Friday, December 31, 2010

Joey Lawrence

someone on Tumblr posted a link to this awesome photographer- Joey Lawrence. his stuff is ridiculous. all the people in his photos look like gods. check him out.

an injustice in Mississippi is an injustice everywhere

so i've been reading about the Scott Sisters in the news every now and then, and theres been a break in the case just recently, but even more outraging than their arrest.
to make a long story short, the Scott Sisters were arrested 16 years ago and sentenced to 2 life sentences for stealing $11. yes, ELEVEN DOLLARS. yes, TWO LIFE sentences each.
i would write a post about this, but a common friend on facebook wrote a very good and concise commentary on the story with some very important questions we all should be asking the government.
here's the commentary:

The number one priority is to assess the financial circumstances under which Jamie will be able to get the greatly needed kidney transplant from the donor who will be her Sister, Gladys. Where is the money coming from, who will pay ? Her kidneys failed IN prison, she got sick IN prison.

The second priority is to assess and examine the strategies necessary to make their release fully permanent. Indefinite suspension is not FREEDOM. This action is not about JUSTICE. We promised Jamie and Gladys JUSTICE.

We need to question the terms and condition and status of their release. The State of Mississippi has released them without pardon and without a commutation which very much remands them still to the custody of the Department of Corrections, but not under the normal probationary regulations. We have to ask why. This is bottom line an impediment and barrier to block them from talking to media, the community or to redress the great injustice done to them and the burden it has placed on their lives and their family.

We have to ask, on this matter was this a way of ensuring that the Sisters cannot charge the state with violation of both their judicial, civil or human rights or challenge the initial sentence of 2x life sentences; or challenge the conduct of the court or prosecutors in the matter ? Did Barbour view this release as a way of removing political baggage off of his desk in his quest for the Republican nomination for President , espeically in the light of his recent idiot racist remarks reported widely ? Why was there no immediate release ? Why did Barbour intentionally underscore guilt in his statement, where guilt is at the core of the question of the courts' decision ? Why did the Pardons Board recommend no commutation or pardon ? They could have and the Governor could have chosen his option of indefinite suspension.

Suspension means just that, suspend, hold up. At any point, these Sisters can be returned to prison. If they speak to the media, hire an attorney, file complaints about their incarceration or the inadequacy of Jamie's medical treatment while incarcerated; or if they speak at all about the conditions under which they were found guilty, sentenced or incarcerated. Have any of us ever heard of one instance when the government imposes an organ donation as a term of anything ? In the situation of a suspension of sentence, I guess they can just about do anything. This action is nothing less than house arrest, with organ donation thrown in and no financial capacity for the surgery.

Still I wept in happiness for Jamie and Gladys and their family. As a Mother, I wept for Evelyn Rasco. Rest now for a while. We have work to do.

this case brought to light the history of the government and large corporations exploiting the bodies of people of color, especially that of prisoners. what cases have ever required a prisoner to give up a part of their body? what right does Haley Barbour think he has to make someone give up an ORGAN!! the books Killing the Black Body and Medical Apartheid speak about the ways the government has disrespected our rights to our own bodies since the beginning of colonialism. i cannot fathom how this case has even been thriving for 16 years. this needs to be a call to action. especially for those that believe race relations are all unicorns and sunshine since Obama was elected.

i'm ready for a riot. anyone know of one, just let me know the time and the place.

also, here's Governor Haley Barbour's address so you can send him hate mail:

Governor Haley Barbour

P.O. Box 139

Jackson, Mississippi


comment. think. criticize. riot.

Friday, December 24, 2010

foolishness on facebook facebook inbox was recently greeted by a letter from a friend from high school "concerned" and confused about the content of my blogs (i have links to both blogs on my facebook). "do you hate white people" was the main question of the initial message, after 1 or 2 messages back and forth, i received the following message...and no link to respond...apparently the account was deleted. maybe she thought i was going to get the Black Panthers together and bomb her house. i'm posting this on here to show the type of ignorance, and the levels of denial that are still prevalent in our society. not only on racism and race relations, but on the views of what the US is doing around the world. apparently, we're taking democracy and rights, happiness, unicorns and sunshine to the middle east....not death, destruction, rape, division, and the dismantling of economic self-reliance.
next time someone comes at me with some foolish questions as if it is my job their eyes, really....i'll just link them to this blog to give them my take on it.
here's the message:
you cant convince me that people of color have been targeted in their infant mortality rate & with cancer...that is reaching
especially in the article talking about black hair products and increased risk of cancer apposed to whites.I studied cosmetology.I know what is in a relaxer.there is no natural and safe option to change the hair chemestry to restructure curl pattern in the way of a relaxer. the pH level is in the range of depilatories and drano.people should never use them oils are available non-aerosol & all natural.most hair & skin products can be made naturally.BPA and other toxins are found in MOST plastics...not just hair product containers.just like the food we eat we should always know what we are exposing ourselves to.
lack of education is a choice.we have public schools.there are many FREE outlets to find education.we are not limited to private schooling here.
incarceration rate is an individual ones circumstances MAKES someone commit a crime.they make that choice.

