Sunday, July 19, 2009

Departures, Part 1: Seeking Our God-Given Rights

It's always annoying to hear (sometimes confused, often oppressive) Black people claim that any African-American (especially any African-American woman) who wants a good life is somehow "acting White" or under the influence of Whites.

That's crazy. And shows that the person saying this madness has never been exposed to actual Black Nationalist thought. To mention just one example, Elijah Muhammad promised to help his followers acquire "money, good homes, and friendship in all walks of life." Here's a modern, current example of one of his followers describing what we are entitled to. Unlike orthodox Islam, the Nation of Islam has female clergy. Over the years, I've always enjoyed hearing lectures by Sis. Min. Ava Muhammad. She's an engaging, dynamic speaker. And it amuses me to be able to relate to her as a fellow former prosecutor and attorney. Don't assume that everybody in the Nation of Islam is a down and out former convict. They're not. [Audience note: I've never been a member of the Nation of Islam. I'm a Sunni, "orthodox" Muslimah.]

Here's the link to a video of Sis. Min. Ava Muhammad talking about what we are entitled to (among other topics).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8OeCZIToAg

My favorite portions are the following:

She starts talking about what we're entitled to at around 1:51 into the video: "We have a right to have good health, adequate nutrition, good shelter, to be able to avoid unnecessary and non-beneficial pain. To have pleasurable experiences in life. These aren't things that come from a program. These are your natural, human right(s)."

At around 3:36 into the video: "We have got to stop allowing people to teach us that poverty and deprivation is righteousness. That's how we were kept in chains for 400 years."

At around 4:05 into the video: "You have a duty to yourself, your family, and your community to be all you can be and to get all you can get morally in this life. We have to want more and stop teaching ourselves to be satisfied with nothing."

Alhamdulilah! [Praise God!]

We're going to have some specific conversations about making our various departures into better lives. Have you picked a destination? Have you packed ONLY the things that really matter to you? And ONLY the things that are actually helpful? Are you ready to go?

16 comments:

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

I think I'm at the point where I'm doing a lot of self- challenging. The difficulty is that there are plenty of behaviors, relationships or attitudes that are enjoyable, but don't further my agenda. So I'm testing each of the "items" in the box of my life to see if they're providing substantive value.

What I'm realizing is that the items that give negative value (the things that take away from my agenda) are easy to distinguish. But I think it may also be necessary to set aside the items of neutral value, unless they can be quickly reworked into something wholly positive.

I feel like I need to focus my strategies on the high-yield items, instead of burning energy trying to boost the value of valueless situations. I think this will best help me reach my destination. Right now, that destination is kind of far off, so I want to strip down to speed-weight, if that makes sense. And I'm also finding that an underlying sense of urgency is helping me overcome some of the (common) fears that accompany making changes in one's life.

Miss Marche said...

It's a small thing when talking on the larger scale of departure, but I've been actively exercising my right to have QUALITY -- food, shelter, clothing, etc. I started this a while ago, thinking I was allowing myself to indulge and eventually realized I'd been indoctrinated with the notion of buying things, eating food and sleeping on furniture that's just "good enough."


You quoted Min. Muhammad saying:

"We have a right to have good health, adequate nutrition, good shelter, to be able to avoid unnecessary and non-beneficial pain. To have pleasurable experiences in life. These aren't things that come from a program. These are your natural, human right(s)."

It reminded me, in particular, of when I decided to start buying healthier, more nutritious fresh foods. Brown rice instead of processed white rice. Fresh vegetables instead of canned, salted veggies. Hearty salad greens instead of watery, 79-cent iceberg lettuce. I simply wanted better, but I was startled the way my family and friends recoiled.

I was struck by one comment in particular: "Oh, she went out and got that BOURGIE salad." It was a salad! Such a small thing! But I was shocked by the implication that opting for low-quality -- even when it comes to basic needs -- equals keeping it real. It opened my eyes to how insiduous some mentalities have become.

Aphrodite said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Khadija!


Yesterday I was talking about some of these very things with my mom especially: "acting White" or under the influence of Whites".

It was one of those if I knew then what I know now. I told her that I used to get so upset and being rejected by some AA's and if I had the knowledge I have now - I wouldn't have even wasted my time.


