December 2006


All I can say is what a year! 2006 has certainly been a benchmark in my life. Many changes… some of them good, some of them bad, some of them ugly.

The Good

  1. I got married to an amazing woman! God blessed me with a Black Queen no doubt. The wedding day was so special and perfect! Our closest and dearest family members and friends attended and it all went off without any problems! 
  2. The honeymoon was terrific! We went on an Eastern Caribbean cruise (my first cruise!). We visited Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and the Bahamas. We started in Miami and spent 3 days there on our return, staying at South Beach. Niiiice!
  3. I moved to a new city: Ottawa…. Which is the capital of Canada. This city is beautiful and the people in my neighbourhood and whom I work with are real cool!

The Bad 

The death of my Father on Monday 30th January. Although he was not in the greatest of health, his death was totally unexpected. I take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t bedridden and didn’t have some illness that caused him to suffer.

The Ugly

The untimely death of my partner. On Friday 05 May, Police Constable John Atkinson was shot and killed while questioning a couple of drug dealers. I will never forget him.

 

 

So the cycle of life certainly manifested itself in 2006. The ending of lives and relationships, as well as new beginnings. When death comes so close to you and you also embark on a new journey, you start to consider what your legacy will be, what your present epitomizes, and what efforts you will dedicate yourself to in the shaping your future. You also come to appreciate your life and not take the life of family and friends for granted. I have come to consciously value the time I spend with those I love. I thank God daily for my life and for those I love.

 

So what do I intend for 2007. I don’t make resolutions but I have decided to re-focus my life in these areas:

1. I will re-dedicate my life to the pursuit of God. I will deepen my spiritual growth and strengthen my personal relationship with Him.

2. I will work at being more patient and understanding with others, especially with my wife.

3. I will take the time each day to appreciate my life, my wife, my family and my friends.

 

This will be my mantra for 2007:

 

Romans 8: 28-31: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, those He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified; and whom He justified, those He also glorified. What then shall we say of these things? If God be for us, who can be against us!?” 

 

Happy New Year and I wish you all of God’s blessings, guidance and protection for 2007!

 

Many years ago I made a conscious decision to stop getting all caught up in the humanistic, materialistic, gift buying madness of Christmas. I decided instead to make the effort to devote this time to more spiritual pursuits and to appreciate the time I spend with my family. I remember those dark periods when I would put myself in debt to buy presents for friends and family and then go through a stressful few months as I paid off my credit cards! My spiritual focus at this time of year is therefore devoted to the celebration of the significance of the birth of Jesus Christ (regardless of whether December 25th is the actual birth of Christ, which is irrelevant to me).

 

I never took to participating in the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, although I am a disciple of African, African-American, Black history and culture. Ideologically, socially and politically, my worldview is Afrocentric. What this means to me is that first and foremost I acknowledge that my ancestors were African, probably from West Africa, specifically the Kormance region of Ghana. Historically this was the region where African slaves were stolen and taken to Jamaica. Although I was not born on the African continent, I am of African descent, and this ties me with others who are African or of African descent throughout the world. I am unashamedly pro-Black and my primary concern is for the welfare of those of African descent, whether in the Motherland or in the Diaspora, before (not in spite of) anyone else. That said, I am also a devoted Christian and my relationship with God through Christ is the foundation of my being, even more so than my Afrocentric roots! 

 

I read a discussion on the blog page of Cobb, called “Kwanzaa 2006: First Shots Fired”. The theme of the post and subsequent debate was his defense of Kwanzaa celebrations, especially against the opinions of African-American Christians. There is a site by Carlotta Morrow called: “The Truth About Kwanzaa” which gives her perspective as a Christian on the issue. I found the varying views intriguing and I recommend taking the time to peruse the discussions. (Cobb also has an excellent remake of a poem called: Twas the Night before Kwanzaa check it out!). Even though I am a Christian, I have no problem with anyone celebrating Kwanzaa at this time of year. To be more specific, it doesn’t matters to me if someone decides to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas, or want to acknowledge some other religious observances or holy days (holidays) during this period. It is a personal choice. Although Kwanzaa holds no relevance to me, I do support the concept of “The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa”:

 

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. 