I have not been living in a bubble.i do believe there are racist people in our country, but i will NOT believe there is a social and economic conspiracy against people of color.

also many cultures are represented in my family,
hispanic,black and native american.My best friend who calls me sister is black and she has never made me feel like that there is some grudge between our races.I'm sure she is aware of racism in the world but it has NEVER kept her from doing anything or getting what she wanted out of life.I have never hear her one time say to me that her skin color has been a barrier to her progress.

And i can tell you've experienced racism in the south toward me by black people.. completely unwarranted...because for some reason southern black people still think that all white people are automatically racist...i am not an didnt deserve it.some people have this chip on their shoulder and its made out of some paranoia that is fed to them.

I'll have you know I love our military.our military has nothing to have shame over..we arent like the nazis exterminating a the jews.we fight wars when we feel it's necessary & we take it abroad to keep the fight of our soil.we search out the threat and stop it,we dont wait for it to come at us...just like this war.9/11 targeted american citizens of many races...not just white people.and our military is full of people of color.our enlistment is voluntary so they make the same choice to be a solidier and serve in our wars.and all the destruction that was brought to other countries we hire contractors to rebuild it,we didnt just leave it.we have started schools & job training there as well.we've tried to bring democratic votes.we've been there training thier own people with military and police training to better equip them in achieving THEIR goals for their country.

and how is it that our president is african american if white people seem to be always taking the advantage of power?he is the MOST powerful man in the united states..
[but hey maybe his white mother really isnt dead and is actually behind the scenes pushing her white people agenda into his politics?...maybe you can find a way to expose that conspiracy.]

And if this country isnt good enough for you...and you're here by "circumstance" bout you move to africa or the middle east and try and voice your concerns there?...i'm pretty sure you wont have the opportunies of expression like you have the rights to here.

These things you have said are really offensive to me & it shocks me to hear from someone i thought i once knew.By your last paragraph especially i can see now you are a racist & we cannot be friends anymore.I'm sorry to say.
yeeeaaa...absolute foolishness. i would give my response to this, but i think thats the point of this entire blog. and to clarify, my most recent facebook link was a link to an article showing the hazardous chemicals in black haircare products and one of my previous messages to her mentioned the (daunting) disparities in the rates of healthcare, poverty, etc. between people of color and whites.
comment. think. criticize.

"One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly." -Nietzsche

i just found this video putting the philosophies of Fredrich Nietzsche more into context. very interesting.
Nietzsche is probably my favorite western philosopher, which i think is due to equal parts insanity and ingenuity. his work has inspired me in so many ways. he's typically labeled a nihilist or fatalist, or just....depressing, but i read his stuff, and i'm inspired to just go live life on the brink, saying "fuck you" to any naysayers. thats his philosophy. there are no hesitations or mediocrity with him- you live life and have the confidence to face risks or die; you attack life with all your might or kill yourself; LIVE or DIE. it's crazy, on some level, but....inspiring depending on your situation. and all this is aside from his views on Christianity, Abrahamic religions, theology, etc. i just really admire how theres no fear or inhibitions with him. he was fearless when it came to religion, authority, and tradition. and thats rare.
that being said, he was a misogynist. and as an advocate of feminism, it's difficult to respect such a person. but, i do believe that had he been able to get past his personal experiences with the women in his life, he could have been a leading feminist. i think when he speaks about women, he is speaking from a place of pain (then again, isn't every misogynist coming from some place of pain?), and not from that area in his brain that produced the brilliance in his other philosophies.
anyway, check it out. this is part 2 of 3, which i thought was the most interesting, but theres 2 more parts to it:

comment. think. criticize. check out Thus Spoke Zarathustra-a personal inspirational book. and The Antichrist would be a great stocking stuffer for your Christian pals....

Sunday, December 19, 2010


so i've left my beloved city of brooklyn to come back to the south. mmm....
one of my friends said living in NYC made you feel as though you're part of something bigger. and that is so true on many levels. moving from such a vibrant and diverse city to a place with almost no diversity thats about as vibrant as a coma feels like...meh...=/. yes, i have to resort to emoticons to describe my feelings right now.
i think one of the biggest things i'll miss is living in a colored community. that probably made the most impact on me. the comfort of being in a store, a sidewalk, a bank, or subway cart in which i'm not the only person of color is....beautiful; it's a level of comfort i cannot describe. it wasn't until i was in a subway cart with nothing but black and brown folks (because my neighborhood was mainly West Indians) that the feelings of being the only black person in....almost every situation i can recall growing up...really surfaced and solidified.
bell hooks and Henry Louis Gates Jr. both talk about growing up in black communities and how it felt so good to come home from being out in their jobs or school, to come back to where you can just be you without having the weight of representing every single person that has your skin color. moving to NYC is the first time i've felt that. never once did i take that for granted.

from here there is a Bachelor's in Anthropology and a minor in Religious Studies. from here theres change that will hopefully get me employed with a job i actually enjoy. from here theres changes, which i welcome. changes like these are a great time for self evaluation; evaluating where i've been, what positive changes i've made, what i've learned from those changes, what i hope to change in the future, etc.

