Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"All Colored People That Want to Go To Kansas," Part 2: An Extended Reader's Money Quote from Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn

The Reader's Money Quote is a statement that is of such insight and importance that it merits frequent and loud repetition. This Reader's Money Quote is from Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn. She has brilliantly contributed two money quotes in the span of a couple of days! {raised fist salute to Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn} She laid out a detailed escape plan while commenting on Part 1 of the Self-Determination series.

The participants at this think tank have been discussing the need to escape Black residential areas since the post entitled "All Colored People That Want to Go To Kansas, On 9/5/1877, Can Do So for $5.00." I am truly grateful for the contributions of those audience members who participate in the blog discussions here. Especially when we come together, reason together, and find practical solutions together!

My reply to her comments are in blue. Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn said:

"Peace and blessings every one:

I’m going to shift my contribution to this discussion to taking steps to get out of black residential areas! I can only speak to my own experience, and I’m NOT presenting my self as an expert on the subject but if any one is interested here are some ideas:

Personal finances:

*Debt management --preferably debt elimination

*Credit repair --preferably raise your credit to the highest score

*Savings-- preferably 30 to 50 % of your income

*Do save for a down payment WATCH OUT for those no money down scams

*Emergency savings 6 to 12 months of living expenses

*Rethink credit cards or pay off your balance every month

*Find more than one way to make money

*Prepare for entrepreneurship don’t just dive in head first

*Think outside the box: how can you truly be self-sufficient?

Real estate:

*Don’t be afraid to try farming communities; homesteads; rural areas. This is my IDEAL living situation for spiritual reasons. If I could do it over again I’d buy a home or land further out in the country.

*Watch out for new communities that have just been built--looks ARE deceiving some times. They may have the all trappings of a middle class even an upper middle class neighborhood but you won’t find out you “got played” until you “got in”.

My girl friend owns vending machines in three new communities that have club houses. My friend had a beverage that was glass packaged and several angry, bitter, white men begged her to not put those bottles in the vending machines because the black teenagers in their neighborhood frequently bust glass on the side walks. The average home cost in this area prior to the recession was a half a million dollars now they are down to three hundred thousand dollars.

One old angry white man in particularly stated “ I’m not racist but black people, Hispanic people, and Asian people got into these homes on sub prime loans but were blue collar workers.” I thought this epidemic only affected working class multiracial neighborhoods like ours but evidently not. So keep that in mind when you are house hunting. The recession will have impact on the quality of families in all residential areas.

*Not ALL multi-racial neighborhoods are safe, and decent places to live. I’d hire a realtor who has thorough knowledge of the area you are interested in living in. Also, don’t leave it up to him or her--own your own decision. I suggest having male relatives or friends check out the area during the evenings and night time. Also, you may want to “study”? the area. Some places people go buck wild during the summer but are shut in during the winter. You may half to research a place a good year before buying home.

*Please keep in mind some of Khadija’s earlier essays about the middle class. In some regions, she is right on point. Don’t expect credentials, or upscale neighborhoods to guarantee your ticket out of unsafe crime ridden black residential areas: for what ever reasons many so called middle class or strivers don’t supervise their pre-teen/teen children well. You’d think if they can afford the home they could afford a nanny or extra curricular activities? NOT.

Social Networks

*My husband ,and I are Muslim but we now are apart of an interfaith fellowship. We’ve found that getting to know people of all religions nurtures our own faith, increases social capital, and if you’re a SAHM this is a great way to meet others if you don’t feel comfortable in secular mother groups.

*This is strictly an opinion, but my experience has taught me to join multiracial groups instead of isolating myself with one racial group. My best mother to mother experiences were not in black mothers group but in mixed mothers groups.

*If your self employed its great to start with “black___________” business organizations but if you want contracts with established businesses or your local government you may want to branch out and do business with all racial groups and pay attention to our largest minority: the Hispanic community and their influence.

Finally, I’m not sure that “I” want to live in a predominately white neighborhood, I do enjoy interacting with ALL people but for those who are worried about KKK land there are predominately white neighborhoods that are not racially hostile or dangerous places to live--and truth be told many of them are not in the new communities that are being built. Speaking of social networks, these can be wonderful places to network in! I personally would not tell some one to go from one hostile place to another. I hope that anything can help some one move on….

: )Good luck!"

Hello there, Sister Seeking/Miriam!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU for laying out a detailed escape plan. I co-sign 100%; especially the detail about investigating what prospective areas are like on weekends and late nights. And you're right about the effect of former state wards coming back into Black areas. Black residential areas have already been battered by several earlier waves since the Reagan years:

1-Waves of mentally ill people being dumped back on the streets after many mental health facilities were closed and/or had drastic budget cutbacks.

2-Waves of teenage and now-adult crack babies born during the 1980s who are now parents themselves. Former-crack-baby parents who are raising their children to be even more deranged than themselves.

3-Waves of halfway houses, social service agency branch offices, and other loser-magnets being placed into Black neighborhoods.

4-Waves of Section 8 recipients overrunning previously stable working class and middle class Black neighborhoods.

5-In Chicago, the city has torn down many public housing hellhole projects. What this means is that violent Black criminals are now dispersed throughout MANY Black neighborhoods in the city. Instead of being quarantined into these projects.

6-Waves of paroled criminals coming back to their old stomping grounds within Black residential areas.These waves of industrial-strength, concentrated madness have been added to pre-existing problems such as the disintegrating Black family structure, and Blacks adopting strange White ideas about child-rearing (i.e, a refusal to discipline one's children).

How in the world could anybody seriously think Black residential areas can remain habitable under all of these combined conditions? They can't. They aren't. That's why it's time to roll up out of these places. Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Self-Determination, Part 2: A Case Study of How One Sister Got Her Crown Back (An Extended Reader's Money Quote)

The Reader's Money Quote is a statement that is of such importance and insight that it merits frequent and loud repetition. This Reader's Money Quote is from Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn. She explained how she got her crown back while commenting on Part 1 of the Self-Determination series. My responses are in blue.

"Salaam Khadija

One of many ways I/I’ve put back on my crown was marrying some one who preferred me: ALL of me.

Imagine that: A Black woman actually focusing on finding and marrying someone who prefers HER.

It was NOT an easy task because at the time I was a staunch Sunni orthodox Muslimah--that meant that I was surrounded by BAM’s both women, and men who had already determined what they thought I could or could NOT have. That meant being surrounded by IMM’S who were focused on the preservation, and dominance of THEIR OWN people and would not HOLD ANY BAM man accountable for THE MADNESS ( domestic violence; child abuse and neglect; poverty; polygamy; and heresy). Allahu Akbar…NOW 7 years later. I look back and SEE much of the genocide you write about playing out in the BAM community in masse--all those BAM women who told me I could not marry well because: I’m a convert, I’m an adopted child, I’m darker than a paper bag, I’m too tall, and so on--their life is in complete shambles. I rejected those AA women and I rejected those IMM’s who sat by and watched those children live through 20 or 30 “spiritual” marriages of their mother that left them: sexually abused; impoverished; physically abused; and illiterate by the way.

Yes, it's critical that we completely CUT OFF anybody and everybody who is devaluing us.


YES!!! And they will plan your life to their gain, and your detriment.

I attribute my ability to sift through the land fill of OTHER PEOPLES EMOTIONAL GARBAGE to being raised in my early years by decent white catholic foster families. I was not exposed to colorism, and madness common in black families UNTIL I was placed with black foster families. The fact that I was able to not just see but experience healthy family life during my childhood gave me a backdrop to measure what would later by dysfunction against.

As for the colorism issue Khadija, you spoke about surrounding your self by healthy images--and I’ll add on to that to include taking better care of myself and slowing down a bit. The best image I can give myself is ME. I am my own ally first, and foremost.

[Boldface added.] A money quote within the overall money quote: 'The best image I can give myself is ME. I am my own ally first and foremost.' {raised fist salute} Ladies, if you take nothing else from these conversations, please take THIS one statement to heart!

Also a side note here: my family, and I attended a Kwanzaa celebration for private black home schoolers. Its nice to see black men raising black children to have a strong sense of self determination, and coincidentally “color struck” was brought up by several elderly black men…

P.S.I echo Khadija, Evia, and others in running out of black residential areas. I live in a multi-racial area ( Hispanic, Asian, White, and a few blacks). Before moving here we lived in a black residential area--I kid you naught, the first day our welcome package including a letter explaining that a teenager had been stabbed to death and found on a tenants deck. When we moved in our town house in this neighborhood a stay at home Hispanic mother brought us over some sweets from her native Ecuador."

