Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man

this is a video (in 4 parts) outlining the political career of Thomas Sankara. yet another reason i think youtube would do a better job teaching history as opposed to the public school system...

comment. think. criticize.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Mis-education of the Negro

"The most disastrous aspect of colonization which you are the most reluctant to release from your mind is their colonization of the image of god." -France Cress-Welsing
"i saw no African people in the printed and illustrated Sunday school lessons. i began to suspect at this early age that someone had distorted the image of my people. my long search for the true history of African people the world over began." -Dr. John Henrik Clarke

since i've moved back to the south, i've had much more contact with the two smallest people in my nuclear family-my niece (4 years old) and my nephew (7 years old). i see the shows they watch, see the food they eat, and get a since of how they see the world in everyday conversations with them. unfortunately, this is has lead me to realize that there are some serious issues in how we raise our children, especially black children. i believe most people have already come to this conclusion, but i think that every single aspect of a black child's life needs to be examined in order for us to get back to pride, solidarity, collective respect for one another, health, economic stability, etc.

for one, i will say that they have all they need-meaning food, shelter, well-rounded and well-intending adults caring for them, love, acceptance, etc. what they do not have is an African centered education; an education or a foundation that enables them to be strong, intelligent, and proud black adults.
the other day, i was showing my nephew a cartoon on youtube based on one of the African Folktales of Anansi the spiderman (or the spider??). there is a part in the video where Anansi goes to the Sky God and asks him for his stories. the Sky God looks something like this. this is the conversation that ensued:
nephew: (with one eyebrow raised) thats god?
me: yea, whats wrong with him?
nephew: thats not what he looks like.
me: well how does he looks?
nephew: he has a beard and long hair and....and he has a tan. Jesus has a tan. he [the sky god] is dark. he [god] ain't dark like that.
me: so god isn't black?
nephew: no. he's tan like Jesus.
in essence, he believes god to be white. this should not have shocked me, but it did. it hurt, actually. this is probably one of the worst things a black child could say. i shouldn't be shocked, considering even the images in our house is white, the ones at the churches he's been to are white, the ones in his Sunday school books are white, and the ones on television are white.
the only response i could gather to say was "some people think he's black", to which he didn't respond. i don't hold any beliefs in any gods or god-like entities, so i feel as though telling him "god is black" would be lying to him. however, if he is going to believe in a god (which, in itself, i have no issues with) i would rather it be one that looks just like him.

i think it's one thing to understand the level of dehumanization it took for us to forget the gods of our ancestors and that it began with the onset of colonialism, but it is another to attempt to change that colonized concept in someone else's mind, especially that of a 7 year old. how does one (one that is not the parent) begin to even address it? and how can i, someone who has no concept of "god" even tell him that his idea of "god" is incorrect? i do, however, believe that having a concept of god that looks like oneself is best for the individual psyche. Cheik Anta Diop and Dr. John Henrik Clarke have both spoken about the tragedy of our dissociation from African religions and philosophies.

the problem is not just a concept of god, but what consequences this idea will have on him as a black person. his concept (like most black and brown peoples') of good and bad will have a white/black dichotomy. and considering he isn't "tan", his identity will never be content with his level of self-worth, or with that of other blacks.

but this isn't just from church and religious organizations, white supremacy is also very evident in the shows they watch. The Disney Channel is, like most shows on television, mainly white with black and brown people peppered here and there. my niece likes Justin Beiber and her favorite show is Hannah Montana. Justin Beiber is a sack of nothingness and boredom who has more hype than talent, but Hannah Montana is interesting. although she's already white, she embellishes herself with a blond wig in order to become the famed, loved, and talented teen-aged pop star. the only black people on The Disney Channel's shows are service people, baby-sitters, the chunky, loud, neck-twisting black girl or the comic relief, hip-hop loving, urban black boy. and considering i've been told that my hair is "busted" on a number of occasions by my neice (whose hair is also natural), it's already visible how this show has manifested itself in her ego.
i think as adults, we tend to think that children do not pick these things up; that they don't see color, but one only has to see the doll test to know that this is far from reality. if we do not educate our children (our; not just our own but the collective), they will be mis-educated, as many of us have come to realize too late.

