Sunday, July 26, 2015

Under the FUBU is a Guru: Towards a model of Self Mastery and Meaningful Black Manhood — Ádìsá

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Under the FUBU is a Guru Untapped

— Common, Sixth Sense

Meaningful Black Manhood is about standing in the rivers of African ancestral memory and shared social history, navigating its undulating currents hand in hand with Black (African) women and children. It is a river dance that extends millennia. It is to index a particular constellation of struggles, tragedies and triumphs we've endured alongside Black (African) women in defense of our image and interest and which give contours to the meaningfulness of  Black (African) manhood. 

It is to identify a set of cultural footprints that other Black (African) women and men have walked together before us, leaving trails and paths for us to consider and pursue; it is to say that we are connected to multiple histories and cultures which provide us with a general design for living and patterns for interpreting a shared reality with African women and children. It means to live and work in ways that inspire African women, children and other Black men to be their best, biggest and boldest selves; to reject manipulation, discrimination and oppression, to see those things for what they are—soul cancers.

It means to work to develop ourselves as fully grown men rather than asking African women to miniaturize themselves to fit the contours our egos; it means that we don’t ask them to bow down to us but rather look for ways to help them stand up under the oppressive weigh of this soul crippling society; it means standing side by side as we look for fertile paths forward, together; it means that the only thing we expect to submit to our will is white misanthropy.

It means that we look for generous ways to work with other brothers to find ways to help each other meet the demands of meaningful manhood with a kind mastery that helps births better lives for all of us; that we model complementarity in love, work, struggle, joy, laughter and victory; that we understand that conscious, committed and continuous soul-work that leads to positive growth and development is one of the best ways to bind oneself to God in ways that makes the practice of all other religions generously beautiful. 

I admit I am visionary or perhaps I’m a dreamer who prefers to dream while fully awake. I imagine an increasing army of Black men who seek to cultivate strength in their relationships rather than power. I imagine safe spaces for women and children everywhere our men are—spaces made safe because meaningful Black men are there. I imagine a time in which Black men and women will come to understand that debates about who is treated worse on the plantation is a cruel joke that has no punchline; that freedom for half a people is the same as being brain dead with a heartbeat. 

African (Black) men shouldn’t simply strive to be allies with Black (African) women; we should recognize that we are the silent pause between each other’s heartbeats. The heartbeat was our first music. Our saying yes to each other was our first song; our shared future a coordinated dance—an Aqua Boogie. 

Black Love is Black Power.

— Ádìsá

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elementary school to be named after Seba Asa G. Hilliard III

A Fulton County elementary school has been renamed after a prominent educator. Mount Olive Elementary School in East Point will be renamed Asa Hilliard Elementary School. The Fulton County School Board of Education voted 7-0 to rename the school during Wednesday night’s meeting at Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School in East Point.

Hilliard was an educational psychologist who promoted African-American studies and achievement. He died in 2007.

District 6 board member Catherine Maddox said she knew Hilliard and his family. “The naming of the school is not out of any personal obligation but solely on the distinguished accomplishments and the merit of Dr. Hilliard,” Maddox said.  Maddox said the board followed district policy to rename the school after the late Hilliard and there was strong community support for the change.

New interim Superintendent Ken Zeff received 150 signed petitions from residents in East Point and the surrounding area, Maddox said, and five East Point City Council members signed a letter of support.

“This was Dr. Hilliard’s community, which he brought the standards of excellence in education, and we want this school to have those same standards,” she said.

This was the first board meeting for Zeff. June 2 he replaced Robert Avossa, who served as the district leader for four years. In April, Avossa announced he was taking a job as superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida.

In other business, the board recognized Robert Morales, chief financial officer, who attended his final meeting with the district. Morales was recently hired at the new chief financial officer of Atlanta Public Schools.

The school board also approved 2015-16 budget adjustments to commit $2.1 million for the records management fund and de-commit $500,000 for risk management. The overall $1.3 billion budget was approved at the board’s June 9 work session.

Read more: Neighbor Newspapers - Fulton Co school district renames East Point school 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

In the Time of Butterflies — Àdisà

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”

― Lao Tzu

The process of transformation is often ugly and uncomfortable in the beginning. The transition stage from where we are to where we want to be—whether it’s our hair, our bodies, our minds or our disposition—is uncomfortable. And it's meant to be. The beauty in the early stages of moving from one state of being to another comes from embracing the struggle in the transition; the comfort is to be found later in having achieved our goals.

A common mistake many of us make is that we are more invested in being comfortable during the transition phase before we achieve anything to be comfortable about. ("I'll eat this and then work it off tomorrow" before we have met our dietary or weight goals; "I'm going natural but this weave will help with my transition" ...when the goal is to be natural) If we are honest what this really says about is we are more committed to whom we are than to whom we desire to be.

The transition process with all of its difficulties is the time to get to know whom we are, to reexamine notions bequeathed to us about ugliness and beauty, our worth and our values, about our identity and our consciousness, our hurt, pain and traumas, etc. What good is a beautiful natural head of healthy hair, if it shrouds a dead mind? What good is new found body beauty, if it houses the same toxic mentality about body image? What good does it do to be culturally conscious, if our behavior is still rooted in the mentality of the plantation? We confuse conversion experiences with actual transformation; we may think differently about our faith or our political commitments but very often they merely become the mask we pull over toxic behavioral patterns, which re-emerge eventually.

