Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman has outdone himself this time. The West Bend hard-right Republican legislator with a penchant for saying racially offensive, outrageous and insulting things about people of color and our institutions (he called the Martin Luther King Birthday holiday nothing more than a paid vacation that we don’t seriously celebrate), has decided to attack Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chair of African studies at California State University, Long Beach. First celebrated in 1967, it is a week-long celebration that starts the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and ends January 1.
Each day of the holdiay celebrates a principle. The principles are called the Nguzo Saba. They are (in order): Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
In the almost 40 years since its inception, Kwanzaa has grown in popularity in Black America, with celebrations large and public (as what happened here in Milwaukee with several organizations and institutions in our community sponsoring and observing one of the seven Kwanzaa principles–that drew hundreds!) or observed in the privacy of ones home with family and friends.
Grothman recently composed and sent out a press release calling for…get ready now…an end to Kwanzaa.
We kid you not!
Grothman called Kwanzaa a “fake holiday” conjured up by Dr. Karenga, who he called “a racist,” and “hard-core liberals;” and that it was put forth to “separate Americans.”
The senator goes on to say that “almost no Black people care about Kwanzaa–just White left-wingers who try to shove this down Black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”
Grothman…obviously…does not understand–let alone care about–Kwanzaa, a celebration designed to bring Black people together to celebrate principals grounded in African traditions, history and culture that we as a people should celebrate all the other 51 weeks in the year so as to lift us up economically, educationally, collectively, spiritually and culturally.
It would not surprise us if Grothman’s comments received tacit approval from other small minded individuals in our state, especially in West Bend (after all, they keep reelecting him to office).
Simply put, Grothman is an unapologetic racist who feels justified in his ideology given the current climate in our state and the nation in which the saying “take our country back” sounds erriely like a call to non-people of color to take the country back from various non-white groups whose customs and practices don’t jive with the mainstream.
Contrary to Grothman’s claim that Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa because he “didn’t like the idea that Christ died for all of our sins,” and felt Black Americans should have their own holiday–hence Kwanzaa, the holiday is not religious. Anyone, from Christians to Muslims, Hindus and Buddists, can celebrate the holiday. Its principles are universal and can be applied by anyone.
Well, everyone but Sen. Grothman. What would possess him to make such statements only he can answer! Is the legislator so comfortable with his bigotry and believes his constituents and those in his party and fellow legislators will support him?
We hope not! We hope–and demand–that his fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle will refute and condemn what he has said about this holiday!
We hope Milwaukee’s legislative delegation will speak out and condemn Grothman as well; perhaps going as far as to seek some sort of censure for his gross and offensive comments.