so right now, i'm thinking of whether i can actually have any influence on them. even if i were to embark on a complete African history lesson, equipped with philosophies, gods, goddesses, religious concepts, names, dates, books, videos, maps, instruments, and everything would be only me doing this, and thats only for a portion of the day. is it enough to combat hours (upon hours) of white-washed television, religious books and church full of white imagery all of which is happening in a 70% white populated town? even though i, admiteldly, am far from knowing enough about Africa. i suppose i'll have to at least try.

comment. think. criticize. educate. recommend any books, videos, etc. you think might be useful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Communion: The Female Search for Love

i'm about 30 pages to the end of a book i HAVE to do a post about- Communion:The Female Search for Love by bell hooks. this is one of the best books i've read and one my favorite by bell hooks. this books is almost like a self-help book coupled with a political edge.
as usual, bell is speaking the TRUTH. she discusses, analyzes and gives solutions for many issues women, particularly women of color face in dealing with personal relationships, but also in the area of personal love; personal acceptance. she also tackles gender roles (even some supposed positive ones), feminists' romantic relationships with men and ways in which feminism has failed (and ways in which it has been victorious), and life as a young feminist in the heart of the movement. she also points out that feminism has made strides in the arena outside the home, but has yet to truly make a dent inside the home; in personal relationships with men; in the bedroom. here are some quotes from the book that i believe are crucial.

"Contrary to mass media's insistence that we were learning how to be man-hating, in fact we were taught to understand the ways male identity and self-actualization were usurped by patriarchal socialization. Men who oppressed women did not do so because they acted simply from the space of free will; they were in their own way agents of a system they has not put into place".

"I believe that feminist debate about love and sexuality ended precisely because straight women did not want to face the reality that it was highly unlikely in patriarchal society that a majority of men would wholeheartedly embrace women's right to say not in the bedroom. "

"Complete feminist culture transformation could happen without male allies only if women were willing to sacrifice their desire to have primary relationships with men.... We did not want to acknowledge out loud that feminist demands had been compromised, that many of us were settling for equality and power in the public arena while continuing to conform to sexist gender roles at home or, most important, in the bedroom."

"Men who were willing to be househusbands, to take care of the kids, to be advocated for equal pay for equal work, to do their share or even all the housekeeping, were not willing to change in any way their sexual habits.... what if the real discovery that feminists could not speak was the fact that men did not care if we were equals everywhere, including the battlefield, as long as they remained our superiors-the ones in charge, the ones on top-in the bedroom?"

"Male domination of females in the sexual arena (whether they maintain control by wanting too much sex or none at all) is a constant reminder that females are not free, that we have not attained full equal rights or equity."

"...patriarchy, like any colonizing system, does not create the context for women and men to love one another."

"Until our culture can break through myth and accept that women are not innately capable of nurturing others, the assumption that women are better able to love than men will prevail. ...nurturance-the ability to care for another in a manner that enhances well-being-in a learned behavior. men learn it as well as women. patriarchal culture is reinforced when males are not taught ways to nurture and care for others."

"Until we are able to acknowledge that women fail at loving because we are no more schooled in the art of loving than are our male counterparts, we will not find love. ...As long as being loved is seen as a gesture of weakness, one that disempowers, women will remain afraid to love fully, deeply, completely... women who learn how to love represent the greatest threat to the patriarchal status quo."

"The intensity of their hold on mass culture's imagination is so strong that many young women seeking to be independent, powerful, and successful have simply embraced the idea that they are "bitches". their uncritical acceptance of this image is problematic. it helps perpetuate sexist stereotypes about powerful women. young women want to embrace the "hard bitch" image because it keeps them from having to confront the pain that comes when females are punished for choosing to be self-actualized and successful."

"we demand that men change, and when they do, we are often not ready to affirm and embrace the liberation we claimed to desire."

"Patriarchal culture was not disturbed when feminism appeared to be a woman-only thing. however, as more males became involved, feminist cultural revolution threatened to bring an end to patriarchy."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Africa for Africans?

i watched a very interesting and informative documentary last night (just got Netflix. yea. it's on like Donkey Kong...) titled Mugabe and the White African. i didn't read any commentary on the film, i just watched it because i was curious about the title.

