Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Question of Timing & Birth of a Nation

Harry Belafonte questioning the timing of the controversy surrounding the imminent release of Nate Parker's film, Birth of a Nation.

"And is this going to be the price that young black women and men pay for making films of substance?" he continued. "Are they going to dig in and get dirt instead of fruit? What are we doing here? And where is the voice that defends him if he in fact is worthy of defending?"

Once again, Harry Belafonte is right. This is a story that many don't want told. Nat Turner, a Black man enslaved by brute force and held captive by barbaric practices, dared to revolt and God forbid, killed a handful of those who killed, maimed, raped and forced into perpetual and brutal servitude MILLIONS of his people for a few hundred years. How dare he kill those "good, God fearing and loving white people". How dare he!

Nat Turner led a revolt in the what is now known as the tidewater area in the state of Virginia in 1931. Eventually he was captured and made out to be a mad man, "lucifer" in the flesh. Slaves like Nat Turner who dared to revolt against their whites captors were subjected to extreme and very public cruelty so to send an unambiguous message of fear and intimidation and to control the minds, break the spirit and deter the will of other enslaved persons who might also attempt similar brave and rebellious acts against their captors; persons for whom they prepared meals (why didn't they poison them or otherwise taint their food?), persons who tended to, hell raised, their children who would later also brutalize and enslave their nannies from whose very breast they fed (Did you see The Help?) and their playmates. They too would come to dehumanize their pseudo parents (I ask again, did you see The Help?) as did their barbaric birth parents. What other posture could they take and still live with themselves? It was about justification of their very survival, a survival dependent upon adaptation of very real and tortuous lifestyle. A lifestyle dependent upon cruelty and inhumanity surpassed by none. The stain of slavery in America remains one her greatest sins. MILLIONS of innocent Black men, women and children were brutalized, dehumanized and tortured - for centuries, by several generations! Marinate on that...  The truth of that story must never be told. No, not ever...  

Despite their own cruelty, to his captors, persons like Nat had to be sought out and demonized for their acts of bravery and heroism. Their stories must never be told as such. Never should Nats of the world ever be glorified for killing and maiming "good and loving" white folks who saved those "good for nothing, less than human and ungrateful" Africans from a life of savagery.

This remains the story of those who continue to feed the confederacy, those who still uphold and want to control the brush that will paint the picture of how their forefathers are depicted and characterized in history, those who don't want to be forced to take stock of the reality of the source of their bigotry nor the origins of their wealth, those who want never that Black Americans take pride in and know our history. There remain those with hate in their hearts. They are still among us, even running for the highest office in the land... IJS Folks...

WE, too however, are still among us, those who claim to be progressive, those who seek and/or know the truth. WE must control our narrative and how we are depicted. From all references, Nate Parker did a fantastic job with this movie and that is why WE must go to the theater en mass to support this film...

We should not only go see Birth of a Nation but we should also conduct field trips and sponsor youth events to take as many young people as possible with us to see the film, Black and White, then lead constructive discussions with them. Don't forget the gang bangers. Knowing our history is powerful and will shape our behavior. Read folks...

Nat of course was hanged but what I did not know until educating myself about his life is that his body parts were severed and given to angry and mad white folks to have as souvenirs. His fingers and toes were jarred like pickles. His skin was used to make purses. His hanging was surely a day of picnic and glee. Other enslaved Black folks were forced to witness. What kind of people are capable of such brutality you ask? Those whose offspring still live and breathe and who don't want you to see this film. They want that you always remember that other film about the birth of the[ir] nation...

Some have no remorse for what their ancestors did, others are filled with shame, many enjoy the blissful state of denial or prefer to forever remain un or misinformed, and then there are those with a vested interest in continuing to shape the minds of the living about the uselessness of Black folks and the justification of the deeds of their elder, their kin. Such people want never that we celebrate or glorify the likes of Nat and others who led revolts against their ancestors who kidnapped, raped, maimed and brutalized other human beings for centuries...