These are positive and progressive “Principles” that those of us of African descent should meditate on and incorprate into our lives. But these concepts in no way supercede or are even on par with the significance of Christmas. I will share the essence of the sermon I heard on Christmas Eve: 

1. The Relevance of Christmas:  God came to Earth: John 1: 1&14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…”

2. The Reason for Christmas:  Christ came for our benefit: John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

3. The Result of Christmas: That we may know God: John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons (and daughters) of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

 

The time my family spends during this time together attending Christmas service, eating, drinking, laughing, telling stories and jokes, watching movies etc. is what makes this time special for us. Although we do exchange gifts, more like small tokens of affection, it is not the highlight of our day or the season. We are more inspired by the gift of salvation that the birth of Christ represents.

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 6:23. 

Merry Christmas!

Asa.

 

“White culture doesn’t appreciate improvisation – unless it can be boxed and shrink wrapped. Controlled. That goes double for intellectual concepts. White culture is a corpse and brooks no creativity that does not support the status quo and the ways in which they’ve agreed meaning can be made.” thefreeslave.

In the discourses of thefreeslave concerning racism as mental illness, he submitted a post entitled: “Black Epistemology Versus the Placebo Syndrome”, from which I culled the above quote. As I read his post, it brought to my mind the dynamics of the relationship between “white supremacy thinking” and those of African descent in this Diaspora. Long ago, when I had much more animosity against white people, (mellowing with age and thanks to Jesus, this hate has turned mainly to indifference), I was given a cassette with a lecture by Dr. Edwin Nichols, a Black clinical psychologist, called “White Supremacy-A Paradigm”. It was based on a lecture he gave entitled: “Philosophical Aspects of Cultural Difference”, and it literally changed how I saw white people (this and my pilgrimage to the Motherland). Briefly, Dr. Nichols explained concepts and ideas about cultural differences in an axiological, epistemological and logical framework. He also utilized various historical references to anchor his hypothesizes. It blew my mind! What he clarified for me simply, is how and why those of European descent, as a culture, think in a particular way. Rationality and logic is the foundation from which they interact and interdict with each other, as well as with other cultures, and this groupthink is based on the concept of “counting” and “measuring”. Therefore if they can’t count or measure it themselves, then it holds no value for them. They use this particular brand of cultural groupthink to define terms for their own benefit, (take note of this): and they will also continually change definitions and/or their meanings to suit their own needs, especially when dealing with Black folks to deny us any degree of empowerment! (Isn’t it ironic that it took a clinical psychologist to explain the madness of “white supremacy thinking” for me!?)

According to Dr. Nichols, in contrast to Eurocentric culture, what is paramount to those of African descent in the dynamics of our interactions with others, is not rationality and logic, but the dynamics of our relationship…. a relationship which places significant value on emotional connections, i.e. “feelings”. This is not to say that rational and logical thought is unimportant to us, on the contrary. HOWEVER it is not the primary driving force of our cultural groupthink. I believe that is why we as a people are more in-tune than whites to our “gut” instinct…. why we are referred to as “soul people”. That is why we know by that look, or tone of voice, or that indefinable stench in the air, when we are being disrespected, dismissed as irrelevant…. especially by white people! (As an aside, that is why the issue of using the term “nigga/nigger” for me is not an intellectual exercise. I have read many posts which argue that it is just “a word” and by using the term, we are reclaiming and redefining it from the wider white society.  On an intellectual level, I see the rationality and logic of their arguments. BUT my Black soul screams to me that it is derogatory and demeaning…. I feel that it’s wrong to use it and that’s all that matters…. so it is wrong.)

White culture is not improvisational culture. Its more like impulse culture; the culture knows, regardless of political persuasion, how to band together to exploit or snuff out that which threatens their core values. White culture loves definitions and defining you; they are obsessed, slavishly with ‘Expertism,’ and they venerate all kind of degenerate white men just cuz.” thefreeslave.

So the crux of the matter is whether racism, the ideology of “white supremacy thinking” is indeed a form of mental illness? The vigour with which white people, particularly so-called white progressives/liberals, argued against this concept on thefreeslave‘s blog page, is a testament of their groupthink, as presented by Dr. Nichols and subsequently highlighted by the two above quotes. White society, particularly the best and brightest from their progressive/liberal camp, are not improvisational thinkers. Unless they can count and measure the concept themselves AND then control it by defining it’s parameters, then they dismiss it as irrelevant (groupthink). Rationality and logic based on counting and measuring is finite, and anything “outside of the box”, especially if it involves emotional intelligence (or more relevant: spiritual discernment), is seen as inferior. Henceforth their mantra: “tell me what you think, not what you feel”.

