On Struggle and Genius

   Today is a balmy, hot day and I sat under a tree reading Du Bois’ Immortal Child, which raises the question if Black people, while having the burden of oppression upon them should bring Black children–hated by the world–into this world? And he says, but yes! They are our future, the progress of the Black race and freedom is to be tasted by our children’s children. And, it is our responsibility to educate them and provide a quality life “with reasonable sacrifice”.

  It is that reasonable sacrifice I was stuck thinking about. I, being a single mother, struggle daily. But the struggle for liberation and the struggle out of oppression is different; it is a struggle with purpose. Working to pay tuition for university and studying late at night after a plain rice dinner and little time with my child is sacrifice, for a greater cause and future. It is not the same as struggling in a dead end job and living in the slums with no hope in sight.

   That struggle is of great significance. Even if other people are able to buy houses, cars and earn a degree with ease, it is still crucial that Black  men and women do so too, at any cost. And if these things are truly next to impossible, we must make sure that isn’t so for the next generation. The struggle in the climb out of oppression is not a permanent one. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and in the light you are clothed in respectability, stature and excellency.

   We must, all who are struggling through school or entrepreneurial endeavors, tap into our innate creativity and genius and forge ahead, at all costs. We must not shirk sacrifice for the instant gratification of luxe items, of nice things to have and trendy places to be. We must be more frugal and scrupulous than the Jew, more family-oriented than the Mexican, and mode determined in hard work than the Russian so we too may enjoy a higher place in this world. And not as an anomaly, but as a concentrated and conscious worldwide effort of people of African origin; for Black liberation rests upon those who are self- determined and motivated, to uplift the rest.

    As I look somewhat uneasily towards another unpredictable school year, I think of all my African comrades who are getting up in the early dawn and trudging forward despite the odds against us. In our not-so-trendy clothes, not so trendy meals and perhaps not so glamorous life. The glory and honor will come to us, as we have earned it. Let’s not be bitter or complain, just get through and manifest genius and success in our personal lives.
  

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Black Support

   It is one thing to see the call for social justice rung on social media, but another to experience Black unity in my own city, my own community. I have never in my life experienced that here in Toronto and I want to share with you my experiences of Black unity.

   Yesterday evening, casually sitting on a bench at Dufferin and Bloor Street in the dying sun, I notice a throng of beautiful, Black women around me. Slim, natural Afro hair in simple but stately styles, and bronzed skin gleaming. Today, a spritely Black woman shakes my head and introduces herself and continues along her way. A few feet away, two young Black men stop to talk, both business owners and with obvious respect to one another. I watched all this with an incredulous smile, watched as a Black mother nursed her baby openly at the park and as a West Indian father chased his daughters with their adorable braided pigtails.

    I have to go buy injeera on Dufferin and King St, and as I do, my friend tells me to go support Plentea, a hip tea bar up the street that just opened and owned by two, strapping young Black men. We have coffee at Jal Gua Organic Cafe, owned by South Sudanese philanthropist Emmanuel Jal on Queen Street East. I try the delicious sorghum soup. I take a picture with Jal.

   I pass a homeless Black man lying filthy under the bridge that divides poorer Parkdale from trendy Queen West. I give him a silent prayer. Our people are coming together, we are uniting and supporting each other and in doing so strengthening ourselves collectively and powerfully. We are lifting each other up, opening shops, salons, working on Master  degrees and ditching the perm. We will not forget our brothers in the prisons, our unconscious brothers still in the slums, our sisters stuck in the cycle. Right now it is quality over quantity, but soon it will be the masses. Montreal may have been the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but Toronto is pushing, pulling and fighting it’s way to Black liberation through the support of our own people. This light, this is the light we must hold on to.

A Break

   I am going to be in a bubble for a little while, tending to my garden and son, and avoiding the tragedies of the world, the fight for African Liberation and discussions regarding those inequalities because it’s too much. I’m tired of casually browsing Twitter and hearing about another brother shot down by cops, I’m tired of the hatred spewing about the BLM movement from the media, including my own local newspapers. I’m tired of reading books that inform me of the unfairness and treatment of my people in years before I came to exist. In order to be self-determined and be able to continue to be conscious of the struggle, I need a break.

   I’m going to Toronto to see my family, eat West Indian food and focus on enjoying the hot summer days for a little while. I don’t want to shed any more tears at night. Not for a little bit. I’ll come back with a bit more clarity and resolve, once I can work through the cloud of anger and pain in front of my eyes. I’m going to celebrate my birthday, take my driver’s test and read books about castles and spaceships. Sometimes, it’s just too much.

Alton Sterling

 

If we are silent about our pain, they will kill us and say we enjoyed it ” Zora Neale Hurston

  I am beginning to suspect the cold-blooded murders of Black people in the United States is nothing short of provocation for civil war. It feels like they want us to get roused up, find a bat or knife and attack White people. So they have necessary reason to exterminate us like meaningless flies on a windowsill. Every bone in my body wants to run over those two rookie cop weasels again and again, because it is obviously–painfully obvious–that this was a racially based murder and these officers were quoted saying they feel fully justified by using deadly force.

