Artist the Ruler (Power of No-Mmo, or the spoken world)

Okot p’Bitek (June 7, 1931 – July 20, 1982) was a Ugandan poet, who achieved wide international recognition for Song of Lawino, a long poem dealing with the tribulations of a rural African wife whose husband has taken up urban life and wishes everything to be westernized. Song of Lawino was originally written in Acholi language, and self-translated to English, and published in 1966. It was a breakthrough work, creating an audience amongst anglophone Africans for direct, topical poetry in English; and incorporating traditional attitudes and thinking in an accessible yet faithful literary vehicle. It was followed by the pendant Song of Ocol (1970), the husband’s reply.

The East African Song School or Okot School poetry is now an academic identification of the work following his direction, also popularly called ‘comic singing’: a forceful type of dramatic verse monologue rooted in traditional song and phraseology.

Taken from wikipedia.

The following is a biography:

his analysis of cultural conflict, Okot identifies the educational system imposed on colonized people as the root cause of this conflict. The individual who goes through the school system eventually turns away from his cultural roots as he acquires more Western values. In Africa’s Cultural Revolution (1973: Nairobi) Okot describes the process of cultural alienation that he himself went through: “The child that goes to school becomes an exile physically and culturally. This is the first step on the path that leads to power, money and the good life. A life better than that of those who stay behind (in the rural areas).” This is an apt summary of Ocol’s progress from village boy to political minister in the newly independent Uganda. It is power, money, and the good life that lead to the conflict between him and his village wife Lawino in both Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol. Ocol (representative of the educated middle class and whose name translates as “black man”) has no moral obligation and social responsibility toward the masses that elected him and his fellow politicians to a position of leadership with all its benefits. In Song of Ocol, Ocol laments his blackness, which his colonial mentors have taught him to associate with primitivism, sin, and backwardness. He wants to obliterate all that reminds him of his precolonial or traditional culture.

In Song of Lawino, the pumpkin that Ocol wants to uproot symbolizes this culture. Not content with attempting to uproot himself from the Acoli culture, he wants to cut himself free from his ancestral spirits too. Thus, Lawino and his relatives are horrified when he threatens to cut down the okango tree and abila, which houses the family gods. Lawino blames the Catholic fathers for infusing this self-hatred in Ocol and his class towards their cultural and religious belief systems. In both Songs, Okot’s criticism of the culturally rootless individuals borders on contempt. He is contemptuous of their degree of submissive dependency on their former colonial masters and the Western values that they aspire to achieve but cannot, as exemplified in Tina, Ocol’s modern girlfriend who has displaced Lawino, the lawful wife. Thus, the personal conflict between Ocol and Lawino cannot be resolved, since they believe in differing cultural values

T.H.U.G.- The Hate U Gave, Growth and Development in National institutions of socialization, For Malcolm II

This summer I will be teaching Human Growth and Development (PSY 211). By definition this begins with a discussion of early childhood development; dealing with mental cognition and the general results of our psychological interactions with our environment and other social actors. This includes relationships with family, neighbors, technology, government, culture practices, etc. that yields multiple forms of psychological oppression. One of the ways this helps us– is that it better prepares us as elders to develop positive and relevant child rearing methods which can speak to our specific “group psychology” and address our needs as a community (this is important for real diagnosis opposed to “drugging” or sedating them). For people of African descent, this aspect of early childhood psychology must consider natural and unnatural stresses that affect our development as people and ultimately shapes our understanding of reality as adults.

 

 

When we look at Malcolm X we see a good example of the effects of different types of “racism” on the early childhood development of African peoples. We were taught to view the narrative as an example of transformation and transitioning throughout identity (developmental psychology) upon the pupil’s acquisition of positive cultural knowledge about being “black” (knowledge of self). So within that I broke up his life into stages according to his own name change method of  story-telling. This is a study of early human growth and development in the black community via the early days of Malcolm X as Malcolm Little.

 

 

Here it important to mention the major contributors of Malcolm’s childhood development which includes racial violence, the failure of the state’s solutions for the black social experiences, and youth identity construction (self and imposed). All of which serve as a frame for understanding Malcolm’s psychological development and eventual social action. It is important to note that Malcolm’s father was a Garveyite and a minister and his mother was also an educated person with West Indian roots. Here we see the seeds of a freedom fighter in the Diaspora. Several of Malcolm’s relatives were killed by ‘racial violence’, and eventual according to the police his father committed suicide by shooting himself then placing his head on the train tracks. Of course, we can not believe this account. As a byproduct of the collective stresses surrounding the death of her husband– Mrs. Little eventually had a nervous breakdown and was submitted to a mental ward, and the family broke up.

 

 

Malcolm witnessed all of this. He of course began to lose focus in school and was tagged a behavior problem. This is a general experience of black students in the United States that does not really respect the analysis of black educators and psychologist that claim society and the general environment create a need for different approaches to addressing African child development. Malcolm like any child was affected by the change in family. He often talked about feelings of being objectified while living with the Swerlings who of course taught Malcolm to be good ‘law abiding negro’ (functional) that served society and ultimately white people. But the experience of family socialization must be seen in every aspect as the polar opposite of his original home setting where he was surrounding by socially and politically conscious parents who loved him and wanted him to be a great African man unafraid of white people and self determining. The Swerlin’s more than versed on his ‘behavior problems’ and carrying all the prejudices of the white community of the time had an unbalanced view of the best way to rear Malcolm.

