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Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you, or to you.

Over the period that we were putting the pieces together to launch the AfroSpear think tank blog site, I came back to this quote a number of times. It was like a beacon for me. Will we forge and direct our own destiny? Will we speak our own stories? Will we share our own experiences? Will we offer the pearls of our own wisdom? Will we exchange our own ideas? Will we debate our own strategies? Will we formulate our solutions? ALL for the greater good of our own community. BECAUSE if we don’t, others will dictate all this for us! 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish;”  Proverbs 29:18

I am so enthused and hopeful. Primarily because the response and support for this vision from the AfroSphere has been encouraging and inspiring. It’s definitely a vision whose time has come. So let’s gather and commune with one another. Regardless of shade, political affiliation, religious beliefs, gender, orientation, nationality and ethnicity. Let the voices of those of African descent ring out true and free here.

You are therefore invited to join AfroSpear. I encourage you to read our “About” and “Mission Statement” sections to know who we are, what we are hoping to accomplish and our rules for engagement.

Let’s celebrate!

Asabagna

I received this comment from a blogger from Nigeria, obyno, in response to my post on “The Prophets of Negrology“. I found it very interesting and wanted to share it by posting it. Here it is:  

Two of the issues you raised in this post, namely, the Don Imus brouhaha and the Duke Lacrosse players comedy show, are threads that have been leading me to the bolstering of a theory that I have had for a long time. It is one I consider to be utterly horrible and whose entertaintment really qualifies one to go on and be cut, drawn, quartered and if possible set ablaze.

It goes like this. All races are definitely not equal. Some are truly more equal than others. Equality however is not a function of certain ineluctable, genetic differentiation, but a result of the development or lack of a habit of intellectual introspection. Intellectual introspection in this case is dimensioned into levels whose effect is measurable by:

1)All phenomena is measurable by their effect on you and you alone.
2)Its inclusion of your fellow beings in the evaluation of phenomena.
3)The consideration of your fellow beings and other less animate beings such as are found in your biological environment in the evaluation of phenomena.

All three taken together, in my view, work to establish an individual’s position on the ladder of progress. Enlarging the set, they can point to a people’s position on this same ladder and therefore become a measure of racial progress. However I have taken certain liberties in setting these measures. Because the theory is still largely that, a theory, and hardly anything better than a series of observations looking for an overcoat, I have elected to suggest that at any point in time, arising from an alteration of perspective and attitude, a person, and indeed a people can hop up or down from one level to the other as the case may be. Sometimes I fear that I have introduced this caveat as pressure valve to prevent the attacks which such a theory probably deserves, by people who might consider themselves victimised by it. So here goes:

As a fact it is a non sequitor to infer that a group of people have the capacity to think together in a certain direction. Having established this, it is then only true to indicate that they therefore cannot all be lumped together for any measurement on the level of their thinking. Rather it is safest to generalise on this by focusing on trends and seeming trends which their opinions when trolled for appear to be revealing. Even the aftermath of this does not yield the toga of truth to whatever ideas appear to be in prevalence.

However there are some affects which if taken altogether might put hands together to reveal an objective that one might say is generalized, and not necessarily in statistical terms. It is this objective that when used as a prism can yield treasures about how they regard themselves, their environment and their place in that ecosystem. The almost palpable sound of a sigh of accomplishment rippling through African-america as evidenced in its blogs, newspaper columns, radio/tv interviews given, before and after the Don Imus firing proper, left me confused about the evolutionary stage of much of our intellectualising as a people. All through the farce (I use the word, farce, without disrespect to the women in America who were the recipients of the Imus’ radio slur), Pillars of African-american opinion like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attempted to negotiate Don Imus surrender with their backs turned, all the while, to the fifth columnists, the enemies within, who had afterall given Don Imus the go-ahead to violate those women – I mean the purveyors and arch-angels of hip-hop culture.

I have followed the careers of Imus and the other so called shock jocks in america’s radio journalism and have come to marvel at the fact that they have created a profession and in so many cases, fabulous fortunes out of stealing popular elements of American culture, sharpening them by adding a layering of their own particular inimitable talent and personality, and then returning same to the American people. The fact is that their success is original only as much as they have excelled at looking at everyday things in a sharply new way. There is probably no word more everyday in popular American English grammar than the word “Nigga” or “Ho”. Together of course, with all the neccessary verbal paraphernalia, that go with being able to add tragic and monumentally heartbreaking meaning to those words.

That is why I took painful issue with people like Russel Simmons, (who by the way I have always respected and admired for the symbolism I always believed they represented by their ability to break out of the cycle of poverty that for centuries have imprisoned and ground to death hundreds of millions of other African-anericans), whose best defence seemed to be that since a rapper was born into violence and crime and hate and so much disrespect, then we should expect them to afflict all of us with the fruits of their antecedents and no more from us all. In the racial progress theory I am working on, that equates only to the first level. Obsession with how your behaviour is limited only by your own limitations. 