i will be visiting nyc maybe...7, 8....15 times a year ....just to keep myself centered.

comment. whatever. send me positive vibes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Civil War re-enactments and other festivities saturated in White Privilege

recently, i had a discussion on Tumblr about how people celebrate (do re-enactments) of the Civil War and/or other historical events from the Antebellum south and what exactly these events are saying. a fellow Tumblr remarked that she and/or her ex participated in Civil War re-enactments and that it was really just a chance to get dressed up for history buffs. and i've just read about how the 50th anniversary of the secession is coming up either now or soon and all the parties and whatnot that will be planned in celebration.
why is it that the LOSING side of the war is always so eager to bring it up and have celebrations surrounding it? losers are supposed to sulk and whine about what could have/should have been done better, mourn their dignity, pride, and self-respect, and then MOVE ON. this is with wars, civil disputes, basketball games, and marching band competitions. i don't know why Mr.Charlie and the rest of his imps feels as though he is exempt from this rule. ??

considering i'm from the south, this topic is not a new one to me. going to school with most whites wearing shirts with the confederate flag on it (along with hats, belt buckles, hair bows, necklaces, backpacks, cars, school supplies, and other memorabilia), there were plenty of people eager to defend The South when negative sentiments were expressed. a shirt i recall is the one with the confederate flag that says "i'm offended that you're offended". it should say "i'm offended this makes you recall slavery, lynchings, and the compete subjugation of your should make you recall well-trained horses in Confederate colors and those good ole Antebellum values!"
aside from that, i've had some more in-depth conversations with people on Myspace political forums and in person about the role slavery played in the events. most southerners (and/or Republicans) will contend that slavery was not an important role in the war. states rights, and laws regarding self-government (or small government) were the main reasons for the war. this goes against what i'd learned in nearly all my history classes, but the again, these classes have left out too much for me not to be skeptical about their curriculum.

so i've been doing more research myself. Wikipedia and the National Park Service have written some articles about the main issue in the war. and it ain't states' rights. here is what Mississippi had to say when it seceded:
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery...Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money [the estimated total market value of slaves], or we must secede the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property."
many apologists of the south would like to mention the fact that most white southerners (2/3rds, to be more exact) and those that fought in the war did not own slaves, therefore the issue could not have been slavery. but the southerners that did not own slaves were working and poor classes whites. and to my knowledge, no nation has ever went to war with even a regard for the poor and working class. the rich (powerful) individuals control almost all issues with any government. in the South, they were slave-owners whose main source of wealth was slavery. even now, the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the working/poor classes of Americans and all to do with various corporations' monetary interests. yet, as in the Civil War, the main individuals on the battle ground are working and poor class individuals that will gain nothing from fighting. and besides the superiority whites self-imposed over blacks, what did the South have prior to the war that was so important? what is so important and singular to the South that white southerners feel the need to celebrate on nearly a daily basis that the Union was against? oh, right-SLAVERY.

but this issue and this post isn't so much about the Civil War as it is about race relations and who comes out of history looking gallant and/or neutral and who does not.
if whites who support the south can now tell a history in which it was not as gruesome and sickening as it really was, their self-pride is restored. knowing that you come from people who lynched blacks and sold their genitals as souvenirs in front of cheering mobs is not a story one would want to tell their grandchildren. and likewise, theres almost never any mention of slavery in any Civil War reenactments (which i believe take place annually) and there will be no mention of in these upcoming events. the lives of those most effected by the war (non-whites) are non-existent...yet again. these events are done by people who have the privilege of looking into their history and not seeing the complete dismantling of their ancestors' basic human rights. and they're CELEBRATING it.

and this is my main issue with these events-it is a continuation of the white-washing of history. in most public school textbooks, educational lectures, and historic events like the upcoming ones, the perspective; the lives; the basic human struggles of non-whites are too often left out, forgotten, ignored, or glossed over. the more knowledge i gain about the past the more enraged i am that i haven't know these facts before; the more dismayed i am about the "education" we receive in public schools. we see this in what has happened to the Arizona school system, we see it in our national holidays such as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, and now we see it with these commemoration events. i've talked about my disgust with the whitewashing of American history before, so i won't go into it again. these upcoming events just drive home the point that we as communities need to start educating our children. it is not up to the oppressor to educate the oppressed. mis-education or no education at all is tantamount to their power.
we need to make it mandatory that every time history is mentioned, the race relations and what they have done to our respective communities and relations be made evident. every Confederate flag should be shown alongside a photo like the one below (there are plenty photos more gruesome, but i'd rather not show those. if you haven't seen them, however, you should look them up). and every time some trumpet is sounded to honor the Confederate states, someone should be blasting Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday. the minute we forget what happened to our people is the minute it will happen again.

i'm going to be in the south during the planned parade in Montgomery, Alabama, and considering i'm about an hour and a half away from there, i'll more and likely be protesting the event in some form or fashion. the NAACP is planning to protest, but if they plan to be peaceful about it, i'll be doing my demonstration on my own.

