No. I don’t celebrate the fake holiday called Kwanzaa

Before anyone asks, I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. Besides the fact that its a fake holiday meant to cheapen and lessen the impact of Christmas, there’s the criminal history of its founder: Ron Karenga — aka Dr. Maulana Karenga, who was a madman, liar, torturer and all around criminal, as well as FBI stooge.

Many prominent conservatives have written about the folly of following the ideas of such a person, yet like the proverbial cockroach, the faux holiday called Kwanzaa is impervious to the bright light of truth.

Learn about the founder of Kwanzaa and its incoherent basis in “African” culture, which is entirely made up by the way. It will horrify you.

This is the definitive expose on Kwanzaa by Paul Mulshine, reposted here from The Free Republic:

ON DECEMBER 24, 1971, the New York Times ran one of the first of many articles on a new holiday designed to foster unity among African Americans. The holiday, called Kwanzaa, was applauded by a certain sixteen-year-old minister who explained that the feast would perform the valuable service of “de-whitizing” Christmas. The minister was a nobody at the time but he would later go on to become perhaps the premier race-baiter of the twentieth century. His name was Al Sharpton and he would later spawn the Tawana Brawley hoax and then incite anti-Jewish tensions in a 1995 incident that ended with the arson deaths of seven people.

Great minds think alike. The inventor of the holiday was one of the few black “leaders” in America even worse than Sharpton. But there was no mention in the Times article of this man or of the fact that at that very moment he was sitting in a California prison. And there was no mention of the curious fact that this purported benefactor of the black people had founded an organization that in its short history tortured and murdered blacks in ways of which the Ku Klux Klan could only fantasize.

It was in newspaper articles like that, repeated in papers all over the country, that the tradition of Kwanzaa began. It is a tradition not out of Africa but out of Orwell. Both history and language have been bent to serve a political goal. When that New York Times article appeared, Ron Karenga’s crimes were still recent events. If the reporter had bothered to do any research into the background of the Kwanzaa founder, he might have learned about Karenga’s trial earlier that year on charges of torturing two women who were members of US (United Slaves), a black nationalist cult he had founded.

A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of them: “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 karate 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 US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said.”

Back then, it was relatively easy to get information on the trial. Now it’s almost impossible. It took me two days’ work to find articles about it. The Los Angeles Times seems to have been the only major newspaper that reported it and the stories were buried deep in the paper, which now is available only on microfilm. And the microfilm index doesn’t start until 1972, so it is almost impossible to find the three small articles that cover Karenga’s trial and conviction on charges of torture. That is fortunate for Karenga. The trial showed him to be not just brutal, but deranged. He and three members of his cult had tortured the women in an attempt to find some nonexistent “crystals” of poison. Karenga thought his enemies were out to get him.

And in another lucky break for Karenga, the trial transcript no longer exists. I filed a request for it with the Superior Court of Los Angeles. After a search, the court clerk could find no record of the trial. So the exact words of the black woman who had a hot soldering iron pressed against her face by the man who founded Kwanzaa are now lost to history. The only document the court clerk did find was particularly revealing, however. It was a transcript of Karenga’s sentencing hearing on Sept. 17, 1971.

A key issue was whether Karenga was sane. Judge Arthur L. Alarcon read from a psychiatrist’s report: “Since his admission here he has been isolated and has been exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as staring at the wall, talking to imaginary persons, claiming that he was attacked by dive-bombers and that his attorney was in the next cell. … During part of the interview he would look around as if reacting to hallucination and when the examiner walked away for a moment he began a conversation with a blanket located on his bed, stating that there was someone there and implying indirectly that the ‘someone’ was a woman imprisoned with him for some offense. This man now presents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and elusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment.”

The founder of Kwanzaa paranoid? It seems so. But as the old saying goes, just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you.

ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, Karenga’s real name is Ron N. Everett. In the ’60s, he awarded himself the title “maulana,” Swahili for “master teacher.” He was born on a poultry farm in Maryland, the fourteenth child of a Baptist minister. He came to California in the late 1950s to attend Los Angeles Community College. He moved on to UCLA, where he got a Master’s degree in political science and African Studies. By the mid-1960s, he had established himself as a leading “cultural nationalist.” That is a term that had some meaning in the ’60s, mainly as a way of distinguishing Karenga’s followers from the Black Panthers, who were conventional Marxists.

