Tag Archives: Karenga

Happy Kwanzaa – Now Give Us All Your Money, Greedy Capitalst Pigs! (Kwanaa Series continued)

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and Nia (purpose)

My series on Kwanzaa and why I think it is antithetical to American values continues with the fourth and fifth principles of Kwanzaa, Ujamaa and Nia. You can read Parts 1-4 of this series here, here, here and here.

It is no secret that Kwanzaa has its basis in Marxism. These third and fourth principles of this modern “holiday” speak to that fact loud and clear. Ujamaa is the principle of “cooperative economics” and Nia is the principle of “purpose”.  Although these principles are celebrated on two different Kwanzaa days, they fit together quite snugly in the Kwanzaa basket.  Kwanzaa founder Ron Everett (Maulana Ron Karenga) explains it best in his 2011 annual Kwanzaa newsletter: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) reaf- firms the ethics of the harvest, shared work and shared wealth. It thus is opposed to in- equitable distribution of wealth, and re- source monopoly and plunder by the rich and powerful. And it teaches us to privilege the poor and vulnerable, and uphold the right of all peoples to live lives of freedom, dignity, well-being and ongoing develop- ment. Ujamaa also urges us to give rightful recognition and support to the small farmers and farm workers of the world for the vital role they play in feeding and sustaining peo- ple and the planet, especially in the context of the globalization of agriculture and its destructive effects on the lives and lands of the people.

The principle of Nia (Purpose) teaches us to embrace and respond creatively to the collective vocation of restoring to our peo- ple the position and possibilities of great achievements thru doing good in the world.

For the sacred teaching of our ancestors in the Husia say that “the wise are known by their wisdom and the great are known by their good deeds.” And in the Odu Ifa, they tell us that we “humans are divinely chosen to bring good in the world” and that this is the fundamental mission and meaning in human life.

Classic Marxist humanism right down the comfortable use of the word “collective” (which, as an avid Trekkie also reminds me of the distinguished Captain Picard and his awful experience at the hands of the Borg Collective; sorry, had to nerd out there for a second) and the idea that our purpose in life is help by redistribution rather than starting in our homes by bettering ourselves and our families.  We’ve seen  the policies of redistribution put into place around the world and it has led to tyranny and poverty every single time.  Greece handed their entire country over to redistribution and they are now witnessing the collapse of their own society.  The African nations Karenga holds in such high esteem over our own traitor-nation of America have been practicing redistribution for decades.  Americans have been transferring their wealth to Africans for many, many years via the United Nations, food programs and other foreign aid.  Thus far our billions and billions in American aid has been liberally redistributed in Africa…to African dictators who murder and abuse their own citizens; they let the people starve while they distribute much needed aid money to their personal associates, private bank accounts and lavish lifestyles. Redistribution is just a fancy way of saying “stealing”, and Kwanzaa is based on the idea of redistribution – a policy that is proven to create criminals and despots around the world.

Kwanzaa is not the peaceful, mult-cultural “holiday” our schools lead our children to believe it is.  It is a direct attack on American values, capitalism and freedom.  It is born of the man who created a militant organization in the ‘60s known as US, as in “us against them”… need anything more be said about that.  As we wind down our Kwanzaa exploration with the final day falling on New Year’s,  I will be sure to talk more about the founder’s criminal record and shady history.  Just as Karenga and his followers feel it is necessary for Black people to understand their history in order to “rights the wrongs of the past”, I feel it is equally important to understand the history of a manufactured holiday whose founding father is a criminal and a racist.

Ujima – Third Principle of Kwanzaa (Part 4 in Kwanzaa Series)

Principle #3 – Ujima

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa and marks Part 4 in my ongoing Kwanzaa series.  You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.  As I have already established, I believe Kwanzaa is antithetical to traditional American values.  Moreover I believe Kwanzaa’s creator, Dr. Ron Karenga meant it to be that way as he sees American values as destructive to “Africans in America”.  You can refer back to Part 1 to read about the roots of Kwanzaa and why it is based in Marxist theory, but today we are here to explore the third of the seven principles of Kwanzaa – Ujima.