Remember WHY dylan roof chose that specific church to kill innocent worshipers in Charleston. Somebody taught him, but not Black children, the story of Denmark Vesey who was painted not as the hero he should regarded, but instead as a horrible person who dared to kill white folks who trusted and believed him and even let him buy him "freedom"... How dare he...

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Birth of a Nation
This film is not about Nate Parker 1999 but IS about Nat Turner 1831. STOP allowing yourself and OUR story to remain untold. Don't support that our history is silenced, derailed, untold, distorted or co-opted. No matter his youthful indiscretions, cuz' that is what Nate's transgressions would be if he was of a different hue, look around you folks, just last week a young white male college student, as was Nate in 1999, was basically exonerated for raping not one, but two unconscious women. Where is the outrage? Who is demanding that this judge and others like him be forever discredited or removed from the bench, denied their livelihood? Twenty years later will they be scrutinized? Will this young man still be held accountable for his "youthful indiscretions"? Doubtful... It will be but a blur, if a buzz... And who by the way ever called for a boycott of woody allen or roman polanski movies? Come on folks... Stop feeding the double standard used to keep us blind, obedient and in check. Instead control the double standard...

And let us not overlook the relevance of Nate being found innocent of raping a white woman by a white jury... That is just as amazing in 1999 as it would be in 2016. IJS... So don't get it twisted folks. Support Birth of a Nation. Control your own mind. Don't submit to being hoodwinked, bamboozled or brainwashed. We have moved beyond that. Haven't we? Question the timing of Nate's past coming back to haunt him. Ask yourself why and then get on the bus folks and go see the movie!!!

Thanks Harry for bringing it home. You are still a fearless and vocal elder and for you, I remain grateful!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Little Bit of Flavor...

Annie Lee

I am in African braiding hair salon. Goodbye Afro. The shop is shared with a Latin barber shop. Spanish music is playing in the background. The Muslim women kneel in separate corners in prayer. Other women are selling clothes, make up & food. A Brotha' came in selling earrings, another toothpaste. LOL! An Asian woman came in trying to sell Black people bootleg DVDs. Go figure. A lot going on in here...

The African women are loud and spirited, as are Black American women when we gather. They are however, seemingly more animated. They laugh heartily, talk all at once and very loud. Their language is foreign. Their spirit is familiar...

Uh oh, a Black American Sistah is going off because her braids, which are BEAUTIFUL, don't "look like the picture". I understood that. LOL! My African Sistahs however are holding their own, defending their Sister and her intricate corn row work. It looks like art work. It really does. I want to defend her too but I dare not! Staying in my lane! LOL!

4.5 hours later & voila, I am done! The joint is quiet. Most have left. Two customers remain, the now pleased Black American woman who admits that she will return and a young Latina woman who has never had braids before. Her scalp is killing her, she wonders how she will sleep tonight and tells me she has to report to work at Nordstrom Rack at 5am. Lord, she didn't say Nordstrom Rack? My weakness. I need not know that there is one here... I tell her sleep won't come easy tonight but assure her that she will be fine in a day or so...

Back into the Harlem streets. Wish I could find in this "city that never sleeps", somewhere to get a pedicure and eyebrow wax at 11pm. Not likely... I might walk home but as it is a little late, I'd better bus it...

Goodnight Folks!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lift Every Voice!!!

thomas blanton I/M 261691
thomas blanton, convicted murderer of Four Little Black Girls in Birmingham is scheduled for a parole  (click to read story) hearing on this Wednesday, August 3, 2016. It is our responsibility to loudly object to his being released. His reckless disregard resulted in murder of  innocent children. He should die in prison... We must stand strong and vocal in our opposition of his release. Please take a moment to contact the Alabama State Parole Board and let them know. 
We must join the Alabama NAACP and others and express our displeasure.
Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
301 South Ripley Street, Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: 334.353.7771 - 334.353.8067
Fax: 334.353.9400
General Information:
Victim Services:
The Chairman of the Parole Board, Cliff Walker, is a Black Man. Give him the tools he needs to be encouraged to do the right thing and  deny this inmate'e release.  "... he has never accepted responsibility for the bombing or expressed any remorse..."  Let's respond in  kind.  Call, Email, Write! Do Something  to Lift Your Voice & Be Heard!!! 

Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday, August 3, 2016
BLANTON, THOMAS EDWIN JR   216691   08/03/2016

The president of the Alabama NAACP, Bernard Simelton, said releasing Blanton at a time when protests are occurring nationwide over police killings of black people would send a horrible message. NAACP chapters statewide are sending letters in opposition to Blanton’s release, and the Birmingham chapter is sending a busload of people to oppose parole, he said. 

Densie McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson

Be sure to do your part. Keep him incarcerated for their sake. 
Take Action! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What A First Lady!!! She Nailed It!!!

Image result for michelle obama DNC speech

Oh did you see our First Lady last night? They don't come more elegant, intelligent, proud, classy, unapologetic and confident than her!!!! Gotta' Love Her!!! Even Morning Joe, a staunch republican, is gushing over her speech this morning. trump has talked smack about everyone even he knows not to go after the First Lady! That's a testament to how she has carried herself, representing us proudly and to just how loved she is... BLACK GIRLS REALLY DO ROCK!!!

Mrs. Obama and the President and hopefully our First Daughters will pull out ALL the stops campaigning for this election because not only are we in a fight for ‪THE SOUL OF THE NATION‬, this is also a fight to preserve the[ir] president's legacy... I have faith that the American people will do the right thing.

Like Hillary or not, trump is NOT an option. He must NOT ever reside in the house that Slaves built! It would be a slap in the face not only to the honor of Slaves, but to the Obamas, to the nation and to the world. Eight years ago, America took several steps forward. We will not become an international laughing stock and take 100 steps backward. We will not allow the travesty of trump to become a reality. We must win!!!

Come on People. Get Registered or verify your registration NOW, not in October when it is too late to address errors. Get involved with your local campaign. Get out the vote!!!

GREAT start to what looks like a GREAT convention. Go Dems!!!

Image result for michelle obama DNC speechImage result for michelle obama DNC speech

Friday, July 22, 2016

In the Midst of the Noise...

I awake this morning in the midst of all the noise having ended one day losing a very dear Friend of almost 40 years and greeting another day preparing to say farewell to a very dear and loved one...

I awake this morning in the midst of all the noise looking for solace, peace and an understanding...

I awake this morning in the midst of all the noise of crazy politics, inexplicable and heart breaking killings, a disruption in world peace as we know it

I awake this morning in the midst of madness thankful for a better appreciation of what truly is important...

I awake this morning clinging on to life and wanting very much, at least for the moment, for the noise to just stop...



Love you Otis! Love you Clyde! Gonna miss you both like you will never know. Thanks for the love. Thanks for the memories! Happy that at least your noise has stopped...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ain't We Human Too?

I am watching the morning TV news shows. Without exception, mainstream news outlets are interviewing Friends, family and colleagues of the officers murdered in the Dallas shooting. The fallen police officers and their Families are being humanized. They are being depicted for the world to see as "kind and caring", they were "family men", "hard working, reliable and dedicated officers". Their wives and children are being interviewed and given a chance to express their sorrow, telling the world how their loved one never left for work without first kissing and hugging them, allowing the world to feel their pain,  ti see them as human. All of that is fine and certainly my heart bleeds for them. But where is the balance? Where is the humanization of and compassion for the other victims that led up to the unfortunate shooting in Dallas, those murdered by the police? Ain't they and their Families human and deserving of compassionate too? What about their pain, their loss?

