As a Black feminist, I can’t ever celebrate Kwanzaa. I can never get down with the cultural imaginings of Ron Karenga, who kidnapped and brutally tortured two women from his own liberation organization, came out from prison and renamed/refashioned himself, and continues to this day to enjoy a leadership position and influence he does not deserve.

I’m in the Pearl Cleage “Mad at Miles” camp about a lot of influential/famous folks who find favor despite wrongdoing. If you haven’t read her powerful essay or the book containing it, “Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot,” please check it out!

In the case of Karenga, he’s never acknowledged his role in the water-hosing, beating, burning, and confinement of these female followers. I’m a believer in the human right and ability to change. But until the likes of Karenga, R. Kelly, ‘n ’em cop to their abuses and seek some kind of atonement…I keep my distance from their legacy as best I can. Even if that means I lose something–like the principles of Kwanzaa–for honoring my *own* principles.

Fortunately, the principles promoted in Kwanzaa already exist in indigenous African traditions, so we are able to celebrate those without signing off on the legitimacy of Karenga’s invention.

I imagine Afrofuturism without misogyny.
Having said that, if you find meaning and connection in the principles of Kwanzaa, then I celebrate you and the community that comes together.

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