The Ujima principle stands for collective work and responsibility.  There’s that Marxist buzz word again – collective.  The idea of Ujima is that all “Africans in America” would form a sort of social collective, creating and producing – a “from each according to his gifts to each according to his need” sort of thing.  We’ve seen how well that has worked out for the world wherever its been applied.  I’m not going to beat this particular principle to death.  As with the rest of Kwanzaa it sounds rather innocuous when separated from the history of the holiday.  However, one must keep in mind that every admonition and encouragement in the Kwanzaa celebration is designed to exclusively enjoyed by Black peoples.  Whites need not apply. They are the oppressors.  The whole celebration is meant to be one big reminder of how oppreseed we are in this country and around the world.  Below is a link to a short video of Kwanzaa’s founder, Maulana Ron Karenga (nee Ronald McKinley Everett) talking about the principle of Ujima.  When you watch it, please remind yourself that you are listening to a man who was convicted in 1971 of the false imprisonment and torture of two young women in his militiant Black Power group “US” (as in “us” against “them”).  Remember this description of the event that was published in the LA Times in 1971 as Dr. Karenga speaks on the video:

“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. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.”

Happy Kwanzaa!

Kujichagulia – Second Principle of Kwanzaa (Part 3 in Kwanzaa Series)

Principle #2 Kujichagulia

Today is the second day of Kwanzaa and marks Part 3 in my ongoing Kwanzaa series.  You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  As I have already established, I believe Kwanzaa is antithetical to traditional American values.  Moreover I believe Kwanzaa’s creator, Dr. Ron Karenga meant it to be that way as he sees American values as destructive to “Africans in America”.  You can refer back to Part 1 to read about the roots of Kwanzaa and why it is based in Marxist theory, but today we are here to explore the second of the seven principles of Kwanzaa – Kujichagulia.

As a teenager celebrating Kwanzaa, I hated this day the most because we could never pronounce it! Kujichagulia is Swahili for Self-Determination and the purpose of this principle under the Kwanzaa model is to “define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves”.  At first blush, this seems like a an honorable and admirable principle.  Don’t we tell our children often not to let others define them and to stick up for themselves?  However, you must remember that we are looking at this through the eyes of a man who still carries much disdain for the America in which he has enriched himself and for white people in general.  Karenga is also a purveyor of Marxist theory, and that is reflected in every principle of the celebration.  On this day families are meant to light the red candle (although the order and number of colors can be flexible based on personal choice).  According to kwanzaaguide.com: The red candle is symbolic of the effort a person, family, school or community makes. The lesson is that we light the red candle to reinforce the value of work and effort.  Frederick Douglass reminds us that “If there is no struggle there is no progress.”

Again, on the surface this idea is not controversial, but as a Christian American who understands the history and intent of Kwanzaa I do find it antithetical to the American spirit and culture.  The point of Kujichagulia is not just promote self-esteem, it is to separate oneself from the larger American culture.  I’m all for cultural pride, but once again Karenga has determined that cultural pride can only be achieved by separatism, removing ourselves from our American communities.   Indeed, any time in this country where we have seen communities engage in separatism it has become a disaster.  Indian reservations across America are rife with poverty, drugs, alcoholism and abuse.  Jim Crow laws led to a very sick society that eventually erupted in protests and violence. Even some cults who choose to wall themselves off from general American society have suffered great tragedies (Jim Jones, etc.).  We are not meant to live separately from each other as cultures.  Oh yes, culture is important and influential – that’s God’s flavoring!  But cultures need not separate in order to thrive.  As a matter of fact, American culture is so unique precisely because of all the other cultures it incorporates.  It is a melting pot that takes the flavors of so many people who come here to find freedom and combines them to make one unique, diverse dish called America.  Kujichagulia would have us breaking off from that American heritage, denouncing it, and declaring our African heritage (which is sometimes questionable this far into the history of America, as I mentioned in Part 1) as the only culture/heritage worth our pride our recognition.

