Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Deep It Is

I am thinking today about how deep our colonization is, the internalized messages, images, and desires that thwart us as a people. We have been severed from our source and we're trying to find our way back home. Or, we are staying lost. Or, merely blind to how lost we are. Or, confused about what new learning, what kinds of righteous, healing, redeeming consciousness we need to be tapped in to.

I mean can we really talk about Blackness in the Americas without talking about whiteness? The profound assaults of whiteness. Continuous assaults, unrelenting assaults, subtle assaults, embedded assaults. We have been assaulted with white norms of beauty and desire. We are assaulted with a pervasive, persistent, ingrained message that white is right, that white is nice, that white is redemption. Even when we've done some Black power work these notions still seep in. We bleach our skin with skin cream. We (openly) oppress our hair. We (secretly) hate our color. We shape our own internal norms of beauty and desirability on foreign aesthetics, the sensibilities of invaders and stealers, avoiding Black looks, Black beauty.

Black decolonization is hard work. It is an unlearning, a project of everyday study, observation, and reflection, a learning how to be horrified at what has happened to us, a recognition that our grief, our loss is deep, fundamental. What other people got stolen from their ancestral lands, from millenia of culture, connection, belonging to be brought to a place where we have continually lived among our oppressors? Either we live among them or we live with the specter of their cosmology and ontology impressed upon us. We work with them. We see them. They're everywhere. And we only have mere glimpses of another world, another way.

What is a liberated Black cosmology, ontology? What ways of knowing can we access, create, recreate? What ways of seeing, hearing, being, longing can we claim as ours, here as we are in the United States, in Latin America, in the Caribbean? Where is this path of exile leading us?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Holistic Healing

I am interviewing for a project where the researcher is looking to understand internalized racism for Black folks. Being that I am Black folk and profoundly wanting my people to get free, I have contemplated for many years what the process of liberation would/should entail.

To emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, we need to work on multiple fronts, from the personal to the collective to the political to the level of the body, spirit, and consciousness. Our colonization/internalization of racism and white supremacy has assaulted us on all of those levels afterall.

Today I am thinking about a personal journey towards holistic health, pure living, having faith, spreading love. It is a journey indeed, the road less taken, with all kinds of detours on the path. I've come to understand that Black liberation also includes emotional liberation, spiritual liberation, and body purification. A number of practitioners like Queen Afua, Jewel Sookrum, Dick Gregory and others have confirmed this. As long as we are immersed in bad dietary habits and addictions, we cannot free our minds and spirits enough to get to the work of re-education, unlearning Eurocentrism, teaching our generation of a new, gentle, connected way of being brothers and sisters, of being Africans, of accessing the stolen knowledge and regenerating our being throughout.

Sure, the health food, healthy living movement among us African diasporic folks is accessed mostly by a privilege few. And I'm always wondering how to spread the word, how to get organic tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables, sacred prayer and meditation, insightful relationships and peaceful living into our communities. How does this peace of Black decolonization -- the piece/peace of right diet, true spiritual practice, righteous and clean living -- become a part of our movements for liberation? Ital? Im-hotep? Vitality that is our birthright. Cleansing, fasting, purification? Nubian consciousness? Sub-saharan insights?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Philly summer

I am always amazed by the power of present-day consciousness to provide such inspiration for connection and simultaneously for disconnection. Today Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed as the first woman of color to be a supreme court justice. On the same day despair and grief engulfed many. I'm reminded of Silvio Rodriguez's words: . . . quiero que me perdonen en este dia los muertos de mi felicidad/ I hope I would be forgiven the deaths that have happened while I am happy today.

I think of the privilege I have living in first world comfort, surrounded by books that speak of liberation and decolonization, the luxury to write, think, and talk for a living, contemplating my own colonization and the suppression of my people with some idea that we would get free someday. How can a middle class girl even think "revolutionary" thoughts amidst such privilege? Oh, the privilege to think. And to dream. To imagine another world is possible with despair all around me. Despair which is not mine today but which is present with somebody in this city today.

Is there a key to liberation for our folks when such inequality exists, such divergent realities co-exist?