Ontario


Those of African descent have populated all parts of this planet, voluntarily or by force. Here is a brief history and some other information on those of us north of the 49th parallel in North America. Click on the image below for article. 

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…


 

  

On this date at approximately 2:30pm, I began to receive the first of three phone calls that would change my world. They went something like this:  

1st Call: Hey…. do you know where Shelly, John’s wife works?

Asa: No… I don’t know exactly where or the name of the company…. but it’s an agency that looks after developmentally disabled kids.

1st Call: Ok…. (Hang up). 

My first impulse, as my heart started racing, was what a strange and unsettling conversation. I began thinking that something is definitely up but I avoid thinking the worst. Why would they call me looking for Shelly? Although John is my partner, I have been away on a special assignment for the last 2 weeks. Maybe he got hurt…. probably in a car accident (I’m hoping) and they just want to let her know he’s okay. 

2nd Call: Hey we need to get in touch with Shelly. Do you have a cell number or work number for her?

Asa: No…. what’s going on?

2nd Call: (Silence)…. John is hurt and we need to talk to her.

Asa: How bad is he hurt?

2nd Call: I’m not sure… I gotta go…. Talk to you later. 

Now I am getting that feeling of dread. It has got be really bad if they are scrambling to find Shelly. I try not to think the worst. I try to get the last two phone calls out of my spirit and bury my head in reading reports. I can’t shake this feeling though. I’m calm. It’s an unsettling calm though. I go to find a colleague who may have more information. I see that he is on the phone…. deep in conversation. I get an eerie feeling. I walk back to my office. This isn’t good.   

3rd Call: Hey…. where are you?

Asa: What do you mean? I’m at the office.

3rd Call: I’m sorry to tell you…. John is dead. He was shot and killed earlier this afternoon.

Asa: (Silence. I go numb. I feel like I’ve been placed in a vacuum. My soul goes blurry…. disoriented). Ok…. thanks.   

I leave the office and go out to the back of the building. I break down. I had never felt anguish like that before. Even when my Father had died earlier that year. His death was a surprised but not totally unexpected. An unexpected violent death of someone close to you brings a different dimension. It takes you to a dark place.  

I heard someone say recently that God can make something beautiful out of tragedy. I have had to search deep, for a year, to find the beauty in John’s death. I guess for me it’s appreciating my friends and co-workers. It’s easier to see the value in familial relationships. Now, I make the time to sincerely engage with those I work with. Now, I don’t take the moments I spend with my friends for granted. Now, when I say to a friend or co-worker: “stay safe” or “see you later”, it takes on a different significance.

I have also come to realize that the most sacred thing we possess in life…. is life itself. Cherish it. Don’t waste it. Share it with others. Make it count for something. 

One year later, I still ache. 

See you in heaven brother. 

 

John Charles “Sparky” Atkinson.

Born: 28 May 1968.

Died: 05 May 2006.           

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 have been wanting to do this post for some time now and emerging out of Passion Week, there has been a renewed urgency within my spirit to “drop it like it’s hot!”

 

A few weeks ago I had seen the movie “300”, about the exploits of the 300 Spartan warriors who faced the enormous Persian army of Xerxes in his conquest of Greece. Their bravery and ultimate sacrifice against insurmountable odds was premised by me in a post by thefreeslave called: “The Only Politics That Is Relevant Is The Politics of Revolution”. I utilized the dynamics of Spartan society as an example of the mindset we as an African/Black community should emulate, if we want to start a revolution of renewed thought and practice to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society. Here is the section of the post in which I referred to this: 

 

“… well let me suggest that we employ the mindset of the Spartans…. as seen in the movie “300”. Let’s have a real revolution of thought and practice. Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community. Two very difficult choices will have to be made for this to work. First, those who can’t or don’t measure up physically, emotionally, spiritually and/or make a real contribution to the community… we cut them loose. So those who are chronic substance abusers, societal and moral deviants (i.e murderers, abusers of women and children, etc.), those who are unteachable, those who cannot/will not develop a community first attitude, those who are weak willed and/or weak minded, and anything else that is an anchor to our progress…. we turn them out. Second, we don’t get hooked into other peoples/groups struggles. Let white women (feminists) fend for themselves. Let the homosexuals fight their own battles for their civil rights. Let the Native Indians (who owned slaves and are more than willing to disentangle themselves from that history) engage the white man in their own struggle. Let the poor white trailer trash agitate for their own political/economic empowerment. F*CK THE RAINBOW COALITION! It’s a burden on our advancement! It should be all about us and ONLY us. I contend that ONLY by this type of revolution, can even START to develop a strong and progressive Black/African community. Purification of community values. Single-mindedness of community purpose. Revolution of community focus.” 

 

Not long after I dropped this comment, God and I had an ongoing conversation which I will summarize. He asked me if it is better to utilize the example of those who have been successful or those who has failed in their efforts, as the basis of what we should do to be successful ourselves. That was an easy answer for me: “the example of those one who have been successful….” I said. He then took me to the story of Gideon and the 300 men who were victorious in their conflict against, what on the surface would also be considered “insurmountable odds”. 

 

The biblical saga of Gideon goes from Judges, chapters 6-8. Long story short, the children of Israel for 7 years were being oppressed by the Midianites and other eastern peoples, to the point where they had to live in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Their crops and livestock were destroyed. The invaders were so numerous that they were like swarms of locust and it was impossible to count their men and camels. Through various events God called Gideon to fight against these invaders and drive them out of Israel with 300 men, from an original army of 32,000! These 300 men purposely attacked, pursued and defeated 135,000 men! 

