Culture


People,

African-Americans are at a critical point in time. They need to address conditions and circumstances that are preventing them from existing as a free and independent people. In order for them to do this there are many factors they should prepare to embrace. The first one is God and spirituality which will inspire them to want to atone, unite and organize to address conditions in society and this onslaught of racial attacks. The second is numbers. Blacks need to show a force of millions of their people preparing to fight for freedom, justice and equality. That is why the Black Church and the Five Phase Plan will play a crucial role in this movement for respect and reparations.

1. When African-Americans decide to engage in this effort, they will realize they should go through a process to solve differences among their people and prepare to carry on these actions until they receive justice in the form of reparations. They need to atone to make themselves better people in their own eyes and commit to organizing with the purpose of addressing racism, disparities and inequities, and demanding respect and reparations.

2. Blacks should realize that it is of the ut-most importance for them to identify themselves as they see fit. They should not continue to let others name them and dictate their destination. Blacks should know that they can name themselves according to their land of origin, culture and existence. African-Americans should know different terms that have been put forth to identify them, such as Afro Descendents of Slaves, Descendents of Black African Slaves, Indigenous African-Americans, Moors and African Spiritual Beings, among other names. We should learn what it would mean for us to claim an identity for ourselves and move accordingly. This would be a signal to the world that we are claiming our independence. We should not continue to identify ourselves as others see fit.

All groups who claim blacks should call themselves one of these names have good reasons. But there is one name that will give African-Americans a right to land and all forms of reparative measures to recover their heritage, relieve themselves of the mental anguish they suffer from due to 500 years of extreme prejudice or (PTSS) and build cities complete with an infrastructure. Blacks can undergo this task by holding a Plebiscite for Sovereignty, which is a national vote among black folks in America.

3. Blacks need to form a Reparations Union to create a power base to carry out a massive campaign for reparations. It would enable them to address the rise in racial attacks in a strong, united and ever lasting group effort. Instead of the usual manner in which a few folks who normally show up call on thousands to conduct one day protest. It would direct them to put pressure on the government and big corporations that will stimulate real and lasting change. It would enable them to carry out national boycotts, marches and protest that would last for weeks and months and years if necessary, to force policy makers and institutions in this country to respect them. And most important of all, the formation of this union would get others to think twice before they violate African-Americans and their constitutional and civil rights because they would know the union will fight hard to make them accountable for their actions. This would strengthen the Plebiscite and the black condition in America.

4. Blacks need to form a constituency among themselves to label and suggest solutions to solve crimes of slavery, segregation and discrimination, that have a lasting impact. This would be a Reparations Tribunal where African-Americans would place their findings before the public to determine what remedies are most suitable to repair the damages done to their people.

5. Blacks should work with Whites, Jews and others who have enslaved and or exploited them in a Truth and Reconciliation Process to elaborate on findings of the Tribunal and to disclose all others areas where they have been damaged and victims of injustice. This would signal the bearing of human beings to make up for past atrocities and to facilitate a healing between blacks and those who have caused them great pain and suffering. This is the way to bring justice to Black people and reconnect the different races in America in the spirit of God as various peoples with an understanding and degree of tolerance and respect for one another.

In memory of our ancestors,

Brotha Pruitt
Reparations Leader and Chairman
Committee for African American Reparations (CAAR)
Reparations Union Lobbying Association (RULA)
http://hometown.aol.com/blk2day/myhomepage/index.html

I remember watching a couple of the Sherlock Holmes movies when I was a kid. I never thought much of them as the story lines didn’t really hold my interest, plus they were shown in “black and white”. I do remember though the line Sherlock Holmes gave his sidekick, Dr. Watson when he was ready to solve the case and explain how he came to his conclusions. He made it all seem so obvious after he proclaimed: “elementary my dear Watson, elementary,” and then broke it all down. I would wonder why Watson, being a learn-ed “Doctor”, hadn’t figured it out also and would ask the detective dumb questions. hmmmmm

This week another Dr. Watson garnered media attention, not for asking dumb questions, but for making “dumb” comments. Dr. James Watson, biologist, geneticist, Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and 1962 Nobel laureate in science, made some controversial statements regarding “Race” in an interview he gave to The Sunday Times. The interviewer shared these beliefs of Dr. Watson’s in the article:

“He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.   