I listened to some of the videos you posted and kind of followed those to others and I love some of Amefika Geuka's videos. He is so intelligent. I loved that what he talked about tied into what has been mentioned here - he alluded to co-opting what works from other groups - he used Creflo Dollar as an example to refute that AA's don't support/give money to certain causes.



I listened to Sis Min Ava and I wish I had been exposed to this as a child/teen. I hate that I was exposed to so much negativity and pro-suffering doctrine.


"These are your natural, human right(s). We have got to stop allowing people to teach us that poverty and deprivation is righteousness. That's how we were kept in chains for 400 years. You have a duty to yourself, your family, and your community to be all you can be and to get all you can get morally in this life. We have to want more and stop teaching ourselves to be satisfied with nothing."



I love this!


Thank you so much for posting this. I think I will print this out and keep this somewhere.

Khadija said...

Anna,

You said, " Right now, that destination is kind of far off, so I want to strip down to speed-weight, if that makes sense."-

It makes perfect sense to me. I believe that it's better to travel light, and only take the true essentials with us. Even the things that are neutral are taking up space that could be filled by NEW goodies acquired after reaching the destination.
____________________

Miss Marche,

I don't think what you're describing is small at all. It's all connected. And the seemingly "small" thing is a perfect microcosm of the larger things.

This deranged mindset of "opting for low-quality = AA authenticity" poisons EVERY facet of our collective lives as a people. Even something as seemingly "small" as a salad. All of which, as you already know, has long-term health implications.
_____________________

Aphrodite,

You're welcome! The things is that the AA pro-suffering indoctrination is directed at AA women, singularly. AA males are encouraged to do whatever they want to do; and excused for any and all trespasses.

That day is so over. Onward and forward into our God-given rights.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

I just saw an email from a listserv I'm a member of--women's history stuff, and I just remembered that I forgot about a book that touches upon this topic.

A colleague, Michele Mitchel has written about this topic of racial destiny, but looking back at how African Americans of earlier generations thought of their racial destiny.

Between 1877 and 1930--years rife with tensions over citizenship, suffrage, immigration, and "the Negro problem"--African American activists promoted an array of strategies for progress and power built around "racial destiny," the idea that black Americans formed a collective whose future existence would be determined by the actions of its members.

In Righteous Propagation, Michele Mitchell examines the reproductive implications of racial destiny, demonstrating how it forcefully linked particular visions of gender, conduct, and sexuality to collective well-being.

Mitchell argues that while African Americans did not agree on specific ways to bolster their collective prospects, ideas about racial destiny and progress generally shifted from outward-looking remedies such as emigration to inward-focused debates about intraracial relationships, thereby politicizing the most private aspects of black life and spurring race activists to calcify gender roles, monitor intraracial sexual practices, and promote moral purity. Examining the ideas of well-known elite reformers such as Mary Church Terrell and W. E. B. DuBois, as well as unknown members of the working and aspiring classes, such as James Dubose and Josie Briggs Hall, Mitchell reinterprets black protest and politics and recasts the way we think about black sexuality and progress after Reconstruction.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

I forgot, the quotation comes directly from the Univ. of North Carolina Press: http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=1139.

Enjoy!

Enigma said...

I am looking into where I want to live and how I want that community to be. I know a utopia is not going to happen, but I want something pretty darn close :) I am also getting more comfy with doing things by myself. THIS doing for yourself thing and thinking of your own happiness is very different for me to say the least.

Not only am I examining my dreams I am also speaking up more, and being authentic with what I have to say. I can see now that I was setting myself up to be an asexual Big Mama for my family and friends so that THEY would be ok. That is NOT enough for me now. I NOW desire a beautiful and full life of my own. I want a hubby and fulfilling career of my own. YES I am examining things in my life and deciding whether it will be placed in the box of things to go with me to my new life that I am creating.

Khadija said...

PioneerValleyWoman,

Thanks for the info!
___________________

Enigma,

You said, "Not only am I examining my dreams I am also speaking up more, and being authentic with what I have to say. I can see now that I was setting myself up to be an asexual Big Mama for my family and friends so that THEY would be ok. That is NOT enough for me now. I NOW desire a beautiful and full life of my own. I want a hubby and fulfilling career of my own. YES I am examining things in my life and deciding whether it will be placed in the box of things to go with me to my new life that I am creating."-

YES! YES! YES! {raised fist salute}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ak said...

