Tag Archives: Black community

Book Review: Our Black Year.

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“..because you are dealing with a Black people who are inflicted with their own sense of inferiority.”

Maggie Anderson tells us the small story of feeling frustrated about the economic conditions of Black people. She wanted to make a change. And she did. Deciding to take a huge risk with her family, The Andersons decided that for the next year they would only purchase and support Black businesses. What does that look like? How is that even possible? Our Black Year is the record of their results. Her findings are not only ludicrous, but they also shed light to the biggest elephant in the room: Black people lack capital, which correlates to the oppression that we suffer from every day.

It is obvious that when we need to think about the Black dollar, and how much we are suffering from the lack of investing in our own products, businesses, and communities. This book proves that we have a stronghold on spending power, yet we barely own anything. Strange, right? We have the power to keep designer brands and corporations in business, yet we can’t find ways to fund our own businesses properly.

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Things like leakage, gentrification, urban planning, impoverished neighborhoods, and domination of other ethnic businesses are all discussed in the book for the plight of economic empowerment.

To sum, a very impactful paragraph slapped me in the face:

“These cold realities – that buying from businesses in Black neighborhoods doesn’t necessarily work, that so few Black-owned establishments have shortcomings—become clear in the early days of The Ebony Experiment. Uncovering the reasons why [the experiment] would take longer.

Despite a few points of privilege that needed to be checked (in my copy of the book, I definitely marked and scratched a few of her ideas) Maggie’s experience of simply buying Black for an entire year was filled with many emotional, physical, and mental roller coasters.

With dense research and great references, it is clear that Maggie finds herself torn between the facts and her actual opinion. I noticed that many of her personal statements were contradictory towards the facts that she presented about the state of the Black community and the lower class. I think this distinction is also important in understanding how people can disagree with the how’s and why’s of our institutional state of, well, lack.

I won’t give too much of the book away, because I am URGING folks, as usual, to begin to think about their financial future. This book is definitely a great start to begin to get your mind going about the economic state of the Black community.

Gonna leave you guys with one more gem:

“How will history view this generation of African Americans? Will they say that we had it all, that we made headway in corporate America and in the legal and educational arenas, but we earned our individual success and left our neighborhoods for disrespectful outsiders to raid? Will they say that we sold our history, potential, dreams, and destiny in exchange for the comforts of suburban life, shunning our own entrepreneurs and professionals, and treating them with condescension? Did we squander our chances? Fail to deliver on so much promise?”

Happy reading!

#BlackHealth365 Spring Detox Giveaway!

Rejoice, Spring is finally here!

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We want you to get excited about the fresh air, rising flowers, and yummy seaonsal fruits coming your way! #BlackHealth365 is hosting a giveaway contest, beginning Friday, March 20th through March 22nd, and everyone is invited to participate! The object is to get our bodies ready for the new season via a 3 day detox utilizing fresh smoothies, juices, and clean meals. We have beautiful prizes to give away to the most creative and active participants who follow the rules:

1. You must share pictures of your smoothie/juice/clean meal on twitter and/or Instagram telling us what it is and how long it took you to prepare using the hashtag #BlackHealth365 so that we can see your unique creation.

2. You cannot post the same smoothie/juice/meal recipe twice. Variety is the spice of life, so each detox component must be something different to share with spectators and participants!

3. You must upload at least twice a day for the 3 days.

4. All ingredients must be fresh!

5. Have fun and good luck!

There will be a total of 5 giveaway winner who we know will be more than satisfied with the fruits of their hard work! We are more than excited to be coming into the new season with you beautiful people on such a healthy start!

At the end of the contest we encourage everyone to comb through the hashtag and write down recipe’s and ideas never tried before. We also ask that you continue to use the hashtag because you never know when we may do a surprise giveaway for folks who frequently share the wealth!

Tweet @BlackHealth365 with any questions you have about the contest, beginning March 20th. 😉

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DOJ and Black Bodies.

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It seems like the Department of Justice decided to close the Civil Right books these past two weeks. With three big decisions on the table, what is the Department of Justice really saying about the lives of Black people? Lets break down each finding.

No Federal Civil Rights Charges Against George Zimmerman: I think the most relevant thing to highlight is the fact that Trayvon was murdered three years ago. Reaching a decision to not charge a person for three years might be a “traditional procedure”, but it is still triggering. Not only does a guilty man walk freely for a crime we all know he did, but it is “cleared” by the DOJ that this act was non-indictable. I’m still writing about Trayvon’s injustice. I can’t even write further on his life because of it.