 

 

DuBois’s concept of double consciousness becomes relevant here as a psychological process as Malcolm found himself questioning his identity referring to himself as the class negro, mascot, and even a fine colt as the result of the ideas he picked up from his surrounding community. The new environment created a new body of thought that caused him to reconsidered his identity. This was simply him being respondent to his surrounding of racism, more than an underdeveloped sense of self or other psychological condition white people use to address their self esteem issues of self consciousness. We see this when the teacher told him to lower his aspirations for life and consider being something more traditional with negroes, that is, according to his white mind a life of servitude or working a craft.

 

 

Underdevelopment of the black child’s dreams is a real process in European institutions of socialization, in this case the school.  This is a particular type of psychological violence. This is also a general experience of our people since we arrived in the U.S. and has only been intensified by the creation of Mass Media, Counseling, and interventions or any new age solution opposed to white supremacist imperialist oppression that manifest as a psychological/spiritual attack. What is revealing that once Malcolm became surrounding with “proud” black folks his attitude changed as he became less timid and more proactive whether his actions were right or wrong he began to try to take control of his life as we all do.

 

 

The psychology of the white community is different from that of the black community, not on the level of humanity, but on levels created by stresses of public policy and substained continual cultural bigotry—i.e. racism. Without a greater understanding of white supremacy as inhibitor of positive childhood psychology (black relationships in general) for black people we might simply bypass these early chapters as background information opposed to the beginnings/seeds of a dynamic personality and eventual transformation based upon his realization of various types of injustices that shaped his life. Transformation must remain the focus of this narrative and seen as one of Malcolm’s very clever analysis of white supremacy and its effects on the collective psychology of black peoples as occurring on multiple levels including  its institutions, practices, policy, persons, and even “help organizations” and their sense of paternalism.

 

 

Physical and psychological forms of oppression ultimately rearticulate themselves as a spiritual battle for him–one which ended in Mecca and rebirthed itself after his assassination via the growth of generations of activists who study his teachings tday. The Autobiography of Malcolm X serves as a roadmap for the possible setbacks of “fighting” for the people against imperialism. Likewise, we see this in the music of Tupac Shakur and Bob Marley. These are the books of the “slave kings” in Babylon/Diaspora.  Anywho, looking at their lives we can pull the critiques and analysis we need to be able to present relevant solutions for our issues no matter the discipline we use. By discovering our historical experiences as African people, we can better understand the challenges of growth and development in our community and begin to reproduce relevant psychological analysis.

 

Lion

Real Intellectual Production – RIP Gil Scott Heron

“Our vibration is based on creative solidarity: trying to influence the black community toward the same kind of dignity and self-respect that we all know is necessary to live…We are trying to put out survival kits on wax”

Gil Scott Heron

 

Introduction

 

The Black Arts Movement (B.A.M) was the cultural wing of the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 70s. One of the most influential voices of this era was Gil Scott Heron. Heron is a composer, pianist, poet, author, singer, historian, social activist, and musician that delivered oral snapshots of the struggles Black community for four decades. He followed the African oratory tradition of the Jeli (griot) as he recited poetry, history, and expressed the concerns of the working class. I will argue that Heron’s works are contemporary examples of the Jeli tradition by analyzing his philosophy, oratory style, and artistic form.

 

Early Life and Education

 

Heron was born on April 1, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois to Bobby and Giles ‘Gil’ Heron. His mother was a college graduate and a librarian. On the side Mrs. Hero n sang with The New York Oratorial Society encouraging Heron’s early music interest. Heron’s father was a professional soccer player and the first African man (Jamaican) to play for Glascow Football Club (Glickman,2008).

After Heron parents divorced he moved to Jackson, Tennessee with his grandmother. While living with his grandmother Heron was introduced to Langston Hughes’s column in The Chicago Defender (Geesling, 2007). His grandmother encouraged Heron’s artistic development by teaching him how to read, write, and play music. Heron was one of three African children selected to integrate a public elementary school in Jackson, but the constant heckling proved too much for Heron. After the death of his grandmother Heron moved to a Hispanic neighborhood in the Bronx, NY. The experiences in this multicultural neighborhood gave Heron a message that transcended national racial and international cultural barriers, and proclaimed the rights of all of humanity.

 

 

Heron enrolled at Dewitt High School and later transferred to Ethical Cultural Feldstone High School. At Feldstone Heron received his ‘formal’ education in the arts. Heron exhibited his artistic potential early compiling his first volume of poetry at the age of 13 (Glickman, 2008). Heron entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania following in the footsteps of Langston Hughes. While at Lincoln Heron studied literature especially the works of the Harlem Renaissance.

 

 

He dropped out of school after his first year to write his first novel The Vulture (1970) followed by a volume of poetry entitled Small Talk at 125th & Lenox (1970) later that year. Despite not satisfying the degree requirements at Lincoln Heron was able to enter John Hopkins University and earn his M.A. in Creative Writing. Over the next 30 years Heron would publish one more novel The Nigger Factory (1972) and three volumes of poetry Mind of Gil Scott Heron (1979); So Far, So Good (1990); and Now and Then: the poems of Gil Scott Heron (2001). Currently, Heron is working on a novel entitled The Last Holiday a reflection on his work with Stevie Wonder to make Dr. M.L. King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday.