I also take issue with the secular idea of defining ourselves, naming ourselves.  God is removed from this equation under Kwanzaa.  Dr. Karenga has been very clear that he does not wish for Kwanzaa to be religious in any way and that individuals can incorporate their own beliefs if they wish.  Fine and dandy until you realize that Marxist/socialist theory calls for God to be removed from community life, and our Founding Fathers understood that belief in God was integral to a free society.  We are defined by so much more than how we see ourselves.  As a Christian, I believe I am defined by the Creator; a God Who has a purpose and a plan for my life and my community.  I am a sinner.  If I am left to define myself in totality, I am left with sin and a broken plan, for I do not see the larger picture.  It is extremely valuable to understand that where you are and who you are with are all part of a bigger picture.  Removing yourself and your community from that picture does not create prosperity, but division and hardship.  We are meant to live intertwining lives.  Our journey in America as Black people may have began in tragedy, but it has developed into a rich and influential history. We have become vital to the health and development of this nation.  The curse of slavery has turned into a rich blessing.  I would never want to separate myself or my family from that reality, or the blessings of the present because of the anger from the past.  I believe Kujichagulia seeks to do that, whether or not Kwanzaa’s founder and celebrants would admit.  This idea of separating ourselves is not American, and it is killing the Black community.

Part 4 tomorrow.

Umoja – First Principle of Kwanzaa (Part 2 of Kwanzaa Series)

This is part two in my seven day series on Kwanzaa and why I feel it is antithetical to American values.  Read Part 1 here.

Umoja (Unity) – On this first day of Kwanzaa the family gathers together to light the first of seven red, black and green candles in the Kinara. The colors are born out of the colors of African flags but represent the blood of oppressed black men (red), the color of our skin and that of the ancestors (black) and the land that has been stolen and denied our people but that is vital to our ultimate independence (green). Dr. Karenga describes the meaning of Umoja in his most recent annual Kwanzaa newsletter: The principle of Umoja (unity) speaks to our need to develop and sustain a sense of oneness, righteous and rightful togetherness in the small and large circles and significant relations of our lives, from family and friendship to community and the cosmos. It urges us to practice a principled and peace- ful togetherness rooted in mutual respect; justice; care and concern; security of person; and equitably shared goods. And it calls on us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, suffering and struggling peoples of the world in the cooperative achievement of these goods.

I suppose if you read this without context or understanding of the roots of this modern tradition that description may sound rather harmless, but as a Christian who has just finished celebrating the most joyous of holidays I see it as dark and rather joyless.  Read that to your children.  Do they get excited to celebrate Umoja based on that? No, I didn’t think so. Even little kids understand joy, where it is and where it isn’t.  Dr.Karenga may want us to believe this is a positive occasion, but the undertone of the day one of taking account of pain and past offenses; as opposed to Christmas, which is about forgiveness and freedom from the sting of death.

The lighting ceremony begins with a prayer (to the Cosmos, I guess. God really hasn’t much to do with Kwanzaa) and Harambe – a call for “unity and collective work and struggle of the family” (how uplifting!).  Harambe is symbolized by each member of the family raising their hand above their head and making a fist as they pull their hand down (reminiscent of the traditional Black Power fist).  It is done in sets of seven.  Some families choose to sing the Kwanzaa song at this time. It goes like this:

Kwanzaa is a holiday

Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa 

Is an African holiday

Seven Principles

Seven Candles

Seven Black days for the African


The candle is lit and gifts are exchanged, one gift for each day. Gifts are meant to reflect Black heritage and community and the struggle for liberation of the Black people. A discussion about the principle and how it can better self, family and the Black community is meant to ensue.  We always hated that part.  Sullen teenagers and squirmy 4 year olds rarely have patience for such things when cartoons and 21 Jumpstreet are awaiting us in the next room.

The idea of celebrating one’s culture is not new and certainly valuable but Karenga’s Kwanzaa is more than just a cultural celebration.  In fact, I would challenge the idea that it’s a celebration at all.  It is a somber reminder, a salt shaker shoved in the wound of transgressions our very recent ancestors worked so hard to overcome.  For me, it does not promote healing or self-esteem but anger and division.  It keeps our people in the mindset that they are different, not American, but simply a stolen people living in a strange land. But we are not strangers to this country anymore. We are not African-Americans.  We are Americans.  Many of us don’t even have roots in Africa.  Our ancestries go back to the Caribbean or Latin America.  It is wrong to continue to promote the idea of our “otherness”.  We are not others, we are Americans.  Our culture is not in danger of disintegrating.  Indeed, American culture has always turned on Black culture – rap music, jazz, poetry, dance, fashion, slang- Black culture continues to inform the American culture at large.  It does our community a disservice to promote a perpetual state of anger.  I find the principle of Umoja the polar opposite of unity. Fail.

