Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Kwanzaa? Really?

For me, learning is fun. When anyone, any time, anywhere, asks anything, I like to know the answer. Therefore, I read often. My mind is an eclectic mix of all types of information that I can hardly help but offer in various amounts (ranging from snippet to discourse -- depending upon how much I've studied the topic in question). For some unknown reason, this year I decided to educate myself on the "holiday" celebrated in the U.S. called Kwanzaa.

Prior to doing any research on the subject, I thought Kwanzaa was a holiday created by African Americans to celebrate Christ's birth from an "African Heritage" viewpoint. I was wrong -- in fact, if I were to graph how far off I was with a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game, my pin would definitely be in another county or state, perhaps even off-planet. So now that I'm slightly more educated than I was last week, I thought I'd put thoughts to... er... blog and educate anyone else that happens to be interested. DISCLAIMER: if you don't like my opinions, if you are blinded by what you consider to be "your civic duty," OR if your "open mind" only refers to viewpoints you agree with -- too bad. I call them like I find them.

First, a little about the "father" of Kwanzaa: Dr. Maulana Karenga. Born Ronald McKinley Everett, he first changed his name to Ron Ndabezitha Everett-Karenga (ndabezitha is Zulu for "your majesty" and karenga is Swahili for "nationalist"). Later, when Karenga founded the "US Organization" (United Slaves Organization, or US) he shortened his name to Maulana Karenga (maulana is Swahili for "master teacher" or "lord").

I'm no psychologist or psychiatrist, but generally, when I find out someone has changed their name (except in the case of changing one's last name at marriage), a big warning bell goes off in my head:
Are they selling something?
What are they hiding?
If they aren't hiding something specific, then what are they trying to deceive others about?

No surprise then to find a criminal record that included jail time. Convicted of sexual assault and torturing his own (female) followers would definitely keep him off most individual's list of people to emulate, except that he's s'posed to be this exceptionally enlightened torch-bearer for civil rights, so -- he got a free pass on that one. Never mind that he jammed a flowing garden hose in these girls' mouths, put one's toe in a vise, stuck a hot soldering iron in the other one's mouth (after he burned her face with it). Yes, definitely a pillar of the community.

Next, I thought it expedient to look at the good Doctor's educational credentials. He was a professor of black studies at California State University (Long Beach) when he created Kwanzaa in 1966 (years later, he chaired the department -- after serving time for sexual assault!!). Curious as to just what exactly a "professor of black studies" would be teaching, I dug a little deeper. It seems Dr. Karenga was doing what today is commonly called "community organizing" -- but in order to differentiate him from the masses (since he was the head honcho) the more politically correct way to phrase his work would be so say he "led" a "black freedom movement" or a "cultural black nationalist group" in the 60s. If you didn't use one of these PC terms, Dr. Karenga might sound too much like a thug, and we wouldn't want to besmirch his less-than-stellar reputation.

You see, I also discovered that his "movement" wasn't your run-of-the-mill garden-club-variety group of peace-loving-children-of-the-60s. "US" (sometimes called "Organization US") was so violent, that when they had a disagreement with the Black Panthers -- US resolved the issue to their satisfaction -- by offing 2 Black Panthers! Evidently, for all their militant radicalism, the Black Panthers didn't quite live down to the low standards of US Organization.

In looking for any other sociological "problem areas" in his life, character, and actions, I discovered he met Malcolm X in California a few years before Malcolm's assassination. Just how important Malcolm X was to Dr. K can be found in his own words:
"Malcolm was the major African American thinker that influenced me in terms of nationalism and Pan-Africanism."
The "Why" and "How" of the purpose of "US" is simply put, in his own words:
"...I founded it [US], as the sons and daughters of Malcolm, and as an heir to his legacy."
What a legacy. I should point out however, that when he was released from prison in the mid-70s, he "re-established" US Organization. Unfortunately, it was not for the better. Instead, he infused his newly acquired Marxist views, with his already suspect thuggish tendencies. I can only hope that the movement doesn't continue to add to its legacy in future generations of melding the worst of all the world has to offer.

In closing, I did read thru the seven tenets of Kwanzaa -- twice. At first glance (before I knew anything about the man) they seemed to be OK, the type of rather bland statements usually proffered by politicians attempting to retain their seat at election time. Once I understood his background, philosophy, and ideals I reread the same seven tenets. Although thinly-disguised, the Marxist ideals of community activism, collectivism, and blind adherence to those in leadership clearly shone thru.

For my part, even if a "Happy Kwanzaa" is offered, I'm done wishing anyone anything but a "Merry Christmas" and a "Happy New Year." They were sufficient for hundreds of years, and I personally don't want to be misunderstood to be promoting those degenerate ideals for which he stood.

PS -- If you'd like to know more, I found numerous links to Karenga and Kwanzaa with Google. Two of the shorter, more informative were the following:

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