Identity

  Yesterday we celebrated African Liberation Day by making it the day we started Mothusi’s locs. His locs mean many things, they are about liberation. It is about resisting White, capitalistic patriarchal domination and upholding a love and self-acceptance of the African identity. An identity we are currently working on, both of us. We are surrounded by the dominant culture and see what we don’t want to become. So creating what we do want to become is a conscious effort. I am not forcing anything on my son. Self-realization and consciousness-raising comes when the time is right. It doesn’t matter if he has locs and an African name or a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, it is about what is going on within. Once again, it is that internal dialogue and self-direction.

We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day – Richard G. Scott
 

  Internal confidence is the root of changing our self-perception. It does not matter what the dominant culture thinks or how they perceive you. As a liberated, conscious Afrikan you must not be externally directed;  and instead, you must be guided by your intuition, your morals and your values. It is not easy when the dominant culture ridicules, abhors and demonizes anything that is Black in order to create a blind reliance and allegiance to what they decide is socially acceptable. This was never meant to include our African history and culture, our unique hair and beautiful melanin-rich skin or include us, as a people, whole. Therefore, we must look to internal clues to guide us away from what represses us, from what tries to obscure the visualization and creation of the liberated Black self, and we must realize this identity.

    When I step outside with my hair wrapped in a crown, I am met with darkened scowls and hostility. If my hair is in a bun or a neat ponytail, I am subjected to conditional love and acceptance, on their terms. No, thank you. I will continue to resist and continue to find the true identity of the liberated Afrikan woman. It may make you uncomfortable, but, that is your problem, not mine. JAH blessings.

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The Lion’s Mane

  Greetings! I have not posted in a bit which means I’m acquiring knowledge, or, more likely, busy washing dishes and doing laundry. Tomorrow is African Liberation Day, and in celebration I’m locking my 2 year old’s hair, using the freeform method. I did that 2 years ago and loved my freeform locs and the journey of healing and patience that it came to signify for me. However, my hair now is unlocked, and I wear my hair natural although recently I started wearing a crown.

  

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  My son (in yellow, with a Rasta friend) likes his Rasta friends’ locs and responded in the affirmative when I suggested he loc his hair, too. While I’m not a Rastafarian, I do accept many Rasta ideologies in my own lifestyle and beliefs–particularly the Afro-centric and political views. The only thing that I do not agree with, apart from worshiping Haile Selassie, is the patriarchal dominance. I believe a liberated Black woman’s role is as important as a liberated Black man’s role and we should not be placed on a pedestal and worshiped; but seen as equals and comrades in the fight against Babylon and the unity of the African people.

    So, back to the hair. I am excited to begin locking up his hair and to see the transformation because it is always a spectacular (and slow) process. Although for the next few weeks his hair will look like a bird’s nest. But it’s not just a hair “style”, it is a daily visual reminder of our African roots and a beautifully aesthetic way to reject the Straight Hair Ideal of the dominant culture.

   

Rejecting Babylon

Bu

t this is one thing I cannot overstand
dem nah teach me nothin bout mi ancient land
Inna the school and the college and the institution
the curriculum that I get is European
Ah teach me bout Marco Polo and Napolean
Nah teach me nuttin bout the river Nile bank
where civilization it began
You say thou shall not steal and should not kill no one
yet you steal treacherize and then you teach wrong
(Sizzla) yea yea slave and you murder all mi dad and mi mom
But wicked Babylonian and you will have to burn

  I have been working on finding out who I am. I am looking at myself with new eyes. I am trying not to fear or loathe what I see in the mirror as I shed the white mask that Babylon insists I wear. What I see underneath the mask is foreign to me, as if it belongs to another woman, far away. But she is me, and I am her and we are African.

   Rejecting Babylon requires constant consciousness and constant resistance. There is nothing antiquated about finding your roots. But it is more than just digging up old bones and facts. I don’t want to simply learn about Africa, I want to be an African. I want to somehow bridge the hundreds of years of Babylonian captivity from when my ancestors were forced out of West Africa to now. I want to learn her tongue, I want to sing her songs. I want the connection. I pray to my ancestors to show me, enlighten me to follow and continue to spread and grow the African culture once again.

