My blog mentor, Jasmyne Cannick, has a weekly hike that happens at Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, affectionately named Team S.I.S. Jasmyne has lost a tremendous amount of weight recently. I am so proud of her! I support her because I love her. She is my sister. I encourage her to continue her commitment to a healthy lifestyle. A documentary is currently in the works for the group Team S.I.S. As a part of the documentary, I was asked the question today, in an interview “why do I support the weekly hike?”
My interview response was a knee-jerk, off the cuff answer. The thoughtful response has been bouncing around in my head. It is as follows:
I hike because I love black people. We are some of the warmest, most beautiful people on the planet. Our natural flavor is often imitated but never duplicated. Recently, love found me and I relocated to Valencia. Suffice it to say, I don’t see myself that often in my new neighborhood. Oftentimes, when I do, they are in an interracial relationship and colorblind which means they can’t see me. Definitely can’t speak to me. Ok, don’t cry for me. I am responsible for my choices. I have love. I am happy. Most importantly, my man and I have decided to buy elsewhere. We are moving to Blacktopia, with black people everywhere, we have decided. I am looking forward to it. In the interim, I miss black people, terribly. So I hike weekly to get my black folk fix, for now.
I come out and support the hike because I am an American woman of African descent. Somewhere I read that women were the niggers of the world. Gloria Steinem? Yoko Ono? I really can’t remember. I tend to focus on the truth not so much the messenger. Logic leads me to the conclusion that American women of African descent are niggers squared. For the most part our humanity and womanhood is validated by no one. Not even our male counterparts in a lot of cases (Brothers, I am not male bashing, just speaking the truth- I am your ally for change). Unless we are doing our best white woman impersonation we don’t even fit the accepted, unchallenged description of “beautiful”. No one else on the planet has our unique exquisitely beautiful hair. Yet, most of us engage relentlessly in a futile battle with our hair. White supremacy and politics of hair, has taught us that when worn naturally, our hair is ugly or dreadful. Furthermore, we need a mix with something other than black or African blood, in order to make our hair (and skin for that matter) “good”. Really? WTF!!! The politics of hair is another blog for another day. The bottom line is this- if we do not validate ourselves, we will walk our whole journey invalid, hating ourselves. We have been sold and have bought so many lies for so long.
The truth of the matter is everyone imitates our beautiful rich color, our exquisite features and our full curves. On other women these same attributes are described as beautiful, yet on us there is negative language- “ghetto booties”, “thick lips”, etc. The language used to describe us and our beauty is negative and designed to break us down. The language has never been designed to build us up. Think about it. Porcelain and pasty can both be used to describe white skin. Since the intent is to build up the white woman and put her on a pedestal, she is described as having porcelain skin. As a result of centuries of external and internal negative talk, digested lies and poison ingesting; loving and taking care of ourselves is the exception rather than the rule.
I hike because somewhere I read that the average American woman of African descent’s dress size is 22. We are devalued and rejected by ourselves and others. We are lonely and eating ourselves to poor health and early death. It is our responsibility to save ourselves. No one else can or will. I am committed to living a healthy, happy life. It is for this reason I am not a size 22. Make no mistake I have engaged in very unhealthy relationships with food. (I have also nurtured my share of unhealthy relationships with people as well-different blog!) Just as those other women in unhealthy relationships with food, I bore the evidence, extra unhealthy weight. So, I hike to continue to love, improve, and invest in myself as well as encourage and support my sisters that are committed to doing the same.
I hike because I love the unity as we all strive toward our common goal of getting to the top. I see it as metaphor for what we need, can, and must accomplish as a nation. We have to get ourselves to a place where we can focus on our common goals-economic independence, self-determination, political power, abundant life, freedom, abolishing now and forever white supremacy in this nation, as well as any variation of white supremacy. Let us abolish white supremacy in our nation that professes to be the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, where there is “liberty and justice for all”. We have to all do our part to stop allowing our different religions, politics, sexual orientation, sexism, classism, etc. to prevent us from uniting and saving ourselves. Our refusal to do so thus far is how/why we continue to be divided and conquered, century after century. We don’t all have to think the same way. We don’t all have to have to worship the same God. However, we should all work together in the best interest of Americans of African descent without fail, wherever we are.
I hike because I am determined to open myself to meet others like me that want to be the change we so desperately need. We are the most educated in history. Access to whatever is the easiest for us in history. We can boast of more Americans of African descent millionaires than ever before. Yet, collectively as a nation, we are in worse conditions than ever before in history.
We are the identifiable bottom in our society. Let us stop, re-think, and re-evaluate our priorities. Let us use our education, skills, talents, and gifts to build up and save our collective selves. Let us stop selling our souls for stuff. Truly, the love of money is the root of all evil. We love money more than we love ourselves. If we look at who those with the most money are marrying- we are not even keeping many of our financial gains as Americans of African descent.
