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!

Homeschooling

  Homeschooling is a hot topic in the Black community right now. This past few months I’ve read several articles on Black families that choose to homeschool, as well as a variety of posts in the  Black Twitter community. I didn’t consider homeschooling for my own son before this week because I considered it to be too laborious and too difficult to schedule as a single mother. But after seeing several other university-educated single mothers with Black children homeschool their children, I realize it is possible. Money is tight, but knowledge abounds.

    I am able now to homeschool my 2.5 year old son because I’m in school, working towards a degree. I somehow flesh out time to be his facilitator and devote to my studies. My son is very young and our educational approach is Reggio Emilia play-based. Although, as an English major with a love for books, we do spend a lot of time reading. Particularly Afro-centric themed books, and books about acceptance and the environment.

   When we are not reading, we are gardening, cooking together and going for long nature walks in the forest. We count and play using loose parts and natural materials, and do a lot of arts and crafts, and puppet shows. For socialization, we have play time scheduled with another Black conscious family; and go to a play group once a week. On Fridays, it is my “day off” and my son attends daycare for the day.

    As he gets older, I will homeschool him formally. I reject the public school because it does not represent my son in their Euro-centric worldviews, it tends to criminalize and harshly discipline my child or give him inadequate attention, treat him as “other”; as well, living in a rural town with few Black children, my son faces racially motivated bullying. If I lived in my hometown, 3 hours away, I would not need to homeschool my son because there are many wonderful alternative and progressive schools. However, until I graduate, I will be homeschooling.

Black Extinction

Africans can only rise when we cease self-loathing and return to Ubuntu and self-love -Ama Biney

I recently perused through an Instagram account of unbelievably beautiful children from a Mixed Babies Contest page that had over 75,000 followers and various parents vying to get their cute kids featured for hundreds, likely a few thousand likes.

And, yes, biracial and multiracial children are beautiful. So are White children. And Aboriginal children. And Hispanic children, too. You know what other children are beautiful? Black children are beautiful. And if we think we are doing our children a favour by making them less Black, well yes, life will probably be easier for them with Europeanized features and silkier hair.

But that’s not the point! If I had my son after I became consciously Black, I’d have the Blackest, most African kid out there. My child would be Black mixed with Black as F#@%. We all seem to think lighter is better, but if all our biracial children choose non-Black partners…what will happen to the Black race in just one or two generations? We will cease to exist, and no KKK had to put a rope around our necks.

  I’m not saying divorce your White husband and go find Djimon Hounsou, and have 6 babies. I am saying that the Black family is dysfunctional and we need to come together, have our Black children and raise them proud of their deeply rich, hued skin. We need to stop fetishizing biracial children and start paying attention to the beauty of our own selves and the beauty of Black children. All love is beautiful, but if you want to continue having the opportunity to marry a Black woman or man, you’ll need Black women and men around in the future.

    We need to love ourselves, and teach our children that Black is Beautiful. So they can marry whoever they fall in love with, and not rule a Black woman or man out.

All of You

   I recently found a photojournal piece here with 9 heartwarming pictures of Afro-Iranian children. With an Afro-Iranian son, I was interested to see that in the southern region of Iran, these two cultures cohabitate harmoniously. Both Iran and Africa have long, rich history and culture, both that I look forward to sharing with my own son.

   

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The more one knows of their history, the higher their consciousness is. Knowing that Africans have existed in Persia since the ninth century, it is only natural to want to unearth the truth. And that is what we are seeking: the history of the Afro-Iranians which is a neglected racial minority but a group that exists nonetheless.

   And I want my son to be proud of his African roots and his Iranian roots, too. That is why I purchased a shirt for him that boldly had AFRICA written across it, and then purchased a few Iranian ones, on second thought. One with the Iranian flag, and one with Zarathustra and a beautiful gold lion. It reminds both of us that no matter what you are, to be proud.

Zai is Forever

In one account of Queen Nzinga’s life, she writes, “…Friends may betray you, mansions and servants may go; but zai (Knowledge) is forever”. This is true, what you learn cannot easily be extracted from your mind and it is up to us as Black adults to teach our young  queens and kings to love themselves and to know their history, before they learn to hate themselves and take part in a prevailing culture that downplays, ignores or misrepresents the Black people’s contributions and rich history.