“I was thinking of the difference between classical and improvisational musicians. Classical musicians play what’s on the page, the notes that someone else wrote; the jazz musician, while working from musical notation (usually, but not always), prides him or herself on their ability to create ‘off’ the page. Jazz heads create using the available tools within and without. Through the interaction of what is written and what is within, these artists create a third thing, a new thing.” thefreeslave.

However, people of African descent can easily identify and fearlessly claim, that racism is a form of mental illness. This conclusion is not based on the process of Eurocentric intellectual analysis and definition creation, but from we have experienced and discerned first hand, from the dynamics of our relationships with those so-called “white progressives, liberals, conservatives, racists” and all those in between. (As I stated in a previous post, we say to ourselves and to each other: “dem white peoples dey crazy!”). We know it is mental illness because we have to daily navigate with our improvisational skills through the madness of racism, aka: “white supremacy thinking”, so as not to become mentally ill ourselves. We know it is mental illness because we see other Blacks, our family, friends and even those in distant lands, improvise against this madness for their very survival…. some successfully, most not. We know it is mental illness for history itself attests to the improvisational techniques of our ancestors, as they made their way through the madness of the slave trade, the madness of plantation life, the madness of Jim Crow, the madness of the civil rights movement, the madness of cultural genocide, the madness of the “War on Drugs”, the madness of the “War on Poverty”, the madness of the “War on Crime”, the madness of the “War on Black Music” (currently rap music) and the continuous madness of the “War For Our Very Souls”!

Today we have to be even more cognizant of the battleground where we engage our enemies and so-called friends in this war against the mental illness of racism. As we continually modify and improve upon our improvisational methods, some of us will be tasked to hit them high and some will hit them low. You hit them in the mind, with the truth of your intellect, and I’ll hit them in the soul, with the truth of my spirit. I think we’ll call this strategy…. no better yet…. we’ll define it as: “therapy”.  

A Bientot!

 Asa.                         

“Racism is a mental illness; it is in the marrow, encoded in every person from birth and in every institution in this country. It is simply unavoidable. Racism is like breathing. In fact, they are synonymous.”

About a week ago I was over at my brother thefreeslave blog page and read a post which began with the above assertion. I didn’t think much about the post at the time although I did feel that it was an interesting concept. I was away for a little while and yesterday went back to his page and was very surprised on the discussion that had been taking place between him and a number of “white progressives/liberals” who vehemently disagree with the idea that racism is a mental illness. I recommend visiting there and following the discourse. It is very interesting and eye-opening. The title of the beginning post is “Was This A Regression on My Part”. I weighed in with my 2 cents worth, which is below.

Hey Lubangakene! I have been away for a few days, just hit your spot and read your discourses on racism as mental illness. As a male of African descent, I agree with you wholeheartedly, that it is a form of mental illness. This whole notion (primarily from so-called white progressives/liberals etc. – and you know my general feelings about this group), that racist behaviour is a “choice”, misses the real “live” truth of the issue. The real “live” truth that we, as Black peoples’ live and breath. For white people it “may” be seen as a “choice”, as an intellectual/rational exercise, however for most white people I come in contact with (in the “oh so tolerant Canada”) it is so ingrained within them that they “act out” their racist behaviour even without realizing it, some even while they attempt to “control” it. AND what do we say to ourselves and each other: “dem white peoples dey crazy!” We see the craziness! We see the disfunction! AND WE ARE THE PRIMARY VICTIMS OF THEIR MENTAL ILLNESS! And as my granny used to say:” those who feels it, knows it”. Lubangakene they are incapable of seeing and/or accepting their disfunction, especially those who consider themselves “good white peoples”.