Lord have mercy.

Sister Seeking/Miriam/MaryAnn, thank you for providing this Reader's Money Quote with a detailed explanation of how you reclaimed your crown! I'm sure that you've helped and encouraged many women who are silently reading these conversations.

*Reader's Note* We're transferring our discussion from Part 1 of this series to the comment section of this essay. [I don't like having the scroll down miles of computer screen to read new comments, and we've reached 100 comments in the comment section of Part 1.] Please post your comments to Part 1 right here. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Self-Determination, Part 1: My Dark-Skinned Sisters, STOP Letting Biracial/Bicultural/Multicultural/Light-Skinned Women Wear YOUR Stolen Crown!

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

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

I. My Sisters, Let's Be Clear About the Fact That Your Crown Was Stolen

Negroes stole your crown. In earlier decades, Black men stole your crown of recognized beauty and gave it to light-skinned women like me. I've watched and denounced this practice back since I was in high school in the early 1980s. I HATE oppression. Which is why I've always made a point of rejecting "stolen goods." Especially stolen goods that are based upon devaluing Blackness. I've always rejected Black men who have a fetish for light skin. You see, my crown does not depend upon devaluing other women. My crown rests upon my head because it belongs there, based upon my own individual charms. I don't want a crown that was stolen from some other woman.

II. Dominance Through Hair-Flips

Unlike some of the other light-skinned girls in my high school, I didn't prance down the hallways while making sure to flip my hair in the presence of darker-skinned girls. We all know what the hair flip is really all about. It's an act of dominance by Black women who have so-called "good hair." It's intended to put those without so-called "good hair" in their assigned place. Which is somewhere beneath the woman who is doing the hair flip.

First of all, my hair (even while permed) does not flip. LOL! Second, despite other people's eager suggestions, I was never interested in pursuing concoctions (gel, carefree curls, etc.) that might have given my hair a more "flippable" (as if it were naturally wavy) appearance. Most importantly, I came to hate the entire scenario. So, I had my hair cut into a natural. Of course, other Black people were horrified. The common refrain from other Black folks was, "You let somebody cut your hair off?!!! You need to find the person who did that, and get your money back!"

Let's be real. I had the self-confidence to do this as a teenager because I knew (in the back of my mind) that no matter what I did, my light skin would ensure that I got a certain amount of favorable [Black] male attention.

I know how painful it is to talk about these things. I know that talking about this is pulling at half-healed scabs. But we need to be able to talk honestly about these things. As Black women, we need to get our crowns back, and take our rightful place on the global stage! I was going to do a post about Black consciousness. Then I realized that nothing (including consciousness of any sort) is possible without a foundation of self-determination. Self-determination means that we think, speak, and define things for ourselves. It means looking at the world through our own eyes. And we can't have self-determination when we cooperate with other people assigning lower value to us. Collectively, we've got to get our crowns back. In order to recover our crowns, we need to understand how they were taken away. And how we [sometimes inadvertently] cooperate with this mass theft.

III. Many Black Women's Bad Faith & Collaboration with Oppression

I've raised my voice against intra-Black colorism since high school. Over the years, I've had VERY, VERY few light-skinned sisters in arms speaking out against this with me. Most of us didn't have our darker sisters' backs "back in the day." Many light-skinned Black women did not take Black men's self-hating choices seriously until these choices began to put a crimp into their lives. Until they lost their spot at top of the "preferred by Black men" heap. Until Negroes snatched the already-stolen-from-darker sisters-crowns off their heads and placed them on the heads of Becky, Lupe, J. Lo, and Susie Kwon.

This is an example of bad faith, not any kind of solidarity. From what I hear, it hasn't gone unnoticed by darker sisters.

However, I've also noticed that many darker sisters cooperate with being robbed of their crowns. Many Black women in general aid and abet having their crowns stolen. In many cases, we have allowed Black male thieves to redefine their theft of our crowns as a matter of their "personal preferences." Which is why we acquiesce to this mass theft.

Let me give some examples:

When a Negro celebrity such as Ne-Yo says "All the prettiest kids are light-skinned anyway," he's stealing your crown, and giving it to light-skinned women. If you persist in listening to, and buying this creature's products you are helping him snatch your crown off your head and put it on somebody else's head.

When a Negro celebrity such as Yung Berg says that he doesn't date "dark butts," he's stealing your crown. If you persist in listening to, and buying this creature's products, you are helping him steal your crown.

These are obvious types of collaboration. There are many less obvious forms of collaboration. When you embrace mediocrity in your self-presentation, you are helping to validate Negroes stealing your crown. You are also helping to validate other women's decision to wear your stolen crown.

IV. Verbal Forms of "Hair Flips" & Collaboration Through Inappropriate Inclusion

Unfortunately, some of us have grown so accustomed to being assigned a lower value, that we accept this as normal. There are verbal hair flips that many of us accept, and don't even recognize as dominance and aggression. We feel the effects of the verbal hair flips. But we don't make the connection between the verbal hair flips AND our battered and bruised spirits.

One verbal hair flip is a woman making a point of making sure that you know she's so-called biracial/multicultural/bicultural. There are normal, loyal Black people who happen to have one parent who isn't Black. Or one parent who is Black, but is not African-American. At some later point (when it comes up naturally, such as when you meet their parents) you find out that the person has a non-Black parent (or non-African-American parent). Such a person's identity and "claim to fame" does NOT revolve around making a distinction between themselves and Black people. These are people who are acting in good faith by rejecting stolen goods. Stolen goods that rest upon devaluing Blackness (or, in the one foreign Black parent scenario, devaluing African-Americans).

This is quite different from self-proclaimed "biracial," etc. persons who want to make sure that you know that they are NOT Black like you. From so-called mulattoes within ancient African societies to apartheid-era South African "Coloreds," to the "biracials" here and now among us, these type of "I don't want to be Black, and Whites won't let me be White" people have done great harm to Black people's interests.

Throughout out our history, Black people have allowed these "biracial" types to form a wedge, and a disloyal fifth column among the Black collective. Where do you think the self-proclaimed, yet Black-skinned, "Arabs" in Darfur came from? They came from partially-Arab, so-called biracial/bicultural people. Where do you think the mostly-collaborating Coloreds in apartheid-era South Africa came from? Throughout our people's history, what these internal enemies all have in common is their obsession with being recognized as something other than, and distinct from, Black:

"...there were many tribes or societies in Africa which were exclusively Mulatto (to use the term loosely). Nothing was more characteristic of the mixed breed clans, tribes or societies than their unceasing efforts to emphasize their separate identity, and their constant fear of being considered 'Negroes' or Black Africans."

The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race From 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D., by Chancellor Williams, pg. 208.

The pattern that I've seen with these self-proclaimed "biracials" is that they want to be considered Black like any other Black person when there's something to be gained [such as scholarships from Black organizations, affirmative action slots, etc.]. When there's nothing to be gained [nothing to be stolen from Black people], then they want you to know how distinct they are from Black people.

NO! If they want to be distinct from Black folks, require them to be all the way distinct! Cut them off from Black folks' scholarships, set asides, etc. Make them find biracial, etc. scholarships for biracial people. And stop them from stealing Black folks' meager resources. STOP including these people.

In the crown context, STOP celebrating these self-proclaimed biracial/multicultural/bicultural women wearing YOUR stolen crown! STOP lifting them up. STOP claiming them as part of our collective, and worrying about them. Purge them and their problems from your list of concerns. These self-proclaimed biracial/multicultural/bicultural/whatever women don't need your help. They have plenty of worshipful Negro slaves [like Ne-Yo, Yung Berg, the NFL, etc.] to attend to their needs.

Don't fall for the lie that says, "They're part of us." Didn't these self-proclaimed biracial, bicultural, multicultural, etc. people already TELL you that they are something other than part of us? That they are anything but Black? Why are some of you so eager to claim them when they are not claiming you? Especially when they are wearing your stolen crown?

V. Celebrate Yourself and the Women Most Like You First & Foremost

We're going to need some affirmative action among ourselves to get this situation righted. I mean affirmative action in terms of who we hold up to our children (and ourselves) as representing our ideal "look." The "color neutral" and "let's celebrate our internal rainbow" doesn't work in the context of everything that has come before it. It's similar to White folks wanting to play color-blind after centuries of accumulated injustice went down. In both examples, doing this leaves pre-existing problems firmly in place.

