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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. Overwhelming....to 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.  

12 June 2014

ANOTHER SAD FAREWELL: RUBY DEE ~ 10/27/1922 - 06/11/2014

THE LEGENDS ARE LEAVING US

Ruby Dee, noted actress, poet, playwright and human rights activist has transitioned peacefully as related by a family member. Many of whom were with her when she left this world.  "We have had her for so long and we loved her so much," {Daughter, Nora Day told The Associated Press.} "We gave her our permission to set sail. She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went."  

What a hit, so soon after Maya Angelou was given a moving and glorious "Homegoing Service".  I understand that these legends, sheroes and humanitarians can't live forever, however, when they move on;  we do ache and long for the physical expression of their principles.   The varied contributions and understanding of the plight of  black folks and many others who make up the global community continue to resonate.  I've always been intrigued by Ms. Dee and her multiple talents .  Her commitment to equality which dates back to the "red years" when black actors/activists along with others were charged as communists.   Many ran for the hills; Ruby and her love, Ossie stood strong in their beliefs on social justice.  They were courageous in the face of daunting and oppressive forces . There was support for Paul Robeson and other political activists who had socialist ideologies and fought against segregation and lynching.  They were also supportive of Betty Shabazz after Malcolm's assassination.  When others were fearful of attending the funeral, Ruby and Ossie were there.  He gave the most moving eulogy for the slain human rights activist.  



In their joint autobiography, 'In This Life Together', they gave a moving and honest account of their lives before and after their marriage. It was a history lesson, a moving portrayal of the complexities of blacks in theater, cinema,  academia, political movements as well as  those personal/intimate facets that make us truly human, phenomenal  extraordinary beings.  It is in my personal library which I read from time to time.  I adored this couple as individuals and soul mates.  The black and white photo of them below is one of my favorites.  They were reciting poems by African-American authors, during a CBS television special "Of Courtship and Marriage", 1964.  The love and respect they had for each others'  talents added to the beauty of this couple which was mesmerizing every time they graced the stage or performed before an audience.


When Ossie died, many spoke of how it was so difficult not to mention Ruby when speaking of his achievements and talents,  for they were a unit.  We mourn the loss of Ruby, however, there is this feeling that they are together again.  I want to believe he was there to assist her as she made her transition.  I'm a hopeless romantic!