Within hours after viewing the same video that shocked the world as we saw an innocent Black man being toppled and murdered by Baton Rouge, Louisiana police, CNN obviously found it appropriate to go out of its way to find and post an old mugshot of Alton Sterling, not a photo of the endearing Family man as shown of the slain police officers and as we have now seen of Alton Sterling on social media, but a mugshot depecting gim not as a victim but as a criminal. Diamond Reynolds has been scrutinized for filming the murder of Philando Castile following his being shot point blank by the police in the presence of a 4 year old child who, along with her Mother, has been traumatized for the rest of her life. Where is the compassion and depictions of humanity for them?

The pundits criticize that instead of filming the murder of Philando Castile, Ms. Reynolds should have been "helping"  him. Of course it was a dimwit on faux' news who made this ridiculous statement but still... Ms. Reynolds, in her calm, helped us all as a nation. She helped to expose the truth of policing in Black neighborhoods. She gave living proof to the realities of Driving While Black.  Mr. Castile was presumably stopped for a broken tail light and is now dead. Let's not forget Sandra Bland who is also dead after being stopped by the police for a failure to use her signal to change lanes. Why isn't mainstream media impressed with not only Ms. Reynold's calm and resolve in the midst of horror but also her heroics and the good deed she performed for society? Why is there no compassion and warm and fuzzy interviews humanizing and eliciting compassion for her, her Daughter and the Families, Friends and colleagues of Mr. Castile and Mr. Sterling? Where is the compassion for the child who has now lost her innocence for life because she will never erase the sight of murder from her mind? These men and their Families are victims too. Why no interviews of sympathy and/or humanity for them? Ain't they human too?

Watching the news and feeling some kinda' way about the double standard I am being subjected to this morning. Thank God for at least some balance being offered by Roland Martin on TVOne. They are on a mission to present the news from Black and human perspectives. So how do we, citizens, change the narrative of the media and make them understand that they cannot point the finger at politicians, organizations or anyone else without first exploring their influence and their undeniable culpability for what is the state of race relations in America? How do we make them address that Black folks are human, can be victims, feel pain and need compassion too?

Feeling some kinda' way this Monday morning...  Have a Nice Day Folks! 


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Ain't Ours American History Too?

                   Image result for Black Americans 4th of July

Recently a Dear Friend who is teaching abroad expressed dismay she felt because she had nothing to contribute when her Vietnamese students spoke proudly and knowingly of their origins, their Ancestors, the meaning and importance of their last name and such. My very proud and very well read Black American Friend felt a sense of emptiness because she knows not where her origins began, from which part of Africa her Family hails. I get that. However, unlike most of my fellow Afrocentric and Afro-proud peers, such information, while undoubtedly helpful and useful to know, is not of paramount importance.   

If I were the ancestry seeking type, I would be more interested in knowing who were my relatives enslaved in America. What was their journey? What were their struggles but more importantly, their triumphs? I mean how cool would it be to know that I am a descendant of Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, Robert Smalls and although a fictional character, a man the likes of Uncle Tom or any of our other Black American rebels who should be household names and regularly celebrated as part of American history? There are no words to express the pride I would feel in knowing that I share a blood line with or that I was the granddaughter many times removed to the likes of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth or other of our sheroes'. Hell, ain't ours a rich American history too?

While I enjoy my trips to Africa, five countries to date, my most poignant revelation after spending extended time on the continent, specifically in Ghana in West Africa from where I could conceivably hail, is a deeper appreciation that I am Black American; an American wholly and uniquely enriched by my African roots. To those who will denounce what I have said, it is my position that the origins of my African roots, which I proudly claim, are complementary to and provide the foundation for the uniqueness of my Americanism.

Image result for Glory 54th regiment
Massachusetts 54th Black Infantry Regiment
On this 4th day of July as the nation celebrates it's "independence", I want that Black Americans focus on our path, our journey, the road we have traveled, that road mapped and traveled before us by our enslaved, freedom fighting and fearless Ancestors. Make this a day to celebrate our rich, strong and proud heritage, our legacy, determination, resilience, bravery and endurance willed to us genetically not only through the roots of Africa and but more importantly through the blood of our very proud Black American Ancestors on whose shoulders we, and so many others, so firmly stand. Ours is a proud American history too...  

