Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear Voyeur, Just So You Know: My Readers Are Kind Enough To Watch Out On My Behalf

I ignore many of the unpleasant things that come with running an activist blog. I try to maintain self-discipline and focus on the mission profile for this blog. However, I've decided to indulge myself for a minute this time. [Audience Note: Don't worry. This sort of self-indulgence won't become a habit here. It'll probably be just this one time. But it sho' feels good! LOL!] Here's a comment that I made during a recent blog discussion:

"I also greatly enjoy these conversations. And I'm also not looking for "total agreement." I'm just interested in what Min. Farrakhan referred to as operational unity. As in being like-minded enough to be able to brainstorm and strategize together.

It's interesting. I ran across a new group of voyeurs who are reading these conversations. And I call them "voyeurs" because they don't sound as if they have any real stake in the issues that we discuss here. They read our discussions about AA women's suffering for entertainment.

I was tickled to read that they feel that I'm a poor writer, and that the essays are poorly written. LOL! What voyeurs usually don't understand is that these conversations aren't primarily about entertainment for the people who are affected by the issues under discussion. I know that I don't write these (apparently poorly written---{chuckling}) posts for entertainment value.

This is activism in support of a struggle. Specifically the struggle for abundant lives for AA women and girls. This means that I don't let opponents of abundant life for AA women and girls to use this platform. This means that there's NO open mic here for the Klan, or Nazis, or wife/woman beaters, or sexual predators, or extreme male sexists. Would anybody expect Min. Farrakhan's ministers to hand their microphone over to a White racist during one of their meetings? Well, the same idea applies here.

At least one voyeur is confused about this. I suspect that part of the reason why the voyeur is confused about this refusal to give the mic to opponents is because this person has probably never participated in any sort of activism. This angle came up during the first Table Talk For Activists post. We currently have a couple of generations of AAs (and others) who have never seen any sort of "movement" activities up close and personal. So, they're confused."

I'm blessed to have a readership that actively looks out for me; and I TRULY appreciate that. This means that they often send me links to other blog discussions that make reference to the conversations here. Positive or negative. Including the other blog with the "voyeurs" that I referenced in the above comment.

Well, from what I've seen, it seems that the above-referenced "voyeur" is now angry about my comment regarding him/her/it. [I didn't bother to read it through.] {chuckling} It always tickles me to see how thin-skinned so many critical people are: They CAN'T take even a smidgen of what they so freely dish out in reference to others.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Catalog Of Ethical Insanity, Part 1: Down Low Detectives & Down Low Enablers

Before psychiatry had the concept of psychopaths, there was what used to be called "moral insanity:

""The term 'moral insanity' is unfamiliar to psychiatrists today, but it was an accepted diagnosis in Europe and America throughout most of the 19th century. As late as 1883, the American Journal of Insanity (forerunner of the American Journal of Psychiatry) published an article titled 'Moral Insanity.' Individuals who retained their intellectual capacity but harbored strange and unrealistic ideas had puzzled European physicians of the 18th century.

. . . Dr. J.C. Prichard (1786-1848) of England is credited with being the first to use the term moral insanity. In 1835 he wrote: 'There is a form of mental derangement in which the intellectual faculties [are uninjured], while the disorder is manifested principally or alone in the state of feelings, temper, or habits. . .The moral. . . principles of the mind. . . are depraved or perverted, the power of self-government is lost or greatly impaired, and the individual is. . . incapable. . . of conducting himself with decency and propriety in the business of life.'"

Moral Insanity: A Brief History, by Lucy Ozarin, M.D., M.P.H., Psychiatric News May 18, 2001Volume 36 Number 10, American Psychiatric Association, p. 21.

Since I don't like the ugly connotations that right-wing, Christian religious fanatics have created around the word "moral," let's call it ethical insanity. I think that in many ways it's a better term than "sociopath/psychopath" because it gives a more precise flavor of what's wrong with so many people. I think the term "ethical insanity" also helps us to see the nuances between people who aren't quite psychopaths, yet are still far outside the bounds of human decency and propriety.

The African-American collective is TEEMING with ethically insane individuals. Individuals who retain their intellectual capacity but harbor strange and depraved ideas that are far outside the bounds of decency and propriety.

We've seen examples of ethical insanity with the strange and depraved ideas voiced by a number of African-Americans regarding the Dunbar Village gang rape case.

We've seen examples of ethical insanity with the strange and depraved priorities of many of our (mis)leaders. [Please note that Maude Ford Lee, the President of the West Palm Beach Branch of the NAACP, is the mother of the ethically insane Vanessa Lee who is quoted in the first What About Our Daughters post linked above. It's obvious that this ethically insane "apple" didn't fall far from the tree.]

I was reminded of the issue of ethical insanity during our recent blog discussion about the emerging trend of historically Black colleges and universities becoming epicenters of HIV/AIDS infections. I was quite impressed by the commenters. They didn't do what African-American women typically do when discussing the skyrocketing numbers of HIV/AIDS infections among Black women. I was delighted to see that commenters didn't fixate on becoming what some gay Black male activists have called "down low detectives." [All of which is not to deny the need for concern about unwittingly dating down low men. But prudent concern isn't the same thing as an irrational fixation.]

My Sisters, Eliminate The KNOWN Risks Before Fixating On Speculative Risks

I've always wondered why so many African-American women fixate on becoming what some gay Black male activists have called "down low detectives" instead of starting by eliminating KNOWN, easily-identified risks from their sexual lives such as Black male criminals, drug users and playboys.

Yes, down low Black men ARE a large part of the problem as pertains to African-American women becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. But so are the straight Black male jailbirds, dope fiends and playas! It amazes me to see how fixated so many African-American women are on scoping out hidden down low signs instead of getting rid of the known, easily-identifiable risks such as the jailbirds, dope fiends and playas. I wouldn't call this behavior ethically insane, but it is irrational and self-defeating if the point is simply to reduce one's risk of dating an infected man. There's also a touch of unethical cowardice in only fixating on culturally "approved" targets of condemnation, instead of speaking the entire truth. Instead of also identifying the "sacred cows" of Black male jailbirds, druggies and playboys as sources of HIV/AIDS transmission to African-American women.

However, there are some Black female "down low detectives" who ARE ethically insane:

Ethical Insanity Outbreak At D.C.'s Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church

Here's part of the story published by the Washington Blade dated February 1, 2008 (you really need to read it in its entirety---it's that . . . special---my comments are in blue):

"One of Washington’s largest black Pentecostal churches was rocked by a female member of its choir who sent separate e-mail messages to the pastor in December and January outing more than 100 church members as gay, mostly male choir members.

The outings added to the inner turmoil experienced by a large number of gays who attend services at the 7,000-member Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, located on Rhode Island Ave., N.E., according to a gay former member who provided copies of the e-mails to the Blade.

'I will be leaving the choir at the top of the year because 80 percent of the tenors are homosexuals and act more like a female in choir rehearsal than I do,' the church choir member said in one of her e-mails to Bishop Alfred Owens Jr., the church pastor. [Khadija speaking: So . . . let's see. This woman is writing the pastor complaining about allegedly gay men in the church choir that she also accuses of acting in a stereotypical effeminate manner. And she feels compelled to "notify" the pastor about this . . . because these multitudes of allegedly effeminate, gay men in his choir have somehow escaped his notice. Even though he watches these men sing each and every Sunday. Hmmm . . .]

The e-mail, sent in December, identifies about 45 fellow church members as gay. She sent a second e-mail to Owens on Jan. 2 identifying another 62 church members as gay. [Khadija: So, somehow the pastor (who we'll later see is an anti-gay bigot) supposedly never noticed over 100 allegedly effeminate, gay men singing in his choir each Sunday. That's . . . interesting.]