Back to Part I: Why Kwanzaa is Antithetical to American Values

Why Kwanzaa is Antithetical to American Values – Part 1

When I was a teenager my stepmother decided we should start celebrating Kwanzaa.  My sister was just a toddler at the time, and step-mom was sincerely concerned for her cultural identity.  Though we lived in the “chocolate city” of Washington D.C., we were growing up in a multi-cultural lifestyle.  I was from Canada and my mother and much of my family is white; my younger siblings went to school and daycare in a middle class atmosphere where there was a healthy mix of races; our parents socialized with people of all races and creeds.  We had no lack of exposure to other lifestyles and perspectives.  However, my stepmother was concerned that my little sister might grow up feeling distant from her own culture and inadequate in the face of her other friends with “good hair” or lighter skin tones.  Her very genuine concern for her daughter and all of us led her to establish Kwanzaa as a Christmas alternative in our home.  We hated it.  It wasn’t Christmas.  It was weird. And we couldn’t pronounce all the days of Kwanzaa. Kujicahgulia? Say that five times fast.

Eventually we stopped celebrating Kwanzaa and I never really gave the “holiday” any more thought until I had children of my own and became a conservative. As I’ve immersed myself in conservative thought and analysis I’ve often come across harsh criticism of Kwanzaa as a Marxist, separatist occasion.  This Christmas season I began thinking back to my Kwanzaa days as we celebrated the birth of Christ, our Savior.  I find Christmas to be not just a religious holiday in this country, but a cultural celebration as well.   For those who do not embrace Christ, it still has a uniquely American flavor as we celebrate in this country. As Americans it’s a time we all spend together with our families, appreciating the beauty of the winter season, the lights, the food and the camaraderie.  Everyone seems to be in a better mood at Christmas-time (except if you happen to be one of those Black Friday shoppers; those people can be ruthless!).

To me, Kwanzaa is not just cultural celebration; it is antithetical to the American spirit in general and flies in the face of everything the Christmas season represents in this country. Far from being a traditional celebration, Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, a convicted felon and influential leader in the Black liberation movement of the 1960’s.  Dr.Karenga is currently a professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.  Karenga’s goal was to create a holiday as an alternative to the “white” celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah that would emphasize “Black” values and liberation.  Far from the Christmas idea of a season of forgiveness and peace, Kwanzaa seeks to separate Black culture from American culture and emphasize the wrongs that have been perpetrated against the Black community. It does so under the guise of celebrating “African unity”, but reading the official Kwanzaa website dispels that notion. Kwanzaa is about division, and it uses 7 days, beginning after Christmas, to note that division. Marxism is explicitly reflected in the language of the celebration as “collectivism” and “solidarity”.  Each of the seven days represents a different “principle” and is celebrated by the lighting of a candelabra called a kinara, not unlike the Menorah of Hanukkah.  The website kwanzaa.com describes Kwanzaa this way: This holiday is observed from December 26th through January 1st. Again its focus is to pay tribute to the rich cultural roots of People of the African Diaspora…Its reach has grown to include all whose roots are in the Motherland.  Its’ concept is neither religious nor political, but is rooted strongly in a cultural awareness…Gifts are given to reinforce personal growth and achievement which benefits the collective community.

 Kwanzaa most certainly is political.  Dr.Karenga is no fan of America or White people in general and his development of Kwanzaa is a consequence of that disdain.  Today is the first official day of Kwanzaa. As we move through the seven days of Kwanzaa, I will break down each principle and why I feel it does not reflect American values and has no place as a “cultural celebration” in our American experience.  Marxism and separatism have no place in a country built on the principles of individual responsibility and the inclusiveness of God. Over the next seven days we will explore the modern tradition of Kwanzaa and why I believe it has no place in the season we as Americans know as the Christmas season.  To read about day one of Kwanzaa and the first “principle”, please go here.  Also, please note: this is not written as a rejection of the importance of Black culture but to expose the false “tradition” of Kwanzaa as a Marxist, separatist holiday that does more to divide the Black community than unite it.

Next:  Umoja:  First Principle of Kwanzaa