Your point is right on when you state how Africans slaves were seen as no better than “beasts”. YET the female species of these so-called beasts, our women, were constantly raped by the superior white humans. What kind of mentality could justify this type of behaviour? What kind of mind would create a document which stated that “all men were created equal”, yet consider men of a different colour, 3/4 human? What type of mind could lynch another human being, remove their genitals and force it down their throats, while having a picnic? What type of mind would create and continue a society based on these principles and atrocities, and is yet able to sleep at night without tossing and turning, because their illusion of reality is normal in their own minds. I’ll say it loud: “THEY ARE CRAZY! THEY ARE MENTALLY ILL!”

Racism, although for me the more appropriate term is “White Supremacy Thinking”, has made many of our people crazy, mentally ill… literally! You ask a very pertinent question: If it makes us crazy, causes mental illness in and among us, why do white people think that they are immune from the disease themselves? Is it because they consciously (or unconsciously) consider themselves mentally superior? Is it because as the primary carriers of the disease, as the ones who infected “us”, they cannot see that over generations, they have infected themselves!? Do they hide behind and/or reassure themselves through their “clinical definitions” that although they suffer may suffer from depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anorexia, etc…. racism is not something they “suffer” from, it is a “choice”, within their control… and we know how white people hate NOT being in control!

The bottom line is this mah Bruh, if racism is a mental illness, something which is NOT within their control: THEN THEY ALL HAVE IT…. EVEN OUR SO-CALLED WHITE PROGRESSIVE/LIBERAL FRIENDS…. AND HEAVEN FORBID THAT! All the self-actualizing work they have done, all the anti-racist workshops they have engaged in and led, all the time and effort they have spent proving that they are “different” from the rest of their “kind”, especially the most vile racist of the past and present, all the choices made in an effort to be a more understanding and tolerant human being, ALL OF THAT WAS AND IS FOR NOUGHT! ZERO! WHICH ALSO LEADS ONE TO CONCLUDE THAT THERE IS A LITTLE MICHAEL RICHARDS IN ALL WHITE PEOPLE JUST WAITING TO SPRING OUT! That is why they are so surprised when their illness comes to the surface in it’s most clearest and obvious forms! They sincerely state “I don’t know where that came from ’cause really…. I’m not a racist”. They know for sure that they didn’t go through a process to “choose” to say those words and/or make that racist statement. It just came out! They had no control over it. BUT there is no way that it stemmed from being mentally ill. They will NEVER accept that.

Walk good my brother. Once again you speak power to truth.

Asabagna.

I find the current debate among those of “us” of African descent in the Diaspora about our use or misuse of the term/word “nigger” very interesting. There are two polar points of view. One, don’t use the word, it’s derogatory and perpetuates racism and self-hate. The other is that by using the word we are taking away it’s power to hurt and demean “us” and also we are taking away the ownership from of its’ former masters. So is it now just a word? Remember the nursery rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” I decided to put these differing theories to the test and use “so-called derogatory” names to refer to my wife and see what happens. It’s all about context right? She knows I am madly in love with her and words are just symbols which codify our conceptual references…. right? I want to see if she will take possession of the words and re-define their meaning so that they become words of endearment. I want to see how she will navigate through the process of re-creating the social environment, so that the conditions which create those who are refered to by these names, will be eliminated or at least reduced. So with positive anticipation I awaited the opportunity to put these hypothesizes to rigorous real life experimentation.   

Well I’m down in my basement watching the football game: USC vs UCLA. I’m getting all hyped up, yelling at the t.v. at points and I am getting thirsty. I shout up to my wife: “YO HOE! CAN YOU GET ME A GLASS OF COKE PLEASE BITCH!” Now please have a little patience with me, ‘cause  everything I remember after this is a little sketchy. I remember a feeling…. somewhat like “terror”…. associated with an unnatural silence…. and that time had literally “stood still”…. then I heard what could be only be described as a “screech”. Have you ever heard of the term “screaming like a Banshee?” I don’t know what a “Banshee” is and I’m sure I have never heard one scream… but that is the thought that came to my mind when I heard that sound…. it as a “blood-curdling screech”…. then suddenly there were flashes of light…. like the colours of a rainbow…. then I remember darkness…. no…. more like stillness…. I can only describe it as cold, lifeless stillness…. then all of a sudden, I was on a beach…. I was in a haze but the sky was very dark and I saw a light…. and as I was approaching this light I saw a man who I took to be Jesus…. he had this incredulous look on his face as I approached and he was “shaking his head”…. it was like he was saying “nigga, what were you thinking?!”.… then to the left I saw another light…. so I headed towards it and I saw a man who I took to be Satan…. he just turned his back on me when I approached…. at this point I think I heard someone yell…. from what seemed from very far away: “HOLD ON BUDDY! WE’RE ALMOST THERE! YOU CAN MAKE IT!!!  JUST HOLD ON!!!!” 