As Black women, WE have the power to turn this around. By taking back our crowns and taking our rightful place on the global stage. It doesn't matter what most Black men think about us. Since most of them don't protect or provide for us, they are generally of NO or LOW value to us. The only thing that matters is what WE think about ourselves.

Ladies, if you have Black-oriented magazines in your homes, who's images are you surrounding yourselves (and your children, if you have any) with? Are you surrounding yourself with images of White women's children like Alicia Keys? Halle Berry? Lisa Bonet? Persia White? Rashida Jones? Jennifer Beals? Jasmine Guy? Victoria Rowell? Are you surrounding yourself with images of Black women who look like White women's children like Vanessa Williams? Are you watching music videos packed with biracial/light-skinned women? If so, have you considered the possibility that this is not healthy for your psyche?

If all of the above is true, are you willing to find images that affirm YOU and women who look more like YOU?

Black self-hatred is so deeply entrenched that it will be a long, long time before people like me are in any real danger of having our self-worth assaulted as a result of corrective internal affirmative action. I don't feel threatened by efforts to raise my darker sisters up so that their beauty can also be appreciated. Everyone has their own rightful crown. Collectively, we need to get ours back. Nobody is going to voluntarily return our stolen crowns to us. A thief never returns what he has taken. A person who accepts stolen goods never returns them to their rightful owner. We're going to have to snatch our crowns back ourselves. The first step is to stop aiding and abetting the theft of our crowns.

*Reader's Note* We've reached 100 comments to this post. Since I don't like having to scroll down miles of computer screen to read new comments, I'm closing the comment section here and transferring this ongoing conversation to Part 2 of this series. Please post new comments to this essay in the comment section of Self-Determination, Part 2. Thank you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adventures in Juicing: Cucumbers Really DO Help Alleviate Skin Conditions!

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in one of my comments to the Inner Sanctuary, Part 2: Life Instead of Death post that I had bought a juicer. The original point was to start juicing vegetables that are known to have anti-cancer properties (since I won't eat them---feh!). So, since then I've been juicing Brussels sprouts.

Well, I've made a happy, accidental discovery along the way. I've discovered that drinking the juice of one whole cucumber once a day really does help alleviate skin conditions.

I've always had extremely sensitive skin. I can't wear most metal jewelry. My skin will only tolerate 14 karat gold & up. Prolonged contact with anything else metal against my skin (the inside of the top button on blue jeans resting against my stomach, etc.) will lead to contact dermatitis and/or eczema. I believe that prolonged, repeated contact with the mat (being thrown onto the mat) during years of martial arts classes caused a recurring outbreak of eczema on my hands. [When I think about the numbers of bare feet walking around that mat during classes, I shudder. It's washed down between classes, but still...]

I'm happy to report that the cucumber juice is resolving the eczema problem from the inside out. It's keeping it under control. *Smile*

If you've had positive experiences with juicing, please let us know about it. If you've had negative experiences with juicing, please let us know about that as well. The information you share might help somebody else.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Table Talk for Activists, Part 2: Make the Opponent Follow Their Own Rules

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

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

One of the rules for power that Saul Alinsky discussed in his book Rules for Radicals was the following: "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." This is sound advice for several reasons that I discussed in a comment to the post, An Open Letter to Princeton Theological Seminary:

"With my 'editorial' comments about all of this, I wanted to give the general audience an example of an inside view of 'lawyer think' that they can apply to situations.

My first step in evaluating any situation (or preparing a cross-examination of a witness) is to compare what the person did/is doing to what they're supposed to be doing.

Almost every institution and profession has rules, regulations, and codes of conduct that are supposed to govern people's conduct in various situations. Universities, government offices, etc. typically have their own internal rules & regulations. Each profession has its own ethical code of conduct that is established by leading organizations within that profession (ABA, AMA, etc.).

So, with a university situation, my first step is to look at the Student Handbook to see what sorts of things are (or should be) covered by disciplinary rules. The next step is to look at the disciplinary rules themselves. This gives an objective guide for evaluating a university's response to an outrage. . . .

. . . Comparing their actions to their own rules and codes of conduct also prevents activists from being confused by defensive, bad-faith whining from racists about how 'we sponsored a 'healing & learning' festival. What else do you people want from us?!!'

I don't want some fake 'healing & learning' festival. As a first step, I want PTS to follow its own rules & regulations." [i.e., hold disciplinary hearings concerning all of the students involved]

Please know that most of the handbooks, internal regulations, etc. that I've seen are fairly straightforward. You don't have to be an expert to understand them.

I believe that part of the reason why some activists are easily tricked by their opponents' stalling tactics such as insincere calls for dialogue, healing festivals, etc. is because they haven't researched the rules that are supposed to govern how an institution handles a particular situation.

Insisting that, at minimum, an opponent follow their own rules strengthens an activist's position.

First, because it's hard for opponents to make deviating from their own rules sound reasonable. Second, most institutions' in-house attorneys will warn key players that deviating from known standards creates heightened exposure to lawsuits.

And finally, insisting that an opponent follow its own rules applies mental pressure to whatever semi-decent and decent people exist within the opponent organization. Most people like to have a self-image of being reasonable and fair. People like to have this self-image even when it's not accurate. Most people also like to believe that the organizations that they serve are lawful, legitimate institutions. NOT crime cartels.

Take the time to research whatever rules govern the situation you're mobilizing around. Knowing the applicable rules can only strengthen your activism.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Table Talk for Activists, Part 1: Support Principles, NOT Individuals

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

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

We now have several generations of African-Americans who have never "come up" through, or experienced for themselves, the discipline of an actual social movement. Most of us have only seen social activism from the perspective of an outsider watching a television soundbite from some "big man" spokesperson/leader. Most of us have never seen the "nuts and bolts" of social activism. Nor have most of us made any real effort to study what happened with our predecessors in any great detail. I can see the negative effects of these deficits in some of the cyber-activism that I've witnessed over the past year or so.

One negative effect is that we are often reinventing wheels. Another effect is that we are being deceived and duped by the same anti-justice strategies that were in operation during the 1950s and 1960s.

Yet another effect is the general failure to think these matters through to the detriment of whatever efforts we are pursuing. I am NOT any sort of expert on activism. However, I was blessed to have participated in the anti-apartheid struggle when I was in college. Looking at what's going on now, I realize just how precious that experience was. For all of the above reasons, I feel the need to share what little experience I have. I feel the need for us to talk about some things related to activism.

To that end, let's have an ongoing series of "table talks" about the nuts and bolts of activism. Starting with Strategy #1: Support Principles, NOT Individuals.

Modern African-Americans are not the same type of people as our ancestors. We can see that just in comparing how resourceful our ancestors were versus how helpless we've learned to be. This fact has implications for activism. Aspiring activists need to recognize that modern Black victims of atrocities are NOT the same as past atrocity victims.

Modern Black victims of an atrocity will often behave in ways that are NOT helpful, and are actually contrary, to the cause of justice. The modern Black atrocity victim is often not looking for justice to be served. Instead, they are looking to be rewarded for their silence, or they are looking to hide within their silence. Either way, their actions make it that much harder for justice to be served. For examples of this, consider R. Kelly's many, many victims. Including the victim that was the subject of his recent criminal trial.

This means that activists need to make some decisions up front. What is more important in this particular situation? Catering to the victim's desire to get paid for their silence? Catering to the victim's desire to hide within silence? Or is there a greater collective interest that takes priority?

With the R. Kelly situation, I believe that there is a greater collective interest in getting a sexual predator off the streets. No matter what his past victims want. It is more important to me to prevent any more Black girls from being victimized in the future. As far as I'm concerned, his past victims do NOT get to decide that it's okay for the rest of our young Black girls to remain in danger because he's on the loose.

This has to be a case by case analysis. With each situation, we must weigh whether or not what any particular victim wants is endangering the rest of us. And ask ourselves are we willing to run that risk in order to accommodate the victim's wishes.

The bottom line is that many modern Black atrocity victims have wishes that are contrary to justice, and contrary to our collective interests. They will often do things that "burn" the people who supported them. This is why we must support principles, and not individuals.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Welcome, New Readers! Please Catch Up With The Inner Slum/Inner Sanctuary and Self-Determination Series

Over the past few days, I've noticed that there's been a lot of new readers visiting the blog (thank you, Evia!).

