-By Warner Todd Huston
Every year I post a piece on the troubled history of Kwanzaa. This year will be no exception. Note that some of the newspaper articles I quote are several years old and may no longer be online.
Each year, with the onset of Christmas, we are treated to another gauzy, fluff piece about how great Kwanzaa is by yet another PC spewing columnist. This year, among many others, we find aggrandizement such as that in The Record from New Jersey with, “Kwanzaa sheds light on pride, heritage; Celebration of African-American culture spreads,” and the Huffintgon Post with its titled, “Kwanzaa Detroit 2011: Events Celebrate Holiday’s 7 Values .” We even find such helpful sites as TeacherPlanet.com’s, “Kwanzaa Resources for Teachers.” Yes, the world is filled with celebratory lionization of Kwanzaa.
Several years ago, the Houston Chronicle got in the act with a piece by Leslie Casimir titled “Learning about Kwanzaa from the holiday’s creator.” This one, though, was a bit off the usual track of the how-great-is-Kwanzaa theme because this particular piece celebrated the inventor of the faux holiday, Maulana Karenga, himself. So, instead of merely celebrating this manufactured holiday Casimir amazingly made a hero of the rapist, race monger and violent thug who created it! To Casimir, Kwanzaa creator “Maulana Karenga” was a hero.
Casimir waxed all a’glow about how wonderful Karenga was and her column found a gullible parent who, with kid in tow, went to see the man at a local community center.
Thomasine Johnson needed to get the record straight about Kwanzaa, a cultural holiday steeped in African traditions that celebrates family, ethnic pride and community.
With her 11-year-old grandson in tow, the Missouri City interior designer on Saturday brought her video camera to S.H.A.P.E. community center to hear from Father Kwanzaa ” Maulana Karenga ” in the flesh.”
But just like the manufactured holiday he invented out of whole cloth, this “Maulana Karenga” is also a false front created out of fluff and nonsense. As it happens this supposedly great man’s real name is not really “Maulana Karenga,” but is instead Ronald McKinley Everett, AKA Maulana Ron Karenga. We’ll soon see that subterfuge, reinvention and smoke-and-mirrors are “Karenga’s” stock in trade.
Casimir gave us her version of the history of this “holiday.” It has only a short history, at that.
Created in 1966 by Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University at Long Beach, Kwanzaa was born out of the black freedom movement of the 1960s, when the Watts riots rocked Los Angeles. It starts the day after Christmas and ends on the first day of the new year.
I love how Casimir employed the euphemism “black freedom movement” for the group that Ronald McKinley Everett “Karenga” belonged to when he created Kwanzaa. In the 60s, “Karenga” was in an organization called US (as in “us” — blacks — against “them” — whites), a black power militant group that he founded, one that frequently clashed in violence with police and even other black power groups. Members of his group even killed two Black Panthers in 1969.
Sounds like they really cared about “freedom,” eh? And what a role model for the kiddies. Yes, kindly professor Maulana Karenga. What a great guy.
Casimir seemed not to understand why people would doubt this man, though.
Still, many people don’t know much about Kwanzaa or the elusive Karenga, who shuns giving interviews to the mainstream press.
Well, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t want to give too many interviews what with his disgusting record as a violent felon and sexual criminal and all. You see, Karenga has a long criminal record. A look at his real history finds that in 1971 Everett served time in jail for assault. By then Everett had changed his name to Maulana Ron Karenga and began to affect a pseudo African costume and act the part of a native African — even though he had been born in the USA.
It wasn’t mere assault Karenga was convicted of, either. It was the sexual assault and torture that he perpetrated against some of his own female followers. The L.A. Times then reported that he placed a hot soldering iron in one woman’s mouth and used a vise to crush another’s toe, of all things.
As writer Lynn Woolley wrote of Professor “Karenga”:
And so this is Kwanzaa. The militant past of the creator is now ignored in favor of the so-called seven principles of Nguza Saba ” principles such as unity, family and self-determination that could have come from Bill Bennett’s “Book of Virtues.” The word “Kwanzaa” is Swahili, meaning something like “fresh fruits of harvest.”
No one remembers the part about “re-Africanization” or the sevenfold path of blackness that Dr. Karenga once espoused. Hardly anyone remembers the shootings, the beatings, the tortures and the prison terms that were once the center of his life. It’s just not PC to bring that sort of stuff up now that Kwanzaa is commercialized and making big bucks.
But, Casimir offers us Karenga’s prattle anyway, treating it as the advice of a sage:
“As part of the black freedom movement, we were using this to return to our history and culture,” Karenga said.
He spoke to a crowd of about 100 people ” young and old ” at the Third Ward community center, headed by Deloyd Parker, an avid promoter of Kwanzaa’s Afrocentric traditions and beliefs.
“We have to wake up that history, we have to remember ourselves in a more expansive way,” Karenga said. “To liberate ourselves as ghetto dwellers.”
In a day when the black middle class numbers in the millions and when more whites than blacks voted for a black man for president, for “Karenga” to claim that blacks are still relegated to the “ghettos” smacks of race baiting and trying to “keep hope alive” so that he can continue to cause hatred between whites and blacks.
Sadly each year the Old Media is all too happy to assist him in that “holiday” endeavor.
Happy Kwanzaa, indeed!
But maybe not everyone if fooled by the faux holiday created by a criminal? This year, for instance, Kalamazoo, Michigan decided to dispense with its public Kwanzaa celebration. In fact, few cities worry over much about this so-called holiday.
Even some African Americans are not fooled into accepting Kwanzaa. As Jenice Armstrong from Philadelphia wrote in 2010, the “truth is that Kwanzaa has never caught on with the majority of black Americans.”
Of course if it weren’t for an Old Media establishment that had given this Karenga’s criminality a wholesale whitewashing, this faux holiday could never have gained the little traction it got in the first place. Put it this way, imagine if famed Ku Klux Klan member David Duke had created a holiday. Do you think the Old Media would have happily sold his creation to a misinformed public without mentioning Duke’s personal history? Not a change, and rightfully so.