Why hasn’t Maulana Karenga been invited to the White House to light the kinara?

President Biden has made Kwanzaa an official U.S. government holiday. Examples:

Wikipedia says that the creator of Kwanzaa, Professor Maulana Karenga (formerly “Ron Everett”), is alive and well and working at California State University, Long Beach. Why hasn’t he been invited to the White House to light the kinara? Who knows more about Kwanzaa than the person who invented it, a couple of years after Kamala Harris was born:

Professor Karenga could also address systemic racism in our criminal justice system. From Wikipedia:

In 1971, he was convicted of felony assault, torture, and false imprisonment of women. He denied involvement and claimed the prosecution was political in nature. Karenga was imprisoned in California Men’s Colony until he received parole in 1975.

One of the victims gave testimony of how Karenga and other men tortured her and another woman. The woman described having been stripped naked and beaten with an electrical cord.

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.

Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials.[24] During a 2007 appearance at Wabash College, he again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner.

And, of course, to readers who are celebrating, let me wish you a joyous and peaceful Kwanzaa. When I was growing up in Bethesda, Maryland, the first day of Kwanzaa (December 26) was a special time. Friends and family members would fill our home. We would listen to the elders tell stories. During dinner, we would discuss why the Hanukkah presents, e.g., socks, that we had received over 8 nights were so much crummier than all of the awesome Christmas presents that the neighbor kids had received in just one morning.


10 thoughts on “Why hasn’t Maulana Karenga been invited to the White House to light the kinara?

    • Why toasters?… The most idiotic striking implement I could think of.

      That little detail makes the whole story to sound rather unbelievable.

      There is a lot more effective and less permanently marking ways to inflict pain than the ones mentioned, and any actual sadist can learn them easily.

    • LOL. Nice tidbit! Did they give away the soldering irons, too?…

      I’m kind of curious about that hot soldering iron in mouth thimg, too. That kind of recreational activity would immediately cause deep burns which will require immediate medical attention and to a doctor will be quite surprising (and unlike common things like scalding with hot liquid).

    • averros: Agreed. Many unanswered questions, which is yet another reason why it would be so interesting to have Professor Dr. Dr. Maulana Karenga, Ph.D., Ph.D. join President and Professor Dr. Biden, M.D. at the White House where he could answer questions from the press.

    • As usual, things are complex. It depends whether one celebrates inside or outside one’s home (https://sites.rowan.edu/diversity-equity-inclusion/blog/2021/12/dei-prof-spectives-kwanzaa.html):

      Can non-African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa?

      Yes, but as a celebration created by African Americans for people of the African diaspora, it must be done sensitively. In the home, non-African Americans can celebrate as they wish, in appreciation of the universal values espoused by the holiday. There should be sensitivity toward not embodying African traditions as their own, appropriating Black culture. If attending a public event, the central features of the event should be conducted by African Americans whenever possible. On the official Kwanzaa website it notes, “Audience attendance is one thing; conducting a ritual is another.”

      Trudeau will be exempt from the rules of course.

    • What about celebrating by serving whole wheat (brown) toast made in a Professor Dr. Dr. Maulana Karenga-brand toaster?

    • So it’s a national holiday but people are restricted in the way they celebrate it in public according to skin color? What other national holiday is there with similar stipulations?

  1. How old was the V.P. when her Indian mother divorced her Jamaican father? Did the really celebrate it growing up? I wonder with whom she celebrated.

    “Kwanzaa celebrations were introduced to Jamaica by the late Queen Mother Mariamne Samad, pan-Africanist and Garveyite. It would last the entire length of the season, but over the years, the observance of Samad’s Kwanzaa dwindled to just one evening, on January 1. In Jamaica, it is a hard sell, and though Kwanzaa is not a religious concept with the intention of converting people from Christianity, Jamaicans are not keen on embracing it. Despite the efforts of Samad and a few others, Kwanzaa has not caught on in Jamaica as they had hoped. ”

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