Another way of distinguishing might be to think of Karenga’s gang as the Crips and the Panthers as the bloods. Despite all their rhetoric about white people, they reserved their most vicious violence for each other. In 1969, the two groups squared off over the question of who would control the new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Karenga and his adherents backed one candidate, the Panthers another. Both groups took to carrying guns on campus, a situation that, remarkably, did not seem to bother the university administration. The Black Student Union, however, set up a coalition to try and bring peace between the Panthers and the group headed by the man whom the Times labeled “Ron Ndabezitha Everett-Karenga.”

On Jan. 17, 1969, about 150 students gathered in a lunchroom to discuss the situation. Two Panthers—admitted to UCLA like many of the black students as part of a federal program that put high-school dropouts into the school—apparently spent a good part of the meeting in verbal attacks against Karenga. This did not sit well with Karenga’s followers, many of whom had adopted the look of their leader, pseudo-African clothing and a shaved head.

In modern gang parlance, you might say Karenga was “dissed” by John Jerome Huggins, 23, and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, 26. After the meeting, the two Panthers were met in the hallway by two brothers who were members of US, George P. and Larry Joseph Stiner. The Stiners pulled pistols and shot the two Panthers dead. One of the Stiners took a bullet in the shoulder, apparently from a Panther’s gun.

There were other beatings and shooting in Los Angeles involving US, but by then the tradition of African nationalism had already taken hold—among whites. That tradition calls for any white person, whether a journalist, a college official, or a politician, to ignore the obvious flaws of the concept that blacks should have a separate culture. “The students here have handled themselves in an absolutely impeccable manner,” UCLA chancellor Charles E. Young told the L.A. Times. “They have been concerned. They haven’t argued who the director should be; they have been saying what kind of person he should be.” Young made those remarks after the shooting. And the university went ahead with its Afro-American Studies Program. Karenga, meanwhile, continued to build and strengthen US, a unique group that seems to have combined the elements of a street gang with those of a California cult. The members performed assaults and robberies but they also strictly followed the rules laid down in The Quotable Karenga, a book that laid out “The Path of Blackness.” “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black,” the book states.

In retrospect, it may be fortunate that the cult fell apart over the torture charges. Left to his own devices, Karenga might have orchestrated the type of mass suicide later pioneered by the People’s Temple and copied by the Heaven’s Gate cult. Instead, he apparently fell into deep paranoia shortly after the killings at UCLA. He began fearing that his followers were trying to have him killed. On May 9, 1970 he initiated the torture session that led to his imprisonment. Karenga himself will not comment on that incident and the victims cannot be located, so the sole remaining account is in the brief passage from the L.A. Times describing tortures inflicted by Karenga and his fellow defendants, Louis Smith and Luz Maria Tamayo:

“The victims said they were living at Karenga’s home when Karenga accused them of trying to kill him by placing ‘crystals’ in his food and water and in various areas of his house. When they denied it, allegedly they were beaten with an electrical cord and a hot soldering iron was put in Miss Davis’ mouth and against her face. Police were told that one of Miss Jones’ toes was placed in a small vise which then allegedly was tightened by one of the defendants. The following day Karenga allegedly told the women that ‘Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know.’ Miss Tamayo reportedly put detergent in their mouths, Smith turned a water hose full force on their faces, and Karenga, holding a gun, threatened to shoot both of them.”

Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment. He was sentenced on Sept. 17, 1971, to serve one to ten years in prison. A brief account of the sentencing ran in several newspapers the following day. That was apparently the last newspaper article to mention Karenga’s unfortunate habit of doing unspeakable things to black people. After that, the only coverage came from the hundreds of news accounts that depict him as the wonderful man who invented Kwanzaa.

