Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lesson from Senegalese Street Artists

Le Senegalais mort pour la France

This phrase, painted on a wall near the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar Senegal speaks volumes of the historical and current realities of African people throughout the world, as well as the possibilities. It literally means the Senegalese die for France.

Michigan holds sham review process on welfare cuts

Michigan holds sham review process on welfare cuts

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Demystifying Self Care

A bit of a divergence from previous topics...self care. I recently spent time exploring this idea with a group of powerful women who tackle issues of racial and social justice on a daily basis. Women who, like me, have for years burned the candle at both ends, humbly and without fanfare, committed to supporting the upliftment of undervalued and mistreated people and communities...our communities. Those with significant others, including partners and/or children and other family members, continue to provide care upon arrival at home, day after day with love. Those without a significant other or family member to care for often work much longer hours. In both cases these women, like so many of our women, push to the background their own need for care. There is always so much to do that taking the time to exercise or sit in a warm bath or spend time doing something that brings joy and balance seems so selfish.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Moment

In past blog postings i have written about the importance of understanding the moment we are currently in. A period whereby the relationship between labor and technology has fundamentally changed such that people are being permanently pushed out of the workforce. And knowing this - knowing that people have been and continue to be permanently pushed out of work - clarifies other changes taking place in society. The closing of schools and hospitals; the reduction or elimination of public services; throwing people out of their homes, off welfare, and on the street...all of these are connected with the permanent displacement of workers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Been Quiet...

I have been quiet. And studying the situation as it has been evolving around the United States. The permanent technological displacement of workers - this process has been impacting more and more people...increasingly those from middle class backgrounds; those who have been college educated; who know not economic struggle in the way that blacks/other people of color and working/poor folks know all too well. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Know What You Are Up Against

In struggle, know yourself first. Then know what you are up against.

That is all for now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Know the Period

I was looking through some papers i wrote a few years ago and found this quote: 
Know the period within which a person lives and live accordingly.  Prepare and then seize the reigns of history when the time is ripe; not too soon, not too late.  
A loaded statement for those who understand its meaning. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stage in the Process

Washington, DC
The popular gatherings and protests in New York that have spread to other large cities can be seen as a part of a larger process of social change.  The direction of that change, however, is yet to be determined. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where does your food come from?

an enslaved women in the tea industry
this can easily be regarded as the big question of the year...where does it from from? and who is harmed in the process? what safety precautions are sidestepped to make sure that grapes sell at $1.99 a pound? under what conditions do people live who cut sugar cane that winds up in cereal, coffee, bread, and  the host of packaged foods consumed daily?

Friday, September 16, 2011

We Must Fight for Ourselves

Much of the language in social movement and progressive organizations is reformist in nature. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it is the reality. Perhaps it reflects the reality that movement building organizations rely on external funding. Perhaps it reflects a fear that many have to oppose the formidable and well-funded corporate interests. Perhaps it is a necessary stage in the process of change. We have to start from somewhere, right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Anonymous Ones

Many are silenced when they dare to speak out against brutal mistreatment at the hands of representatives of the ruling group. (By ruling group we mean the ruling race, class, gender, culture/ethnicity, and generation.) History is littered with examples of harassment, attempts to destroy people's character, assassinations, cover ups, and other efforts to silence the voice of the mistreated, the maligned, the exploited, the brutalized.  The middle class' complicity is bought off with jobs, mortgage approvals, investment opportunities, health care benefits, and other perks of the so-called American dream. 

In a period of economic crisis, the perks once showered on an element of the population dry up. In such a moment, increased militarization is used to strike fear in the hearts of the masses and when they dare to speak out against their worsening conditions and treatment, they are shot down.  Some have said that the universe bends toward justice...but only with the help of people consciously doing the bending. 

