It’s Dec. 23, which means we’re smack dab in the middle of the time of year when families across the country come together to celebrate Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Or Festivus. Or they have no religious affiliations but are grateful for the extra days off and the post-Christmas Nordstrom sales.
It’s also the time of year when many people (mostly black) celebrate Kwanzaa. And many others (also, unfortunately, mostly black) make fun of Kwanzaa and the black people who celebrate it. Because apparently the holiday season is also an opportunity for some of us to have a pissing contest to see whose holiday’s dad can beat up the other holiday’s dad. It’s just like grade school, but with ornaments. And Kwanzaa—with its strange-sounding Swahili names and awkward and ambiguous gifting ceremonies—catches heat from those who believe that their strange-sounding holidays with awkward and ambiguous gifting ceremonies are better. Or, better yet, more legitimate.
Thing is, as a Christian who celebrates Christmas and has never celebrated Kwanzaa, I don’t find it difficult to see that the same criticisms hurled Kwanzaa’s way could also be applied to Christmas. And to most other religion-based holidays and celebrations. Obviously, I believe that my religion and my celebrations are better. Because they’re mine. But I also believe that my mom made the best French toast ever. My belief, however, doesn’t make it true. And definitely doesn’t give me carte blanche to hate on the French toast everyone else’s mom makes.
Also, Kwanzaa is much younger than the other holiday celebrations, so some of the skepticism—which is where the jokes come from—is natural. But there’s also a conspicuous racial element here. One of the more pervasive and perverse by-products of our country’s history of racism is the suspected illegitimacy of anything associated with black people or blackness. If something is created by and/or for black people, it’s often assumed—by some nonblack people and some black people—to be substandard and ultimately irrelevant. We see this with everything from black businesses and black colleges to black publications and black celebrations. Kwanzaa has been affected by this, too.
Anyway, if you are a person who feels the need to waste valuable holiday-season time thinking of and crafting jokes about Kwanzaa—a perfectly nice and harmless and empowering holiday that millions of people recognize—I have great news for you! No need to do that anymore. Because I’ve compiled a list of 10 tired, tasteless, stale and spoiled jokes you can use. Again and again. And again and again. And again and again. And again and again.
1. “Kwanzaa is like Bigfoot. Because I’ve never actually met a black person who celebrates it.”
2. “Where do you shop for Kwanzaa gifts? Barbershops and beauty salons? Boost Mobile stores? Detroit?”
3. “Does each day of Kwanzaa come with a free subscription to Black Enterprise and XXL?”
4. “Is there an actual Kwanzaa tree? Or do you just put your gifts underneath a basketball hoop?”
5. “Kwanzaa is the government-cheese version of Christmas.”
6. “There are more black people on Girls than people who celebrate Kwanzaa.”
7. “I get Kwanzaa and Juneteenth mixed up all the time. It’s hard keeping all these made-up black holidays straight. I just know they both have something to do with freedom.”
8. “Can regular white people celebrate Kwanzaa, too? Or just Kardashian whites?”
9. “Do Kwanzaa carols come on mixtapes?”
10. “I wanted to celebrate Kwanzaa this year, but I’m too light-skinned.”
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.