The White Microscope

   I never fully understood what it meant to be under the White Microscope until I moved, precisely a year ago, to a small, rural Canadian town. Originally from Toronto, the White Microscope wasn’t something I previously experienced because there were a lot of Black mothers before me, and a lot of Black mothers will surely come after.

   But in my small town, to see a Black mother was somewhat of a spectacle where in a town of 100,000 only 1% were Black, according to census. Whenever I left my house, I felt the eyes probing and judging. My son, a typically boisterous 2 year old prone to occasional temper tantrums and toddler behaviour, acts out in public sometimes.

   And I find myself shrinking in horror at any slight disturbance he might incur from crying to unwrapping a Kinder egg at the grocery store checkout. It is not that my son is a terrible child, but under the White Microscope, every action, every splash of chocolate milk on his shirt or stray hair is met with inimical disapproval and reprove. I am not a perfect mother, nor is my son a cherub; and to step out of the house and face the White Microscope is extremely disheartening.

   The  White Microscope may exist for you too. Whether you are a Black employee at a white dominated job, a Black soldier in the army or one of few Black children in a predominantly white high school or university, you will notice the White Microscope. It is there to judge you, shame you or use you as amusing entertainment and hold you up to the Perfect White Standard to show you exactly how you fall short. The microscope might be invisible, but if our colour is the elephant in the room, then it is our leash.

   I’m tired of the White Microscope. I want to leave my house without my hair perfectly poised, praying my son will be quiet and well-behaved at the library or the doctor’s office, and not glaring at him angrily when he acts like a toddler. I really want to glare at you, hiss at you and put you in timeout until you learn we are all imperfect beings, regardless of skin colour, and everyone deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt.

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Re-Africanization

   We all know Black struggle. We are aware of the anguish and suffering of our ancestors who were stolen, beaten, burned, lynched, murdered and raped; suffering that still reverberates through our communities today. And now it’s time to re-Africanize ourselves, to relearn and practice what was taken from us as those ships landed on the Motherland: our languages, our culture and ways.

   Re-Africanization is a positive aspect of our struggle towards liberation because this is the part where we begin to pick up the pieces, where we begin to heal and where we continue where our ancestors left off. Re-Africanizing is a powerful undertaking that has political, economical, societal and personal repercussions for the oppressor. They do not want to see us Re-Africanize collectively. They do not want the Afrikan Diaspora to heal and build itself.

    I am on the very beginning of my re-Africanizing journey and I cannot stand at the top of the mountain and preach what you must do to re-Africanize yourself. That is for you to decide individually based on your circumstances. Some people are fortunate enough to go to the Motherland, others are fortunate to live in Little Africa neighbourhoods in their respective cities.

   Some Afrikan people change their slave names, others are comfortable simply adding an African name to their existing name such as “Kwame Michael Button” or “Oke Janet Brown”. If African names sound strange and unpalatable to you, ask yourself as to why. Other people wear dashikis, geles,  asa okes, Bantu knots and Senegalese twists or henna. Some people are reacquainting themselves with African deities, music and dance. Others read books on ancient African history. A few people are even learning a West African language like Asanti Twi. I cannot imagine this is easy.

   We, in the Diaspora, have been cut off from our roots and origin, and it is up to us to educate ourselves for liberation and re-Africanize ourselves which should come naturally as part of our being. Re-Africanizing is about celebration, recovery, discovery and healing. It is not a foolish thing to embark on because once you have knowledge of self, the next step is to apply it.

Don’t Get Comfortable

   Ali’s death today only serves to remind us of the pain of White supremacy and that we need to be militant in our own Black struggle for liberation. We must not get comfortable when one or two laws or social norms change. Strike the iron while the iron is hot, Bob Marley said. He is a prophet. He is talking about it us, about now. We must stay militant in upholding Black self-love, Black love, Black unity, Black peace amongst each other, Black healing and unity so we can grow together spiritually, emotionally, socially and politically and economically. So we can create laws and a system that looks out for our best interests, as human beings with every right to a just and equal life.

  We must push the envelope against white supremacy. We must topple it over, because as long as white supremacy is in place, we are not winning. We are settling. We must look at everything from a Pan-Afrikan perspective, and shun everything Euro-centric. We must build ourselves up apart from them because we don’t want integration if it means assimilation. We don’t need equal if our history tells us we are worth so much more. Don’t get comfortable because you discovered Black love and Black knowledge. My brothers and sisters, you’ve only just discovered a few weapons. We haven’t even started yet.

Rumble On

  Finding out Muhammad Ali died this morning at 74 years young has shocked me. I thought he would recover. It is because of Ali that I changed my name from my slave name to an African name. He was born Cassius Clay, and rid himself of his slave name saying,

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.

He is one of our greatest Black heroes for all of the obstacles he overcame and for standing up to White supremacy, the military and racism. He is a great leader, one our young Black children can look up and aspire to become and try to surpass. He was a champion fighter, a lyrical poet and a civil rights hero because he inspired us and gave us courage.

  Now as I homeschool my Black son on great Marcus Garvey and du Bois, I can be sure to include the great Ali. There is so much we can learn and admire from his life, and we can make him smile up there as he looks down on Black people and sees us unite and overcome.

from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.
Muhammad Ali

The Black Code

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  Consciousness is not meant to be trendy or comfortable. To have a higher understanding of self is to constantly push the limits and defy societal boundaries that have inadvertently been  put into place. It is uncomfortable, painful and can be unnerving but in order to transcend onto a higher level, it is necessary. To be unwaveringly proud of your African roots and to support the Black Code is a political, societal, cultural and personal revolutionary statement. Stand by the Code, stand by your People.

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.