'The following people I am asking you to monitor very closely and my prayer is that you will sit them down from their ministries,' she told Owens in the December e-mail. 'Because they are ushering in the presence of sin, lies, a spirit of homosexuality and sexual spirits.' [Khadija: Whatever. Gee, I wonder what "spirit" this "blessed and highly favored" woman is ushering in?]

She sent a copy of her e-mails to a Yahoo list group that goes to more than 300 church members, the gay former church member said. [Khadija: Oh, my God . . . that's incredibly vicious. She already called herself "telling on" these men to the pastor. What possible, purportedly "good faith" reason could she have for doing this? As my best friend from New Orleans says in the gentle drawl that she pulls out for emphasis---Ahhh . . . naaawwww. This is some petty, evil, and downright Satanic mess. What sounds most likely is something along the lines that after spending several years in the choir, "Sister Bertha" was not chosen to do a solo and then she got mad. And then she decided to lash out. Whatever her true, petty gripe was, she's certainly ethically insane.]

. . Owens became the subject of media attention in April 2006 when he used the word 'fag' in a sermon on Palm Sunday. 'It takes real men to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior,' Owens said in the sermon, which was recorded by the church. 'I’m not talking about no faggot or no sissy,' he said. 'Let the real men come down here and take a bow — all the real men. I’m talking about straight men … praise God that you’re straight.'

The church’s web site includes a listing of twice-monthly sessions of a ministry called 'Breaking the Chains of Homosexuality,' which it says helps gays change their sexual orientation through counseling and prayer. [Khadija: All right, now. This church has been quite up-front in telling gays and lesbians that they are NOT welcome there; and that this place is NOT a church home for them. So why are they going there; and going so far as to participate in the choirs? In many ways this reminds me of how slave-minded African-Americans persist in shopping with Koreans and Arab shopkeepers who have nothing but hatred and contempt for them.

But it also raises the ethical question of what good-faith reason could gays and lesbians possibly have for going to this particular church? This church has already let them know that they are not welcome. So, why are they infiltrating places of worship where they've been told that they are not welcome? To my way of thinking, that's somewhat unethical. A house of worship is not intended to function like a government building. It's a place of private fellowship among presumably like-minded believers. There's NO obligation whatsoever for any house of worship to make any particular person or any particular category of persons feel welcome there.

It would be similar to me (as a progressive Muslim) infiltrating a Taliban-type mosque that's up-front about the fact that they preach reactionary madness. What legitimate purpose would I have for running up in there when I know they don't want progressive Muslims in THEIR mosque? And it is their mosque since it was founded, and is being run, according to their reactionary doctrine. That's their spiritual "home." How is it legitimate for me to either infiltrate or gate-crash their spiritual home when they've made it clear that they don't want me in there?]

. . . The gay former church member who sent the outing e-mails to the Blade also sent a copy of a separate e-mail from an outraged gay church member who was among those named in the first two e-mails as gay. 'I do not believe that someone would [have] the nerve to put my name to a list of known gays,' he wrote in an e-mail sent to Owens and members of the church Yahoo group. 'This has gone too far, I am not going down by myself.' He went on to name other gays, including some in high-level church positions. [Khadija: WOW! . . . just wow. . . Yet another example of ethical insanity.]

'It is so bad that in the last e-mail we are turning on each other,' the gay former church member, who sent copies of the e-mails to the Blade, said. 'Although I wanted to remain anonymous, someone has to do something.'" [Khadija: Yes, that was unfortunate. It's an important reminder that people can be victims AND victimizers at the same time. We'll get back to this point later.]

Several Black gay and lesbian blogs discussed this incident at the time. Pam's House Blend (although her audience seems to be composed of mostly White lesbians and gays. and Living Out Loud with Darian at discussed this incident at the time. You may find it interesting to read the discussions there.

There Are Many Situations Where People Are Victims AND Villains At The Same Time

Real life is filled with nuances and shades of gray. There are many situations where oppressed people are also victimizing and endangering others. A person can be a victim and a villain at the same time. I've talked about this before in the context of battered women:

"If You Choose to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence, Offer Help From A SAFE DISTANCE.

This is the part where I'm sure to offend many, if not most, survivors of domestic violence. I must admit that I'm not automatically as empathetic as I used to be about this issue. I've had too much work-related exposure to domestic violence victims. Both as a former prosecutor and as a defense attorney.

Here's the part that women's advocates won't tell you: Many women who are victims of domestic violence will ultimately, and eagerly, go back to their abusers. If you allowed yourself to get heavily involved in "rescuing" such a woman, she AND her abuser will paint you as somebody who just wanted to break them up (after she returns to him). This means that the male abuser might want to come after YOU after they are lovey-dovey again!

Many women who are victims of domestic violence will also destroy any sanctuary that you offer them. They will bring predators into the previously-safe environment. After she reconciles with her batterer, she will start having him come visit her in the new apartment that you provided for her. She will be resentful if you won't allow him to move into the new apartment. This scenario has happened to several other landlords I know. Good Samaritan, Beware!"

Several readers described their own observations of this:

One reader said, "As a child, I witnessed my mother turn on people who tried to intervene when she was getting beat on. As an adult, I was told by my brothers that once she regained custody of them, that she would turn on them whenever they tried to stop the fighting between her and her husband. They eventually just learned to tune it out, by going into their bedrooms and turning on some music."

Another reader commented, "My niece had a friend who lived next door to us several years ago. The friend lived with her mother, and her mother’’s boyfriend. One summer day we had a cook out in the back yard when we heard screaming and yelling. The woman was being beaten by her boyfriend, and actually began screaming for my 8-year-old niece to help her!

She was actually screaming my niece’s name and telling her to come and help her!! My niece wanted to go upstairs, but my mother stopped her. Instead we called the cops. By the time the cops got there, it was over. We directed the cops to the right door, and when they knocked, she opened the door and told them that he had left. The cops told her they had to come in and talk to her, but I guess the boyfriend hid while she talked to them.

Do you know this woman didn’t speak to us for about a month after this incident! Apparently, she didn’t want the cops called. She just wanted someone to come and help her. As far as I was concerned, the cops were help! The boyfriend never spoke to us again, which was fine by me. My niece was very confused by the whole thing, and I was actually mad myself, so her not speaking worked for me.

I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if my niece had been visiting her daughter or if she had been in the back yard by herself. She probably would have gone up there to try to help. And what about my niece's friend? God only knows what she was seeing living there. After that incident I forbade my niece from ever going to their house again. In these situations, you are not only up against the abuser, you are also up against the abused. How many times have the cops put cuffs on an abuser only to have the victim scream to leave him alone. I can't save a woman from herself."

There are many times when we have to protect ourselves from people who are being victimized by others. This down low phenomenon is one of those situations. Yes, the widespread and virulent anti-gay bigotry within African-American culture is what causes so many gay and bisexual Black men to hide their true orientation. However, this oppression does NOT give anybody license to use women (without their knowledge or consent) as cover stories. It's one thing to hide without involuntarily involving other people in your deception. It's something else to deceive women and endanger their lives because you want to hide. This sort of behavior is ethically insane.

Many Gay Black Male Activists Are SOLELY Focused On Avoiding Accountability For Their Group's Part In The Spread of HIV/AIDS---They DON'T Care About Public Health Or Safety

It's been disturbing to see that many gay Black male activists don't seem to comprehend the ethical insanity of down low gay men deceiving women, using them as involuntary cover stories, and thereby endangering these women's lives without their knowledge. Let's get real: Most women across the board are not going to insist upon their husbands wearing condoms. Period. The only thing many gay Black male activists are focused on is ducking and dodging having any level of accountability for this plague being assigned to gay/bisexual Black men.