LOOK AT ANY MAP OF THE WORLD and you will see that Ghana and Kenya are on opposite sides of the continent. This brings up an obvious question about Kwanzaa: Why did Karenga use Swahili words for his fictional African feast? American blacks are primarily descended from people who came from Ghana and other parts of West Africa. Kenya and Tanzania—where Swahili is spoken—are several thousand miles away, about as far from Ghana as Los Angeles is from New York. Yet in celebrating Kwanzaa, African-Americans are supposed to employ a vocabulary of such Swahili words as “kujichagulia” and “kuumba.” This makes about as much sense as having Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by speaking Polish. One possible explanation is that Karenga was simply ignorant of African geography and history when he came up with Kwanzaa in 1966. That might explain why he would schedule a harvest festival near the solstice, a season when few fruits or vegetables are harvested anywhere. But a better explanation is that he simply has contempt for black people.

That does not seem a farfetched hypothesis. Despite all his rhetoric about white racism, I could find no record that he or his followers ever raised a hand in anger against a white person. In fact, Karenga had an excellent relationship with Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty in the ’60s and also met with then-Governor Ronald Reagan and other white politicians. But he and his gang were hell on blacks. And Karenga certainly seems to have had a low opinion of his fellow African-Americans. “People think it’s African, but it’s not,” he said about his holiday in an interview quoted in the Washington Post. “I came up with Kwanzaa because black people in this country wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods would be partying.” “Bloods” is a ’60s California slang term for black people.

That Post article appeared in 1978. Like other news articles from that era, it makes no mention of Karenga’s criminal past, which seems to have been forgotten the minute he got out of prison in 1975. Profiting from the absence of memory, he remade himself as Maulana Ron Karenga, went into academics, and by 1979 he was running the Black Studies Department at California State University in Long Beach.

This raises a question: Karenga had just ten years earlier proven himself capable of employing guns and bullets in his efforts to control hiring in the Black Studies Department at UCLA. So how did this ex-con, fresh out jail, get the job at Long Beach? Did he just send a résumé and wait by the phone? The officials at Long Beach State don’t like that type of question. I called the university and got a spokeswoman by the name of Toni Barone. She listened to my questions and put me on hold. Christmas music was playing, a nice touch under the circumstances. She told me to fax her my questions. I sent a list of questions that included the matter of whether Karenga had employed threats to get his job. I also asked just what sort of crimes would preclude a person from serving on the faculty there in Long Beach. And whether the university takes any security measures to ensure that Karenga doesn’t shoot any students. Barone faxed me back a reply stating that the university is pleased with Karenga’s performance and has no record of the procedures that led to his hiring. She ignored the question about how they protect students.

Actually, there is clear evidence that Karenga has reformed. In 1975, he dropped his cultural nationalist views and converted to Marxism. For anyone else, this would have been seen as an endorsement of radicalism, but for Karenga it was considered a sign that he had moderated his outlook. The ultimate irony is that now that Karenga is a Marxist, the capitalists have taken over his holiday. The seven principles of Kwanzaa include “collective work” and “cooperative economics,” but Kwanzaa is turning out to be as commercial as Christmas, generating millions in greeting-card sales alone. The purists are whining. “It’s clear that a number of major corporations have started to take notice and try to profit from Kwanzaa,” said a San Francisco State black studies professor named “Oba T’Shaka” in one news account. “That’s not good, with money comes corruption.” No, he’s wrong. With money comes kitsch. The L.A. Times reported a group was planning an “African Village Faire,” the pseudo-archaic spelling of “faire” nicely combining kitsch Africana with kitsch Americana.

© 1999

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  1. Avatar
    Em J 3 December, 2013 at 11:19 Reply

    Kwanzaa makes about as much sense as Maya Angelou referring to MOTHER AFRICA in her writing. It would be the same as the French calling Russia their homeland (same land mass but on opposite sides of the continent). Last time I checked Africa had 54 countries some of which have been at war long before the Atlantic passage. Until Black American Democrats establish a desire for historical truth, – anger, frustration and stagnation will be the status quo. As for Sharpton, becoming a preacher at age 10 is laughable. A preacher should be well versed and experienced in life. What on earth does a ten year old boy have to offer a congregation????? Why does this fact never come to the surface with any sort of public awareness amongst democrats? As for MLK – most people don’t even know that Martin Luther King was not his birth name. WAKE UP WORLD. If the Black Panthers association with Soviet Russian communism isn’t enough for you, then there really isn’t much hope of moving forward on the issue of race in America. America’s black leaders have been Soviet pawn’s since the cold war began. Ever wonder how Karenga, Frank M Davis and the like financed themselves? This article is great but will be passed off as the usual conservative propaganda as a means to dismiss the truth. My only question is this; historically Islamists have committed more atrocities against African countries than you can cover in a lifetime, why is this overlooked on the topic of race? When you look at what Islamic nations are doing to African communities on a daily basis how can European society continue to be the focal point for the depravation of race relations in America. It truly is a joke but the human ego is a strange beast. Arabs were enslaving Africans for centuries but good luck getting reparations out of them – Europeans are much easier targets for wealth redistribution.

