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Celebrating Kwanzaa values Observers appreciate benefits of economic teamwork

Published: Tue, December 30, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.


WORK OF ART: Marsha Dykes of Girard displays tapestry throws she had for sale at a Kwanzaa event at the Buckeye Elks on North Avenue in Youngstown. The event was Monday night. The merchandise featured the likeness of President-elect Barack Obama and other black American history makers.

By John w. Goodwin jr.

The event was in recognition of one of the seven principles of the holiday.

YOUNGSTOWN — Several dozen residents of the city and surrounding communities gathered for a Kwanzaa celebration that took a slight deviation from the norm.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong holiday honoring African-American heritage. It is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, each day representing a different cultural value. It was created by Ron Karenga of California and was first celebrated from Dec. 26, 1966, to Jan. 1, 1967.

People gathered Monday night at the Buckeye Elks Building on North Avenue to celebrate Ujamaa, which means cooperative economics.

Kenneth King of Youngstown, a community activist, historian and former radio personality known as “Brother K,” said cooperative economics is important particularly in the black community because businesses receiving that economic support can then support charitable causes important to blacks.

This, he said, is an important aspect of community building.

“If we are to build a better community, we cannot do that by spending money outside the community. We can only do this by spending money inside our own communities,” he said.

As if to emphasize King’s point, vendors were on hand selling various types of merchandise such as throw tapestries, books, calendars and CDs.

Brother Lewis Muhammad of Muhammad Study Group No. 9 said the cooperative economic lessons learned during Ujamaa have become increasingly meaningful in light of what is happening in the country economically.

“The general theme of our discussion is preparedness. With the economic downturn, all of the talk about the economy, the history of the Great Depression and things happening in various communities across the country, we need to deal with our responsibility for ourselves as a community,” he said. “It is better to be prepared and nothing happen, than unprepared and something happens.”

Muhammad deviated from the more common speaker-driven dialogue form of Kwanzaa recognition and encouraged those attending to participate in a dialogue about what things are currently available in the community to facilitate economic strength.

He said a fresh idea could be hidden in the collective mind of the community and waiting to be coaxed out.

Participants were seated in a circle with each person contributing a thought or idea related to cooperative economics or general community building.

Some declared education as a means to achievement, while others re-emphasized the importance of keeping funds in the community, but everyone centered on preparedness for economic hard times in the community.

Muhammad said dialogues such as those seen during Kwanzaa are necessary on a more regular basis to keep the community focused and informed.

“Our young people may be caught up in the cable television or hip-hop, and everyone has their own burden to bear and may not be paying attention, so it’s important to interface and try to keep the community informed,” he said.

The evening’s activities were sponsored by Muhammad Study Group No. 9 and the Sankofa project, which, according to its Web site, www.The Sankofa.org, is an international movement of empowerment and self-improvement. Sankofa means “to return to the past in order to go forward.”



1OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I think this is great. Cooperative economics will be more important than ever during the economic collapse ahead, and has always been important to the black community in a system dominated by unequal opportunities.

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2aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"Cooperative economics."

In Youngstown terms: a gang getting together and robbing innocent people.

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3JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Stunningly well-put, Grump. The writers at Hateipedia approve.

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4OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

What is so well-put about Grump's post exactly? Its falseness or its racism? Kwanzaa doesn't "compete" with Christmas and Hanukkah- it is celebrated along with whatever religious holiday people are. Do some research before making an ass of yourself for crying out loud.

Also, *why* do black folks seemingly have no roots of their own?? Could it be because a bunch of lazy white people came to their land and robbed them for their own lazy selves so they wouldn't have to work their own fields? Now these same lazy white people are blaming the very people who were robbed of their roots for not having any roots. Circular logic of a Youngstown racist.

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5JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, OhioPerson, my use of irony clearly was a curveball for you. Next time I'll stick to monosyllabic (sorry, one syllable) words and leave the creative writing out of my posts.

(I rated yours a bad comment. I did this because you are an idiot. Enjoy breathing through your mouth and dragging your knuckles on the ground while you walk.)

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6OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Jeff, I thought you might be calling him out, but it is so rare around here for anyone to call anyone else out on racism I couldn't believe it. That doesn't make me an idiot, just makes me wrong about something inconsequential. You wanna focus on me missing your BRILLIANT use of irony (WOW you're so clever! "Hateipedia"! You must be SMAAAART!) fine, but the larger issue here is Grump's racism.