comment. think. criticize. if you're in the south and want to join me in protest, hit me up.
also, check out the post about this topic at a blog i follow.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lost Kingdoms of Africa

a friend sent me a link to this video about the lost civilizations of Nubia. very very interesting. i think everyone; every single person should watch this. i think the majority of people on earth (black, brown, or other) believe that besides Egypt, the rest of Africa was a bunch of savages singing and dancing all day. we may have moved past the word "savage" as of recent times, but we still know nothing about these Nubian, South African, and Central African civilizations. Henry Louis Gates Jr. does a similar voyage to West Africa in his short series Wonders of the African World, and interestingly enough, this is the first i'm hearing about most of these facts and discoveries. theres iron work dating back to the 6th century in places like Chad, Nigeria, and Benin. why have i never heard about this?
anyway, watch the film. it is in 6 parts. also, check out the others he does in Benin and Zimbabwe.

Claudette Colvin v. Rosa Parks

recently, the anniversary arose of the time Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, which became a catalyst for the civil rights movement and many subsequent movements. her individual contribution should be celebrated and appreciated for as long as our memories permit. however, i would like to talk about another case that was very similar to Rosa Parks but did not warrant the national outcry and media attention as Rosa's case.

the story of Claudette Colvin is one few people know mainly because they weren't supposed to know. 9 months prior to the Parks incident, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white person, was forced off the bus, and arrested. similar to the Parks incident in nearly every aspect with the exception of the individual doing the civil disobedience. Colvin was dark-skinned, 15 years old, and living in a less than middle class neighborhood. soon after her arrest, she got pregnant out of wedlock, which, to the bible-thumpers of the movement, was a ticket to hell.

in the past year or so i've been learning more and more about the black female perspective of the civil rights movement, and it's very disheartening, if not frustrating. the article noted this- "Garrow believes attention to Colvin is a healthy corrective, because "the real reality of the movement was often young people and often more than 50 percent women." The images you most often see are men in suits." this is patriarchy at its finest, and at worst, eurocentrism.
what does it say about the leaders of the movement when they waited until the "right" ("right" meaning light-skinned, middle-class and uber-christian) person came along?
i think it is the epitome of assimilation to want to present ourselves to the oppressor only in the way the oppressor deems fit. white people judged us by Eurocentric standards, and we began to do the same. so much so, that we compromised the integrity of a supposed revolution for it. and all this is aside from the way the Black Panthers treated their female counterparts, or the fact that women weren't allowed to speak at Martin Luther King Jr's March to Washington.

one could argue that this as an attempt at a well-planned revolution. and had Rosa not been "presentable" in her appearance, we might still be fighting for basic things like desegregation (although i personally would side with segregation). but we should not and should never have compromised our realities for a revolution. the reality was that not all blacks were light-skinned and well versed in the bible and waiting for marriage to have sex. some of us didn't have "good hair" or resume-worthy social lives. and they needed to see that; WE needed to see that in order to know just how necessary and cathartic this movement was.
and this is why i personally would have sided with the Black Panthers and maybe even the Nation of Islam. i feel too many times that the movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. was too acceptable; too presentable. too often it feels as though they were asking the oppressor for equality, whereas the alternative (black panthers/nation of islam) was saying "this is my afro. my name is Blackity Black Black. say hello to my rifle....bitch". and thats how it should have been! we were angry and were beyond justified in that rage. a revolution is a REVOLUTION. it is not something planned out and calculated by certain patriarchal males sitting at a round table judging whether female A refusing to give up her seat on the bus has skin light enough to present to the white oppressor. theres a reason why we're STILL having issues of racism, colorism, and sexism in this country as well as within the black community.

if anything, i think more stories like these should come out so that we as a community can analyze and critique every single aspect of it.....and maybe get on with a real revolution...

think. comment. criticize.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

to kill or not to kill. that is the question.

last night me and a co-worker of mine had an interesting conversation about one of those ethical/moral mental experiments...which i love. this took me back to my Intro to Philosophy and Intro to Ethics classes in which we did plenty of these plus more. probably my two most favorite classes ever.
"so, you have two rooms. one has your mother in it and the other has 20 pregnant women in it. you have to blow up one. which one do you choose?" he asked.
"i'd blow up the room with the 20 preggo women...." i said.
"WHAT?! how could you do that!?" he said, surprised.

we went into a discussion about why he chose to kill his mother and why i chose not to and what that says about each of our morals. it was an interesting conversation. what would you do in that situation (and this question has a presupposition that you are on somewhat good terms with your mother. if your mother was Mommy Dearest, the experiment loses its intentional dilemma)? he chose to kill his mother because he felt that choosing otherwise would be selfish. these are 20 women AND 20 babies that have yet to live, so....the more the merrier, i guess.
i ended up arguing that i would save my mother because these are 20 pregnant women, but they are insignificant in my life. yes, it is selfish, but i'm content with some extent; more content with it than the alternative. in addition, i'm not a fan of Utilitarianism; quantity does not always trump quality.

