Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sojourner's Meeting #1: First, LOVE YOURSELF As An African-American Woman

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at http://www.sojournerspassport.com/.

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif
____________________________________________

After some reflection, I realized that those of us walking the sojourner's path need to immediately start having some conversations about the particular issues we face as African-American women on this path. And these are going to have to be difficult, grown-up conversations about some painful and complex things.

Here's why: As African-Americans, we have a history of falling into one calamity after another. When we fail to protect our ethnic self-respect, even our solutions become new, self-destructive problems. I DON'T want that painful pattern to be repeated with The Sojourner's Way.

Furthermore, DO NOT interpret any of what follows as some sort of broadside against any other blogger. Like I said, we're going to have to start having some more adult conversations. This means exploring different takes on various ideas. Disagreement on one or even more points DOES NOT automatically mean disrespect or disparagement of those with other views. As I said in an earlier post, making room for dissensus is essential to our survival. We must learn to take what is useful from a point of view and discard the rest. Without rancor.

Avoid Becoming A Refugee

As I said in The Way of The Sojourner:

"A sojourner is not a refugee. Refugees learn new routines and ways of living on the outside. But they do so as servile beggars in relation to non-Black people. Refugees have absolutely no ethnic or racial self respect. Instead of traveling among outsiders as self respecting people with their own proud history, refugees seek to lose themselves among outsiders."

Unless we make a conscious decision to find and strengthen our basis for ethnic self-respect as African-Americans, we will inevitably turn into self-hating, Black-hating refugees. This is exactly what our people have done with previous paths such as integration and multiculturalism. As a result of not securing our ethnic self-respect, many of us started "carrying water" for other people (be they non-Blacks, non-African-American Blacks, "biracials," etc.) once we got on these previous paths.

This is what our people have previously done when we sought to lose ourselves in a purely "religious" identity. Many African-American Muslims (mostly men) have already fallen into this self-hating, Black-hating trap. Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, blog host of A Singular Voice, talked about this in his excellent series "Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand for Justice":

"Unfortunately, in the minds of some confused individuals "Blackamerican progress" and Islam are mutually exclusive thoughts. Because of the ‘‘teachings’’ of the past decade or so from certain imams and du’’aat - even Blackamerican ones - we now see that any talk of Blackamerican Muslims showing concern for their own community immediately provokes shrill accusations of "nationalism" or of "dividing the Muslim community."

And what is so tragically ironic about it all is that at the same time these people raise the ugly specter of ""nationalism"" - being unable to advance even a cogent definition of the term - they will in the same breath utter the completely absurd statement of "I'm not Black, I'm not African American. I'M JUST MUSLIM." However they are unable to sustain the delusion of being a racial and ethnic tabula rasa (blank slate) for very long, and waste no time reinventing themselves into the mirror image of a Saudi, Sudani, Pakistani, or what have you.

. . . "Islamic passing" expresses itself in many interesting ways. One version is to literally "pass" from America to a Muslim country by shedding their past history and cutting off family in the hopes that their children and/or grandchildren will marry amongst the natives and become Saudis, Egyptians, Kuwaitis or what have you. [Khadija speaking: Similar to the way that self-hating Black parents of "Don't call me Black" so-called "biracials" desperately want their children to pass into non-Blackness.]

Similar to "mulattos" and "octoroons" in the early twentieth century that passed into whiteness by breaking with their past and living white lives, the intent here is to make a clean and complete break with their Blackamerican culture and heritage and start new lives as "real" Muslims. Hence the mantra: "I am just a Muslim." They are not only making "hijrah" from America, but from blackness itself. Something leads me to believe that were it not for stringent visa regulations many of our brothers would have chosen this avenue.

In lieu of the above, another form of "passing" is to no longer wear "kafir clothes" and restrict ones attire to the national dress of some Muslim country - usually some kind of long thobes - speak English with a fake and broken Arabic accent (or perhaps Urdu) [Khadija speaking: As much as I like and admire her, I do recall the spectacle of Tina Turner starting to speak with an affected British accent at one point], and believe Arab (or Pakistani) women are all princesses and all black women are low and unworthy. [Khadija: This is why many of us who are making the call for African-American women to "live well" have been talking about doing what one can to increase the odds of meeting and marrying a QUALITY man, as opposed to specifying any particular ethnicity of men.] They will leave off "kafir food" (American cuisine) and only consume "Muslim food," that is, Pakistani, Arab, etc. delicacies." Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand For Justice, Pt. 5. (emphasis added) http://singularvoice.wordpress.com/2007/12/11/why-blackamerican-muslims-dont-stand-for-justice-pt-5/

African-Americans Are NOT Ethnic "Blank Slates" Who Were Only Previously United By Superficial Characteristics. We Are A People Among Other Peoples. With Our Own Unique Shared History and Culture.

Beware of denying our African-American ethnic group's "peoplehood." Doing so leads to becoming a refugee. This mistaken idea has been the ruination of African-Americans throughout history. This mistaken idea is why, up to now, most of us have never been able to maintain our ethnic self-respect in the presence of others.

Nature abhors a vacuum. That's why African-Americans' past attempts to become ethnic "blank slates" by denying our shared history and culture has always led to being filled with self-hatred.That's why I'm on "high alert" about this topic. Be especially cautious of such arguments coming from non-African-Americans who claim the benefits of "peoplehood" for themselves while they deny it for us.

The old slave-breakers had to sever our ancestors' connections to each other by FORCE. In the modern era, people (including those who might actually mean us well, and NEVER intended to hurt us) sever African-Americans' connections to each other by MISTAKE or by GUILE. In previous eras, African-Americans were confused enough to go along with having our "peoplehood" negated by others, but no more.

Don't Tap Dance On Black Unity's Grave; Doing So Leads To Becoming A Refugee

I. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

I know that many of you are deeply angry with "Black Unity," and are therefore eager to dance on his grave. [And let's call him a guy, because he really did favor Black men's interests over those of Black women and children.] This would be unfair AND a mistake on your part. Here's why:

There's a real distinction to be made between what Black Unity was during his youth and middle age, and what he became during his senility. Black Unity became enfeebled and afflicted with Alzheimer's as he aged. In his senility, he confused the meanings of many of his values. In his senility, he also fathered illegitimate children called The Acting Black Crew.

This is why many of you are justifiably angry with Black Unity. You never got to meet Black Unity in his youth and middle age. Some of you didn't get to grow up in Big Mama's House; you were raised in the midst of a Hip Hop Crack House culture. All you ever saw was a destructive, senile, elderly guy and his illegitimate, ghetto, gangbanger Acting Black offspring.

If you're going to judge Black Unity, judge him by ALL of his actions, not just what he did after he became senile and afflicted with Alzheimer's.

In his youth and middle age, Black Unity was one of "Big Mama's" best friends and champions. Black Unity protected Big Mama to the best of his ability when NOBODY else lifted a finger to help her.

Among other things he did, Black Unity told African-Americans to stay off those buses after "Big Mama" Rosa Parks was arrested.

Without Black Unity's efforts, you wouldn't be free enough to travel ANYWHERE. Remember that.

I love my Big Mama, and I love and praise God Almighty for everybody who ever helped her. Including Black Unity. I don't forgive him his later trespasses. However, I'm still grateful for what he did for ME and countless other African-Americans. I give credit where credit is due.

In his youth and middle age, Black Unity kept the worst ravages of African-American self-hatred at bay. We all see what happened after he became feeble and senile: The escalation of the paper-bag test into a manila folder test; the near-requirement that Black entertainers be (or look like) White women's children; flyers advertising parties for light-skinned women, etc.

For all I know, without Black Unity I might have grown up to be a "hair-flipper."

II. We Said "Black" Unity When We Were Actually Talking About "Black" Unity Within An African-American Context

We've been saying "Black," but what we're actually talking about is a concept ("Black Unity") as expressed among African-Americans. The same with the concept of The Acting Black Crew.

Because we've been saying "Black" when we're really talking about phenomena that are specific to African-Americans, others have contributed perspectives that don't necessarily apply to our specific circumstances as African-Americans. This is why sometimes it helps to be specific in terms of identifying the ethnic group one is referencing.

During previous decades, African-Americans also said "Black" when what we were actually referring to was ourselves in the context of OUR particular shared history, culture, etc. as a separate ethnic group. It took African-Americans quite some time (centuries) to process the evolving idea of how we felt comfortable describing ourselves as a separate ethnic group. But at each stage, African-Americans were referring to ourselves as a separate ethnic group, with OUR OWN shared history, culture, etc. when we said words like "Colored,"" Negro," "Black," and finally "African-American."

III. Do You Have Self-Respect As An African-American Woman? If Not, Then You'll End Up Being A Refugee.

What African-Americans historically (and imprecisely) referred to as "Black Unity" was actually African-American SELF-LOVE and SELF-RESPECT. All of which is sorely lacking among African-Americans as well as among Black people in general.

From my point of view, the root of the problem is not primarily with the "Black Nationalist" ideologies that originally promoted African-American self-love and self-respect. They are more or less AS sexist as the rest of the belief systems that African-Americans have adopted over the years. I believe that the core problem is with the FUNDAMENTALISM and GROUP THINK that crept into these ideologies. Which is the same unfortunate evolution that occurs with ideologies and religion in general. [I'll do a separate post about how to spot fundamentalism, but that's for another time.]

As with Black Unity, we should give credit where it is due to what Black Nationalism did for us before he became severely mentally ill after years of intense government pressure, including state-sponsored assassinations (COINTELPRO, etc.). Black Nationalism's mind broke under the pressure, and he became a dangerous, screaming street lunatic.

When most African-Americans were worshipping an historically inaccurate, Aryan image of Jesus, and singing songs begging to be "washed White as snow," Black Nationalism said "NO" to that and talked about a Black Messiah.

When racist oppressors within the local and federal governments refused to respond to Dr. King, the presence of Black Nationalism gave these racists something else to consider and encouraged them to make some concessions to the pacifist Civil Rights Movement. In the Cold War context, the presence of a Black Nationalist "boogeyman" made the integrationist leaders' demands more palatable to White politicians.

Give credit where credit is due.

I'm saying all of this to say that nature abhors a vacuum. You CANNOT successfully walk the sojourner's path while trying to be an ethnicity-neutral, blank slate. You will end up as a refugee.

The world is filled with others who have at least some semblance of ethnic self-respect and pride. Whenever "nothing" encounters "something," the "nothing" loses out! If you try to travel among others as a "blank slate," you will lose out.

As sojourners we need to honestly work through the following questions because the answers we find determine the fate of our individual journeys and the path itself:

1. Do you feel good about being an African-American woman?

2. If not, are you going to look into your family history and our people's collective history to FIND reasons to feel good about being an African-American woman? If we search, we will find something and somebody within our family tree to be proud of. I'm not talking about "history book" types of achievements. I'm talking about the wisdom, perseverance, and courage that our forebears had. If at least several somebodies within your personal family tree didn't have those qualities, then they wouldn't have survived. And you wouldn't be here.

I'll be blunt. A lot of times, we try to do things the lazy way. The "business as usual" way. Well, the sojourner's path does NOT work like that. You're going to have to make an effort, go out of your way, and do some internal work if you want to travel the path successfully.

African-Americans are so vulnerable to becoming refugees because we generally don't make the effort to find out about our OWN proud history and true culture.

3. Do you understand that Hip Hop Crack House culture is NOT African-American culture? If Hip Hop Crack House culture and Acting Black are all you know, are you willing to find out who we were before that madness started to spread? Are you willing to walk in dignity with the best of African-American culture?

101 comments:

DeStouet said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

First let me say, I am very fortunate to know a lot about the people on my mother’s side of the family with the exception of my maternal grandmother. The only thing I know about her was that she was an Italian gypsy and an amazing artist, who cherished her freedom above all else. So much so, that she gave birth to 5 children and eventually abandoned them all. My mother, when she was just a newborn in the hospital.

Second, I am a proud African American woman and it is because of my grandfather I feel this way about myself.

My grandfather’s (mother’s father) was born in Texas, but his parents were natives of Louisiana. Both his parents were both Creole. My grandfather spoke fluent French, Creole and English. He was a man that could have passed for a white man –if he had chosen to, but he didn’t.

His parents were from an era where they made the lightest children stay in the house during the hottest part of the day, for fear of their skin eventually being permanently darkened by the sun. Where they flat out refused to allow their light-skinned children to play with children who were dark (no matter how nicely dressed and clean they may have been). From what I was told, the educated sophisticated Louisiana Creoles were a real piece of work. And many of them did everything within their power to distance themselves from their darker family members. This included marrying out and COMPLETELY cutting off other relatives.

Unfortunately, my grandfather and my great uncle (his only brother to speak with my grandfather after he relocated to Philadelphia) said very little about their family back home. I was forced to gather most of what I know from listening to him when he was drunk.

But I do remember my grandfather telling me that I was a beautiful piece of work. To always be proud of the color of my skin. To never hate myself or people that were darker than me. He would say to me, “that is no way to live.” I remember one day when I was just a wee lass, I mentioned that I thought someone passing us by was ugly. He stopped walking, stooped real low until he was my height, made eye contact and said, “There are no ugly people in the world.” He meant physically unattractive.

In my family, I am about the only person in my entire family who claims to be African American. Most of them just say they are “mixed” or “Creole.”

I am not a refugee. I know who I am just like my grandfather knew who he was.

Another thing, I don’t want to walk around being a “blank slate”. It would cause me to feel as if I had nothing to offer others and that my only purpose in life was to learn and adapt to the ways, ideas, and beliefs of others. I am not thrilled at the idea of that. My opinion of others is not that high to just go along with everything they have to offer.

Khadija said...

Hello there, DeStouet!

Thank you SO much for generously sharing the details of your family's history. One of my best friends (light-skinned, French maiden name, her other family members mostly identify as so-called "Creoles") and a coworker (dark-skinned man, Anglo last name) are from New Orleans.

To hear them both describe it, that colorism mess in New Orleans is as serious as a heart attack. If I remember correctly, Tiger Woods' self-hating Negro father is from Lousiana. [If so, it figures.]

It makes me even prouder to know my friend because she's NOT into denying her Blackness with the "Creole" madness. The BM coworker, on the other hand, has color issues. As well as one of the Black secretaries as work. Her family is so-called "Creole" from New Orleans and she's busy passing for Latino at work.

My paternal grandfather passed for White to get a better job on the railroad; but that was it. He was NOT enchanted with White people. At work he heard the things they said when they thought they were alone, and he resented it.

And for all of his many flaws (overall dirtbag of a person, womanizer, spent money on himself and his pleasures that he should have spent on his family, etc.) my paternal grandfather did not raise my father or his siblings to be refugees.

My maternal grandparents didn't raise their children to be refugees either. Those relatively few nuts in my family who became self-hating refugees had to embark on those projects on their own dime.

That blank slate/refugee mess is is NOT what my family's patriarchs or matriarchs believed in. They had self-respect and ethnic pride. I find it amazing that, even in much worse eras, so many of our people kept their racial and ethnic self-respect. I'm so proud of them. Including my immediate ancestors.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

I am not, nor could I ever be a blank slate. I've always been a student of history because both my parents valued learning above and beyond pretty much anything else. Given their background, this was a major accomplishment. My mother for all intents and purposes taught herself to read, and any education she acquired was under her own devices because she was forced to drop out of school at twelve. She went to work to take care of her younger siblings because her own mother had become mentally ill.

I'm also proud of the fact that my parents raised us without any of the color madness that is so pervasive in our culture. I was unfortunate that Black Unity was in dire straits by the time I came along, but I was an 'old folks' child' so I had them to tell me about the time when this was not so.

My grandmother was biracial, all her siblings went 'up north' and passed. She was the only one who chose to 'stay cullud.' She and her white father had a falling out over this, as he wanted his kids to get an education and escape Jim Crow. He never forgave her for marrying a black man and staying in Alabama. Unfortunately, her marriage didn't turn out well.

I understood from an early age that OOWs were once as uncommon in the black community as they were in any other. And I knew that this deviant culture others were calling black was not, and never had been ours. My parents used to call it 'jailhouse mess.' As usual, they were dead-on.

My mama was one of those old timey black folks who took in children when others wouldn't. There was no social service system for black children back in the day, and my mama raised several dozen children without receiving one dime from the state. She used to tease me that she was a far better social worker than I was. Not a single one of her children ever wound up in jail or on welfare. I wish I could claim such a record!

Bottom line is, my ancestors lived and died to get me to this point, and I've got too many fabulous stories to pass on to my child. It is unfortunate that so many of my family members have gotten so caught up in 'acting black' that they've forgotten what true blackness is. I haven't forgotten and never will.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Roslyn!

Your parents sound like my grandparents who DEEPLY valued education even though they didn't get very far with it. Nevertheless, my maternal grandparents were busy buying and playing records of ballet soundtracks for my mother and her siblings.

They did whatever they could to broaden their children's knowledge of the world. All from their tenement apartment on the South side of Chicago. After a day's work as a maid and a handyman. This is why it annoys me to hear people assume that you must be ignorant of the world if you lived in an all-Black environment.

As I've mentioned in earlier conversations, my Dad took my brother and me to foreign movies, classes in aikido and tea ceremony demonstrations at the Japanese Cultural Center, etc. as small children. And then we came right back home to our all-Black middle class neighborhood. Where my parents and the neighbors were quite happy living among other African-Americans. [You know, just like people in other ethnic groups are HAPPY to live among themselves.]

As I've mentioned before, my grandparents took in and raised my aunt's then-teenage friend's baby. Without looking to get paid. They did it because it was the right thing to do; and my grandparents loved "chil-ren" (as they pronounced the word--LOL!).

African-Americans have a proud shared history and culture. Just like any other ethnic group. If only more of us would take the time to dig underneath the pile of Hip Hop Crack House mess to find things we would be proud of, if only we knew about them. If so, then more of us would be able to hold our heads high as we travel among others.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

We need to break off $350 for those mater/pater DNA tests and go to Ancestry.com if we don't already have information readily available. Watching African-American Lives every year the responses from some of the celebs always amazes me when they find out what their ancestors did and I wonder why they of all people don't find this information out earlier since they have the means to do so.

You know it's an investment in ourselves just like setting aside for retirement or paying for college that can only help. I guess I thought it was assumed that we had to have a measure or pride in ourselves to avoid creating a generation of Tiger Woods as we mate with non-Black men but that's a necessary caveat we need to consider.

I now think I can wear the African American title with purpose because for the longest time I just didn't get it. I didn't see any pride going into it, just an attempt at feeling pride by using it. So it rang hollow to me, but now I can connect its use to something powerful.

We definitely need to recognize our diverse ethnicities but always giving historical precedence to those descended from slaves who built this country (and the few FreePeople who managed to survive here as well).

We can't be free if we're running away from ourselves.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Faith!

You said, "We need to break off $350 for those mater/pater DNA tests and go to Ancestry.com if we don't already have information readily available."

Response: The tools are available for those who don't know anyone in their immediate family history that they can feel good about. But we don't use these tools because we want to lazily coast along with "business as usual."

Unfortunately, with AAs the "usual business" is rabid, unaddressed self-hatred. The Sojourner's Path is a clean break from business as usual!

You said, "Watching African-American Lives every year the responses from some of the celebs always amazes me when they find out what their ancestors did and I wonder why they of all people don't find this information out earlier since they have the means to do so.

Response: More business as usual coasting.

You said, "You know it's an investment in ourselves just like setting aside for retirement or paying for college that can only help."

Response: Yes, finding out things in our personal AA heritage that we can feel good about is an investment in ourselves. A CRITICAL one.

You said, "I guess I thought it was assumed that we had to have a measure or pride in ourselves to avoid creating a generation of Tiger Woods as we mate with non-Black men but that's a necessary caveat we need to consider."

Response: No, we CANNOT assume that. I hurried up to do this post today because I was alarmed by the vibe that I picked up coming from the edges of the 1st "Sojourner" conversation and some other recent conversations.

You see, I KNOW our people. I KNOW that many of us, just like BM, are looking for the nearest exit OUT of our African-American identity.

By contrast, a Sojourner walks with love and respect for her AA heritage.
This isn't just AAs trying to "escape" out of the Black race, it's also us trying to "escape" out of our AA ethnicity.

Have you noticed that all-Black people who are 1/2 AA and 1/2 other type of Black person almost ALWAYS identify themselves by their NON-AA half?

The overall pattern is that whenever there's a choice between identifying as an AA and something else (including a Black non-AA ethnicity), the AA identity almost always is NOT chosen.

Those of us whose appearance can "justify" it, start emphasizing our 1/677th Cherokee/Irish/Martian ancestry. Those of us whose appearances don't lend themselves to the "I'm Cablanasian" game, start prepping our children to disappear into other people's gene pool.

You said, "I now think I can wear the African American title with purpose because for the longest time I just didn't get it. I didn't see any pride going into it, just an attempt at feeling pride by using it. So it rang hollow to me, but now I can connect its use to something powerful."

Response: For the most part, AAs are lying and bluffing when we say that we have ethnic and racial self-respect. Other people see this. This is part of why we're not respected as a group. This is why other people prey on us, and think they can talk to us any kind of way. Our desperation for outside validation makes us easy "marks" for exploitation and mistreatment.

By contrast, a Sojourner walks with SINCERE and DEEP pride in her AA heritage.

You said, "We definitely need to recognize our diverse ethnicities but always giving historical precedence to those descended from slaves who built this country (and the few FreePeople who managed to survive here as well).

Response: We need to focus on strengthening OUR AA self-respect before we start worrying about others. Why don't we ever notice that other types of Black folks are QUICK to tell us about their islands and countries? And there's nothing wrong with that. People are supposed to feel good about their heritage. What do we as AAs have to say in response to that "On my island/in my country we do blah-blah" talk? Usually nothing because we don't take the time to find out things that we can feel equally proud of. That's not other people's fault. That's our own fault that we don't seek to develop our ethnic pride. This business as usual self-disrespect due to laziness is NOT the Sojourner's Way!

You said, "We can't be free if we're running away from ourselves."

PREACH! {raised fist salute}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Hagar's Daughter said...

Khadija,

When I think about Black Unity I think about a people who were betrayed and stolen from their homeland and stripped of their language and personhood. Yet manage to survive. In fact, only the strongest survived such brutality.

They were taught a religion that was designed to make and keep these captured people docile, but they appropriated this Christian religion for their survival, escape, and entertainment. Even challenging and rejecting theology that did not meet their needs. Their identifying with Jesus as Savior was for many based on Jesus being rising again after being beaten, bruised, and falsely imprisoned. There is a documented incident of a cleric going to a plantation preaching that slaves should obey their masters (Ephesians) and the slaves began walking away. After the sermon the minister asked several enslaved Africans why and was told that they believed the preacher was lying because God wouldn't say a thing like that.

I could go on. This is what was passed down to me; I have this same blood running through my vains.

Black Unity meant that to me; that no matter our individual experiences we as Black people wanted justice and equality. It meant that our women, children, and elders were protected from the thugs and others seeking to harm them. Now "keeping it real" has suffocated Black Unity.

Being proud of who I am means that I have accepted my story and my experience as normative, your experience as normative, Rosalyn's experience as normative, etc. (hi Rosalyn, the one who writes!) It is up to us to take back what "being black" is / means. I apologize for nothing; I'm not responsible for what other black person do good or bad. And I still believe that "when and where I enter...then and there...the whole race enters with me." [Anna Julia Cooper] It's not because I carry the burden of the race on my back, or that I'm any more special than the next, but rather it's because I am the black experience. And so are you.