 

 

I don’t think they ready for this ‘Jeli’

 

 

The Jeli, Jelimuso, Sba, Jenga, or ‘griot’ is a master teacher. He acts as a little newspaper, social critique, cultural warrior, and healer (Hillard, 2002). The Jeli delivers his message through oratory and musical forms developed by his cultural group. Their work is often said to be divinely inspired as they consider teaching their way of life. Jeli transmits culture, knowledge, comedy, compassion, and they always tell the truth (Hillard, 2002). These characteristics often place the Jeli in opposition to the ‘state’ as he is the voice of the people.

 

 

No other artist from the Black Arts Movement fits the description of the Jeli more than Heron. Kontar (2001) wrote:

 

 

Gil Scott-Heron is a culture bearer. A Griot in the truest sense of the word, whose message must be transmitted from generation to generation in the same way in which my mentor revealed Heron’s work to me. There are few artists who emit this type of importance to their own culture and beyond. Gil Scott-Heron is one of them (1)

 

 

Having longevity, endless creativity, and mastery of the language Heron has produced 23 albums, 3 novels, and 3 volumes of poetry of a 40 years career. Heron possessed the personal conviction necessary for a Jeli, which allowed him to act as the voice of the people. Heron did most of his work during a time when the struggle had slowed tremendously after the murder of the most powerful voices of the Civil Rights and Black Power struggles. Deker (1993) writes:

It was around the middle seventies when I first heard this brazen, young Black man’s voice. He was angry! We were angry! I was angry! Angry over the fact that it was a few years ago that they had just taken from us our black shining Prince (Malcolm X). He was mad. We were mad. I was mad! Mad over the fact that our struggle for freedom had come to a screeching halt. He was loud! Loud and determined to be heard. And I heard him…Gil possesses the gifted ability to put into words the things that resided within me. He possessed the courage to stand up and say what was wrong with this country, with this society. He was loud. He was uncompromising. He was convicted. (53)

 

 

Heron’s (1993) work was a reflection of the social consciousness of the time and love of for the people:

A little over 21 years ago I was introduced into what is laughingly referred to as civilization…I am a Black man dedicated to expression; expression of the joy and pride of blackness. I consider myself neither a poet, composer or musician. These are merely tools used by sensitive men to carve out a piece of beauty or truth that they hope may lead to peace and salvation.

 

 

This is typical of the Jeli’s sense of responsibility to the people. Heron (2008) also notes the African Ancestors as the source of his message:

 

 

In truth I call what I have been granted the opportunity to share gifts…I would like to personally claim to be the source of the melodies and ideas that have come through me, but that is just the point. Many of the shapes of sound and concepts have come upon me from no place I can trace: Note and chords I’d never learned, thoughts and pictures I’d never seen. And all as clear as a sky untouched by cloud or smog or smoke or haze. Suddenly. Magically. As if transferred to me without effort. (3)

 

 

For a person to become a Jeli he has to fit these criteria, however, Heron’s ability to satisfy these requirements on such a broad scale with the imperialist cultural and social hegemonic structure speaks to Heron’s immense talent and deep sense of spirituality.

 

 

Roots of Gil Scott-Heron’s Art

 

 

Heron’s early childhood interest in music and poetry were nurtured and encouraged by his family and community. As Heron matured he adopted techniques from his favorite African American writers, poets, and musicians from the Harlem Renaissance. He recalls (2007):

 

 

I had spent a lot of time in the black stacks at Lincoln and read up on things that had happened during the Harlem Renaissance and its background. And I studied under James Saunders Redding [who] was a part of the Harlem Renaissance. He taught black literature there and he taught it in two parts; the first part began in the 1780s. (4)

 

 

Langston Hughes had the most influence on Heron style. In addition to reading Hughes’s column in The Chicago Defender Heron wrote a senior thesis on the famous writer. Hughes also influenced Heron’s use humor in his works. Heron (2007) states:

 

 

The fact that like, it’s easier to laugh than it is to cry and we have a lot to cry about-but there was a great deal of humor in his writing and a great deal of laughter in my life…The humor that Langston Hughes had as a part of his make-up and a part of his character came through in his writing; they were things that I felt were very important to have as an artist. I’m saying that [humor] was a direct link between me and Langston Hughes. (4)

 

Heron’s humor follows the West African and African American tradition of ‘playing the dozens’ where the speaker ranks, cracks, sparks, heats, or roasts the opponent.

 

 

Another component of Heron’s music that he adopted from the Harlem Renaissance is the ‘Blues’. Heron (2007) continues:

 

 

Over the course of the Harlem Renaissance they always refer back to the blues, and you know, living in Tennessee, the blues artists were the ones I was most familiar [with] from the radio.

