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.

Reblog: Malcolm X

so i was on a blog i follow, and he began reposting old posts of his, just temporarily. and since i've had a change of scenery lately, i thought i might do the same, in case you may be interested in some of my old thangs. heres one about Malcolm X:

i read the book By Any Means Necessary by Malcolm X a month or so ago and its one of the most insightful books i've ever read. it is a compilation book of his speeches, interviews, radio broadcasts, NOI meetings and rallies.
i think its necessary for everyone to read reread and take heed at Malcolm's words because he seems to be misunderstood by many people who haven't read his actual words. in a political forum i was on a while, there was a discussion about him, and there were accusations of him being pro-violence, angry, and anti-white. even now, i think many people find it easier to identify with Martin Luther King Jr's path and not Malcolm's mainly because of these accusations.
he wasn't ant-white, he was pro-black. he was not violent, he simply understood the need for self-defense and did not sugarcoat the need for it. and yes, actually, he may have been angry. anyone who knew/knows the reality of the situation for being black in America should have also been angry. i think that anger is quintessential for change. and specifically for the black struggle in America, i think anger was/is fundamental; a prerequisite. bell hooks talks about having a rage that is more than justified against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal country we live in in
Killing Rage...a book i highly recommend. although, i must say that the Buddha raises a good polemic against violence, in favor or pacifism....'s excerpts i found most insightful and relevant to the cause:

what is your attitude toward Christian Ghandian groups?

Christian? Ghandian? i don't go for anything thats nonviolent and turn-the-other-cheekish. i don't see how any revolution-i've never heard of a nonviolent revolution or a revolution that was brought about by turning the other cheek, and so i believe that it is a crime for anyone to teach a person who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself. if this is what the christian-ghandian philosophy teached, then it is criminal-a criminal philosophy.

what is the program for acheiving your goals of separation?

a better word to use that separation is independence. this word "separation" is misused. the thirteen colonies separated from England but they called it Declaration of Independence; they don't call it the Declaration of Separation, they call it the Declaration of Independence. when you're independent of someone you can separate from them. if you can't separate from them it means you're not independent of them. so what was your question?

what is your program for achieving your goals in independence?

when the black man in this country awakens, becomes intellectually mature and able to think for himself, you will then see that the only way he will becomes independent and recongnized as a human being, he has to have what they have and he has to be doing for himself what others are doing for themselves. so the first step is to awaken him to this, and that is where the religion of Islam makes him morally more able to rise above the evils and the vices of an immoral society. and the political, economic, and social philosophy of black nationalism instills within him the racial dignity and the incentive and the confidence that he needs to stand on his own feet and take a stand for himself.

"Revolution is like a forest fire, it burns everything in its path. the people who are involved in a revolution don't become a part of the system-they destroy the system, they change the system. the genuine word for revolution is Umwaelzung which means a complete overturning and a complete change, and the negro revolution is no revolution. because it condemns the system and then asks the system that it has condemned to accept them into their system. that is not a revolution- a revolution changes the system, it destroys the system and replaces it with a better one."

"there can be no white-black solidarity until theres first some black solidarity. we have got to get our problems solved first..."

"it is we who have fought your battles for you, and have picked your cotton for you. we built this house that you're living in. it was our labor that built this house. you sat beneath the old cotton tree telling us how long to work or how hard to work, but it was our labor, our sweat and our blood that made this country what it is, and we're the only ones who haven't benefited from it. all we're saying today is, its payday-retroactive."

"no white person would go about fighting for freedom in the same manner that he has helped me and you to fight for our, none of them would. when it comes to black freedom, then the white man freedom-rides and sits in, he's nonviolent, he sings "we shall overcome" and all that stuff. but when the property of the white man himself is threatened, he's not nonviolent. he's only nonviolent when he's on your side. but when he's on his side he loses all that patience and nonviolence...Our people aren't going to wait ten years. if this house is a house of freedom and justice and equality for all, if thats what it is, then lets have it. and if we can't all have it, then none of us will have it."

"i'm not bloodthirsty. i'm one of 22 million black people in this country who's tired of being the victim of hypocrisy by a country that supposedly practices democracy."

"prior to one hundred years ago, they didn't need tricks. they had chains. and they needed the chains because you and i hadn't yet been brainwashed thoroughly enough to submit to their brutal acts of violence submissively. prior to a hundred years ago, you has men like Nat Turner, that Brother Benjamin was talking about, and others, Toussaint L'Overture. none of them would submit to slavery. they'd fight back by any means necessary. and it was only after the spirit of the black man was completely broken and his desire to be a man was completely destroyed, then they has to use different tricks. they just took the physical chains from his ankles and put them on his mind."

"we don't organize any black man to be a democrat or a republican because both of them have sold us out."