I notice you didn't rate Grump's a bad comment, I guess that means when people don't notice how smart you are you get more upset than when people say dumb racist stuff.

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7aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Racism is always going to exist so just get over it already.

And I don't want to hear that 1950's crap about how the whites hate the blacks, the blacks aren't treated fairly, the blacks will never be equal to the whites, blah blah BLAH.

Blacks are just as guilty of being racist as whites are, if not worse.

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8JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

It's okay, a lot of people don't get my point till the second read. Perhaps I should type slower.

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9OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

"Blacks are just as guilty of being racist as whites are, if not worse."

Wrong. You are so wrong. You might be able to find instances of a black person being racist against whites, but white racism against non-white folks is so pervasive, so strong and institutionalized, there is no *one* way to fix it. Black folks celebrating Kwanzaa is one step the black community is taking to grow closer to each other and help each other cope. This is a good thing if you aren't buried in some mind game of "us vs. them".

aeparish, please read http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/emc59.... You have serious issues you need to work out regarding non-white people. I don't know where all the hate comes from, but you should really get some help.

PS I already know the link I am posting is old news to most educated people- I am asking aeparish to visit it because it seems necessary.

PPS Jeff perhaps you should get over yourself.

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10aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Hate? I never said that I hated anyone. So don't tell me that I need help.

And you pretty much agreed with me by saying there are instances of blacks being racist against whites, right? Because as far as I am concerned, your comment following that statement ("but white racism against non-white folks is so pervasive, so strong and institutionalized, there is no *one* way to fix it") has nothing to do with what I said earlier. I never mentioned that there was *one* way (or any way) to fix it. In fact, I said that it will always exist -- whether it's white people being racist against blacks, blacks being racist against whites, or any other culture being racist against another.

As far as whites having an 'invisble knapsack of privilges'... if people honestly feel that way, then it's only because everyone else has an 'invisible wall' around them. If a black person, or any 'minority' for that matter, wants to have any of those 50 'priviliges' then all it takes is some confidence and effort. But no, instead, many choose to play the race card and hide behind the wall because they might look different than the person standing next to them and therefore, for some reason, feel inferior. And whites are guilty of it too, not just minorities. I know some very confident black people that carry on excellent lives because they have created that for themselves, but I also know some white people that lack confidence altogether and as a result, are suffering the consequences physically, mentally, financially, and socially. When I look at myself, I don't see a white person. I see a confident, successful, hard worker who has worked for what she has. And when I look at a black woman who has those same qualities, I see those qualities -- not 'just some black person.'

So -- now that you've gone on your little rant about racism and prejudice, I'll have you know that you took it upon yourself to judge me and my perception of this issue. So who's judging who here?

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11JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


Even though you didn't realize it we seemed to share the same point-of-view here (the validity of the holiday, negativity regarding race, etc.)...until you decided to start telling people in the forum specifically what they believe. That's not cool.

PS-You get over me first.

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12OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I went for some background on you, aeparish, and was partly responding to this comment by you directed at me (only just noticed it) on another thread where you say "And I also find it 'difficult' to look at a black person who is now allowed to eat in the same restaurants as me, use the same toilets as me, and go to the same other facilities as me... but yet that person still has the nerve to complain and act like they're still owed something? Please."

I was responding to what you stated were your beliefs. In the quote above it's pretty clear (correct me if I'm wrong) you feel that since black people have the privilege to use the same facilities and share the same space as your White self, that that should be enough luck for black people. I don't know- I think you're racist. Sorry if according to you and His Greatness, I'm not allowed to make that call, but I'm making it anyway.

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13JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago


You and I are on the same page now. I think we were all along.

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14zieg2003(82 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

What I don't get is everytime you guys bad mouth black people its always as a whole, you group them together as if one black persons wrongdoings represents all. Rappers make up a small part of black people, and rappers who bad mouth black women make up an even smaller part. Youngstown has all races and many different types of people, it isn't all blaack and all the black people here aren't robbers, drug dealers, and killers.

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15aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

You are wrong, because I never said anything about luck, nor should it even be about luck.

All I was saying was that I get bothered by the blacks that think they're owed something. They aren't owed anything -- they got their freedom and they got their rights. What more do they want? And by saying that -- I do not mean all blacks, because clearly not all blacks are so bitter about the situation (and if they are, they don't let it take over their lives).

