Tag Archives: black consciousness

Some Things Never Change

There will always be that white man in the grocery store with that stare.

There will be always be that one Black leader rising from the ashes of the fire of misery of his country.

There will always be that Black businessman in the Mercedes-Benz with a white wife.

Some things never change.

 

There will always be the surprised glances at your impeccable English.

There will always be the sniggling at your heavy, magnificent African name.

There will always be suspicious ogling at her hijab.

Some things never change.

 

There will always be the white elderly woman who clutches her purse tighter as you walk by.

There will always be young white men who view your female Black body licentiously.

There will always be African woman who wear their gele proudly and dance with the slopes and arcs of the earth in their bones, the light of the stars in their eyes.

Some things will never change.

 

There will always be a white leader hellbent on destroying equality and liberty, and the path to unity and peace in the name of greed and power. Their names just change over time.

There will always be a Black boy who dreams of becoming a doctor. And makes it.

There will always be the future of freedom in the womb of our women.

Some things will never change.

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.

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.

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.

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.