 

 

The Blues is considered the ‘purest’ reflection of African American experience in music form. Wilson (1981) supports:

It is hard to define the music. Suffice it to say that it is music that breathes and touches. That connects. That is in itself a way of being, separate and distinct from any other. (16)

 

Heron was aware of the power of the Blues. He would combine poetry with various components of jazz and the blues to make a new genre of music, ‘bluesology’. Bluesology in Heron’s view was the ultimate medium to express his message of discontent. Heron (2008) explains:

 

 

What bluesology is supposed to say how it feels. The articulation isn’t melodic, exotic, or erotic; it aint none of those things. It’s that they all come together and relate what it feels like. I play what it feels like. (1)

 

A true master teacher Heron was able to create new creative spaces for future African American musicians, singers, producers, and rappers. In the tradition of the Jeli Heron transmitted cultural forms and history in his art. Heron refers to himself as a ‘Bluesician’ and claims that ‘Bluesology’ is a methodology for creating music that helps all of humanity.

 

 

The Bicentennial Blues

 

 

Heron released the album It’s Your World in 1976. The album was headlined by the hit song the “Bicentennial Blues”. Heron’s (1976) second live poetry recording was a roasting session for past and present politicians:

We attempted to define the lie detector blues. Caught by Mayor Frank Rizzo. I understand he is sick currently. We send our coldest regards.

 

Humor was used to lighten the mood of the audience while subtly drawing the crowd’s attention to the opponent’s weaknesses or crimes. Heron (1976) critiques Ronald Reagan later in the performance:

 

Ronald Reagan it (idea of justice) got by him. Holly-weird. Acted like an actor. Acted like a liberal. Acted like General Franco when he acted like a governor. Now he acts like somebody might vote for him.

 

Heron’s performance is continually interrupted by eruptions of laughter from the audience. He later referred to Gerald Ford as ‘Oatmeal Man’ and Jimmy Carter as ‘Skippy’.

 

The “Bicentennial Blues” is more than a stand-up comedy act. Heron delivers a very serious message between his scathing critiques of politicians. Heron (1976) gives a history and origins of the ‘Blues’:

 

 

Why should the blues be so at home here. Well America provided the atmosphere…The blues was born on the beaches where the slave ships docked. The blues was born on the slave man’s auction block…The blues grew up in Nat Turner’s visions. The blues grew up in Harriet Tubman’s courage. The blues grew up in small town deprivation. The blues grew up in big city isolation. The blues grew up in the white man’s nightmares. The blues grew up in the blues singing of Betsy, Billy, and Ma. The blues grew up in Satchmo’s horn, on Duke’s piano, in Langston’s Poetry, and Roberson’s baritone.

 

Heron defines the Blues as the musical form of the everyday struggles of the people against racism and oppression.

Heron explains that the evolution of the Blues runs parallel to the suffering of African American as the United States evolved into a nation. Heron (1976) says, “the blues remembers everything America forgot”. He also notes contradictions between America’s promise of justice, peace, and equality and it’s history of racism oppressing Africans:

The truth relates to 200 years of people and ideas getting by. It got by George Washington. The ideas of justice, liberty, and equality got cold by George Washington. Slave owner general. Ironic the father of this country should be a slave owner. The father of this country a slave owner. Having got by him, it made it easier to get by his henchmen. The creators of this liberty.

 

 

Heron brings attention to the racism ingrained in the history of the United States as the ‘forefathers’ of the country were slave owners and defenders of ‘white supremacy’.

 

 

Whitey on the Moon

 

 

On the hit album The Revolution will not be Televised (1974) Heron dropped another classic entitled “Whitey on the Moon”. This track critiqued the economic priorities of the government in light of huge allocation of federal funds towards the space program in comparison to the basic needs of the people. Heron (1974) states:

A rat done bit my sister Nell, with whitey on the moon. Her face and arms begin to swell, and whitey’s on the moon. I can’t pay no doctor bills, while whitey’s on the moon…no hot water, no toilets, no lights, but whitey’s on the moon…How come there ain’t no money here? Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon.

 

 

Heron also questions how this enormous spending affected the everyday lives of the people in some cases making life much more difficult. He (1974) continues:

 

 

The man jus’ upped my rent last night, cause whitey’s on the moon…I wonder why he is uppi’ me? Cause whitey’s on the moon. I wuz already payin’ ‘im fifty a week, with whitey on the moon. Taxes takin’ my whole damn check, junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck, the price of food is going up, An’ as if all that shit wuzn’t enough: a’ rat done bit my sister Nell, with whitey on the moon…Was all that money I made las’ year, for whitey on the moon?

 

 

Heron acts as a social critique and public newspaper that informs the people of the correlation between the rise of the price of living and the development of new government programs geared towards morally irrelevant projects. The space program is compared to the impoverished living conditions of Black people where a child can be bit by rats, and the parents can’t afford to pay for medical treatment.

 

 

No Knock

 

 

The Black and Latino communities during the 60s and 70s were concerned with violent acts of racism being carried out by hate groups. However, the most notorious group was the city police departments. Issues with the police were compounded by new ‘No Knock’ laws that gave police the right to forcefully enter a citizen’s home without warning. Heron wrote a track entitled “No Knock” (1974) that questions the creation of the law:

 

You explained it to me I must admit, but just for the record you were talking shit. So don’t rap about ‘no knock’ being legislative for the people you have always hated in the hell-hole you—we call home…For my protection? Who’s gon protect me from you? The likes of you? The nerve of you?