It saddens me that we, Black Americans, seem to have lost our voice or have allowed it to be silenced. We seem reluctant in our recognition of truly valuing who we are, what are our contributions, our strengths, our resilience. I am bothered that we don't tell our story often and/or loudly enough, as does the Jewish community, with dignity and pride. It is my dream that we stop allowing our voice to be silenced, that our stories of valiance, pride and fearlessness be untold, forgotten or dismissed as somehow inciting hate for whites or others in America. Really? Why is Black pride always skewed to somehow suggest exclusion of others? No other race or ethnic group has to deal with such a dynamic. My question, of course, is rhetorical but I digress...  

Image result for pro black doesn't mean anti white

But for Black Americans lifting our voice, fighting for equality and against all odds, demanding our rights as citizens in the US, there would be no voice or rights, if you will, for Gays, immigrants, women, the disabled, etc. It is Black America who scripted the blueprint, laid the foundation and provided the road map for other groups to follow in pursuit of their own voice, for their own interests, protections and establishment of their own civil rights.

I want it never to be forgotten or diminished to a afterthought, that it is we, Black Americans, who made a way not only for ourselves in America but also for anyone else who dares to demand and/or make a claim for civil rights in America. Black America must again lift our voice to ensure that these groups and others know and never forget that it is our history, our legacy, our pain, our struggle and our shoulders on which they so firmly stand in their respective pursuits and demands for human and civil rights in the good ole' US of A. Ain't ours a magnificent history?

"And Still We Rise"
Permanent and highly recommended exhibition at
Charles E. Wright African American Museum
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Our influence is global. In my travels as recently as last month in Brazil, I am moved by stories from people who still express pride in what they know to be Black American resistance. They share stories of how still, all these years later, they are influenced and have been inspired by what they know to have been our struggles and our triumphs. They hail our victories and think that in America we have achieved grand success and that our struggle for racial and full equality is over. Sadly, so too do far too many of us, Americans in general, believe the "post racial" hype. Ours is a history still being written...

I dream that Black Americans use our history to be reawakened, reminded and re-energized. I want that we use our past so to motivate us to into our future wherein I envision that we joyfully celebrate us, often and loudly, and wherein we repeatedly tell OUR story to the world so to take charge of and change the negative narrative that has been told to and about us for centuries now. Especially however I want us to take charge of our narrative to tell OUR story to OUR youth so to instill pride, confidence, a sense of knowing, belonging and entitlement in this land we know as home. Ours is a magnificent American history too. WE must tell it...

So back to my Friend teaching in Vietnam. I posted the following response to her comment on Facebook:

Of course you have a voice. Ours is the story of our valiant, unbreakable, resilient and determined Ancestors who despite being held captive, brutalized and enslaved for 400 years, endured so that you and I and all who dare to make claim to civil rights (Gay, immigrant, women and otherwise) in America or who have migrated here in search of a better life (ESPECIALLY immigrants of color), now exist and have such rights and, dare I say, the right to call themselves American. They have OUR Ancestors to thank! You, Dr. Ellen, are a DIRECT descendant of those who gave birth to a nation. Stand in your greatness. Teach it! Claim it! Our heads may have been bloodied but they will never be bowed! WE are Black Americans! Say it loud! Say it Proud!

Image result for Black Americans 4th of July
What To The Slave is The 4th of July?
Frederick Douglass Speech
Independence Day, 1852 Rochester, NY
I concluded suggesting to my Friend that she read to her students, Frederick Douglass' account of what July 4th meant to the enslaved Black American in 1852 and still, in so many ways, still means to Black Americans today. I suggested that she read to her students and let the dialogue and the true narrative flow. Similarly, I suggest the rest of us do the same on this 4th day of July in the year 2016...

Know and embrace your history folks...

           Cuz' Ours IS American History too!!! 

Happy 4th!