  2. Avatar
    Donna 3 December, 2013 at 13:10 Reply

    Fantastic! I wish this post could be put into school books and spread on the news. It seems our children just go with the flow instead of finding the orgins.

  3. Avatar
    Okera Ras I 4 December, 2013 at 12:03 Reply

    I celebrate Kwanzaa and consider myself a ‘Kwanzaa Enthusiast’. I’ve heard the argument you make in your article/blog post many times before. Christmas is a holiday that many people hold dear to their hearts. I feel that most of the negative reaction to Kwanzaa is that people feel that it is trying to replace Christmas. People compare Christmas to Kwanzaa and say ‘How in the world can this ‘fake, made up’ holiday that’s not even 50 years old be compared to a celebration that great-great-grandma, great-grandma, grandma, mommy, my whole family and everyone else around me has been celebrating for 2000 years. No way!’

    That is a very natural reaction to having something dear to you being taken away. But Kwanzaa is not here to replace Christmas. Kwanzaa is a completely separate holiday from Christmas. A person can celebrate Christmas or Kwanzaa or both, It’s not an either/or situation.

    In your blog post you cite that a young Al Sharpton said that Kwanzaa will help ‘de-whitenize’ Christmas. Those who celebrate Kwanzaa have evolved over the 47 years since it’s creation. That radical focus shifted to concentrating on positive things Kwanzaa has to offer to those who choose to celebrate it.

    I personally feel that Kwanzaa has done a lot of good for those who have embraced it because it promotes very positive, universal principles, referred to in Kwanzaa as the Nguzo Saba.

    As far a Kwanzaa being fake and made up, EVERY holiday was ‘made up’ by somebody. When the earth was formed, it didn’t come with a list of holidays attached. Human beings made up every holiday that is celebrated. The older a holiday is, the more momentum and acceptance it has. A holiday that is made up during your lifetime (like Kwanzaa) is going to be looked at with a lot more skepticism and suspicion. I’m sure every holiday went through that, on some level, in its early years.

    To the reference in your blog post about Swahili words (mainly spoken in east Africa) being used in Kwanzaa when most African-Americans are from west Africa, Swahili is used in Kwanzaa because it is the first or second (depending on who you ask) most widely spoken language in Africa.

    I don’t condone or feel proud about the creator of Kwanzaa’s criminal past. But Kwanzaa isn’t about Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa isn’t a Maulana Karenga worship service. Kwanzaa is bigger than Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa is about positive, universal principles that those who celebrate the holiday are encouraged to incorporate into their lives all year. Do people who celebrate Kwanzaa fall short of the holiday’s ideal, and do things that go against the seven principles? Of course. We all fall short of our goals. But I think it’s important to HAVE a goal to strive for in the first place.

      • Avatar
        J Tackes 29 December, 2013 at 13:09 Reply

        The position taken by Okera Ras is not so much explanatory as it is a rationalizing of the holiday which only reinforces the fictional nature of the so called holiday itself.

        Christians don’t have to rationalize Christmas nor do Jews need to explain why they celebrate Hannukah. Contrary to what Okera says, not all holidays are made up. Real holidays are based in some historic event or real history. Not so with kwanza which is based soley in the mind of a criminally deranged socialist who attach legitimizing qualities or values for credibility of the gullible.

        Celebrate what you like but this celebration is an exercise in rationalization, fictional history, and wishful thinking. It’s as legitimate as Festivus.