 

This law resulted in a violation of many citizens’ rights, and the eventual death of several people including Fred Hampton. Heron (1974) continues:

 

 

No knock the man will say to keep that man from beating his wife. No knock the man will say, to protect people from themselves… No Knock on my brother Fred Hampton. Bullet holes all over the place. No knowck on my brother Micheal Harris and jammed a shotgun against his skull.

 

Heron’s relentless verbal onslaught on governmental agencies, policies, and other political figures earned him the honor of being named to the F.B.I.’s ‘Counter intelligence Program’. Heron later reflected on this, “I guess with the stuff we was talking about they would want to investigate me…(laughing).”

 

 

Lady Day and John Coltrane

 

 

One of the chief duties of the Jeli is healing. This included healing ignorant minds, trampled egos, and worn down spirits. John Coltrane and Billy Holiday were major influences of Heron. On the album Pieces of a Man (1971) he dedicated a song to them, “Lady Day and John Coltrane”, that explained the healing properties of the Blues. Heron (1971) chants:

Ever feel kinda of down and out and don’t know just what to do? Livin’ all of days in darkness, let the sun shine through. Ever fell that somehow, somewhere you lost your way? And if you don’t get help you won’t make it through the day. You could call on Lady Day! You could call on John Coltrane! They’ll wash your troubles, your troubles away.

 

 

Like Hughes, Heron believed the blues could be used to heal the soiled emotions of the people. Heron understood that the people were suffering from lack of self esteem, helplessness, and materialism. He (1971) continues:

Plastic people with plastic minds on their way to plastic homes. There’s no beginning, there ain’t no ending just on and on and on and on and… It’s all because we’re so afraid to say that we’re alone. Until our hero rides in, rides in on his saxophone. You could call on Lady Day! You could call on John Coltrane! They’ll wash your troubles, your troubles away.

Heron recognizes these musicians as ‘hero/shero’ because their music soothed the stresses of everyday life.

 

 

Message to the Messengers  

 

 

Heron’s no nonsense style gave birth to the newest contribution to the African music tradition, Rap. Considered the ‘Godfather’ rap, or the ‘proto-rapper’, Heron is a noted influence of several prominent Rap artist including Tupac Shakur (2Pac), Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (Common), and Kanye Omari West (Kanye West) (Kammer, 2002). However, during the early 1990s violence in the African community rose to alarming levels as young African men murdered each other as a result of being disenfranchised, living in impoverish communities, the drug trade, and gangs violence. The elders of the African community traced this back to the lyrics in ‘Gangsta Rap’.

 

 

As a response Heron composed a track “Message to the Messengers” on the album Spirits (1990). Heron (1990) called on Rappers to be aware of their role as teachers, and the affect they had on children:

 

 

I aint comin’ at you with no disrespect. All I’m sayin’ is you damn well got to be correct. Because if you’re gonna be speaking for a whole generation. And you know enough to handle their education. Be sure you know the real deal about past situations. And ain’t just repeating what you heard on a local T.V.

 

Heron also questioned whether Rappers were masters of their art and language.  Heron (1990) critiques ‘irresponsible’ Rappers:

 

 

They (Rappers) need to study music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquiums, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead you get a lot of posturing. (5)

 

Heron’s critique of ‘Rap’, in my opinion, provide validity to his role as a Jeli as he demanded excellence in the art form and called on Rappers to be cognizant of their influence on the younger generation as teachers and spokesmen.

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

Heron was a master teacher and revolutionary artist. The title of Jeli does not find a more willing host than Heron in the 20th century. His body of work, multiplicity of forms, and oratory abilities put him in a different class. Most importantly, Heron transmitted knowledge of African culture and history in his works. His art transcended racial, class, and sex barriers and exposed the failures of America’s democracy to the world. A revolutionary artist in the truest sense and a traditional Jeli in the present tense.

Nickname Thunderstorm

“What’s a cross when our shoulders have bared so many tears” – Me

As a youth I knew I was going to be writer. But two things moved me away from that reality, that is the “need” to acquire a consistent pay-rate and the reactions to the writings. My intentions were to simply share my thoughts, which I feel have made me who I am today. In 8th grade I was required to write an essay about birth control and abortion. My first thought was what if my mother had aborted me. So I thought that uncool so I proceeded with the assignment as such. Simple.

The teacher virtually melted after reading and later I was stopped in the hall by all the teachers on my hall during lunch. By this time they were all alerted to my arrival as I had a hundred to ninety seven average for the first 30 weeks in all subjects and my peers gravitated towards me naturally. And they wailed you are so “gifted.” I replied, “I am just me, no more–no less.”

The article seemed to have touched the women, three Africans and one European. They cried and cried. I felt bad and that night when I went home I vowed not to write about certain things anymore. I didn’t realize as a youth that I could touch so many lives. I mean just by talking i grasp their lived experiences and some even had been experiencing nightmares about the abortions afterwards. I was just writing, and they cried and cried. But I didn’t know the power of my pen. The power to make it rain…

There is a particular psychology behind aborting for persons of African descent, which I will address later. Happiness and peace are states of mind, just like hell. It is not visible in a babylonian worldview.  conscious elevation = revolutionary ethos.

Lion

A scholar
Hard enough yet…

Trimming the political landscape ( A cut Above…)

Disclaimer: Cynthia McKinney did not sign off on this analysis, and I am not a member of a political party or interest groups, neither am I receiving funds from any political organization. I watched a documentary American Blackout on a comrade’s site which inspired my support of McKinney/Clemente campaign. Our allegiances are not negotiable.