Much is unknown about this group that calls itself Anonymous...and that is ok. Their existence has meaning.  Their strategy and tactics are useful. If their work continues on the side of the exploited, the mistreated, and the silenced ones, they will go down in history as having inspired present and future generations to intelligently pursue fundamental change.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Awakening

There are some powerful lessons in this presentation:

There is a place for sleep.  Sleep offers the body opportunity to rest, recuperate, and heal. However at a certain point, the time comes when one must awaken. For various reasons, many people find comfort in sleep and seek to remain there through various forms of self-medicating actions.  Methods of self-medication include religion, alcohol, drugs, hypersexuality, and other actions done in excess.  The impact of these anesthetizing activities leave people feeling empty and worthless if they are not doing them. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Called Democracy

Whenever Europe or the United States says that an African nation is a peaceful democracy, what is really being said is the political leader does what he/ she is told, raw materials are being stolen with no fanfare (under the label of trade), whites live well and the black population - impoverished as it is - puts up no fight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


"The word discipline means to learn. A disciple is one who learns, not who conforms, not who obeys; he is one who is constantly learning.  And when learning ceases and becomes merely accumulation of knowledge then disorder begins. When we stop learning in our relationship, whether we are studying, playing or whatever we are doing, and merely act from the knowledge that we have accumulated, then disorder comes." Krishnamurti

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I Meant to Say Was...

This past weekend i sat in on a workshop at the Allied Media Conference about the technology funds recently awarded to various groups in Detroit and Philadelphia. One of the central coordinators asked my husband, Tdka, and i to discuss the importance of evaluation to accountability of the vision. Tdka went first, making the distinction between vision and daydreaming. A vision has a plan attached to it, a process to carry it out, and takes into consideration historical and current realities. Daydreaming, on the other hand, is merely a dream. In addition,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Responsibility of HBCU's to Justice

To what extent do HBCU's have a responsibility to be just in their investments, transactions and interactions? In a recent report released by the Oakland Institute, Spelman (a Black women's college in Atlanta, GA) was listed as one of several U.S. universities whose investments are being used to displace African people from their land...the little land still remaining in their hands.  See this brief report summary:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ending Poverty

There is a lot of talk about ending poverty...mobilizing the masses to struggle against and eliminate poverty.  And as i think about these conversations and related poverty-elimination efforts, i wonder how can one aspect of a unity (poverty/poor people) be eliminated and not its opposite (wealth/wealthy people)?  Poverty doesn't exist apart from wealth.  Poor people and poverty exists precisely because wealthy people and wealth exists. Perhaps the conversation should be about (and actions directed toward) ending both wealth and poverty; that is, eliminating the existing economic-based hierarchy that systemically and systematically values the lives of those with wealth over those without wealth.

Symposium on the War on Drugs, Day 1 (6/17/11)

Maureen Taylor, MWRO
Yesterday (June 17) and today, Michigan Welfare Rights is hosting a symposium commemorating the war on drugs. Last night's presentations, questions and comments covered the range of individual drug use (that is, what drives people to use drugs) and how people who use are treated by the criminal (in)justice system to the broader, systematic use of drugs by the ruling group in its attempts to defeat and control entire populations.  [Study, for example, the use of opium in China by European nations to break its back or crack/cocaine to destroy the black power movement].

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thoughts on Small Scale Farming

Over a year ago i had an interesting conversation with an elder comrade about the farming movement.  Specifically i wanted to know what he thought about the trend toward small-scale local agricultural production as a response to and, according to some, an answer to unemployment and economic hardship faced by ever increasing numbers of people in the United States....among other things.  The essence of his response was very brief and is summed up here:
Subjective responses to objective problems do not solve them. 
The objective situation people face in Detroit, for example, has very clear race and class components. Tens of thousands of black people are unemployed or underemployed; thousands lack running water, electricity and heat (during the winter); access to public services is declining and in some areas, nonexistent; the educational system is deteriorating and increasingly privatized; access to fresh and healthy food choices is very limited for most Detroiters without a car; and resources are systematically expropriated by non-black and mainly non-Detroit resident populations (an accelerating trend over the past 15-20 years). 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Off the Grid Living

While i have always had an appreciation (and perhaps a bit of a fascination) with what it takes to live off the grid, in the past it seemed to take on a more nostalgic feel. What i mean is that it was something that was great for others to do or it was adventurous for short periods of time, but not something practical in the long run. Yet time and experiences have demonstrated time and again several things:
  1. It is important to root oneself (one's positions, views, practices) in a clear analysis
  2. It is important to value life in such a way that balances quality of life with living with "all our relations"
  3. It is important to have the skills necessary to survive in various, potentially difficult, situations

