Today marks the third day of Kwanzaa, the celebration of African-American culture. The holiday continues through January 1.
Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State University, developed Kwanzaa 30 years ago. Based on African harvest festivals, Kwanzaa celebrates life, observes history and encourages principles for daily living. Each day of the weeklong holiday is dedicated to a different principal: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Kwanzaa’s strong cultural nuances make it a unique holiday, and an important American tradition.
Just like the Italian who gathers with family for a Christmas ravioli feast, or the Muslim who is beginning to prepare for Ramadan - a monthlong fast that starts in a few weeks - Kwanzaa is a precious opportunity for black people in America to reconnect with Africa.
It serves as an example for Americans to follow.
It is no longer the ideal that this country become a melting pot society. The stronger, more empowering analogy is to that of a bountiful stew or a bulky salad. The cultural stew pot allows each ingredient, or individual, to maintain unique flavor or spice - each distinction contributing to a more savory mix. No ingredient disappears or melts into another. No ingredient overpowers another.
The variety that goes into our American stew makes it like no other in the world. However, the challenging recipe is far from perfect.
Here in the Inland Northwest we know all too well that refining the stew means working overtime. Many people here continue to struggle to embrace diversity.
But that’s only half of our task. The other half entails changing social, economic and political structures that perpetuate the American underclass - a group that is primarily made up of ethnic minorities.
People will debate whether it was right when the Oakland Unified School District accepted black English as a unique vernacular that should be incorporated into public education there. However, it is unquestionably good that the progressive experiment aims at undercutting the current educational inequities for African-Americans and other people of color.
Celebrations like Kwanzaa empower individuals. Americans must use that power to continue to forge a more savory stew.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Elana Ashanti Jefferson/For the editorial board