"...the oppressed never uses the same yardstick as the oppressor."

"question 22:
the first guy that was shot at the moment of the Independence War was a negro.
he wasn't shot for negroes. he was shot for america. i don't want to take away from Crispus Attucks, but he was shot. he was a slave. his people were slaves.
question 23:
he was a slave perhaps, but not on his knees-on his feet.
sir, you can take a dog...and sic him on somebody else and he's fearless. i'd like to give you an example. no matter how fearless a dog is, you catch him out on the street, stamp your foot; he'll run because you're only threatening him. his master has never trained him how to defend himself; but that same dog, if you walk through the master's gate, will growl and bite. why will he growl and bite over there and not growl and bite over here? over here he's growling and biting for the defense of his master and the benefit of his master, but when his only interests are threatened, he has no growl. nto only Crispus Attucks, but many of us in America have died defending America. we defend our master. we're the most violent soldiers America has when she sends us to Korea or to the South Pacific or to Saigon, but when our mothers and our own property are being attacked we're nonviolent. Crispus Attucks laid down his life for America, but would he have laid down his life to stop the white man in America from enslaving black people?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010


this is a piece by the artist Adrian Piper entitled "Cornered". she deals with race and labels such as "black" and "white" and overall racial classifications in a very interesting context. part two is here. got this video via the blogger Abagond.

comment. criticize. think. check out her other installations on youtube.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

word of the moment has where you can sign up for e-mail updates for words of the day. and i'm reading The Watkin's Dictionary of Religions and Secular Faiths by Gerald Benedict and theres so many interesting concepts, philosophies, beliefs, as well as basic history lessons he offers in just the definition of one word that i thought i'd share them in the same manner. and i don't know how often i'll do these, or find one interesting, so thats why it's "of the moment".

Fakir- Islam. Arab. fakir. 'poor'. someone who has adopted a mendicant lifestyle or who is in need of God. it is also a general, alternative term for a Dervish, or anyone living as a Sufi and practicing Sufi rituals. Originally, the name was accorded to a Muslim who has carried out missionary work, thus aiding the spread of Islam. the tradition is based on a saying of Muhammad's 'Al-fakr fakhri', 'poverty is my pride'. in Islamic tradition there are two kinds of fakir, the ba shiar, those within the law and the be shiar, those without the law. the difference is simply one of Muslim orthodoxy, the former practicing within the terms of Islamic Doctrine, the latter, although claiming to be Muslims, freer and more open in their associations. the two groups founded fraternities from c.770 CE. frequently these fraternities were formed from secular occupations, like fisher-men and camel drivers. the be shiar fraternities practiced extreme asceticism, even self-mortification. the concept and practices are by no means limited to Islam and have parallels, both with the medieval Christian friars, and with Indians who practice extravagant forms of asceticism, like walking on red hot coals, lying on a bed of nails or remaining immersed in water for long periods of time. others reputedly remain in one place until birds nest in their hair or creepers grow around their limbs. as with all such groups the object is to gain spiritual merit by a renunciation of the world.
the photos at the top were the results of googling the word.
comment. think.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

where in the world is Phil Donahue?

i just found this video of an old Phil Donahue show entitled "The Issue of Race" in eight parts. what ever happened to the Phil Donahue show anyway? another video popped up on the sidebar of his show entitled "Was Jesus Black?". lol...if Phil isn't dead by now, can we start a petition to get this man back on television? give him the rights of the BET network since they clearly don't know what to do with it...

anyway, this episode includes Sistah Souljah (hip hop artist and activist), Dhoruba Bin Wahad (a former Black Panther), Cornel West, Alan Keyes (republican asswipe) and others. i really like how everyone just threw themselves out on the table, some let go of some rage.
it's interesting to look at this-filmed sometime in the last 80's/early 90's and see that a lot of the things they are discussing; problems in the black community; problems in dealing with race have not really changed. i had never heard of Dhoruba Bin Wahad, but he brings up some really good points and i really respect how he integrated the issue that is patriarchy into his arguments when the others were mainly focused on race. and Cornel West brings up some very good points as well. i figgin love him. i love how he seems so passionate about everything he says. theres much i disagree with him on (in the area of religion), but i don't see how anyone cannot like this man. and aside from that white man who was talking nonsense i didn't really dislike anyone with the exception of Alan Keyes. i don't know if anyone remembers, but he was in the primaries of the presidential race in '04. and he was exactly the same in '04 as he was in this video-a joke. talking complete nonsense nowhere near the core of the problem. he's like a black Sarah Palin with a penis. and it's sad that he and Michael Steele are poster children for Black Republicans.

interestingly enough, it seems as though all the people on the panel want the same things for our communities and our relations, but are still arguing.
here is the first clip (1 of 8):