If we don't embrace the struggle of transition we may end up thinking we are free, confusing a more spacious cage for freedom, unaware that we are still held hostage by old insecurities, deep. Transition is the place where you do battle with yourself for your best self; transformation is where you discover whom emerged victorious.

The caterpillar loves being a caterpillar even as it embraces the difficult transition to becoming a butterfly...and then it loves being a butterfly. Loving whom you are while appreciating that you are not where you want to be are also means embracing the self-work and growth necessary to be transformed into a better version of us. Ancient African wisdom teaches us that human being are teachable and perfectible. 

Often we can see where we want to be in our lives but don't realize that to get there are we going to have to learn to fly, and before we can do that we have to embrace the struggle that comes along with the transition process that will create our wings. The caterpillar literally dissolves in the cocoon and is then repurposed into a butterfly. All the elements of caterpillar are there; they have merely been reconstituted to suit a higher purpose.

Healing requires memory, imagination and courage. Part of the work of healers is to inspire us by reminding us that a butterfly is just a caterpillar courageous enough to do the work to meet its highest destiny.

In life, love and liberation,


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Beauty and Strength of Our Mothers: Happy Mother's Day - Àdísà

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
― Barbara Kingsolver

Next to God, we are indebted to women, first, for life itself, and then for making it worth living

—Mary McLeod Bethune

During the ancient African civilization of KMT (Egypt), one of the most power conceptions of motherhood was embodied in the Goddess Mut (Mut translates as mother). She was venerated and celebrated as the Great Mother, the one whom birthed the whole cosmos—the cosmic womb. She was associated with the waters from which all life emanated. One of her totems was the white vulture. Typically the first response to vultures is one of revulsion, a scavenger, a buzzard, a vile and dirty creature who eats what’s already dead. So it follows that one might rightly view any such association with the vulture and Black motherhood as offensive.

The imminent sakhu djaerist (African psychologist) Wade Nobles counsels us that: “The understanding between ancient Egyptian [African] thought and African (Black) psychology requires first and foremost the recognition that the ancient world is a world of symbolism and that much of what is meaningful in African psychology today has gone unrecognized and misunderstood because of our inability to understand the role of symbolism in the African mind—both ancient and modern.”

If we take Seba Nobles’ sagacious counsel, we find that symbolism is nutrient rich in the vitalities it offers us. When we think of vultures we think of a bird that eats what is already dead. But if we step back, so that we can see the forest and the trees, our view becomes more profound: The white vultures life is based on its ability to extract life from what is already dead—to avoid intentional harm and to make a way out of no way. White vultures are also known as highly maternal creatures, so much so that a mother white vulture, if she is unable to find food for her babies, will pierce herself and feed her offspring with her own blood—an act of supreme sacrifice for the greater good.

If we go deeper beneath the surfaces our educations have taught to swim in under the pretense that we are swimming in deep water, it becomes clear: The womb is cosmos personified and motherhood is about birthing and nurturing life in all of its varied manifestations, it is to extract life out of things that seem lifeless—to make a way out of no way—to be the living personification of the reciprocal elegance of sacrifice, ensuring that greatest highest good has a chance to grow and blossom in every circumstance. 

The West is an odd place, we celebrate mothers but hate women. The wisdom of our ancestors awaits us—offering us more than things, they offer us possibilities for creating a better, more just, more balanced and egalitarian world, where women and men work in fruitful harmony. All we have to do is find the courage to go back, fetch what was lost, and catch up to them.

Blessings to all our mothers, those here and in the community of the ancestors, those who birthed us-physically and spiritually, those who raised us, those who nurtured and continue to nurture us, making a away out of no way: Happy Mother’s Day.

— Àdísà

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What’s Going On? Finding the courage to ask the right questions about Police Terrorism — Adisa

Mother, mother

There's too many of you crying

Brother, brother, brother

There's far too many of you dying

You know we've got to find a way

To bring some lovin' here today...

Don't punish me with brutality

—Marvin Gaye, What's Going On?

A few of day ago, Toni Morrison, novelist, Nobel Laureate and one of the finest minds America and Africa has produced, when asked by Charlie Rose on the Charlie Rose Show what was surprising about the latest waves of police terrorism (not a term he used but one that is apt) said in essence that it was the "obvious cowardice of the police" and when asked for her solution, she offered, "better training."

That was an excellent and perceptive answer to the wrong question. The question is what empowers the police to feel as though they can murder Black people with impunity? When asked this way one can see the insufficiency of our esteemed elder Toni Morrison's answer. But it is precisely that question that takes us past the symptoms—police terrorism—to the disease: white misanthropy (we should stop using white supremacy, there is nothing supreme about a system rooted in the destruction of every living thing).