I've read all sorts of utterly irresponsible statements from gay Black male commenters and activists. I'll just mention one such activist named Keith Boykin. I read his book Beyond The Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America. His book is basically several hundred pages of "Don't blame us gay/bisexual Black men for being involved in spreading this plague." Read the following essay to get the flavor of the book.

No matter what the issue (violent crime, drug addiction, etc.), irresponsible African-American "thinkers" consistently argue that focusing on elimating our own destructive behavior is a distraction from the so-called REAL issue. And somehow the so-called "real" issue is always something that is outside of our control. This posture of ducking and dodging any responsibility for the negative results caused by negative behaviors is a tradition. It's a tradition with African-American males, and the African-American collective in general. Protecting an image is more important than the African-American lives that are lost. This posture is ethically insane.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The "Change" That NEVER Came---Republished Article From STRATFOR

Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as Stratfor, is a private intelligence agency founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas. Barron's once referred to it as "The Shadow CIA". George Friedman is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company. The following article is from

"Obama's Foreign Policy: The End of the Beginning
August 24, 2009

By George Friedman

Related Link
Special Series: Obama’s Foreign Policy Landscape

As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the
levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president’s foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out.

We therefore are at a good point to stop and consider not what U.S. President Barack Obama will do in the realm of foreign policy, but what he has done and is doing. As we have mentioned before, the single most remarkable thing about
Obama’s foreign policy is how consistent it is with the policies of former President George W. Bush. This is not surprising. Presidents operate in the world of constraints; their options are limited. Still, it is worth pausing to note how little Obama has deviated from the Bush foreign policy.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, particularly in its early stages,
Obama ran against the Iraq war. The centerpiece of his early position was that the war was a mistake, and that he would end it. Obama argued that Bush’s policies — and more important, his style — alienated U.S. allies. He charged Bush with pursuing a unilateral foreign policy, alienating allies by failing to act in concert with them. In doing so, he maintained that the war in Iraq destroyed the international coalition the United States needs to execute any war successfully. Obama further argued that Iraq was a distraction and that the major effort should be in Afghanistan. He added that the United States would need its NATO allies’ support in Afghanistan. He said an Obama administration would reach out to the Europeans, rebuild U.S. ties there and win greater support from them.

Though around 40 countries cooperated with the United States in Iraq, albeit many with only symbolic contributions, the major continental European powers — particularly France and Germany — refused to participate. When Obama spoke of alienating allies, he clearly meant these two countries, as well as smaller European powers that had belonged to the U.S. Cold War coalition but were unwilling to participate in Iraq and were now actively hostile to U.S. policy.

A European Rebuff

Early in his administration, Obama made two strategic decisions. First, instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he adopted the
Bush administration’s policy of a staged withdrawal keyed to political stabilization and the development of Iraqi security forces. While he tweaked the timeline on the withdrawal, the basic strategy remained intact. Indeed, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, to oversee the withdrawal.

Second, he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration had committed itself to Afghanistan from 9/11 onward. But it had remained in a defensive posture in the belief that given the forces available, enemy capabilities and the historic record, that was the best that could be done, especially as the Pentagon was almost immediately reoriented and refocused on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Toward the end, the Bush administration began exploring — under the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who designed the strategy in Iraq — the possibility of some sort of political accommodation in Afghanistan.

Obama has shifted his strategy in Afghanistan to this extent: He has moved from a purely defensive posture to a mixed posture of selective offense and defense, and has placed more forces into Afghanistan (although the United States still has nowhere near the number of troops the Soviets had when they lost their Afghan war). Therefore, the core structure of Obama’s policy remains the same as Bush’s except for the introduction of limited offensives. In a major shift since Obama took office, the Pakistanis have taken a more aggressive stance (or at least want to appear more aggressive) toward the Taliban and al Qaeda, at least within their own borders. But even so, Obama’s basic strategy remains the same as Bush’s: hold in Afghanistan until the political situation evolves to the point that a political settlement is possible.

Most interesting is how
little success Obama has had with the French and the Germans. Bush had given up asking for assistance in Afghanistan, but Obama tried again. He received the same answer Bush did: no. Except for some minor, short-term assistance, the French and Germans were unwilling to commit forces to Obama’s major foreign policy effort, something that stands out.

Given the degree to which the Europeans disliked Bush and were eager to have a president who would revert the U.S.-European relationship to what it once was (at least in their view), one would have thought the French and Germans would be eager to make some substantial gesture rewarding the United States for selecting a pro-European president. Certainly, it was in their interest to strengthen Obama. That they proved unwilling to make that gesture suggests that the French and German relationship with the United States is much less important to Paris and Berlin than it would appear. Obama, a pro-European president, was emphasizing a war France and Germany approved of over a war they disapproved of and asked for their help, but virtually none was forthcoming.

The Russian Non-Reset

Obama’s desire to reset European relations was matched by his desire to reset U.S.-Russian relations. Ever since the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, U.S.-Russian relations had deteriorated dramatically, with Moscow charging Washington with interfering in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics with the aim of weakening Russia. This culminated in the Russo-Georgian war last August. The Obama administration has since suggested a “reset” in relations, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carrying a box labeled “reset button” to her spring meeting with the Russians.

The problem, of course, was that the last thing the Russians wanted was to reset relations with the United States. They did not want to go back to the period after the Orange Revolution, nor did they want to go back to the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Orange Revolution. The Obama administration’s call for a reset showed
the distance between the Russians and the Americans: The Russians regard the latter period as an economic and geopolitical disaster, while the Americans regard it as quite satisfactory. Both views are completely understandable.

The Obama administration was signaling that it intends to continue the Bush administration’s Russia policy. That policy was that Russia had no legitimate right to claim priority in the former Soviet Union, and that the United States had the right to develop bilateral relations with any country and expand NATO as it wished. But the Bush administration saw the Russian leadership as unwilling to follow the basic architecture of relations that had developed after 1991, and as unreasonably redefining what the Americans thought of as a stable and desirable relationship.

The Russian response was that an entirely new relationship was needed between the two countries, or the Russians would pursue an independent foreign policy
matching U.S. hostility with Russian hostility. Highlighting the continuity in U.S.-Russian relations, plans for the prospective ballistic missile defense installation in Poland, a symbol of antagonistic U.S.-Russian relations, remain unchanged.

The underlying problem is that the Cold War generation of U.S. Russian experts has been supplanted by the post-Cold War generation, now grown to maturity and authority. If the Cold warriors were forged in the 1960s, the post-Cold warriors are forever caught in the 1990s. They believed that the 1990s represented a stable platform from which to reform Russia, and that the grumbling of Russians plunged into poverty and international irrelevancy at that time is simply part of the post-Cold War order.

They believe that without economic power, Russia cannot hope to be an important player on the international stage. That
Russia has never been an economic power even at the height of its influence but has frequently been a military power doesn’t register. Therefore, they are constantly expecting Russia to revert to its 1990s patterns, and believe that if Moscow doesn’t, it will collapse — which explains U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s interview in The Wall Street Journal where he discussed Russia’s decline in terms of its economic and demographic challenges. Obama’s key advisers come from the Clinton administration, and their view of Russia — like that of the Bush administration — was forged in the 1990s.

Foreign Policy Continuity Elsewhere

When we look at
U.S.-China policy, we see very similar patterns with the Bush administration. The United States under Obama has the same interest in maintaining economic ties and avoiding political complications as the Bush administration did. Indeed, Hillary Clinton explicitly refused to involve herself in human rights issues during her visit to China. Campaign talk of engaging China on human rights issues is gone. Given the interests of both countries, this makes sense, but it is also noteworthy given the ample opportunity to speak to China on this front (and fulfill campaign promises) that has arisen since Obama took office (such as the Uighur riots).