 

Peace,

 

One of the more dynamic goals of Pan Africanism in the 21st century is the endorsement of African women in leadership roles in our social and political movement. Formally, this was adopted at the 7th Pan African congress and has been heavily discussed and received variating levels of application within the institutions and movements of the African world. Historically, African women have consistently played a role in leadership, military, and “domestic” duties in our history just as men have. Philosophically, the application of certain “feminine” principles within discussion of political policy for any of today’s social inquiries. This would require our willingness to shift the way we approach discussions about our community. This would also mean the conscious working towards the “re-balancing” of society in terms of economics, political influence, and control cultural output after it’s most recent unbalancing of the “world system,” or white supremacy.

 

 

If we are to adhere to this objective what would it look like and what are some of the advantages if we are to promote women in leadership roles in our political objectives. I can only reinterpret this in terms of the United States as involvement in social movements and popular electoral politics. The very presence of a person of color to some extent challenges the status quo, but a woman of color with black left progressive or even radical political position would be subversive for the entire social hierarchy which exists as the basis of white supremacy as ideology and cultural ethos. The two candidates-McKinney and Clemente help connect with the grass roots experience of persons of color in the United States and urban youth culture. Let us consider what a true revolutionary political ticket might look like in terms of United States “electoral politics” in all its manifestations including political tradition, cultural orientation, and the candidate’s specific construction of identity and personal narrative as visible on person will exists as a forms of counter hegemony.

 

 

When you study our history of resistance complemented by hidden narrative (as written by those peoples) you find an epoch of the struggles of a people’s, and not a gender. Let us not “gender, sexualize, or regionalize” the blood spilled. The resistance narrative by definition steps outside of the popular history which is ingrained with a culture of racism, sexism, and classism by focusing on the historical experiences of African peoples whom have challenged the status quo on the terms of achieving self determination and gaining control over our societies and conduct discussions about ourselves on our terms, i.e. sovereignty.  We struggled as a people, we fought as a people, and were chained and/or died as a people since the most recent season of disaster in the Western hemisphere.

 

 

We must begin our history with maroon communities and other “revolutionary” type nations. Nzinga, Nanny, Yaa Asantewa, and the Dahomey Women’s Troop to name a few where African women that have lead in  struggle against the invasion of African nations. Similar to other historical characters and activities we must consider how African women maroon leadership might look today and how it transforms once placed in today’s lens. The story of Assata Shakur, the revolutionary Queen in exile in Cuba, is someone that first captured my imagination as it concerns the revolutionary model. Her story exists as both an empowering epoch and very relevant point of discussion for looking for departure with foreign policy and domestic justice as she lives under the threat of assassination despite the presence of person of African descent being the president.

 

 

In “American Blackout” I watched McKinney challenge the system on behalf of “the people” as it concerns 9/11, Katrina, the foreclosure crisis, gentrification, etc. Additionally, her message is consistent with the historical “black political agenda” that is anti-war, pro-worker, and various levels of self determination and social diversity. In my opinion this is what is needed at this time to advance the political, cultural, and social principles of Pan Africanism in the 21st century in the United States by disrupting the existing two-party dominance, which in theory would force some policy changes opposed to personnel changes.

 

It expands as “humanism” as her policies work toward the empowerment of all oppressed peoples around the world despite their location– primarily by calling for end of all types of colonial occupation and the exploitation of entire national economies by American corporations and financial institutions in foreign and domestic lands. And as a by- product align themselves with this objective of Pan Africanism in 21st Century.

 

The cultural and philosophical dynamics are intertwined and equally important to the advancement of the fore-mentioned objectives as they may manifest in the United States…

mothers and daughters pt 1

it’s been a while. i apologize.  hopefully, this will serve as atonement. during my days as a full time “caregiver”, i do alot of internet perusing. i don’t do it because i’m bored. i have a very active mind and thought process, and so, when i come across a new thought or am introduced to new or interesting concepts, i research them.

i am, regardless of my opinion, feeling, or desire, a woman. i have a womb. and this comes up in conversation sometimes, with people from every angle. guys wanna know if i have any children. my friends and some relatives (i do not call them family) want to know when i’ll settle down and have a baby. i used to resent this line of questioning for several reasons. today, in an attempt to honor the insight i gained during my 3 day consecration, i will expose the reasoning, espouse its validity or absurdity and tell you about why this is relevant to being snookered. follow me.

in the african american community, some women often do not feel a sense of joy at the coming of a girl child. i think this topic is a bit more relevant to me right now since one of my best friends had a baby girl yesterday, and a few days earlier another bff’s sister had a baby girl. so we’ve been welcoming new women to the world this week. but in some circles, little girls are not welcome. they are undesired because the girl child can often symbolize or signify insecurities that the mother has about herself or her idea of the female archetype. little girls represent the beginning of a new life that can give life to a nation, and that causes problems in homes where there is an alpha female, which is every house. in my house, as an alpha female in training, i experienced the things that i’m about to now discuss, and this is not an attempt to spew feminist theory, this is an opportunity to bring light to a very dismal situation.

