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On The First Day Of Kwanzaa, My True Love Gave To Me, A Bitch-Slap Upside The Head

I apologize in advance for the complete dryness of this update, but some things just need to be said.

Today marks the second day of a holiday called "Kwanzaa", which, ostensibly, is based on some African Harvest ritual and involves lighting candles a la Hanukah (in fact the candle holder looks suspiciously like a Menorah) We have seen in many examples -- BET, Black Miss America, the recent movie version of The Honeymooners -- that Black America is trying its darndest to carve out its own little culture trench by being completely subversive to the rest of the country. And I don't mean blowing up bus stations or any other militant actions, but they certainly aren't making any effort to either assimilate themselves into the society or contribute something more culturally significant than 50 Cent. I’m sorry, but Black music died with Ray Charles.

As far as I can tell, Kwanzaa is one of those holidays that only appeals to blacks who are really down with the whole “back to my roots” thing – which is great, in and of itself. I wouldn’t mind incorporating Kwanzaa into the holiday morass if it was in fact a legitimate holiday with a pedigree dating back to ancient times. But my research has told me differently, especially concerning Kwanzaa’s Communist, Racist, Anti-Semitic founder, Ron Karenga. So sit back, light up a Newport, pour yourself a double shot of Hennessey, and prepare for a very eye-opening history lesson.

The founder of Kwanzaa, Ron Everett, a.k.a. Maulana Ron Karenga, stood at the forefront of the black power movement in the 1960s. In 1965, Karenga distinguished himself as a ‘cultural nationalist’ by founding the United Slaves Organization (US), a group that would rival the Black Panthers on the UCLA campus. The United Slaves was more radical than the Panthers, setting off quarrels between the two. In 1969, the United Slaves Organization and the Black Panthers disagreed over who should head the new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Karenga and his supporters backed one candidate, the Panthers another. The Black Student Union set up a coalition to try to bring peace between the groups, which ended when United Slaves members shot dead two members of the Black Panthers.

Members of the United Slaves followed the ‘Path of Blackness’ detailed in The Quotable Karenga, authored by Karenga himself. “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black,” the book states.

The United Slaves Organization disbanded in 1971 after Karenga, Louis Smith, and Luz Maria Tamayo were convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment for assaulting and torturing two women from the United Slaves, Deborah Jones & Gail Davis. A May 14, 1971 article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women: "Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of United Slaves, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said, and hit them on the heads with toasters.”

At Karenga’s trial, the state’s psychiatrist’s report stated, ‘This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and elusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment.’ The psychiatrist observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons and believed that dive-bombers had attacked him. He received a four-year prison sentence for his brutal crimes.

After his release from prison, Karenga turned his attention towards Marxism, and re-established the US organization under a new structure. Two years later, in 1977, Karenga called on African-Americans to adopt his secular humanism and reject Western Religions (Christianity, Judiasm and Islam) as “mythical practices which deny and diminish human worth, capacity, potential and achievement.”

Says the official Kwanzaa Information Center of the Kwanzaa flag: “Red, or the blood, stands as the top of all things. We lost our land through blood; and we cannot gain it except through blood. We must redeem our lives through the blood. Without the shedding of blood there can be no redemption of this race.”

The Kwanzaa Information Center also notes that the flag “Has become the symbol of devotion for African people in America to establish an independent African nation on the North American Continent.”

Not disgusted enough? Try this one on for size: On September 17, 2001, six days after the vicious, devastating terrorist attack on New York and Washington, Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa released this statement through his website:

“We must, even in the midst of our rightful grieving, pause and reflect on the possible causes for this devastating attack and how best to respond to it. Surely, we cannot believe the nightly newscasters and selective guests who assure us that the people who did this are simply jealous of our riches, even though millions of us are not rich, but are actually poor. Nor because they hate freedom, justice and related values. In fact, they think they are fighting for freedom, justice and the right to self-determination. Perhaps, then, it is not the material goods some of us have that they hate the U.S. for, but for attempts to impose the materialism of a consumerist society on them, to turn them into homogenized consumers of a McWorld system. And perhaps it is not that they are against freedom and justice and related values, but against the U.S. imposed interpretation of this. Perhaps, they resent the arrogance of imposition and the inequities imposed by a globalism that grinds them underfoot and denies them a right of self-determination and security that we say are indispensable to us and our allies.”

“Surely, we can and must condemn what they did, but it is also useful to imagine why they did it from their own perspective and to consider whether others feel similarly, even if they refuse to use such means to make their point. If we did, we might discover that from their perspective and those of people who will not commit such acts but are emphatic with their aims that they did it to: Avenge years of state terrorism, mass murder, selective assassination, collective punishment and other forms of oppression by the U.S. and its allies…and to dramatize and underline in a highly visible way the asymmetry of suffering between the U.S. and the oppressed in the world.”