i think these experiments are interesting because they get people to look at their morals and ethics at face value. in this experiment, my co-worker would save 20 pregnant women, and he feels as though it is of higher or better moral value than the alternative. but theres 20 women (a couple hundred times over) dying everyday. with a couple hundred dollars for a hospital, 10 times that could be saved in some remote areas. although i'm not making the case that throwing money at issues such as poverty is going to change the issue... this is just to show that 20 women can easily be saved on a daily basis and the commoner that says he'll save 20 pregnant women is only saying they'll do it to make themselves feel better about their morals.
we live in societies that encourage and praise the few individuals that live disgusting lavish lifestyles. theres 10% (for example) of our people living in ridiculous mansions while more than triple that are living in poverty. we all know this. yet almost all of us still aspires to be that rich fuck with a solid gold toilet.
we're okay with 20 or more people perishing (be it through death or an impoverished life) on a daily basis, it just isn't okay in these types of experiment because it's in your face-you have to look at it and judge yourself. we tend not to or not want to do that on a daily basis. or so, thats my take on it. that being said, i did choose my mom to on some level i've either become cold-hearted to where the thought of 20 people dying doesn't phase me...or i've come to some level of content with my own selfishness.

heres another experiment that i asked in my ancient myspace blog a year or so ago:
so you're in a course or class in school in which they're testing people's psychological thoughts on certain foods. up next on the menu is human. this man recently died from nothing viral or disease related, and donated his body to science and scientific research. they've cooked him up just like chicken nuggets. do you taste or not?
ultimately, this experiment pulls at our thoughts on cannibalism and the taboos surrounding it. i LOVE hearing people's reactions to this.

so, tell me your thoughts and choices to these experiments and why.
also, a good book to look at with a ton of moral experiments is The Pig That Wants to be Eaten by Julian Baggini.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Appeal for Ancestor Veneration

so today is Thanksgiving Day, or as some in more conscious circles call it, Thanks-taking Day. i won't do the typical rant about how celebrating this day is the acceptance and support of a country's racist, genocidal, and destructive history, all while placing the white historical perspective at a higher level of importance and continuing to devalue and ignore histories of colored communities. well, i guess that was a rant...

anyway, i've been thinking a lot lately about this idea of ancestor veneration. here's a little background info on ancestor veneration if you wanted nice historical introduction. a number of indigenous societies practice AV, most notably for me are the Mexican, African and Chinese.

i volunteer with an organization that helps to sustain practices of the Mexican culture, and one of my favorite events is the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). a huge altar is the main focus of the 3 day event. fruits, breads, candles, flowers along with photos and mementos of family members that have passed don the altar. it isn't uncommon to see smaller altars in the homes of many individuals that celebrate this holiday. also, the decorations and face-painting of skeletons and typically "scary" imagery that accompany the celebration have a really interesting concept behind them. in our western society, we typically think of death as something negative, bad, frightening or even taboo. but Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration of the life of the dead; celebrating them, their energy, their thought and goals; celebrating the time we had with them. skeletons are not just bones that signify morbidity and gloom-they're the frame of someone important; the remnants of a loved one. it's a beautiful celebration all around. while i have read about ancestor veneration in African and Chinese societies, Dia De Los Muertos is the only one i have actually experienced.

and i've been thinking what an insightful and positive idea ancestor veneration is and could be for many communities damaged by colonialism and the like. if African Americans, for example, began to think (say in a weekly or monthly celebration or practice...maybe along with an altar?) of our ancestors more often than most of us do (which is usually limited to the month of February), what positive impacts would this have in our lives and in our community?
if we were constantly thinking about those that have died so we could have simple privileges (human rights, really) we overlook, how much more humbling and appreciative would we be? people think about college as something everyone does, but what if we were constantly reminded that our people have been denied until quite recently proper education? would the drop-out rate for black youths be as depressing as it is now?
a while back, i was reading Black Boy by Richard Wright and theres a chapter in which he details how he began to educate himself. he worked for a white man that allowed him to check out books from the library using his card. the librarian questioned him about his need for these books and the became suspect at the subjects, he had to keep them hidden most of the time, and even his friends and family looked at him funny. "why you reading them books?... you think you better than us? need to put them books down and learn you a trade." these are the types of remarks he heard from his own people. if it were found that he was actually getting these books for himself, he could have been physically harmed. like....damn! really? my library card began to have a certain glow after reading that anecdote. not to mention the fact that slaves were likely to be whipped or even killed for learning how to read. how special now, does a book, a diploma, a library card, or self-education as a whole become?
how treasured does one's own sanity, dignity, well-being, or autonomy become when we realize the types of obstacles your ancestors had to endure to get these things? those enslaved were even robbed of choosing their own diets. if your realize that the same shit you're eating at McDonalds is not that much different from the lard and animal innards our people were forced to eat, how would that change our diets and eventually our overall health (which is quite disheartening). how would our consumer choices, life choices, and political activities change? for those of us that have a colonized past, the act of just telling the stories and histories of some of our peoples is quite revolutionary in itself.

the only issue i see is the religious (Muslims and Christian, mostly) communities seeing this as "witchery" and maybe even devil worship. many western anthropologists that studied African societies termed this practice incorrectly for some time as "ancestor worship" (the wiki link shows the issue of this term). and i can see religious individuals assuming the same, as it does suggest reincarnation. but, i think with a little explaining, i think it can work alongside their beliefs, considering it's really just respect and remembrance for the dead, and not actual worship. it also might be very painful for some of us to look at the history of our respective ancestors, but ultimately i think it will be a catalyst for change as well as education in our communities.