Ferguson Police Racial Bias and Unconstitutional Practices: I mean, didn’t we know this already? Ferguson became a war zone. Militia weaponry on local citizens. Was there anything practical about that choice? Moving forward, what will happen to these racist, unconstitutional cops? How do they keep their jobs and departments knowing this information? Are we condoning racial and unconstitutional practices in a police department? Can these racist cops continue to police a Black community?

Non indictment of Darren Wilson: another jab, don’t you think? Not only does Ferguson Police get away with killing Michael Brown, they also get away with destroying trust between the authority and the community, but they get away with LITERALLY destroying a community.

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These announcements from the Department of Justice simply triggered a population of people to remember the dark place of mourning that they have tried to overcome these past few years. We have been trying to suppress feelings of anger and despair, but when news as such comes out that makes us remember, its beyond psychological trauma. It’s remembering that not only were these Black bodies murdered, but in a sense, does not matter in a court of law.

So Department of Justice, thank you for reminding me these past two weeks that Whiteness has the systematic power to parade around the streets and kill Black people. You are truly appreciated.

For the DOJ report, click here. Tell us what you think.

 

UPDATE!!

Micheal Brown’s family attorney will be filing a civil law suit. More details forthcoming.

The Music & Metaphysics of Sun Ra

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Sun Ra, the “godfather” of Afrofuturism in music and pioneer of the genre “free jazz,” is in a league of his own. His large body of creative work and personal style speaks directly to the souls of Black folks everywhere, seeking to use art as a platform for Black liberation. With the help of his Intergalactic Myth-Science Solar “Arkestra” (see: band), Sun Ra used free jazz, old Egyptian symbols, and “far out” ideologies concerning the state of Black identity in his 1974 film “Space Is The Place,” which is a total embodiment of what Afrofuturism is all about. Through his eccentric costumes, Afrocentric radical thought, and almost incompressible “transmolecular” sounds, Sun Ra takes his followers on a journey of “imagining possible futures through a Black cultural lens.” (Ytasha Womack)

In the film “Space Is The Place,” what first catches the eye of viewers is Sun Ra’s stand-out appearance. This alone speaks volumes for the energy this man brings through his artistry. By looking at him dressed as the Ancient Egyptian god Ra, you’re immediately taken back to a time when Black ruled the world. Sun Ra’s alternate universal appearance brings the past and possible futures to the present in an attempt to spark both memory and possibilities into the mind of Blacks here on Earth. The film begins with Sun Ra descending from space in spaceship which unifies with the yellow cape and Sun crown worn atop his head. At first glance this is both shocking and exciting for the viewer. His style, in my own words, can be best described as ancient Egyptian Pharaoh meets futuristic space alien. He is clearly not of this planet, as he won’t let us forget throughout the remainder of the film.

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            Sun Ra totally rejects Earth as his home. In an attempt to escape the rigidness of racist white supremacist societies and the many stereotypes forced upon him and his people, he takes the form of an intergalactic god. Bound by no definition or ideology that isn’t his own, he returns to Earth to square off with his arch nemesis “the overseer,” who is an amalgamation of Black archetypes, specifically the Black man as “pimp,” which were commonplace in most Blaxploitation films during the movie’s release. Sun Ra’s god portrayal was an alternative challenge to this archetype. He rejected racist white lens of his Black being and defined himself as “the altered destiny; the presence of the living myth.”

In addition to a bold, eccentric, style and an autonomous definition of self, Sun Ra’s main goal while on Earth was to free those “ghetto” Blacks who couldn’t escape the many labels they were caged by. He teleported into a recreational room filled with “good time” Black youth in an attempt to reach them by countering their accusations of him as “unreal” by confirming:

I am not real, just like you in this society. You don’t exist. If you did your people wouldn’t be seeing equal rights…You’re not real. If you were you would have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myth’s…I came from a dream that the Black man dreamed long ago. I’m actually a present sent to you by your ancestors.

In this message to his people, Sun Ra forces the youth to think critically about their place in society. He challenges their ease in the identities bestowed upon them by the white man and urges them to be the natural creators they were born to be. In a sense he is saying “you don’t matter here, on this planet, anyway, so why not be whatever you want to be.” This stream of afrofuturist thought is one of the most standout scenes in the film, for it is the crux of Sun Ra’s “job” there on Earth.