Peace

Godelive said...

This is a timely post. (I'm still digesting your last post, too.) I must admit, I had already undergone preparations to morph into the non-AA part of my heritage, to the point of buying flag pennants for my rearview mirror, flag lapel pins (mostly to ward off crazy DBR black males), learning a couple of African languages, finalizing my other citizenship, etc. But now your post gives me pause.

I guess, for me, the reason I wanted to escape out of my AA identity was because of all the negative images that I witness on a daily basis around me, some of which are literally in my backyard. As I reasoned, I had to detach myself from such rampant ignorance, violence and depravity. These realities are not being perpetrated on AAs by forces from the outside. AAs (or what you call the Acting Black Crew) are the primary culprits! Furthermore, if fatherless societies ultimately perish, then isn't that all the more reason to detach myself from my AA heritage? Most importantly, though, I think it was for the benefit of my children that I sought to escape and to embrace the non-AA part of me as well as theirs (their father is a black non-AA) so that they would somehow see themselves as immune to what is currently going on.

I think the hardest part of the AA experience and being able to readily translate that experience into something of which to be proud is that there is no common language and no "homeland" other than what we have here. Sure, we are free to go wherever we want as anyone else is. But isn't it shameful that, by and large, we don't even have slices of a homeland (i.e., neighborhoods) of which we can be proud? Again, by and large, there is also no family structure where there is a responsible male at the helm. I often hear people from other countries doting with pride on their language, their foods, their music, and the landscapes of their countries. But most importantly, they talk about the way they were raised and what a culture shock it is coming here. They talk about how their fathers were strict yet cared for and provided for them and groomed the boys to be proper husbands, and how their mother nurtured them and prepared the girls for their ultimate responsibilities as wives and mothers, and there was a community of people involved in all of this upbringing and this community had a vested interest in the children. I submit that is what foreigners cherish and are most nostalgic about when they leave home to come over here - their upbringing. There is a code, a familiarity, a perspective, a way of doing things with honor and integrity that I just believe is lacking in the US in general and among AAs in particular. That is what I find most shameful about the AA experience, especially as of late. Sure, we could certainly point to certain ancestors and family members and say that so-and-so had a great work ethic and instilled values in us, but what else? I mean, anyone could theoretically say that, assuming they were exposed to at least one decent person in their life. What else is redeemable, salvageable, noteworthy, praiseworthy, excellent about this AA experience? And how do we reinforce our belief in what ever that is and communicate this to other people? Honestly, I am at a loss to answer. It's complicated all the more by the fact that the AA collective is so damaged and you have AAs who are negating and even, as someone put it, cannabalizing whatever good remains from our history in this country. I guess I need to do some more introspection. Sorry for the long rant. Thanks for the great post!

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Loving myself as an African American woman, yes, indeed, without question and without reservations!

As a historian, it is doubled when through my readings and research.

My familial and community history in black unity, black self-respect and black self-love comes from a place similar to what you and Roslyn are describing. In its own way, it was a form of nationalism.

I too believe in giving credit where credit is due.

I see where you are getting at with your take on black nationalism's descent into madness and black unity's senility, and I think those are important points to think about.

Considering your point on black nationalism's demise, I see the sexism of black nationalism as overwhelming the good it once had because the sexism drove him to reject the positives of seeing the black community as comprised equally of the interests of black men, women and children.

Instead, it became all about "him" and his interest in sacrificing black women and children for his own uplift and betterment.

As for the "Acting Black Crew" children, that too was something alien for me, which I only came to understand as an adult. The hip-hop crack black culture/ghetto fabulous thing also came of age in my teenage years and young adulthood.

I knew from my own upbringing that it was not any form of legitimate black culture, so I never got caught in it.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Some further thoughts...

Khadijah:

From my point of view, the root of the problem is not primarily with the "Black Nationalist" ideologies that originally promoted African-American self-love and self-respect. They are more or less AS sexist as the rest of the belief systems that African-Americans have adopted over the years.

My reply:

Thinking about the sexism issue.

Of course, all those movements, the civil rights movement and the black nationalist movement, were pervaded by sexism.

But of importance is that Black Nationalism and the Civil Rights Movement wanted to be patriarchs in a way their Old School grandfathers in their respective movements would have never understood.

Old School wanted to be a patriarch in his community, because that is what he believed was required of him as a man: protection of his family and his community. That is why he was a civil rights activist.

His younger versions wanted to be patriarchs because they believed in their sexism that it was their right as men to have the title and the status that came with that title (ie., unconditional love from black women and children), but they did not want the corresponding responsibilities and obligations that Old School shouldered: protection and support for black women and children.

Old School got his patriarchy "the old fashioned way"; he EARNED IT.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Hagar's Daughter!

You said, "Being proud of who I am means that I have accepted my story and my experience as normative, your experience as normative, Rosalyn's experience as normative, etc. (hi Rosalyn, the one who writes!) It is up to us to take back what "being black" is / means. I apologize for nothing; I'm not responsible for what other black person do good or bad. And I still believe that "when and where I enter...then and there...the whole race enters with me." [Anna Julia Cooper] It's not because I carry the burden of the race on my back, or that I'm any more special than the next, but rather it's because I am the black experience. And so are you." (emphasis added)

YES! {raised fist salute}
________________________

Hello there, Godelive!

You said, "I must admit, I had already undergone preparations to morph into the non-AA part of my heritage..., to the point of buying flag pennants for my rearview mirror, flag lapel pins (mostly to ward off crazy DBR black males), learning a couple of African languages, finalizing my other citizenship, etc. But now your post gives me pause."

Thank you SO much for your (brave) candor! Like I said, I KNOW our people and our little "ways." I KNOW that there are lots of other AA women listening to these conversations who are/were heading for the exits OUT of our AA heritage.

I would urge you NOT to do that. Not that I want or need anybody else to feel good about our AA heritage for my benefit. Like I said in the 1st "Sojourners" essay, each sojourner makes her travels her own.

I'm urging y'all not to do that for the simple, practical reason that it does NOT work. And trying to do that will mutate you into a refugee. If a woman is a refugee who is (mistakenly) calling herself "a sojourner," she's obstructing the path. She would be blocking the path BY DISCREDITING IT IN THE EYES OF OTHER PEOPLE. Here's the reason why trying to run from our AA heritage doesn't work:

Simply HUMAN dynamics. Like I said in the main essay, whenever "nothing" encounters "something," the "nothing" LOSES OUT.

Do you remember being around 6 years old and playing in a group of other small girls? Do you remember how the child who nervously begged to be allowed to join the game was almost always REJECTED and EXCLUDED? The nervous, begging child was rejected by the already-playing group simply because they came to the already-playing group as a timid, insecure beggar.

Meanwhile, the child who walked up to the already-playing group with the self-confident attitude of "I don't care if y'all let me in this game or not. If you don't, I'll take my jumprope somewhere else and play with somebody else" was usually allowed to join the game.

Adult dynamics are not that far removed from what we saw as small girls!
Also, here's a quote from Elijah Muhammad's Message to the Blackman to consider:

"FIRST, LOVE YOURSELF. One of the gravest handicaps among the so-called Negroes is that there is no love for self, nor love for his or her own kind. This not having love for self is the root cause of hate (dislike), disunity, disagreement, quarreling, betraying, stool pigeons and fighting and killing one another. How can you be loved, if you have not love for self? And your own nation and dislike being a member of your own, then what nation will trust your love and membership." Message to the Blackman,pg. 32. (emphasis added)

You said, "Furthermore, if fatherless societies ultimately perish, then isn't that all the more reason to detach myself from my AA heritage? Most importantly, though, I think it was for the benefit of my children that I sought to escape and to embrace the non-AA part of me as well as theirs (their father is a black non-AA) so that they would somehow see themselves as immune to what is currently going on."

Ethnic self-disrespect creates a paradox. It causes AAs to try to flee our heritage. But yet the AA person who tries to flee their AA heritage is making themselves LESS likely to be accepted (much less respected) by non-AAs. Such refugees become a joke, or at best a mascot, to other people. Somebody to be disrespected.

If you choose to define AA culture by the Hip Hop Crack House, isn't it logical for non-AA others to define YOU by the Hip Hop Crack House? If you (out of a lack of ethnic pride) agree that AA heritage is a STIGMA, isn't it logical for non-AA others to stigmatize YOU and YOUR CHILDREN for their "taint"?
This is the Tiger Woods Paradox. When his fellow anti-Black racist golfer chose to insult Tiger-the-self-hating slave, he chose to insult his AA heritage with "fried chicken, etc." references. The White anti-Black racist attacked the Black anti-Black racist Tiger with the heritage that they BOTH agreed was a stigma: AA heritage.

It's the same as what I've read of the self-hating AA Muslim males experiences in Arab lands. Arabs literally call these Negroes AND their half-Arabian children "SLAVE" to their faces! And these self-hating Negro slaves take it because they inwardly AGREE that they are tainted because of their AA heritage.

You said, "I submit that is what foreigners cherish and are most nostalgic about when they leave home to come over here - their upbringing. There is a code, a familiarity, a perspective, a way of doing things with honor and integrity that I just believe is lacking in the US in general and among AAs in particular."

Godelive, I'm so happy you had the courage to say all of this out loud. You've provided an opportunity for us to directly address some difficult issues that pertain to our travels.

I have the SAME sort of nostalgia for Big Mama and old-school AA culture. Said culture was very similar to the values that you're describing with these other people.

How is it that my nostalgia counts for LESS in your eyes than these other people's nostalgia? How is it that you respect other people's nostalgia and not our own for our traditional AA old-school values?
You said, "That is what I find most shameful about the AA experience, especially as of late. Sure, we could certainly point to certain ancestors and family members and say that so-and-so had a great work ethic and instilled values in us, but what else?"

This is interesting. How is it that these other people's self-proclaimed and self-described to you virtues feel REAL to you and our own AA old-school virtues DON'T feel REAL to you? These other people's values are sufficient to you (you are not requiring them to produce something more than self-proclaimed "happy TALK" about their island/country). But OUR AA old-school values are not sufficient for you.

Do you notice that you're asking/demanding "what else" of us to give us some respect, when you're NOT asking "what else" of them in order to give them some respect?
The bottom line to what you're describing is that the SAME traits that cause you to admire others is NOT sufficient to cause you to admire our own people. Because what we're talking about are the SAME traits that we knew as old-school AA culture!

That's very interesting. And it's something that you have to work through for yourself. I can't supply somebody else's ethnic self-respect. Because I don't know what another person would find most meaningful. Finding reasons to have SUSTAINABLE ethnic self-respect is a project that each Sojourner must undertake for herself.

[Incidentally, let me remind you (I say "remind," because I'm sure that logically, you already know this) that every culture has its underbelly. And unlike AAs with our garbage on front street, other people tend to conceal their dysfunctions from outsiders.]

Please come back to this conversation after you've had a chance to reflect on this some more. I would like to continue to pursue this angle of the issue. It's an important one. And you're speaking for so many other AA women who are silently reading along.
____________

Hello there, PioneerValleyWoman!

You said, "As for the "Acting Black Crew" children, that too was something alien for me, which I only came to understand as an adult. The hip-hop crack black culture/ghetto fabulous thing also came of age in my teenage years and young adulthood.

I knew from my own upbringing that it was not any form of legitimate black culture, so I never got caught in it."

All of that Hip Hop Crack House crap is totally ALIEN to me, also. That's NOT who AA people are! These are mutants who have mislabeled themselves as "Black" or "AA."

You said, "Old School got his patriarchy "the old fashioned way"; he EARNED IT."

EXACTLY!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

Khadija said: [Incidentally, let me remind you (I say "remind," because I'm sure that logically, you already know this) that every culture has its underbelly. And unlike AAs with our garbage on front street, other people tend to conceal their dysfunctions from outsiders.]I was going to say precisely the same thing to Godelive. Those people who are telling you about their lives back home are not telling you about the dark side, the underbelly of their own cultures. And why would they? Let's face it, if things were so fabulous 'back home' why are they here? This is something I find particularly annoying about foreign-born black people, they hold their own culture up as something fabulous and wondrous, yet feel they have the right to disparage ours. I've seen other black Americans tolerate this madness, but I'm not having it. Just like you love and defend your culture, I do the same for mine. And most assuredly we're not going to sit around putting my country, my people, my culture down while you speak of yours only in the most glowing terms. That is so not going to happen.

Those people are here, and thus we don't see what's going on back in their homelands and that's well and good. But I can tell you that bar none every culture has the equivalent of the 'crazy aunt in the attic.' EVERY ONE. They only benefit from the fact that their craziness is not put out on front street like ours is. You have to understand that putting our craziness out for public consumption serves the purpose of upholding white supremacy. There's a reason why these disgusting rappers and such can get record deals when people who have actual talent cannot. The same with movies, and yes, even in publishing.

I have nothing to be ashamed of in AA culture, because this culture that others are claiming is AA culture is not my culture. I don't care how many bookstores put up street lit as Black literature, I know better and will trumpet it loud and clear to any and all to hear. This is not of us, and therefore we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Khadija said...

Roslyn,

I don't blame foreign Blacks (or anybody else) for "talking up" their homelands and cultures. That's what healthy people do! Instead of being "begging bowl in hand" refugees.

So, my issue for this conversation is NOT non-AAs. The issue is the fact that AAs currently have certain cultural vulnerabilities that cause this "begging bowl" behavior in reference to outsiders. THAT'S what needs to be addressed before we can go forward.

What I did not like about how some recent conversations are going is that they didn't address this underlying vulnerability. I saw so many people that I could tell were excited because they heard what they interpreted as a hip, new justification for a self-hating flight from Blackness and AA-ness. Straight into refugee status. That's another underlying reason why so many folks are so eager to tap dance on Black Unity's grave!

A large part of the problem is that we don't have HONEST conversations about these matters. Since nobody directly asks the questions "Do YOU feel good about being an AA woman? If not, what'cha gonna do about it?", all of this mess gets swept under the rug. Only to bite us in the buttocks whenever we try to move forward.

Not this time. Not with the Sojourner's Path.

Outsiders who do NOT self-identify as AA CANNOT help us with this angle. In fact, their meddling is a hindrance to AAs regarding this particular angle.

We've gotta talk honestly about some things before large numbers of us start blocking the sojourner's path by becoming refugees!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

foreverloyal said...

As-salaamu-alaikum,
Yes! Yes! Yes! (that was my reaction too, I'm not copying DeStouet, lol)
"It is up to us to take back what "being black" is / means."

My maternal grandparents were sharecroppers. They scraped and saved, moved north, and ran 2 or 3 businesses. My grandfather worked very hard for years to take care of his wife and many children, and also sent money to his mother when he could.
He taught my aunts and uncles many things, and my mom can relay many of his sayings. My grandmother could make clothes, and could grow and can her own food. Her Thanksgiving dinners were legendary: two turkeys (my grandfather always took turns basting), cornbread dressing, mac n cheese, pies and cakes for miles. Her children were always clean and fed. His children "never tasted welfare foodd" (as my grandfather's little sister said)
When it came time for marriage, my grandfather gave my dad that traditional, man-to-man talk. Including the understanding that he expected his daughter to remain bruise free.
My paternal grandparents were also Southerners who moved North. My paternal grandfather also ran his own business, right up until the time he fell sick and died.
Growing up, my parents made a point of taking us to black history, black cultural events. They made a point of having books by authors such as James Baldwin in the house. We used to watch a show called "For the People", an Afro-centric show on public television, nearly every week. (I believe it no longer airs. The host, Kojo Nnamdi, currently has a show on NPR. come to think of it, I should see if there are old episodes for purchase) Sometimes I would go with my mom to her black professional association meetings. She had mostly black doctors. When I had some issues after graduating, I went to see black doctors that she knew.
She helped me plan my wedding, and got the dj and the florist. Yup, you guessed it--black friends of hers!
At the same time, both of my parents had friends of other ethnicities. But they weren't trying to be anything but black, thank you very much.
My parents are both one of many children. They both went to college and then on to a professional degree. They both moved forward.
I am PROUD of my family and where I came from. I am passing that on to my children.
A bit of healthy pride is just, well, HEALTHY! Who wants the emotional insecurity and instability of an ethnic refugee?
------------------
Now about the "Black Unity" analogy. I have another metaphor. I look at "Black Unity" as a grandfather who did wonderful things for his family. If "Junior", "Black Unity II" screwed up, it's not "Black Unity I"'s fault. The child may have the same name as his dad, and may even LOOK similar, but it doesn't mean he's the man his father was!
Personally, I think "Black Unity II" is the one that messed everything up.

LaJane Galt said...

This is right where I am these days. You all discuss unreleased anger...well here you go ;)

I feel like I am literally FIGHTING for not just the reputation, but the reality of American Blacks. I am trying to shatter the monolith.

The toughest battles are not with whites. Most of them know that they don't really know us like we know them.

The hell comes with American Blacks (and foreign Blacks) who have succumbed to the least common denominator. Your metaphor encapsulates this.

My maternal grandfather's grandparents started a school for the family and for the other ex-slaves. They were born as slaves. Grandpa was a Tuskegee airmen who took his GI $ and became a doctor. He also had a pharmacy. My grandmother, a hair salon.

My paternal grandmother's grandfather ran away from massa who took him to the front lines in Murfreesboro. He joined the Union. My grandmother became a teacher after grandfather died. They owned a drycleaner at one point.

We were landowners (not sharecroppers) in the late 19th and early 20th century. Unfortunately my ancestors were victims of pogroms (yes) in Georgia and Mississippi. The MI incident was due to my great-grandfather's ability to read and do arithmetic (for those illiterate white farmers). If I don't get that land back, I will get my own acreage someday.

My family is full of professionals, entrepreneurs, musicians, teachers, veterans and a couple of fools (they know that their behavior was aberrant and are very contrite).

My family is my source of Black pride. I don't owe an ephemeral debt to any random Negro over 50. I can detail to whom I owe anything.

foreverloyal said...

To continue with the metaphors being discussed here: We may not be able to recreate "Big Mama's House." But if we sift carefully through the mess of the demolition, we will find things that can be salvaged.

Look, there's the mantle from the fireplace beside which she read us fairytales. We can take that and put it in our new house.

There's the smashed tile from her kitchen floor. We can recreate it into a mosaic backsplash in our own kitchen.

There's the quilt she made, buried under rubble in the corner. We can wash it and spread it on our own bed.

There's a card with her handwritten recipe for blackberry jam. We can make that and serve it at Sunday brunch to our own husband and children.

We can carry the best parts of our past into our future.

Miss Pinky said...

I don’t think I’ve understood until this moment why I’ve always had such a vehement dislike for the term “African American.” I think it’s because I wanted to distance myself from, as Evia calls them, the Acting Black Crew. I have always found so much power and pride in identifying as “Black.” I think that rejecting the label of "African American," in my mind, allowed me to hold on to the pride and dignity of my up-bringing and completely distance myself emotionally from what is now the "norm" of our people.

I was a late-life baby for my parents so I was blessed to be raised in the values of their generation and not those of my peers. Listening to my parents and grandparents tell me all the stories of their life growing up and living in the Jim Crow era of the south was a huge part of the reason that I came to love the term “Black.” For me the term “Black” was representative of the struggle and victory of their lives and those of all our ancestors.

Knowing my parent’s and grandparent’s past and how they lived their lives with pride and how they eventually thrived is the reason that I’m filled with complete and utter disgust at what the black collective has become. At the end of his life, my Father was so saddened by the state of our people.

Thank you for this Sojourner series as it is helping me to re-evaluate a lot of things and keeping me honest about my own beliefs.

DeStouet said...

I think the advice that was given about doing the necessary research to find out more about your family's history is excellent advice. One that benefitted me to the fullest.

As a little girl, there were many things about my family (especially my grandfather) that did not add up. He was gifted with numbers. He was able to do math problems in his head. He traveled around the world many times before choosing to settle down in Pennsylvania -an excellent golf player among many other things. In the neighborhood I grew up in, there weren’t many other men who could boasts of such things.

About ten years ago, I reached out (by using the white pages) and started contacting some of our/his relatives. After about two phone calls, three snail mail letters, I walked away with a better sense of both my grandfather and his family.

My grandfather left his family (because of their hateful color issues. Not towards him but almost everyone else they would encounter and amongst themselves) and then began to literally drink his life away. He just was not able to deal with them cutting him off and refusing to ever speak to him again.
And to add icing to the cake, when his mother saw that my grandfather was not going to move back home, she relocated to Pennsylvania to be with him. Mind you, she left her other eight sons in Texas. He was never forgiven for this. They felt like he took “their” mother from them.

I think it is important for everyone to know something about those they descend from.

“She would be blocking the path BY DISCREDITING IT IN THE EYES OF OTHER PEOPLE.”
This is why I was never able to swallow the “white is right” kool-aid. Because I grew up listening to my grandfather ramble when he was drunk about his “self-hating” relatives, I am really sensitive to when a person hates their race, and idolizes another. Because my grandfather relatives made it their mission in life to marry out in order to pass for white, I can tell immediately when someone else is doing it. Just like I can tell when a person just happens to be in an IRR and is also proud of their heritage.

I’ve known many, many women who were in IRR and most of them were not proud of their heritage –sad, but true.

If you claim to really care for black woman and young girls, now is the time to deal with your issues. Because if not, than your issues may keep others in the prison.

“Ethnic self-disrespect creates a paradox. It causes AAs to try to flee our heritage. But yet the AA person who tries to flee their AA heritage is making themselves LESS likely to be accepted (much less respected) by non-AAs. Such refugees become a joke, or at best a mascot, to other people. Somebody to be disrespected.”

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens. I am always amazed by the level of disrespect that people who have no “Ethnic respect” will take off of a member of another race. When I was in Georgia, I watched two beautiful sisters be the butt of their “friends” jokes.

One woman actually permitted her friends to call her nigga. She claimed it was no big deal. They knew not to play with me like that. But it didn’t take long before the two of us stopped going out together because although her friends did not play with me like that, I could not stand around while they “joked” with her like that. I remember feeling like I was in an episode of the “Twilight Zone” that’s how ridiculous their comments were.

And she would justify it, by saying they joked with their Asian friend like that. Which they did. But their Asian friend…she had boundaries. And she had no problem leaving when they got out of hand. With her it was an even exchange. Not with the sister though. She would just laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

Evia said...

Khadija, this is my long post of the week on here. LOL!

I've lived all of my adult life mostly among non-AAs and I've never felt like a refugee because I am flaming proud of my AA heritage. I'm also a product of Big Mama's house and actually of Big Mama herself. LOL! I was raised mostly by a Big Mama. My Big Mama instilled in me the hardcore belief that I could go anywhere and do just about anything. My Big Mama is the main reason why I never feared going among other groups of people, marrying them, and living among them.

So, I don't allow anyone to separate me from my Big Mama. I VERY clearly remember AAs as we once were, maybe because I grew up down south in a rural area. AA heritage is a rich, uplifting heritage in many respects, but one with particular flaws. AAs should have been determined to correct those flaws and build on that heritage, but 'hindsight is 20-20,' as they say. I think they did their part and it was left to their successors to continue on that same path, but they dropped the ball.