comment. think. consider it a part of your day...week...month? be thankful-whatever your situation.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Racism in Religious Imagery

so i mentioned a while ago how i had just discovered all these old Phil Donahue episodes on youtube. one in particular that i want to discuss is the one entitled "Was Jesus Black?" in this episode, Phil has various black people on the show discussing the historical references and arguments to support the idea that Jesus was black.

while i am fascianted with nearly every aspect of religion, i am only vaguely concerned with the racial make-up of Jesus. theres barely any evidence to show he existed at all, let alone any to give insight to his "race". black people should spend more time questioning the morals and subliminal messages of the bible than the racial make-up of any of its important figures. but thats another post. i wanted to expand on the comments made by the (self-identified) white people that phoned in to offer their opinions.

the main sentiment of the white individuals in the audience and on the phone was- "what does his skin color have to do with it?...i don't care if he's black, green, or hot pink!'s sacreligious to speak about the phenotype of god...etc." what i find interesting is that it didn't seem much of a concern for the white people calling in to question why it would be such an issue to worship a god (or god in human form) that looks nothing like you. then again, it doesn't take much of an imagination to wonder why some individuals have such difficulty stepping into the perspective of someone of a minority race when our perspective has been, for the most part, ignored, distorted or completely left out in most textbooks, history lessons, and general historical education. the inferiority complex evident even today in many (most) black and brown people has to be examined from all axes. religion may not be the arena most people explore, but with people of color being some of the most religious in the country, this field has to be studied.

growing up in a non-denominational church in southern Alabama, the only figure in my religious upbringing that resembled me in was satan and his demons. they were the only dark-skinned individuals in ANY religious imagery. in contrast, every depiction of God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Noah, Moses, or any angel was white. Asians, Pacific Islanders, Blacks and Native Americans did not exist. at the time, it didn't have much effect on me (or so i didn't think). living in a country in which most shows, movies, television commericials, etc....are white, white, and white, it wasn't something that stuck out to me. every now and then the pastor of the church i grew up it mentioned the verse in Revelations that talks about Jesus having "hair like wool...", which got a reaction. but that isn't enough to reverse the overwhelming racial preferences in Christianity.

i don't consdier myself a Christian presently, but the idea of a white god and a black devil never was a factor in that. and i'm wondering now, why is that? why is it easy for many black and brown people to accept this idea of a white god? what kind of effect does this have on the personal esteem when all the people that look like you in the Bible dwell in hell? does it have any effect on our thoughts?

i've recently read about the Black Madonna and about how the imagery of Christianity at one point and time was very black, but was changed once it reached the Americas. Europeans changed this imagery to fit themselves as a people, so why haven't we as blacks and browns changed the imagery to suit ourselves?

in some circles, it is happening. one of my aunts gave my mother a Bible with all the characters represented as black people a while back. it was the first bible i had seen like that; the first time i had seen a black Mary and Joseph holding a black baby with black wise men behind them. Afro-centric churches have changed the imagery of Jesus, but as far as the masses of black church-goers, i think the imagery is consistently white.

what have been your experiences with religious imagery? do you think it has effected your personal ideas on color, race, or nationality? do you think it effects the esteem of others? is it necessary to liken the imagery of your religious gods and goddesses to oneself? also, if one can change the imagery of religious figures so easily, and have it become near fact in many people's eyes....wouldn't it be equally easy (and possible) for one to do the same to the religious text itself; to the message of the Bible? can this be added to the argument that suggests Christianity was instrumental in the mental enslavement of Africans?

comment. think. criticize.

Friday, November 5, 2010


so i was in the language section of the library last week when i saw this book entitled Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner by Geneva Smitherman. sounded interesting. so i checked it out. it's basically a dictionary of terms used mainly by African Americans, or at times, people of color living in urban settings. in addition to words and some interesting etymologies, it also contains an introduction that speaks the issue of "talking black" in professional settings, the history of it, and the somewhat recent contriversy in the school system with teachers actually wanting to teach "Ebonics". heres some words in the book (some of which i find hilarious):