I haven’t read or heard anything faintly suggesting to me that Don Imus is racist. He took words out of the lips of the hip-hop cultural vanguard, at least in the music genre, and flung it right back at America. That Mr. Sharpton et al did not see this (or if they had, was announcing that vision by only just now, going after Don Imus) was for me the real tragedy of the whole thing. Don Imus has completed his hand-wringing and been busted for his mistakes. That he apologized equates to a hoping around on my ladder of progress, albeit in an upward more rewarding direction, something the Russel Simmonses and Jay Zs and Snoops and The Games are not doing yet. And about being busted…well his perspective, if not his attitude has suffered alteration. It would be a travesty to now not go ahead and engage all the other bastions whose inspiration pushed Don Imus to what in effect has been his waterloo. If not the objective of the whole exercise would have been to smoke out Don Imus while the supply lines to the other Imus{es} remained vibrant, waiting for the next time another fire would flare up.

And as long as this continues to be the objective towards which all of our arguments and  observations about ourselves and the world around us, for and against, propel us, then that manic hopping back and forth up and down the ladder of racial progress would continue to enervate us.

Sick, right? But it was only you who got me thinking.

Well Imus got his azzz canned! Hip Hop Hooray!… Ho!… Hey!…. Ho! (Did I just say: “Ho?!”). The Prophets of Negrology can now pat themselves on the back cause they showed the white man! They mobilized their power and influence to bring down a powerful rich white media icon over his insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race. But yet….sniff….sniff…. I can’t help feeling that “something stinks in Negrodia”. Does anyone else smell it!?

 

At first the whole Imus thing was a non-issue to me. Just history, recent history mind you, repeating itself. I figured he would apologize, appear on one of the Prophets of Negrology radio programs, get admonished, act contrite and ask forgiveness, claim sheepishly that “I am not a racist… I got Black friends and I do lots for under-privilege youths…”, go for therapy to understand how he picked up this demon (“the devil made me do it!”), wait for a couple days or so until something more juicy comes up for the media to latch onto, (like…. Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby while being deceased and now they have to go on another intensive dna search to identify the baby daddy… is it Christ’s?…. or Mohammed’s?…. or maybe even Lucifer’s?), then go back to making money for CBS and being a category on “Jeopardy”. But alas…. Imus got fired and the Prophets of Negrology are content and smug once again.

 

However, I have two issues. One is, well… when are the Prophets of Negrology going to take issue with the rappers, comedians and other Black entertainers over their insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race? When are they going to “name names” and call for “our” community and society at large to boycott these so-called artists? Yes, I’m talking about R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop, and Dave Chappelle! When are they going to call for demonstrations against the media moguls (BET included), record companies, record stores, radio stations, as well as the actual cd’s and t.v shows, which produce, distribute and perform this filth? This quote is too true: “A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.” I have heard our sisters, the queens of our race, referred to by derogatory names by Black men, WORSE than what was stated by Imus. And these same Black men were gladly gettin’ PAID for saying it! So please tell me, how is Imus suppose to know or behave any better? 

 

Two, when are these Prophets of Negrology, the more noteworthy of whom attach the moniker “Reverend” at the beginning of their names to signify that they are ambassadors of Christ…. which by association, automatically clokes them in the robes and collars of credibility, and hence the keepers of the flame against the darkness of social injustice…. when are they going to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players who were so falsely accused and politically charged, based on a obviously non-credible and incredible complaint? Imus, whether sincere or not, apologized for his error. These Prophets were front and center, playing to the cameras, calling for the head (or was it the balls?), of these young men. Or was the injustice they went through acceptable due to the color of their skin, as well as their economic and social class? (hmmmm… sounds strangely familiar….) Well, I may be in the visible minority on this one (as opposed to being just a “visible minority”), but I believe that if you know better, you do better. My Granny always used to remark: “those who knows it, feels it.” AND we have felt this kind of injustice before! So when we innocently and/or even through our best intentions, get caught up in the frenzy (media frenzy for some) of adding to this injustice, we need to address it, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Call me naïve, crazy or even a sell-out, but that would be the “Christian” thing to do, especially for a “Reverend”. 