I've taught my children about that part of their heritage. They don't dare reveal that to their AA peers though. When they've tried to do that, their peers think they're "weird" or different. That heritage is not totally lost. It's still very much alive in a dwindling number of minds and is living large in history and AA literature books. There's no excuse for not learning it--except for lack of desire and laziness.

As an aside, I agree that many AAs are very lazy and anti-intellectual. It's baffling to me, but many of them feel **entitled** to others doing practically everything for them, as if they are ROYALTY. LOL!!!!! This, to me, could be a symptom of being a member of the ABC. Or something strange. They expect for other folks to "give" to them constantly as if you owe them something. They expect for you to dig out knowledge and stuff it into their heads and will blame you if you don't do that. So ridiculous! I've made it clear to my children that THEY are responsible for THEIR OWN learning. No one else. A lot of AAs should open up books a LOT more and could learn how to do practically anything on their own. Instead they sit around complaining about how somebody didn't teach them this or that. SMH

Anyway, my Nigerian ex-husband has many African continental friends and associates, of course, and some of them are in their fities and sixties and I also have a couple of older female relatives married to African men. I've heard these men talking many times about this topic of AA's past and present situation in this country-- because African men LOVE to talk about politics. LOL! And they're absolutely brutal about Africa's rotten (mis)leaders, in general. This is why many of these older African men are still in this country--rotten leadership in their countries.

Many older continental Africans have tremendous respect for OLDER AAs. They told me many times that it was the utter ingenuity and bravery of African Americans who fought against and defeated Jim Crow and of course the continued determination of our AA ancestors to "overcome" during slavery that greatly inspired and spurred many continental African leaders of the mid and latter 1900s (just 50 years ago or so) to rise up against their former colonial masters and fight for their independence. AAs inspired them and bolstered them spiritually and made them know that they too could overcome. Our ancestors were their compass in critical ways--and not just them, but other groups too who lived under oppressive, soul-draining regimes. AAs were living proof that they too could win.

In the U.S., white women. homosexuals and other groups STILL use AAs valiant fight and our victory as their model and their inspiration. TO THIS DAY.

Many of these older African continentals will admit that their fight against their former colonial masters was flimsy compared to the beasts of chattel slavery and Jim Crow that our ancestors fought.

Many people around the world and including SOME white Americans HAD tremendous respect for AAs!! Our AA ancestor warriors were in the belly of an extremely evil beast here and they chopped and clawed their way out of that belly and pushed that beast up against the wall! And our ancestors were a people here without land, without a common language, robbed of their ancestral ways,etc. and they STILL overcame largely by virtue of their mental resources. This is why I KNOW that ***mental resources*** are the MOST POWERFUL resources of all and just about any AA woman can acquire and use those resources if she has the drive and courage to do so.

These older Nigerians say that MANY African continentals were just blown away by our victory here! For ex., they talk about Nnamdi (Zik) Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria who graduated from Lincoln University (an HBCU). He was one of several key African continental nationalists students who came to this country and CHOSE to attend HBCUs in order to be around AAs and study us, OUR ways--even before the Civil Rights movement offically began. They wanted to know more about how we had actually endured and how we were still fighting. Afican continentals could have gone to other colleges and universities then, but they were PROUD to be associated with us.

When I first met my ex-husband, he--and other African continental men who I met and dated--WANTED to date and marry AA women partly BECAUSE of who we were--BECAUSE of the success of our ancestors. The African husbands of my AA female relatives (older than me) also felt that way. My female relatives say that some continental African men tried to talk like AAs at that time and this wasn't exactly that long ago. LOL! They certainly don't do that anymore because of the ABCs and Hip Hop crowd.MOST Africans these days make it clear that they're not AAs. They don't want anyone to even "think" they're AAs. SMH I don't blame them--at all. I travelled back and forth and lived in Nigeria and there are MANY, MANY people living there in mind-bending poverty as well as those who are living VERY WELL, and there is much ethnic strife, but in all of my travels and minglings there and here among continental Africans, I have NEVER met any of them who acts like a typical ABC. They may actually BE just like the ABCs here but they don't show it. LOL!

Bluntly, the ABCs comprise an aberration or a social mutation. They are mutants that threaten to kill the whole body of us. There are social mutations that spring up in every group, but other groups suppress them or do everything they can to erase them as soon as possible. MOST AAs put their social mutations on a pedestal, defend them, praise them and try to imitate them.

AAs have really devolved SO FAST because with 24-7-365 international media and cyberspace, everything has sped up. Hip Hop delivered a death blow, but it couldn't have been so effective if there hadn't been some major cracks in the foundation and the walls. AAs have never dealt with these cracks, which is something you're pointing at in this post. IMO, we didn't really take the time to address those cracks and weren't pushed in the right direction by our (mis)leaders once integration was underway. We certainly know now what many AA males had on their minds at that point. LOL! But we are ALL leaders' in certain ways; we can't just blame those high-profile "leaders" or hold them solely responsible. We ALL have been endowed with free will.

It's easy to say now, but after the civil rights movement, AAs should have tried to LEARN who we were/are and focused on re-building our shattered selves. We should have been very deliberate and methodical about reclaiming some of the progressive aspects of African culture and other bloodlines that we're a product of, and we could have created a successful hybrid culture. ALL groups of people copy what benefits them from other groups. Some continental Africans have asked me why we didn't come back to Africa--en masse and do that. Or they ask why we never tried to learn an actual indigenous African language. BTW, some so-called African languages are not considered by some Africans to be INDIGENOUS African languages.LOL! Some of their languages are considered to be made-up or 'trading' languages. Most people don't care about that, but to me, a cultural anthropologist-minded person like me, this is an important distinction because embedded in a language are a huge number of important fundamental concepts about that culture. You can never understand a people or a culture if you don't know a lot about their language.

We know that many AAs wanted no connection with Africans and many STILL don't. AAs could have also easily learned to speak an African language--like Igbo, Yoruba, Wolof, etc.

The bottom line is that ALL people want to associate with and be connected with***successful*** people because success = LIFE, whereas failure = DEATH. It's very clear to me that one major reason why many progressive-minded people, including many progressive AAs, don't want to be associated with AAs these days or try to minimize their AA blood is because AAs have ALLOWED the Acting Black Crew to take over and thus we largely are viewed and have become a mentally-diseased and DYING group. I know I don't want to be connected in any way with ANY of the ABCs. They're suicidal and genocidal. I don't even have anything to do with my ABC relatives. I don't want anyone to mistake me for an ABC. I may even have to change my accent! LOL!!!!

Let me also point out here to those AA women who are scared to venture away from all-black constructs: If you know who you are and embrace yourself, are upwardly-mobile or have progressive VALUES, you will find it quite easy to mingle with other progressive people. Progressive VALUES are universal. Of course, all people are not going to accept you/embrace you, but way more than enough will. Likewise, you're not going to embrace all of any other group.

I repeat: We were a people without our own land, or our own language, robbed of the cultures we'd known for centuries, etc. yet we still WON against chattel slavery and Jim Crow! We're now being easily defeated by the ABCs.

I am on the cusp of being an older AA and what amazes me is how TERRIFIED so many AA women are of Ikes and Ikettes--online and offline. These Ikes and Ikettes are the "enforcers" for the ABCs out there. They are the "thought police" and can either hand out or yank your "black card" and are very active destroyers of the basis of AA pride. Many AA women are terrifed of these enforcers. I feel very old sometimes because I didn't grow up around fearful bw like this. SMH Just imagine how Sojourner Truth would easily slice and dice an Ike or Ikette and sweep them out with the trash. LOL!

I don't fear any Ike or Ikette. Ikes and Ikettes don't have any power except for the power that the fearful ones give them. Offline, I don't fear any Ike or Ikette either; I stay away from them because I don't want to go to jail. LOL! This may sound hilarious, but just about every day, I receive these frantic notes from AA women telling me about what "evia" needs to do because of Ikes and Ikettes--badmouthing me or bw in general--on this or that message board or on Youtube, etc. Why write to me about this???? I would urge AA women to do whatever is necessary to defend themselves and the good name of good bw--online and offline.

You have to be willing to slice and dice ANYBODY who tries to stop you from 'living well' or at the very least get away from them and don't help/support them in ANY way. I don't care WHO it is. And that can't be a threat; it has to be a PROMISE.
When a reasonably sane person knows that you're willing to go the distance to defend yourself, they will leave you alone and go pick on somebody else. But it's got to be a PROMISE, not just a threat. So the Ikes and Ikettes have stopped writing to me; they know it's a waste of time. They instead focus on badmouthing my commonsense philosophy in the hopes that they can turn confused or weak-minded AA women against common sense. LOL!

The Ikes and Ikettes have become the most formidable enemy that AAs have ever had because they sit at our tables, live in our houses and in some of our hearts. Some of them may be our cousins, daughters, mothers, uncles, aunts, sons, fathers, sisters, girlfriends, pastors or AA folks on the street or at the church who look and sound just like us. They know that some "big-hearted" AA women have a very soft spot in their hearts for them. Just look at all of the notes that "evia" gets from this bw or that one telling me about their "loved ones" who're trying to stop them from 'living well' and yet these women can't figure out what to do or LACK THE WILL to do it.

roslynholcomb said...

So, my issue for this conversation is NOT non-AAs. The issue is the fact that AAs currently have certain cultural vulnerabilities that cause this "begging bowl" behavior in reference to outsiders. THAT'S what needs to be addressed before we can go forward.I agree with you. It angers me when I see black Americans buy into this, because they have no clue as to what that person may or may not have left behind. While we're exposing our ugliness under the pretext of 'keeping it real,' they're looking down on us because we don't even have any pride in what we are.

Those black Americans hate their own culture and that's why they're so willing to allow others to put us down, without giving a thought as to what they're doing.

I feel sad for people who feel there is nothing in AA to be proud of. As a writer, I refuse to relinquish AA culture just for the phenomenal literature alone. As a student of history I can tell my children and grandchildren about phenomenal accomplishments of a people who triumphed against all odds. And created a culture rich with literature, music and scholarship. I'll put my culture up against anyone else's any day, and nobody can take that from me, and I certainly have no interest in walking away from it.

C4L said...

I was born "negro" (on my birth certificate), became black and now am called African American. I am mixed with black and black LOL, even though through the years I have been mistakened for everything but Black.

I know much about our history in this country and have always been proud of my ancestors.

Because of being proud of where I come from, I have always strived to be the best. That meant being labeled a "snob". So be it. I was young, gifted and Black and now I am still gifted and Black. I use my talents to the best of my abilities.

I will not stoop to being second-rate or being treated second-class. I do not subscribe to being less than you can be, so the ghetto fabulous mentality was never mine, and I also never subscribed to helping people who were not willing to help themselves.


I can truly state that I love myself, if we can all get there, black unity will come. I will stop a fool dead in his/her tracks if they come up with stupid comments about black people based on the "ghetto-fabulous" age and school them on all that we have done for this country to help it survive and thrive. I will continue to do so.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Godelive:

Sure, we could certainly point to certain ancestors and family members and say that so-and-so had a great work ethic and instilled values in us, but what else? I mean, anyone could theoretically say that, assuming they were exposed to at least one decent person in their life. What else is redeemable, salvageable, noteworthy, praiseworthy, excellent about this AA experience?

My reply:

But that is what most people give their children as a legacy, the good of their heritage and history: the old school training and heritage.

This is what the ladies here are talking about. Their knowledge of their "old school" history and heritage gave them a firm foundation that enabled to walk throughout this world with their heads held high!

Now the Acting Black Crew so-called culture is not to be embraced, that is a given. But as has been mentioned, they don't represent all of us, and certainly not me, and it is quite clear from everything about me that I'm "old school"!

I don't identify with them so I just stay away. Thus, no one has any basis to presume that I am part of that crowd, and if they do, my response is quite clear that they are mistaken!

So no one would ever presume to think that I ascribe to any values outside of the uplifting values that come from old school black culture.

You address a dilemma common to diaspora blacks, whether from the African continent, or from the "new world" of North and South America and the Caribbean.

For example, you mentioned that your husband is a non-AA black man. Any children you have are going to be considered AA by default. If they are born here, that is what they are, and that is what they are going to be seen as by the world.

So it behooves them to have a positive view of what that means, and that will come from their knowledge of "old school" black culture and black history, whether from an AA context of the context of your husband's culture.

What they do with it comes from the values you raise them to have: pride in being black.

lormarie said...

By contrast, a Sojourner walks with SINCERE and DEEP pride in her AA heritage.--Khadija

LOL I remember back in high school I was talking to another black girl about race. She mentioned that she was part Irish. She was about one shade darker than myself and I'm about the same color as Oprah, LOL. I kept thinking about how ridiculous it was for her to classify herself as anything other than black. She wanted to escape blackness. I feel this way based on other comments she made. Do I have white ancestry? I do on my father's side beginning at about the early 1900's. But if anyone asks me, I say that I'm 100% black. It says a lot about a person who feels the need to identify with a "heritage" that's not easily discernible to the eye.

sistrunkqueen said...

Black women are catching hell allover the African diaspora. There is no utopia for us. We have to make our own happiness in our lives. Toby is gone and he ain't coming back. I read the international news boards on the internet and newspapers about Africa, caribbean etc. Black folks are still lost and confused. It does not matter from which they came. Every other race of people know how to make money, keep up property, get a good education and raise a family except blacks. It is an international problem that I am seeing. I was reading about French Black Africans while doing research and found out that women from mali, mauritania and burkina faso and other african countries have to live in polygamous environments in Paris slums. Their ghettos are in the subburbs not in Paris. The african men get two three women and they live with the man and several children in a two room apartment tenement. It is very frustratng for these women. They are helpless and depressed with not marketable skills. None of them even speak French, which suprised me because I assumed French Africans spoke French!!LAWDY LAWDY. Even in Europe which is suppose to be black female friendly for marriage and dating, some of us can't get a break. I think it was Beverly who warned black women to stay away from the African men in Paris they can be worse than AA men. Now reading about how they treat their women, I understand why she put that on her blog. Black women need to get up from a place of lack and need. We should not be eating mudpies in Haiti, suffering from botched female genital infibulation in Sudan, being gang raped and sodomized in the Congo, catching HIV AIDs in atlanta or DC, or sleeping with the enemy in Paris. My god it seems wherever we go we can't get a damn break. It is so distrubing to me. What can be done about this mass destruction of the black female psyche and soul?

Beverly said...

Wow! This conversation is just sooooo deep. I have so many thoughts on this that I don't know where to start. Well, I guess I'll just start at the beginning. I am half Jamaican but 100% African American. I was raised IN African American culture during the 70's, 80's and 90's and this is the culture that is responsible for who I am and the success I have accomplished in life. I am very aware of this fact and I am VERY proud of being African American. Here in France, I'm always talking about African American accomplishments and how African Americans became a successful group. (so much so that a friend invited me to speak to a group of immigrant children about the African American legacy) I always have and still do see African Americans as a success story. I can know that we are a success AND see our failures too. I don't see any paradox in this. I can also see the cancer that is spreading in our group, protect myself from it AND be proud of my ethnic heritage. As Khadija (or somebody else) said every culture has its underbelly. African Americans are no different.

There are those here in France who have attempted to tell me or suggest that I have no history. They get CORRECTED. LOL My ancestors came to America 400 years ago, were enslaved, fought and won their freedom, battled injustice and overcame great odds that no other people in the history of man have EVER overcome. How many children of slaves have accomplished what we have accomplished as a group? I know many of you may cringe at embracing our history of slavery; but I don't see any shame in that history. A matter of fact, when I first arrived in Atlanta, one of the first things I did was go to a slave plantation because I wanted to walk around as a free and successful person in the land that my mothers and fathers were enslaved in. It made me smile to know that my presence, freedom and success served as a testimony to their greatness. Here I am a free black woman walking around in the slave south. LOL I just got a kick out of that and I still do. Most folks think I'm crazy when I tell them that. I also meet some people who 'feel sorry for me' when I tell them this (because of the slave ancestry) but I really don't care.

My family's history:

My grandfather (American mother's side) only had a 4th grade education, yet when he died he left my grandmother a PAID IN FULL house, rental property and a pension and savings. He raised 5 children and NEVER depended on public aid. I loved my grandfather (he's deceased now) and would never do anything to disgrace him or any of my African American ancestors who sacrificed so much for me. I feel duty bond to be successful, anything less would be a disgrace.

tbo said...

I was raised multicultural, I suppose. (I was a military brat, so I was always in a mixed environment most of my life) I don't think I'm a blank slate, but I think AAs (due to our unique circumstances) have the ability to make our culture/ourselves into anything we so choose. If we really wanted to we could rule.
My mom was a black Jamaican and my father was an African American from central Mississippi with Jim Crow in full effect. They both grew up under much harder conditions than me, so I've always felt lucky & blessed more than anything. :D spoiled according to my parents. Not that life is perfect, but I have so much freedom and options ahead of me.
I was never ashamed of blackness /darkskin. Jamaicans can be COLORIST as all get out, and she was the darkest of all her family, so they tormented her. So I was always raised to be happy with myself & my skin. Also I don't associate the abc people with AA culture, they're closet klan members as far as I'm concerned. My father grew up in Big Momma's house (his seven brothers and sisters all went on to do great in life) and the abc went and burned it down.
The abc also tries to push anyone good out of blackness. They tried to tell me I was "white" for not wanting to pop out oow babies left and right, not dating thug/playas, not wanting to go on welfare,etc. (which is dumb since there are plenty of ww who do all those things, most people just don't see them) and I'm like no I'm "smart".
I expected non-AAs to have a dim view us but it was horrible to find out that so many AAs see each other and themselves in a negative light. You're blog and others have shed a lot of light on this, but I can't really understand the self hate thing at all.
There has to be a way to disassociate the abc from AA culture, instead of decent AA feeling they have to flee...
I'm glad you wrote (and for all your essays) this I never wanted to be refugee no matter how hard I was pushed away. I'm glad for who I am and my heritage.
cheers tbo

Khadija said...

Everybody:

You ladies are sharing so MANY important and thoughtful points, that I'll have to try to somewhat abbreviate my reply comments. Otherwise, I could write a book in response to the wonderful things that you've shared. *Smile*
________________________

ForeverLoyal,

Wa Alaikum As Salaam!

From sharecroppers to businesspeople in the SAME generation. That's quite a leap; it usually takes another generation (the children's generation) to bridge that much distance. I'm impressed. The quote about how your grandfather's children "never tasted welfare food" reminds me of my grandfather's much repeated in family stories disdain for "charity."You said, "To continue with the metaphors being discussed here: We may not be able to recreate "Big Mama's House." But if we sift carefully through the mess of the demolition, we will find things that can be salvaged...There's a card with her handwritten recipe for blackberry jam. We can make that and serve it at Sunday brunch to our own husband and children.

We can carry the best parts of our past into our future."
This is exactly my point. There are so many TREASURES left in the ruins of Big Mama's house. It amazes me that we usually leave them behind. For other people to appropriate for themselves. [See Faith's latest blog post titled "Deploying a Little Negro Spirit: When White Artists Go Black"]____________________

LaJane Galt,

Yes, whether we know it or not, we are in a fight to reclaim our identity as AAs from the Hip Hop Crack House Mutants who are slandering our ethnic group's name.

When AAs try to become blank slates, we are leaving it to the mutants to define US. This is because no matter how much we try to run from our AA identity, unless we can literally pass as somebody else, other people will still link us with whatever image has been established for AAs.
____________________

Pinky,

From my perspective, the problem with calling ourselves only "Black" is that this label is NOT specific to us or our people as AAs. In doing this we make ourselves a blank slate in relation to other Black people who also have specific cultural identities as Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Nigerians, Panamanians, etc.

Can you see the inherent weakness of that position in relation to these other people? By saying only "Black," our people's entire specific, shared history is verbally erased.

I'm happy you mentioned your misgivings about the AA label. It points out how important it is that we openly talk these things through. It also points out how important it is that we REMOVE the "Acting Black Crew" from any cultural equation that pertains to us and our people as AAs. The Acting Black Crew is NOT definitive of who we are! How did those mutants get the power to define us? I hope somebody can explain that to me. I don't get it.
___________________

DeStouet,

You said, "Because I grew up listening to my grandfather ramble when he was drunk about his “self-hating” relatives, I am really sensitive to when a person hates their race, and idolizes another. Because my grandfather relatives made it their mission in life to marry out in order to pass for white, I can tell immediately when someone else is doing it. Just like I can tell when a person just happens to be in an IRR and is also proud of their heritage."Non-Blacks can tell that too. We're NOT fooling anybody with our shiny, new labels for what's motivating our same, old self-hating behavior (such as the "I'm just claiming all of my heritage" nonsense). Other people know what we're doing, and they now why we're doing it.You said, "I’ve known many, many women who were in IRR and most of them were not proud of their heritage –sad, but true."Truth be told, many AA women are the self-hating mirror images of the self-hating American Negroes that we and the entire world (justifiably) hold in contempt.You said, "If you claim to really care for black woman and young girls, now is the time to deal with your issues. Because if not, than your issues may keep others in the prison."EXACTLY! This is what I mean when I say "blocking the path"!___________________________

Evia,

I'm also a product of Big Mama's house. My grandmother babysat me afterschool until my parents got home from work. I spent a LOT of time with her, even as a teenager and young adult until she passed away. As you said, "That heritage is not totally lost. It's still very much alive in a dwindling number of minds and is living large in history and AA literature books. There's no excuse for not learning it--except for lack of desire and laziness." This type of laziness is a disgrace.

You said, "In the U.S., white women. homosexuals and other groups STILL use AAs valiant fight and our victory as their model and their inspiration. TO THIS DAY."Everybody EXCEPT US is helping themselves to the best of our TRUE AA heritage and culture! While we allow the Hip Hop Crack House Mutants-Acting Black Crew to create OUR self-definition. And then after these ABC mutants create a horrible, FALSE image of our AA heritage, we try to run and become blank slates. INSTEAD of reclaiming our TRUE AA heritage and culture. Amazing. Truly amazing. {smh}

You said, "AAs have really devolved SO FAST because with 24-7-365 international media and cyberspace, everything has sped up. Hip Hop delivered a death blow, but it couldn't have been so effective if there hadn't been some major cracks in the foundation and the walls. AAs have never dealt with these cracks, which is something you're pointing at in this post.

IMO, we didn't really take the time to address those cracks and weren't pushed in the right direction by our (mis)leaders once integration was underway. We certainly know now what many AA males had on their minds at that point. LOL! But we are ALL leaders' in certain ways; we can't just blame those high-profile "leaders" or hold them solely responsible. We ALL have been endowed with free will."
I 1,000 % co-sign! We have to address the inner rot and cracks in our ethnic foundation. Right now. Or else. Or else, those of us who have the sense to want to walk the Sojourner's Path will end up broken just like so many other AAs who became refugees.

You said, "It's easy to say now, but after the civil rights movement, AAs should have tried to LEARN who we were/are and focused on re-building our shattered selves. We should have been very deliberate and methodical about reclaiming some of the progressive aspects of African culture and other bloodlines that we're a product of, and we could have created a successful hybrid culture. ALL groups of people copy what benefits them from other groups."Yes, AAs should have done this en masse. It's too late for that on a group level at this point. However, I DO believe that this is essential for all who aspire to walk the Sojourner's Path. Those of us who have ambivalent (or worse) feelings about our AA heritage are going to have to do the inner work to build some ethnic self-respect. Otherwise, one will end up a refugee who is a joke. And a refugee who, by their self-hatred, is sullying the title "Sojourner."