Furthermore... Did I not, in that comment you are referring to, sympathize for the blacks, Jews, etc. that endured the hatred?

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16clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Let's get back to basics..Kwanzaa is a man made holiday, by the black people for the black people. It is a meaningless attempt to over-ride Christmas.Used to be we all celebrated Christmas ONLY, till some jerk came up with Kwanzaa and the black population jumped on the bandwagon. Just another way to separate the races.

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17OhioPerson(76 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Kwanzaa is celebrated ALONG WITH Christmas. That means Christmas is celebrated first, THEN after that, Kwanzaa is celebrated.

Also, NEVER has it been true that "we all celebrated Christmas ONLY". There's Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Bodhi Day, Id al-Fitr, Saturnalia... Winter Solstice was celebrated LONG before Christmas was ever celebrated.


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18aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, Kwanzaa is celebrated along wtih Christmas.

And since I'm soooooo "racist," I'm going to humor your previous judgments against me and say...

Of course a lot of black people celebrate Christmas AND Kwanzaa. A lot of black people seem to think they should have everything (even the extra 'a' in Kwanzaa).

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19clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

There is NO such thing as Kwanzaa, just like there is no such thing as Santa Clause. You want to celebrate some stupid name, celebrate it in August, but don't infringe on my Christmas.

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20jermuh(16 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

clayor, u imply christmas is not a man made holiday, y isnt it in the bible, unless u r speaking of jeremiah 10, u dont know when or if jesus was born and if he was what does that have 2 do with u giving and receiving gifts and was he born in december

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21aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

They do, clayor. It's called February.

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22wearepack(26 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Someone should block OldManGrump from this site. All he does is spread hate and cause controversy making the Vindy.com look bad. Get rid of the bum.

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23wearepack(26 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure where it was decided that I was a "liberal," but thanks for noticing Tomcat. I think we can all benefit from a holiday tradition that reflects on the history of a major contingent of the American population, much in the same way we can all benefit from learning about Irish-American History, Italian-American history, Japanese-American history, or any other. What makes us an incredible people is that we are from everywhere.

I still wonder, though, why folks like Tomcat aren't upset about Yule or Samhain or any other pre-Christian holiday that's been stolen and trumped by European-style Christian holidays like Christmas and All Saints Day (which are, I might add, two enjoyable and worthwhile holidays). Still, it might do to remember that most of the holidays we think of as standard "American" are traditions that covered up older ones.

At any rate. I don't want to censor, I misspoke earlier. I just want to reserve these boards for spreading information and not spreading hate. There is no reason for somebody to post -- without provocation -- what OldManGrump did at the beginning of this list.

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24clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

You are so right, Tom, if we all agreed on everything, it would be a boring world! And Pack, I don't think we are spreading hate here, we are just voicing our opinions, which is what these forums are for. Grump started it off with his opinion, if you took it for hatred, you are the narrow minded one. I think he, myself and many others simply see the ridiculousness of this Kwanza issue.....minus the A.20 years ago, nobody ever heard of Kwanza, now all of a sudden it deserves recognition, to be put right up there with Christmas and the 4th of July. I would like to declare a new holiday, Whingza....to be celebrated from January 8th to the 16th, so not as to interfere with Kwanza. I will check with the city to see if we can have a place for a factory to make white wings for everyone.Maybe a party on the Plaza...call the vendors...this sounds like a plan..I bet it will "fly".

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25wearepack(26 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Clayor. Agreed on the boring comment. But what bothers you so much about a group of people celebrating a holiday that you don't celebrate? Why is that ridiculous, or at least so much that it motivates you to post comments about articles that cover it? Would it be less ridiculous if was a thousand-year-old tradition that, while older, brought just the same amount of meaning and happiness to the lives of the participants?

Consider this: what if the holiday brings a community (of which you are not a member [I'm only guessing]) a degree of satisfaction and unity that makes your own greater community (Youngstown area) a better place to be?

I don't mean to be contentious here, I'm actually curious. I'm only twenty-five years old, but I don't have a "birthday issue". Those in my life have come find worth in just a quarter of a decade, enough so to celebrate with me. Quite a few more celebrate Kwanzaa.

Sorry for the long post.

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