 

Now to reality. The Prophets of Negrology need to wake up and realize that they have no real power. They are stooges. They are a distraction from the real issues. They are the “Sanjayas” of the moment, until American Idol resumes next Tuesday night. They had no direct influence in getting Imus fired! The ONLY reason Imus got fired was that it was no longer profitable for the networks to keep him! Sponsors were pulling out of his show. He then became a financial liability. The NCAA made this call to networks: “You know the BILLIONS of dollars you make during March Madness and Football Bowl Season? Well… that is now in jeopardy because of Imus’s remarks.” The next call was made to Imus: “You’re fired!…. and no…. this is not Donald Trump.” In the same light of reality: when racist and misogynist rap music, music videos, t.v. shows, comedians, movies etc., are no longer profitable, then the Prophets of Negrology will be permitted to wail and rally against it. Let’s not get it twisted! Until then, we will continue to live out this truth from the song, “Shut em down” by The Prophets of Rage, Public Enemy:

 

“Howdy ‘all, this is Bernie Cross house, yours truly of the KKK! I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior nigger race, and I’m especially pleased to report it’s destroying itself without our help! To all you gangs, hoodlums, drug pushers and users, and other worthless niggers killing each other, we’d like to thank you all, for saving us the time, trouble and legality, for the final chapter of riddin’ y’all off the face of the earth! Your solution to our problem is greatly appreciated! So keep sellin’ us your soul. Thank yah!”

 

I have to end with this excerpt from Jason Whitlock, a Black sports columnist. It’s just too good not to share:

 

“We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket. A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him. We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women bitches and hos and abandon them when they have our babies. If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame. We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.”

                                                                                                                      

I say we need AfroSpear!

I always had an idea, a vision really, to create a diasporic-wide think tank type blog. I envisioned that it would focus on discussing issues, exchanging ideas and creating strategies, with the objective of developing concrete and viable solutions to tackle the concerns relating to those of us of African descent worldwide. 

 

shared this vision over at thefreeslave blog page and I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastically it was received. It is not necessarily an original idea on my part and others have previously either engaged in similar discussions or have created such a venue. However it garnered much discussion, offers of assistance and words of encouragement.

 

I would like to acknowledge two brothers who have taken hold of the vision and ran with it. Francis L. Holland and Exodus Mentality have been engaged in the type of discussions that I had hoped would be initiated through the vision of AfroSpear. These brothers are an inspiration. Below I linked 2 recent discussions from their pages, which are an example of the think tank based discussions that I hope to be engaged in through AfroSpear, once we get the site launched.

 

“Can the AfroSpear Help Reduce Urban Violence?”

“Open Thread: What’s number 1”

 

 

Humbly,

Asabagna

Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you or to you?

Coming soon to the AfroSphere.

“GOD IS GOOD!”

“ALL THE TIME!”

I started blogging about a year ago after the 2005 Oscars. My first post ever was on some thoughts I had about Three 6 Mafia winning the Oscar for Best Song, George Clooney’s acceptance speech for winning best supporting actor for “Syriana”, and on the winner of the best picture… who can remember? “CRASH”. (first post) I was new to the blogging game and wanted to see where my voice would take me out into the blogosphere.

 

John Smulo

 

This week, I have been featured in a 2-part interview on the blog page of John Smulo, called SmuloSpace. John is a Christian blogger whose page I read frequently because he expands my thinking and brought a different perspective to the “Christian” experience for me. He is one of very few bloggers from the “Christosphere”, that I link to my page. The others are Gruntled Center, Imitatio Christi, The Church Boy and God’s Politics (which is a site of “white” progressive Christian bloggers developed by Jim Wallis). This is not to say that there aren’t others linked to this page who consider themselves Christians. However these specific blogs primarily discuss religious themes and look at other topics from a “Christian” perspective, whatever that may mean to the authors, which is why I refer to them as the “Christosphere”.

 

I found it very difficult finding Christian bloggers to read. It wasn’t due to there not being many of them out in the blogosphere, but I prefer to become engaged in discussions that will challenge my thinking and beliefs, that will expand my knowledge and not spew the same “ole time religion”. These blogs do that to some extent and SmuloSpace is my favourite. I cannot remember how I found his page but I started reading it in January 2007. What attracted me most is that I found John to be a sincere listener…. and that is a rare quality in a person. I started reading and commenting on his page and visa versa. A couple weeks ago he asked if he could interview me for his page. I was pleasantly surprised! He was primarily interested in the process I went through to adopt my African/Spiritual name: “Asabagna Alatentou” and my self-definition as an “Afrocentric Pentecostal”. I felt honored and gladly said “yes”. Here are the links to both interviews:

It is my hope that those of you who frequent this page may not just read the interviews, but will also read some of John’s other posts, and be inspired to become engaged in conversations and be regular commentators there. I also hope that those who frequent John’s page, through the interviews, may discover our community and engage with us also. Isn’t that the beauty of the internet? To discover, communicate and learn from those of other countries, cultures and beliefs. To transcend borders, barriers and build bridges of understanding through dialogue, discussion and debate. To make friends. It’s not a “pipe dream”. It’s possible. I’ve done it with all of you.

