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December 26, 2003

Dickerson on My Tits

Debra Dickerson gets on my last freakin' nerve today. I haven't even lit my first candle and already I'm getting upset defending my family tradition. Her NYT editorial is an insult that is popping the veins on my forehead.

First let's get to standing:

Until two years ago, the mere mention of Kwanzaa would have me cracking wise about kente cloth boxer shorts and artificially lengthened dreadlocks � and cultural pride as mere show and consumerism.

and with dripping condescention worthy of Chirac

Kwanzaa, like Christianity, does nothing for me but I have to respect that it does for others.
and then the blatant contradiction:
In rejecting Christmas and Christianity, blacks reject the primary force for black American sustenance and resistance.

So presuming you are black, how the hell did you make it in this world if Christianity does nothing for you?

I would suspect that Dickerson has been sustained by family, friends, wit and salary, and by some measure of bourgie brotherhood she no doubt recieves in the rarified world of published authors on black subjects. It's certainly her prerogative to reject Kwanzaa after her brief and superficial encounters, but to suggest that other black families are incapable of her level of perception is nothing but prejudice of the ugliest order.

From someone who doesn't celebrate it we get this observation.

Too often, though, Kwanzaa feels as if it is more about thumbing black noses at white America than at embracing the lost cause of resuming our Africanness.
Feels? Is this is what you feel when you watch other people celebrate Kwanzaa, or this is what you feel about black people who you interpret as having a need to celebrate Kwanzaa? What are we to make of your feelings, Debra?

I say we make a dash for the exit. Throw this baby out with the bathwater.

I've said it once and I'll say it again hopefully for the last time. There is nothing quite so annoying and wrong-headed as an atheist critic of religious practice. It is another example of Secularism Gone Wrong. I am insulted by the insinuation that anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa is rejectionist,. I think I have as much right as anyone to say so, considering that I was there at the beginning. It may be impossible for some to recover any spirit of Christmas from the din of commercialism that surrounds it, but that is their own failing, not the failing of Christmas itself. For someone who has only tolerance for Christianity, we can expect very little respect for Kwanzaa?

That said, it can be said of some afrocentrics, what I say of most hiphopers: grow up. But even I have lived in love with hiphop having nursed it through its infancy when none thought it would amount to anything, much less international commercial success and artistic influence. But just as it is intellectually dishonest to allow people who don't do much listening to be music critics or much reading to be literary critics, there's something wrong with people with no respect for popular celebrations being called to comment.

It is not with some irony that I recognize the sort of intellectuals, artists, professionals and political activists who established the context from which the ideas of Kwanzaa emerged would be among the first to deride superficiality and commercialism. But anyone with an ounce of reason would be able to research and discover such things. We were not all born yesterday.

At any rate, I'm not writing at my best because just dealing with this kind of ignorant and snotty bias gives me headaches. I've thrown away at least 7 paragraphs as it is. Piss on Dickerson, better yet lock her in a room with Coulter. They deserve each other.

Posted by mbowen at December 26, 2003 06:54 PM

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the start of dickersonness from Negro, Please Don't Hurt 'Em!
Controversial or contemporary? Or Both? [Read More]

Tracked on December 27, 2003 02:14 PM

kimberly ellis, debra dickerson and kwanzaa from monique - the coffeenated version
I remember George posting Debra Dickerson's site on his page. I think I glanced at it and brushed her to the side. She's a good writer, but I really couldn't relate to her experiences. Jason has me revisiting her. He [Read More]

Tracked on December 29, 2003 02:15 PM


I'm with you on this one, too. It's like she's bringing up a bunch of non-related points, acknowledging that she is basing her generalizatiosn on nothing, and then using irrelevant history to back up her thesis. Last time I checked, Christinity's hold on black America was still pretty firm. The folks I know who practice Kwanzaa aren't repudiating Christianity at all (much to my chagrin) but using the holiday as a fmilial time to give without being consumerist. You don't get Nikes for Kwanzaa, you get a book about black history. Or a handmade wool scarf from your hippy, activist grandma who STILL spends her whole damn Sunday praising the lord.

Who the fuck cares if churches used to be a way for slaves to mobilize? It was probably just one of the few places they wouldn't necessarily get shot or raped. I'm sure there was some organizing going on out in the fields, too. But it's kind of hard to fee close to a field where you break your back.

I don't celebrate Kwanzaa because I would rather do other things with my time. But for a lot of people it fills a space that X-mas just doesn't anymore. I went to a Kwanzaa celebration once a long time ago where the founder gave a great speech about lots of things. And you know what we had to do before we lit the candles (to, again, my chagrin)? We had to pray and hold hands. Pray to the big cookie monster in the sky.

Posted by: TLL at December 30, 2003 12:29 PM