the documentary is about a white family that is in the process of being kicked off their land in Zimbabwe by a new law president Robert Mugabe made making all land transactions void, although the only ones being effected are the land-owning whites. Michael Campbell (shown in the photo on the left with his son-in-law in front of their farm workers), owns a mango farm he purchased after independence from the government. the farm is equipped with 10 to 15 black workers whom they claim will lose their jobs if the farm taken over by the government. the Campbells consist of a couple, with their son, his wife, and their two kids. apparently, Mugabe is against the ownership of African land by whites, even if they self-identify as "African" and have been there since their birth. and most importantly, even if they purchased their land legally and have no history of mistreatment or wrongdoings against their workers.
the film follows Michael and his son-in-law from their farm in Zimbabwe to court to challenge Mugabe, who is in the habit of postponing the court hearings. the film dances around questions of whether or not a white person can be an "African", whether or not a white person should or shouldn't own land on the continent and the moral implications of being white and owning land in Africa.

i don't know much about Robert Mugabe, but the little that i do know is all negative. from the film, they have audio clips of him saying "Zimbabwe is mine", he's shown admitting on camera to operating a corrupt government, and the video details his ruthless political standing. he "won" his most recent (supposed democratic) election in which he was the only candidate and he's notorious for stifling any opposition (his political opponents and citizen uprisings are usually beaten, jailed or suddenly disappear). the film paints him as a callous, racist dictator who, while saying he wants to return the land to "peasant blacks", is really looking to take over the land himself (or a close family member) and sell the parts and resources for profit. and this is aside from him comparing himself to Hitler and sporting a mustache that looks as though it is inspired by the genocidal authoritarian.
i'm not sure about the validity in these claims against him, considering the way the western media distorts facts. however, it is a fact that the 30+ year reign of Mugabe has left the country in a far worse state that when he took office, although his wealth has continued to build (he has taken over at least 3 of these farms he's seized).

at one point in the film, a black man thats come to Michael's farm to intimidate him, says "we want you out! OUT! you come here, you take our land! i cannot go to UK, to Britain, to England and get land!" to which Michael Campbell responds "yes and we are less than 2% of the say want this land for black peasants?? you come here in a new vehicle every time. and you're worried about the peasants?"

what i found interesting about this film was that, for one, it was obviously from the white perspective. the reckless use of the word "racist" was thrown about so much that i'm not sure the users actually knew the weight or the proper definition of the word. Mugabe and his "African for Africans" mentality was called racist many a times. but is he?
every white person living on the continent that was born there is more and likely a descendant of a colonist. and i think most people have come to the agreement that colonists have pretty much destroyed...the world. and while they populate less than 2% of the Zimbabwe population, they (according to Wikipedia) own more than 70% of the farm-worthy land. and i doubt this is the case for just Zimbabwe. so how "racist" or even "wrong" is it for Mugabe to want to give the land back to black people whom these whites' grandfathers and great grandmothers took it from? i don't believe he's wrong at all. if they're in the minority, they should be holding as much land as they do population. at this point in history, as i've been discussing with a friend of mine, is that Africa, Africans and all colored people need to abandon Europe. in order for colonized people and their countries to get back to a state of stability, they need to take measures, firstly, to assure that the people that have been disenfranchised in the past have an economic foothold to get back to stability. if that means kicking the whites out, or taking their economic standings from them, then so be it.
that being said though, i don't agree with Mugabe's means of kicking these people off the land and misusing the land by giving it to his family in a nepotistic giveaway. workers of Mugabe's often move these white farmer people off the land using violence, usually resulting in death.

in the film, after the farmer's case was postponed a second time, workers for Mugabe (i'm guessing??) attacked the couple and their son in the streets and beat them almost beyond recognition. and considering they were, in a sense, occupying land that wasn't their's, they couldn't legally retaliate. eventually, they won their case. unfortunately, the farm was burned to the ground soon after by the same people they were beaten by. what that case says for Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans, and Mugabe was not all that clear at the end of the film, and it probably isn't in reality either.

should other nations be doing something similar (that is, forcibly taking economic leeway away from the white minority and/or kicking them out of the countries they've come to call home)? should all African nations at least encourage whites to "go back to Europe"? what repercussions would that have between African countries and western ones (importing; exporting; job outsourcing; alliances; treaties; etc.)? can white people born and raised in Africa be "Africans"? is the removal of the economic stronghold that whites have in certain African countries instrumental in the recovery of Africa from its colonial past?

criticize. think. comment. watch the film and tell me what you think about it. watch the trailer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don Cherry Trio

Don Cherry Trio video i found via the blog Africa is a Country.