Ironically, the people who are accusing Karenga of being a police informant are unwittingly helping the police do their work. Its very unfortunate, but I've been seeing these accusations since the 1970s and no one is ever able to present more than circumstantial evidence indicting Karenga. Since the basis of the Federal Bureau of Investiation's (FBI's) counter intelligence progrram (COINTELPRO) was spreading inaccurate information and creating an environment of accusations, hysteria, and confusion within the African liberation circles, the resulting confusion 40 years later is understandable. Also, most people making accusations today haven't even bothered to read COINTELPRO documents, which are so readily available today in so many formats that its insane that so few people have actually studied them. This a problem and it demonstrates how the recent U.S. presidential election and the idiot who won aren't the only examples of people who can con their way to the top. Information and facts mean nothing in today's society within the U.S.., including within so-called activist communities. The only thing that seems to matter is ego, but there are enough true revolutionaries out here who intend to shut that foolishness all the way down. And, the way to do that is by speaking the truth.
So, we start with understanding that Maulana Karenga started the US Organization in 1966 in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts rebellion. Karenga articulated that US was meant to mean "us against them, meaning the slave masters" although many people have consistently claimed that US was short for United Slaves, which Karenga has always denied. The objectives of US was/is to advance the notion that African people cannot have political and economic revolution and change until we relinquish ourselves of the cultural and spirtual oppression that has been reaped upon us for over 500 years. Consequently, US came to promote African cultural practices to attempt to provide us with our own value systems. Karenga created the Ngusu Saba principles and the Kawaida concepts are what he orgnaized Kwanzaa around when he introduced it late in 1966. US had other components, including an extremely disciplined and militarized element known as the Simba Wachukas. They were the enforcement arm of US.
Now, I understand clearly that many African people don't like Maulana Karenga. And, his history of wheeling and dealing in Los Angeles and the more than surface evidence of many closed door meetings with the city's power brokers in order to cut deals for his benefit cannot be ignored. Also, the fact that he was convicted and served time for torturning African women is obviously a very serious issue, but what people have done is taken those legitimate concerns about Karenga and stretched them into accusations that he cooperated with police to sabotage the African liberation movement when there is absolutely no evidence of that.
What we do know is that the FBI had people placed in high level positions in every African liberation movement in existence. Their metholodogy to do that was to sit down this brother or this sister who had pending convitions against them for unrelated issues. The deal offered to them was either infiltrate and do the will of the police to disrupt our organizations, and get paid in the process, or go to prison. Of course, many, many, people chose the former option and FBI documents released under the 1974 Freedom of Information Act reveal that US, along with the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, and every other group, had dozens upon dozens of these people actively working, not for the objectives of the organizations, but in the interests of the police state. In the case of US, the police had also done their research. Anyone who knows anything about Los Angeles knows there is a strong gang culture in that city. The FBI knew this. They knew that US was recruting members into the Simba Wachukas from the gang groups who had a history of opposing the people who were being recruited into the Panther Party. In fact, Bunchy, the founder of the L.A. BPP chapter, was a long time leader of the Slausen Renegades in South L.A. The FBI knew that this reality made Bunchy very disliked by the forces being recruited into the US Organization and the national police agency concocted a campaign to antagonize those strong emotions. The FBI sent insulting messages to Karenga that were designed to make him believe that the messages were coming from Bunchy and the BPP. They also sent similar packages to Panther leaders. They had their informants consistently feed Karenga with information designed to pour oil on the fire and vice versa. When Karenga and/or Bunchy made efforts to meet and squash the developing beefs, the role of these police informants was the block such meetings from taking place. Many efforts to resolve this conflict were made from both sides, but the efforts were always disrupted and the people who were there, like Erika Huggins, Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt), Elaine Brown, Karenga, etc., have spoken and written extensively about this. The objective of COINTELPRO was "to prevent a coalition of Black organizations from coming together." And, in doing so, an environment of open hostility and antagonism was fostered. This created an explosive situation where the history of violent confrontations between many of these new activists made new violence entirely possible and inevitable.
The events of January 17th, 1969, are well documented and if people are going to make accusations they should know those events backwards and forwards, so I won't repeat them here. I will say that without the work of the COINTELPRO those events wouldn't have taken place and the subsequent conflicts between US and the Panthers wouldn't have taken place either.
