Sunday, January 01, 2006
Covering Kwanzaa: On Saturday, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a story on the founder of Kwanzaa -- a convicted felon -- speaking at a local library.
What you won't find anywhere in the puff piece is word of Maulana Karenga's checkered past.
Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a former black militant, Marxist and convicted felon. Claiming to have the unity of black people in mind, Karenga committed most of his crimes against blacks.
Just five years after his invention, he was convicted of torturing two black women by stripping them naked, beating them with electrical cords, placing a hot iron into the mouth of one and mangling the toe of the other in a vise. During the ordeal, he forced them to drink detergent.
And nowadays he's a professor at CSU Long Beach.
I've thought about this, and I don't really know how to fairly cover something like this.
You can't ignore Kwanzaa altogether, you'll get accusations of racism hurled at you, and as a general circulation newspaper, you can't really ignore a major part of your community.
However, ignoring Karenga's past is also dishonest and a disservice. Can one imagine covering a Thanksgiving celebration/talk with David Duke and not mentioning that he is an unrepentant former head of the Ku Klux Klan?
I'm not sure what the best way to cover Kwanzaa is, but I'm fairly sure that we could do better.