Welcome, New Readers! I hope you'll ultimately decide to join the think tank here by participating in the discussions at this blog. I want this blog to be one of several "safe spaces" for Black women to exchange ideas, strategies, and tips for renewing our minds, lifting our spirits, and taking our rightful place on the world stage.

I believe that lasting, positive change only comes from the inside-out. Enduring victories come from the inside-out. We've tried various surface techniques over the past 40 years. For the most part, all we've done is exchange one form of oppression for another. We have exchanged an external oppressor in favor of an internal one. We have exchanged external violence in favor of internal violence. In politics, we have exchanged White political hacks for Black ones. All the while, our collective condition has gotten worse and worse.

I want CHANGE, not exchange.

Our people are at a crossroads. We can continue along our current path which leads to African-Americans becoming a permanent underclass within this country. I believe that we've completed roughly 80% of the permanent underclass process. Or we can change our collective fate by changing our individual lives for the better. In order to change our lives, we have to renew our minds. This is why I've written a series of introspection essays (the True Fellowship series; the Inner Slum series; and the Inner Sanctuary series). I hope you'll take the time to read some of the ones that I feel are the most important:

Please also take the time to read one of the most commented upon posts: "Self-Determination, Part 1: My Dark-Skinned Sisters, STOP Letting Biracial/Bicultural/Multicultural/Light-Skinned Women Wear YOUR Stolen Crown!"

And, last but not least, please take the time to read the most hotly-discussed introspection post so far: "The Inner Sanctuary, Part 4: Are You Ready to Feel Flawless?" from 11/10/08 (there's a badge that links to this post at the top right on this screen, directly below the masthead).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Open Letter to Princeton Theological Seminary

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

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

Nancy Lammers Gross - Dean of Student Life
Iain R. Torrance - President

I am writing to express my outrage over the fact that Dr. Yolanda Pierce, an esteemed scholar and professor at your seminary, was attacked in a racist flier distributed by students at your campus.

It was an act in support of a vile, racist, hate campaign for these students to distribute this flier under the virtual Ku Klux Klan hood of anonymity.

It is an act of institutional racism for the Princeton Theological Seminary to continue its failure to properly address this orchestrated hate campaign against one of its own professors.

Furthermore, the Seminary's failure thus far to properly address this campaign is also an abomination. Especially for an institution that purports to prepare its students "to serve Jesus Christ in ministries marked by faith, integrity, scholarship, competence, compassion, and joy, equipping them for leadership worldwide in congregations and the larger church, in classrooms and the academy, and in the public arena." [Princeton Theological Seminary Mission Statement]

If proven, engaging in such a hate campaign is surely conduct that should provide the basis for disciplinary action such as suspension or dismissal. Reasonable minds that are untainted by racism recognize that accountability requires much more than silently accepting a few weak, insincere apologies for an outrage of this magnitude.

I am strongly urging the Seminary to follow its own procedures and hold a hearing pursuant to the process described in Section 6.6 of the academic regulations contained within The Princeton Seminary Handbook. [Academic Regulations, Section 6.6 "Procedures Associated with Other Causes," The Princeton Seminary Handbook]

The Seminary needs to follow its own regulations, hold full hearings regarding all of the students involved, and make a decision regarding these students' continued relationship to the Seminary, irrespective of their ethnic or racial backgrounds. This is only fair.

A failure to follow your own regulations would make it abundantly clear that Princeton Theological Seminary has truly lost its way. If the Seminary is unwilling to follow its own rules by conducting a full hearing, I and as many others as I can persuade to join me, will pursue every avenue available to make the public at large, the media, the Seminary's financial supporters, and the entire world aware of the Seminary's depraved indifference toward the racist denigration of Black academics. My outrage is shared by each new person who learns of the Seminary's inaction. There will be accountability.
Note to Readers:

Apparently, racist students at the Princeton Theological Seminary recently distributed a flier attacking a Black professor named Dr. Yolanda Pierce. Dr. Pierce is an Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. This situation has been described by a Black professor at Princeton University, Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell in one of her blog posts.

Rev. Lisa Vazquez, blog host of Black Women, Blow the Trumpet!, has made a call "for those who understand the power of constructive engagement to step forward" and express our displeasure with this example of yet another attack on Black women.

I have sent the above letter in response to this call. Silence in response to these sorts of attacks endangers us all. Allowing these sorts of attacks to pass in silence endangers those of us who work in academia. It endangers those of us who are currently students in these institutions. It endangers those Black girls who will grow up to follow our footsteps to attend or work in these institutions.

Without seeing the flier itself, my conscience won't allow me to demand a specific outcome to holding a disciplinary hearing. However, I don't have to see the flier itself, or know all of the intimate details of this situation, to insist that Princeton Theological Seminary follow its own rules and regulations. I am not saying that others are incorrect in calling for the students' suspension or dismissal without having seen the flier. I am simply stating what I feel is appropriate for me.

I know that there will be critiques of this call to respond in the absence of the flier. I know that for some of us, the urge to respond will decrease if we learn that there was a Black student involved in distributing this material. Let me point out a few "real-world" aspects to these sorts of situations.

First of all, people tend to "lawyer up" fairly quickly in these situations. Everybody knows that there is a real possibility of litigation resulting from this. At which point, people will be skittish about further disseminating this material. For any purpose. This also means that there's not going to be a lot of public discussion (if any at all) of this from those who are directly involved.

Second, it doesn't matter if it turns out that the racists were able to find a Black-woman-hating Black male student to participate in this outrage. It doesn't matter if it turns out that they were able to find a self-hating Black female student to participate. This is what sophisticated racists do --- they look for "colored" accomplices as a back-up alibi in case they get caught. They do this so they can falsely claim, "See, it wasn't racist. A Black guy helped with this." It doesn't matter. Everybody involved should be held accountable for their actions, irrespective of their ethnicity or race.

Third, I am willing to give one of my sisters who is a respected educator the benefit of the doubt. If someone of Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell's stature (Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University) is PUBLICLY stating that a Black female colleague was personally attacked in a racist flier distributed on campus, I'm going to give Dr. Harris-Lacewell the benefit of the doubt that something that merits a response occurred.

Finally, those of us who are sincerely interested in protecting Black women from attacks will look for, and find, creative ways to respond to these situations while still honoring our own criteria for response. As I noted above, I won't demand a specific outcome without seeing the flier for myself, but I can and will demand that Princeton Theological Seminary follow its own rules, and treat this situation with the seriousness that it deserves.

Nancy Lammers Gross
Dean of Student Life
Princeton Theological Seminary
210 Templeton Hall
Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-497-7800

Iain R. Torrance
Princeton Theological Seminary
132 Administration Building
Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-497-7800

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Reality Check from Munir Muhammad

From The Black Messiah by Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr. (founder of The Shrine of the Black Madonna Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church):

"Oppression does not destroy a people. It is the acceptance of oppression that destroys." pg. 20.

"People who are constantly waiting for divine intervention find it difficult to develop and keep leadership because leadership depends upon people who are expecting to do something for themselves. Leadership is created by people who are demanding and ready to struggle for certain things. But what role is there for leadership when a people are waiting for God to break into history? Leadership is reduced to mythical incantations, magic dances, and other rituals designed to induce God to do more quickly that which He has already decided to do." pg. 172 (emphasis added).

{Insert chants of "Yes, we can!"}

"You can't lead a people who are sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back on clouds of glory. All you can do is prepare a landing field for him." pg. 173.

Yes, I can see that the landing field for the false messiah is being prepared, and will be ready for January 2009. Those who worship the Obama-ssiah are preparing for their false Jubilee. They are preparing to live, "work," and "struggle" vicariously through this one politician who has promised them NOTHING. They are already fast asleep, enjoying their dream. Actually, it's a waking hallucination. But, I digress . . .

There are others who really should know better who are also dozing off. I almost wonder if these individuals have been drugged.

The Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad (CROE) was formed in 1987 in Chicago. Several long-time followers of Elijah Muhammad's teachings were dismayed by the efforts made to write Mr. Muhammad out of Black history. They were also displeased by the frequent efforts to elevate Mr. Muhammad's students (such as Malcolm X and Min. Farrakhan) over the teacher. There are people who want to use parts of Elijah Muhammad's program without giving him proper credit. There are also people who want to tell lies about Elijah Muhammad. To combat all of this, CROE maintains an extensive archive of audio and video recordings of Elijah Muhammad's speeches, as well as other materials. They also host a cable-access program called Muhammad and Friends.

