A Kwanzaa exclusion


According to Wikipedia, "Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1." But in the Michigan prison whose inner workings I am privy to, the holiday first celebrated in 1966 is not living up to its billing.

An inmate I know is a recent convert to Christ, and in his naïveté decided to attend an inmate-run series of Kwanzaa meetings last week. It meant he had to skip the Christian worship services during that season, which prompted a little gentle brotherly admonishment on the part of the Christian fellowship. But G.F. was a "sound man" and wanted to volunteer his technical expertise to the Kwanzaa program. He also was told he could give a talk and was listed as a speaker in the printed bulletin.

Meanwhile, G.F. decided he would honor the Lord by using his speaking time to give his Christian testimony. He got alone with his Bible all day to prepare. The Christian brothers encouraged him in this, and come nightfall they filled in the back row of the meeting to lend moral support. But as G.F. sat waiting for his turn at the podium, he felt that something was afoot, and the moderator skipped his turn. When G.F. questioned the proceedings, he was told there was a change of plans. Then the room erupted with chants of "Allaahu Akbar." G.F. exited the room devastated.

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Waiting outside in the single-digit temperatures was brother D.P. (not allowed in because he is white), who had been praying for G.F.'s testimony behind the scenes. G.F. fell into his arms and wept. D.P. encouraged him, as he had oftentimes before, having led him to the Lord months ago. By the end of their conversation, G.F. felt his spirits lift, as D.P. commended his worthiness to suffer shame for the kingdom of God, just as brother Peter and the boys had done a few centuries ago (Acts 5:41).

So a couple of things were learned during the holiday season at a minimum security facility in the state of Michigan: First, in this particular Kwanzaa celebration of African-American heritage and culture, some heritage and culture was more equal than others. Indeed, the centuries-long Christian African-American heritage was unceremoniously deep-sixed for the decades-long Muslim heritage. Second, there is a better culture in the City of God, where no one sits out in the cold, where praises of Christ are not muzzled, and brotherhood is deeper than the color of your skin.

To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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