Of great interest, of course, were the three great openings of the early Obama administration, to Cuba, to
Iran, and to the Islamic world in general through his Cairo speech. The Cubans and Iranians rebuffed his opening, whereas the net result of the speech to the Islamic world remains unclear. With Iran we see the most important continuity. Obama continues to demand an end to Tehran’s nuclear program, and has promised further sanctions unless Iran agrees to enter into serious talks by late September.

On Israel, the United States has merely shifted the atmospherics. Both the Bush and Obama administrations demanded that the
Israelis halt settlements, as have many other administrations. The Israelis have usually responded by agreeing to something small while ignoring the larger issue. The Obama administration seemed ready to make a major issue of this, but instead continued to maintain security collaboration with the Israelis on Iran and Lebanon (and we assume intelligence collaboration). Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not allowed the settlements to get in the way of fundamental strategic interests.

This is not a criticism of Obama. Presidents — all presidents — run on a platform that will win. If they are good presidents, they will leave behind these promises to
govern as they must. This is what Obama has done. He ran for president as the antithesis of Bush. He has conducted his foreign policy as if he were Bush. This is because Bush’s foreign policy was shaped by necessity, and Obama’s foreign policy is shaped by the same necessity. Presidents who believe they can govern independent of reality are failures. Obama doesn’t intend to fail.

Tell STRATFOR What You Think

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Your Daughter Has To Look Forward To If She Attends A Historically Black College, Or Only Dates Black Men While At A White College

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, August 24, 2009

Please Join Me For A Round Of Geostrategy Nerd: "For The Love Of God, DON'T Send Your Daughters To Historically Black Colleges!"

I made the following comment while responding to a reader during a recent blog post:


You said, "I hope that I am wrong, but I do not think very many will make it out....Based on your experienced observations, many are already lost."

{Khadija dipping into Ebonics} They gone. They LONG gone.

You said, "As many states have their prison data online, I did a random checks of the race of prisoners listed in any particular prison. 7 to 8 out of 10 were AA (male or female, it did not matter) . . . . AA women that continue to associate with this fringe and all its various permutations are lost."

Exactly. And the disturbing thing is that this "element" and it's "fringe" are OBVIOUS hazards to BW's survival. There are some other, more subtle DEATHTRAPS that I'm doing research on right now. I'll explain in detail during the post I plan to have up for the beginning of September, but I'll say the basic warning here and now:

For the love of God, DON'T send your daughters to historically Black colleges and universities! Especially Howard University in Washington, DC. These HBCUs are emerging DEATHTRAPS! As in literal deathtraps. Some of you will probably guess what specific phenomenon is causing me to say this, but I'll leave all of that for September."

I was going to leave this topic until I had finished researching and writing the post by the first week in September, but I've changed my mind.

It just occurred to me that this is an excellent opportunity for audience members to do the mental exercise of playing "geostrategy nerd" regarding something that is of the utmost importance: our children's safety. Prior to the most recent Geostrategy Nerd post, I had been talking "at" you about what I see as emerging trends.

Let's do something different this time. This time, I'm inviting you to do the research WITH me about an issue. Let's reason together, and work through the details of my concerns TOGETHER, at the same time. [I'll add links to relevant articles, etc. as the conversation progresses. On second thought, I'll leave those citations in the comments section---it's worth the time to read through this conversation.]

But, first, you have to guess what my specific concern is about Black female students attending HBCUs in this modern era! *Smile*

***To anyone that I've already disclosed my specific concern to, please don't submit a comment identifying or discussing my concern unless and until another audience member figures it out. I want folks to have the experience for themselves of working through these sorts of issues.***

So far, people have mentioned the purely social dynamics that are problematic at historically Black colleges and universities. The emotional difficulties caused by these negative social dynamics are serious, but they're not what's most dangerous about these campuses for young African-American women.

I submit to you that these same, negative social dynamics have literally life-threatening repercussions. Repercussions that have already begun to emerge at several historically Black colleges. These repercussions were in the news about 5 years ago; however I've never heard anyone "connect the dots" or sound the alarm about this particular topic in a LOUD voice.

Here are 3 (somewhat) interlocking hints:

1-In what way can we say that Washington, D.C. (where Howard University is located) has replaced San Francisco?

2-Historically Black colleges; and

3-The gender imbalances at HBCUs. According to Understanding Gender at Public Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Special Report of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, Inc., "Females are a majority (63%) of the total number of students enrolled at the 45 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. . . " pg. 10.

What's the emerging, life-threatening problem at these schools that nobody's really talking about? A problem that will only get worse, using our previous collective behavior as a roadmap?

The Mass "Gaslighting" Of African-American Women

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

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Art Of Black-Owned Business, Part 4: Give Customers What They Actually Want, NOT What They Need

During Part 1 of this series, I had the following exchange with a reader (my comments are in blue):

"Imam Isa Mateen said...

Wow! I run an Islamic Elementary/high School. Many Black Muslims send their kids to the local Arab school where their kids are suspended for the least infraction and the curriculum is inferior. When their kids get kicked out of the Arab school, the parents run to us and want to complain about our tuition - even though it's lower than the inferior Arab school.! We teach African History. Parents will complain about that saying we're "racist." But hey have no problem with their child learning Arab History, American History and World History(as long as Africa is not included in the world!) It is mind boggling! Is their hope for our people?

Imam Isa,

You said, [quoting his comment]. Well, here are my thoughts about that:

(1) The first part of what you're describing relates to the rule of "Do not believe everything the customer tells you." You see, AAs like YOU and I want "Islamic schools." But what the masses of Sunni Muslim AAs actually want is Arabian schools. In terms of the NOI, I'm not quite sure whether what their members actually want are "Islamic schools" or "Master Fard Muhammad Ideology schools."

In order to thrive as Black business owners, we have to respond based upon what the consumers ACTUALLY want, and NOT based upon what they say they want. We have to meet the consumers' wants and not necessarily their needs. I'm going to talk about this during Part 2 of this series.

AA consumers lie and claim that they want more Black-owned businesses. But that's NOT what they actually want. MOST consumers DON'T want to be involved with a visibly Black-owned business. Especially AA consumers. We have to work around that aversion.

(2) The second part of what you're describing relates to the fact that there's no "us" anymore. Not in the sense that you're using that term. There are AAs like you, me, and the other handful of survivors and thrivers. And then there are the masses of AAs who are "THEY" and "THEM." "They" and "them" are NOT part of "US." There's an ever-widening distinction between the 2 categories of AAs."

Author George Subira perfectly summed it up in his book Black Folks' Guide to Making Big Money in America when he said:

"People want what they want. You may come along as a good guy and try to give people what you think they need, maybe even what they think they need, but they will still want what they want. Eventually it will hit you that people really don't deal with their needs. They don't buy what they need or do what they need to do. People deal with their wants, period. They buy what they want and do what they want. They may eventually deal with their needs but only if there is any money, time or energy leftover. [Khadija speaking: Ridiculous, but true.]

. . . If you play social worker trying to supply a need instead of a businessman supplying want, you will go broke."

Black Folks' Guide to Making Big Money in America, pg. 161 (emphasis added). The easy to remember rule for African-Americans is that they buy what they want, and beg for what they need.

Keep in mind that most people continue to focus on wants even when they are looking to have a need met! For example, most people need some form of personal transportation. However, people buy the form of transportation that they want (SUVs, "luxury" autos, etc.) and not simply the transportation that they need (fuel efficient cars that are reasonably reliable). This leads to the next point:

Successful Businesses Also Provide An Element of Escapism With Their Products

Mr. Subira said:

"The product that you sell must have some escape element connected to it. By escape I mean an item or situation or service that allows the buyer to forget or lose consciousness of their poverty, powerlessness, ignorance, pain, family problems, job problems, or other of life's hassles. [Khadija speaking: Multiply this angle by a factor of 1,000 when dealing with African-American consumers.]