Over the years, many prominent Chicago-area Black politicians have been guests on Muhammad and Friends. Even the now Obama-ssiah has appeared on this show in the past!

As vehemently as I disagree with the theology put forth by the members of CROE, they are steadfast in saying many things that I believe are both true and necessary. One of the co-founders of CROE, Munir Muhammad, makes some extremely important points in this clip:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"All Colored People That Want to Go to Kansas, On 9/5/1877, Can Do So for $5.00," Part 1

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Black Women, Are You Ready to Feel Flawless?

This essay is contained in my new book, and can be read as a sample chapter at my new website. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

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

Friday, November 7, 2008

Reader's Money Quote - From Rev. Lisa Vazquez

The Reader's Money Quote is a statement that is of such insight and importance that it merits frequent and loud repetition. This Reader's Money Quote is from Rev. Lisa Vazquez, host of the blog Black Women, Blow the Trumpet! She said the following while commenting on Welcome to Election Night at Grant Park.

"White people tend to build up a 'special negro' and they grin as blacks create an emotional investment in that person . . . . THEN . . . . whenever they feel like it, they whip out the noose on that 'special negro' and let him swing in the wind and they watch the faces of those blacks who put their IDENTITY and DESTINY in the successes of that one 'special negro' . . . . and they grin that they have again, and again pulled this same trick on us.

We never talk about this vile trick . . . . and fall for it every time . . . .

I can think of COUNTLESS 'special negroes' that whites were supportive of and later on, pulled out the noose on . . . . when Martin Luther King was killed, black people acted like the entire world was coming to an end. One man had died . . . . one visionary . . . . they put ALL OF THEIR HOPE in one person . . . . {shaking my head}

Once again, the blacks who had this mentality passed it on to the next generation since we are AGAIN . . . . seeing this same mentality . . . . {shaking my head}"

In response, I noted that what Lisa has described is a very old, very effective slave-breaking technique. Take the most admired slave and build him up by granting him special favors or a special position. For a while. Then make an example out of him by destroying him in front of the other slaves.

This leaves the surviving slaves TOTALLY demoralized, beaten, and broken. All because they invested themselves and their destiny into a person and NOT a plan for escape. Lisa, thank you for providing this Reader's Money Quote. This could be the most important point to be made about the dangers of the "Obama-ssiah" phenomenon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Welcome to Election Night at Grant Park"

Some of my relatives decided to rent a room at a South Loop hotel in order to participate in the election rally. [Instead of having to get through the masses and traffic to drive home afterward.] Since I'm off from work this week, I decided to jump on their bandwagon and go to the rally. So, here are some random observations of election night at Grant Park:

It's an unusually warm, Indian-summer day in Chicago. The afternoon temperature is in the 70s and sunny. The banners over the underground parking lot near Grant Park read "Obama Presidential Parking."[I was mildly amused that the City of Chicago let them phrase it that way, instead of "election rally parking."] There was already a huge crowd gathered on Michigan Avenue by 2:30 p.m. The emotional atmosphere is very much like it was during Mayor Harold Washington's election as Chicago's first Black mayor. The difference 20+ years later is that the hopeful, energized crowds here in Grant Park are mostly White---I would guess about 55% White. [If you know anything about Chicago's racially polarized politics, you know that this is a "!!!" moment.]

Unlike Mayor Washington's election, I'm emotionally detached from this one. I'm not at all excited about President-elect Obama. I've lived and voted through far too many "let's make history" elections that were hollow victories. Sometimes, the "let's make history by electing the first Black [fill in the blank]" politician is used to do things that Black people would never tolerate from White office holders. I remember how the "let's make history, first Black" mayor of Philadelphia, Wilson Goode, presided over the police firebombing of a Black neighborhood. This firebombing caused fatalities (including the deaths of several Black children), and burned down dozens of Black families' homes. We certainly made history with Wilson Goode.

The only "let's make history" vote I cast that I'm pleased with years later is for Mayor Harold Washington.

With this election, the only meaningful benefit I see is how Michelle Obama being held up as a model of grace and beauty will help lift Black girls' spirits. I am extremely pleased by this because Mrs. Obama is a typical, brown-skinned Black woman. She's not one of the "White women's children" or "looks like a White woman's child" individuals that are held up to the rest of us as the pinnacle of Black beauty. This is a significant deviation from the "paper bag test" and "manila folder test" that has been established to measure Black beauty. This is extremely important.

There were a couple of people in the crowd hoping to be able to get tickets into the main rally. One young Black woman was wearing a placard that said, "I came all the way from Seattle without a ticket. Please help." A young White man held up his skateboard which read on the underside, "Will skate for a ticket."

The crowd was extremely diverse. I see a few hijabis in the crowd while overhearing an animated conversation in Chinese next to us. There are lots of people that came from all over the country and all over the world to be here for this. I talk to a young African-American woman who came from Houston with her relatives. We discuss the Biblical precedent of people living to fulfill a certain purpose and then being killed. Jesus, Dr. King. We're both hopeful that President-elect Obama gets to live a long, full life. I have a conversation with a White man who's about my age, we both express the hope that the victory margin is too large for the Republicans to seriously try to steal the election (as before).

A recording plays, "Welcome to Election Night at Grant Park. Signs, banners, strollers, and food are not allowed into Grant Park." That's why the television audience didn't see any banners being waved during crowd shots. I saw about 5 Chicago police officers on horseback riding through the crowd on Michigan Avenue. One horse seemed startled for a moment by the spontaneous chanting that would break out in sections of the crowd. There's the constant background sound of police helicopters hovering over the park.

The crowd is surprisingly attentive and respectful during Sen. McCain's concession speech. The only boos come at the mention of Gov. Palin's name. The crowd is mesmerized by President-elect Obama's speech. I notice the warnings ("the government can't do everything"), and somber notes in his speech. One of my relatives compares the situation to Detroit. "They" let Blacks take (nominal) control of things just as they're on a steep decline.

Time will tell.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Inner Sanctuary, Part 3: Decide to Beat the Curve

Helplessness kills.

Learned helplessness means that people die unnecessarily. "Learned helplessness" is a well-established psychological principle offered as a model to explain depression and apathy. Basically, it's when people conclude that they are powerless, and that their life choices have no bearing on the outcomes in their lives. This leads to people choosing to submit to apathy and external circumstances.

This attitude leads to having a stunted, diminished life. It also leads to death.

In his book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber describes a lab experiment on rats that demonstrates the way helplessness can influence the course of cancer:

. . . rats were grafted with the exact quantity of cancer cells known to induce a fatal tumor in 50% of them. In this experiment, the rats were divided into three groups. In the first group, the control group, the animals received the graft but were not manipulated in any other way. In the second group, the rats were given small electric shocks, which they could learn to evade by pushing on a lever in their cage. The animals in the third group were also given electric shocks but were not provided with an escape mechanism.

The results, published in Science, were very clear: One month after the graft, 63% of the rats that had received shocks but had learned to avoid some of them by pressing a lever had rejected the tumor. The rejection rate in this group was higher than in the control group (which had not undergone shocks), in which only 54% of the animals had rejected the cancerous cells. On the other hand, only 23% of those animals subjected to the electric shock with no means of escape managed to overcome their cancer. . . The lesson of this study is crucial: It isn't stress itself---the 'electric shocks' life inevitably gives---that promotes cancer development; it is the persistent perception of helplessness the individual has that affects the body's reaction to the disease." Anticancer: A New Way of Life, pgs. 136-137.

If we are honest, we must admit that there is a LOT of learned helplessness among Black people. If we are honest, we must admit that much of what passes for Black political thought encourages learned helplessness. If we are honest, we must admit that much of our "common wisdom" reflects learned helplessness.

How many times have you heard Black women say things like, "all men cheat"? Or, "ain't no use in getting upset about it"? Or, "it's never going to change"? Or, "there's nothing I can do about it"? So many Black women have openly resigned themselves to defeat. In so many ways. No matter what particular topic is the "it" that is being discussed.

Some of you in the silent audience are resisting opening your hearts and minds to new possibilities because you don't want to expend the necessary effort to change your lives. That's fine. God respects free will; and so do I.