This is not the first or only time the “good doctor” has made controversial statements, especially regarding race. During a lecture tour in 2000 he hypothesized that there were scientific links between skin colour and sexual prowess, specifically that “dark-skinned people have stronger libidos”. He has also hypothesized that if you could detect babies with “gay genes” pre-natally, women should then have the right to abort the baby “because women want to have grandchildren, period.” He also agreed with what he refers to as the “unpopular but by no means unfounded” theory of ex-Harvard president Larry Summers, who lectured that the low representation of tenured female scientists at universities might be due to, among other things, “the innate differences between the sexes”. Due to the furor caused by his latest comments, he has had to cancel a book tour, scheduled lectures and he has also been suspended from his administrative duties at the Laboratory.

So here’s the deal. I believe the issue isn’t so much with the statements he made…. but that he made them publicly! He simply stated what is the widely held belief among those in the dominant “white” society. It is not the first time (nor the last) that science has been utilized to assert the inferiority of the so-called “Black Race”. Scientists are forever coming up with hypotheses and theories either contending that “whites” and/or “Europeans” and their culture is superior to everyone elses, or that “Blacks” and/or “Africans” and their culture are inferior to all others. However, because it is no longer “socially acceptable” nor “politically correct” to make such assertions publicly, “the rule” now is to do it within private (i.e. where Black people aren’t allowed) confines of the backrooms, the social clubs, the boardrooms, the executive offices… hell even in the bathroom…. but never, never out in the open and certainly not to the media! If you break this rule…. you are on your own!

Dr. Watson has made the usual apologies, claimed the statements don’t reflect what he meant, “and there is no scientific basis for such a belief.” Interestingly he also stated: “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said.”

“Elementary my dear Watson, elementary…. you’re a racist.”  

I am sorry to be late with my submission on this exciting topic for our second carnival, but I haven’t yet mastered how to best divvy up my time as a new father. I am always tired…. I sleep, I take care of baby, I go to work, I take care of baby, I sleep and the cycle starts again…. I have “a minute” to spare so here goes…..  

The work of Marimba Ani in  “Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior,” has a lot of truth in it (it is definitely a must read) and I agree with Lubangakene when he asserts that it “makes it clear that the intention and proselytizing usage of European religion was for control and conquest of other peoples. “ Some of his questions also “struck a cord” within me and sparked a thinking process as I contemplated my responses to them…. namely:

  1. How does our God-consciousness, filtered through an alien religion, shackle us?
  2. Can our spiritual/religious beliefs flower within such a context? Can those beliefs and practices empower us?
  3. Is the white man’s religion a positive or negative force, ultimately, in the lives of African peoples in the diaspora?
  4. Is it possible to adopt/adapt the religions and religious practices of an oppressor who has used religion throughout history to conquer the minds and bodies of his targets/victims – to positive affect?

Percolating within me was a rational, intellectual and measured response anchored by my religious beliefs and literary knowledge. I had quotations from the Bible and references from James H. Cone’s “A Black Theology of Liberation” as well as, “God’s Politics” by Rev. Jim Wallis, chosen and ready to assert that religion is about a personal relationship with God and whatever choices we make…. whether good, bad or indifferent, especially in His name, we will have to answer to someday. I was ready to debate that Christianity is not a eurocentric-based religion as such, but that version of it was forced upon us, people of African descent, and it was up to us to free ourselves from spiritual (as well as mental) slavery and find our God… the One who meets all our needs as a people. That is the physiological, emotional, psychological, financial, societal, environmental, intellectual, safety and spiritual needs which may be unique to us and our condition. I was all set to argue that paradoxically, all these needs are not ethnically nor culturally based, since they are important to everyone, regardless of colour of skin, nationality, gender, orientation, language, or even religious beliefs…. however the way and how God meets our needs are not necessarily the same. Depending on any one or combination of the above factors, He may meet our particular need(s) on an individual, community or yes…. even a cultural level. I was ready to boast of how multi-cultural and multi-racial the church I attend is and that as a Black man…. as a Black family,  it certainly meets my/our needs and that it reflected the best of what heaven on earth can be. Yes I was all primed to “shock and awe” with my blah, blah, blah….