The curse of being a little black girl


the initial point i want to make about having little girls is that we talk to ourselves with such disdain and disgust that when we see another wombman, young or old, we cannot help but to be critical, vindictive, or malicious. think i’m wrong? ever seen a woman with a lot of self confidence walk into a room? ever see the looks on the faces of the other women in the room who do not possess the same level of confidence? if that woman walks in, head up, back straight, aura on bright, smiling and willing to be sociable she attracts attention from people because she’s sending off vibrations that let the room know she is in the building. we will break her ass down won’t we? come up with whatever little nit picky thing we can to somehow tarnish her image, if only in our own minds, so we feel better. and don’t catch your man lookin at her… then it’s a real problem. but why? because you don’t feel good about you? he’s with you? get your weight up! (or down, be real)

think now about how we talk to our girl children. critical, mean, insulting. it’s almost as if we’ve forgotten being a little girl and having those things said to us. we’ve forgotten what they felt like, the stinging, painful words that are the  product of a pathology of pain going back to slave row where the brown woman was raped to make cafe au lait babies who had different hair and were then treated better. that lesson burned deep into the generational psyches of black people in america like the need for swine and greens.  but here we go. calling them lil nappy headed gals. lil sluts. fast ass split tails.  calling them heifers. my gramma used to call me heifer, slut, bitch, whatever. one day, my piano teacher was over (and she swore i was trying to do him, i was 10 or 11 and still had no idea how sex even happened) and i called someone on television a slut. he asked me if i knew what it meant, i said, “no, but that’s what my gramma calls me” i wish i could have taken a picture of his face. i remember that vividly. he looked confused. which let me know that what was going on was wrong. this is where it begins. when you, as a wombman, insult, demean and place negative energy on the head of a child, male or female, you are causing a shift in that child’s psyche that you cannot repair. as the facilitator of birthdays, you cannot allow yourself the room to speak to a child like you would speak to a grown woman. if you don’t want your daughter to be a whore, then don’t be a whore. and don’t call her a whore if you feel she has those tendencies. talk to her about it. let her know how you feel about it. talk TO her, not AT her and most importantly not ABOUT her. teach.

teach your child to be a lady. to be a strong woman. and that’s the problem. we’ve lost the paradigm of the strong black woman to her ignorant cousin, the strong black surviving female. the daily grind of trying to feed, clothe, house, educate, indoctrinate and maintain a life has cast a shadow on motherhood for many women. i could go into how the black man and blah blah blah. read the willie lynch letter and we’ll talk. my gramma was retired. she had time to be at home in my business all the time. to my detriment. she didn’t teach me about being a woman per se. certain aspects of my wombmanhood are so foreign to me at 29, i’d rather just skip them. like dating, being open to a relationship, the concept of marriage or motherhood. i will tell anyone i don’t want children, or to be married but that wasn’t always true. we’ll go into that later.  but we must teach our girls to respect themselves, each other and their womb. it’s sacred. it’s special.

little girls turn into little wombmen when their pituitary gland goes off and says to the body “okay, let’s go”. i know it’s more complicated than that, but this is my blog. one day we’re happy and pretty and playing and the next we’re cramping, and irritable and bloated and bleeding. and we’ve all been told that this is the curse. it is a curse. for little black girls, this is the time when we go from being the apple of the eye, to the lil fast tailed heffa that lives in my house. it has to happen. we know that because we went through it. what i don’t understand is why do we not make this a bigger deal? i remember watching the cosby show, when rudy got her period, and thinking, when i have kids (cause at that time i wanted 5 kids) and my daughter has her period, that’s what i’m going to do. make it special. it’s a rite of passage. from girlhood into the beginnings of wombanhood. and we act like these children are now supposed to know how to be an adult because their hormones and bodies change… how? my gramma went from being mean to being a complete asshole when i got my period. now mind you, i was 8 when my dad died, and i think the stress and trauma from losing him made my cycle come a bit earlier than it probably should have. it came on approximately a year after he died. and i remember feeling bad and telling her what was going on and she basically told me to go outside and stop lying. now, this is in the middle of the summer and it’s hot and nobody was outside but me and i’m kinda scared cause i don’t know what in blazes in going on with me and she’s telling me to go outside and stop lying. not the fanfare i expected. she put me on hold until she could figure out what to do with me. and it was and has been hell ever since.

we push our daughters into situations and experiences that we don’t want them to be in or have because of how we treat them. want a whorish child? call her a whore daily, exhibit whorish behavior and laud it, make her feel bad about who she is in any way. and there it is. i know i know, it’s not that simple. but what if it is? what if the reason our daughters are having so much trouble in this world is because we haven’t prepared them, haven’t loved them, and haven’t set the right example for them? you mean as a parent there’s more of a responsibility than the physical? the financial? the political? you mean there’s more. i guess. i’m not a parent. but as a person who is holding out hope…. yeah.