   I don’t know what to do. Are we ready for a civil war? No. Like Lauryn Hill says in her song, we lose before we even begun to play. It’s a suicidal mission for us individually, and It’s genocide collectively. But the unneccessary murders of our Black people by police cannot just be a simple tragedy.

   We are angry, exasperated, fearful, enraged and we are hurting by these deaths. We are in pain. I am in pain. Watching the video and reading the facts of what went down broke my heart, made me enraged and turned my eyes into fiery coals. I have a 37 year old brother. It could’ve been him. What are we supposed to do? Self-preserve ourselves in this state of imprisonment and oppression, or fight back and let rivers of our blood wash away the old, cleanse out our tormented souls and begin anew. Hoping, someday, our Black skin does not mark us for death. For hate. For ridicule. For oppression. Black skin is what got you murdered, Alton. R.I.P. 

BLM Pride Toronto 2016

   This post is a response to the unbelievably biased, hate-mongering articles written to paint Black people and their fight out of oppression in bad light. I happened across an article in the Toronto Star and read another one in the Globe and Mail just for good measure. These middle-aged Caucasian women who feel they have a right to cast an opinion on the Black struggle, whilst pretending to sympathize with the LGBTQI community have tried to discredit,  shame and destroy the movement, as is par for the course when dealing with the White Opinion.

    As a Black female who has marched in the Pride Parades in Toronto, and spent many weekend nights on Church St, I would like you to listen to what I have to say. Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail is trying to say be thankful, Black citizens of Toronto, that you live here and not Ferguson or the Phillipines. Because she deeply understands our  plight and all, living I imagine in Parkdale? Weston Road and Eglinton? No, she does not live there, I assume, probably in a lighter part of town, Yonge and Eglinton? The suburbs North of Steeles?

   And even if you lived in Parkdale, Wente, did you know that McCormick Park and Sorauren Park is lily white and dominated by Caucasian homeowners? While the little plastic playground outside the dilapidated apartment buildings filled with bedbugs and mice on West Lodge Ave is where the Black children play, no green space and right beside the parking lot.

    What about the prison system in Canada? You say Toronto is not like Ferguson, but it’s ironic our prison system mirrors the American prison industry dealing in Black bodies, with prisons in rural parts of Ontario to help provide jobs to the poor white man. You say racism is basically a non issue, while barely unable to keep your own white privilege and prejudice in check. “Noisy” and “belligerent” is what you describe Black protestors, “passionate” and “determined” could have been used to describe a people who are fed up with living in a city full of racial disparity, in a city that benefits from white supremacy as much as our beleaguered cities in the States.

   Furthermore, the only point I agree with these privileged White women who like Black people exactly where they are (far from them), is that the BLM doesn’t belong in Pride. Pride is a White event. You have homosexual people of all races, and traditionally Black people are relegated to Blockarama. Even at the clubs, there are only two Black transgendered performers. At Family Pride, where I take my son, we were one of only 3 Black families amidst a sea of white faces. The Black community and the LGBTQI community need to come together to fight white supremacy which is heteronormative,  sexist, and racist. But don’t preach to the White masses. They are bent on misunderstanding us.

  Instead, take your time and determination to preach that Black Lives Matter to those who need to hear it most, like Jesse Williams did. We have an unconscious city that needs awakening and organizing. We cannot go to these White events and victimize ourselves. We must go to our brothers and organize But Black rallies, and organize to put Ourstory in our schools (not just European history and the twisted worldviews they possess). We must not convince them to hire us. We must create jobs ourselves and our communities.
  
   Wente and these other journalists who are enjoying the fruits of white domination will never sing our praises. And, that’s unimportant. What’s important is that the Black community in Toronto keeps fighting and works together to dismantle the racial hierarchy and domination that makes us more American than we think. When we had a Black Power Movement in the 1960s, white anxiety and hatred led to a Canadian version of COINTELPRO called PROFUNC that successfully dismantled a rising Black nation via the RCMP and police. Nothing has changed since then. Don’t let these slithery, prejudiced journalists fool you. We have much work to do.

Black Love Action

   When you become awoken, you will be in a state of anger most of the time. And anger can be very beneficial, it can be the fuel to keep you going; but it can also be tormenting to be in a negative state of mind. It can leave you feeling defeated, miserable and dismal. We may even avoid facing consciousness because it attracts such strong emotions.

   If you feel overwhelmed by the injustices and wickedness done to the Afrikan people around the world, then attack it from a different perspective. Attack it with positivity.

   Growing my son’s locs is something I’m doing as Black Love action. I wear a headwrap as a Black Love action. I smile and seek out Black people as a Black Love action. I buy from Black businesses and individuals as Black Love action. I read Afro-centric books as Black Love action. I celebrate Jankanu and Kwanzaa as a Black Love action. Black Love actions are more powerful than any rhetoric, any theory, any meme, any lip service paid to Black liberation.

    So, the next time you feel you are personally fighting a losing battle, do what you are doing out of positivity instead of anger or vengeance or defiance, or indignation. That culture is wicked, they feed on our Black suffering and oppression sadistically, they can feel it and they salivate victoriously. Do them a big one. Use that anger constructively. Build upon the knowledge, the unity and the growing self-love you are creating and make all your actions one of Black Love.