Then I went to do my weekly volunteer commitment. I am involved with an inner-city mission that I found out about through my church. It is a Christian based facility that specializes in assisting the homeless and those with psychological challenges and substance abuse issues (and the combination of all for some). We simply provide information on where to access city services, feed the hungry, provide shelter for a time, listen to life stories, offer advice and when it’s appropriate, tell them about the love of Jesus. On Sunday afternoons we hold a inner-city service for those who don’t belong to a specific church or denomination, or profess to follow any particular religion. The mission caters to different types of people, from a variety of cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common: regardless of our circumstances or status…. we are all striving to make it through the day.

So as I was working, I looked around at the people I was serving and I thought that as a Christian, as a person who believes and wants to serve God in my own “little” way…. this is what really matters! Standing there it was clear that cultural and historical context didn’t matter. Eurocentric or Afrocentric symbolism didn’t matter. Religion and religious practices didn’t matter. What really matters and gives me hope is that today, there are people all over the world who are inspired by their own religious beliefs to serve others (the Buddhist monks in Myanmar come to mind). What truly mattered was the “smile” and “thank you” I got from connecting with another human being and hopefully making a positive impact on their life. Even it that just means giving them a sandwich and a coffee or listening to the same joke or story for the umpteenth time. Regardless of my all religious pontificating and intellectual discourses, the few hours I spend each week, serving each individual, meeting their individual need at that particular time, for the glory of God, is what my religion means to me.                                 

  

A participant of BOD forum is attending a conference on business ethics and one of the topics for discussion concerned 50 Cent. They presented a number of questions that are to be used to focus the debate and asked other members to comment. Below are the  questions and the response by a member of the forum which I found enlightening. I need to add more Canadian content to this page!

1. Should 50 Cent be allowed to perform in Toronto?

If he has the right work permit, proper security clearance from the Canadian authorities and can guarantee there will be no violence before, at and after his performance, then why not? Especially if he generates income for Toronto businesses!

2. Should he be refused entry to Canada, given his criminal record and the nature of his music?

Hmmm…didn’ t he spend time in jail for offences involving narcotics trafficking, guns and violence??! Some older jazz and pop musicians have been denied entry for more trivial reasons and to perform at larger, more reputable events (Jazz festival, anyone??!) Fitty shouldn’t get a pass just because!! And if his music is objectively found to be violating decency and anti-hate laws, then we don’t need to have him come across our border!

3. Would the concert encourage violent and misogynistic behaviour?

Thing is, folks who’d be easily swayed into “behaving badly” by a so-called musical artist who is barely literate (in standard English anyway) and can’t write proper lyrics already have issues with “boundaries” and will exhibit violent and misogynistic behaviour whether or not Fitty raps about it in his songs…

4. Was there racial bias involved?

You have to wonder: The Rolling Stones have been here Lord knows how many times despite several members having been arrested over the years. Ozzie Osborne’s been here, as have an assortment of country music “bad boys” and pop music misfits….

5. Should the entertainment company promoting his tour not market the concert on ethical grounds? 

The only ethics these days that many “urban entertainment promoters” seem interested in is the ethics of…cash… so, if there are enough “consumers” who enjoy the “Fitty” product and will pay whatever to get it in Canada, who are these “promoters” to deny them?? Entertainment companies should use their judgement. If they’re planning on limiting their market to “Fitty” type entertainers and can survive and thrive financially doing so…then more power to them. But if they want to expand into other more discerning clienteles, then they need to clean up their act…and do the right thing!

6. What about freedom of speech? 

Freedom of speech??! Puhleeze! Remember, many of these gangsta rappers’ lyrics are hardly intellectually stimulating and are appallingly unimaginative and repetitive. Luckily some of their “songs” have a good beat otherwise I don’t see how they’d sell! I doubt that those who boycotted buses in Montgomery, Alabama and marched on Washington for basic civil rights had envisioned “Fitty music” as the type of “freedom of speech” worth dying for! Besides, freedoms come with responsibilities…

7. Who has the right to censor whom and why?

Tricky indeed. The courts? The CRTC? Canada Customs? Tricky indeed…


 

  

I was inspired to re-read “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson in an effort to gain some understanding/perspective to what I was observing in the actions of those of African descent in the Diaspora, as well as the Motherland. Misogynous and self-destructive rap lyrics, debates on the viability if the “N” word among us, brutal acts of violence, genocide, exploitation, oppression etc. , are only some of the things we do to each other. Not that these things don’t happen in other communities, but I am not concerned about those other communities right now. I look at our communities around the world and the self-destructive behaviours which we indulge in and it breaks my heart. The question for me isn’t so much: how did we get here? It’s more: why are we still here and why do we always return here?