However, some of you are resisting opening your hearts and minds to new possibilities because you don't believe that there ARE any other possibilities for your lives. I respectfully submit to you that this belief is the result of learned helplessness. Helplessness that is not required or binding, unless you submit to it. Helplessness that can be unlearned. I believe that it's worthwhile to unlearn helplessness. In addition to diminishing one's quality of life, helplessness kills. Learned helplessness kills people unnecessarily. Survival curves often reflect this reality.

In medicine, a survival curve is a statistical picture of the survival experience of some group of patients in the form of a graph. The graph shows the percentage of patients surviving over time. Medical literature often refers to survival curves. Doctors also use survival curves to estimate a patient's prognosis; by comparing the experiences of other patients in a similar situation who received similar treatments.

There is an example of a survival curve at the beginning of this post. All survival curves have the same asymmetrical shape. Half of the patients' cases are concentrated on the left-hand side of the median. The other half of the patients are on the right side. The median survival time in the above survival curve is 2 years. That means that half the patients lived less than 2 years. The other half lived more than 2 years. Notice that some of the patients on the right side survived SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER than 2 years. Some of the patients were still going strong 12 years later. This is an extremely important life lesson! Especially when thinking about your own chances for victory in life when confronted with negative statistics, negative advice, and negative examples.

In the book, Dr. Servan-Schreiber makes a very important point about these survival curves:

"[These curves] don't distinguish between people who are satisfied with passively accepting the medical verdict and those who mobilize their own natural defenses. In the same 'median' are found those who go on smoking, who continue to expose themselves to other carcinogenic substances. . . who continue to sabotage their immune defenses with too much stress and poor management of their emotions, or who abandon their bodies by depriving them of physical activity. And within this 'median' are those who LIVE MUCH LONGER. This is most likely because, along with the benefits of the conventional treatments they receive, they have somehow galvanized their natural defenses." Anticancer: A New Way of Life, pg. 15 (emphasis added).

In other words, the people who live much longer tend to be those who decide to actively resist having the "average" and "median" outcome. People who decide to do whatever they can to BEAT THE CURVE.

Have you decided to beat the curve? Whatever the "curve" happens to be?

When you hear negative statistics (for example, such as 70% of Black women being unmarried), do you resign yourself to being among the "average" or the "median"? Have you learned to be helpless in the face of negative statistics? And negative advice? And negative examples?

Or do you decide that there's NO good reason why YOU can't be on the victorious side of the curve, too?

Are you willing to find out what the people on the winning side of the curve have in common?

Are you willing to find out what the people on the winning side of the curve did?

Wishful thinking will NOT enable you to beat the curve. You're going to have to work at it. Are you willing to work to beat the curve?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Inner Sanctuary, Part 2: Life Instead of Death

During the Inner Slum/Inner Sanctuary series we've talked about inner, mental slums filled with dirt, noise, and chaos. We've also talked about the polar opposite of the inner slum: the inner sanctuary. We've described many of the qualities of an inner sanctuary. We've noted that an inner sanctuary is a place of peace, renewal, and excellence. It has calm instead of chaos. Renewal instead of stagnation. Excellence instead of mental squalor.

But we haven't yet discussed the most important aspect of an inner sanctuary:

An inner sanctuary is a place that literally promotes LIFE instead of DEATH.

I've been reading a fascinating book entitled Anticancer: A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. Dr. Servan-Schreiber is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Center for Integrative Medicine. He is also a survivor of brain cancer. I've read several books and articles that discuss the mind-body connection. There is a consensus that emotional states can affect physiological processes such as the immune system (the body's defense against infection and disease). These physiological processes then affect one's health. A factsheet prepared by the U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute states that:

"The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones, such as epinephrine (also called adrenaline) and cortisol (also called hydrocortisone). The body produces these stress hormones to help a person react to a situation with more speed and strength. Stress hormones increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. Small amounts of stress are believed to be beneficial, but chronic (persisting or progressing over a long period of time) high levels of stress are thought to be harmful." Psychological Stress and Cancer: Questions and Answers, pg. 1.

How many of us are living with chronic, prolonged stress? Are you living with chronic, prolonged stress? If so, for how long?

If so, how much longer are you willing to live like this? For the rest of your life?

Are you willing to learn to think differently to reduce the amount of stress in your life? Are you willing to learn to act differently to reduce the amount of stress in your life? Are you willing to learn to live differently to reduce the amount of stress in your life?

The factsheet goes on to note that, "Stress that is chronic can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and various other illnesses." In the context of cancer, Dr. Servan-Schreiber states that:

"It usually takes anywhere from five to forty years for the 'seed' of cancer in the form of a cellular anomaly to become a detectable cancerous tumor. This seed is born in a healthy cell due to abnormal genes, or much more commonly, exposure to radiation, environmental toxins, or other carcinogens . . . No psychological factor by itself has ever been identified as being capable of creating that cancer seed. However, certain reactions to psychological stress can profoundly influence the soil in which the seed develops. . . These situations don't spark cancer, but, as an article published in Nature Reviews Cancer in 2006 observes, we know today that they can give it an opportunity to grow faster. . . . The factors contributing to cancer are so numerous and varied that no one should ever blame themselves or feel guilty for developing this disease." Anticancer: A New Way of Life, pg. 132.

I'm really happy that Dr. Servan-Schreiber emphasized that last part about not blaming ourselves for illnesses. I think that's an extremely important point. We can learn how to live differently, and learn how to treat ourselves better without blaming ourselves.

About 6 years ago, I decided to learn how to live differently, and treat myself better. I was having chest pains. I went in for a series of cardiac stress tests. Including the one where they inject a nuclear isotope into you so that it can travel around inside your body, and scan the inside of your heart. Praise God, it turned out that stress is all it was. I spent some time going to work with nitroglycerin pills dangling from a medical necklace. My doctor insisted that I keep them with me like that, "just in case." Just in case I had any further sudden chest pains while waiting to take my scheduled tests. I barely resisted the urge to sarcastically ask her if I should look into getting my own cardiac defibrillator.

My cousin was dying of cancer. Many of my relatives were displaying the same sort of inappropriate behavior surrounding her illness that they did with my aunt. [I described this during Part 1 of True Fellowship.] There were some spectacularly unpleasant things going on at work. That was a point in my life when I realized that I needed to make some changes. No, I haven't achieved a Dalai Lama state of mental chill. But, I've made some changes and have gotten better at handling certain types of things.

Are you willing to make some changes?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Postscript on Ladies, We are on our Own Post, or Charity Begins at Home, Part 3

I plan to return to the Inner Sanctuary series soon. But before doing so, I'd like to make some final observations about the blog discussion I referenced in the most recent post.

Well . . . as of today (10/29/08), the immigrant Muslim has returned to the blog A Singular Voice to tell us complaining, ungrateful Black folks the following:

"The 'immigrant' community cares a lot for the African-American brothers and sisters and has given millions of dollars for the spread of Islam in your community. I don't think African-Americans have a better friend than 'immigrant' Muslims and I don't think that you can find a single Muslim leader that would disagree with that notion. We want to protect your communities and make sure they flourish, but it is complainers like yourself [referring to the blog host, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad] that hold things back. The anger shown by people like you make you look very ungrateful for all the help provided to your community and it makes the relationship worse."

A few final thoughts about this episode:

The fact that this individual feels comfortable coming to a Black Muslim blog with this message demonstrates the servile nature of many orthodox Black Muslim men. Very, very few Muslim Black men responded to this individual's original insulting comment. Their cringing silence is what emboldened him to return to say the above. In a way, I'm happy that he said this out loud. It brings several things out into the open.

First, it's very important to note that this immigrant Muslim carefully avoided responding to the points raised by several REAL MEN like Victor "Ensayn" Amenta, blog host of Ensayn Reality - Journal (which is listed on my sidebar). The immigrant Muslim scurried away from Mr. Amenta's comment. This is what happens when human roaches encounter a REAL MAN. A real man is a quality man who protects and provides for his family.

What the Muslim-named, Black eunuchs don't understand (or never knew) is that there is POWER inherent in righteous masculinity. There is POWER in a REAL MAN firmly speaking the truth. He doesn't have to raise his voice, or get physical, etc. Human roaches know that it's best for them not to confront a real man firmly speaking the truth. It's really that simple. I've seen this fact demonstrated many times over by the real men that I've been blessed to have in my life.

This is why it's so important for Black women to start choosing REAL, QUALITY MEN, and stop grading Black men on a curve. Even the "passive" benefits that accrue from choosing a Quality Man to be one's husband and the father of one's children are priceless.

