So, I was coming here to post a link to a nice explanation of Kwanzaa (which starts today — Happy Kwanzaa!) and to pose a question/conundrum about being an Atheist who celebrates Christmas (which I don’t see as a contradiction, though I know some people do) and wondering if a white woman could also celebrate Kwanzaa (because I love the ideas behind the 7 principles).
As I was pondering what to say exactly and how not to seem like your typical privileged white person coopting the cultures of others, there was an interesting conversation in Downhill Racer, the film DM and I are watching to occupy time on this lazy Saturday, that gave me pause. A female writer (I missed if she works for a newspaper or magazine or what) is talking to much of the U.S. male downhill skiing team and is surprised to learn that women ski too. She and the men discuss these “girls” and why they would do it, if they are strong enough (both in general and specifically in the morning, because apparently strength varies so significantly by sex that there are simply some things people can’t do at certain times of the day). While they banter back and forth with the men pointing out both the power of the “girls” team (they often do better in competition than the men, we are told),
Now, I recognize this film is from 1969 — so maybe this is actually a cutting edge film for its time — but it just struck me as odd that a film I had, literally, never heard of and that was made before I was born sounded so similar to conversations that I hear in my classrooms almost every day. Ideas about what women (often referred to as “girls”) and men (often referred to as “guys” though never, to my memory, referred to as “boys”) can do and should do, embracing difference while fighting for distinction, seeking the common elements that bind us as people white celebrating what makes us individuals…
That leads me back to where I started (though I wasn’t honestly sure it would for awhile there…got a bit lost in my own argument…). Should a white woman be able to celebrate Kwanzaa and its principles? Or is the best way for me to acknowledge and support Kwanzaa’s values to simply back off and leave it to those for whom it was created?