So, if your argument is that Karenga was egotistical, self serving, opportunistic, and immature, you will hear no response from me, but if your argument is that he was a police informant, I will respond by telling you that although he had plenty of them in his organization, there is no evidence that he himself was one. That's an important distinction because the claims against Karenga's character, although often repeated, have never carried the momentum that the police allegations have. In fact, most people don't even know Karenga spent time in prison for abusing women. So, if that was it, than people would just take whatever position they desired against Karenga and the movement as a whole would not be impacted, but what the police allegations actually do is bring in an entirely different element. With that, now the environment of distrust of organizations is embraced and this is why 40 years later there are still very hard feelings and emotions surrounding the work of US. For example, although I don't personally celebrate Kwanzaa, I have to acknowledge that this activity, more than any other single activity, has brought Africans in the U.S. closer to Africa, even if in a superficial sense this is true. And the closer they get to Africa, whatever way that happens, the easier the conditions are for me to do my Pan-Africanist work, but if people are down on Kwanzaa because of the police allegations against Karenga, than this gets in the way of all of us trying to do our work and that is exactly what is happening. That's why you are helping the police if you spread this nonsense because you are making it harder to organize our people.
Also, it needs to be said that since Karenga did do prison time, that's further evidence that he was never a police agent since we have already established that the motivation for being a police informant in the first place is to avoid having to do time. The police don't send their informants to prison because that eliminates the incentive of these people to inform. In other words, you can dislike Karenga if you choose to. You can decide to consider him worthless to our liberation struggle if that's what you want to think, but stop doing the work of the police by accusing him of being the police. You have not offered any additional evidence against him being the police then has been offered to support similar claims against Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, etc. Our leaders at that time were young, inexperienced, egotistical, and very naive about the depths to which this U.S. government is willing to go to stop any potential movement being oganized against its interests.
The other aspect of Karenga that isn't discussed that needs to be said is often, the people repeating these claims against him are not actively working to build any organization working for our people's liberation. And by working we mean building an actual organization with people doing things to increase our organizing capacity. I don't mean whatever you do on social media. That's not organizing. I say this because whether you like Karenga or not, that man is organizing. Whether you believe in his philosophy or not, that man is putting in work. And, I know that as long as he's doing that, you are doing that, all of us are doing that, then the conditions are being established for us to move forward. And, that has absolutely nothing to do with whether we agree with him or not and anyone who thinks that doesn't understand organizing work. Our objective as revolutionaries has to be to get everyone in an organization working for our people. We needn't worry about how good the organization is and anyone who thinks we do doesn't understand organizing work. You see, if you truly have faith in people's abilities to determine what's best for them, then you don't need to paternalistically decide for them what organizations and philosophies are relevant. They can do that for themselves. So, that's why I learned that if someone tells me they don't agree with Pan-Africanism and they want to join the Nation of Islam or US, we never argue with them. Instead, we offer them a ride to the nearest Nation of Islam Mosque. We do this because if they decide they don't really agree with the Nation of Islam the only way they can really make that determination is by understanding the Nation themselves right? So, our people can decide what's legitimate and what's not. We don't need to worry about doing that for them. What we do need to do is encourage them to get involved because they can't do anything until they do that first. So, instead of bashing Karenga, we should be encouraging people who agree with Kwanzaa to not just support Karenga's concepts for six days a year, but to join US and do it wholescale. Everyone in an organization gets us moving in the direction we need to go in and Karenga is organizing so although I don't agree with him - if I did I would belong to US - I still agree with Sekou Ture when he said "bad organization is better than no organization." I also know that most people in the U.S. at least will have a very difficult time grasping what the All African People's Revolutionary Party's work is all about. We aren't about reformist work, being in the media, having buildings in the U.S. We don't knock those who are doing those things, but we are about building a worldwide fighitng force of Africans dedicated to revolutionary Pan-Africanism and building a worldwide political party to guide us to that objective. That's why I spent December of 2015 on the ground in Ghana working with our organizers there to do our work. That's why I spent December of 2016 on the ground in Tanzania working with our organizers there to do our work. That's why I spend every day in between working in Oregon with our organizers on the ground to do our work. That's why we are doing this everywhere, but some of you won't be able to see it until you get acclimated to organization work e.g. the discipline of it, the critical analysis skills, the growth in understanding and organizing experiences. You can only get this by participating, not through social media. You can only get this through working with people to build infrastructure to organize effectively, not through social media. So, whatever you think about Karenga, my point about him is at least he has demonstrated over the last 50 years that he understands that much. Social medai should be nothing more than a tool to help with real organizing. It cannot substitute for that organizing. Everyone who engages in serious organizing work, within an organization, understands that. The only people who don't are those who are not involved in serious organizing work. So, if you really believe the police should be dismantled, stop doing their work for them. Learn what you can from Karenga and leave the rest alone. If you don't like him or what he represents, the best thing you can do is contribute to the organization that lines up with your beliefs. Let's spend more time in 2017 doing that instead of spreading urban legends that do nothing except serve our enemies.