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Images & Facing Mirrors: telling black history from a black feminist perpective

For 500 years, African people were rationed off in North America to build the land of the free.  They were beaten, burned, raped, humiliated, separated, denied their food, medicines and language.

From the moment we left our land, our bodies, our thoughts, our spirits deteriorated.  Some beyond recognition. As Dr. Sebi, a Honduran biochemist shares with us,  moving a people from their land and neglecting to bring their food and medicines is murder.  “There are no incurable diseases.  Only incurable people.”

Through the constant beating, mulling of our hearts and rape of our women and men, an energy emerged in the form of heat which aided our aggressions.  The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that it cannot be created nor destroyed, which means that our ancestors live in our bones and a reaction is to be expected.  As our bodies and resources are continuously consumed by our colonizer, the trophic energy waste continues to accumulate; thus why we are a combustible people across the globe, and thus why revolution is among us.

Of that trophic energy came the heat or hyperactivity of colored people — jazz, blues, art, dance.  What also came with this trapped energy is the prevalence of localized violence, over consumerism, drug abuse, sex trafficking,  gambling/lottery playing and a die hard will to survive by any means necessary.  This is why Malcolm X was so effective in his teachings — he understood and articulated what we are going through.

African American culture is simply a byproduct of racist patriarchal christianity.

We now glorify the “hustla” because he was the first black millionaire, the first black man to even peep inside the white man’s house without serving in it.

I want to be clear that I am using the term white man deliberately to show race and gender.  It is no lie that the white man has ruined everything in his path.  “Look it up.” as advised by Dead Prez.

This obsession with hustling hit black men hard.  In the hood they were called bosses, ballers and P.I.M.Ps.  In America they were called murderers, thieves and rapists.

In our homes they were called son, grandson, daddy, uncle and brother.

In Africa, our men who communed in our purpose were called the jihad and local militia.  In America, they were called gangsters.  In addition to joining gangs, we joined the army and died there too.  We also found comrodery within the prison system and on the streets of our neighborhoods.  Women in particular were kept with the same menial jobs as their men, except this time there was no “helper” at home.

In combination with the Rick Ross effect on drug use in low income areas and sheer psychosis, we learned helplessness.  Our needs for survival have been sadly reduced to mere food on the table, clothes on our back and a roof over our heads.  We are still struggling to maintain these very things today.

In order to maintain this means of survival our men left to the streets in alarming numbers and our women left to begin work or work more.  She headed her household both voluntarily and involuntarily.  Reduced to domestic labor, she scrapped up whatever was left of a black man’s education in America.  Since our beginnings in this country until this day, the black mother has become a 2-generational father, both to her children and to her grandchildren.  We have been this way for some time now.

For the longest, all displaced African people have ever tried to do on this earth was survive.

In our native heritage (regardless of tribe), survival meant to preserve the family name with legacy.  It meant carrying on traditions.  We must rediscover our ability to survive, post Garvey.

The African American woman went to college in significant numbers and became all that of a secretary.  The African American man, without guidance, went to jail, died or is on his way.

He became a pimp.

She became a ho on welfare.

And then music left us.  It stopped being about survival and became nothing more than a hustle.  Hence why we, “hustle, hustle, hustle real hard.” Jay Z said it best — He could use a broader vocabulary if he wanted to but the niggers want violence.  That’s what we buy into.  That’s how we feel.  (When I say nigger, I mean that deliberately.  Nigger meaning, those who lack knowledge and in this case, knowledge of OneSelf.) If the common mind in the hood knew more about the rich soil from which they were meant to dwell, rappers would have much more to say.  Hence Nas, Mos Def, KRS 1, Common (even though he isn’t my personal fav) and 2 Pac.  I think 2 Pac is a perfect example of the internal conflicts being African, American and male.  Thank God he was vocal about his story.  Imagine us without his words… his influence…

We are now milk-drinking (mammals don’t drink the milk of other mammals.  Only Europe was doing that shit.  That’s why so many of us are lactose intolerant now), brand whoring, drug rehabilitating, survival by any means necessary people.

Our children are born unnaturally.  We induce labor without the slightest respect for the process of birth.  The greedy white man told everyone that this practice was uncivilized and of lower status.  Children are being born according to when the doctors shift is over, disrupting the release of endorphins that chemically bond our babies with our physical love. (The Business of Being Born Documentary, check it out.) They are deprived of the nutrition of our ancestors and fed McDonald’s and other various renditions of “soul food”; which ironically tells our stories, but starves us of vital minerals and enzymes at the same time.  Our bodies are no longer able to fight off disease as it once did.

Unfortunately, our food replaced our music.

As Americans, we became fatter.  As black lower class people, we became systematically unhealthier and die at disproportionate rates.

We now live in hoods, suburbs, on college campuses, in jail, with our grandmothers, and on the street.

We historically score low on standardized test and populate special education more and more as the years progress.  We work far more than we own and our insurance policies do not cover enough or further, exist.  The cost of survival has caused us to inherit and produce tremendous debt within the global economy.

What we should know is that we have always resisted.  We resisted on the way to the ship, on the ship, getting off the ship, during captivity and until this very day. Today, overt forms of resistance demonstrate itself in what we know as “urban” wear, rap music, and gang communities.  The theme “Fuck da police” has been done over many times — NWA, Lil Boosie, 2 Pac… just to name a few.  The police has always been our most direct personification of the oppression of the white man. We resist in our hairstyles, centering ourselves on black cultural displays such as creative hair cuts and the infamous Galaxy t-shirts that hung down to our mens’ knees at one point.  If you don’t know, white tees initially caught on heavy under the idea that all a black man needed was a white tee, his headphones and a fitted cap.  This was a uniform, so to speak, that represented an intentional resistance to assimilate into mainstream capitalist culture.  This t-shirt display also served as a decoy to resist police profiling.  It’s hard to find a man in a white tee when everybody in the hood is wearing one.

Africans resist today by not putting their money in banks that are controlled by an unstable government.  They resist with arms the same as we did here in America.  We have been resisting with armed force since we’ve been able to even have arms to defend ourselves with.

I ask, what else is a community to do when their livelihoods are threatened daily, their leaders are murdered and their homes set afire?  When your daughter bears the child of white slave owner and police raids are happening on your block every week, hauling your family and friends off to jail for crimes they did not commit; when the police come to investigate and violate you instead; when they don’t come at all; when your grandfather is dying from prostate cancer because that in combination with his diabetes cost more than his fixed income; when foreign oil pumps continuously poison your only water supply for your people, what will you do???

Africa will RISE, as my Kenyan friend has told me.  MARK HIS WORDS.

As African Americans, and more closely as Africans, we have been rendered worthless.  But praise God as told by our grandmothers, we are not.


-The Wretched of the Earth,  Frantz Fanon

-The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X

-The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Dubois

-The Woman Who Watches Over the World: a native american memoire, Linda Hogan (my personal fav of all time :-))

-Spencer Wells Journal of Human Genetics, Spencer Wells


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3 responses »

  1. Tiffany Tuck

    This is truly a beautifully written article. Very informative and well articulated . I look forward to reading more…

  2. Pingback: Comments on the UK Riots: It’s sad when your manhood is acknowledged by the oppression you encounter for being black and poor. « Encounters of The Sexes

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