   Yes, resisting Babylon is easy. Living naturally, living simply, moving towards everything Afro-centric and away from European culture creates a peace amidst the rage of all the inequality, all of the poverty, all of the death. What is not easy is piecing who I am once I have dropped Babylonian values. Who am I? They do not want me to know. I must find out.

Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I am free, that I don’t belong anymore to anyone, that I’m not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one.

Muhammad Ali

  

Self-Recovery

In this culture, the phrase ‘black woman’ is not synonymous with ‘tender,’ or ‘gentle.’ It’s as if those words couldn’t possibly speak to the reality of black females. –  bell hooks

  Self-recovery for a black female is an ongoing issue of raising consciousness and challenging the dominant culture, as well as caring for oneself in regards to health and wellness. It is not easy and even if, in our collective struggle in modern times, we are still fighting for equality and still fighting for our rights as human beings; we must heal.

   Resisting the dominant culture is arduous. It is omnipresent, trying to convince us of our inferiority. But we know better. We know we were great once, the African people, and we shall be great again. We know our history, and it is a start in raising consciousness and in establishing a counter-culture to racist, sexist patriarchal Western ideology. We may not yet fully envision what the future of a conscious, African woman who has been liberated looks like, and we cannot fathom it if we do not begin to heal.

   We must heal with love. We must heal with unity. Black women must love ourselves, love the very essence of woman. Know that we are woman. We must love our hair, our beautiful ebony skin, full lips, hips; and deep, dark eyes. We must love our African brothers, and see in them our allies and our kin. No more, you ain’t nothin but a good for nothing nigga; it’s about the I will rise, my brother, and you are coming with me. We must not be ashamed to unite. We cannot heal in isolation. There is no self-recovery, there is no revolution without each other.

   Every day as we struggle, and we resist; let us keep in mind the sweet fruits of liberty. Of love, happiness, security, health, well-being. Let us start now to taste that fruit, to be liberated African women and men. Let us transform ourselves, our heads held high. Living simply, living communally and consciously.

Supporting the Black Community

   It is my fourth day visiting my hometown, and I consciously made a decision to shop small and shop Black. In my Parkdale neighbourhood, that was easy. The Black-owned West Indian supermarkets and roti restaurants have been routine stops for me, and my family, for a while. A

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nd besides, they have good breadfruit and yams.

    In other areas, like fashion, Toronto is lacking in modern styles and it’s temptingly easier to shop at H&M or Zara. But there are Black owned and stylish shops out there, if you dig.

   For my 2 year old son, I switched from buying his clothes from GAP Kids, H&M and NUNUNU to Black owned Quinn + Fox, as well as Louis B KiJewshand Yinibinibaby. It can be difficult to discern which brands are Black owned, and which are simply advertising an urban appeal like the shoe brand Akid Brand, which has dope shoes but is owned by an already, affluent Californian white couple.

   I want to support Black enterprise because it is a cornerstone of unity. Look at any ethnic communities in Toronto: Chinatown has Chinese people shopping at Chinese shops; Little India and Little Portugal and Little Italy have the same thing. Predominantly Jewish Forest Hill is a thriving grove of Jewish owned businesses and homes. We, the Black community, need to continue supporting Black owned enterprise instead of the businesses of the dominant culture. That way, when we rise collectively and individually, we can count on the sustained support of our own people. How powerful is that? Btw, Carol’s Daughter is owned by L’Oreal now.  Let’s build our communities, support each other and see our integrity and accomplishments grow.

Be You!

   Somehow, it bugs me that a few people think Jaden and Willow are weird. They are not weird, they are creative. They are individuals.

Creativity is intelligence having fun – Einstein

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     We should be uplifting and encouraging our youth to just be themselves, and stop doling out such a severe backlash or sniggering comments. Let queer, trans, gay, and lesbian Black youth be. I love seeing all the queer women commentators drooling over Samira Wiley (OITNB). Yes, she’s mighty tantalizing. And you should feel no ways about voicing that in the Black community.

   And, all the love for Blerds should be mainstream love. The thug/gangster look is a look of the past. I’m so proud of Jaden and Willow for rejecting that typical Black stereotype and showing mainstream America that you can be whoever you want. Do you!