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            Sun Ra’s music, much like the language he uses throughout this film, is seemingly nonsensical. He continues the traditional use of coded language Blacks have used for centuries as a tool of communication and survival in order to confuse the listening ears of slavers and government agents looking to infiltrate any plans of liberation. One could describe the sounds of his free jazz genre as purely improvisation. He seems to make up notes and sounds and compilation of the two as he goes along to make the statement that as a free Black, not bound by Earth, he can do as he pleases and present himself in his own choice. Likening himself to the wind, viewers can better grasp the radical essence of Sun Ra’s artistry when he makes the powerful statement of “I, the wind, come and go as I choose, and none can stop me.”

With such powerful messages from both past and the future, one begs the question of where an artist like Sun Ra emerges from. From my viewpoint, he is afrofuturism in the flesh, in that he lives and breathes this “kingdom of darkness and Blackness [where] none can enter except those of the Black spirit.” A kingdom where “nothingness” and boundless sound waves reign supreme in a land, similar to Kemet, where Black is free to just be.

Watch the Brilliant film below to get a better understanding of the “other world” in which Sun Ra dwells:

“All About Love: New Visions” (bell hooks) Final Discussion

Hello everyone! Thank you soooo much for participating in our previous discussions on bell hooks’,  All About Love! This space is solely created to get in depth with the final portion of the text. On twitter, we usually send out a series of tweets tell you how we feel about the book, but we never really get to know what’s going on in your head too much. So, we want to try something a little different. We are going to pose a few questions about the book to start the discussion off, but we want all book club participants to get the discussion rolling and connect with each other! Answer a question, comment on an opinion, create your own question, do it all!
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Questions to ponder:
Chapter 9: The Heart Of Love
-Hooks discusses the idea of “privilege of power” through the patriarchal system. In what ways does patriarchal thinking affect both men and women in relationships? Have their ever been a time when you felt that a relationship was hindered because of a reflection over power or control?
“To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking in whatever form it takes in our lives.”
Chapter 10: Sweet Love
“Sexual pleasure enhances the bonds of love, but they can exist and satisfy when sexual desire is absent.”
How do you feel about hook’s strong statement? How can this be applied to the normalcy of casual intercourse?
Chapter 11: Loving into Life and Death
“All the worship of death we see on our television screens, all the death we witness daily, does not prepare us in any way to face dying with awareness, clarity, or peace of mind. “
We never really talk about love and how it correlates to death. So how did this chapter show realization to your personal lost loved ones and the fetish that our society has over death?
Chapter 12: Redemptive Love
Probably our favorite chapter, learning how to heal a broken, misused heart to love again.
“No matter what has happened in our past, when we open our hearts love we can live as if born again, not forgetting the past but seeing it in a new way, letting it live inside us in a new way.”
What stuck out in this chapter for you? What have you learned about redeeming your own past for your own hearts sake?
Chapter 13: When Angels Speak of Love
Love and spirituality: How can those factors relate to each other? And more importantly, why is love the central commonality in all spiritual intents and religions?

Feel free to answers the questions or post final thoughts on the book in the comments section below or tweet them to us on twitter! (@AfroMadu)

Books for Ferguson!

Education1Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

 

Since the murder of Michael Brown, it is clear that Ferguson, Missouri has been the civil war zone of the United States. The world is watching this town become the tear-gassing, car blowing, protesting community that is not only fighting against police brutality, racial profiling, and racism, but a loss of a Black young familiar face in Ferguson. A sense of community is not only building in the organizers in this newly proclaimed movement, but a sense of community is also rising in the Ferguson library and the fate of the small Black children there.
In the midst of the movement, Ferguson’s library has been receiving large amounts of donations from donors around the world. This week, the library topped a stunning $350,000 worth of monetary donations and gifts since the grand jury decision!

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It is very interesting to witness this investment in the library of Ferguson. Understanding how powerful education is to the community, especially during the beginning of a movement against racism and police brutality, will only instill the proper intellectual foundation for children to understand the world better. We are soo excited for the scholastic future of the children in Ferguson!

 

 
Check out the full story here:

http://m.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/book-blog/ferguson-book-gifts-grow-library-donations-over/article_e615d477-e5ef-5914-a654-262b9e35cf8b.html?mobile_touch=true

 

Sustaining the Black Community with Holistic Health

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“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process, heal our own.” -Wangari Maathai

The Black body has endured more than the growth-halting grip of former enslavement. We have suffered trauma to the African trinity of health (mental, physical, and spiritual), which greatly affects how we interact in the world, “post enslavement.” With media messages telling us to eat this sugary saturated fat to feel good, and drink that 80-proof poison to be as cool as our favorite rappers, the abuse to our bodies and overall well beings live on. Faced with limited access to life-sustaining foods due to socioeconomic status, the burden of low self-esteem from living in a racist society, and a general lack of knowledge about “living well,” a comprehensive timeline comes to mind about exactly how we have landed in the reality we are in today. Best believe this exclusion is systematic and purposely enacted. Though unfair, it is no one’s responsibility but ours to undo the mass confusion around health in the Black community and begin the journey towards healing from post-traumatic slave syndrome.