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   It is imperative to provide literature for our young  queens and kings that represent their history, culture and faces. I did not grow up reading Rachel Isadora or books about Africa. I grew up reading Madeline and Caillou, and then series like Sweet Valley High. So, I’ve begun to stockpile dozens of Afro-centric children’s books for my son to cherish and read on his bookshelf. Knowledge is power.

 

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  Knowledge is power, and books are weapons. This may very well be why these books were kept out of our libraries. What will happen if a Black boy or girl reads empowering books and gains knowledge of how beautiful, strong, resourceful and intelligent Black people really are? That they can accomplish anything? That they do not  have to accept the things they cannot change, but change the things they cannot accept? It will be nothing short of a revolution, and we owe it to our children to implant the seeds of knowledge and inspiration in their minds. For they will move mountains.

Goodbye Slave Names!

   I decided to go to Service Canada last week to begin the legalized change of my French slave name to a West African name. I searched long and hard and found new African names for me and my 2 year old son who is of African-Iranian descent.

  I chose Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe for myself because Nomolanga Achieng because it is Zulu for “sunny” and I’m an optimistic, cheery person born in the middle of summer. I also chose it because “Achieng” which means “sunlit” is reminiscent of the warm, chocolate brown skin I have. I chose the last name Eksenwe, which is a well known last name.

    My son’s new name Chilongola means “firstborn son” and his middle name Masego means “blessings”. I feel our African names are not just a powerful way of reclaiming our African identity that was stolen away, but of defying the racist social control that exists today. It is a constant reminder of our Blackness, our heritage and history. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone we encounter from colleagues, school peers and strangers.

    I have rid ourselves of the continuity of the Blanchette, Riviere and Dangleben slaveholding families that held dominance over my family for over a century by their French names. Therefore, what we achieve will be Black excellency, not that of our oppressors. They cannot bind us with their stamp no more.

I Ni Ce!

I ni ce! I ni ce means “hello” in the  Bambara language of Africa, spoken primarily by Malians (people of Mali). My paternal family that was enslaved and brought to Roseau, Dominica in the West Indies comes from Mali. Many people from Dominica (the original name of the  isle being Wai’tukubuli’ meaning “long is her body” in Kalinago” come from Mali, Guinea and Senegal in West Africa.
Since deciding to legally change my slave name to Nomolanga Achieng Eksenwe and my son’s French name to Chilongola Masego Eksenwe, I’ve begun to learn more about the rich history of Mali from the Mali Empire to present day traditions and customs. I know I cannot continue the African legacy of my ancestors “Davis and Celestine” without acquiring the knowledge to teach myself and my son Malian culture including the Bambara language, which is surprisingly easy to learn.

Just as Chinese-Canadians or Indian-Canadians practice some cultural aspects of their native heritage (as well as aspects of Western culture, inevitably); I too, want to teach my son about the rich ancient history of Africa from Menes and Thebes to Queen Candace of Ethiopia and Queen Tye.

   My family has ridiculed me about my newfound Black consciousness which begun ironically, in a rural White town I moved to where I clung to a wise, white Rastafarian woman with boundless knowledge of African and Black culture as well as four, beautiful Black Rastafarian children she has that are homeschooled and taught real Black history and critical thinking. It was her who lent me books on ancient Africa and encouraged me to change stubborn Westernized views about myself and my people. In the process, though I have much to learn, I have learned to be even prouder of being African.

   With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which, with a Black son, has sparked my interest and who I hold solidarity with, I began to read the works of Angela Y. Davis, Assata Shakur, Huey P. Newton, bell hooks, Frederick Douglass and others. This furthered my knowledge in racism and sexism and also helped me to see that my people are not just oppressed and without hope. We have fought long and hard since we were removed from Mother Africa. We did not readily accept slavery, we brave men and women and we continue to fight oppression and systemic racism today. So, I say, hello, to all my African brothers and sisters and to all our brothers and sisters because we are of one race: the human race. Unity and peace is what I strive the world, and self-acceptance and self-love of my Blackness is what I strive for in this blog.

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