Second, this illustrates that as a people, African-Americans must learn to do a better job of screening so-called allies. We are much too quick to let other people (especially other so-called people of color) latch on to our civil right infrastructure for their own benefit. This episode illustrates the point I hoped to make with the Charity Begins at Home series.

We better wake up and start looking our for our own interests.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ladies, We are on our Own: Help is NOT on the Way

From the Department of Help is NOT on the Way:

Here's the link to an exchange I (and a handful of others) recently had with an immigrant Muslim. Basically, this individual feels free to come to a Black Orthodox Muslim site to tell us that immigrant Muslims' problems are more worthy of Black people's attention than our own.

I'm posting this to emphasize a point that ALL Black women need to understand, in order to LITERALLY save our own lives and our children's lives:

We are on our own. Help is NOT on the way from the vast majority of Black men. No matter what the problem consists of. Be it disrespect from outsiders (like the above example), violent crime, or anything else that might affect us and our children.
The vast majority of Black men are slaves. By definition, a slave cannot protect anything or anyone other than his master. By definition, a slave knows better than to even try to protect anything or anyone other than his master's interests.

All across this planet, whenever a Black man encounters any other type of man, the Black man will almost always submit to the other man's will. Sadly, this includes Muslim Black men. Don't believe the hype about Muslim Black men. They are as servile as the rest. Ironically, the Muslim Black men with the highest probability of standing up are the ones that we "orthodox" Muslims often denounce as "cult" members: the men of the Nation of Islam.

I'm pulling the cover off of this situation because I know that many Black women are still under the mistaken belief that Muslim Black men can be counted upon to defend Black women and children. This is one example of how "orthodox" African-American Muslims are riding the coattails of the Nation of Islam's good works among Black folks.

I will admit that in responding to the immigrant Muslim, I broke my own vow to NOT carry the burden of Black folks' collective fate on my back. It's NOT my job as a woman to do that. Carrying all of the burdens for the so-called Black community is killing Black women. We need to stop doing this. For the most part, I have stopped doing this.

In this case, I made an exception and responded because: (1) the immigrant's statement was intolerable; (2) I know that others may not have the facts at their fingertips that I sometimes have; and (3) I knew that very few, if any, Muslim Black men (other than the blog host) would stand up to this Arab/Pakistani. So far, it looks like a "grand" total of 4 men (including the blog host) stood up to this arrogant immigrant Muslim. Despite the fact that I politely called them out about their cringing silence.

I am not surprised.

I am not calling attention to this to stoke anger against Black men. The situation is what it is. I am emphasizing this point to make it clear that we are on our own. I'm saying this to encourage all of us to assume full responsibility for saving our own lives.

Currently, Black women are on our own. It does NOT have to remain that way. The first step to a better life for ourselves is to stop hitching our fate to Black men! Black men have long since disconnected from Black women and Black children. If you look at the A Singular Voice site, you'll find a post where the host is trying to tell other Black men that purchasing mail order Arab wives from Morocco is not the answer. Black men are not waiting for us. We should stop waiting for them, and move on.

There are many other loving and lovable men in this country, and on this planet. There are other types of men who are able and willing to be honorable husbands, protectors, and providers for us. Spread the word to the rest of our sisters that they need to: (1) STOP socializing in all-Black settings; and (2) STOP limiting themselves to only considering Black men as potential husbands. The sooner more Black women take these two steps, the sooner our lives will drastically improve.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dance Concert: "African Flower" by the Savage Jazz Dance Company

Reginald Ray-Savage is the founder of the Savage Jazz Dance Company.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

True Fellowship, Part 2: Breaking Bread

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

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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- Get Your Yearly Mammogram!

The colleague that I mentioned in a guest post that Hagar's Daughter was gracious enough to publish in June died this week.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

It has taken me several days to get my head together (sort-of, kind-of) about her passing. She was in her early 40s. So many Black folks are dropping like flies. So many of us never get the chance to get old, as was the norm for our parents' generation. There has been an outpouring of grief at the court building where she was last assigned. My colleague was a prosecutor. I first met her over 10 years ago while we were on opposing sides in a case. She was one of the sweetest people I've ever known. You were (temporarily-LOL!) a better person while in her presence. Somehow, you just didn't feel comfortable talking about people when she was around. Even talking about individuals who deserved it. Like the individuals who were screwing her over in her office. Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

At work, we've had numerous conversations about looking after our health after each gesture of support we've organized over the last 6 months (video messages from colleagues, a journal that we passed around and wrote letters to her in, etc.). I've heard many, many female colleagues say, "Yeah . . . I really should schedule my yearly mammogram. I haven't had one in years." As of this week (after her passing), these women STILL haven't had their mammograms, nor have they scheduled them; and they're not doing the monthly self-examinations.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

It's important to note that men can also get breast cancer. "Shaft" star Richard Roundtree survived a battle with male breast cancer. Breast cancer in men most commonly appears as a lump, like the one that Mr. Roundtree promptly had examined by a doctor. Gentlemen, pay attention to your bodies and have any mysterious changes or lumps checked out by your doctor.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

Find out what you can do to reduce your odds of developing cancer. I'm reading a book titled "Anticancer: A New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber. I'll do a book review post after I've finished reading it.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dance Concert: Solo From The Long Road, by the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre

Protect Your Stake in the Process: Vote Early

Several people that I greatly respect and admire have asked me (and many others) to participate in "get out the vote" efforts. After much thought and prayer, I decided to comply with these requests.

My initial reluctance comes from the ill-advised manner in which Black folks have made a fetish of voting. We have made the idea of voting an object of unreasonably excessive reverence. We are as deluded as the Iraqis proudly holding up their purple fingers after voting under an occupation-imposed puppet government. Their purple-stained fingers did not magically convert occupied Iraq into a functioning democracy. Millions of people around the planet have voted while still living under the heels of brutal tyrants.

Black folks need to grow up politically, and face the following realities: MUCH more than simply voting is required in order to have a functioning democracy. A functioning democracy needs to have a combination of practices in place. These practices are often referred to as "the rule of law."

Some concepts associated with "the rule of law" include: The principle that governmental authority is exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws. The principle that these laws are adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps. The idea that everyone is equal before the law. The idea that nobody is above the law. The idea that people who have been arrested have the right to be told what crimes they are accused of, and to request that their custody be reviewed by independent, judicial authority.

Keep in mind that none of this guarantees that the laws will be just. This only guarantees that there will be a PROCESS other than following the whims of a tyrant, or following mob rule. Having a process is extremely important. Having a real process in place makes it possible for people to work toward having just laws.

Other reasons for my initial resistance to engaging in "get out the vote" efforts are the emotional trickbags that are often used during these efforts.

I'm really weary of hearing people claim that "people died so we could vote." Black people didn't "die so we could vote." They died because racist White people murdered them. This "died so we could vote" phrase makes their murderers invisible. This phrase makes the fact that they were brutally murdered invisible. This phrase makes it sound as if our martyrs were killed by some impersonal process---almost as if they were plague victims.

I'm also weary of our inability to see that our martyrs intended for voting to be a tool of liberation and empowerment. They did NOT intend for voting to be an end in itself, which is how we currently view it. Instead of using our votes as simply one tool among others, we make hysterical appeals to register and vote during every election season. After the election is over, we promptly slip back into our collective coma until the next election.

So, I am not encouraging you to vote early if possible, because "Black people died so you could vote." I am not encouraging you to vote early so that you can vote for any particular candidate. I have no confidence whatsoever in the so-called "mainstream" candidates. I am not encouraging you to vote early because, "We're going back to slavery if you don't vote." [Which is the emotional undercurrent to many Black folks' "get out the vote" appeals.]

I am encouraging you to vote early in order to protect our collective stake in having a process in place. If you look at the concepts associated with "the rule of law," you can see that the very idea of a real process in this country has been nearly destroyed during the Bush reign. "The process" is on life support right now. I think that it's in everyone's interests to do what we can to nurse it back to health. One step is to support candidates who are most likely to enact laws in support of having a real process. Another step is to support organizations and initiatives that resist efforts to destroy the process. I believe that the "Steal Back Your Vote" campaign is an initiative that deserves our support. You can find out more at You can visit to find out if your state allows early voting.

