Friday, February 22, 2008

Our Freedom? or Your Comfort?

I indicated that my purpose for blogging is to raise consciousness and create social change. I would like to see Americans of African descent collectively claim power rather than powerlessness. Each day presents the opportunity for us all to walk in our power. Each day brings a new opportunity for each of us to effect change in this world. At the very least, it is our responsibility, as self respecting human beings to challenge long held practices that are not and have never been in our best interest as a nation.

What if we did the work and put people, things, and events in their proper place and perspective? What if we challenged the “normal” way of thinking, doing business, and seeing things? What if we held ourselves responsible for those things which we are really responsible for, like our education, our physical/mental/spiritual health and well being, our collective advancement as a people, each of us doing our part in building, maintaining, and improving our communities, each of us being a blessing to and assisting those of us that are less fortunate than we, with the full understanding that as a nation we are only as strong as our weakest link?

What if we absolved ourselves of those things which with conscious perspective cease to be our responsibility, like being oppressed, in addition to being well adjusted to the oppression? What if, each of us steadfastly refused to work overtime to insure that we never offend or cause discomfort to those that may not have started the racist/white supremacist fire-while consistently allowing them unchallenged to reserve the right to warm themselves by that same fire that burns us to death? In fact, most descendents of enslavers become defensive when anyone comes to extinguish the fire. They protect the fire vigilantly and call it “tradition”, all the while insisting that we “forget the past”, lose the chip on our shoulder, or “relax” in the interest of peace.

At what point do we emancipate ourselves, rate our survival and ourselves supreme and refuse to relax our hair, positions, and points of view as descendents of the enslaved/oppressed so that the descendents of the enslavers/oppressors may be in our presence and feel relaxed? What if we placed our independence/freedom/much needed healing and restoration to wholeness above their need to be comfortable and trouble free in our presence?

It is my belief that each day/week/month most Americans of African descent come face to face with white supremacy/racism, no matter how subtle. The entitled behavior that comes with the white supremacist mentality is so common that most of us don’t even recognize it, much less bother to challenge it.

With focused purpose, it is my full intent to do just that and encourage others to do the same, for their sakes. White supremacy has the same effect as poison on non-white people. We can expect to be as healthy as one with a steady diet of poison can- NOT AT ALL. Americans of African descent have had such concentrated century long exposure to this poison that we are deathly ill and dying in large numbers, daily. Only we have the antidote to save ourselves. Only we have anything to gain by changing our circumstances. The fact that Americans of African descent have endured crimes against humanity for the longest period should give us the hope we need to know that we can save ourselves. The reality that we are like flowers that spring from concrete should increase our faith and resolve to save ourselves, as we clearly have a purpose. Understanding that faith without works is dead WE MUST DO THE WORK with a sense of urgency and the results will come.

I have decided for myself that rules that I did not and would not make- as they are not in my best interest- don’t apply to me. Period. I owe that much to my ancestors that decided despite being taught that it was a sin against God to “steal themselves” ran for freedom anyway.

Most recently, I found myself experiencing just one of those moments. I was hiking with an interesting group of men and women. We are all getting to know one another. I ask, who decided that black people need to be focused on having fun all the time? Adhering to “relaxed, light and easy” conversations? Think about it. In whose best interest would that be? I didn’t make that rule and I refuse to abide by it. We are in the midst of a crisis as a nation. As a matter of fact, I read recently that Americans of African descent constitute approximately 18% of the US population. There is exactly one of us in the US senate- he is currently running for President, yet we make up 44% of the prison population. It seems to me that we need to devote every waking hour to talking about, organizing, and planning a way to immediately effect change.

The plot thickens. In this group, yesterday, there was an interracial couple. I know that most of us descendents of the enslaved have been taught how to behave in “mixed” company. These lessons were taught to us by our elders. Their goal was to keep us alive, since killing Americans of African descent hasn’t historically- or now- been treated as the cold blooded murder that it is. Bear in mind that our elders are Jim Crow children.

Let me say this really quickly for the record. I am not really a statistic person, the one listed above, is one of the most recent I have read. This is the only reason I remember it. I invite all that read anything that I write to not take my word for it- check the facts for yourselves.

Having said that, let me now say this, it is as fashionable to date, procreate, and marry interracially today as it were to adopt crack babies in the 80’s. Male and female Americans of African descent are engaging in this practice in record numbers, influenced by non-stop powerful imaging that indicates that this is the way to go. If the foundation of these relationships is love, why can we not, in love, talk about resolution to the problems that plague us as Americans? Who decided that the white person’s comfort takes precedent over on-going crimes against humanity? Does the white person not love their partner enough to insure that their partner has the same first class citizenship that they enjoy? Has the person of color decided to devote their entire lives to having a white-like existence, while abdicating their responsibility to their non-white community?

As I sat and encouraged another sister, who is struggling to get back to herself, I was admonished by the soon to be sister-in-law of the white man present. Admonished mind you, while I stressed the importance of rejecting racist/white supremacist lies and embracing only self love, self acceptance and self respect. I was admonished that certain topics are not discussed in the family. The conversation was; for the record, respectful and loving. It was by design one intended to uplift, encourage and provoke thought and action. Despite this, at one point during the exchange the future wife took her white man away from the conversation to seemingly protect him from feeling uncomfortable. At the very least, his presence in this conversation would have allowed there to be dialogue. His presence may have provided insight, a different perspective and possible solutions to the problem. There definitely would have been that dual accountability I wrote of earlier. The first step to resolution is to confront or acknowledge the problem. You cannot begin to think that resolution will come in the absence of that acknowledgement. His presence, from my conscious stand point, at a gathering where he was the only white person, did not make his comfort my responsibility. His comfort was most definitely not more important to me than speaking life, love, healing and self acceptance into my sister. I will not adhere to Jim Crow etiquette and traditions when dealing with the descendents of enslavers.

You know, I wish the historical disregard of the humanity of non-white people were not so. I wish that it were different even now. Let us be clear, it is that same disregard for the humanity, rights, and property of non-white peoples that we can thank for the atrocities that we see around the world today. We are all, in truth, either a part of the problem or the solution. I am fully committed to talking, walking, and acting in truth, love, and wisdom with focused purpose to change our conditions as a nation. I am determined to remain free and help free other American women of African descent of a burden that is unique to us, alone. The sister that I was addressing when I was admonished indicated today, in a subsequent conversation, that our initial meeting and conversation was food for her soul. We share an interest in reaching our sisters in this nation. That to me, quite frankly, is more important than a white man’s comfort. I am not sorry.


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