pirkle_jones_black_panther_free_breakfast At the best moments of the Black freedom struggle we recognized that we did not just need to change laws, we also needed to change our living patterns. Organizations like the Black Panthers not only told us to change our diets, they also imposed breakfast programs and other sort of community-oriented food programs so that people would have healthy living options and they understood the relationship between healthy living and a community, they understood the relation to building a Black nation and having healthy diets. – Marc Lamont Hill

Taking control of our lifestyles is not a new concept in the Black community. As Marc Lamont Hill suggested in the above quote from 2012 documentary “Soul Food Junkies,” we have always stressed the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle in our movements in the past and can do so once again. The same fervor Black Panthers displayed in picking up guns to protect themselves from the quick bullet of the racist can also be used to pick up plant foods, herbs, and spices to aid in the body’s defense against diseases.

black-man-and-child-hospital-bed1With the rise of genetically modified foods, mineral-depleted soils, and processed foods being more affordable and available, many of the traditional foods we are eating today in our soul food dishes look like what our ancestors ate growing up, but chemically are not the same. Altered genetic makeup of foods and the addition of sugars, salts, and harmful preservatives aid in the development of chronic diseases Blacks are dying from in droves today. Food-related diseases which plague the community like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes hold us back from being the fully functional beings were born to be. These many health issues act as blockades to our struggles towards freedom. Instead of actively working to defeat white supremacist oppression and earn back our rights as human beings, we’re fighting against our sickly bodies, and worrying heavily for our lives. This will change. It has to.

By embracing an attitude of  “self-care as healthcare” (Queen Afua), we can operate on an optimal level. Centering the importance of clean eating with whole foods, healing herbs, and antioxidant-rich spices, we can refocus our energies to where they need to be. By feeding ourselves well, we can expect a boost in self-esteem and a fulfilling sense of purpose, two things we, as a whole, lack for various reasons. Hope is not yet lost when we trust in our own capabilities and utilize the resources here on this planet to fuel us on our unique journey.

slide-03I propose purifying oneself through proper nutrition and a lifestyle that caters specifically to the Black body, promoting sound mental health, and welcoming a more freeing approach to spiritualism that pays homage to ancestors. As acts of self care as means of liberation and fortification to be pushed to the forefront of the many movements towards Black freedom.

What’s Going On: A Glimpse of Black Consciousness and Reflections on Ferguson

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The story of 18­-year­old Mike Brown is a story our community knows all too well; Rodney King, Trayvon Martin and Eric Gardner are names of only a few victims who have gained national attention. Little to nothing has changed over the course of the years. It is disheartening to say nothing has no action has taken place over the course of the last few months in the Mike Brown case. Racism is still very much alive and martial law has become a reality in our country. As a response to the resistance in Ferguson, Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri has declared a State of Emergency and activated the National Guard in anticipation of civil unrest. The FBI expressed
concern for the Ferguson Decision and explains that it ‘will likely’ lead to violence, which would
seem to be a very valid claim since the the governor is sending an aggressive message.

Just last Wednesday, November 12, the parents of Mike Brown, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., spoke to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in hopes to receive assistance in the matter. But, despite the fact that people from around the world have rallied and protested around the events in Ferguson, the United Nations has denied any type of intervention. Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. have expressed that the received no answer and no remorse from the committee.

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The murder of Mike Brown has left our community devastated by the harsh reality that we, as a people, are still very much oppressed by the system, and police are not here for the benefit of the Black community. There are too many instances of profiling that have led to be fatal. Malcolm X once declared “our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary”. It is through the unification of our communities that we will find our strength to rise above such tragedies. Mike Brown is one of many, Black men face more fatalities now than they did during the times of lynching. So what can we do to save us? The case of Mike Brown is not only a case of racism, classism, but it is a case of human rights. We all have the divine right to life and happiness.

So what will you do to protect yours?

Stay connected! As we would try to bring you the latest from Ferguson and the verdict of Mike Brown’s shooting.