“I’M NOT HAVING CHILDREN OR GETTING MARRIED” became my mantra in high school. probably because several of my friends both at my school and those i knew in other cities and states were having kids. and some of my female cousins had kids as well. not good. because then i had to undergo the scrutiny of having my underwear checked at all times, having to turn in my calendar every month with my period marked out, and having other things done to me to “check me out” and make sure i wouldn’t have to be fixed (refer to the pic above). i decided that since my childhood and life had been so fucked up i wasn’t going to risk fucking up someone else’s life, and so. no kids for me. and it didn’t help that i felt (and still feel to some extent) that i probably won’t be able to find anyone who will love me enough to marry me. remember when i told y’all about causing a shift in your child’s psyche? in my mind, i’m like 15 years old. sometimes 13. i know i’m 29, and i know i’m adult, but i don’t often see myself as an adult because i was never treated like an adult. or a human being. i was treated like an obligation. and that’s how i feel in most of my adult relationships. when i actually have been in a relationship, i have always cut it off before it got too serious. i probably could have been married by now, but i decided to put my other pursuits before marriage and motherhood as a defense mechanism. the scrutiny has been so great that if i do decide to get married, it’ll probably be a very small ceremony where i’d have to fly the people in, and you can’t just show up to the reception. same with kids. some people won’t know i have any until they’re like 3. whatever.

HERE COME THE BULLETS!!!!!

  • we treat them like we don’t want them, even tell them so and then get offended when they get pregnant at 14 and have an abortion. well….
  • they go off and have sex and now you’re ashamed because she’s being labeled in the streets… did you tell her how special her virginity was? did you tell her she needed to love and respect herself and she didn’t have to look for that kind of attention? did you forget you were fucking out of control too and that’s how you got her cause your mother couldn’t tell you nothin either? remember? PATHOLOGY BABY! CYCLES!
  • we kill more babies than spermicide but we won’t talk to our kids about sex? stop acting like it’s not happening. TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER!
  • we don’t stay in positive healthy lasting relationships… nuff said
  • we sit by and turn a blind eye to sexual abuse and then are embarrassed when little Tiffany comes home butched out and wants to be called Big T.  really?

the truth is, i think i’d be an excellent mother. because i believe down deep in my spirit that my greatest legacy will be my children. the fruit that i bear. my niece, and all little girls whose lives i will have any connection to will be treated, at least by me, like princesses, if for no other reason that it takes a whole village to make a woman.


meanwhile, back at the farm: black farmers and the race against time

i’m from macon county, ga. if you look on a map and blink, or if there’s a spot on your glasses, you may just overlook it. it’s small. the population is just over 14,000, which averages out to about 35 people per square mile. the town i’m from has one traffic light, seen here:

the one traffic light in my town

 

 it’s that small. my family is based in five points, the outlying rural area between montezuma and marshallville. if you drive that way, you’ll see fields,

trees,

cows,

 silos and more of the same.

there are houses dotting the landscape, but by and large, you’re in for a very green, somewhat boring ride. that’s because everyone in five points is either a farmer or a descendant of a farmer. my great grandparents built a life on farming. they raised 5 children (four of their own and one adopted relative, which was commonplace in those times) on a spread of hilly, fertile breathtakingly beautiful Georgia earth about fifteen minutes away from montezuma.

when my great grandfather died, my great uncle, Timothy Odom, Sr. left grade school to help his mother work on the farm. this was also commonplace during that time. life was hard but not impossible. together they planted and harvested vegetables and raised livestock to support their immediate and extended family members through wars, the klan and the ravages of black life on a farm. my uncle loved farming. it was in his blood. his sisters went on to college and became educators and nurses, but he loved the land. so there he stayed. his hard work helped him support his own family of 13 children, with over half of them graduating from college, all of them successful, 3 of them farmers.

in 1997, Timothy Pigford along with some 400 other black farmers, filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture, claiming, among other things, that between the years of 1981 and 1997 the USDA had been discriminatory in its practices when it came time to show the farmers the money. any businessman will tell you that it takes money to make money. farms are no different. money buys the seeds, the feed, the animals that eat the feed, covers property taxes, employees,  purchases or fixes the equipment, gets insurance and keeps the farmer afloat. well, the black farmers were categorically and systematically denied these monies. and it hurt their farms. it hurt their livelihood. it hurt their pride. as i mentioned before my uncle left school to help his mother with their family farm. farming was what he knew. though he was intelligent and probably could have excelled at any other occupation, farming is what he loved. there was no alternative. so it is for many black farmers. they were working hard making a living off the land. and the same government that took taxes from them, gave farmers of the white persuasion the fundage necessary to thrive and left the black farmers quite literally in the dust.

the Pigford v. Glickman case was settled in 1999 with some 16,000 claims to be paid and another 7,000 denied. in February 2010, Congress had a chance to allocate the 1.25 billion dollars in funds needed to pay the rest of the farmers who were owed monies but went on their break without doing so. the monies would have been slated to be disbursed in summer 2011.

meanwhile, back at the farm, the old black farmers are slowly dying out. my great uncle passed away March 11, 2010, at home, on his farm. he won’t see the settlement money. won’t get to buy that new tractor he’d been wanting. like many of his fellow fallen farmers, justice was just outside their grasp. i recent emailed my two senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson asking them to push for this money to finally be allocated and disbursed before any more of the nearly 33,000 black farmers miss their chance to see some sort of acknowledgement from the government. i have not received responses.

it’s funny that the USDA would fire a black woman for talking about considering not helping a white farmer 20 something years ago. in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod fiasco,  no USDA officials were or are in jeopardy of losing their jobs because of discriminatory practices.

meanwhile, back at the farm, somebody could use a new tractor.