 

I wish you heaven.

Asa.

“When you have a philosophy or a gospel, I don’t care whether it’s a religious gospel, a political gospel, an economic gospel or a social gospel…. if it’s not going to do something for you and me right here and right now…. to hell with that gospel! In the past, most of the religious gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only those who preach it. Most of the political gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only the politicians. The social gospels have benefited only the sociologists. You and I need something right now that’s going to benefit all of us. That’s going to change the community in which we live, not try to take us somewhere else. If we can’t live here, we never will live somewhere else.” Malcolm X

Friday (03-23-07), I’m at the gym doing my “cardio thing” and watching the news, when I see a story concerning a polar bear cub by the name of “KNUT” in Berlin Germany. Apparently this cub, which was born about 4 months ago, was rejected by it’s mother, a circus bear. The Berlin Zoo decided to raise it and a national furor was caused when an animal rights activist stated that the cub should be put to death rather than be raised in captivity. According to a variety of news reports (see one here), school children took to the streets chanting “Knut must live”; news headlines read “ The Polar Bear of our Hearts”; t-shirts were printed; websites were launched, including his own personal one (see here); soccer fans chanted for him instead of their teams and a CD of songs about him was produced. He has been adopted by the German Environment Minister and is now a symbol of the effects of global climate change. The cub had made it’s public debut on Friday amid hundreds of reporters from around the world as well as thousands of supporters.

Friday, I also read a story on the blog page of Francis L. Holland on the case of Shaquanda Cotton in Paris, Texas (see here). This 14 year-old African-American girl was sentenced in March 2006, to 7 years in a Texas juvenile correctional center for pushing a 58 year old teacher’s aid. As I read the story, I thought there was no way this could be true! This must be some sort of internet hoax. I did a little internet research myself and read some news accounts of this situation. The more I read, the more I became stupefied and enraged as the truth of this injustice crystallized in my psyche (see here). The accounts of the blatant separate and unequal treatment of the Black community to the obvious targeting and retaliation against Shaquanda because her mother frequently accused school officials of racism.

 

 

BUT what enraged me the most was that I had not heard of this before. Had I really missed this? AND if I had: Where is the national furor? Where are the other school children taking to the streets for her cause? Where are the news reports and headlines? Where are the t-shirts? She does have a blog page (see here) but where are the other blog posts heating up the Afrosphere for her cause? Where are the sport fans chanting her name? Where is the national political and/or government official, regardless of party affiliation, who has adopted her cause as a symbol of the fight against the continual racial discrimination and judicial injustice faced by those of African descent in America? AND when I ask all these questions of “where?”, I am not asking society at large! I am asking the Black/African community itself!

 

Or am I asking the wrong questions. Maybe I should be asking: are we so caught up in who will be dismissed from this week’s episode of American Idol and Survivor to care? Has our desire for justice and equality been replaced by a craving for the new Three 6 Mafia “joint”, the latest dance craze and the next McDeath “Happy Meal”? Have we become so bamboozled by the media, that our attention has been captivated by who is the “baby daddy” of a dead, white, fat, drug and alcohol addicted slut, to even see the injustices that are visited upon our young? Are we so entranced by the circus performances of Obama, Hillary and John that real life wrongs pass under our radar? Have we completely sold out the birthright of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for our children, to feast on the pottage provided at the back door of the white women empowerment movement (feminism), gay marriage and other gay rights issues?  Have we become so mis-educated as a community that our time and energy is focused on rallying against the plight of illegal immigrants, the atrocities perpetrated by the Iraqis against themselves and the empowerment of Afghani women while our own young are dehumanized?

 

There is a call for the Black community to write and/or telephone the Judge and Governor of Texas to “voice” our displeasure and disappointment at the treatment of Shaquanda Cotton. Hmmmm. ‘nuff said.

 

My sister Aulelia recently pondered: “Perhaps celluloid exposure is needed for more people to care about Africa?” Along with the numerous movies featuring Africa, Africans and African-Americans that we have been recently exposed to, there has also been a deluge of cartoon or digital animated films featuring animals. The animals are portrayed more like humans. The Blacks/Africans are represented as less than animals. Ironically, I think we now have an answer to her question.

 

Asabagna                   

 

This was on the wall of Mother Theresa’s Calcutta office. It written by Kent M. Keith.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered: Forgive them anyway…

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives: Be kind anyway…

If you are successful you will win some false friends and some true enemies: Succeed anyway…

If you are honest and frank people may cheat you: Be honest and frank anyway…

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight: Build anyway…

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous: Be happy anyway…

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow: Do good anyway…

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough: Give the world the best you have anyway…

You see, in the final analysis, it`s all between you and God: It was never between you and them anyway…

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