December 30, 2006
A Lump of Coal for KwanzaaBy Selwyn Duke
For you religio-centric clods who haven't yet expanded your celebratory horizons - and you know who you are - I bring a message of tolerance and inclusiveness: December 26 marks the start of Kwanzaa.
As some know, this High Holy Week saw its birth 482 moons in the distant past, which means about forty years ago. It was founded by the Great Prophet, Maulana Karenga, who was born in the cradle of religion itself, Maryland.
Like many deeply spiritual men, Karenga came from humble origins, christened Ron N. Everett and raised on a poultry farm. Perhaps it was the desire to distance himself from his fowl upbringing, but young Everett took the African name "Karenga" and then later adopted "maulana," a Swahili title that means "master teacher."
Like all great spiritualistic teachers, Karenga never felt constrained by the ways and strictures of this material fold, like, for instance, laws prohibiting, assault, robbery and the torture of young women, the last of these being a highly spiritual act for which he was imprisoned, no doubt in violation of his constitutional right to freedom of religious expression.
Also like other spiritualistic teachers, Everett has worked to achieve brotherhood. Or, at least, "bruthahood." To this end, he has promulgated the following: There is a "seven-fold path of blackness," which is to ". . . think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black and live black." I guess he's dreaming of a black Kwanzaa.
Now, I must confess to being naive. I would have thought Everett's brainchild a divisive, unmarketable idea. After all, instead of virtually all Americans celebrating Christmas the way they always had, some blacks now celebrate race-based Kwanzaa. And who would think people stupid enough to glom onto a fictitious holiday invented by a violent, bigoted would-be Marxist?
So, naive, yes, but unreceptive to learning, no. I will now state that Ron Everett has inspired me to follow his lead and do my part to increase diversity and opportunity for all. Thus, I hereby announce the foundation of a new holiday, one that will start in 2007 and coincide with Kwanzaa.
It shall be known as "Aaznawk."
Like Kwanzaa, Aaznawk will be a highly specialized celebration, espousing a seven-fold path to whiteness: Think white, talk white, act white, create white, buy white, vote white and live white.
Now, I initially thought this posed a problem. You see, when I first read Everett's seven-fold path, I was confused. There is a plenitude of black populations living in various parts of the globe - with hundreds of different tribes in Africa alone - and they don't all think identically, so what does it mean to "think black"? And, of course, the same applies to whites. But, I figured, what the heck. I'm sure Everett can enlighten me on how to distill racial thought down to monolithic simplicity.
And there are other similarities between these two holidays as well. Ex-con Everett originated Kwanzaa in 1966; God originated the originator of Aaznawk in 1966. As for God, like humanistic Kwanzaa, Aaznawk makes no reference to Him.
But there are also differences. Kwanzaa has as principles Ujima and Ujamaa, which mean, respectively, "collective work and responsibility" and "cooperative economics" and states that blacks should start businesses and "profit from them together." Aaznawk, however, is quite the opposite. I will encourage adherents to embrace free market principles and, furthermore, to establish businesses proximate to the Kwanzaa collectives. After all, communistic enterprises are doomed to failure, so we'll be there to fill the void. Just call me the Prophet of Profit.
Really, this Kwanzaa folderol smacks of fiction, seeming much like Frank Costanza's holiday on Seinfeld, "Festivus." But it's also much like a bad movie that critics are afraid to pan, with schools, cities and politicians paying homage to the invention of an angry erstwhile violent criminal. President Bush himself just issued a Kwanzaa message, mentioning how families come together to ". . . reflect on the Seven [communistic] Principles." Ah, Incurious George, the great defender of our culture.
But, you know, if this were a movie production, with its "think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black and live black" script, I'd say it was time to fade to black.
That's not happening, though, so maybe the ex-con's con vindicates H.L. Mencken's assessment, "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." And this is why my hopes are high. Perhaps I'll live to see the day when stores, schools and presidents wish one and all an "Awesome Aaznawk." Maybe even, like Everett, I'll be given a chairmanship at California State University at Long Beach, where I'll be able to disgorge my ideology all over the impressionable.
Am I dreaming? Perhaps. But, to paraphrase Twain, truth really is stranger than fiction, especially in modern America. Hey, we already have the distinction of being the first civilization to take a real-life Festivus seriously.