        • Avatar
          StacyOnTheRight 29 December, 2013 at 17:13 Reply

          “Festivus for the rest of us!!!” About sums their reasoning up.

          I’m sticking with the celebration that commemorates the singular event in history, the event that we base our calendar on, the event that is still impacting millions of lives around the world… The birth of The Christ.

  4. Avatar
    Bill Burt 4 December, 2013 at 20:52 Reply

    Thanks Stacy, this is a part of history I didn’t have a clue about; it’s origin, or anything else about it.

  5. Avatar
    James Montgomery 5 December, 2013 at 22:26 Reply

    Okera Ras I,
    I have no problem with Kwanzaa and never have. I did not know about the history of the “founder” of it. I will agree in part with your post, Kwanzaa has morphed from what the founder’s motives seem to have been. My reason for commenting to your post was your statement that all holidays are made up. I do not agree with that. Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, etc. are holidays that are celebrated on actually events, thus they are not “made up”.

    • Avatar
      Okera Ras I 5 December, 2013 at 23:23 Reply

      Good point. But even for holidays that mark historical events, someone had to say “Hey, let’s commemorate this event every year. And lets exchange gifts” or “gather the family and have a big meal” or “light fireworks”, etc. Some human input and creativity had to go into making all holidays. That’s more so what I was trying to say.

      • Avatar
        StacyOnTheRight 6 December, 2013 at 08:31 Reply

        Equating Kwanzaa to the celebration of the birth of Christ is comical. One is based on an actual historical event that shaped most aspects of western civilization in a foundational way. The other is based on the hate filled lunacy of a maniacal barbarian who raped and tortured black women.

        There is no equity between the two.

  6. Avatar
    jocelyn 11 December, 2013 at 01:07 Reply

    Why is this entire article aimed at defaming the creator and not the positive effects of celebrating black achievement and history? Picking at hairs. Every president we’ve ever had has been a corrupt asshole in some way. With your logic, that makes this country THE DEVILS TAINT. But then again, its about the people in it and all the good we do that makes a country great (or at least that would be your response). Same with Kwanzaa. its not about the creator and ring leader (for a time)..its about the millions, yes MILLIONS of people (not just blacks) who celebrate and commemorate community ideals that should be grasped..not shunned at this present time.

    “Equating Kwanzaa to the celebration of the birth of Christ is comical. One is based on an actual historical event that shaped most aspects of western civilization in a foundational way. ”

    ….Christ was not born on the 25th of December. You also cannot use history and science when you want to but then quote a book that says the earth is a fraction of its actual age. people don’t celebrate christmas with a white santa and white indoctrinating tall tales because white Jesus told us to. The entire idea of Christmas is not based around Christianity. Any time a christian holiday is reminded that it STOLE a majority of its features from other, older religions…its like a case of amnesia occurs and we go right back to Christianity being the first, the only, the right.

    I find the entire idea of black(specifically but not only), educated individuals buying in to organized and historically violent and racist religions laughable. Religion doesn’t transcend racism…it was used as a building block for it and still is today. Most perpetuated segregation stems from religious organizations…

      • Avatar
        Jay 11 May, 2014 at 01:45 Reply

        Any black person following an Abrahamic religion confuses me. Embracing Mesopotamian religions of non-Africans who specifically used them to colonize, enslave and oppress your ancestors? These same non-africans who themselves had their own ancestors colonized and oppressed with these same religions imposed on them?

        Continuing the vicious cycle of brainwashing reeks of culturally embedded Stockholm syndrome. Worshiping the same religion used to kill our ancestors and not seeing the irony….It’s truly a sad joke, but religion is so powerful that this blunt truth won’t even much as phase anyone. Might you enlighten me on why Christianity resonates with you despite this? In the past I considered myself one, but perhaps there is some aspect of it that I’m just not getting that you could help me understand.

  7. Avatar
    Okera Ras I 30 December, 2013 at 00:43 Reply

    It appears that those here who feel that Kwanzaa is fake, feel that the discussion ends after you discredit its ‘creator’. Do you know what the holiday is about? Are you just making a knee jerk reaction because you feel Kwanzaa is trying to replace Christmas, which it is not? What’s wrong with people celebrating their cultural roots and attempting to embrace some universal principles?

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