And your point about the value of language is a critical one. I've also paid attention to such things as well. I always found it to be a...curious...choice of the 1960s activists like Dr. Maulana Karenga to pick an East African---instead of West African which where most AAs' ancestors came from, hybrid/trade language such as Kiswahili.

Maybe they thought that doing this would avoid getting caught up in African ethnic conflicts. I'm not sure if any of the languages you mentioned such as Wolof, Igbo, etc. are spoken outside those specific ethnic groups. Kiswahili is trans-ethnic. I don't know.

You said, "I repeat: We were a people without our own land, or our own language, robbed of the cultures we'd known for centuries, etc. yet we still WON against chattel slavery and Jim Crow! We're now being easily defeated by the ABCs."

Response: A Sojourner is NOT conquered or even influenced at all by the ABCs. That's why we MUST remove the ABCs from our mental equations when it comes to contemplating our AA heritage.
________________________

Roslyn,

You said, "I'll put my culture up against anyone else's any day, and nobody can take that from me, and I certainly have no interest in walking away from it."That's the thing. Other people are STILL drawing sustenance from OUR AA culture. Outsiders are still using Motown songs from 45 years ago to advertise their products on commercials! White music artists are STILL dipping from the well our our culture. [Again, see Faith's latest post--her blog is listed on my blog roll.] Everybody is drawing sustenance from our heritage as AAs EXCEPT us!
___________________________

C4L,

I'll also "stop a fool." With a quickness.
____________________________

PioneerValleyWoman,

You said, "You address a dilemma common to diaspora blacks, whether from the African continent, or from the "new world" of North and South America and the Caribbean.

For example, you mentioned that your husband is a non-AA black man. Any children you have are going to be considered AA by default. If they are born here, that is what they are, and that is what they are going to be seen as by the world.

So it behooves them to have a positive view of what that means, and that will come from their knowledge of "old school" black culture and black history, whether from an AA context of the context of your husband's culture."
I'm so happy you mentioned this in your reply to Godelive. Others from her husband's culture will be QUICK to toss the label "African-American" on her children. Her children can either have a basis for feeling GOOD about being labeled AA, OR they can cower and hang their heads low when they are labeled AA.

[It' similar to the dynamic I've seen with other ethnic groups, such as Koreans. Folks, including relatives, from the South "old country" who never emigrated to the US are often resentful of their "pureblood Korean" Korean-American relatives.

At which point the "old country" relatives sneeringly label the 100% genetic Korean relative who lives in America as an "American." And they don't mean the label "American" in a good way. There's often jealousy and basic "hateration" mixed up in these sorts of interactions.

If "old country" people are inclined to do that sort of thing with American relatives who are genetically 100% old-country ethnicity, we can all imagine what they'll do with a child who is 50% AA. Like I said earlier, either we give our children reasons to feel good about being referred to as AA, or we leave our children to hold their heads in shame when they are called AA.]
_________________________

Lormarie,

You said, "It says a lot about a person who feels the need to identify with a "heritage" that's not easily discernible to the eye."

Yeah. It says "NO ethnic self-respect." As much as AAs want to "trip" about this, other people can tell what our real motives are with this sort of behavior.
__________________________

Sistrunkqueen,

I'm not talking about these other, non-AA women. Their circumstances are their project for THEM to figure out. I'm focused on US as AAs. To answer your question, the only "breaks" we'll get are the ones that we MAKE for ourselves. And one needs self-respect (including ethnic self-respect) in order to be able to do this on a sustainable basis.

Our AA ancestors were victorious over slavery and Jim Crow! Why in the world would I weep, wail, and wring my hands over the by-comparison-lesser challenges that AA women are facing today? It's time to move forward to victory!
________________________

Beverly,

You said, "There are those here in France who have attempted to tell me or suggest that I have no history. They get CORRECTED. LOL My ancestors came to America 400 years ago, were enslaved, fought and won their freedom, battled injustice and overcame great odds that no other people in the history of man have EVER overcome. How many children of slaves have accomplished what we have accomplished as a group? I know many of you may cringe at embracing our history of slavery; but I don't see any shame in that history."I also check people who want to claim that we don't have a shared culture, history, and aspirations (you know, just like any other ethnic group).

I feel the same way you do about our history as pertains to slavery. Most of us don't consider this basic, important fact so let me say it here:

Most other people who were subjected to even a FRACTION of what AAs went through did NOT survive the experience. Full stop. Period.

Let's consider that there was an entire CONTINENT filled with Native American nations in the entire Americas. The "Indians" are mostly GONE. DEAD. ERASED. Entire Native nations are EXTINCT. Full stop. Period. And yet we remain as AAs.

The Jews only made it over the centuries because they were allowed to hold onto their religion. Our ancestors were NOT allowed to hold onto their original religions. And yet here we AAs remain as an identifiable separate ethnic group. Full stop. Period.
I believe that more of us need to ponder these facts.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

TBO,

You said, "Also I don't associate the abc people with AA culture, they're closet klan members as far as I'm concerned. My father grew up in Big Momma's house (his seven brothers and sisters all went on to do great in life) and the abc went and burned it down.

The abc also tries to push anyone good out of blackness.
(emphasis added)

Now, there you've said it ALL about the ABCs. I'm so happy you pointed this out. These ABC mutants are NOT Black or AA---They are MORTAL ENEMIES to Black and specifically AA people!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

To everybody who feels ambivalent (or worse) about their AA self-identify:

I am specifically inviting you to explore the reasons for that feeling during this conversation. I promise that I will NOT allow anybody to attack you for sharing how you truly feel. Part of the problem is that our people almost never have honest conversations about this isse. We paper over it with insincere slogans.

Please consider contacting me by email if you would feel more comfortable that way. This topic is something that we really have to work through if we are going to move forward in a way that is SUSTAINABLE over the long haul.

I want your walk on the Sojourner's Path to be a successful one. [I also don't want the path blocked by being clogged with refugees. *Smile*]

Peace and blessings,
Khadija

Lorraine said...

Wow what a profound topic (part 2) and profound responses. I have a sister in law who is from Louisiana. I was looking at her childhood pictures and those of her family's. She is one of the few people I know who actually have portraits of both sets of great-grand parents. Looking at some of these pictures, I would not have been able to tell who Wyatt Earp and who was the Negro. (One was a US Marshall). But I bet they knew. My sister in law looked like a little average blond, blue eyed white girl, but her birth certificate said NEGRO.

She claimed blackness, but some of her family members who could, did pass. Some who could chose to stay black, others who could not pass, tried to; but to no avail. They had to settle for creole (lower case creole --- for even they distinguish themselves).

I have honestly tried not to judge those back in the day who only wanted a better life. That meant sacrifices and a life of secrecy (and maybe high blood pressure at the thought of being found out oneday).

When I see people like Carly Simon and her family who claim their black heritage, but still don't live their lives as black people, I just can't be bitter about it. She does not appear to be at all black so no one would even question why she would.

Now, I on the other hand could be nothing other than my dark skin. Because I realize the ignorance of other blacks I have shared with you before, I did not feel love or unity from most other blacks growing up. I felt hatred, and being outcast. I was the rejected child but hey, I put it all into perspective and took back my crown.

I believe there are some sincere efforts for black unity today but they are gross generalizations because when you go behind the scenes, it appears to be the same old same ole.

I believe we can be proud of who we are and teach our daughters and sons but whose generation will break through? A job has been done on the entire black unity concept and I don't know if it can be saved. This is the reason for divestiture and ark building. The reason for our sojourn as it is. The reason we have to save ourselves. Great, thought provoking post. (as usual)

sistrunkqueen said...

No one answered my question

What can be done about this mass destruction of the black female psyche and soul?
I personally can not separate American black women from African because the white man knows that we are all black. He doesn't make a distinction so why should we. We are all apart of the African diaspora. We may speak different languages but we are still sisters in the struggle for equality and justice for all women. I hate it when we divide ourselves. I know that this is primary about AA women and our unique issues and problems. If this is the case then why are many AA women moving to Europe and Canada to divest?

Miss Pinky said...

Khadija said: "And yet here we AAs remain as an identifiable separate ethnic group."

____________________________________

Well, there it is....I have been so focused on race that I completely lost sight of ethnicity, which is definitely not the same. Wow.

Oh my...you have totally challenged my long-held beliefs about not wanting to identify as AA. Again...wow.

Khadija said...

Lorraine,

I'm not talking about Black Unity. Black Unity is dead. The aftershocks caused by his senility and subsequent death are the reasons why we have to divest in order to save our lives. I'm talking about the many reasons (some ethical, some practical) why we should not dance on his grave.

Primarily, I'm talking about having ethnic self-respect as AAs. Our general lack of ethnic self-respect is the common factor underlying the many things that went wrong with integration (the abandonment and destruction of AA businesses) and multiculturalism (the escalation of the paper bag test into a manila-folder-and-Whiter test). We have to regain and/or strengthen our ethnic self-respect as AAs in order to move forward in a sustainable way in the outer world.
________________________

Sistrunkqueen,

Some thoughts in response to your latest comment:

(1) Charity begins at home. How could I call myself "rescuing" these other women when my fellow AA women are falling into the abyss?

(2) I am a complete outsider and total stranger to these other ethnic groups. I don't know what's going on in their cultures. I don't know how they tend to view the world or themselves as women. I don't know them well enough to know how to help them.

(3) Since I don't know them well enough to know what's going on with their cultures, it would be extremely arrogant of me to presume to come up with solutions for them. It's impossible to prescribe a cure when one is NOT intimately familiar with the patient's history and present condition. Patients tend to have bad results when the wrong medication is prescribed. I'm not trying to poison somebody else by accident.

As I said to Lorraine, Black Unity is dead. The aftershocks caused by his senility and death are the reasons why we have to divest in order to save our lives. We have to regain and/or strengthen our ethnic self-respect as AAs in order to successfully divest and move forward in a sustainable way in the outer world.

Failure to regain and/or strengthen our ethnic self-respect will lead to becoming refugees and mascots who are disrespected and mistreated in the outer world.
_____________________

Pinky,

You said, "Well, there it is....I have been so focused on race that I completely lost sight of ethnicity, which is definitely not the same. Wow."

This is why I'm careful to describe myself and our people as both Black AND African-American. It's important to have racial pride (which is lacking throughout Africa and the diaspora). But it's ALSO critical for AAs to have ETHNIC self-respect and pride specifically as AAs.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Hi Again:
You said -
Those of us whose appearance can "justify" it, start emphasizing our 1/677th Cherokee/Irish/Martian ancestry. Those of us whose appearances don't lend themselves to the "I'm Cablanasian" game, start prepping our children to disappear into other people's gene pool.

My Reply: 1/677th% now that's funny....but so true. I mean truth be told both of great grandmothers were Cherokee but it's not like they're gonna let me claim Tribal Status.

I've also noticed how Obama has been very careful to acknowledge his white lineage without overly emphasizing it. I'm really glad he wasn't raised in your typical all-black construct quite frankly.

Now that I think about it so many multi-ethnic Blacks who have white parentage are usually in such conflict about it that they are often a hinderance. I'm thinking of one woman I had to cut out of life because she was so destructive and jealous. I didn't get it because a did partially give away my crown and yet she was the insecure person. It's rare to find any Black person who is entirely comfortable being Black - or perhaps I should specify Black woman.

Even amongst the upper classes so many have disdain if you're not part of their inner circle. Then you have the complete opposite with the lower class acting black crew. I remember being a teenager and feeling like I was inauthentic for some reason because I didn't like the things I was "supposed" to like. For example I loved British New Wave and wasn't into early rap, New Jack Swing, etc.

I used to wonder if that's how bi-racial Blacks felt because often they did at least explore other genres of music. Now I didn't want to be white but I did want to be okay with myself as I was: liking the things I chose for myself: music, dates, films, lifestyle, whatever. I wanted a safe place to land after trying something different but all I got was grief.

So calling Blacks African-American didn't mean anything to me more than celebrating Kwaanza was supposed to have cultural significance.

Khadija said...

Faith,

You said, "Now that I think about it so many multi-ethnic Blacks who have white parentage are usually in such conflict about it that they are often a hinderance."

This is the fault of the self-hating Negro parent. Parents pass their issues (whatever those issues may be) onto their children.

It's interesting. When I was in college and high school I noticed a distinct difference between half-Other folks who had an AA father, and those who had an AA mother.

When I was younger, the bulk of the "don't you dare call me Black" "biracials" had AA fathers. Meanwhile, the half-Other folks with AA mothers tended to be normal, self-affirming Black people who happened to have an Other father. Most of these folks with Black mothers were NOT obsessed with making sure that you knew that they had a non-Black father. Nor were they fixated on trying to make a distinction between themselves and other Black folks.

I suspect that this was because back in the day, when AA women married out it was more likely to sincerely be about love as opposed to the "anybody but a Black person" quest that self-hating AA men have been on.

Now, I see that AA women have caught up to AA men in the racial self-hatred department. Now, I see that AA women are ALSO raising children with the "don't you dare call me Black" attitude.

Basically, BW have caught up to BM in terms of CREATING and RAISING anti-Black racist children!Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Enlightened said...

Khadija,

These last two blog posts have been AWESOME. I am LOVING this discussion.

You said: Our AA ancestors were victorious over slavery and Jim Crow! Why in the world would I weep, wail, and wring my hands over the by-comparison-lesser challenges that AA women are facing today? It's time to move forward to victory!Amen to that one! I try to keep this in perspective whenever I feel like complaining about something! I've learned my family history back several generations and learned one of my great grandfather bought hundreds of acres of land in the south in the early 1900s that is STILL IN OUR FAMILY to this day (and please believe those white people down there STAY trying to infiltrate 100 years later). He defended his family from the Klan with a shotgun when they came banging on his door. He sent all of his children to college...his wife was college educated, even though he wasn't. One of my other great grandfathers was a Pullman porter who sent all three of his children to college, with two of them obtaining post graduate degrees.

My family is what represents black history, heritage, and culture to me. Black people of integrity, morals and determination who continuously strove to do better against seemingly insurmountable odds. I am so proud of where I come from, it literally makes me angry to see these ABC clowns trying to pass their garbage off as "black culture". I remember you (or someone else who comments frequently) said that being poor is no excuse for not having intergrity. That poverty does not necessarily mean you have to engage in immoral behavior. Can you please post this on billboards around the country? I have been shocked by how many people think that being poor means you automatically co-sign and are a-ok with degeneracy. I had a BM try to tell me that poor people shouldn't be judged for selling drugs because sometimes that is the only way to feed their families and "you never know what you might have to do in a situation". I was dumbfounded (and YES I checked him on it).

On another note, I have to say that you've changed my mind regarding choosing to identify as African American. I used to insist on calling myself a "black American" because I felt that "black" is universal/global and I didn't want to exclude other diasporic black people from the "struggle". But you've helped me realize that AAs DO have our own unique history and challenges that doesn't necessarily have to include other black folks in the diaspora all the time.

Serious food for thought around these parts.

Khadija said...

Enlightened,

So your family still has that land? That's really impressive! I remember the Final Call doing several stories about how AA farmers were being systematically stripped of their land in the South.

Thank you for your kind words about the posts. I truly appreciate it. I must admit that I feel greatly relieved now that we're all having this 2nd conversation. I was DEEPLY worried about what people might be taking away from the 1st Sojourner's post.

I believe that anybody who's presuming to act as an activist (err, that would be me in this case) has an ethical duty to "first, do no harm." After loudly (and perhaps arrogantly) running my mouth about the grassroots activists and their "activist malpractice," I was extremely worried that perhaps I was committing similar malpractice in this context.

I saw how, if I didn't move quickly to try to nip it in the bud, some of us would be eager to misinterpret the Sojourner's Path as a hip, new justification for a self-hating flight from Blackness and AA-ness. Straight into refugee status. I don't want that sort of misinterpretation of my words on my conscience. And since I'm presuming to quasi-"preach," I have a duty to first do no harm.

Whenever dealing with AA issues, it's important to keep our particular vulnerabilities in mind. When we fail to do that, we have disastrous results such as what happened with integration and multiculturalism. When we fail to do that, the proposed solution creates yet another extremely destructive problem.

As I've said in earlier conversations, I believe that this is IT for those few AAs who are serious about surviving and thriving. We will be among the last of the last to survive the coming flood. We can't afford ark-damaging, path-damaging mistakes. We can't afford to end up as ethnic refugees.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JS said...

I understand what you mean Godelive about sometimes struggling with feeling pride about the AA collective. We are in a state of complete disarray. I mentioned in another discussion that sometimes I feel like a class orphan because I not only feel disconnected from people who are a part of my class, but woefully unacceptable to persons middle class and up. In addition, I’ve noticed that the accomplishments that rightfully and historically belong to us are being chipped away bit by bit. Utterances such as it was not only blacks whom fought for civil rights but there were “legions” of Asians who also contributed. Or “we” (meaning ALL Americans) created jazz and rock music. I won’t even go into our many industrial and scientific accomplishments that have been locked in a volt unknown to most humans that have just recently been unearthed.

However, I don’t want to give up the good fight. Unlike some other posters, people my age grew up in a period when black unity was senile. I can’t harp on this pride. In some ways black pride for people who are in their twenties or younger is like being a pauper and having an older relative constantly showing you a tattered, faded old picture of one of your blue blood ancestors. You manage to bare a slight grin and feel a glimmer of pride, but feel so disconnected from that proud lineage. You wonder who you might have been under those more favorable circumstances.

Aphrodite said...

Hello Khadija,


After much thought I must say that this one is a blind spot for me. I would not want to clog up the road as a refugee for other BW, but I can see how my children [if I were to have them] could possibly disappear without some sort of 'intervention'.


I am aware of some of my personal history as an AA. I don't know much about my maternal history/accomplishments. My great-grandparents had three girls and all I know is that they all married and married young. My maternal grandmother, the youngest of the three, was the only one who didn't pass as her sisters did across racial/class lines.


My maternal grandmother did marry into a good family. My grandfather was one of the types who always worked, built his home with his bare hands, and passed those skills on to his sons. He served in the army during the World Wars. I am not sure about education, but he had several brothers who were ministers and who also served in the military. My mother's gen were the ones who spread out all over the country.



Paternally my family is much more rural. My paternal ancestors were sharecroppers who managed to somehow come to own quite a bit land/working farm that is still within the family this day. The way I found this out was that I needed a space to do some spiritual work and until I can manifest my dream of having my own property to do so and though maybe a family member could assist me. So my mom called and I spoke with a few people and I discovered this fact.

My father was less educated than my mother, but she always said that he was an excellent provider, paid for home, car, and made sure that she was happy and comfortable.



I am also foaming at the mouth now because I just had a conversation with my mom (asking about our family) while typing this and she said that my dad had bought some land. That is all I can manage to type right now because I am kinda upset. I am here going all over the world looking to relocate, looking to buy land and looking for ways to generate passive income and generational wealth and here it is that my dad owned god knows how many acres, with god only knows what kind of resource rights, and it may have been appropriated, gone back to the state...Her response is that he had a first wife. My response is I am still his child. (sigh) I am already looking at the crazy grad school battle, and the intellectual property patent battle, and now it looks like I am looking at a massive land battle too. I can't flush money down the toilet. Looks like I am going to be lawyered up and eyeball deep in court systems for the next few years of my life. Like I said I am foaming at the mouth. :(



Anyway, I grew up close to where a lot of the historic/tragic/heroic moments of the 1950's and 60's occurred and had a few family members who were personally involved/injured. My older brother (the no good one) was one of the first to integrate his high school in our city in the 70's. Which puzzles me as to how he turned out the way he did because he did get some of Big Mamas house. He is a lot more race conscious than I am - he has had some personal run ins post Jim Crow with cops and racist whites that were dangerous (this is before thug love and racial profiling back in the day when young men wore slacks before dungarees) so I can understand how he can still be wary of whites. He also is one of the few BM I know who prefers dark women which isn't saying much bc he had so little to offer. Out of all the women and if he lives to be 70 that could include the greater metropolitan area- he has been with only two could come close to the paper bag test. The rest all tend to be darker than he is.


But despite my personal history that I do acknowledge that I feel a bit of a disconnect because I didn't experience what they experienced and I did get the brunt of the ABCs. I do acknowledge that growing up so close to where it all happened does give me many positives to create a legacy, but i wish I had more of a connection to some things.



@DeStouet

"One woman actually permitted her friends to call her nigga. She claimed it was no big deal."


This is not the first time I have heard of such. I used to work with a man who was like that. He hated my guts and the feeling was mutual. One of my black coworkers told me that he would say this to her about other blacks we worked with and I was like what did you do? And she said, "Nothing it doesn't bother me". Well it bothered the you know what out of me. He never said it to or in front of me, but I and ironically this other BM co-worker were chomping at the bit waiting on the day this so and so slipped.


Another instance was an associate of mine whom I share hair care tips with. She confessed that her biracial friends who did her hair would make comments about "nigger hair" all the time and then when she called them on it they would play it off as a joke. These biracial women did braids and had pretty much an all black clientele. I asked her whether or not their clients know how they feel about their nigger hair? Since it was big joke and all in fun I suggested that it would be absolutely hysterical to tell all the black women and girls that patronized their salon exactly that - so everybody can get in on the fun.


I have threatened to shank people who have tried to make wisecracks about my religion. I will definitely shank someone who utters any kind of slur at me or about my group. Well in the case of the salon owners I would have destroyed their businesses first and then shanked them.



@Beverly

There are a few plantations where I am in the immediate area {I filmed at one} and some in further outlying areas- many are on historic registers and it used to be my secret fantasy to own/live in one.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Ok so I went back to Lisa's blog and read through the comments and I now understand why you quickly posted this second piece. So I hadn't thought of this in such a proactive way but those of us who do NOT know our gene pool MUST find out!! How can work on strategizes and changing our mindsets and expect to come out on the other side intact w/o it?

I think this is why there's such a problem. It's like missing a limb and trying to compensate when you are around able-bodied people. You may be able to do everything they can and love yourself but there is a difference in how you experience and interpret common experiences. Just like men and women react differently.

A lot of us don't know our ethnicity. For example where I grew up/socialized you were white or black. Yes the (most) white people knew theirs because they had a much easier access to getting info about their gene pool. I knew there were different ethnicities amongst Blacks but I didn't KNOW any. And the lack of knowing one's gene pool isn't exclusively an issue for Blacks in this country but it does exist for MANY.

I have always thought of myself as being different from Blacks who are Caribbean/West Indian/Latino/Other because we were just plain old BLACK. No this isn't accurate but that's the way it was. So many Black people don't even want to admit they have historical white ancestry in their gene pool UNLESS it's very recent.

People who had access to their ancestry did have a sense of pride but many also had a sense of superiority, especially when those differences manifested themselves in their appearance (skin shade/hair texture/etc).

That's why a show like African-American Lives on PBS that features the DNA and lineage research on celebrities is important to see. It is something that would greatly benefit Black people born in this country who are descended from slaves.

The issue of categorizing Black and African-American is still problematic because it has been an attempt at giving a blanket ethnicity and sense of self to many who have no idea who they are. There's a sense of shame that needs to be addressed.

While we may all share a particular origin of being survivors of enslavement (which is wonderful) not knowing who your "people" are does in fact cause a separation between those Blacks that do and don't know. It's an emotional and mental one not perhaps an "actual" or accurate one still very powerful. It cannot be dismissed either.

