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26 September 2014

The Disheartening and Ennobling Paradox of Grief

'And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation'
~ The Prophet ~

A few of my posts have been tributes and remembrances of public figures/celebrities from the political, literary and  entertainment fields as well as the  tragic and unexpected deaths of young people by rogue cops or misguided gang members. There have, also, been those who've chosen to discontinue this journey by reasons only God and they knew at that time.  With the exception of the tributes to my parents; most of these posts have been about folks whom I didn't know personally but respected and admired for their talents and humanitarian endeavors.   

I, now, find myself again addressing personal grief with the transition of my niece, Thema  from complications associated with  Myasthenia gravis disease which is incurable.  She was valiant for a number of years in fighting this disorder and one never got the impression that she felt sorry for her predicament.  It was a debilitating process and she became weaker towards the end and worried about leaving her young children without their mother. Although, I didn't see her the past couple of years; I kept up with her on social media and was in a prayerful mode for an extended period.  It was my hope that she would again experience a period when the symptoms were less dramatic with a more acceptable level of functioning. 

As we grieve her passing; she inspired us with how she became more philosophic and caring for others as well as her children under the most trying circumstances.  Thus the feelings of sadness and despair as I think about the family's loss, yet, empowered by how honorably she handled this adversity.  A role model...if you will....on facing and living with a chronic medical condition and a daunting prognosis for many stricken by this disease.  

There will be a celebration of her life (35 years) Sunday, September 28th and there will be songs of praise and recollections of the good times and what she meant to others, however, I can't help but think of a quote on grief by the late Maya Angelou. It was her response to the age old question; 'Death where is thy sting'?  She asserts that "It is here in my heart and mind and memories". 

Dear Thema, May God Bless and keep your soul.

13 August 2014

Editorial: Michael Brown and Anti-Black Violence

 I'm keenly aware of what I wrote in my July 12th post about spiritual nourishment/renewal and creating more of a  balance that focuses on the best instincts and behaviors of humanity.  Although the intent is still there, I find it necessary  to share this  editorial on the Feminist Wire site regarding the recent murder of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a 'rogue' police officer.  It is well written and  speaks to this expanding and ongoing  assault on our unarmed black youth and adults across this country by law enforcement.  It is what it is and a feel good story isn't going to work for me at this point.  I remain hopeful.

12 July 2014

'The Road Less Traveled' For Contemplation & Spiritual Renewal

I'm taking time off to do some serious introspection for fear that with all the turmoil and strife we're facing on the domestic front and globally; I may be losing my center. Beyond the 'silver lining' in those dark clouds; how about just the former.  Most people worry about their destiny and what fate holds for them only to realize that "a person often meets his (her) destiny on the road he (she) took to avoid it" ~ J. de la Fontaine. It can be a  painful process when confronting not only your personal issues but having the audacity to comment on the shortcomings of others with very few solutions. say the least.

Of late, I've noticed most of my posts have been on the daunting events of the day and not enough commentary on those events or people who bring out the best of humanity.   I plan to return in August with a more balanced view of those issues and daily occurrences one encounters on the road less traveled as well as those with massive traffic jams. Have a wonderful summer and remember we must nourish the spirit as well as the body...that's what I'll be doing.!

06 July 2014

Brief Commentary and link to Margaret Kimberley's interview on "The Problem with Bring Back our Girls".

Photo Credit:  AFP
Margaret Kimberley's website, Freedom Rider has a link to an audio and transcript of an interview titled: "The Problem with Bring Back our Girls"  via Anne Garrison @ KPFA.  I understand Ms. Kimberley's ideology about U.S. interventions in the affairs of countries in Africa, however, my concern is more in line with the innocent young ladies who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.  There is footage of the leader, Abubakar Shekau, currently  reported as deceased; cavalierly speaking of selling the girls into slavery and that the Quran supports this practice. There was the slaughter of innocent people in villages that they pillaged and removal of other young women from their homes.   Frankly, I would like to see more of the focus on the atrocities of the Nigerian elite, the Boko Haram and those ideologues who spend too much time defending those who participate in genocidal behaviors towards their own people based on religious and political sentiments.  Whatever, the indirect and direct causes of why people choose to murder and kidnap innocent people; it doesn't deserve our support or rationales.  The end doesn't always justify the means and while we're questioning the intentions of the U.S. on this matter; there should be an outcry and disdain for the behaviors of the Nigerian government and Boko Haram.  I'm sure the mothers of those young ladies want their daughters home by any means necessary.  I tend to agree more with their plight.