I was all set to do a post on chapters 8 and 9 of the book, “Professional Education Discouraged” and “Political Education Neglected”, and how they relate to how we as a people are mis-educated today and how we can re-educate ourselves on these points in an effort to begin to move from here. Then I started following the discussions involving our brother, Francis Holland and his ongoing conflict with DailyKos and My LeftWing. I never understood his obsession with the white liberal democratic blog site DailyKos and his being banned from there. He made it his personal crusade to demolish DK and now he is banned from another white liberal democratic blog site, My LeftWing. He was now on another crusade against them and was calling for support. 

Although most Black/Afro-bloggers counseled and advised Francis to not waste his energy engaged in this conflict, but to focus that energy on Black endeavours, I couldn’t understand why he refused to see that this was a more valuable use of his time and energy. The more I read, the more I meditated on it, the more I had to ask myself: “is this the manifestation, the living example of a “mis-educated Negro in the 21st Century”. The more I saw it in this way, the more I understood the roots of his obsession. Now, this is not a personal attack against Francis. I like and respect Francis and the work he is doing within the Afrosphere and Blackosphere. This is just my view from the outside, using this situation involving Francis and these white liberal blog sites as a backdrop, at what I believe drives a significant portion of the African-American psyche. So let me share what I see as 3 aspects that reflect our “mis-education” today: 1) The allegiance of the majority of Black America to the Democratic Party; 2) Our inability to strategize effectively while engaged in the “Art of War”; 3) The bitter fruits of our mis-education. Then I will present what I think we need to do to re-educate ourselves. 

The allegiance of the majority of Black America to the Democratic Party

“Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised…. The Negro should use his vote rather than give it away to reward the dead for some favors done in the distant past.” Carter G. Woodson

These words by Woodson are so profound, however they are lost on the majority of Black America. DailyKos and My LeftWing are white/eurocentric based liberal websites which spew certain ideals of the Democratic Party and therefore attract those in the majority population who identify with those ideals. Whether these white liberal websites are attractive to African-Americans who hold some or most of the same ideals, isn’t the point. The issue is: why the obsession with wanting to be embraced by them? Why debase and demean ourselves to beg for them to give us a voice in their realm? This is what I see by Francis’s obsession. Regardless of whether what he says on their sites is true or not…. whether his challenging of their hypocrisy is noble or not…. whether his perspective brings an alternate but just as significant way of seeing the world or not…. his efforts on their sites is a waste of time and energy. They don’t want to hear it. They dismiss it. Historically and even more so today (DON’T be fooled by the white liberal media creation: “Obamamania”), the voice of the “Negro” has never mattered in any segment of White America, so why should it matter in the Whitosphere…. especially the white liberal segment of the Whitosphere. So they banned him from commenting on their space. Are we surprised? Did we expect anything different to occur?

Francis’s campaign against DailyKos and My LeftWing reminds me of the efforts of a jilted lover, who has now become a stalker…. and his former lover, is now his prey. He will do all that he can, use all his energy and resources to discredit and demonize his former lover. If he can’t have her, no-one else can! And Francis is not alone in his “mis-educated” allegiance and obsession to the white liberal cause. Recently I have seen 2 members of the Afrosphere Bloggers Association cancel their membership for no other reason than an admitted Black Republican was given the opportunity to join their collective! The program of “divide and conquer” is still alive and healthy within the Black/African community at large and with our Afrosphere in particular. Blue vs. Red; Bloods vs. Crips; Hutus vs. Tutsis; Africans vs. African-Americans; African-Americans vs. Afro-Caribbeans; Black Christians vs. Black Muslims; Black liberals vs. Black conservatives etc. 

Our inability to strategize effectively while engaged in the “Art of War”

“In general, whoever occupies the battleground first and awaits the enemy will be at ease; whoever occupies the battleground afterward and must race to the conflict will be fatigued. Thus one who excels at warfare compels men and is not compelled by other men. Sun-Tzu. The Art of War. 