Miss Marche:

It reminded me, in particular, of when I decided to start buying healthier, more nutritious fresh foods. Brown rice instead of processed white rice. Fresh vegetables instead of canned, salted veggies. Hearty salad greens instead of watery, 79-cent iceberg lettuce. I simply wanted better, but I was startled the way my family and friends recoiled.

I was struck by one comment in particular: "Oh, she went out and got that BOURGIE salad." It was a salad! Such a small thing! But I was shocked by the implication that opting for low-quality -- even when it comes to basic needs -- equals keeping it real. It opened my eyes to how insiduous some mentalities have become.



I can't stand watery flavorless iceberg lettuce. Try baby spinach and mix in some arugula if you want. Salads taste better when they're dark green, and you can add tomatoes for that extra sweetness that cuts into the greenness.

Nicole said...

So happy that I discovered this blog. I've been lurking for a day, and I thank you for the knowledge, inspiration, and sense of community that you have given me.

So on departures, I moved out of NYC two years ago. I'd always wanted to teach abroad so I chose a small city in South Korea to realize that. Most thought that I'd go to Africa for such, but I'd already visited Ghana as a student and I wanted to experience Asia.

Let me say that being here has been eye-opening and fulfilling in so many ways. Black women, need to travel and live abroad to experience the beauty of their light and joy reflected in the eyes and actions of strangers. It helps one to see beyond "community" as color, even beyond language. These two years have helped me to know and appreciate myself so much more.

Travel has always been my refuge, but these two years are the longest that I've lived abroad, the first time that I've worked abroad, and the longest time that I've spent amongst people further down the "people of color" line from me. Hasn't been perfect or free of ignorance of course, but the break from negative black images and language and "trying to break my stride" black men has been absolutely REFRESHING. There is so much that I could write on this subject, but in short, when you carry light and joy you attract that, no matter where on earth you are. And you deserve to know that feeling, to be adored for it, and to share it with everyone.

I'm gearing up for a visit to NYC (the city that I love to hate) before making another move abroad, to another place, as yet to be determined. But I'd enjoy the prospect of safe, happy, sunshiny-living in the US for awhile!!

Khadija said...

Nicole,

Welcome! Thank you for your kind words about the blog; I truly appreciate it. I'm always delighted to hear from BW who are following their bliss to wherever it leads them. Including overseas!

If you don't mind, could you tell us some more about your experiences? For example, your impressions of living among South Koreans, how you found the job teaching English, etc.? If you don't mind sharing, I'd appreciate hearing about some of the details involved in all of this.

I've wondered about how BW are faring in South Korea ever since I found out about Natalie White. I'm sure you already know about her.

I did a post about her on 4/11/09 titled, Wildest Dreams Checklist: Will You Be Ready For Your Breakthrough Moment When It Arrives?

For new readers, here's an explanation about Natalie White from that post:

"A reader brought Natalie White to my attention. [Thanks, Lorraine!] Ms. White is a sister who's busy becoming a pop star in South Korea.

It seems that South Koreans started watching the YouTube videos that Ms. White posted of her performing R&B influenced renditions of Korean pop songs. This led to a mini-craze about her performances. Which led to her being invited to South Korea to appear on the television show, Star King.

All of which has led to contacts within the South Korean entertainment industry."


Everyone: Keep in mind that there's NO expiration date for commenting on any blog post. If you want to add your thoughts about Natalie White's success, or anything else, please feel free to do so!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Nicole said...

Sure Khadija,

To answer your questions. I found my job online. I researched cities, and knowing that I didn't want to live in Seoul, I chose a southern province noted for its beauty and the river running through it. I'm a commuter cyclist so cycle-friendliness was important too. I wanted to try my hand at elementary teaching, so all these things I claimed and subsequently found.

As for treatment by Koreans, well Koreans are extremely focused on looks and status and such. As I am tall and slim and smart looking as they say, so I get a lot of extra attention and adoration for that. BUT, I am friendly, a good teacher, and I enjoyed learning language and culture. People appreciated that. I was "adopted" so I have a Korean mom and all the family that comes along with. All of my friends are Korean as well. I met a few other BW here but nothing big came from those encounters. And I wasn't here to fall into the "we're black/English speaking/American/foreigners so we must magically be friends" routine. Of course this field is dominated by wm (there's more to that story).