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More on Institution Building

In an earlier post i wrote on the importance of institution building; that is, African people building institutions that aim to address the challenges faced by African people.  And i also mentioned a few: Per Ankh Publishing Collective, University of Kmt/African International, and Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. To that i would add Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living. And as important it is to build institutions from the ground up (we have few, if any, lasting ones), it is important to be aware of the many challenges groups face and considerations that must be made to do this right. Below are a few things important to institution building that each of these organizations have worked/are working on.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Value of Building Institutions

Conference-hopping is a popular activity.  And one that wastes tremendous amounts of time, energy and resources.  All of the money spent on travel, accomodations, food, etc., over the past 40 years could have gone to developing and sustaining institutions by and for African people. 

The arts festival in Dakar (Senegal), for example, drew tens of thousands of visitors to the country in December 2010.  Its president paid musicians travel and lodging expenses on planes owned by european companies, hotels owned by foreigners, and meals in various restaurants catering to tourists. Millions spent on entertainment. However the insitutions necessary to sustain the development of the arts over time do not exist.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mother of a Teen Mother

Learning that my teenage daughter was pregnant was very hard. It brought up so many issues, so many questions...so many insecurities.  I wondered if her choice to have sex and her choice to keep the baby was an indictment on my parenting. Where did i go wrong?

Ever since she was young, i brought my daughter everywhere with me. And where possible, i worked at every school she attended.  I wanted to be near. I loved so much sharing my life with her and her sharing her life with me.  No matter how busy my life was, no matter the demands placed on my time by work and study, i kept her close. I never wanted her to have the life of an absent parent...someone so busy helping the world or working that she/he wouldn't have time to nurture her/his own child.

Over the years, i watched her grow.  She dealt with loss and several large challenges at a young age. I did my best to help her work through them. And attempted to bring others into her life to offer love and support. She is such a wonderful child...and every year, every moment of her life i have loved and cherished. If there is such a thing as a blessing (i am not a religious person in any way), then she certainly is it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Moving Beyond Survival

What would a world that valued all life
look like?
There is no question that African women are resilient, strong, and have walked through the fire. We have birthed and rebirthed generation after generation of people, ideas, practices, habits, and so on. We have endured displacement, abuse, death, life and love in its many forms.

As hindsight is 20-20, we can say that survival is not enough to fundamentally change what is needed to bring a new world into being.  A world in which the lives of each person, each woman/man/child are valued in prinicple and practice.  While survival has permitted us to reproduce our population, it has not helped us to change the conditions of our existence such that we have charge of our lives, communities, societies, and nations. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Olivia's Turning Point: A Fable

The photo is of the Ancient Egyptian principle/goddess called Sekhmet. Sekhmet is a protector-warrior.

Olivia's Turning Point

Developing relationships was a challenge for Olivia.  She didn't fit in with the others in her peer group and often was alone reading, studying, contemplating the meaning of life, when she wasn't competing in sports. Sure, people liked to be around her, but she learned early on that much of it was tied to her appearance.  Olivia was easy on the eyes, so to speak. She fit a standard of beauty that drew attention from the old and the young, men and women, married and single.  At a young age she knew that there was something fundamentally wrong in reducing the totality of a person to physical attributes.  Unlike her peers, who spent seemingly endless hours getting their hair and nails done, going to social gatherings, and the like, she found greater satisfaction in her studies - of history, life, material reality, science and philosophy.

At 23 she felt good about the path she was on.  Having just completed a Master's degree in architectural engineering, Olivia planned to switch gears to study philosophy.  She was finally ready to begin repairing her soul and saw philosophy as a move in that direction. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Purpose Lends Wings to the Traveller

Purpose lends wings to the traveler.  It offers guidance as one makes her journey through life.

When someone moves through life with a purpose, her time becomes all the more important and valuable; that is, how she spends her time and with whom she chooses to spend it.  Casual evenings out on the town do not sufficiently feed her soul.  Attending dinner parties over the houses of various acquaintances no longer has the meaning that it once had as purpose increasingly organizes her life.