The liberal Whitosphere is not our battleground. They own it. They control it. They manipulate it. They can allow and censure whichever voices they so desire. Are we still so “mis-educated” to believe that it is only through the white man and whatever system(s) he controls – such as the liberal whitosphere, that we can be effective in our struggles? That it is to them and through them alone, that our voices can only have any credibility and therefore needs to be heard…. and acknowledged? And if they do deny us that voice, if they censure and ban us, are we still so “mis-educated” to believe that it is noble to galvanize all our forces to take the fight to their battleground…. for an already lost cause! What is the point of a “mis-educated” strategy to “piss off white liberals” on their own battleground? What is so “radical” about wrapping oneself in the cloak of self-martyrdom? 

“The Negroes have always had sufficient reason to be radical, and it looks silly to see them taking up the cause of others who pretend that they are interested in the Negro when they merely mean to use the race as a means to an end.” Carter G. Woodson

What is truly “radical” is focusing our visions, efforts and energies on creating our own spaces, cells and collectives, to work together, regardless of politics, religion, ideology, gender, orientation, ethnicity, culture, etc., for our own progress! From these bases of operations which are in our control, we can launch our attacks, both offensive and defensive ones, against the system to struggle for pertinent and substantive victories. Naive? Far-fetched? Well look at the successes of the Afrosphere efforts in regards to Kenneth Foster and Shaquanda Cotton. These efforts prove that we have the skills, knowledge, abilities, wisdom to be powerful in our own right… through our own “Afrosphere”…. to bring the fight to those who would oppress and abuse us…. to make a real difference…. to “compel men”…. 

The bitter fruits of our mis-education

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his own special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

Self-delusion and self-destruction are the fruits of the mis-educated Negro. I observed how Francis deluded himself in believing that the 120 daily hits his “Truth about Kos” blog receives is an indication that whites, so-called progressives and Republicans, “are looking for information that they can print at their own blogs against Markos Moulitsas to buttress their belief that Markos Moultisas simply isn’t who he pretends to be.” He goes on to state that: “My “Truth About Kos” blog is providing leadership and information to those who want to discredit and reject this white supremacist blogger. One of the ways they are becoming aware of this information is because I post links at white blogs.  If they could completely prevent me from posting these links, then they could prevent me from disseminating the information I have discovered to white people. What stands out most to me in regards to these comments, are that all of these efforts are being done for the benefit of white people. (Interestingly enough, on Meet the Press on the Sunday of that same week, there was a debate between Markos and the Black former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., now Chairman of the Democratic Leadreship Council, on the direction of the Democratic Party. Markos had Ford sounding like a right wing Nazi sympathizer! lol! However, there was no mention of Markos’s CIA connection or any campaign(s) against his website.)    

I also observed how Francis’s obsession with his crusade against DailyKos and My LeftWing began to sow dissention and polarization within the Afrosphere. He went on to accuse another Black blogger who didn’t support his positions regarding DailyKos and My LeftWing, as defending “CIA-trained Markos Moulitsas” and subsequently refered to her as a “house slave”. This all lead to some calling for his banning in the Afrosphere also, while others declared that if he was banned, then they didn’t want to be a part of the Afrosphere. The seeds of self-destruction had been sown. Thankfully the Afrosphere weathered this storm…. this time. 

So how do we proceed from here today? How do we begin a successful process of re-education. Work and Patience! Let me humbly defer to the words of Carter G. Woodson on this matter, which he wrote in 1933. They are still applicable today:

“The Negro, whether in Africa or America, must be directed toward a serious examination of the fundamentals of education, religion, literature and philosophy as they have been expounded to him. He must be sufficiently enlightened to determine for himself whether these forces have come into his life to bless him or to bless his oppressor. After learning the facts in the case, the Negro must develop the power of execution to deal with these matters as do people of vision. Problems of great importance cannot be worked out in a day. Questions of great moment must be met with far-reaching plans.”                                      

Back in the days of antiquity, one of the most stressful jobs I would imagine, would be that of a messenger. If you returned from the battlefield with a message of victory, you would be hailed a hero and celebrated. If you were sent to an opposing kingdom with a message of goodwill, you would be treated as royalty and given a feast. However if you returned with a message of defeat, or brought a message of war, well your death was pretty much assured and it wouldn’t be pleasant. Hence the term: “Don’t kill the messenger!”

Jason Whitlock brings a message to the African-American community. It’s usually a message of the second type because it’s not popular. It’s not what most of us want to hear. So he is vilified.