B- 1)a form of address for a male or female, though more common for males; probably a shortened for of "Blood". "yo B, wassup?" sometimes the initial of the person's first name is substituted for "B." 2)euphemism for bitch.
Bidness- any personal affair, event, experience, or activity one is involved in. "i got some bidness to take care of" might refer to anything from paying a utility bill to confronting somebody about a deal that's gone awry. bidness is the AAE [African American English] pronunciation of "business".
Bumping Titties-fighting.
Call Myself/Yourself/Herself/etc. -to consider yourself to be doing something; to intend to do a thing without actually acheiving your objective. "girls, what you call yourself doing?" that is, what do you think you're doing?; and "i call myself having this dinner ready on time," that is, i had every intention of accomplishing that goal, but i didn't.
check yosef- monitor your words, actions, or behavior. "Yourself" pronounced yosef in AAE.
cock sucker- a man who is weak, passive, emasculated. derived from the notion that a man who performs oral sex is a weakling; the myth is that African American men don't go down on women.
cracker- a white person; a derogatory term. possibly derived from the sound of the master's whip during enslavement; by extension, any white person.
down south- any place south of the Mason-Dixon Line, once consdiered the most racist part of the United States. However, Malcolm X coined the expression "up south", to signify on the mythical notion, held by blacks for over a hundred years after emancipation, that the US north was free of segregation and racism.
European Negro- an African American who thinks like and identifies with European Americans, and who rejects black casues and the black community. also Afro-Saxon (older term).
God don't like ugly- a popular saying from the Oral Tradition, meaning that some negative action, behavior, or attitude is displeasing to the Creator, and you will be punished.
HNIC- Head Nigger in Charge; a black person put in charge by whites, usually not in charge of anything meaningful; generally functions to keep other blacks in line. also BNIC (Boss Nigger in Charge).
honky- a negative term for a white person. probably derived and borrowed from the name-calling and expression of resentment by settled European Americans against central and Eastern European immigrants, who were negatively referred to as "hunkies" (from 'Hungarians'). blacks, in competition with these immigrants in the first half of the twentieth century, generalized the term to all whites.
hoochie- a sexually promiscuous female.
kitchen- the hair at the nape of the neck, inclined to be the most curly (kinky) and thus the hardest part of straightened hair to keep from "going back".

some of the words in the book i have never heard until i moved to New York, and some i have never heard ever (bumping titties??), and some i have attempted to remove from my vocabulary. it's also very telling how many words in this book reference drugs and sex (almost every other word is code for crack, heroine, or oral sex). i like how she included possible origins of some words like "Cracker", supposedly coming from the sound of a whip.....interesting.

in any colonized society, the colonized subjects all have to deal with assimilation, even in ways we may not even dream. it seems that language, even today as yet another barometer for genuine assimilation-those who speak properly (that is, as European as possible) are seen as more intelligent, more professional, and possibly even wealthier. and in some circles, language can be an indicator of where one stands-someone speaking too "white" can be seen as a sell-out or someone out of touch with their roots. Chican@s who speak English and Spanish can give much insight to how language can/has effected the colonized subject. although English and Spanish are both the languages of the colonizers, Spanish has come be viewed as the language of the uneducated/poor.

oftentimes, i think we assume that these slang languaages are the dialects of the poor and uneducated, but really, it is the normal meandering of language. all countries and all societies have and/or have had proper and slang dialects. the American English is actually a slang version of the English from England. as is the English of South Africa, Australia, India, and Jamaica. one dialect is not any more intelligent than the other. i think it's important to remember that language is simply a tool for communication. and if one cannot comunicate with their own people, what is the purpose?

comment. think. speak unapologetically.

John Henrik Clarke

"My main point here is that if you are the child of God and God is a part of you, the in your imagination God suppose to look like you. And when you accept a picture of the deity assigned to you by another people, you become the spiritual prisoners of that other people. " -John Henrik Clarke
i like learning about scholars whose works have been characteristic of many other scholars, but have yet to reach me for whatever reason. i've read a few times about John Henrik Clarke....a quote here or there, but i just recently saw a youtube video of him speaking about how Islam and Christianity have been instruments in the enslavement of African peoples (which is probably the most fascinating topic to me, period). theres actually a good number of videos on youtube of him speaking on various topics. coming from Union Springs, Alabama (very close to my hometown, Enterprise), a son of sharcroppers (which i've come to understand as slavery under a different name), a writer, historian, professor, a Pan-Africanist, and basically the pioneer of African Studies in the United States. his books are up on my reading list. here's one of his videos:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

i went to a party a week ago to celebrate Fela Kuti's birthday (he died in 1997). i've only seen a few videos of him on youtube, so this party actually opened me up more to him and his music. he's in this video speaking the truth, like he is in most. his songs are not only amazingly layered, sometimes with a full ensemble, but the lyrics are very subversive (speaking about colonialism, religion, black nationalism, politics, and social issues). i also really respect the visual art of his performances. his dancers and musicians were always stunning, while his dancers in particular were just ridiculous; amazing. i like that he chose to stay true to himself and his culture, his people, his gods, his language. here is one of my favorite songs of his i've managed to find on youtube.

Reblog: Female Genital Mutilation

this is another reblog. i wanted to post this one because this is yet another topic that impacts many people in the world, and seems not to be talked about as much as it should be. i also wanted to post it because i have somewhat changed my tone when it comes to practices like these. in this post, i think it's pretty evident that i am more concerned with making moral statements about the individuals and societies that partake in this practice more than i am with understanding it in its cultural context. and until i fully live as someone in one of those societies, or at least have a conversation with someone that has undergone this practice, i cannot fully make a valid argument for or against this practice. too often, i think, many of us are concerned with moral judgements, even when it gets in the way of knowledge on a subject such as this one. here's the post:

i read a couple weeks back about this movie that was coming out starring model Liya Kebede in an autobiographical film about '80's model Dirie Waris. here is the film trailer:

after going through female genital mutilation and being married off at 13, Waris, a Somalian, was discovered in London by a model agent. after becoming famous, she shared her story and has started her own
foundation whose sole purpose is to fight against Female Genital Mutilation. she has also written an autobiography entitled Desert Flower that i've been trying to get for the longest. i think someone stole it from the library.....i think this movie premiered at some type of film festival, so i may need to find it on the internet or wait for it to come out on DVD. this story interested me because it reminded me of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography Infidel. i think i read that about 2 years ago, and it was such an eye opening piece of work for me. i don't get emotional very often, but i cried a number of times throughout that book. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a native Somalian as well, underwent Female Genital Mutilation too. her grandmother held her down, while a man from their neighborhood (whose main occupation was to genitally mutilate females) cut off her clitoris with a rusty pair of scissors. he then stitched up her labia around her clitoris, which then was to be broken or cut open by her husband on their wedding night (although she escaped while on the trip to marry him). all while being administered no anesthesia, somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14. Ayaan recalls fainting when she urinated for some time after that episode. she is such an inspiration for me. not only has she gone on to educate herself, she's spoken out (at the risk of her life) against FGM as well as religiosity through her autobiographies and a film with the late Theo Van Gogh (a death threat for her was stabbed into his chest by religious extremists) and she's also served in Dutch Parliament.

i think this was the first time i'd read a personal account about Female Genital Mutilation, and i've since read a number of accounts (another to note, a book entitled
Burned Alive by Souad). but every account is as horrific as the first. its difficult to even fathom someone doing that to one of the most sensitive areas of the body, but it happens all the time. The World health Organization has some facts about this "practice". and has some background information/theories about the supposed reasoning behind FGM.

as a westerner, it is difficult to critique practices from areas of the world i have never been because even though i have read facts, personal accounts, and statistics on a certain topic, i have a western bias whether i want to or not. i will have an aversion to some things simply because it is not commonplace for me. however, i think the only way someone can be corrected or changed, in their opinions, is to put those opinions on the table. if your arguments aren't heard, then you're likely to stay stagnant-stagnant in you mental state, in your politics, in your personal life, in growth altogether. to me, progression IS life. if i am not progressing , then there is no point.

that being said, i acknowledge that i may be wrong in condemning this practice, however, i think its a deplorable practice that should be banned by any means necessary. some individuals choose to call it "female circumcision", but its nowhere near that of male circumcision. its MUTILATION in every sense of the word.
males undergo mutilation as well, it is simply more common for males, especially in the United States to undergo it soon after birth. but males have the foreskin of their penises cut off, while females have their clitoris cut off, and then have their labia stitched up around the clitoris. men do not have issues with urination after FGM, like females, and males do not have a menses or have to go through childbirth, so its almost pointless to even attempt to compare the two.

aside from the immense pain that is experienced through FGM, females also have issues urinating, usually get infections or diseases, have hemoragging and genital ulcers soon after, with an increased chance of STD's such as
HIV. after the labia is ripped or broken open by husbands, genital tears are likely to occur. and thats not including the complications that result from childbirth. this practice forces women to have Cesarean sections, and the death rate for children born from mothers that have undergone FGM is significantly less that that of other children born to women that have not undergone FGM, not to mention the heightened risk of death for girls themselves. and all of this is even more horrific considering that prepubescent girls undergo this. if adult women chose to go through this, i probably wouldn't feel as disgusted by this, but there are young girls that are held down against their will, mutilated without anesthesia, usually cut with some crude knife, scissors, pieces of glass or sharp metal.

i think its also necessary to note that, from what i've read, the societies that expect women to be mutilated, the reason is because men want a virgin when they are married, and considering the vagina is stitched shut under the labia, this is one way of ensuring chastity. but does this mean that these men have some type of fetish with chastity? arguably. but what society doesn't? a simple examination of terms like "slut", "hoe", and "tramp", can show you that women in our society are judged a good deal based on their levels of chastity. women that have a large number of sexual partners are considered the lowest of the low, while men that do it have their dicks gold plated and worshiped.
it should also be noted that i don't necessarily link this to any religion in particular. although i have many issues with religion, and believe that it impacts society negatively more often than not, there really is not any particular Surah (verse) in the Quran that promotes or mandates FGM. however, i do think that Islam and Christianity do a part in limiting the ideals of females and holding the chastity of females higher than anything else. think about the most praised female in the bible. Mary. she did what besides have a child-while supposedly maintaining her chastity? NOTHING. she did absolutely nothing. she was a virgin and a mother, and she's held as the ideal in the bible. i think once something becomes habit in a society, its difficult to deviate from that, regardless of how unreasonable it may be.

so whats the point of this post? i think its always good to get a different prespective on something, and hear about different practices from different parts of the world. it also forces you to think about your thoughts on morality as a whole.
is it wrong to condemn other cultures? to what extent? if you say "no", then does this include things like child sex slavery? or even genocide? if you say "yes", then where do you draw the line between an uninformed opinion and a valid argument? do i need to experience FGM in order to critique it?

watch the movie. help me find the movie. read their books. comment. think. criticize.