Here’s the kicker: “We must challenge the U.S. to review and reconstruct its international policy, especially in the Middle East, so that it is just and equitable. This will be perhaps the most difficult struggle, not simply because of our uncritical commitment to Israel, the U.S.' major ally in the region, but also because of its shared demonization of their opponent (Palestine) and thus the refusal to address Palestine’s legitimate claims and their undeserved and asymmetrical suffering.”

Perhaps my favorite quote from Karenga: “We are concerned about all human life, but we are especially concerned about Black life. We don't apologize for that. We start with ourselves.” Yup. Sounds just like the principle of “umoja” espoused at the Official Kwanzaa Website.

Happy Kwanzaa, Y’all.


~Deb said…
Wow! Someone did their homework! Very interesting!
Moni said…
Darn that exhausted me just reading it. Deb is right, you did do your homework. I'll bet you're a lawyer in real life. lol :)
No room left for rebutal, as if I could.
Cobb said…
I know this guy named Osama Bin Laden. If you understand him, then you understand Jihad, and if you understand Jihad, then you understand Islam completely right? There's a lot more homework to be done about Kwanzaa, and I know how big and heavy that mouse must be, but you might consider the bonebreaking task of actually checking out the website of somebody who celebrates Kwanzaa before spouting off about what they are and who they worship.

Then again, why bother, since there are diligent people like me trying to sweep up the mess in the blogosphere created by Christian Fundamentalists.

The funny thing is that my daughter's best friend, a cute little blonde girl had a sleepover last night. And so since the theme of the first night of Kwanzaa is Umoja, unity, we let her light the first candle. It probably won't be until some exploitive type puts such a picture on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that people who consider themselves informed might snap out of their daydream that to be black is to hate others, but then with the intransigent and reactionary, you never really know what it takes.

What strikes me as so fascinating about this 'research' which is essentially a rehash of the most caustic paragraphs of Mulshin, Malkin, Snow, Coulter and a few others, is how easily it flows from the lips of people whose only acquaintance with Kwanzaa or its celebrants is via the web. Kind of like AlJazeera's view of Colorado.

But hey, don't let me spoil your daydream. After all, you can't trust me, I've just been doing Technorati searches all day looking for trouble.

Happy Festivus.
Valannin said…
I must say, Michael, you have quite the intelligent website. Your opinions are lucid, and there isn't even a hint of adolescent ranting which seems de rigueur among personal sites these days. You tend to be a little "black-centric", however, (especially the line about blacks not having any reason to wear cotton), and it seems to me that you are trying to discover truth by first defining what you want it to be, and subsequently filling in the gaps along the way.

Of course, reading further, I discover that not only are you a proponent of the "holiday", but your family has ties to the founder as well. If that indeed is true, then you must acknowledge the fact that Ron Karenga was a divisive criminal. But you don't. You defend him, slyly interpolating the fact that he went to jail because he was black, and not because he tortured two young women.

If you want to celebrate a "Pan-African" holiday (which is an impossible term because it suggests that all of Africa reveres an identical value system, which it clearly does not), then more power to you. Close your door, don your Dashikis, and light as many candles as you desire. But don’t sit there and espouse the “virtues” of Karenga’s flawed philosophy, especially the “devotion for African people in America to establish an independent African nation on the North American Continent.”

The North American continent does not want an independent African nation located within its borders. Have you taken a look at Africa lately? Civil wars, rampant poverty, astronomical levels of disease – you want to stress unity and faith, go over to Liberia or Nigeria or Mali, or some other such decaying location and see if the residents there are buying what you’re selling.

By the way, your “Do you know Islam through knowing Osama” analogy is deeply flawed. Osama bin Laden didn’t create Islam. Karenga did create Kwanzaa. Osama’s version of Islam is one of violence and terror, because he is a man of violence and terror. Readers can draw their own conclusions about a holiday created by a man who beat two women with a toaster.

“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”
Moni said…
Totally off topic; I just noticed your little saying under the title of your blog. Please tell me you don't speak German...? A man of many talents I see. don't translate it. I want to figure it out, now where's my German/English dictionary...

Oh hell, just tell me what it means and damn man how intelligent are you anyway?! ;P

I spent 2 years in Franfurt and still can't speak it. Duetsch that is. :x
Anonymous said…
The topic of Kwanzaa is beneath you, elf god. The holiday poses no danger of any consequence.

Pit your intellectual powers against a truly meaningful folly. Or are you just a bully?
Valannin said…
You speak the truth, my Anonymous friend. Such matters are beneath me...but one has to have a hobby.

Bully? Au contraire; I prefer
"Firebrand" or perhaps "Stormy Petrel"...whichever sounds cooler.
Anonymous said…
"Elf god" is pretty cool.

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