Now I don’t regularly read the brother’s column, but I have read it a few times. I don’t agree with everything he says…. actually I agree with a lot of what he says, but hey… for me it’s not about agreeing… it’s about having a point of view. If it’s different from mine… all the better…. maybe I can learn something. I have seen him on Oprah and heard him a few times on a sports radio talk show sitting in as a guest host. The primary message which I get from him, is one of responsibility and accountability within the Black community, primarily when it comes to “our” sports heroes. He is sometimes harsh with his commentary. Yes, he is uncomfortably hard on Jesse and Al… almost to the point of being disrespectful, but there is a lot of truth in his message. During the Imus affair, one thing he said which struck a cord with me, and I am paraphrasing, is that we as a people cannot expect others to respect us more than we respect ourselves. Not a popular message when it is directed at the rappers, other entertainers and sports celebrities of our community. I have read articles where he argues eloquently (in my opinion) against demonizing Barry Bonds and Michael Vick and he supports the NAACP’s call to give Vick an opportunity to return to the NFL, after he pays whatever debt society dictates. Not a popular message to the “white” moralists. Although he acknowledges that racism is the root cause of some, maybe even most of our problems, like me he doesn’t see it as an “excuse” for our self-inflicted woes…. especially by our millionaire sports heroes. Even on the sports talk shows, the majority of the Black callers have an issue with his call for our highly paid athletes to behave better. To be responsible and accountable for their actions, because they are role models to the youth of our community, whether they want to be or not. “Whom much is given, much is expected.”  Not a popular message to our community at large.

Now our sports heroes have always had a special place in our hearts. Historically, every time they were able to beat a “white man” in a competition, overcome the odds whether in track and field, boxing, tennis, etc,…. they were striking a blow for us. They were our champions. Our Davids defeating the Goliaths of white supremacy on our behalf. They were an inspiration. Role models. Jesse Owens. Joe Johnson. Joe Louis. Muhammed Ali. Arthur Ashe. Not any more. Not with our present crop of athletes. Maybe back in the day we were more forgiving and/or accepting of their shortcomings. Times have changed. We have changed. Not to say that today there aren’t any African-American athletes who are positive role models, male and female. Unfortunately they don’t make the headlines, because they quietly go about their business…. and stay out of trouble…. doing the “right” thing. They should be featured and celebrated more…. no doubt. We need to take some blame for not publicly honouring them more. 

However I digress. Back to the messenger: Jason Whitlock. Through the Afrosphere I became aware of a column he did on the “Jena 6”. This led me to a post by my brother blogger, Field Negro and to the Whitlock’s column. I read both articles a number of times in an effort to understand what it was that Whitlock said that…. well…. proves that he has a “problem with Black folks.” What has earned him the unfortunate title as “the LaShawn Barber of the sports world.”? OUCH!!!!! (DAMN…. I gotta admit that I fell down laughing at that one! Cold.) He brings to light certain facts in regards to the “Jena 6” case, which leads him to the position that “much of the mainstream reporting on this story has been misleading, irresponsible and inflammatory.” He takes issue with the actions of all parties involved: the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the school board, the “noose-hanging” white students, the media, Al Sharpton, the community at large (both Black and White), the “Jena 6” and the parents: of both the white students and the “Jena 6”. He lays at all their feet…. their share of the blame which has lead to this travesty of justice. In his post Field states about Whitlock:

“And every fucking day he rips another black athlete or person who happens to be in the news, for not playing by America’s rules. Like who the fuck died and made him the Martha Stewart of race? On a certain level I almost respect Jason’s hustle. Because you and I both know that he can’t believe all the shit that he writes. But it’s working, Jason is getting more popular by the day, because he is just the latest in a long line of black folks who “Charlie” props up to say what he wants to say, but can’t, because it would be too politically incorrect. Jason can say it, because he is one of them.

Hmmmm. Ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I only wonder if there are any falsehoods in the facts of the situation which Whitlocks contends, regarding the individuals in the “Jena 6”? Not that it justifies what is happening to them, because it doesn’t. However, it gives another perspective which I wasn’t aware of. But in the long run, that doesn’t even matter. It’s the message that is the underlying issue. We now live in an age where you cannot kill the messenger, but you can certainly kill the message. Discredit the messenger and you can discount the message. The easiest way to discredit a Black person in our community, to nullify their voice, opinions and beliefs…. to KILL their message…. is to call them a tool of the “white man”…. a house negro of “Massa Charlie”.