People need to deal with their problems and try to solve them. But people generally want to escape them altogether.

One of the reasons, for example, why people are so concerned with the extensive lighting, sound system, and non-stop music of discos is because the more 'atmosphere' and fantasy associated with the place, the closer it comes to being in 'another world.' What better 'escape value' can you have than being in 'another world?'

Discos, skating rinks, bars, movies, churches, amusement parks, music concerts, stage shows, sporting events, etc. are places of escape. Once the paying customer enters the place, there is a loss of attention to almost any problem short of sharp, physical pain. [Khadija speaking: Excuse me for laughing at seeing this point laid bare. It is amusing.]

Beauty parlors, massage parlors, health spas, tennis courts, bowling alleys, and pinball games [Khadija: this book was written in 1980. Let's add computer use and video games to this list] are activities or services furnishing a degree of mental and physical escape from the daily routine and pressures. Records, books, liquor, televisions, tape players and fancy decorated vans are items that are purchased to seek a form of escape by shutting out the events of the real world and focusing on the atmosphere that the item creates or generates."

Black Folks' Guide to Making Big Money in America, pg. 163 (emphasis added).

Let's Use The Islamic School Mentioned Earlier As A Case Study

Now that we've reviewed these reality check aspects of successful businesses, let's reconsider the situation that Imam Isa Mateen described in his comment.

Since we now know that we can't take customers' statements at face value, we need to consider what it is that the customer is actually looking to get from the products they choose. These things are usually left unspoken.

If you were unwise enough openly quiz customers about what they actually want, they would tell lies about what they really want. Furthermore, it's usually unwise to directly offer customers their true wants. If you did try to directly offer them what they really want, most of them would be offended and humiliated. You have to be subtle when supplying customers' true wants. Typically, this means chattering about their stated wants while you're really meeting their true wants.

Let's get back to the Islamic school example. The African-American Sunni ["Orthodox"] Muslim parents that were mentioned earlier want to believe that they're seeking to meet their children's needs. What are some of the needs that, on the surface, these African-American, slave-mentality, Muslim parents want to meet? If anyone asked them, they would probably list the following things:

1-Excellent education
2-That incorporates Muslim religious instruction
3-In a safe environment
4-In a wholesome environment free of the corrupting influences found in the public schools.

Okay. . . so far, so good with the Imam's Islamic school---let's assume that his school is providing all of the above.

However, there's already an open split between what he's providing and the parents' (unspoken) wants: He's giving African-American children what he (and I) believe they actually NEED by including African history in his curriculum. The problem is that not only do most African-American parents feel that their children don't "need" to know anything about African/Black anything, but they don't WANT their children to be taught about African/Black anything!

Most African-American/Black parents aren't going to come out and say that they don't want their children taught anything about African or African-American history. It would be embarassing for them to admit that. Instead, they will accuse anyone who teaches African/African-American history of "teaching racism." This is the "open" split between what the Imam's school is offering Black parents and their TRUE wants.

What's the "hidden" split between what's being provided and these slave-parents' true wants?

The "hidden" split is that the Imam's school is not providing these African-American Sunni ("Orthodox") Muslim parents or their children with any sort of "escape" from Blackness. Many African-American Sunni Muslims want to feel like they and their children are "transcending" or "passing out of" their previous state of Blackness.

This unspoken need to feel that they and their children are "escaping" and "transcending" Blackness is actually the MOST important aspect of any "Islamic" school for these colored, slave-mentality Sunni Muslim parents! This is why these parents will pay more to get less (an inferior education under inferior circumstances for their children)---as long as their children can be up under Arabs or Pakistanis.

For an example of this mentality, read the the following post, where (among other things) the blog author says,

"What I am talking about is individuals intentionally choosing to move themselves and their offspring away from being black in order to protect themselves (and their offspring) from racism and at the same time afford themselves more opportunities. Especially in the Muslim world where this is often magnified."

I would imagine that any Islamic school offering African history would face difficulties in the context of an African-American Sunni ("Orthodox") Muslim collective where people are "intentionally choosing to move themselves and their offspring away from being black . . ."

In order to be successful, a Black-owned business must be careful to supply what the customers actually want (with at least a little escapism included), not what they say they want. A virtuous Black business owner will seek creative ways to also slip in some of what the customer actually needs. But not at the expense of making the sale.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Art Of Black-Owned Business, Part 3: Are You Money-Minded Or Ego-Driven At Work?

Let's discuss in greater detail the topic raised by Part 2 of this series. So far, I've mostly focused on the irrational things going on in the minds of many consumers (particularly African-American consumers). Let's turn to some of the irrational things going on in the minds of many African-American business owners.

Decades before the Rich Dad/Poor Dad books, there were several excellent books that discussed similar ideas within an African-American context. One of these books was Black Folks' Guide To Business Success by George Subira. He discussed the fact that African-Americans often go into business for reasons other than seeking economic prosperity. He said:

"Reason #1: To Be the Boss

Black people have historically been slaves, laborers and workers. There has always been a White overseer, bossman, foreman or supervisor looking over our shoulder to see if we were doing the job they wanted, the way they wanted us to do it. It's not surprising that a certain portion of this working class, both male and female, become fed up with this routine and start their own business---to be free from the hassle of a "boss." There is nothing inherently wrong with this feeling.

But too often this new businessperson has a life-long chip on their shoulder and they now substitute their own tyrant-like ways in place of the supervisor they have just left. In other words, these business people need to show everybody that enters their place of business that they are the boss and they are in control.

[Khadija speaking: We don't just do this as business owners. Too many of us do this whenever we become supervisors and managers on our jobs. In fact, the vast majority of African-Americans go buck wild across the board whenever we get even a smidgen of authority. I discussed this "Head Negro In Charge syndrome" in this post]

This seriously affects their ability to be friendly, courteous and serve the people. Instead, customers pick up a kind of hostility, disagreeableness or apathy almost from the moment they enter the establishment. Many of these types of businesspeople could not possibly view themselves as servants of the public or as having a responsibility to the public. As a matter of fact, the attitude of a "Me Boss Man" type of owner is almost the opposite of a money-minded business owner. For example:

Money-Minded Owner [MMO]: Greets customers with a smile whether they feel good or not.

Boss Man Owner [BMO]: May or may not greet customer depending on how they feel.

MMO: I must prove to the people that we are the best, the friendliest, cleanest, the cheapest, etc.

BMO: I ain't got to prove a da** thing to anybody. Those days are over. [Khadija: {chuckling}]

MMO: The customer is always right. [Khadija speaking: Hmmm. . . I wouldn't say that. I would say that "We are here to serve the customer's legitimate needs and wishes to the very best of our ability." Unfortunately, Black-owned businesses have to be extremely cautious with Black customers. African-American customers will often come to Black businesses with disruptive behavior, violent behavior, and scams that they don't dare approach non-Black businesses with. Many African-American consumers will go out of their way to try to exploit and cheat a Black-owned business. Also, African-Americans often take kindness for weakness (and an invitation to prey on the kind person) when the kindness comes from another African-American.]

BMO: If you don't like it, you can leave now and you don't have to come back in here anymore.

MMO: I must set an example for my employees and not ask them to do anything I can't do.

BMO: If they don't do like I tell 'em I'll fire 'em; simple as dat."

Black Folks' Guide To Business Success, pgs. 74-75.