The doctors said the operations were mostly successful. They were able to remove my balls from my throat and my tongue from up my ass and re-attach them. They said that after a while I probably won’t notice the limp or lisp. The police said that they have decided not to charge my wife as “there would be no reasonable chance of a conviction.” They are still looking into charging me though…. but “stupidity” isn’t a statutory offence. Plus I think deep down they feel sorry for me. Oh yeah…. the doctors also said that they will be able to unwire my jaws by December 23rd. I’m happy about that! I want to greet my Mother on December 25th with “MERRY CHRISTMAS CUNT!!” I hope she has a better appreciation of the rationality of these arguments than my wife. It’s all about context right!? My Mother knows I love her dearly and words are just symbols which codify our conceptual references…. right? 

Anyway…. I need to take some more meds and go lie down again. 

A Bientot!

Asa.

                                   

Learning french is difficult. I guess I should say “difficile”. My wife and I are taking this conversational french course and although it is somewhat frustrating, I am however enjoying the process of understanding how those of French descent, transform their thoughts into words, sentences, phrases etc. Living in Ottawa, the capital region of Canada, next to the province of Quebec, the french language and culture is all around us. So to enjoy and take advantage of all that this area has to offer, plus it is certainly advantageous for any career aspirations or advancement, we are enthusiastically pursuing this endeavour. I have also taken to reading french newspapers and magazines as well as watching french programming on t.v. 

 

This morning on a French channel, I caught a bit of a fascinating documentary on the life and music of a Black French composer by the name of Joseph de Bologne, also known as Joseph Boulogne. Born in the French West Indies colony of Guadeloupe, this son of a French aristocrat father and a mother who was a slave of African descent, lived from 1745 to 1799. He moved to France in 1754 and rose to the top of French society through his mastery of fencing and his genius for classical music. His superior skill at fencing earned him the name: “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges”. He was also skilled at using the pistol and was an excellent all round athlete. He mastered both the harpsichord and the violin and his first compositions were performed in Paris in 1772, while in 1773 he became the “Conductor of Le Concert de amateurs”. Early in 1779, Saint-George began performing music with Queen Marie-Antoniette in Versailles, at her request. 

During fencing competitions and concerts performances in England, Joseph Boulogne became involved in the anti-slavery movement. He helped to establish a French group called the “Société des amis des noirs”, (Society of the Friends of Black People). When the French revolution broke out in 1789, he joined the National Guard and subsequently became a Colonel of a “coloured” regiment. Its official name was “légion franche de cavalerie des Américains”, but it soon became known to all as “The légion Saint-George”, (Saint-George Legion). The unit performed admirably and bravely defending France and Saint-George became a hero. BUT not for long. Jealousy and his former ties to the aristocracy made him vulnerable to false charges and he was arrested and imprisoned without trail in 1793, but was subsequently cleared of all chrges and released in 1794. In 1797, he returned to Paris to compose music and direct his final orchestra, “Le Cercle de l’Harmonie”, (The Circle of Harmony), a concert organization newly established at the Palais-Royal. Joseph Boulogne died on the 10th of June, 1799.

I had no idea that such a heroic and inspirational figure had existed, and his athletic, as well as his artistic accomplishments during that era, in such an extremely racist society, leaves me in awe! Although today he is referred to as “Le Mozart Noir”, (The Black Mozart), according to classical music historians, it had long been accepted that it was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) who was influenced by the music of Joseph Boulogne! How come I had never learnt about this man!? Composer, Conductor, swordsman, athlete, soldier, anti-slavery advocate. Here is a link to find out more about the life of Joseph de Bologne-the Chevalier de Saint-George, as well as information on others of African descent and their contributions to euro-classical music. Learning French has indeed opened up a new world to me. It excites me! Or should I say: “C’est excitant!”

A Bientot!

Asa.          

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.