02 July 2014

Black People and the Haunting Duplicity of July 4th

  This is an article I wrote last July 4th and it deserves in my opinion, re-posting each year.  There are many of us who still have ambivalent feelings about this holiday. The cyclic nature of our citizenship being challenged requires a re-visiting of the past and what got us to this day.  SCOTUS's dismantling of the voting rights act, proliferation of voter suppression, increase in the number of white supremacist groups re-framed with the same dynamics of the past and the continuing struggle of other marginalized groups demand our full attention and activism.  The rights of women are being threatened now and efforts to again devise laws and policy regarding the limitation of their first class citizenship and empowerment have emerged in a rather daunting manner. At the onset of any revolution the cadre is always considered to be renegades and troublemakers, however, they are a necessary component when people rise up against tyranny and oppression.
 I should also mention that Crispus Attucks, a man of color and escaped slave was one of the first to die in the Revolutionary War.  He was referred to as a 'thug' by John Adams, however, history has proven him to be one of the "true patriots" who began the rebellion against the tyranny of Britain.

I've also, briefly, acknowledged the struggle of women of color and what many of our heroines did to gain and guarantee the rights of ALL of our citizens!

A passage from Frederick Douglass' speech on people of African descent celebrating the 4th of July.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

It is noteworthy that as Mr. Douglass' stature and fortune grew during the late fall and early winter seasons of his life; his tone softened from the above fiery statement.  He was able to carve a reality of freedom and prestige for his family and immediate social circle although there were many suffering during that time as well.  It lends to the adage that it is much harder to sling arrows and admonishments when one's lot improves and there becomes  a lucrative niche in the system for individuals despite the oppressive meme of the masses.

Danny Glover and James Earl Jones are shown here with their unique and different styles of delivery on  Frederick Douglass' 4th Of July Speech .


It is also significant that when Frederick Douglass gave that memorable speech to America on securing full citizenship for people of African descent to have the full rights therein; where did black women stand at that time.  Where did women of all ethnic groups stand at that time.  Certainly not full citizenship afforded to  white males.  Therefore, I think Sojourner Truth's speech rings true for womanhood with her emphasis on the double oppression that women of color had suffered during  that period. Times have gotten better since then for black people and females, however, I hear a whisper and intermittent loud ramblings reminiscent of a  time when women had no control over their bodies or their lot in life. 
                                         "Ain't I A Woman" read by Alice Walker........

The struggle continues for the maintenance of rights won and the vigilance against more creative forms of exclusion. The women of the late 19th century realized that as well as the black female leaders in the 21st who continue to carry on the struggle.

On a final note; Ronda Racha Penrice wrote an article in The Grio as to why Black Americans should celebrate the 4th and a brief passage follows:

"As with every war, including the ones currently being fought, African-Americans have served this nation nobly. So,when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July, we have just as much right as any other American whose investment in this nation extends back to its very foundation". 

 She is not alone and the debate goes on and I'm sure people of all ethnic groups have their varying opinions on this issue.  Is there a right or wrong as to the significance of July 4th to people of color? Their ancestors were chained and shackled and lived through Jim Crow and continue to deal with de facto as well as various forms of discrimination and bigotry.  Is it about wars we as a people fought in and had to petition for the right to bear arms for freedom?  This in the face of clearly fighting for the cause which excluded them.  Some would say that it's about the principles of a democracy that should be inclusive and it transcends the practices and ideals of those in power who make exceptions.   By the way, the mainstreaming of overt acts of racism and bigotry have become more prominent since Americans voted a man of color as their President in 2008 and again in 2012.   Outward signs of patriotism have grown among blacks in ways I've not witnessed during the 60's, 70's & 80's.  How is that for irony.  I would surmise, however, that it becomes another holiday for many to have family picnics/reunions/fireworks and a good time not really focusing on why we celebrate it nor its significance. 

The other day I viewed Bill Moyers' program featuring the Historical Scholar and Director, Kahlil G. Muhammad of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  They discussed Confronting the Contradictions of America's Past with a reference to his exhaustively researched and analytical book; "The Condemnation of Blackness".  It was informative and engaging and for some of us history buffs; it brought home how much we still don't know about the makings of this country and the depth of systemic racism towards black people post slavery and at the turn of the 20th century. Many European immigrants  who were social misfits during that time were socialized by intensive federal and state interventions to become more palatable and productive citizens at the expense  and omission of black folks of similar circumstances.  The entrenchment of the criminality factor that was supposedly inherent in our DNA fostered laws of repression and control over the decades and is manifested in New York City's  'Stop and Frisk' policy which was formally ruled as unconstitutional by a Manhattan  Federal Court judge 1/2013. The practice continues today.