Although we're specifically discussing our mental preparation to build and maintain our businesses, this issue actually applies across the board with most African-Americans.

One of the many pathologies of conquered, subjugated people is their inability to be gracious when they find themselves in positions of authority. It's time to break that slavery-derived mental habit.

*Audience Note* Please don't submit comments detailing horror-story-experiences with Black-owned businesses, I won't publish those sorts of comments. We've all had those experiences, and that's not what I'm getting at here. We do this across the board. Including while working as employees on our jobs---many of us like to match wits with our job's customers. [I got a lecture the other day from a Black female postal worker who took great pleasure in making sure that I knew that I lacked a proper understanding of the U.S. Postal Service's procedures. {chuckling}]

I'm hoping to encourage some introspection about the mindsets that create those problems.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Art Of Black-Owned Business, Part 2: Controlling Perceptions

From Sun Tzu's The Art of War Plus The Art of Small Business:

"Success in business requires one thing.
You must control people's perceptions.

If you are new, you must appear experienced.
If business is slow, you must appear busy.
If you are anxious, you must appear calm.
If you are worried, you must appear enthusiastic.

If competitors have a good idea, take it as your own.
When customers are uncertain, help them decide.
When competitors are good, you must be better.
When competitors are strong, find a different business.
If customer decisions are emotional, play to emotion.
If competitors are weak, make them overconfident.
If competitors win easy sales, make them work for them.
If competitors have partners, steal the partners away.
Go after competitors who don't expect competition.
Avoid competing in ways that competitors expect.

You will find an opportunity that assures profit.
Never pass it by."

Sun Tzu's The Art of War Plus The Art of Small Business, pg. 33.

The First Set of Perceptions You MUST Control Are Your Own

The first set of perceptions that you must control are your own as a Black business owner. Most of this revolves around checking yourself and your true priorities. What is more important to you---massaging your ego OR making the sale while providing excellent products and service?

It takes emotional discipline to have a colorless business and to maintain secrecy about it being Black-owned. This means that you don't get to puff your chest out and brag about how you're a business owner. This often means that you don't get the emotional payoff of visibly looking like The Boss.

But if you're in tune with reality, then you know that life is not fair and that you can't afford to behave the same way as non-Black business owners. That is, if your priority is to make the sale while providing excellence. The reality is that you won't even get the opportunity to provide excellent products and service to potential customers if they know that your business is Black owned.

So . . . what is the real purpose of having your business if you can't access customers because you insist upon "styling and profiling" as The Owner/The Boss? And how long do you expect to have your business if you function in this manner?

Staying in alignment with your priorities affects other decisions. Let's discuss an example from the world of non-fiction, self-publishing authors of how-to books: search engine optimization of book titles.

Search Engine Optimization of Book Titles: Do You Want To Be Elegant OR Do You Want The Maximum Number of Potential Buyers To Find Your Book?

From Aiming At Amazon by Aaron Shepard:

"When you aim at Amazon, it helps to consider your title as two distinct components. Focusing your book and attracting buyers is the job of the main title. The subtitle, on the other hand, has wholly different functions. First and foremost, it must make your book findable.

. . . If you've ever developed a Web site, you've probably heard of SEO---search engine optimization. This stands for planting keywords in your pages so that, when people search for something on Google or another search engine, your site will show up prominently in results. On Amazon, you do nearly the same thing by planting keywords in your subtitle.

Take my book The Business of Writing for Children. The full subtitle of this book is---let me take a deep breath---An Award-Winning Author's Tips on Writing Children's Books and Publishing them, or How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book for Kids.

Unwieldy? Certainly---and not much of an ad for my writing skills, either! But take a close look at it. Now try to think of what search phrase you would personally use to tind such a book. You'll likely find that, whatever you come up with, all the words of that phrase are contained within that subtitle. Maybe not in the same order, but still there and ready to be found.

What does that mean on Amazon? When anyone searches for such a book, my competitors' books might show up a third of the time, or a half, or even more. But my book will come up almost every time. So, I will have that many more opportunities to sell my book."

Aiming At Amazon, pgs. 30-31 (emphasis added).

I had a serious problem with this when I first read it. It's contrary to my (ego-driven) preference for elegance in all of my business-related communications. But then I checked my priorities. The nonfiction book that I'm writing has a LOT of information in it that will help many consumers. People who have previewed chapters of my book have said, "I wish I had something like this before I did ___________." So I had to ask myself, "What's more important to me? Getting my book into the hands of as many buyers as possible? Or feeling good about having an elegant and witty book title?"

I also considered the fact that, as a consumer, when I chose to buy this particular book, I was focused on getting the information it provided and NOT the extreme tackiness of its subtitle. [The full title is "Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing OR A Successful Self Publisher's System for Profiting from Nonfiction Books with Print on Demand and Book Marketing on" {shaking my head} Lord have mercy. All of that is not on the front cover of the book, but it is on the first page after you open the cover.]

In order to succeed as a Black business owner, you must control perceptions. Starting with your own.

Are you willing to think through your own priorities?

Are you willing act in alignment with your TRUE priorities?

Are you willing to take control of your own perceptions of what you're doing?

Are you willing to do what's needed to take control of customers' perceptions of your business?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Art Of Black-Owned Business, Part 1: Circumvent Customer Resistance By Having A "Colorless" Business

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Please Join Me In A Round Of Geostrategy Nerd: What Comes Next For You and Yours?

Faith, blog host of Acts of Faith In Love And Life (which is on my sidebar blogroll), is holding it down! She's done yet another excellent post that I believe deserves your attention:

I talked about this waning of African-Americans' prospects in this country from a slightly different angle during the Charity Should Begin At Home series of posts: and

The bottom line is that African-Americans have collectively "blown it." Across a wide array of issues. Since African-Americans have already lost a series of essential battles, I believe that it's critical that those of us who survive shift our attention at this point. The masses of African-Americans will form a permanent underclass in this country. We need to stop focusing on the dead and dying. We need to focus on securing our own (and our children's) long-term interests as African-American survivors. I said the following in a comment to Faith's post:


Yes, our dwindling political influence WILL be yet another disaster for the masses of unprepared AAs.

Since we've lost the war to prevent AAs from becoming a permanent underclass in this country, I've been thinking about what comes next for those AAs who do manage to avoid this fate. Specifically, what comes next for the AA women that I've nicknamed "Sojourners."

I think it would be helpful for us all to ponder what strategic needs those few surviving/thriving AAs will have a decade from now. And how we might best position ourselves and our children to meet those needs.

This question is the LAST, remaining viable war that's left AFTER the various wars that AAs have already lost. We lost the war to prevent AAs falling into mass, permanent underclass status in this country. We lost the war to preserve the AA family. As you've noted here, we've lost the war to preserve (much less expand) our political influence in this country. We are losing the war to preserve our mass economic gains over the past few decades.

All of that is a done deal, and I believe we need to turn our attention to focus on the strategic interests of those of us who will survive and thrive.

I've been reading a book by Thomas Bass about the Vietnam War called The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An's Dangerous Game.

To summarize the book: "Pham Xuan An was a brilliant journalist and an even better spy. A long-time correspondent for Time and friendly with all the legendary reporters covering Vietnam, he was an invaluable source of news and font of wisdom on all things Vietnamese. At the same time, he was a masterful double agent, a North Vietnamese intelligence agent...kept his cover in place until the day he died..."

The North Vietnamese sent Mr. An to the US in preparation for what they called "the war after the war." Meaning, the battle to preserve the victory that they (correctly) believed that they would eventually win over South Vietnam (and the foreign powers such as France and the US that were propping it up).

This meant that they were sending people like Mr. An to the US to study American culture (in order to better understand their future opponents---they sent him in the late 1950s, before the US seriously entered the Vietnam conflict---and at the point when they were still fighting the French!).

