My almost four-year-old son is enjoying his second week of martial arts. It’s one of the few places and times that he is focused, disciplined and strives to try harder. In general, my son is boisterous and confident–and martial arts is a great way to channel that energy! Bruce Lee himself was a defiant, strong-willed kid, and he grew up to become a legend.
We need outlets for our Black children, and the opportunity to let their personalities shine. We cannot squash their strong-will and defiance–indeed, these are qualities that can prove to be beneficial when given the right conduit. The most courageous, impactful leaders did not arise from timid, perfect children. I am not a perfect parent, and I’m often exasperated and at my wit’s end with my headstrong boy. I’m glad martial arts can provide an avenue for self-discipline and focus.
Last week, my preschooler son started kung fu classes in our small town. He is quite into martial arts, but we see predominately Asian people in kung fu movies and shows and I thought I could explain that yes, Black people do have a martial arts system. All civilizations developed their own combative systems, and guess what? African has ancient martial arts, as well. He just won’t hear about African Montu Arts, as readily. Luckily, he has me for a mother.
Where human civilization began was in Africa, so the fighting combative systems originated in Africa by the earliest tribes of the Kemites and the Nubians. -Jonathan Bynoe
Jonathan goes into detail about the African origins of Montu Arts here and it’s quite interesting. Martial arts in Africa include: laamb (Senegal), dambe (Hausa tribe, Nigeria), tahtib (Egypt), Suri (Ethiopia) and Nguni (Zulu tribe). To be honest, dambe looks pretty brutal and no–I don’t want my only son partaking in dambe tournaments. It doesn’t hurt, however, that he’s aware of the ancient African martial arts and the culture around the different styles like stick fighting or wrestling in a becoming-a-man ceremony. Malcolm X did state that Black men need to be able to defend themselves, and what better way then with martial arts?
I personally chose martial arts for my son to teach him focus, respect and self-discipline. He is naturally good at it, but more importantly–he loves it. And I hope when he goes to his next class tomorrow, he is armed with the knowledge that not only do Black people have our own martial arts, we have strong origins in martial arts.
PC: @beybe_baby IG
To be a pure African is to not have the undiluted blood that some of us in the Diaspora have due to intermingling with colonizers and slaveowners, due to rape and due to the free choice of choosing a marriage partner of a different origin. Our skin is important. If we keep lightening and lightening it, Black is really going to be yellow and golds. I want my own children to be pure African, much darker than my brown skin tone because I have diluted African blood.
To not want to be dark chocolate, richly hued black in skin tone is to believe that black is not beautiful, not divine, not worthy. And Black, very black, is beautiful, divine, worthy and pure. This is about colorism. We all know there is a large fixation with beautiful biracial people. But what about upholding the belief that very dark Africans are also as beautiful and worthy?
In order to look in the mirror and see our ancestors, and look at our children and see Mother Africa, we cannot create the image of the European. We have to create the image of the African. The African’s image is not flawed, it is not defected, and it is not inferior. Our features are beautiful and unique, they rightfully belong to us and we should think long and hard before we decide to let them disappear in the name of a looser curl and a lighter eye.
Our Black girls are as beautiful and unique as their biracial counterparts. It is up to us, the Black community, to let them know they are admired and accepted as the standard of African beauty–they are the pinnacle of Black beauty. All Blackness is derived from them. We have to teach our Black boys they don’t need to look like white boys. They are handsome and strong and worthy. Our goal as a Black community is to intermingle with each other and make our babies African again.
Peace and love!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.