Black Film: Reclaiming Our Right As Storytellers

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Recent outrage from individuals in the Black community over the casting of several Hollywood produced films, including Nina Simone’s biopic and Exodus: Gods And Kings (2014), is not only ridiculous but also laughable. As usual, Hollywood casting directors decided it would be a fun idea to inaccurately cast Zoe Saldana, who is a mixed race Latina, as the legendary Nina Simone, who is visibly dark and a heavily African-featured woman, not a fair-skinned Latina like Zoe. Instead of choosing a Black actress who is just as, if not more talented than Zoe Saldana and also fits the physical requirements of the role, someone like Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba, they went through the racist trouble of putting Zoe in blackface in an effort to chan- nel Nina. This move by hollywood directors is not only insulting but predictable. In addition, the movie Exodus: Gods And Kings, which tells a story of Ancient Egyptians, depicts the royal Egyptians as something other than the Black Africans they were, as white men. Of course the slaves in the film are cast as Black, we’re always allowed to be that. This reshaping and whitening/lightening up of our history is what happens when we allow our oppressors to tell the stories we should have been telling all along.

As a reaction to the absurdity of both films, Blacks have voiced opposition and drawn up petitions in an effort to get them shut down. Once again, we’ve found ourselves trapped in an en- gulfing hell of useless pleas and unnecessary explanations, fighting for inclusion and crying about the whitening up of a history we know so well. We’ve allowed ourselves to be reactions to whiteness as opposed to the doers. Instead of creating the stories of Nina Simone and Black Egyptian stories we want to see, we’re pleading for change upon the deaf, careless ears of white media. Let’s face it, Hollywood is a predominately white controlled media platform who always has and will continue to do what they please with such platform because they can. It is not their jobs to accurately tell our stories or to even tell them at all. This overvaluing of white media has to stop in order for us, Black people, to move forward on the rigorous path of healing and independent self-awareness.

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Coming from a legacy of Black filmmakers like Spike Lee, Haile Gerima, and the legendary Os- car Micheaux, who didn’t wait for white media platforms like Hollywood to produce the stories they wanted told, there’s no reason we can’t continue to act as the definers these individuals helped lay the foundation for us to be. It is time, way past time, for us a people to cease the up- holding of white opinions and perspectives over what we know as true. We know Nina Simone was not a fair-skinned Latina, we know Ancient Egyptian royalty were not a court of white men, therefore the emotional reactions to these careless insults by white media are useless. Instead of dredging up petitions or voicing cries of hurt and anger out in the street, combat the obvious lies with art. Ensure that other Black people know the truth about this war of accuracy in history by reclaiming your right as the storyteller and create what you want to see. Zora Neale Hurston once said “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” In this context, if you continue to allow your history to be told by your oppressor, they’ll continue to erase you and trap you in a prison of explaining instead of doing.

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Am I My Brothers Keeper?

I was recently at an event at my University about use of the N-Word, when a question was raised: Why do we greet each other with ‘Whats up Nigga?”, when it used to be “Whats up BROTHER?”. The host responded saying that it was just a change in the times. I respectfully disagree. There is no way that time has changed the word Brother to Nigga. The times are the same it is our mentality that changed. Personally I still refer to many of my peers as Brother, so am i behind on the times? I think not.
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As a people we have somehow fallen into a mindset that we are no longer apart of a large family fighting the same battles. We now see each other as competition, incapable of compassion for this pseudo-enemy that we have fabricated in our minds. There was a time where everyone was referred to as your Sister or Brother, now if you say it, you are looked at as eccentric. As if just the thought of you being equal with another person of color is this obscure concept to be shut down. There is nothing wrong with climbing a ladder and reaching down to help someone that slipped.
Unknown-28“Nigga” displays a sense of inequality no matter how you spin in. When we get out of the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mindset as a people we will then be able to thrive. Someone somewhere instilled the thought that if you do not make it on your own then it does not count, however that is not now nor has it ever been the case. Most of us do not have trust fund or any huge bounty awaiting us to come of age, all we truly have is each other. If you look at the news they do not care, where you are from or what you have as far as they are concerned we are all the same. It is not just the hoodlums that are being murdered by those sworn to protect, it is the student, the teacher, the lawyer, whoever unfortunate enough to adorn the influx of melanin that was bestowed upon us in the womb.
If we do not see each other as equal then why the hell should those in power? Last time I check there was no identifier that makes you better than another, so if you are on a pedestal, I pray it is so you can kneel upon it to gain the leverage needed to pull up another. The shines of your success will never, dim that of another’s but if you cross the path of another who has yet to find their light, then by all means use your light to illuminate their path so that they too can become a lighthouse to the many lost ships out there. So in short, Yes, I am my Brother’s keeper. And my Sister’s as well.
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As Always I Love You, God Loves You, LOVE Yourself,
Man of Madu