to increase our intellectual capacity or creative abilities.
Our Kwanzaa decorations were not bought, but a manifestation of our own God-given talents. Kwanzaa time is family time – to reflect on what we’ve done and what we can do better. To have fun and enjoy one another.

And then along comes Sandra Lee, with her “tablescapes” and her “semi-homemade” disasterpieces, basically making a mockery of my holiday!

Aside from the obvious nastiness of the recipe – honestly, who in the world would combine a store-bought angel food cake with tinned icing mixed with cocoa and cinnamon, and then fill said angel food cake with canned apple pie filling (not even WARMED UP!!), and THEN top it all with CORN NUTS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS??????

And yeah, I know that Sandra did not create this recipe for instant diabetes in a plate – you can read about the creator here:

But I’m charging Sandra with full responsibility for denigrating my holiday on a national scale. Everybody with basic cable has probably watched at LEAST one FoodTV network show. This is the network that made Emeril and Bobby Flay household names and catapulted Rachel Ray and her “ee-vee-oh-oh” into the magazine publishing and custom cookware industries.

FoodTV network = big time.

Sandra Lee is the epitome of what’s wrong with our nation. In the span of 3 minutes, Ms. Lee has managed to dumb down, scoop out, mix up, and slather on a facsimile of a conscious and well-thought out holiday for the world to see.

Thanks, Sandra.



  1. I am happy to have provided this "visual assault" since it got you riled up enough to post your....2nd blog of the year. How the hell you gon' ack? My bad for following after you decided to go on hiatus, huh?


    I feel you totally, which is why I shared this blasphemous video in the 1st place. & as I search under every nook & mkeka for my Kwanzaa spirit this year, these are the things that I now recognize have bastardized the holiday for me. The Kwanzaa toothbrushes that came out some time ago, the Kwanzaa Claus I caught on the morning news in Atlanta some years ago, the lack of Kuumba in the events has all led me to being bored with Kwanzaa. I carry a great deal of guilt about this & I'm looking for the Ghost of Kwanzaas Past to come to me in the night & return me to my joy.

    I want my mother to make me a doll like she used to. I want a new dress, sewn by her. I miss her fresh baked bread in the shape of turtles because I loved them. I miss the card games that morphed out of discussions the men were having in the living room about Kawaida & the value of the Husia to the black family. I miss the stack of books mixed in with my hand crafted Zawadi. I miss the nightly festivities that brought us all together in the spirit of Umoja, no matter what principle we were celebrating. I miss the homemade red, black, & green dashikis we wore as children in the Kwanzaa program.

    NONE of that can be found anywhere near an angel food cake (WHO eats those) coated in BS & sprinkled with a mixture of disrespectful nuts & processed chocolate products.

    The Food Network=The Grinch That Stole Kwanzaa

    Maybe that's the title of my next post.

  2. Thanks for the love and like-minded support.

    And what exactly ARE corn nuts????

  3. The corn nuts I recall were roasted kernels covered in salt & bbq flavored powder like sunflower seeds. But did you see where she said pine nuts too? I call Crackery (the white version of Coonery) cuz we don't really do pine nuts as a people. Especially not in relation to dessert. But maybe we just got learned something & didn't know it. You know white folks is always puttin us on to sumpin.