We also have to acknowledge for some being a Sojourner means there can be no solidarity amongst Blacks until the playing field has been cleaned and evenly leveled.

As to the inter-ethnic relations: For example if it's a majority of Black Africans who may be able to refer to themselves as African-American BUT ALSO a specific African tribe because they know their gene pool the dynamic WILL be different in their mingling and trying to work with others who cannot.

Some of them will not choose to identify as AA if they can benefit more by being African (or something else). Everybody is not out to be inclusive and empowering and some do want a superior inter-ethnic/racial categorization for themselves when it suits them. That also has to be acknowledged.

We may have a common struggle but the approach will not and cannot be the same because those involved won't see each other as the same. Nor should they. ALL the facets we have to deal with as Black people in this country need to be addressed.

It would have been very helpful if the previous generations had in fact put in the work to resolve this because oral histories are not enough.

Khadija said...

*Everybody:

For this particular conversation, let's stop saying "Black" for a minute. Even though we are Black, we are also a SPECIFIC, separate ethnic group with our own SPECIFIC, separate shared history and heritage as a people.

As anybody who has listened to my previous rants knows, I am not by any means in favor of abandoning our racial identity or racial self-respect as Black people.

But a GENERIC "Black" identity and self-respect is NOT what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about our ETHNIC self-respect and self-love as AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

Please carefully consider the following questions:

When Jamaicans, Nigerians, Trinidadians, etc. proudly and appropriately say to you, ""On my island/in my country we do blah-blah" what do YOU have to say that you're equally proud about with OUR AA people? Have you taken the time to FIND things to say for yourself as an AA?

As things stand, most AAs have not found anything to say. Instead of cultivating our own ethnic self-respect, many of us get angry with these other [types of Black] people for showing a healthy amount of ethnic self-respect.

Do you say something like "AAs traditionally did blah-blah. And my father/grandfather/Big Mama always told us to blah-blah"?

Do you see what an inherent disadvantage you put yourself in with other people if you don't cultivate ETHNIC self-respect as an AA? Do you see how this failure to cultivate ethnic self-respect as an AA sets you up for (invited) disrespect. It also sets you up for being a refugee whenever you come into contact with non-AAs of any race.

Peace and blessings,
Khadija

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Khadija:

It' similar to the dynamic I've seen with other ethnic groups, such as Koreans. Folks, including relatives, from the South "old country" who never emigrated to the US are often resentful of their "pureblood Korean" Korean-American relatives.

At which point the "old country" relatives sneeringly label the 100% genetic Korean relative who lives in America as an "American." And they don't mean the label "American" in a good way. There's often jealousy and basic "hateration" mixed up in these sorts of interactions.

My reply:

This is what I was thinking about. I identify as African-American, because I was born here and that is how I am seen by the world, even though my parents are English-speaking Caribbean immigrants, as are my aunts and uncles, cousins and family friends.

I am the only one among my cousins who was born here, though, and I used to get the "you're a Yankee" kind of thing from them once in a while. Jealousy there, I'm sure.

I had all sorts of advantages growing up because I was a citizen and they were resident aliens.

At the same time, I was not hanging my head in shame because I was born here. For them African American meant the "Acting Black Crew," because that is what was coming into prominence in the 1970s and beyond.

As for me, there is nothing shameful in being African American and I had nothing to apologize for. Living in the US and being a citizen certainly gave me and my relatives lots of advantages, whether they want to disparage African Americanness or not.

Or perhaps their comments lay in a sense of guilt that they themselves have become "African American," since they have lived here since their childhood/teen years? Or were the older relatives thinking about the legacy of immigration?

When I look at the relatives and their marital choices, as an example, I see a pattern: some married African Americans, other married people of Caribbean descent. But as with all of them, they live in the US, so although they might try to escape the African American label, it is theirs and it belongs to their children. Only one moved back to the Caribbean and married a Caribbean woman, raising a family there.

When I have gone to visit the Caribbean, it is quite clear that I am a "Yankee" to those who were born there and never left.

When I spoke to Godelive about people of the African diaspora sharing a history in "old school culture," I was thinking about similar histories/patterns in both heritages: African American and Afro-Caribbean. I embrace them both, because each is something to be proud of.

My ancestors were also enslaved; they were just left off at a different port by the cousins of those who enslaved Africans here.

Different histories, but they are similar: families coming from slavery and in a few generations, through hard work and discipline, owning land, immigrating as sojourners and starting lives anew in foreign lands, yet still using the old values of hard work and discipline to advance.

Very similar patterns, very similar values: living with integrity, pride, self-respect, dedicated to uplift, deeply spiritual, adhering to family values.

No "Acting Black Crew" is going to take that away from me.

Khadija said...

JS,

You said, "However, I don’t want to give up the good fight. Unlike some other posters, people my age grew up in a period when black unity was senile. I can’t harp on this pride. In some ways black pride for people who are in their twenties or younger is like being a pauper and having an older relative constantly showing you a tattered, faded old picture of one of your blue blood ancestors. You manage to bare a slight grin and feel a glimmer of pride, but feel so disconnected from that proud lineage. You wonder who you might have been under those more favorable circumstances."

I'm NOT talking about "good fight" or "Black" pride here. Let's stop talking generic "Black" for a moment, and focus on OURSELVES as AAs. I'm talking about YOUR ethnic self-respect as an AA.I'll ask you the questions:

When Jamaicans, Nigerians, Trinidadians, etc. proudly and appropriately say to you, ""On my island/in my country we do blah-blah" what do YOU have to say that you're equally proud about with OUR AA people? Have you taken the time to FIND things to say for yourself as an AA?" If you currently have nothing to say for yourself as an AA, are you willing to look into your/our heritage to FIND something to say?

As you observed, other people are happily scooping up sustenance from OUR AA heritage. How is it that other people are willing to sift throught the ruins of Big Mama's house to take(steal) the treasures left inside, and we're not? What's that about?

How is it that the Jews in Palestine were able to resurrect a basically DEAD language (Hebrew) that they had only spoken in religious ceremonies, and turn it into a LIVING language? And they did this will setting up shop in a land that they hadn't been part of for about 1,000 years?

The Jews dug up their cultural "stuff" from THOUSANDS of years ago to get themselves together as a people. They could do this, but we're unwilling to seize the treasures left in Big Mama's house only a FEW DECADES ago? And we're making it sound as if it's impossible to reclaim our inheritance from just 25-30 years ago? Again, what's that about?{smh}
_______________________

Aphrodite,

I'll ask you the questions:

When Jamaicans, Nigerians, Trinidadians, etc. proudly and appropriately say to you, ""On my island/in my country we do blah-blah" what do YOU have to say that you're equally proud about with OUR AA people? Have you taken the time to FIND things to say for yourself as an AA?" If you currently have nothing to say for yourself as an AA, are you willing to look into your/our heritage to FIND something to say?
___________________________

Faith,

Again, let's stop talking about "Blacks" during this conversation, and talk about ourselves SPECIFICALLY as AAs.

With all the tools that make research EASY nowadays such as Ancestry.com, etc., there's really NO excuse for any AA with half a brain to not know a little bit of something about their personal heritage that they can feel good about. And I'm NOT talking about only feeling good because we can dig up some NON-Black ancestor. This sort of thing (only feeling good about non-Black ancestors) is part of the enslaved mentality that needs to be discarded.

We put ourselves at a SIGNIFICANT disadvantage with other people (including foreign-origin Blacks) when we try to walk around as ethnic-blank-slate "Blacks." Everybody else has been handed or taken the time to develop a "something" as pertains to their ethnic identity. This ignorance-induced ethnic blank slate that so many of us walk around with sets us up for a LOT of problems in our interactions with other people. Among other things:

1-It sets us up to be justifiably disrespected. If other people can "talk up" their heritage, it's not THEIR fault if we've been too lazy to find something to say for ourselves as AAs;

2-It sets us up for non-AA Black people to preside over AAs under the guise of shared "Blackness" WHILE THEY MAINTAIN THE BENEFITS OF THEIR SEPERATE ETHNICITY! This is what happened when AAs allowed West Indians such as Stokely Carmichael, etc. to hold command and control spots in AA organizations. These other people NEVER allow AAs to rule over THEIR stuff. And they're right. We're the ones who are foolish for letting others set policy for us.

3-It sets us up to be poisoned by the bad advice that non-AA Blacks sometimes give us. They give us this harmful advice under the premise of talking about "Black" issues. They and we are talking "Black" but we're all really referring to AAs and AA issues specifically!

Some non-AAs do this out of unconscious, hidden disrespect for us---They figure that disparaging OUR AA peoplehood is "good enough" for US. They're happy making the pronouncement that AAs were previously only united around "superficial" characteristics. Even though they would NEVER say that THEIR ethnic group had previously been united around "superficial" characteristics. To this type of non-AA Black person it's perfectly okay to fragment AAs in a way that they would NEVER do with their own people!

And many AAs fall for this DESTRUCTIVE idea (the false and poisonous idea that AAs are not a "people" like other peoples; we're just a bunch of separate individuals with NO shared, collective history or aspirations) because we've conditioned ourselves to only think in generic "Black" terms while OTHERS are highly aware of, and MAINTAIN, their separate ethnic identity.
Another reason why others do this to AAs is because they don't understand AA circumstances from the inside. [And why would they understand us from the inside? People who self-identify as NON-AA are NOT part of the AA collective.]

But this pitfall of sometimes-bad advice from (partial and full) outsiders is NOT the outsider's fault.

IT'S OUR OWN FAULT FOR NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THESE INTER-ETHNIC DYNAMICS AND NOT BEING PROACTIVE ABOUT GUARDING OUR OWN ETHNIC SELF-RESPECT AS AAs.
Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

PioneerValleyWoman,

Yep. There are all sorts of issues going on with non-AAs. When we neglect to cultivate our own ethnic self-respect, AAs put ourselves in a position to be dumped on by other people as pertains to what are actually THEIR issues and mixed feelings surrounding emigration.

Most AAs are unaware of these dynamics because we generally haven't been around other people enough to watch them "up close and personal."

Which gets back to my main point: When AAs fail to develop and cultivate healthy ethnic self-respect and pride as AAs, we put ourselves at a SIGNIFICANT disadvantage as pertains to everybody else!

Yes, as you've noted there are "similar histories/patterns in both heritages: African American and Afro-Caribbean." But you can also see the differences in this conversation. You have an island to talk about, and hold in your hands, with pride. As you can see from this conversation, many AAs have the mistaken idea that we don't have anything of our OWN, that's specific to US, to talk about with pride.

This is a SERIOUS problem that, as Evia noted, should have been collectively addressed during the 1960s. We didn't do that; we papered over the problem with slogans. But it will HAVE to be addressed right now by any individual AA woman who aspires to walk the Sojourner's Path. If not, she will end up as a refugee who is clogging the road.

Part of the reason why AAs never addressed this lack of ethnic pride is that we've conditioned ourselves to only think in generic "Black" terms while OTHERS are highly aware of, and MAINTAIN, their separate ethnic identity. We have the mistaken notion that thinking of ourselves as ethnic blank slates is somehow showing solidarity with the rest of the Black/African diaspora. Ummm...NOT!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Everybody,

Let me repeat Faith's timely warning: "those of us who do NOT know our gene pool MUST find out!!"

This can't be repeated enough.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Khadija:

Yep. There are all sorts of issues going on with non-AAs. When we neglect to cultivate our own ethnic self-respect, AAs put ourselves in a position to be dumped on by other people as pertains to what are actually THEIR issues and mixed feelings surrounding emigration.

Yes, as you've noted there are "similar histories/patterns in both heritages: African American and Afro-Caribbean." But you can also see the differences in this conversation. You have an island to talk about, and hold in your hands, with pride. As you can see from this conversation, many AAs have the mistaken idea that we don't have anything of our OWN, that's specific to US, to talk about with pride.

My reply:

Exactly, regarding your point about self-respect! I have always been a student of history, long before I ever went to graduate school and got a Ph.D. in the subject! So no one was going to tell me that there was something wrong with being African American.

It is true that I have an island to point to, but I'm surprised at the notion of African Americans not knowing anything of their own history as something to identify with pride.

Huh??? That is not how I always understood it, so that is surprising.

I am thinking about all the stories being shared here and the family histories of African Americans I have personally known.

[Putting on my academic hat...]

Even if one does not know one's family history, there are lots of books and information on African American history, including museums. Use the web as a resource! Local history is a big subject, and it is not too difficult to do genealogical studies of one's family.

How many descendants of slaves can easily go to archives or access databases like Ancestry.com and find information about their ancestors? The census records and other government records are accessible there. For example, the Freedmen's Bureau records have information about freed slaves directly after Emancipation.

Those were the sorts of records used in the Gates specials in which he studied the family histories of various prominent African Americans; such sources are familiar to historians and especially those who focus on African American history.

JaliliMaster said...

"My maternal grandparents didn't raise their children to be refugees either. Those relatively few nuts in my family who became self-hating refugees had to embark on those projects on their own dime. "


This is a very important point. I've met plenty AA's who, by and large, come from families without any self-hating. Yet, they would have a few negroes amongst them. It cannot all be blamed on the media alone, or experiences, as I've met siblings who have completely different mindsets when it comes to this issue. As you said in the post, you may have even turned out differently if not for your experiences of 'Black Unity'.
_______________________
"By contrast, a Sojourner walks with love and respect for her AA heritage.This isn't just AAs trying to "escape" out of the Black race, it's also us trying to "escape" out of our AA ethnicity.

Have you noticed that all-Black people who are 1/2 AA and 1/2 other type of Black person almost ALWAYS identify themselves by their NON-AA half?"

I kind of get what you mean. I see nothing wrong with say, someone who has one AA parent and one non-AA Black parent claiming wherever. But to me, it would be incredibly foolish to distance oneself from AA, most especially if they LIVE IN AMERICA! Similarly, if one lives in their non-AA Black parents country, I'd get them claiming that more. People have different ways of seeing this, but had I been in a similar situation, and was primarily based in the U.S, it baffles me as to why I wouldn't identify as AA. Even if it's a case of wanting to claim both (which is their right), I find it rather annoying when they pick and choose when they are each one. I know someone who has a parent that is 1/2 Nigerian and 1/2 AA, and the other parent is AA. This creature has been to Nigeria once, during a Christmas holiday. Yet he will argue with anybody about anything concerning the entire African continent as he thinks he is an expert. I've heard him refer to himself as Nigerian numerous times (which, in principle, I actually have no problem with), but he will foam at the mouth if you point out the fact that he is, more than anything else, AA. Some month ago, this negro decided to infom me that he was also Native American! Neither of his parents say they have any NA in them. I didn't know that folks used to do this when it came to ethnicity as well. When I moved to Nigeria to for High School, I had a good friend whose father was AA. She was always Nigerian to us, but also American. On her facebook profile, she lists her ethnicity as Nigerian, American, African American. No one can tell her that she isn't Nigerian and no one can tell her that she isn't African-American. She claims both. I think the best way to deal with folks like this is the same way to deal with BM who aren't contributing anything to BW. When they need your support, don't give it to them. If they're denying their AA heritage, I doubt they'd have any interest in contributing to AA success!
_________________________
"Response: We need to focus on strengthening OUR AA self-respect before we start worrying about others. Why don't we ever notice that other types of Black folks are QUICK to tell us about their islands and countries? And there's nothing wrong with that. People are supposed to feel good about their heritage. What do we as AAs have to say in response to that "On my island/in my country we do blah-blah" talk? Usually nothing because we don't take the time to find out things that we can feel equally proud of. That's not other people's fault. That's our own fault that we don't seek to develop our ethnic pride. This business as usual self-disrespect due to laziness is NOT the Sojourner's Way!"


Oh please! Most of this 'on my island/in my country' talk are make-believe and wishful thinking. I've seen African folks who were working class in their own countries giving lectures to western Black folks about them being broke. I'm like.......so are you. Similarly, I've started to get very annoyed at the growing number of Carribean-born Black women who are always going on about AA men dating out, as if to say, "see 'our' men don't leave us like this". Wrong! Look at the statistics. AMongst AA men and Carribean/Carribean-born men living in predominanlty white countries, the Carribean ones are much more likely to date/marry interracially. I've started to see this trend of people wanting to point fingers only to make themselves feel better. It's easy for any Black woman who doesn't live in America or Europe to feel smug about it as they don't have to experience it. But before anyone starts feeling all high and mighty, take a look at what the men from your own ethnicity are doing then you'll realise that it's not only AA women who are left abandoned due to these men's self-hating. So maybe those who are pointing fingers and secretly sniggering should take a look in the mirror!
_______________________
"It's the same as what I've read of the self-hating AA Muslim males experiences in Arab lands. Arabs literally call these Negroes AND their half-Arabian children "SLAVE" to their faces! And these self-hating Negro slaves take it because they inwardly AGREE that they are tainted because of their AA heritage."


I also know of Arab children who will call a grown BM "abd" to HIS FACE! For those who don't know, "abd" means 'slave' in Arabic. I remember I was telling my sister that had some kid called me that, that would be the first day I ever slapped a baby! When all their fellow infant frineds see the outline of my fingers on their face, they will know to not try that nonsense again.
___________________
"[Incidentally, let me remind you (I say "remind," because I'm sure that logically, you already know this) that every culture has its underbelly. And unlike AAs with our garbage on front street, other people tend to conceal their dysfunctions from outsiders.]"


Agree 100%. I know many Africans who chide others from their country for "washing their dirty laundry in public". It's not onl amongst AA's that we see degeneracy. Othet cultures have it as well, both Black and non-Black. The only difference is that the Acting Black Crew want everyone else (both AA's and others) to believe that their damaged behaviour is not due to any fault of theirs, but because they are AA. That is a big part of the reason why the ABC crew always come down very hard on other Black folks that don't fall in line.
________________________

"I don't blame foreign Blacks (or anybody else) for "talking up" their homelands and cultures. That's what healthy people do! Instead of being "begging bowl in hand" refugees."


Alot of them ARE "begging bowl in hand" refugees. They just reserve that behaviour for white folks. If you notice, these types don't have as much a need to tell white folks about how 'great' their homeland is. They reserve it for AA's.
_________________________

"A large part of the problem is that we don't have HONEST conversations about these matters. Since nobody directly asks the questions "Do YOU feel good about being an AA woman? If not, what'cha gonna do about it?", all of this mess gets swept under the rug. Only to bite us in the buttocks whenever we try to move forward.

Not this time. Not with the Sojourner's Path.

Outsiders who do NOT self-identify as AA CANNOT help us with this angle. In fact, their meddling is a hindrance to AAs regarding this particular angle."


I first started seeing the need for AA women (as opposed to BW in general) to having this VERY unique problem after that Seattle Slim issue. I was aware of it, but it was then that I realised that there are some situations were AA women were going to have to be selfish. Is it ideal? No. But is it necessary? Yes (atleast I think so). I travel alot, so can live pretty much anywhere and I have roots on more than one continent. Therefore, it would be very unfair for me to try and use my own situation as the sole basis for forming an opinion. AA women face a certain task which is uique (contrary to what some might say). Originally, I only saw it as unique in regards to Black men. But I eventually realised special attention should be given to AA women in other aspects as well.
__________________________

"Many older continental Africans have tremendous respect for OLDER AAs. They told me many times that it was the utter ingenuity and bravery of African Americans who fought against and defeated Jim Crow and of course the continued determination of our AA ancestors to "overcome" during slavery that greatly inspired and spurred many continental African leaders of the mid and latter 1900s (just 50 years ago or so) to rise up against their former colonial masters and fight for their independence. AAs inspired them and bolstered them spiritually and made them know that they too could overcome. Our ancestors were their compass in critical ways--and not just them, but other groups too who lived under oppressive, soul-draining regimes. AAs were living proof that they too could win."


I agree 100%. My sister is even reading this as well and she had the same opinion.
________________________

"When I first met my ex-husband, he--and other African continental men who I met and dated--WANTED to date and marry AA women partly BECAUSE of who we were--BECAUSE of the success of our ancestors. The African husbands of my AA female relatives (older than me) also felt that way. My female relatives say that some continental African men tried to talk like AAs at that time and this wasn't exactly that long ago. LOL! They certainly don't do that anymore because of the ABCs and Hip Hop crowd."


Lol, Evia, you really lived in Nigeria, lol. I agree. I've met several Nigerian-Americans whose Grand Parents were delighted at the thought of them marrying AA's, but their parents were completely against it. I never fully understood why, but now I do. Previuosly, it was much more common to see parents completely adamant that their daughters do not marry AA men, while being less vocal about their sons marrying AA women. In alot of the cases, it was usually the grandparents who 'talked' to the parents before they let the wedding proceed. Nowadays, the disapproval kind of applies equally. Although they are still more welcoming of an AA woman into the family than they are of an AA man, most of them have started to have an equal opposition to it. I used to think it was a culture thing, but never understood why the grandparents (i.e those who were adults in the 30's to 60's) didn't usually have that issue. In fact, they were usually happy about it. I know of LOADS of these folks (especially the girls), who are sent to America for University. Alot of them are very dreamy about AA men (their picture of AA men is usually Denzel, Will Smith, Blair Underwood that they saw on t.v). These same girls, when they return to their country tell their friends that if you go to America, stay away from the AA men. Now, I hear quite a few of the younger African (and in most cases, Nigerian) guys who are, I'll just say, rather rude concerning AA girls (I'm making a distinction between women and girls). Alot of them are starting to sound just like alot of these AA men one sometimes comes across. The older ones (i.e. the Nigerian men in their 50's to 60's) are hardly ever this way. Before, the most common intra-racial marriage for Africans was to AA's. Now it's to other African's from other countries. And part of me suspects that alot of the trash these guys say is stuf they probably heard from their AA male friends. Alot of the African girls in the Universities say that they have alot of AA female friends, but have few AA male friends that they are close to. I don't believe that this is a coincidence. I have a good Nigerian friend of mine who said that when she compares most of the young AA women she meets to the young AA men, one wouldn't believe that most of them came from the same families. Part of it is unfair (atleast to me), as AA men in general, end up getting tarnished with the same brush. However, my sympathy only goes so far as in some cases, it is now being done to AA women as well, and I believe part of it is down to AA men bad mouthing them.
_____________________

"but in all of my travels and minglings there and here among continental Africans, I have NEVER met any of them who acts like a typical ABC. They may actually BE just like the ABCs here but they don't show it. LOL!"


They exist, but they are not in the majority and get shut down with the quickness.
________________________

"MOST AAs put their social mutations on a pedestal, defend them, praise them and try to imitate them."


I don't agree that "most" AAs do this. Personally, I'm not even of the opinion that the ABC's are the majority (atleast, from my experience). It's just that they are the loudest. The emptiest barrel makes the loudest noise. They are the ampty barrels, and hence, can shout the loudest. Take, for example, so-called Black lit. Go to the local library and search for it. Most of them are utter trash. But it doesn't mean that most AA writers are peddling this nonsense. It's just it is the smaller number that are writing the nonsense that are getting published.
_______________________

Khadija said...

JaliliMaster,

I have to run off to work, but I just had to get this in before I left. You are witty, and a straight-talking woman after my own heart! LOL! I'll have a more substantive reply to PioneerValleyWoman and you when I get back.

About the "On my island/in my country we do blah-blah": Yes, I've always suspected that much of this sort of talk is romanticized, idealized wishful thinking. {chuckling} However, I DON'T have any problem with that. It is normal and natural for people to cling to sources of self-respect.