Suggested Reading: Consider the similarities between Black folks' concept of voting and cargo cults; specifically the Pacific Island cargo cults formed during WWII.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Art of Majesty, Part 2: The Imploding Black Middle Class

For the past 30 years, those of us born and bred (B & B) into the Black middle class have done everything we can to systematically lower ourselves in dignity, significance, and finally, economic rank.

And it has worked!

A story from the Washington Post dated November 13, 2007 ("Middle-Class Dream Eludes African American Families") describes the situation. Let's consider some quotes from the article. [My responses are in blue.]

"Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a new study -- a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans."

It's "fragile" because of our own incompetence and foolishness. Others do much better at maintaining their station in life.

"Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class in 1968 -- a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars -- grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation's earners, with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16 percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility. . . [The researchers were startled] that so many Blacks fell out of the middle class to the bottom of the income distribution in one generation."

A fool and his money are soon parted.

"Ronald B. Mincy, a Columbia University economist and professor of social welfare policy who has focused on the growing economic peril confronted by black men and who served as an adviser on the Pew project, said skeptical researchers repeatedly reviewed the findings before concluding they were statistically accurate."

Denial is a "b." Especially when simply looking around would confirm the findings.

"'There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans,' Mincy said. 'We don't have an explanation.'"

Wait for it. . . You know it's coming. Somebody's going to (at least partially) blame racism.

"Mincy and others speculated that the increase in the number of single-parent black households, continued educational gaps between blacks and whites and even racial isolation that remains common for many middle-income African Americans could be factors. 'That's a stunner,' said Orlando Patterson, a Harvard University sociologist, when told about the Pew finding. 'These kids were middle class, but apparently their parents did not have the cultural capital and connections to pass along to them.'"

Yeah. . . It's hard to maintain anything when people are emulating the attitudes and lifestyles of the Black underclass. But I'll get to that later in this post.

Social Climbing With One Foot in a Ditch

I could excessively lace this post with qualifying words like "many"," some", "often," etc. but I won't. At some point, we need to be able to stop walking on eggshells and talk shop with each other. We all understand at the outset that I'm speaking in generalities and that not everything applies to everybody within a group. However, there is a big picture that we need to consider. So, with this in mind, let's continue.

I mentioned in Part 1 of this series that B & Bs have issues with material things, just not the same ones as dysfunctional strivers. Dysfunctional strivers try to use material things as magic totems that will grant them entry, and make them belong, to the Black middle class. They're hung up on "status marker" items because they don't feel like they truly belong to the middle class. In many cases, they DON'T. I've heard such people referred to as "ghetto." A more listener-friendly version of this put-down is to describe someone as "inappropriate." When the person is extremely out of place (like the striver Black lawyers I've seen use Ebonics in court), they're often called "totally inappropriate."

By contrast, B & Bs' hang-ups about material things mostly revolve around herd-like conformity, fear of "slipping" in perceived rank within the middle class, and fear of damaging one's (hoped for) chances of climbing into the social elite. All of this is based on several misapprehensions of reality. Ironically, the behaviors caused by these hang-ups undermine B & Bs' chances of remaining middle class (much less the notion of being accepted into the elite).

The first failure is the refusal to understand that class is a generational project. Therefore, climbing into the elite is a generational project. Since the entry requirements are less stringent, a poor or working class person can make the leap into the Black middle class. However (for those who care about such matters), a striver who successfully transitions into the middle class will never be considered part of the upper social ranks within this class. The upper social ranks are reserved for born members (B & Bs). This is a bitter pill to swallow for Black strivers.

The entry requirements for the Black elite are more stringent. The elite won't even entertain the notion of accepting someone unless they were born to serious affluence. This is a bitter pill to swallow for social-climbing B & Bs. Most B & Bs refuse to accept that so-called elite social status is closed to us, and something that is only possible for our children. Even in terms of B & Bs' children this possibility only exists with the correct overall preparation, and the correct positioning of the children. Successfully pulling this off requires generational delayed gratification. B & Bs can't engage in this sort of delayed gratification because we're too busy assuaging our own insecurities. While doing so, we damage our own fortunes and diminish (if not outright lose) whatever we have. This is one underlying reason why we're involved in downward mobility.

Because we are focused on trying to gate-crash our way into the Black elite, B & Bs can't even think straight. There are many echoes of dysfunctional striver behaviors. Most B & Bs are so focused on mimicking the elite's surface attributes (and buying similar baubles), that we don't look to see what lies beneath. We don't see that real affluence is based on having GENERATIONS of financial freedom. Financial freedom is several levels above and beyond financial security. Instead of financial freedom, what most B & Bs have is a "good job." B & Bs have to actively work for the money that sustains our lives and lifestyles. The money stops coming in the moment the B & B stops working the job, stops generating billable hours, and stops performing dental/medical procedures. This is a grave problem on several levels.

First, by depending on a single "good job," B & Bs are undermining our own financial security. This behavior violates one of Baltasar Gracian's maxims:

"Double Your Resources. You thereby double your life. One must not depend on one thing or trust to only one resource, however preeminent. Everything should be kept double, especially the causes of success, of favor, or of esteem. . . Thus as nature gives us in duplicate the most important of our limbs and those most exposed to risk, so art should deal with the qualities on which we depend for success." The Art of Worldly Wisdom, pg. 54.

So, not only do we undermine our own financial security, but we ignore one important attribute of the elite: They have assets generating enough passive income to sustain their lifestyles. Having passive income means that you are making money even while you're not working. You're making money while you're asleep or vacationing. Strivers who make it into the Black middle class rarely have any assets that generate passive income. They usually don't own things like stocks, rental properties, or the sorts of businesses that you don't have to personally work at, etc. B & Bs are more likely to have these sorts of things, but we use them as fashion accessories. Or we have them as hobbies. We don't develop these assets to the point where they are able to sustain our lifestyles.

The combined effect of this foolishness makes it impossible to transmit wealth to the next generation. You can't bequeath a "good job" to your children.

We are mostly squandering what we have on looking, dressing, and driving like the Black elite. We are not seriously building passive income, which means that we are not building any serious wealth. We are not building anything to pass on to the next generation.

Imitating the Poor Leads to --- Surprise! Being Poor! Who Knew?!!

Our "good jobs" can't be passed on to our children. It almost doesn't matter. Many of our children can't get or maintain a "good job" because they are emulating the Black underclass. I first found out about this article from Evia's blog. It's entitled "Black Culture Beyond Hip-Hop," and it's from the May 28, 2007 issue of the Washington Post. Here are some quotes. [My reactions are in blue.]

"Despite 40 years of progress since the civil rights movement, in the hip-hop era -- from the late 1970s onward -- black America, uniquely, began receiving its values, aesthetic sensibility and self-image almost entirely from the street up."

I was a teenager at the start of this mess. Many of us knew better. We hated the "music" and its message of self-degradation. We allowed ourselves to be silenced by accusations of being "bourgie. " I will NEVER make this mistake again.

"The historian Paul Fussell notes that for most Americans, it is difficult to 'class sink.' Try to imagine the Chinese American son of oncologists -- living in, say, a New York suburb such as Westchester, attending private school -- who feels subconsciously compelled to model his life, even if only superficially, on that of a Chinese mafioso dealing heroin on the Lower East Side. The cultural pressure for a middle-class Chinese American to walk, talk and act like a lower-class thug from Chinatown is nil. The same can be said of Jews, or of any other ethnic group."

Does anybody else notice how we adopt behavior patterns that are contrary to any known, surviving (much less THRIVING) group of people?

"But in black America the folly is so commonplace it fails to attract serious attention. Like neurotics obsessed with amputating their own healthy limbs, middle-class blacks concerned with 'keeping it real' are engaging in gratuitously self-destructive and violently masochistic behavior."

And then we act surprised to see that we're dropping out of the middle class and into poverty.

"A 2005 study by Roland G. Fryer of Harvard University crystallizes the point: While there is scarce dissimilarity in popularity levels among low-achieving students, black or white, Fryer finds that 'when a student achieves a 2.5 GPA, clear differences start to emerge.' At 3.5 and above, black students 'tend to have fewer and fewer friends,' even as their high-achieving white peers are at the top of the popularity pyramid.' With such pressures to be real, to not 'act white,' is it any wonder that the African American high school graduation rate has stagnated at 70 percent for the past three decades?" (emphasis added)

Sounds like White folks like winners. And we like losers. Maybe we need to get our children away from those who prefer losers, and into another environment? Do ya think?

This isn't the art of majesty. It's the art of debasement.