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

  

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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!

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.