 

As I meditated on this story, God revealed certain truths to me. First, Gideon had to transform his way of thinking by committing to change his relationship with God. By doing this, he built and strengthened his faith in God and thus had the confidence that he could achieve victory against these “insurmountable odds”, with only 300 men. Second, the fight against oppression and injustice for Gideon was not for personal glory, or the glory of his 300 men or even for the glory of Israel. It was for the glory of God (Judges 7:2). Third, this reflected the mindset that although “many are called, few are indeed chosen.” AND that “chosen few” can, not only overcome “insurmountable odds” when attacked, but more importantly, can confidently devise plans and develop strategies to fearlessly initiate the attacking, pursuing and defeating of their enemy! Finally, this 300 were not “trained” warriors, however they were fearless and yet, humble! Gideon himself was a farmer. I found it interesting and revealing the process God used to choose the 300. First, He reduced their number from 32,000 to 10,000 by removing those who were afraid (Judges 7:3). Then he separated the most humble 300 from the 10,000 that were left (Judges 7: 4-7). 

 

So now back to the mindset to create “a revolution of renewed thought and practice within the African/Black community to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society.” I don’t have all the answers but I do see a different premise to all this. I had stated: “Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community.” I conclude now that to successfully attack, pursue and defeat those forces that would oppress us, it is better to bring together a “chosen few” who are fearless and humble, AND who’s ONLY commitment is to glorify God. Would everything or anything else follow as I had described above; would it still be relevant or would it all get thrown out. I honestly don’t know. I still believe however that there is a definite process to identify the “chosen few”, represented by Gideon’ victorious 300, who will be the “warriors” to lead this struggle. I just saw the film “Amazing Grace”, on the life and struggles of William Wilberforce in his quest to get the African slave trade abolished by the British parliament. I am also reminded of the life and struggle of Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. These were the Gideons’ of their generation. There were and are many more “Gideons” throughout history, and today no doubt. They were and are the “chosen few” who rallied others around them to fight the oppression and injustice of their time, not just because it was the right thing to do. They faced and overcame “insurmountable odds”, for the glory of God.

“If God be for us, who can be against us.” Romans 8:31.

Asabagna.

“O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

A bad day for Jesus

became a GOOD FRIDAY for all of us.

Because the story didn’t end there.

The hope of our joy is that RESURRECTION SUNDAY is coming!  

3 days later

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

Last week I attended a book launch at the Amnesty International office here in Ottawa. The book, Illusions of Security, is authored by Maureen Webb, and it discusses issues of global surveillance by governments in the post 9/11 world. As I sat there listening to the speakers, including the author, detail the current threat of government surveillance programs and why we should all be scared (after first praising and congratulating each other on how wonderful and self-sacrificing they all are), I looked around the room at the audience. I suddenly came to the realization that I was in a room full of about 200 privileged white people…. looking for a reason to be scared. 

 

The Queen and I were the only Black people there and although I had initially been invited by this white friend of mine, I only went because she wanted “a night out during the week.” There were two other “brown” individuals in attendance, who if I had to guess, I would say were of South American Indian heritage. They both had this “look” on their faces during the proceedings. You know the one I mean. The “look” that says “can you believe this sh*t!” On the way home the Queen expressed how condescending the whole event was and what a waste of time. We laughed and had a discussion on how the privileged white progressive/yuppie socialist types, are always appropriating the atrocities and/or injustices experienced by “peoples of color”, as the basis for their works of literary and artistic expressions, such as books, articles, films etc. They then reap the monetary awards and critical praises for their work and self-inflicted compassion, while projecting this image that they are potential victims themselves.

 

The more I thought about it, the more I became enlightened to the fact that white people really do like to be scared. They are scared of Al-Qaeda. They are scared of Osama Bin Ladin. They are scared of the environment. They are scared of the flu. They are scared of getting old. They are scared of their young. They are scared of getting fat. They are scared of getting thin. They are scared of rap music. They are scared of the poor. They are scared of immigrants. They are scared of Black people, Brown people and Yellow people. They are scared of Christians. They are scared of Muslims. They are scared of corporations. They are scared of the past. They are scared of the future. They are even scared of themselves. And according to this book, we need to be also scared of the government. THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT TOO!!! The list of what they are scared of is endless. I could go on and on! I have just touched the tip of the iceberg of their fears.

 

The more I meditated on this, the more aware I was that here, within North American society, with all that we have been blessed with materially, technologically, financially and even spiritually, we have developed this culture of fear that has become the basis of our existence. This mindset of “seeking” to be a victim has permeated our society. It’s as if we need to constantly feel the emotion of fear to feel alive! Then if there isn’t a pill marketed to deal with our fears, there is of-course “counseling” to treat our phobias. If it’s real bad…. critical even, we can then call Dr. Phil or Oprah!

 

A Muslim friend and I discussed this phenomenon and he pointed out that those who live in areas of constant civil strife, poverty and oppression, primarily black and brown people, where their lives could be taken at any moment, do not define their existence by fear. They will struggle to live! They will fight for justice! They seek to enjoy life! They do not go around looking for reasons to be scared! They are not crippled by fear! They don’t find any merit in being a victim! 

Privileged white people looking for a reason to be scared. “BOO!!”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be scared.” John 14: 27 (NIV)

I wish you peace.

Asabagna 

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