OK so I’m pretty sure the idea of this blog came about as a result of the t-shirt I was wearing during my bowling outing yesterday. Please see below:


Yes, that is a Randy Watson 1988 World Tour t-shirt. And yes, it’s THAT Randy Watson:

OK, so now that you have an insight as to my state of mind on yesterday, here goes… I’ve been known on occasion to make jokes about Kwanzaa — about how it’s not real, how it’s just an excuse to re-gift crappy handmade Christmas presents (note how it begins the day after Christmas), etc. I think the seven principles of Kwanzaa — Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith) — are important things for African peoples to focus on… but the rest of it. I don’t know. I mean, I hate to disrespect people who celebrate Kwanzaa, but in my opinion, it’s the McDowell’s of holidays.


Not sure what I’m talking about?… Then think back to the scene in Coming to America where Cleo tells Akeem about the misunderstanding between the “McDonald’s people” and his establishment.

See, they’re McDonald’s… I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds. 

I feel like Kwanzaa is just a hodgepodge of symbols and traditions borrowed from other holidays. I imagine that if that scene were about Kwanzaa it would have gone something like this:

See, Jewish people have Hanukkah… We have Kwanzaa.

They got the menorah


We got the kinara.


Christmas is just 1 day and there are 8 days of Hanukkah. But Kwanzaa lasts for 7 days.

And then there are the symbols of Kwanzaa. Crops and corn… Really, Kwanzaa? It’s beginning to look at lot like… Thanksgiving. Plus one of the “supplemental” symbols is a poster of the seven principles. I don’t know if I can celebrate a holiday where a poster is an official symbol. Plus the man who created it is still alive and he issues an official founder’s message every year. I’m so serious. If you don’t believe me check it out for yourself.

I don’t know y’all. I don’t wanna crap all on someone’s cultural celebration. I’m just sick and tired of people wishing me a “Oh and Happy Kwanzaa too” as if all Black people are automatically on board. I mean, we have a National Anthem that only like 37 Black people know the words to. I am not one of those people. And yes, in case you were unaware there is a Black National Anthem. It’s a lovely song with powerful lyrics. And no one I know can get past the fourth line.

Lift ev’ry voice and sing til earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise high as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmmmmmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmmmmmmm hmmm…..

In our defense, the lyrics are complicated and the melody is very tricky and spans several octaves. But in sharing that little tidbit about our anthem, I was trying to prove a point… I don’t quite remember what that point was… But I hope it made you chuckle. Have a great weekend,


7 thoughts on “See they got the Big Mac…

  1. Beckie

    U rock E! My daughter (15yo) recently ranted how sick she was of white folks at her school wishing her Happy Kwanzaa. She blurted out that her extended family only “celebrates” one day of Kwanzaa (we do, at a formerly-called New Year’s Day gathering). Her classmates were appalled that we would take it upon ourselves to shorten a fabricated holiday! As if other holidays aren’t fabricated…oh well.

    Have a great whatever-the-hell-u-do!!

  2. Amy

    Hysterical, Erin! Thank you for a very hearty laugh.
    It’s quite clear that the number of celebration days was derived through application of an algebraic formula:

    X Holiday – Y Holiday = Kwanza

    Solved as:
    Hannukah – Christmas = Kwanza

    Also represented as:
    8 – 1 = 7

    Thank you for a very hearty laugh.

  3. Mo

    I love how you pointed out the suspicious similarities between Kwanza and Hanukkah. The menorah’s been around over 2 thousand years and Karenga just basically hijacked it, removed a candle, added a poster and booya, new holiday!

    I’m with you on what seem like good principles that we should all celebrate and examine and make part of our lives, but having a holiday surrounding morality is just kind of oddball. Not to mention Kwanza’s principles started life as “Seven Principles of Blackness”. And that’s not racist sounding at all, right?

    Choosing to start the “celebration” on December 26th wasn’t about riding the Christmas coattails…was it? Oh, who am I kidding? Who is Karenga kidding?

    And the Kwanza menorah. Oh my goodness. Check this fabulous thing out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75001512@N00/5459858974/

    You too can light a black woman’s hair on fire for your holiday!!

    And I’m afraid to wish people a Happy Kwanza because they might feel as you do and be insulted. And isn’t it racist to assume that just because a person is black that they even celebrate it or care about any of the principles (or the poster)??

    Karenga has a dodgy history as well. I feel squicky about it.

    Now of course the principles all sound great on paper (except for being tied somehow to blackness) but aren’t those things we should ALL be working on like EVERY DAY?

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