Thinking through "the war after the war" meant that they were already planning to have agents infiltrate the various worldwide Vietnamese refugee communities that would be created by their victory (they were thinking about this 20 years before their victory in the 1970s).

Those few AAs who survive and thrive also need to look to our future needs and interests. Peace, blessings and solidarity."

We often spend a lot of time talking about the African-Americans who are not going to make it. I'm NOT talking to (or about) the many African-American losers now. With this post, I'm talking to (and about) my fellow survivors and thrivers.

So far, I've been telling you what I think during the Geostrategy Nerd posts. I'm now inviting you to join me in a round of Geostrategy Nerd, and think through the following questions:

What comes next for you and yours during the next 20 years?

What are you preparing for your children that will give them a solid foundation? [Lord, God, please don't say "a good education." You know that this is now a minimum requirement that's needed to function in this society. So, a good education is a given. And you know that "a good education" is NOT enough by itself to give somebody a sturdy foundation.]

We can't all own businesses that we can pass down to our children or other loved ones. And we know that we CAN'T pass a job down to our loved ones. But we CAN accumulate other kinds of tangible assets. At a minimal level, we can accumulate things like U.S. Savings Bonds.

So, what exactly are you doing that's meant to last, and designed to do something concrete for yourself, and for loved ones who come after you? [This was the point of the recent post asking you the question, "What impact will your actions have on life 17 generations from now?"]

So, what's next? What will African-American survivors, thrivers, and Sojourners need to do next to properly position ourselves for the future?

For the next 5 years? For the next 10 years? And beyond?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wildest Dreams Checklist: Are You Living For The Weekends, And Dead For The Rest Of The Week?

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Al-Walaa Wal Baraa, Part 3: Do You Have Any Loyalty To Yourself?

The other day, I was scrutinizing the Technorati statistics for my blog post tags. I was specifically looking to see what topics my posts were weighted toward. I have my own subjective impression of that, but I've been looking for objective metrics to analyze the blog's content.

Anyhoo, I was pleased to see that my subjective assessment was more or less correct: The blog tags with the largest number of posts were the posts tagged "Wildest Dreams." The single topic with the largest number of blog posts has been about African-American women turning their Wildest Dreams into reality. The topic with the next largest number of blog posts are those tagged "Save Your Own Life." Regarding this topic, the focus has usually been on leaving physically dangerous Black residential areas; leaving dead-end, soul-draining "helping professions;" maintaining one's health through physical fitness; and developing other income streams. These are all steps along the Sojourner's Path.

As much as I prefer to focus on these sorts of things, the reality is that none of this works when you don't have any loyalty to yourself, your values, or your own interests. This lack of loyalty to self is the underlying reason why so many African-American women are so easily pulled off course from turning their dreams into reality.

You can't be loyal to yourself AND loyal that which is anti-you at the same time. When you make room, make a way, and make it comfortable and cozy for people that are anti-you, then you are acting as their ally. If you are in an alliance with somebody who hates you, then you're actually in a state of war against yourself.

Other people fighting against you, plus you helping them fight against you = YOU LOSE.

I. Do You Have Any Loyalty To Yourself?

Most African-American women don't understand the above ideas. This is the underlying reason why so many of us are suffering. We're confused. We don't call the support that we give to people who hate us "being in a state of war against ourselves." We use other terms. We call it being "compassionate," being "loving," "rising above ___________," "being fair," and worst of all, we mislabel giving aid and comfort to people who hate us as "doing the right thing."

NO! Making room, making a way, and making it comfortable and cozy for people who hate you is not the right thing to do. It's the wrong thing! It's wrong to grin and cheese with people who hate you, and make mockery of the things that are most important to you. At minimum, you need to walk away from them while they're in the process of doing this.

The Quran warns about this:

"And indeed He has revealed to
you in the Book that when you hear
Allah’s messages disbelieved in and
mocked at, sit not with them until
they enter into some other discourse,
for then indeed you would be like
them. Surely Allah will gather
together the hypocrites and the disbelievers
all in hell—" Holy Quran, 4: 140.

The Quran also warns the believers about what's really going on with the "haters":

"O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy
those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you.
They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already
appeared from their mouths:
What their hearts conceal is far worse.
We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom." Holy Quran, 3:118.

Do you while away the time with people who hate you?

Do you interact with people who hate you?

Do you remain in the company of people who insult you, and the things that matter most to you?

Do you cheese and grin with people who make mockery of your aspirations?

Most African-American women do the things I've listed above. Some do it because this behavior has become normalized among us. Some know better, and do it anyway out of social pressure. I can hear such women thinking, "If I walk away from everybody who verbally spits on me or my dreams, then I won't have anybody left around me." Well, then you need to work double-time to find some new people to associate with.

I submit to you that part of the reason why you haven't found people who would actually support you and your goals is because you've been "treading water" with folks who don't support you. Two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time. The "haters" around you are taking up space that could be filled with people who are actually compatible with you and your interests.

II. Do You Have Any Boundaries? Is The Space Within YOUR Immediate Presence A "Safe Space"? Are The Spaces That YOU Control Safe Spaces For You, And For Other African-American Women?

Most African-American women don't have any boundaries. We generally don't require the area within our immediate presence to be a "safe space." We also don't make the spaces that we control safe places for ourselves and for other African-American women.

This came up during a recent conversation hosted by Faith (blog host of Acts of Faith In Love and Life, which is on my sidebar blogroll). In this post, she made mention of a conversation over at another blog. What I found fascinating about the conversation that she made reference to is that a man who has previously voiced his disdain for African-American women was perfectly free and welcome to particpate in this conversation. As if he was a legitimate participant.

It's interesting that a man who has disdain for African-American women, and states that he has very little in common with African-American women hangs out at African-American women's blogs. One may wonder, "Why in the world does he go out of his way to come around us at our blogs, since he has so very little in common with us?"

Well, . . . this man leaves comments at Black women's blogs in order to tell Black women about the disdain he has for us, to insult us, and yet is still a welcome participant at several Black women's blogs.

I don't fault him; he's only doing what he's being allowed to do in an atmosphere that has been made comfy and cozy for him. Furthermore, what he thinks about Black women is not particularly important to me. What is important, and is a point of concern for me, is the fact that he's still welcomed into these conversations at various Black women's blogs as if he's a legitimate participant.

Many African-American women bloggers apparently don't find anything . . . peculiar . . . about allowing somebody to freely pull up a chair in our blog "homes" . . . and insult African-American women. In other words, many of us are okay with our blogs NOT being safe spaces for Black women. I suppose because, you know, we have to be "fair" to people who have already voiced their disdain for us.

How other people operate their spaces is up to them, and is none of my business. [As the Isley Brothers sang, "It's your thing, do what you wanna do. I can't tell you, who to sock it to!" LOL!] That's not my point of concern. What I AM questioning is the mindset that makes this possible in the first place. I AM questioning the widespread mindset that perceives this sort of situation as "normal."

I believe that African-American women who want to survive and thrive must purge their minds of this particular mindset. That's why I'm discussing this concrete example. So that we can all reflect upon what loyalty to self looks like in various contexts.

I said the following over at Faith's blog:

"Faith, Please excuse the extreme length of this comment. I hope to amplify one angle of the point that you made in this post.

I believe AA women need to apply the same analysis that you suggested (of asking "What, if any, value does this individual provide to AA women?") across the board. That includes scrutinizing who it is that we bother to interact with. On any level.

During these online discussions, we're often unfamiliar with the people that we're talking to. Faith, this is what you alluded to when you confronted one BM commenter about his lack of a traceable commenter ID.