So, I never have a problem with the "On my island/in my country" talk. I've got my OWN talk of AAs traditionally did blah-blah...As Granddaddy/Big Mama always said...blah-blah." LOL! The problem is that most AAs have NOT taken the time to cultivate their own sources of ethnic self-respect.

I don't have any problem with folks being pro-self to the nth degree. My issue only begins when their pro-self declarations turn into anti-ME statements.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

foreverloyal said...

I just wanted to add. Personally, I want to be around other black women. I live in a multi-ethnic neighborhood. It is safe, beautiful, convenient to shopping and all that. People weed their lawns and put out pansies. The neighbors are friendly. No problems.

But I seek out opportunities to be around like-minded sistas. We may be a minority but we will be strengthened by mutual assistance, support, and socializing. (Back to that "Importance of Fellowhip" post from some months back.)

Lorraine said...

OK Khadija,

Many of your posts could serve as a dissertation but this one and all the responses could definitely jump start your research.

I do get that black unity is dead, I do get that many of us are not in touch with who we truly are nor respect ourselves ethnically.

I am touched by some of the posters who speak of the DNA testing available now. I would love to do this one day. The closest I have come is tracing my ancestry back 7 generations to my paternal side's slave owner. I proudly share with my bi-racial daughter that she is 8th generation descendant of slaves and she has shared this with 2 of her classes for 2nd and 3rd grade projects.

I try to instill in her values that don't include letting others telling her that she has "good hair" She appreciates that her mother is a black woman in this society, proud of who she is and her history and is able to wrap it around modern day values.

My daughter knows who she is and loves visiting plantations (We have done Williamsburg and Mount Vernon as we live down the street). We make it a point to visit slave cabins and quarters and know that because of someone's sacrifices, we are who we are and can be today.

We are talking generations of real ethnic pride and respect if we would only recognize it, embrace it, love it and display it. Most of us have treasures that stay buried our entire lifetimes.

I know you asked us to stop with the "black" thing for a minute. But....I tend to be partial to the term black American. Only because African-American to me indicates an immigrant who has or whose family has emigrated from Africa directly. With us we again are talking generations from Africa. When you speak of Mexican Americans or Italian Americans or Korean Americans, they generally are present to 2 or 3 generations. Much closer than that of our people. Black is general, but Black American is as good as African American. I had a co-worker from Algeria who considers himself and his family African-Americans. That doesn't give him a pass to get the benefit (or curse in some of their cases) of that label, but he considers himself to be African American although he is from northern Africa. What about a white South African who wants to claim the same? I really am not trying to get off topic here.

roslynholcomb said...

Knowledge of self and knowledge of history is the best antidote to self-hatred and the ABC crew. (Both are different sides of the same coin.) I can see it in my own family. As I've said, my parents, especially my mama was big on sharing our family history with us. As often happens, my sister and I are more or less the only ones amongst my siblings that seem to have escaped either phenomenon, two of my brothers fell off into a pit of self-hatred, while my oldest siblings fell prey to the ABC. and I'm starting to realize why.

When my mama would share these stories, my sister and I were the only ones who listened! I remember my brother had gotten all caught up in pseudo black Nationalism/NOI (with the requisite white wife, of course lol), and he was on one of his rants about what the white man had done to us. He went off on how we didn't have a 'John Wayne' in the movies or on TV. My mama stared at him in astonishment and asked why he needed a 'John Wayne' on TV when we had several in our own family. We had one uncle who fought in the Pacific and another who was a decorated veteran in WWII. Another uncle was decorated in Vietnam. My family is full of warriors going as far back as I can find. We had our own living and breathing 'John Wayne's' in our own gene pool, yet for some reason they were dismissed in favor of a celluloid one.

I'm not sure why her stories never resonated with them. Maybe it would've been better to have heard them directly from my uncles, but like many old soldiers, they were reticent about sharing their experiences. Apparently, boys need to hear adventure stories, and I share them with my son (sanitized for his age, of course, some of that stuff is pretty gruesome).

When I sing to my son, it's invariably the songs that my mama sang to me. He loves it when I tell him that my mama sang a particular song, or recited a particular poem or told me a story. Those are the stories he wants to hear over and over.

I'm convinced that this is the best antidote against the ABC.

I think too many AA people don't share our history because we're ashamed that we were enslaved and suffered Jim Crow. I've even heard them say that we are a people without a country. This always boggles my mind. There would not be a USA without us. Everything here was built by us, every music form to come out of this country found it's roots in us. How then, can this not be our country? We cannot raise our children with this notion that we don't have a country, that it was taken from us. I think this is part of the reason our children fall prey so easily to the influence of others. We don't give them the roots of their own identity or personhood. We are Americans, more so than most and to say otherwise is ridiculous and dangerous.

JaliliMaster said...

"I was never ashamed of blackness /darkskin. Jamaicans can be COLORIST as all get out, and she was the darkest of all her family, so they tormented her. So I was always raised to be happy with myself & my skin."



This is why it irks me to no end when I hear Jamaicans and Carribeans in general going on about AA colourism.
______________________

"On another note, I have to say that you've changed my mind regarding choosing to identify as African American. I used to insist on calling myself a "black American" because I felt that "black" is universal/global and I didn't want to exclude other diasporic black people from the "struggle". But you've helped me realize that AAs DO have our own unique history and challenges that doesn't necessarily have to include other black folks in the diaspora all the time."


I really don't get why folks feel a need to do this. Every ethnicity has it's own unique culture. If other folks want to celebrate your history, or take inspiration from it, AA's shouldn't have to bend their own history to accomodate others. Whether it's African-American or Black American, it's still Black, so there is a racial connection to Black folks elsewhere, but it's not just Black, as in a racial context. I wouldn't expect someone from, say, Senegal, to have to adjust their culture because an African American wants to celebrate a part of it that they enjoy. It's the AA that should immerse themselves in the Senegalese culture. Similarly, if some non-AA Black person wants to celebrate a part of AA culture, it's not the job of AA's to try and bend over backwards to accomodate anybody else. There is nothing to feel guilty about over it.


And I agree with Khadija, that AA's shouldn't only concentrate on racial pride and self-respect. If you don't look on at AA culture with pride, no one else will. It is a mistake for folks to think that Ethnic Self-respect doesn't matter. Other Black folks know it does. They will promote Black pride, but ALSO take pride in their own ethnicity. It's due to things like this that others might feel they can insult you (whether it's non-AA Blacks or other races). I'm sure there are some of you that have encountered white folks who will praise immigrant Black Africans as 'different' and hard-working and not like those 'normal, usual Black people'. This is DESPITE the fact that most likely, a good majority of the Black folks in their places of work are AA, doing any kind of work. If you refuse to cultivate this respect for AA culture, others will take the liberty to disrespect it. I really don't know why some folks can't get it. Praising your AA heritage IN NO WAY MEANS that you are 'hating on' other Black ethnicities. Be proud of your Blackness. But you should simultaneously be proud in your African-American-ness! The two are in no way mutually exclusive.

Evia said...

Jalilimaster, yes, we lived on Victoria Island for a while and then got an apartment in Surulere.

re:

I don't agree that "most" AAs do this. Personally, I'm not even of the opinion that the ABC's are the majority (atleast, from my experience). It's just that they are the loudest. The emptiest barrel makes the loudest noise.I think that you're hearing the loud members of the ABC and you may "think" that there's a minority of them, but they KNOW that they are surrounded by likeminded supporters, sympathizers, fence-sitters, and a whole host of confused other AA folks who will do practically anything to hang onto their "black card." A LOT of this has to do with AAs trying to hang onto their "black card" because they're VERY confused about their actual identity. "Black" is a very confusing label because it's a POLITICAL concept/construct that can change (contract or expand) when whites want it to change. For ex., a wm in my neighborhood was telling me a couple of weeks ago that one of his white male friends was arguing with him that Obama is NOT a black person. This guy was asking me what did I think? LOL! What do I know? I didn't invent the black/white label or the definitions. I can only speculate, just like everyone else.

But here's a little experiment re the ABCs that you can use to find out whether the ABCs and their support network are in the minority or majority in a typical setting where there are quite a few AAs, just vocally oppose one of the ABCs. LOL! You will see how quickly other ABCs and/or their likeminded ABC supporters will come out of the woodwork to pounce on you. And they'll do the same thing to me because I'm not likeminded.

AAs struggle with both "black"ness AND African-Americaness. This is why you have some AAs who will deny they're black or American or African and will insist that they're just human beings. They can't ***PROVE*** that they're black or African. They can prove that they're American but haven't been treated like full-fledged Americans, so that leaves a very bad and sad taste in their mouths. They CAN prove that they're human beings, so they stress that.

Confusion re IDENTITY is the crux of all of this. This is why AAs need that hybrid culture so badly here. Other than that, AAs will continue to produce millions of disconnected blank slates who will walk around lacking racial-ethnic pride and feeling like ethnic and racial less-thans.

JaliliMaster said...

"JaliliMaster,

I have to run off to work, but I just had to get this in before I left. You are witty, and a straight-talking woman after my own heart! LOL! I'll have a more substantive reply to PioneerValleyWoman and you when I get back."


Lol, thanks for the compliment. My sister is going to be jealous when she reads this.
_______________________

"About the "On my island/in my country we do blah-blah": Yes, I've always suspected that much of this sort of talk is romanticized, idealized wishful thinking. {chuckling} However, I DON'T have any problem with that. It is normal and natural for people to cling to sources of self-respect."


I've heard Somali's and Sudanese croak about their country. These folks crack me up. I remember when I was in Secondary School in Nigeria, some international organisation did some 'research' and found out that Nigerians were the happiest people in the world. How did they come up with that? Because in all countries, Nigerians smile the most! THAT was their reason! What was even more pathetic was that it was carried on the news like we should be proud. There was alot of commentary that the real reason is that Nigerians are very good at 'sufferring and smiling'. No one pointed out that it was still suffering! And these are folks from the wealthiest African country that we're talking about. One can only imagine how folks in othe African countries live. It's good for people to be proud of wherever they are from. But the boasting should be done in good measure. It's understandable if it's from someone whose parents have money, so it's class issues that may be clouding their judgment. But when it's folks who I KNOW ARE BROKE, I'm like get the shoe outta here! (I used the word 'shoe' as I didn't want to swear).

On a side note, I never knew that Stokely Carmichael was Carribean.

tasha212 said...

Khadija,

I love this post. I am a proud product of Big Mama's House. I grew up in Louisiana amongst old school black people. My paternal grandparents were both educators who received master's degrees when it was unheard of for blacks in the south. My great grandfather was a farmer in Sunset, La. who owned his own land, also unheard of back then. My grandma used to talk about how important land ownership was and how her father's decision to purchase land gave him the freedom and independence that sharecroppers could never have. All of my grandmother's children (including my father) are well educated. My maternal grandmother was a cook in the school cafeteria. She worked two jobs so she could support her family. Though they were poor, my mother grew up to have a profound respect for family, hard work, and education. I grew up proudly African American. I remember when I was five years old and we were having a family discussion and I loudly and proudly proclaimed "I am an African American." My parents, aunts, and grandmother responded with a chorus of "That's right!" and "Right on!" It seems like everyone on both sides has a profound respect for education and want their children to be better and do better than what they did. African American culture as I know and love it respects life, love, family, community, pride, strong faith, education, and self-improvement. This prison/ghetto/pimp/ho culture that some of us are confusing as African American culture is NOT OURS.

It dismays me to know that others are not proud to be African American. I was instilled with a sense of pride in my culture from very young. I was also a student of history who made a point to read any book that I could find about African American culture and history. I think that is the root of the problem. People don't study history. That's why it's easy to pass off the gangsta/pimp/ho foolishness as authentic AA culture. If AAs knew our history, we would shun this MADNESS.

Peace and Solidarity,

Tasha

Anonymous said...

Being a New Orleanian I can say YES colorism is still alive and well. A ww co-worker told me that musician Aaron Neville is going to marry a ww from New York and without thinking I said, "I am not surprised". I think that is one reason why people think we still are living in the past. LOL...I supposed she wanted to know how I felt about Neville marrying out...whatever!

ann

Khadija said...

To A Recent Commenter:

I rejected your comment from this morning because it contained an ethnic slur for Asians. I don't post comments that contain hate speech. I didn't edit the word out because I don't like to alter people's comments in any way. Please feel free to resubmit your comment WITHOUT using that particular term. Thanks.

DeStouet said...

I am going to have to ask my aunt (dad's sister) some questions about my ancestors on my father's side. I never lived with my father as a child, and barely visited with his family, so the only history I know about is about my mother's parents.

Because I do not have my own "Big Mama" history, I am going to have borrow my responses from the entire African American experience.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Tasha212:

People don't study history. That's why it's easy to pass off the gangsta/pimp/ho foolishness as authentic AA culture. If AAs knew our history, we would shun this MADNESS.

My reply:

And on the other hand, cultural critics and some of my academic peers are out there making arguments to the contrary, that this garbage is authentic, but without presenting any criticism that it might not be legitimate.

Khadija said...

PioneerValleyWoman,

You said, "It is true that I have an island to point to, but I'm surprised at the notion of African Americans not knowing anything of their own history as something to identify with pride.

Huh??? That is not how I always understood it, so that is surprising.

I am thinking about all the stories being shared here and the family histories of African Americans I have personally known."

RESPONSE: My impression is that are several interlocking things going on:

(1) AAs generally have an unspoken "Don't ask/Don't tell" policy when it comes to talking about how we REALLY feel about ourselves as an ethnic group. Almost nobody (except "obnoxious" people like me--LOL!) directly asks the question "Do you feel good about being an African-American?"(2) This leaves it for those AAs who feel good about their heritage to ASSUME that many other AAs feel good about their heritage.

(3) AAs have developed a totally dishonest terminology and discourse about this subject over the past 35 or so years. First, there was the peer/social pressure among AAs during the 1960s for people to repeat the popular slogans, and say they felt racial/ethnic self-respect when they actually didn't.

Later on AAs started using shiny new terms such as "biracial," "multicultural," celebrating ALL of my heritage," etc. as a cover story and justification for the same old, racial/ethnic self-hatred.

It all reminds me of the convoluted justifications I heard during the point in the late 1980s when wearing blue, green, and especially hazel contact lenses was all the rage among many AA women. ["I'm not trying to look White or 'mixed,' it's just a fashion statement."]

I will add that, as always, there were layers and multiple motivations invovled with those of us who were not thrilled with this fad. Some light-skinned, naturally hazel-eyed AA women were angry because this practice made them suddenly less rare. Especially as pertained to those light-skinned brown-eyed women who could wear the lenses and "pass" as if they had naturally hazel, green, etc. eyes.

[A local Chicago "urban" station's tag line at that time was "WGCI---And dot that 'i' with a blue contact lens!" I completely stopped listening to "urban" stations at that point. {very long sigh}]
_____________________

JaliliMaster,

You said, "Even if it's a case of wanting to claim both (which is their right), I find it rather annoying when they pick and choose when they are each one."

To my way of thinking, it's appropriate for such a person ( 50% AA and 50%-other-type-of-Black person) to claim both identities. Because in terms of ethnic identities, one can legitimately claim to a member of both ethnicities simultaneously. I've watched Euro-Americans do this all the time---they describe themselves as Italian and Irish.

My thing is that I notice that when when such folks do pick one ethnicity over another, the AA identity almost always gets thrown under the bus. But I ultimately blame AAs for that.

As Evia pointed out earlier, people generally don't want to be affiliated with a "losing" group. If we had collectively done the internal work we've mentioned before during the 1960s, and gotten ourselves together, we could have collectively become "winners." And then folks would be looking for ways to claim us! LOL!

You said, "Similarly, I've started to get very annoyed at the growing number of Carribean-born Black women who are always going on about AA men dating out, as if to say, "see 'our' men don't leave us like this". Wrong! Look at the statistics."

Clinging to a source of self-respect is a human trait. So is jockeying for position. Life is inherently competitive. People will always seek ways to NOT be on the bottom of a hierarchy. This is an inevitable part of life.

Do you notice how you QUICKLY have a response to brush off the fools you described in the earlier statement ("Wrong! Look at the statistics...")? This is the healthy response to aggressive nonsense where somebody outsider your group is trying to climb up the esteem ladder at your group's expense.

However, it takes a sense of self-worth and self-respect to be able to generate a sincerely-believed "brush off" statement. The problem is that most AAs don't have the ethnic self-respect to respond with similar SWIFT, healthy "brush offs" to this type of verbal aggression from non-AAs. Instead, we often sulk, pout, and whine that these hostile foreign Blacks feel superior to us.

This is why I'm asking people to consider what their response is to the "On my island/In my country..." These "in my country" statements aren't always said or meant in a hostile manner. Sometimes they are just neutral observations about social phenomena. But sometimes they are hostile. And currently, most AAs have not cultivated the ethnic self-respect to have a response to this other than sulking.

These statements don't bother me or ruffle my feathers however they are meant (neutral or hostile). These sorts of statements don't hurt my feelings or ruffle my feathers because I've got my own stuff to talk about as a come-back.

You said, "Alot of them ARE "begging bowl in hand" refugees. They just reserve that behaviour for white folks. If you notice, these types don't have as much a need to tell white folks about how 'great' their homeland is. They reserve it for AA's."

RESPONSE: {chuckling} I'm sure they know that many Whites would laugh in their faces.

You said, "I first started seeing the need for AA women (as opposed to BW in general) to having this VERY unique problem after that Seattle Slim issue. I was aware of it, but it was then that I realised that there are some situations were AA women were going to have to be selfish. Is it ideal? No. But is it necessary? Yes (atleast I think so)."

RESPONSE: Again, ultimately responsibility lies with AAs to use some discernment about the advice that non-AAs give us. We're often so swept up into the "We're all Black" thing that we don't ask scrutinize the advice coming from non-AAs. I don't blame the outsider; I blame AAs for being foolish. Nobody else does that; no other Black ethnic group give AAs that degree of deference when it comes to their life and death issues. And they shouldn't! It would be foolish.

NO nuclear-armed country that I'm aware of trusts any outsider with the codes to its nuclear weapons. Not even outsiders who are sincere friends or allies! It's nobody else's fault that AAs keep entrusting our "nuclear codes" to non-AAs.

You said, "If you don't look on at AA culture with pride, no one else will. It is a mistake for folks to think that Ethnic Self-respect doesn't matter. Other Black folks know it does. They will promote Black pride, but ALSO take pride in their own ethnicity. It's due to things like this that others might feel they can insult you (whether it's non-AA Blacks or other races)."

RESPONSE: There it is, in a nutshell.
_________________________

ForeverLoyal,

You said, "(Back to that "Importance of Fellowhip" post from some months back.)"

RESPONSE: Yep, these are interlocking issues. It's all connected.
________________________

Lorraine,

You said, "I know you asked us to stop with the "black" thing for a minute. But....I tend to be partial to the term black American. Only because African-American to me indicates an immigrant who has or whose family has emigrated from Africa directly. With us we again are talking generations from Africa. When you speak of Mexican Americans or Italian Americans or Korean Americans, they generally are present to 2 or 3 generations. Much closer than that of our people. Black is general, but Black American is as good as African American. I had a co-worker from Algeria who considers himself and his family African-Americans. That doesn't give him a pass to get the benefit (or curse in some of their cases) of that label, but he considers himself to be African American although he is from northern Africa. What about a white South African who wants to claim the same? I really am not trying to get off topic here."

RESPONSE: (1) My issue with "Black American" is that "Black" has no connection to any cultural heritage. A racial identification is not a cultural identification. "Black American" still leaves us as ethnic blank slates.

(2) "Black American" also has a connotation of trying to run from African heritage.

(3) Other people (White South Africans, etc.) stealing our ethnic title is our own fault because we don't police our boundaries. Half the time we don't even set boundaries in the first place.
____________________

Roslyn,

You said, "Knowledge of self and knowledge of history is the best antidote to self-hatred and the ABC crew. (Both are different sides of the same coin.)"

RESPONSE: That's why Elijah Muhammad stressed "knowledge of self."

About American and "Americanism:" I have mixed feelings about all of that. Of course, I'm quick to avail myself of ALL of the benefits that our AA ancestors' forced labor created. I'm entitled to it. Nevertheless, I find it hard to emotionally feel deep-seated patriotism for a country that has systematically killed and oppressed us.

What little patriotism I feel is basically opportunistic (of the "our ancestors bought and paid for these goodies" type) and "give credit where whatever credit is due."

I DON'T own an American flag. I DON'T get misty-eyed about the national anthem, etc. Somehow doing any of that would feel like I'm giving a pass to all the atrocities that went into that flag and anthem. It would feel as odd as a Native American celebrating the flag that their genocide was committed under.

I'm NOT saying that it's wrong for other AAs to feel deeply patriotic; I'm just describing how I feel about all of that.
___________________

Evia,

You said, "AAs struggle with both "black"ness AND African-Americaness. This is why you have some AAs who will deny they're black or American or African and will insist that they're just human beings. They can't ***PROVE*** that they're black or African. They can prove that they're American but haven't been treated like full-fledged Americans, so that leaves a very bad and sad taste in their mouths. They CAN prove that they're human beings, so they stress that.

Confusion re IDENTITY is the crux of all of this. This is why AAs need that hybrid culture so badly here. Other than that, AAs will continue to produce millions of disconnected blank slates who will walk around lacking racial-ethnic pride and feeling like ethnic and racial less-thans."

RESPONSE: That's it in a nutshell. As you noted earlier, we should have done this collectively in the 1960s; but we didn't. Now it's left up to those of us who are committed to making SUSTAINABLE progress to work through these issues on our own.
______________________

Tasha,

You said, "I remember when I was five years old and we were having a family discussion and I loudly and proudly proclaimed "I am an African American." My parents, aunts, and grandmother responded with a chorus of "That's right!" and "Right on!"

RESPONSE: LOL! My parents enjoy describing how during a time when other small Black children (this was pre-AA label during the late 1960s and early 1970s) would have flunked the "doll test," I was busy coloring Officer Friendly and everybody else in my coloring books as Black. And how I associated every doctor, etc. with various AA historical figures like Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, etc.

Of course, it helped that we lived in a middle-class, all-AA neighborhood, and I went to an all-Black school. Almost all of the authority figures in my (small child) universe were AA. It also helped that my uncle was a police officer. As far as I could tell, my uncle WAS Officer Friendly.
______________________

Anonymous,

You said, "Being a New Orleanian I can say YES colorism is still alive and well."

Yes, the continuing correlation between economic class and color there was another source of my rage about the Katrina disaster. I noticed that most of the people caught up in the Superdome were dark-skinned. [Superdome? Is that what it's called? I almost want to say Mad Max and the Thunderdome {seething at the memory}]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

DeStouet,

You said, "I am going to have to ask my aunt (dad's sister) some questions about my ancestors on my father's side. I never lived with my father as a child, and barely visited with his family, so the only history I know about is about my mother's parents.

Because I do not have my own "Big Mama" history, I am going to have borrow my responses from the entire African American experience."

YES! {raised fist salute}Peace, blessings and solidarity.

LaJane Galt said...

Khadijah,

I wholeheartedly apologize for that. I've heard some people from a certain country use it, & some who stated that it was insulting.

In my ignorance, I posted it. I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended.

I meant no disrespect and consider myself educated.

Unfortunately, I no longer have my post.