We must stop measuring our success by how close we can be to the descendents of our enslavers. If we are with descendents of our enslavers, and by-gones are truly by-gones, will they help us without controlling, dictating, perverting, and thwarting our efforts to heal ourselves of their historical transgressions? I have searched throughout history for support of the possibility of their “help”. At this point, I say emphatically no!!! to the notion.
I have reached the conclusion that if descendents of enslavers could help us, they would not- as it is not in their best economical interest. Descendents of enslavers are vigilantly acting in their best economical interest, even if they have to render other human beings savagely inhuman to do so, while encouraging and at times demanding that we not act in our best interest.
I get it; our continued enslavement is highly profitable to them. Our historical oppression is how enslaver descendents boast of being a “super power” today. Despite the fact of my statements, I know that there are many of you that disagree. I say, don’t take my word for it, READ. When you see writing anywhere, READ IT! If it is very small print, READ IT TWICE. Enslavers and their descendents do the damndest things and write them down.
I hike because those that hate themselves refuse to discipline and better themselves. I was told once, that “if you want to hide something from a nigger, put it in a book”. I decided then, that I was committed to knowing, embracing and loving the truth. I decided that I would be a free, self Ioving, self accepting, and self respecting human being. I have recently decided that I will also speak and share the truth in love and wisdom with whomever will listen. Anything less is selfish, irresponsible, and unacceptable.
Enslavers and their descendants’ perverted laws have never served nor protected us. Whenever we figure out how to make their perverted laws work for us, they change them. Yet, we continue to do the same thing, century after century –trust that they will stop their successful oppressive ways, they don’t- yet we expect different positive results. My message and focus is not about them. To their credit they are if nothing else, consistent. To our detriment, death, and destruction we are consistent as well- trusting that change will come.
My message and focus is about us loving, accepting, respecting, and empowering ourselves enough to save ourselves. Change will come when we bring it about. Faith without works is dead. After one of our recent hikes, a sister indicated that she wanted to lose ten to twenty pounds. The question was asked, “What are you doing to lose the weight?” Her response was, “nothing”. Again, faith without works is dead.
I am not advocating anything other than love. Love of self. I am simply advocating self preservation, which is the first law of nature. Once we do for self what needs to be done to get healthy and free; our relationship to other nations that are abusive (violating our human and constitutional rights- relentlessly exploiting us) will be like a healthy woman’s relationship to her previously abusive husband with whom she has children. I use this analogy only because in the absence of children there would be no relationship where there has previously been abuse. There would be no point in maintaining a relationship, in my opinion.
We as Americans of African descent will always have relationship with descendents of our enslavers. We are all Americans. This is our home. In another land we would be foreigners. Oftentimes, we are related by blood to the descendents of our enslavers, without choice historically and with zest presently as it is en vogue. Furthermore, in the human race they are our children, understanding that Africa is the mother of civilization.
This is why we must insist on dual accountability in our relationships with ancestors of enslavers. Don’t ask me why I am angry with your collective inhumane historical and on-going behavior. Why don’t you go and determine why you, descendents of enslavers, insist on insidious, inhuman white supremacist behavior. Get your scientists busy with that subject. Study yourselves and do your work. Determine what you can do in your individual journey to effect change, and dismantle the evil system that renders you wealthy but inhuman, unhappy and deathly afraid of everyone that is not like you.
In our relationships with the descendents of our enslavers we should be cautiously optimistic that they are doing the work on themselves. However, because we love, respect and cherish our new healthy lives and selves so much, we will not tolerate any lapses into unhealthy behavior.
Ladies, with self love and self acceptance, we could free ourselves of the bondage of hair weaves. Consistently wearing them reinforces the notions of white supremacy. We wear them relentlessly to cover the shame, displeasure, and hatred most of us feel with our natural hair. It is our misguided effort to feel accepted and beautiful.
While our exotic beauty is mocked and rendered inferior, we weaken ourselves emotionally and financially. Think about, if we chose to love, accept, and respect our natural selves and reject hair weaves; we could free up one billion dollars annually. Think what we could do with these financial resources. The Koreans would be upset, but they would have to deal with us respectfully. We have the power right now to save ourselves. We have the responsibility to save ourselves, right now.
If you choose to wear a hair weave, we should reap the bulk of the economic benefits. We must economically benefit from us. We must learn how to provide these goods and services to ourselves. Anything less is ignorant; when one behaves and is perceived as ignorant and inferior, one is often treated disrespectfully, ignorantly, and inferior.
I hike because after one hike, a sister that I encouraged in her walk to the top, likewise blessed me with this truth- we as American women of African descent are taught, and therefore consistently seek to reach outside ourselves for “it”. The truth of the matter is that WE ARE ALREADY IT.
Sisters, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your feedback. I want to connect, organize, and act to save ourselves and those coming after us. We owe it to those that did it for us, our daughters, sisters, nieces, and ourselves.
SELF LOVE~SELF ACCEPTANCE~SELF RESPECT