As you know, a lot of folks want to comment without any sort of accountability. So, they invent new, closed profiles that they use for leaving certain types of comments. They do this because they don't want anybody following up with them at their own blogs; or making reference to their commenting history (as I'm about to do below).

WARNING: I'm repeating the following for illustration purposes ONLY. Ladies, please DON'T waste your time or breath on this individual. Please DON'T run over to his blog or over to The Black Snob blog to argue or otherwise interact with him. Please ignore him in reference to this.

Keep in mind the following questions that I often wonder as I run across this particular individual commenting over at various AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN'S BLOGS:

1-Why does this man hang out at so many AA women's blogs? Especially considering how very little he says he has in common with AA women?

2-Do the women talking to him know this guy's history in terms of his remarks about AA women?

3-If so, why do they bother interacting with him?

I have a fairly long memory when it comes to nonsense, and I vaguely recalled seeing The Angry Independent commenter being specifically (somewhat humorously) referenced and called out at another BW's blog.

I managed to find his original post that elicited the friendly "call-out" from the other blogger. Here are some pertinent quotes from it:

[Audience Note: Since I've linked to it above, there's no need for me to repeat the part of my comment that quotes from this particular blog post, or from his comment over at The Black Snob. One can read his comments over at The Black Snob post that Faith linked to. ]

Again, why are so many of us interacting with this person online? Why is his participation in BW's blog conversations welcomed? Are we paying attention?

[I won't bother to ask whether or not the Internet Ike Turners or Black Unity fascists have ever confronted this particular BM (The Angry Independent) who entitled his blog post "Why I Hate Being Black No. 899". You know, since they're sooo concerned about maintaining Black unity...]

Ladies, other people [especially the Jewish community] have LONG memories in terms of people who insult them. Maybe we need to learn how to have long memories too. Peace, blessings and solidarity.

. . . My issue is that so many BW continue to welcome the participation of men like The Angry Independent in our conversations. As if he's a legitimate participant to discuss issues that are of concern to BW. So, somebody can hate us, but if he prefaces his hatred with "As much as I want to love Black women…………" then it's okay? This is what I find so amazing about some of these conversations.

As to T.O.: He has a right to spend his money and time on whoever he wants. The same way I have the right to totally ignore his problems if and when he has a "Skip Gates/OJ/Wesley Snipes/Michael Vick, etc. Experience." We're ALL free agents! LOL! Thanks for another great post. Peace, blessings and solidarity."

If you're going to successfully walk the Sojourner's Path, you must be loyal to yourself, your values, and your own interests.

Do you have any loyalty to yourself?

Do you while away the time with people who hate you?

Do you interact with people who hate you?

Do you remain in the company of people who insult you, and the things that matter most to you?

Do you cheese and grin with people who make mockery of your aspirations?

Do you have any boundaries?

Is the space within YOUR immediate presence a "safe space"?

Are the spaces that YOU control, safe spaces for you, and for other African-American women?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Table Talk For Activists, Part 7: An Open Letter To Black Women Bloggers, You Tubers, And Event Organizers

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've already discussed the public handling of Internet Ike Turners in an earlier post. Now, in light of subsequent events, I feel the need to mention some behind the scenes precautions that women who have an online presence need to take. Here's a comment that I made in response to one of Faith's recent posts (she's the blog host of Acts of Faith In Love And Life, which is on my sidebar blogroll). I've added links to several news stories:

"Well, first things first: I believe that every woman blog host and YouTuber needs to take security issues seriously. I remember reading a news story a while back about how women blog hosts across the board (and no matter how innocuous their subject matter) are so much more likely to be blog stalked and harassed by male readers.;_ylu=X3oDMTEybzQ3Z2gwBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMwRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA0Y4NjFfNzg-/SIG=12btiv5t8/EXP=1249915496/**http%3a//

Meanwhile, so many women (especially AA women) have been programmed to nervously laugh off male acts of aggression. For example, I'm thinking of a disgruntled BF reader at my blog who was angry when I made a comment about this a while back.

She characterized my comments as paranoid; and defiantly stated that she was not going to "live in fear," etc. In other words, she was not going to take online security issues seriously, nor was she going to take DBR-Black male commenters' online aggression seriously. She took this posture even though the hate comments from DBRBM had driven her off her own blog! Even though she shut down her own blog due to BM harassment, she ANGRILY ran to another BW's blog to badmouth me because I talked about security issues. The mind boggles.

All of this was before a young Black woman named Asia McGowan was murdered by a DBRBM who was spewing hatred toward BW on YouTube. He was spewing hatred in response to her innocuous YouTube videos.

[Incidentally, there's a BM website that hails this killer as a hero. I'm not going to name it. I don't give publicity to racist/violent/sexist sites.]

In any event, I strongly urge all women blog hosts to:

(1) Keep track of the trolls' IP addresses and geographical locations;

(2) Maintain a log of print outs of the trolls' comments (whether you publish them on your blog or not---you need to keep a file on these nuts);

(3) And most importantly, be prepared to call your local FBI field office, local law enforcement, and local law enforcement in the troll's jurisdiction THE MOMENT the troll submits a comment that you feel is in any way threatening!

In terms of this latest DBR-killer, it just goes to show that despite the seeming differences between various types of nuts (racists, DBRBM, sexists, religious fanatics, etc.), what they ALL have in common is that they HATE women. Peace, blessings and solidarity."

Ladies, an Internet Ike Turner has already KILLED a young African-American woman. He wasn't the only Internet Ike Turner that's capable of, and eager to commit, violence against women. There are others. Many others.

While browsing through various blogs, I can see that many of the African-American women commenting online haven't really let this sink in. There is still hesitation in their voices about calling law enforcement on those Internet Ike Turners that make threats. It's as if you don't want to acknowledge that many of these nuts would like to physically harm you.

Many of you want to minimize the threat by pretending that it's all about a particular Internet Ike Turner's mental illness. And yes, from what readers have sent me of their ramblings, several of them are clearly mentally ill. But in focusing on any particular Ike's probable mental illness, you're missing the main point. The main point is that the Internet Ike Turners are threats. Threats to be managed by proper security precautions and techniques. To a woman who is wounded, maimed or killed by an Internet Ike Turner (like Asia McGowan) does it matter if they're mentally ill? NO, it doesn't matter.

A secondary point that many women want to fixate on is that the mentally ill Ikes are encouraged and supported by a viciously sexist African-American subculture that supports violence against Black women and girls. Modern African-American culture supports, encourages, and excuses all sorts of violence against Black women and girls. From the sexual molestation of Black girls that R. Kelley's Black fans support, to the beating of women that Chris Brown's Black fans loudly support. Does any of this matter to a woman who is wounded, maimed, or killed by an Internet Ike Turner? NO, it doesn't matter.

Ladies, focus on what matters! What matters is taking proper security precautions for your online and offline activities. I would strongly urge you to take the steps I've outlined above in terms of your online work.

In terms of any offline gatherings that you sponsor, I would strongly urge you to hire security. From what I've been told, several Internet Ike Turners are making threats of physically disrupting future events sponsored by and for African-American women. You need to take these threats seriously and prepare for them.

As an additional step, I would urge event organizers to hire a private investigator to film and photograph EVERY Black male that:

(1) Seeks entry into the event (since they have no legitimate reason for being there unless they are an invited speaker); and/or

(2) loiters around outside the event; and/or

(3) appears to be watching who's going in and out of any event that you're sponsoring.

Some of the Internet Ike Turners might not be bold enough to try to physically crash your event; but some of them will want to conduct hostile surveillance on the Black women who attend your event. You need to watch the people who are watching you. This is what law enforcement agencies do in terms of filming activists at protest marches.

Ladies, get real about your own safety and the safety of your guests.