The holiday season in New York City is a lot of things: obnoxious, materialistic, sparkly. It can also be painfully white. Spend a day taking in the various department store holiday windows or giant Christmas trees across town, but don't forget that Gotham is one of the most diverse cities on the planet and many of the city’s yuletide traditions harken back to an ugly era of American history—one that wasn't exactly friendly to non-gentiles.
But this Kwanzaa, a bar crawl aims to turn that notion on its head. Produced by comedian and writer Kerry Coddett, the Kwanzaa Crawl returns for its second year of revelry, education and support for black-owned businesses. The event made its way across Brooklyn in 2016 and has added a collection of Harlem spots to its ranks this year. In total, more than 25 black-owned businesses are participating, and a portion of the proceeds will go to social justice organizations Barbershop Books and BLK Projek.
Coddett, who has penned pieces detailing Saturday Night Live’s lack of diversity and the “unspoken tragedy” of white-on-white crime, is also the founder of Operation Mobilize, an organization of community-based artists and activists working to promote change. Last year’s inaugural Kwanzaa Crawl was its most notable initiative to date, drawing roughly 1,600 attendees. This year’s iteration promises to draw an even larger turnout.
“In the climate of this moment, we understand the importance of using our dollars, voices and the other tools at our disposal to amplify our collective impact toward progress for black and brown people,” Coddett says. “This crawl is an opportunity to educate people and make Kwanzaa cool again.”
The crawl takes place on Tuesday, December 26 (the first day of Kwanzaa), with tickets going for $20 a pop. Those who register will also score a commemorative Kwanzaa Crawl cup (while supplies last) that they can fill with libations over the course of the event.
Find the full list of participating locations and more information at the crawl’s website.
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