Khadija said...

LaJane Galt,

Apology accepted. We're all good. *Smile* I had saved your comment, so here it is (with the term edited out). You said:

"TBO
Also I don't associate the abc people with AA culture, they're closet klan members as far as I'm concerned. My father grew up in Big Momma's house (his seven brothers and sisters all went on to do great in life) and the abc went and burned it down.
The abc also tries to push anyone good out of blackness. They tried to tell me I was "white" for not wanting to pop out oow babies left and right, not dating thug/playas, not wanting to go on welfare,etc. (which is dumb since there are plenty of ww who do all those things, most people just don't see them) and I'm like no I'm "smart".
I expected non-AAs to have a dim view us but it was horrible to find out that so many AAs see each other and themselves in a negative light.The ABC made my life in junior high a living hell. My parents couldn't give me the tools to deal with it, because it never would have occurred to them that education was a "white" trait. They demanded excellence from us. Our grandparents had the biggest grins ever when we told them about our grades and held adult conversations with them. To me, black pride was overcoming and winning. It had nothing to do with pregancy at 12, sex at 11, doing the running man in the hallway, fighting, talking loud or being in the ED class.

What was really sad...

I observed that the same people who would criticize me, looooved whitefolk. Whenever the popular white people gave them any attention (b/c they were physically afraid), they would just cheese and act like they were friends. I even had a teacher that hated me, but was forever smiling up in the white girls' faces. All the while they mocked her lesbianism behind her back.

Is there anything more grotesque than appropriating an ethnicity (we are a distinct group) to legitimize dysfunction?

My experience ties into Khadija's recent posts so well. Some of the kids who grew up in the SE just needed a new environment to thrive. If they asked me for help, I always gave it. Their scumbag cohorts just took my papers and copied (probably wrong). Ironically those types of people are the same ones who the misleaders believe should be the beneficiaries of my time and legal expertise. No, they will get no help from me.

Khadija~

I too noticed the difference with the BM vs BW as a parent. The way I see it, I can't give birth to anything but a black child. Sure, they can acknowledge dad's heritage. But I would be a failure as a mom and a person to foster a mindset that would deny me and reality. There's a difference between being mixed and Cablanasian. The mixed person doesn't recoil when you call them black, because (1) it's true and (2) they have pride.

Roslyn~thank you for mentioning immigrant dysfunction. I've had to straight up remind them that their ne'erdowells are languishing on an island. I also had to remind an islander (very mixed with ___________) that the reason that she was around American blacks who "didn't read" is because she was an immigrant... she didn't have the access to those who did. I flat out informed her that I will not allow that myth (my word exactly) to stand.

These people are actually worse than the Klan. When the Klan says something, 99% of people look at them sideways. Let a Negro (from wherever) say it and it becomes Truth."

Posted by LaJane Galt to Muslim Bushido at May 5, 2009 9:10 AM

Hagar's Daughter said...

As I read through the comments I'm getting mixed messages. One one hand we are saying that we need to know our ancestry and have ethnic pride. On the other we are saying that biracials, Creoles, and others should not. What gives?

Of course there are those in any group who will spout foolishness and exhibit self-destructive behavior (passing for white / Latino / anything but Black), but I do not assume that it's the majority.

I'm married to a New Orleans Creole who understands his heritage as a black ethnicity. For him and his family being Creole is more than skin color or hair texture, it's about sharing a common thread of history, culture, experience. Not all Creoles pass for "other" or even want to.

Those whose self esteemed is impacted by the "passing for white" crew has to deal with that for herself. My self respect is not dependent on what someone else is doing.

I know there are outliers who are "1/8th this and 7/16th," but this behavior is not normative. Well, maybe that every black person is Native American. Why?

thediva said...

This is a really, really deep post. I really love reading these comments.
When I was growing up I had a functional stable family with African American parents, grandparents, who nurtured me and raised me. Also, all of my relatives were avid readers and instilled with me a pride in the accomplishments of the African American community. The hardest struggle came in university-my so called 'liberal' professors who stuck to there view of African Americans as victim, their obsessions with African American dysfunction more to prove their own 'liberal' credentials than any real desire to help African American people truly in distress. I went from a positive environment which validated African American heritage to people who assumed all African Americans were dysfunctional. I think this perception shapes reality because a lot of African Americans began to embrace these definitions of themselves as 'truth' and worse as a litmus test for true "blackness".

As for BW in IRR I do think there is a danger of thinking another race will save you. My spouse is Japanese. I have had some people downright hostile because they think all Asians are racist; and yes, a lot of East Asian cultures esp. can be really xenophobic and definitely have a skin color hierarchy. I have traveled throughout Asia and I know this to be true. However, what I find ironic is the same people will think I have it made: " Asians work hard" "Asians are rich" "Asians are smart". I married my husband on his personal merits but have seen no indication of intelligence, wealth, or industriousness that Asians have that Black people don't. But Black people are far more likely to believe in their own defeat. BW need to love themselves 'first and foremost' then they can carefully vet the men that come their way.
My thoughts are all jumbled, sorry if its too long.

Khadija said...

Hagar's Daughter,

You said, "As I read through the comments I'm getting mixed messages. One one hand we are saying that we need to know our ancestry and have ethnic pride. On the other we are saying that biracials, Creoles, and others should not. What gives?"

RESPONSE: I don't understand how this can be seen as a mixed message. When I say "we" I'm talking about African-American/Black women. Anybody who chooses to remove themself from that African-American/Black category by identifying as something else (such as "biracial") is not my priority.

These other types of people are already being lifted up because of White supremacy. They DON'T need my help. And even if they did, I would not offer it to them because they are not my priority. Charity begins at home. My charity begins with supporting those women who are most like me. My priority is with supporting the interests of African-American/Black women. NOT "biracial," or other people.

I can't speak much about the "Creole" situation because I'm not from New Orleans/Louisiana, so I've never seen the dynamics there for myself. So, I'm not quite sure if this "Creole" stuff = denial of Blackness a majority of the time. However, I DO know that my secratary (who comes from a "Creole" family from Lousiana) IS passing for Latina at work and in her social life.

Although, I will say that from everything I've heard from people who are natives of New Orleans, the dynamics involved with this Creole stuff sound oppressive and rooted in White supremacy. From the way it has been described to me, it sounds like more paper bag test stuff.

Can't African-American/Black women have any sanctuaries of our own? Why must these other people and worries about their interests always be brought into our VERY FEW places of refuge?

Why are we always preoccupied with uplifting the interests of other people? Why is it so hard for us to focus on us and what benefits us? For even a short amount of time?

Especially given that these other people generally do NOT concern themselves with our interests. It would be one thing if our undying concern for supporting the interests and well-being of "biracials," etc. was reciprocated. But it's not.

[Incidentally, when I say "other people" I'm not necessarily referring to "Creoles." I don't know enough about them to know whether or not choosing the Creole label usually means removing oneself from the AA/Black category.

In other words, I haven't encountered enough Lousiana "Creoles" to tell if they generally fall into the "Don't you dare call me Black" category.

My friend from New Orleans is "officially" "Creole," but she does not volunteer that term to describe herself---she calls herself Black/AA. You have to ask her specifically about her family history to find out that she's also "Creole."]

You said, "Of course there are those in any group who will spout foolishness and exhibit self-destructive behavior (passing for white / Latino / anything but Black), but I do not assume that it's the majority."

RESPONSE: Here's my take on this sort of thing: If a category of people who benefit from an injustice fail to take a DEFINITIVE stand against that injustice, then they develop the GENERAL bad reputation of being part of that injustice. And they get the assumptions and reactions that they earned as a group by their silence and/or complicity.

This is why I don't get offended when sometimes darker women are wary when they meet me. I know that many of them have been burned by "hair flippers." And I know that most light-skinned AA women have NOT been helpful in fighting colorism within the AA community.

Now, anyone who gets to know me will find out that I'm not a "hair flipper." However, given the yucky behavior that I've seen over the decades from many women who benefited from colorism, I don't expect those who have victimized to act totally "brand new" with me (when they meet me) just because I personally wasn't part of that prior victimization.

I would suppose that when one has been REPEATEDLY bitten by snakes, one learns to be wary of snakes, and objects that might bear a superficial resemblance to snakes. I would imagine that one would be wary until further examination showed that something was a garden hose, and not a snake.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

Can't African-American/Black women have any sanctuaries of our own? Why must these other people and worries about their interests always be brought into our VERY FEW places of refuge?Khadija, you're now understanding exactly why it was that I went private with my blog. INTRUDERS! You'll spend 80% of your energy trying to explain to intruders and "confused" others that you don't hate them or that their issues are not your concern or priority, which some of them will then interpret as proof positive that you do hate them. LOL!!

Why are we always preoccupied with uplifting the interests of other people? Why is it so hard for us to focus on us and what benefits us? For even a short amount of time?Now I know you don't like the term--MAMMIES--but it explains this situation clearly. You're being viewed as a quasi-mammy. MOST people (including most AA men and even many AA women) consider AA women to be self-sacrificing MAMMIES. They ***expect*** for us to be overwhelmingly concerned with male and other folks/groups issues & interests and to de-prioritize our own issues and concerns.

AA women as a group have never shed that mammy role, but that's another thing that many don't want to talk about. MANY AA women still willingly function mostly in that role in whatever setting they're in, but will then get upset when people treat them like mammies. But this is why people (even many AAs)continue to bring their problems, issues, burdens to AA WOMEN and become outraged when we shut them out or try to shut the door on them or won't take on their baggage or when we point out to them that our interests, our concerns, and our heritage are just as valuable as theirs. Or that we're even MORE deserving than they are because we have contributed a LOT more. The point is that if any other group of women refused to discuss the interests and concerns of these others, it wouldn't bother them or not nearly as much because they don't expect for other women to do that. They would just mouth off a bit and then go away, but people of this sort will not leave AA women alone. They keep coming back; insisting that we help them with their "stuff" or explain to their satisfaction why we won't or can't.

So let me make it clear: MY interests, concerns, and heritage are MORE important and valuable to me by a landslide than ANYONE else's. And what I don't know about my heritage, I'll just make it up, JUST LIKE OTHER FOLKS DO. LOL! There's a LOT of cosmetic fabrication in MOST groups' racial and ethnic histories and historians know that.

This is why I've often said that we need the defense members of this "movement" who strictly focus on defense, so that others can strictly focus on taking the message forward. Other than that, the defense of the message, as you're doing with some of these commenters, can interfere with the progression of the message.

Re other groups raising up their ethnicity and celebrating their ethnic pride around AAs, I have NO problem with it at all because I'm firm in my ethnic pride. I certainly don't want others to have to tiptoe around me and I won't tiptoe around them. I don't ever feel less-than about my skin shade, hair, heritage, accomplishments, ancestry, etc.,and no one will succeed at making me feel less-than, so it doesn't faze me when others strut their ethnicity around me.

AAs cannot expect for others to bend down simply because we refuse to stand up. I wish that all of us AA women would make it a point to REALLY celebrate AA women and not let anybody anywhere trash us in any way. I always try to stand up for and celebrate AA women because we're no more flawed than any other group of women and in some instances, we're not even as flawed. So, I'm willing to go nuclear before I allow anyone to step on me or any AA woman I care about. I never allow anyone to trash or even minimize AA women around me because I know it's a sneaky strike at me since people often view people as members of groups.

AA women out there: You MUST stand up and assert your ethnic pride. Nobody is any more beautiful or more deserving than you for the best that life can offer. And please don't need to be loud about this. Just make a promise to yourself to work daily at being the best YOURSELF that you can be and you will become a Quality woman that a Quality man wants in his life.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

thediva said...

This is a really, really deep post. I really love reading these comments.
When I was growing up I had a functional stable family with African American parents, grandparents, who nurtured me and raised me. Also, all of my relatives were avid readers and instilled with me a pride in the accomplishments of the African American community. The hardest struggle came in university-my so called 'liberal' professors who stuck to there view of African Americans as victim, their obsessions with African American dysfunction more to prove their own 'liberal' credentials than any real desire to help African American people truly in distress. I went from a positive environment which validated African American heritage to people who assumed all African Americans were dysfunctional. I think this perception shapes reality because a lot of African Americans began to embrace these definitions of themselves as 'truth' and worse as a litmus test for true "blackness".

My reply:

I am an academic, and I have noticed this trend too. I see it as being irresponsible and perhaps indoctrinating as compared to educating.

Whenever I have taught subjects that relate to topics like those, I have always presented the topics as ones that were open for debate, presenting more than one side of an issue.

Khadija said...

TheDiva,

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.
_______________________

Evia,

Let me stress that I'm NOT talking about Hagar's Daughter or the concerns that she has voiced; but I AM talking about the general conversation pattern that you've described.

You said, "Khadija, you're now understanding exactly why it was that I went private with my blog. INTRUDERS! You'll spend 80% of your energy trying to explain to intruders and "confused" others that you don't hate them or that their issues are not your concern or priority, which some of them will then interpret as proof positive that you do hate them. LOL!!"

RESPONSE: This conversation pattern that you've described is an EXTREMELY destructive trickbag that we've collectively adopted.

My grandfather who passed for White often talked about this. Whenever he would speak some unflattering truth about White behaviors while among AAs, there was always a chorus of AAs that would rise to the defense of White people with passionate cries that "They're not all like that! There are lots of 'good' White people!" Etc., etc.

His reaction was: (1) To ask then why haven't all these "good" White people made a VISIBLE effort to check the behavior of the bad ones; (2) To point out that when he was among Whites while passing, not a single one of them ever objected to any racist, anti-Black statements that were made in their presence. To point out that Whites do NOT defend us the way that we defend them. To point out that, for the most part, the non-racist Whites are SILENT when racist Whites "dog" AAs.

[From what I hear, this has improved a smidgen in the modern era. There are a handful of non-racist Whites, Latinos, etc. who will object when they hear racist, anti-Black statements. But the vast majority still remain silent.]

Finally, my grandfather would (3) ask the questions that I generally ask such defenders in person: "Why are you willing to fight with me over White people, "biracials," etc.? Why do I have to debate with YOU about other people (who don't reciprocate your concern for them) while I'm trying to discuss US and OUR interests?" I find it dismaying to have to debate with my own people over the interests of other people who don't give a d*** about us.

You said, "This is why I've often said that we need the defense members of this "movement" who strictly focus on defense, so that others can strictly focus on taking the message forward. Other than that, the defense of the message, as you're doing with some of these commenters, can interfere with the progression of the message."

RESPONSE: This is something really important that I need to consider. Maybe it would be better for me to refuse to be drawn into these sidetracks by simply refusing to publish the "But what about the interests of the "biracials," Whites, etc.?" comments. I don't know.

Hmmm...I need to think about all of this.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Beverly said...

Hey Khadija and Everybody!

I've been really thinking about this subject of African American Women loving themselves and there a few things I think each of us must be aware of as we move forward.

1. Many non-AA people are emotionally invested in our self-hatred. There are people out there (and I have met them) who receive huge self-esteem boosts at the thought of African American women (and men) feeling inferior to them. In other words, our self-hatred pays dividends in self-esteem for others.

2. African American women are (imho)almost ALWAYS seen as having low self-esteem even if it's not true for that particular individual. I remember years ago while living in Los Angeles, a black male accused me of being jealous of white women's straight hair. Despite the fact that I wore natural hair and have NEVER hated my hair this man was convinced and emotionally invested in the thought of me being jealous of white women's hair. (smh) In other words, their emotional investment in our (real or imaginary) feelings of inferiority defy reality. Even if you value yourself, be prepared for those who will accuse you or secretly believe/hope that you feel inferior to them or some other group of people they hold in high esteem.

3. Not that any of us have anything to prove to anyone; but it is your actions that show how much you value yourself, not your words. I remember once again while living in Los Angeles, that a white women became so enraged at the fact that I wore my hair natural that she said something to me about my hair. I don't remember her exact words. But I do remember my response, which was: "I am going to continue to wear my hair like this and you are powerless to do anything about it." And I did continue to wear my hair exactly as I wanted. You see, this woman wasn't so angry about my hair being natural, she was angry about my hair being natural and me LOVING IT. Those are two hair examples (cuz folks got issues with my hair for sho' LOL); but it can apply to anything. Folks will grab onto anything and try to bring you down to size for THEIR benefit.

4. Finally, once people realize that you as an individual African American woman has a healthy sense of self-respect and high self-esteem, with the accomplishments/actions etc to match, watch out! You will get one of two reactions...1) they will respect you and say you're the special black person (smh) or 2) they will secretly hate you and continue to harbor the belief that you feel/are inferior to them. Almost everybody believes (and yes I am going to generalize and we're talking about the U.S.A) that African Americans (especially African American women) are at the bottom of society. Their logic often says: If African Americans are not inferior to them and their group then that must mean that they (the non-AA group) are at the bottom of society.

I don't want anyone here to believe that people "out there" are going to "automatically" give us respect because we respect ourselves. This is a process. African Americans have a bad reputation for self-hatred so even if you are self-respecting you WILL run into folks who are going to test you. They are use to running all over black people and they are use to black people bowing down to them. They will expect the same from you. Be prepared. You must train people to treat you with respect. Punish them when they disrespect you and reward them when they behave in a way that's acceptable to you. That's the way you train them. Eventually, as more of us grow and our reputation for self-hate vanishes (hopefully) this will change. But for right now, we will be treated differently than groups who are respected and must be prepared to challenged these fools.

roslynholcomb said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the whole colorism issue has become worse in the last 20 or so years. I can only attribute it to the proliferation of rap/hip-hop culture. There were some people who had those type issues when I was a kid, but it was certainly not mainstream. I remember a lady up the street from us would say really ugly things about one of her children who was fair-complected. My mama wouldn't let us play there because she said the lady was crazy.

It didn't impact me one way or another, but when I began working in social services I ran into all manner of insanity. I'll never forget the 'Creole' man with the Korean wife who beat the living daylights out of his Korean niece for going out with a black boy. (Yes, he admitted this to me, and later to a black judge.)

I wanted to cry though when I saw these young women I worked with who would work like dogs in these fast-food restaurants then hand over their hard-earned money in wig shops buying fake hair and colored contacts. I'll never forget the young girls who refused to be placed in a home with a perfectly lovely woman because her daughter was 'light skinded' with long hair. They acknowledged that the girl and her mother were perfectly nice to them, but they preferred to stay in a group home.

It's all so depressing, and I think previous generations thought that it would go away organically. I frankly thought of it as old craziness that would go away as we evolved as a people. I guess I should've known better. Sickness doesn't get better on it's own. It has to be cut out, or treated with antibiotics.

It doesn't help that in many ways I think we've actually devolved as a people, but that's a conversation for another time.

On the other we are saying that biracials, Creoles, and others should not. What gives?Perhaps I missed something, but I haven't seen anyone here say anything of the sort. Near as I can tell, Khadija is saying this conversation is not about those groups. It's about women who are African American, period. Those other groups have their own agenda and their own issues to deal with, but she's not interested in addressing them.

Aphrodite said...

Hello Khadija,


I have thought about your questions and I like DeStouet may have to take some things from out collective history as well. When you posed that question I could think of the political/social contributions and I can recall innovations in art, dance, literature, music, food, science, medicine, agriculture....


My thinking/feeling is towards the present and future. I believe that Lorraine mentioned fellowship and Evia has mentioned many times that we AA's need to create a hybrid culture. I also read some entries about appropriation by Acts of Faith.


So I am thinking about how all of that can be put together. As divested AA's creating culture [building on the good from the AA past past], creating new healthy fellowship, and stopping the "culture vultures" as we move forward.

Aphrodite said...

I also wanted to mention that I saw the letter from the young woman. My heart goes out to her and I want to applaud her for having the courage to share her story and to embrace her AA heritage.


I have seen this in my family as well. I have cousins who have 'passed' as part Asian fill in the blank...

C4L said...

I have read all the subsequent posts and I agree that other groups interests are not our interests. I personally am not interested in the "other", let them take care of themselves.

I would enjoy more focus on us. I am new to your blog, but I am here to stay LOL.

We need to be selfish, it is long overdue.

thediva said...

Pioneer Valley Woman:
I am glad that someone in academia wants to give a more balanced view of African American culture

Beverly said:

Many non-AA people are emotionally invested in our self-hatred. There are people out there (and I have met them) who receive huge self-esteem boosts at the thought of African American women (and men) feeling inferior to them. In other words, our self-hatred pays dividends in self-esteem for others.


This is an excellent way to put a very important point. I have encountered this many, many times. Like you, I also have natural hair and it amazes me the number of people who get upset with ME about it. I think it is perfectly acceptable and even necessary to have spaces that are just about Black women and just serve the interests of Black women mainly for the reasons that Beverly brings up.

Aphrodite said...

Beverly,

You are fabulous for bringing up all the points that you did.

That is so true. There will be pushback.

I am feeling so liberated right now.


I think I was clueless re: number 4 and non AAs and I was being tested which led to me becoming an apologetic sojourner. And I didn't like how that made me feel.


But in light of you breaking it down like that and Khadija's quote about our ancestors building this country I feel empowered to never do that again.


I do feel a twinge of anger both at them still because they were/are out of line and at myself for responding in a way that bolstered them.

I will do that no more and I will definitely stand up for myself when it happens again.

Khadija said...

Beverly,

You've contributed yet another Reader's Money Quote. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You're helping to train GENERATIONS of Sojourners! I can't possibly thank you enough.

You and other commenters have moved this conversation forward into solutions so quickly. In fact, in order to keep up, I've had to delay my planned hiatus from electronic devices (tv, radio, computer) that I periodically take. [I'll be on break from the gadgets and the blog from Friday through the weekend.]
__________________

Roslyn,

You said, "I agree with you wholeheartedly that the whole colorism issue has become worse in the last 20 or so years. I can only attribute it to the proliferation of rap/hip-hop culture."

RESPONSE: Hip-hop (especially the videos) definitely magnified and spread this overt, OPEN acceptance of this poison into the mainstream of the AA population. After the peer pressure created by Black-pride slogans of the 1960s, colorist nuts had to be on the semi-down-low about openly expressing colorist madness. Until hip-hop and its videos.

That's a truly pitiful story about the "Creole" Negro with the Korean wife. {smh}
____________________

Aphrodite,

I'm so happy to hear that you're formulating your future responses! YES! {raised fist salute} Onward and forward!

And, yes, isn't Beverly the bomb!
_______________________

C4L,

Pull up a chair and make yourself at home!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Hagar's Daughter said...

Hi Khadija,

What a powerful email and I'm thankful that that young lady felt safe enough with you to share her deepest feelings.

When I commented last about Creoles it was just to use them as an example of a distinct ethnic group within Black America. It was not to defend what they do or not do.

Self esteem and self respect is not dependant on the other and to hae health self esteem does not mean to put anyone else down for choosing to identify as they want to identify. That was my point. Some of the comments seemed to go down that path (imo) which misses the point of this space being a place to affirm our self worth, self confidence, self esteem, etc. I don't defend myself against _______ (fill in the blank with hair flipper, Creole, biracial, etc)in order to feel good about who I am. I doubt anyone else who has health self-respect does either. I can't assumed that you are a "hair flipper" just based on which shade of black your complexion happens to fall no matter how many "hair flippers" I've encountered. Suppose you are a "hair flipper?" This does not mean you could not have a healthy sense of who you are; it just means your hair blows in the wind.