Jason Whitlock is very lucky we aren’t living “back in the day“. Come to think of it… so am I.  

Over the past year, I have read three books concerning the meaning of life. Interestingly, (for me anyway), two took a more psychoanalytical approach in answering this question, while the third was Christian based. I will summarize what each determined was the answer to this timeless endeavor, in the order in which I read the books.

 

1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck: This theme of this book surprised me as I was under the impression (due to the title), that this was a religious based book. Although it had an underlying spiritual element, it took a psychoanalytical based approach and argued that the meaning of life could be understood by accepting these truths:

·        Life is difficult and contains a series of problems.

·        Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve these problems.

·        It is in the whole process of how we meet and solve these problems, that life has it’s meaning.

·        How we meet the challenges of dealing with these problems is the basis of how we grow mentally and spiritually.

·        The tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.

·        The set of tools that is referred to as “discipline”, are “techniques of suffering”: which are the means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process.

·        There are four tools which make up the “techniques of suffering”: delaying gratification; acceptance of responsibility; dedication to truth; and balancing.

·        Psychoanalysis is essential in assisting someone in mastering one or more of these four tools.

 

2. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: This book looked at the question from a Christian perspective. According to the author, we were all created by God for a purpose- His purpose…. and “it is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny.”  Consequently, there are five purposes to our life:

1.      To bring enjoyment to God.

2.      To be a part of the family of God.

3.      To be like Christ.

4.      To serve God.

5.      To serve others.

 

3. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl: This book is based on the experiences of the author, a psychiatrist, who survived a number of Nazi death camps. Within this backdrop, he argues that how we choose to deal with experiences, especially  “unavoidable” atrocities and sufferings, is the determining factor of whether we will live (survive) or die. From his experiences during WWII, he concluded that those who had survived the concentration camps, had the will to live through those horrible times, were those who found a deeper, even a spiritual “meaning” to what they were going through. He went on to develop a psychoanalytical “meaning-centered” form of therapy called Logotherapy. According to logotherapy, we can discover the meaning of life in three different ways:

1.      By achievement or accomplishment.

2.      By experiencing something or encountering someone.

3.      By the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering.

 

All three books were a good read and I recommend them all. Being a Christian, the second book had more of a lasting impression on me and my understanding of the meaning…. “purpose”…. of my life. However all three books gave me a deeper insight of how I live my life, the choices I make, the reasons I may make one choice rather than another, and more importantly, also an insight into what makes others “tick”.   

As a kid I loved the original Star Trek series, with Capt. Kirk, Spock and Lt. Uhuru (my first “crush” on a t.v star..lol). I later realized as an adult that some of the themes the show dealt with during that era was indeed ground-breaking. The one which was my favorite dealt with the issue of racial prejudice and I watched it again today. It was first broadcasted in 1969 and entitled: “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield“.  

  

The episode deals with bigotry based on the color of one’s skin. The character “Bele” on the left, is a chief officer who is hunting for “Lokai”, a political refugee, the character on the right. Although they both have half black and half white skin, Bele is black on the right side while Lokai is black on the left side. Their societal hierarchy is based on this difference, with Bele representing the dominant culture. Lokai describes in familiar detail, the prejuduce and oppression he and those who look like him endure in their society, while Bele justifies and minimizes this treatment of those whom he sees as inferiors. Bele uses familiar arguments such as “they are animals”, “they want changes to happen too quickly”, ” they want to destroy our society”, “they are criminals”, “we trying to help them but they are ungrateful”, etc. Very deep and still relevant for today much less for 1969.  After a series of events they arrive back to their home world to find that the racial hatred between the groups have completely destroyed their planet. Everyone is dead except them. Although they see the ultimate outcome of their racial bigotry, they blame each other for the destruction of their world and instead of attempting some form of reconciliation to preserve their lives, they return to the planet to continue their fight with each other. Their hate for each other is all they know. That is all they have left to live for…. the destruction of each other.

Sometimes I contemplate that as people of African descent, primarily in the diaspora, we are so caught up with “racial” issues. It dominates our life. It dominates our time. It dominates our energy. It dominates our focus. Some of us more than others. We really do need to find a way, individually and collectively, to rise above theses issues to be truly free. To free ourselves…. if not of hate…. then of mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual slavery.  If we cannot accomplish this, I am afraid that we may end up like Bele and Lokai…. knowing nothing but the continuing struggle to destroy ourselves…. and seeing this as some sort of worthy cause.         