Just because you can shoot an unarmed person, posing no danger to you or others, running away from you, it still doesn’t answer the question: Why WOULD someone shoot an unarmed person running away from them? It is not a typical human response to fear someone running away from us, especially if we are armed. Toni Morrison also noted the example of the officer who refused to shoot an armed suspect asking to be shot as a sign of bravery. Her example also illuminates the point: officers have the option not to shoot, so the question gains motive force: What/Who empowers them to murder Black people with impunity?

Which brings me to the point that animates this essay and the one in which many, many Black folks are afraid to be honest about: Within the system of white misanthropy, Black people are not viewed as human. Within this context the police are empowered by the state to police us, and when we escape the cage of white expectation—to hunt us. In much the same way, someone hunts game, you try to capture it alive, if you cant then capture it dead.

On the rare occasion that a police officer is actually charged and prosecuted for the crime of shooting an UNARMED Black person, the murder is treated not as crime against humanity but rather more in the way one might be prosecuted for hunting a bear past sanctioned hunting season or hunting deer without a license. In other words, as an officer you’re not wrong for killing them; you’re wrong for not doing it the right way—that one must follow the are appropriate procedures for murdering unarmed Black people.

Many whites—if not most; I’m willing to except in a nation of well over 150 million whites that there might be three or four white folks who are the exception—share in this white misanthropic view. How else do you explain the lack of national outrage or even national empathy for the murder of the seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones as she slept or the twelve year old Tamir Rice, who was doing what young boys do every day in America, play with toy guns. If you’re white you don’t have be against the police to feel sickened that a little girl was killed in her sleep or young boy lost his life for playing with a toy gun. How do you watch the video of Walter Scott, a father, who had committed no violent crime— and was UNARMED—getting shot in the back eight times as he ran away from the officer, and not feel saddened for such an unnecessary loss of life.

Courage shows up in many forms, one of them is the ability to look the truth in the face and acknowledge it: In America, whites, by and large, do not view Black/African (americans) peoples as human. All one has to do is witness the spectacle of horror and sadness about abused or abandoned animals, the recoiling at commercials that focus on abused dogs, or the overwrought anger at Michael Vick for brutalizing dogs. Given the level white outrage and vitriol directed towards Michael Vick, I don't think it's unfair to assume that many whites would have been okay with capital punishment for his crimes--against animals. Contrast that to inhumane silence by many whites over the murder of two Black children by the police. Let that sit with you for a minute. The irony is embarrassing; the source of it is tragic and revealing in its display of white inhumanity.

The tragedy is compounded because too many Black folks don’t see Black folks as human eitherwith alacrity many of us accept the most base, backwards and erroneous assessments of our people as hard truth. What else is Black respectability politics but the tacit admission that Black folks must do something extra in order to be viewed as human by whites? What is that but an unconscious acceptance of the lie that we aren't human, yet? You see being human is like being pregnant, either you are or you aren’t. The moment you say women are less than men or that they have to dress a certain way to get respect or Black and Brown folks are less than whites and that they need to earn respect, you’ve already said they aren’t as human as you, which is to say: They aren’t human. And from that point on seemingly any kind of abuse or disrespect is permissible.

This accounts for why you can have Blacks firmly entrenched in the white misanthropic power structure and still get the same dehumanizing outcomes. Exhibit A: The black cop standing over Walter Scott's body, helping the white officer cover up the crime. Exhibit B: The Black Mayor of Baltimore and the other Black Folks firmly entrenched within the white misanthropic power structure, which Dayvon Love laid out eloquently on The Melissa Harris Perry Show. It is also illuminates and cast into a brighter light the disparities that exists between African (Black) people and whites in nearly all quality of life indicators which runs throughout American society like arteries throughout the body; one system for humans (whites), and another system for the almost humans.

This different equals deficient logic is crippling for everyone. Newsflash: This system of white misanthropy doesn’t like white people either—it likes property, profits and white misanthropy, and privileges those who advance that evil triumvirate. white people untutored in basic American history, but well educated in the propaganda of white misanthropy and thus blinded by the white light often cant see this point.

The main reason white folks are under the illusion that they are doing better than they actually are (there are more whites on welfare and food stamps than Blacks by raw numbers) is because Black folks are doing so poorly by contrast. Here the media serves a vital function in reminding its white citizenry: If you think you got it bad, just look at the negroes. The boy who gets physically abused by his father thinks his abuse is not so bad when he compares it to physical and sexual abuse his sister endures. The illusion of Black Pathology trumpeted by mainstream media exist to as means of mind control for whites, to divert their attention from the ways the system is sucking them dry like a vampire on an alabaster virgin.

Returning home: It is not enough to recognize that our own humanity is not being acknowledged, we must also be courageous enough to ask the harder questions about the humanity of anyone who fails to recognize our humanity. In the short term, we must deal with police terrorism. But in the long term, better questions will ultimately reveal that focusing on police terrorism without addressing the system that produces it is like blaming the rope for the lynching.

We can defeat white misanthropy and provide space and oxygen for a better way to live breathe, but it will only be won if we find the courage to ask better and better questions of ourselves, of others, of society and of this venal system, and then summon the bravery to model our lives in ways that follow the life affirming answers.

In life, love, and liberation

— Ádìsá