I just wanted to point out that we have to discern destructive behavior (like passing for Latina) from a person who identifies as Latina because she is.

I am not saying that you or others have said this, but I'm mindful of those who may interpret some of the comments as such.

Khadija said...

Hagar's Daughter,

Yes, I was deeply moved by the young lady's email. I'm so thankful that she's arrived at a healthier place.

Since I want to focus on us, I don't want to invest much time in discussing the merits of these other-identified people's choice of identity.

So, I'll just leave it at the following: It's been my observation that for many of these "otherish" (as a friend calls them) people, their choice to identify as "biracial," etc. is COUPLED and INTERTWINED with a demeaning of the AA/Black identity.

We cannot ignore this fact. An attack that is veiled in "choice" language is still an attack. Unopposed attacks escalate; that's how we arrived at the condition that the young lady described in her email. For the past 25 years, we collectively ignored the attacks upon AA women's dignity by saying that "Oh, it's not colorism. It's just a matter of personal preference and choice, etc."

I believe that we can't afford to continue ignoring these people's semi-veiled denigration of our AA/Black identity. This means that we must defend against these people and their semi-cloaked devaluing of us.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

C4L said...

Beverly,

we are >>>righthere<<<. I have been fighting the "good fight" for many years and can confirm all of your points.

Having had the best grades in most of my classes (all white Texas schools at that) and the first to integrate some of them, I have been smashing myths with a sledge hammer for years. White Teachers hated me for "busting their curves" and not playing the bow down to them Negro. Blacks did not like it because I exposed the fallacy of their behavior to "dumb down" in order to make the whites feel comfortable. I went my own way and have no friends from that period - so be it.

I have been the first AA engineer, the first AA female manager, and on list goes on...

I have found WW especially to be afraid and intimidated by an AA woman who won't kiss their a*s and even worse to be respected and desired by their men.. LOL

I have been call BWA (B*tch with Attitude), where my response was if to be confident in myself and to be happy with who I am and to not allow others to disrepect me makes be a BWA, then you need to call me "Ms. BWA", because I am not playing into your insecurities not in this life or the next.

My transition to natural hair was 10 years ago, just before I moved overseas. It flipped folks out at my job, I cut all my hair off (from straight shoulder length, to 1,5 inch curly twa). I was "free". They all looked at me funny (black and white). When a high-level executive from Europe who I knew and happen to be in the US on business, saw me, his first reaction (in a big meeting at that) was wow, your hair looks great, why did you ever wear it straight. If I had had money for the looks on everyone's faces, I would be rich.... I, of course, did not need his validation but shows in a small way how much America is invested in keeping us down in order for them to feel superior.

It is time for us AA's to reclaim our self-respect, it will not happen immediately but is must happen for us to not only survive but to thrive.

Southland Diva said...

Thank you for pointing out that AA culture is not the same as the “acting black crew” or....and I love this....the “hip hop crack house” culture. I do know this, though I may not have articulated that very well in my previous post. I love being an AAW!! I have worked many years to love and accept my lovely brown-skinned, brown-eyed self. I have no problem claiming my heritage and I have nothing but pride for AA people considering we/they survived four centuries of slavery, one hundred years of Jim/Jane Crow…that brings us to 1965….created, demonstrated and progressed with civil rights, black nationalism, etc. There is so much to be proud of!!! I am an AA woman, living, breathing and being.

What causes me pain is how the lowest common denominator of AA culture receives the most attention, is the most emulated. Don’t get me wrong, non-AA society has just as many problems as AA culture, but it’s not my culture of origin. Anti-intellectualism is an issue for AA people, but it is most certainly not restricted to AA people! The entire American society is stricken with this disease (I know, I know, sweeping generalization in both cases).

It seems to me I remember a time when there were just some things AA people didn’t do. Maybe that was never true….but growing up, it was my experience. Of course, back in the day, there were some things people didn’t do in general…… {perplexed sigh}

I feel as if I am not articulating this very well……I will ruminate and try again…..

Peace

Nwando said...

Great conversation (as usual).

I actually have a question (and maybe I missed this in an earlier post or comment) - who is an "African American?" There is an assumption of who is an African American (or someone who identifies as as African American) and I am not sure I fully understand this set of criteria. I don't ask this question as a means to cause any trouble - I can send an e-mail to Khadija and ask the question privately if this will move away from the topic(s) being discussed.

Khadija said...

Nwando,

Thank you for your kind words about the discussion. I truly appreciate it.

When I say "African-American," I'm referring to those Black people who are descended from kidnapped Africans who were held in slavery here in the United States.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Nwando said...

Thank you Khadija!!!

Based on your definition, it's clear that those of us who were born in the U.S. of foreign-blacks, but grew up here, are not African American for purposes of this conversation. I hate that I can't really take part in the conversation but that's cool. Ladies - just know that you have one very supportive and enthusiastic "outsider" cheering on the sidelines for the conversations and inner growth taking place here. I can't see how this is not for the best!!!

Khadija said...

Nwando,

You're welcome!

As with any situation, there are nuances. We're all "Black Americans," whether or not we're descended from those Africans who were held in slavery in the U.S.

But we're not all "African-Americans" as I define that term.

To me, being specific about all of this isn't about creating differences between different sub-categories of American Blacks. These distinctions are already there. That's evident with the "On my island/In my country..." statements as contrasted with feeling as if one has nothing to say in response to this.

The thing is that there are some things going on among AAs that are specific to us that need to be addressed. Being specific about this will also help AAs do a better job of looking after our own interests; which aren't always in 100% alignment with those of other categories of American Blacks.

[For example, the affirmative action scholarship situation that I talked about in the post Charity Begins at Home. I want AAs to have "1st dibs" on the resources that our Civil Rights Movement and martyrs created.

Illegal immigration is another area where our interests are not necessarily in alignment with some other categories of American Blacks (in reference to those among them who might want citizenship amnesty granted to foreign relatives who came as illegal aliens.)]

THANK YOU for your support!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JS said...

Not meaning to get off, but you are right Khadija about reclaiming remnants from "Big Mama’s" house. I was just on YouTube watching some videos about dread locks. I saw some that were catering more to whites with dreads. I was cool about it since I don’t mind people imitating our culture as long as there is no cultural plagiarizing going on. After reading the comments, boy was I wrong. These thieves were claiming that every culture wore locks so that means they are not imitating blacks and that we cannot claim it. Some even said that Celts and other early Europeans were the originators of dreaded hair or that whites were wearing it before blacks/Africans were. So I guess we should start claiming the Scottish kilt saying that it was originally a garment made out of Ghanaian kente cloth and thus created by Africans.

Arrgghhh!!!! I can’t stand it!! We need to reclaim Big Mama’s house and BARRICADE it from the grave robbers.

JaliliMaster said...

"I have found WW especially to be afraid and intimidated by an AA woman who won't kiss their a*s and even worse to be respected and desired by their men.. LOL

I have been call BWA (B*tch with Attitude), where my response was if to be confident in myself and to be happy with who I am and to not allow others to disrepect me makes be a BWA, then you need to call me "Ms. BWA", because I am not playing into your insecurities not in this life or the next."



Personally, in my experience, what usually gets the worst reaction from these types of women is when they meet a Black Woman who doesn't confrom to their stereotypes, most especially the Angry BW one. What many sisters don't realise is that alot of things are done just to get a rise out of you, for the sole purpose of getting you in trouble or getting one over you (It seems that bm have started doing it too). And in an effort to 'not take s*** of anybody', they resort to either finger-snapping, neck-rolling, eye-balling, finger-in-the-face pointing, or all of the above, and with a loud voice. I've witnessed way too many cases where a BW who, with every right to be very annoyed with someone, reacted in the wrong way or in a very 'down-there' manner, thus resulting in her all of a sudden looking like she had no case. These people actually want you to be the finger-snapping, witty one-liner-giving B***h. There are several situations in which a BW could have used the law (or office rules and regulations) to handle folks and their foolishness, but instead, allowed the 'Angry Black Woman' to rear her head, and ended up with pie on their face. That's why I don't get it when I hear folks saying....'I had to control te angry black woman in me', or 'I brought out the ghetto and gave that ....... a piece of my mind'. Then they start complaining about stereotypes. I'm like.....if you had to control this mysterious, body-inhabitting angry black woman, then it isn't really a stereotype in your case. If you are not an 'angry bw', there would be none to 'control', and you'll always be able to reason and react in a sensible way without haveing to tell oneself to consciously to so! I've noticed that generally, alot of BW are reluctant to use all arms of the law or to depend on any already existing rules when handling folk. That needs to change.
___________________________


"Illegal immigration is another area where our interests are not necessarily in alignment with some other categories of American Blacks (in reference to those among them who might want citizenship amnesty granted to foreign relatives who came as illegal aliens.)]"


Believe me, most Black folks in America who are either immigrants or children/grandkids of immigrant Africans are NOT for illegal immigration. They have no stake in it. I'm also assuming that the same applies to Carribean-born ones. The only ones who will be for that kind of nonsense are those whose intention was always to break the law as regards migration (e.g. the habit of some African men coming on some sort of travel VISA, which usually lasts for 6 months, then looking for a citizen to marry. Or the less common one, the students who actively seek citizen women to marry. Most of these men used to just go after women from their country who were citizens, but nowadays, these women pay them no attention so now they go for other American women). There is a reason that the noise makers spouting off their silly nonsense when it comes to illegal immigration are always the Latinos. However, in some instances, I have started seeing some similar talk from Somalis in America.

SistaOpinion said...

Again, I'm relatively new to your blog but I should have known that you were around my age (40s). With this post you have brilliantly defined one of my biggest issues with way too many in the black community today: the general acceptance of there being something WRONG with or SHAMEFUL about "black" combined with the general acceptance that "being black" involves embracing dysfunctional behavior.

I grew up being PROUD of "black" and of being black. I come from people who were calling themselves "black" back in the 40s and 50s, when "black" was still seen as an insult. I consider myself fortunate that I didn't have to deal with colorism in my immediate family (we're all dark) and that the lighter-skinned members of my mother's extended family treated me no differently than the other kids. This was in the 60s and 70s, obviously. Of course, OUTSIDE my family I was brutally teased for being dark. You would think I'd be bleached-out and weaved-up today...that's how bad it was.

Currently I live in a state that's not known for having a lot of AAs (2.6% of the population). I happen to live in a town that is considered diverse for the state (4% AA). AAs here go out of their way to avoid each other whenever possible. You know "the look" of acknowledgement that blacks give each other in all-white situations? There's VERY little of that here. I now understand better than ever that "the look" historically meant that at least SOMEBODY saw you, that you weren't invisible. I have never felt more invisible as a black woman than I have in this town where the general rule amongst black people is to be invisible. Note also that I am dark-skinned and wear my certifiably nappy hair natural...I think I scare the shit out of some of these black people! And I KNOW I scare the shit out of some of these white folks but...oh well, too bad, so sad!

I've only read some of the comments and I'm going to have to come back to read the rest but I wanted to say one more thing before I get out of here: That whole "being washed whiter than snow" image bugged the HELL out of me as a kid when I heard it sung in church. Then again I wasn't raised with a particular religion so maybe that's why I didn't get it. (I'm being both funny and serious with that statement.)

C4L said...

JaliliMaster:

The word angry did not appear in my commentary. I have never had to use the "angry black woman" because I have not been angry at them.

I don't snap fingers, shake my head or any of the stereotypes. It was sufficient to deal with the facts. I speak eloquently enough to convey my point without all of the baggage that you referenced.

What I stated and said was:

"I have been call BWA (B*tch with Attitude), where my response was if to be confident in myself and to be happy with who I am and to not allow others to disrepect me makes be a BWA, then you need to call me "Ms. BWA", because I am not playing into your insecurities not in this life or the next.""

I have been in the "game" a very long time, and I have never had to raise my voice to make a point.

I honor myself first and foremost. I have always handled things with grace, but the message has never changed, I will not allow anyone to walk over me.


I do hope that I have clarified my point.

Khadija said...

JS,

Other people are rummaging through the ruins of Big Mama's house and running off with OUR inheritance! This is only possible because we left our stuff behind...on the floor...in the dust...for them to plunder. We've got to get our "stuff!"
____________________

JaliliMaster,

I don't know how other ethnic groups feel about illegal immigration. I do know that non-Latinos have demonstrated the common sense to NOT make themselves the public face of illegal immigration.

For example, the Chicago-area has a LOT of illegal Polish immigrants. They staff a large percentage of local cleaning and construction jobs (along with the Mexicans). Many local hospitals and government facilities have signs, etc. in Polish (along with Spanish). You NEVER see them or their kin on local tv here talking about immigration issues. They're on the downlow about that; and they let the Mexicans take the public heat for advocating for illegal aliens.
______________________

SistaOpinion,

Let me remind you that profanity is not welcome here.

*Anyhoo:I feel a rant coming on--LOL*Yep. AA women in our 40s have allowed a TERRIBLE status quo (the notion that AA/Black = dysfunctional/inferior) to become deeply entrenched over the past 25 years. I believe that this TERRIBLE status quo is the end result of us collectively "staying in the light/sticking to the positive" and not fighting back. I would compare it to how the Democrats allowed the Republicans to turn the word "liberal" into a bad word with all sorts of negative connotations.

You see, AA women have developed all sorts of hip-sounding arguments for allowing others to figuratively (and in one case literally) urinate on us.

Regarding demeaning, degrading, viciously anti-BW hip-hop: AA women "stayed in the light/with the positive" and said nothing for the past 25 years in response to the hatred directed against us.

As a result, we now have appalling spectacles such as "Goonette" being disseminated. [See the What About Our Daughters blog post for the details and video.]

Regarding colorism and the rise of the "Don't you dare call me Black" "biracials,""Cablanasians," etc.: AA women "stayed in the light/with the positive" and said nothing for the past 25 years in response to us being devalued by these people (and their water-carriers).

As a result, the paper bag test has escalated into a manila-folder-and-Whiter test. As another result of AA women "sticking to the positive" and not defending ourselves, we have Negroes OPENLY stating their hatred of so-called "dark butts." Now, we have Negroes OPENLY supporting White racists calling us "nappy headed h*&s."

It's good to promote the positive. I try to focus many (if not most) of the blog posts on productive, actionable ideas. However, none of that positive stuff is effective when you allow somebody to urinate on you.

I hate to be this graphic, but this is point that we've reached with this collective situation. It's totally out of pocket. You can have all the self-esteem in the world and be "flawless" in your outer self-presentation. But if you allow people to pour cups of urine on your head, all that self-esteem and "flawlessness" is for naught. And if you stand around long enough drenched in urine, you won't have your self-esteem anymore. And your outer self-presentation be no longer be "flawless."

AA women have been standing around for the past 25 years while others have been pouring cups of urine on our heads. We've been pretending that this is a refreshing summer drizzle. And we've come up with hip-sounding slogans to justify standing around while these people do this.

I don't care how such individuals (or their supporters) perceive me or my REFUSAL to cooperate with this. I don't care if they say that I'm jealous of them. I don't care what they think about anything; including what they think about me. The fact that they want to pour those foul cups on my head lets me know that they're NOT my friends. In fact, this desire on their part let's me know that they HATE me. And AA women like me. Including those who lack the nerve to reject the cup o'urine.

AA women have another bad mental habit of not wanting to admit that we've got some semi-internal MORTAL enemies who have been building their self-esteem (the cheap and lazy way) by destroying us.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

SistaOpinion said...

I apologize for the profanity in my previous post.

This blog has given me a LOT to think about. I moved to this mostly-white state in 2005 for graduate school; prior to that I lived in one of the few truly racially-mixed suburbs in the Chicago area, a place very similar to where I grew up (in one of the few truly racially-mixed suburbs in the Cleveland area).

These days, when I am in a mostly-black environment, it usually consists of people (women and some men) who "get it," so to speak. Some of the older women ARE sojourners following your definition; I find myself looking to them for guidance. My circumstances and life choices have taken me away from some of the more dysfunctional elements of the black community and until reading this blog I never thought of myself as a refugee. I did not grow up with or in this dysfunction so how can I be a refugee from it? Unlike my co-worker (who is a "don't call me black" biracial; we're polite but that's about it), I don't go out of my way to avoid black people as a general rule. I do avoid people, regardless of color, who I think aren't healthy for me to be around.

I am thinking of ways I can be more of a sojourner while still keeping my selves intact. I agree that, as a 40-something woman, I can make more of an impact on younger black women. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks again for continuing this conversation.

geekgrl said...

Great post and conversation.

This conversation reminds me of the book ‘the Complete Idiots Guide to Judaism’ (I like reading about religions). The book stated that Jews make up less than 1/26 of the world’s population, but because of their emphasis on attributes like education and because they entered fields which were thought of as inferior for whites (.i.e. banking, medicine, acting), they created a niche that allowed them to flourish.

Maybe we can learn something in this as well as return to the notion of the talented 10th.

Once I decided that maybe I won’t be a spinster, may be I will be a wife and mother, I knew I wanted to have something to give my future children. Something to say this is us, aren’t we great. I love the notion of a shared language for blacks in the US. Also, using a shared language will filter out the ABC, because they hate learning and self reflection

ak said...

Hi Khadijah long time no talk! LOL

I can't beleive the colorism has gotten so bad between blacks even compared to the School Daze 1980s but I have to agree with you, it has.

I think it's because black men have been mixing with others for so long that now they only want mixed race features and black women who are bamboozled by this, want to look even more like mixed women now.

We are back tracking.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Geekgrl!

Sadly, the time for AAs to decide upon a shared language has passed. The time for all of these collective, mass decisions was during the 1960s. We blew it. At this point, all that is left are individual decisions. One of my mother's business associates learned Kiswahili and raised his (now adult) children to speak it, but that's an isolated case and an individual decision.
_____________________

Hello there, AK!

Welcome back! LOL! You were missed.

Yes, we've allowed ourselves to go BACKWARDS. By decades.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ak said...

Khadija

Black women everywhere need to hold onto their crowns regardless of their skin tone; don't hold with this bamboozling.

I was raised in both the UK and the USA and my whole family is Jamaican.

But I believe in the divestment and I believe that all AA women should divest in America if they want to, to better themselves.

Hey the USA is their country and AA women can do what they want withit. Growing up in the USA everybody just assumed I was an AA girl anyway, and I wasn't offended by that. Not everybody knows me LOL

AA women do what you feel like doing in your own country, I don't disrespect that at all. Divestment is a viable option and it beats mammying forever anyday.

Khadija said...

AK,

You've summed it up. As AA women, this entire country belongs to us. We are free to do whatever we want in this country. Wherever we want in this country. We are free and entitled to do whatever works best for US in our own country!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ak said...

Hi Khadija

I hear what you said about Black Unity but I have a sad and cynical thought in my head that says that Black Unity 'worked' and was 'positive' after slavery ended up to the 1950s and 1960s only because black people really needed each other as there was strength in numbers and safety in numbers.

They had to protect each other in case of sudden lynching, they had to keep out of (criminal) trouble amongst themselves just in case whites watched them and took set upon them if they 'were scared that a white woman would get raped by one', and as so many private and public buildings and establishments were 'white only' you had to stay with other black people and deal with them peacefully especially if you travelled up and down the USA.

I think that is why 'black unity' worked so well before integration laws. Blacks needed each other without question.

Khadija said...

AK,

I believe that much of the previous solidarity was a survival mechanism. However, NOT all of it. There's a genuine friendliness, hospitality, and emotional warmth to traditional African-American culture that had/has nothing to do with outside pressures.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

There's a to traditional African-American culture that had/has nothing to do with outside pressures.RESPONSE: Khadija, from a cultural anthropological point of view, these traits are definitely African RETENTIONS meaning they're cultural traits that captured Africans retained over these hundreds of years and apparently found them to have value. For ex., in Nigeria, I was often swept away by the sheer depth of this hospitality and warmth. They were not faking this either. These are deeply entrenched cultural traits. The type of hospitality they offer to TOTAL strangers is WAY, WAY more than most other groups would offer to even close family members or would reserve for only close family members and proven friends/allies.

These traits you mentioned are indigenous to virtually every African culture to some extent. Actually, I believe that "African hospitality" is what allowed and still allows the continent of Africa to be invaded and gouged time and time again so easily. Traditional, indigenous African culture has that "Y'all come in" type hospitality stamped all throughout it. In daily practice, this means that whenever possible, they will invite you in literally and feed you and allow you to eat from their communal bowl.

I used to get so annoyed seeing whites and other outsiders in Nigeria eating from these communal bowls because I knew that these whites were no friends of these Africans. I've often thought that various Africans I've met had an innocence about them. They seemed to believe that if you smile a lot at them, eat with them, socialize with them, make an attempt to speak a few words of their language, --that you are their friend!!!!!!

That is SO similar to the mindset and behavior of MANY African Americans!! This is why I've come to the conclusion that many, many later-descended people of Africa (so-called "black" people which includes continental Africans and blacks in the Diaspora) are not equipped--meaning not mentally vicious enough--to survive and THRIVE in the cutthroat, slick modern world. I'm not talking about intellect; I'm talking about mental inclinations. Mental inclinations are taught and/or handed down.

This is a topic that needs a LOT of study because this HOSPTIALITY towards strangers or towards people who have not yet PROVEN to be friends or allies is a mental inclination. It is also at the root of why so many AA women put themselves at the mercy of parasites and predators. It's also at the root of why so many wealthy AA and other African descended males will hand over their wealth to other communities via relationships/marriages with women from these other communities and YET still be angry about or wonder why these other communities will absorb that wealth and still dump on them.

I know for a fact that the vast majority of AAs nor the Africans I've encountered are NOT taught to ***critically analyze*** strangers before you let them in. I've dug into this. There just tends to be this "genuine friendliness, hospitality, and emotional warmth" towards ALL others.

These traits, of course, have SOME value and this is why they've lasted this long, but for a long time and especially in today's world, they tend to have quickly vanishing returns.

Khadija said...

Evia,

Yes, these cultural traits are African retentions. Thanks for providing the precise terminology to describe this.

Although I enjoy being on the receiving end of this warmth and hospitality, I agree with you that AAs (and apparently Africans too, from what you've described) are much TOO welcoming, much TOO soon. I believe that we need to learn to step back and scrutinize folks before flashing the "Y'all come on in here, and get you a plate" sign!

We could learn from other cultures that are NOT welcoming, and require outsiders to prove their value before they even CONSIDER interacting with them (the Japanese, etc.).

We could also learn from others who have similar codes of hospitality, but ALSO tend to inflict heavy punishments on people who abuse that hospitality (Arabs, Afghans, etc.).

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ak said...

Evia

I think what you explained about Africans just put the whole reason why slavery from whites and Arabs in both western and eastern Africa happened. They welcomed them with open arms too soon 600 years ago too I expect. And they were gullible enough that outsiders would treat black slaves the same way an African chieftain would treat his slaves, as if they never realized that people CAN be very different from you.

Khadija

I agree. I think this is what Rev Lisa was talking about when she mentioned self control in public actions in her blogs and she mentioned restraining 'emotionalism'.

Upper class British society, upper class American WASPy society, and most of Japanese society are restrictive with their acceptance but they try to value politeness.

Especially the Japanese, these groups try to be polite as they can with 'their own' and with outsiders most of the time, even if they don't socialize with outsiders nor want their kids to 'marry one'.

I think blacks all over the world should adapt those principles and should scrutinize 'their own' because of the DBRs even if they're trying to be polite with them.