Many people don't really know about black Americans. I've been assumed Indian, Cambodian, Filipina, Sri Lankan, you name it. But off the top many guess American. I got lots of Obama love during the campaign, and still. Many Koreans relate to the black struggle and of course Bush was just worldwide detested....but this time has been sort of an ambassadorship.

I've loved and hated, though mostly loved to liked, my experience here. (Friends/adopted family and I have been crying for weeks now that my end time is near.) There were times when it seemed that I received a gift a day, there were times when it seemed I'd explode from all the attention and compliments (not many foreigners in my area and not much English spoken), there were times when I missed like CRAZY a degree of anonymity in NYC! But I'd also come here for a respite, so...

On Natalie White, I totally missed that news! Maybe because I don't watch that show and in that month I missed the newspapers and expat blogs. But you know there is a famous older Korean/Black singer here?

On Korean colorism, well I'll say that just as many AA's joke about Africans and being too black, Koreans call each other "Aprika saram", or African person, if ones skin is darker. This is the land of umbrella carrying, long-sleeve wearing, sun visor sporting women to keep their skin from tanning, yet I can't tell you how often my skin has been adored for its color and softness. So it's fine for me but not for them. Makes sense. (I can't tell you the array of sun blocking contraptions I've seen here!)

I see the poverty criminal images of Africa on tv just like in the US. Africa is joke material everywhere. For Americans, Asia is just one step higher on the joke ladder, and somehow I've explained that truth to kids who've made Africa jokes or negative comments in my presence.

Also often when Koreans say "white" what it means bright, not necessarily white. Many times people say to me that my skin is so white (I'm brown-skinned). In that case white translates to clear and bright. (Just as when I went to Ghana being called white didn't mean I was Caucasian, it meant that I was a foreigner/Westerner.) And when Koreans get a lot of sun they say their skin is black. Obviously not black like mine, it simply means dark. So there are differences in meaning that I had to learn.

Now there are stupid and ignorant people here, a lot, just like anyplace, but what I say to blacks is to remember not to be so ready to be dissed, discriminated against as blacks. I mean I'm a foreigner here first, just like the Canadians, the Cambodians and the Filipinos. There's foreigner discrimination, not necessarily black discrimination. Korea is extreeeeemely homogenous.

Khadija said...

Nicole,

THANK YOU for the detailed "scoop" about your time in South Korea! This sort of info helps make the reality of AA women having GLOBAL options more "real" to many of the silent readers.

You said, "As for treatment by Koreans, well Koreans are extremely focused on looks and status and such."

So I was told by my Korean martial arts trainer. Of course, he blamed this on South Korean culture being influenced by the...Japanese...and Japanese culture... [I put that phrase in italics because that's how he would stress that point when discussing this. My instructor is in his early 50s, and I understand the historical basis of his (mild) animosity toward Japan.]

Again, thanks for providing detailed information about your experiences!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Nicole said...

Sure, sure anytime! There's muchy, muchy more so ask if any questions come to mind. (I'm working on packaging the 2 year experience into something helpful. I was blogging it but that didn't last a year!)

Joyful writing! ;)

Nicole said...

Oh, how I'd forget to respond to your point about Japan--- wayyyyy touchy subject, but it gets comical at times. Are you studying gumdo or taewkondo by chance? Big debate about origins. And can I say Sea of Japan/East Sea? And then there is Dokdo.

Khadija said...

Nicole,

Oh yeah, the Japanese made a LOT of enemies while they were busy being the conquerors of Asia. And they've compounded the hostility by refusing to 'fess up to the bulk of their war crimes.

Although, to be fair, I suspect that there are HUGE cultural impediments to issuing those sorts of apologies within those 3 specific Asian cultures (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese).

In terms of these 3 cultures, I've gotten the impression that the loss of face/status involved in any of those 3 Asian governments expressing that degree of regret to ANY outsider is just too much to bear. No matter what degree of wrongdoing is involved. It looks to me like, for cultural reasons, NONE of those 3 governments would ever be able to do what Germany has done post-WWII.

To answer your question, I took Hapkido on and off for many years. I'm currently in the "off" mode---I just don't have the time for it. I do plan to get back to it, though. :)

Peace, blessings and solidarity.