I just bought a new set of books and my reading list is getting crazy. My wife is starting to comment on when will I get time to read all these books I’ve been buying, especially with a baby on the way in August. I’ve been spending a lot of time blogging over at AfroSpear and have neglected my reading and posting on this site.

As you can see I have transformed the look and feel of this page. It’s almost like a cleansing. I am now committing some time and effort to get into my reading list and post here more often. Here is my planned reading list:

Religious

  1. The God Delusion.  Richard Dawkins
  2. Epicenter.  Joel C. Rosenberg
  3. The Jesus I Never Knew.  Philip Yancey

 Psychology

  1. Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.  Robert Cialdini
  2. Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goldman

 Afrocentric

  1. The Bluest Eyes.  Toni Morrison
  2. A Long Way Home.  Ishmael Beah
  3. Slave.  Mende Nazer
  4. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  5. Infidel.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  6. An Ordinary Man.  Paul Rusesabagina
  7. The Assassination of the Black Male Image.  Earl O. Hutchinson
  8. The Slave Community.  John W. Blassingame.

What are you currently reading and what do you plan to read in the next while?

Asa.    

A few years ago I made a personal commitment to God that I would fast one day every week. I had engaged in prayer and fasting before that, mainly for spiritual wisdom and strength to confront specific situations I was going through in my life. All the Pentecostal churches I have attended, encourage it’s members to regularly engage in prayer and fasting as a way to address a number of issues, whether spiritual or temporal. So it is something I am comfortable with and I have an appreciation for the Muslim practice of fasting during the daytime, as they observe their holy month of Ramadan.  

I made this commitment for a number of reasons. The first was to establish a covenant with God. I would commit to denying myself of basic nourishment from sun up to 6pm once a week, and God in return would commit to increase my faith, spiritual wisdom and strength.

The second was to identify, even symbolically, with those who had no and/or limited access to food and water, to satisfy their own daily basic physical needs. I am aware though that this is just a “symbolic” identification, for the fact is that after 6pm, I not only have more than enough food and water to consume, but I also have a variety of choices of what I want to eat and drink. That being said, there is still much difficulty in denying oneself in the face of such abundance.

Therefore the third reason, which is directly tied to the second, is to develop self-control. We live in a culture/society, where we are not encouraged to deny ourselves anything. We live in the “Age of The Triumph of Greed and The Primacy of Selfish Fulfillment”. We are encouraged and even expected to fulfill all of our physiological, emotional and intellectual needs, wants, desires and luxuries…. and through advertising and marketing we are bombarded with the various pathways which leads to our material Shangri-la. Personally, I look forward to “that” first cup of coffee in the morning. I actually crave it! It has become more than a habit…. it’s a ritual…. an addiction. Making the conscious decision not to have that cup of java in the morning is painful…. it’s damn hard if you want to know the truth. I can’t explain it, but every week, when I deny myself coffee for that day, although it is relatively a small thing, it’s like I have conquered a psychological and physiological “shackle” on my being. Every week I prove that it has no hold on me and I am in control.

The final reason is a matter of health. Although there is some controversy within the medical community on the types or degrees of benefits from fasting, it is agreed that it does assist in detoxifying and cleansing the body. 

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.  Matthew 6: 16-18.

 

I am currently involved in a Bible study (Alpha Course) at my church on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). When we came to this topic of fasting, which the passage above is based on, I was a little taken aback that no-one, except myself, had ever fasted. I was even more amazed of the reasons (excuses) why they didn’t fast. The church has called for prayer and fasting a number of times since I’ve been regularly attending there since December 2006. I took it for granted that if not all, most Pentecostals fasted even periodically. I became aware of how much of a personal and spiritual commitment it was to fast, especially to do it weekly. To deny oneself of the very basic needs of life for “a part of a day” isn’t an easy endeavour to undertake, especially in a society of material abundance. However, I do not consider myself “special” or “more righteous or spiritual” than those Christians that don’t fast. I have come to appreciate God all the more for  providing me with the strength to do it…. for the truth is that every week I go through a tremendous struggle and look for excuses not to fast. 

So what is the joy of fasting? For me, it’s knowing that I have kept my commitment to God and have also overcome the power of my basic desires…. for that day…. and for that week.

Asa 

   

                    

« Previous PageNext Page »