Posts Tagged ‘Black Culture’

Not unlike many of my posts, this one will only apply to a small group of Black nerds and scholars 

Last night Some reflection (rememory, you could say) led me back to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The famous (at least in my head) “stream of consciousness” chapter: “I am beloved and she is mine. I see her take flowers away from leaves   she puts them in a round basket” Beloved’s no so clear account of where she was before coming to Sethe in the woods. 

So, my mind was blown as I read the 2nd paragraph and it hit me, this is a toddler’s experience on a slave ship; the middle passage!  And the subsequent bridging of space and time, physical, temporal, “spiritual”  dimensions. 

Laying on the man’s back, loving his song 

The place where people are crouching “the man on my face is dead ” the “men without skin”  pushing the mounds of the dead into the sea. “the woman with my face” going into the sea “they do not punch her  she goes in” – suicide. 

A woman, like Sethe, who refused to live crouching and starving. 

 I prided myself on understanding this book (although  perhaps to a slightly lesser extent this particular passage). I took a class back in undergrad that I really appreciated because of our analysis and discussion of Beloved  (and other African and African American literature). I read it twice and revisited parts over the years.  And all of a sudden, I’m reading it with new insight and meaning. As much as I loved that class, I can’t say I never fell asleep in there (blame ADHD 😅). At any rate, I continue to appreciate this book perspective Love inspiration 

Normally I feel like the, “could be worse” approach to feeling better about one’s struggles has little to no effect on me, but reading Sandy’s story was remarkably moving.
Idk how aware people are of what this young woman went through in the 2-3 years before her death:

under/unemployment, predatory traffic violations that she served 30+ days in a notoriously overcrowded jail (investigated by the justice department for civil rights violations), Depression, miscarriage due to ectopic pregnancy, strained relationship with her mother.
And all of this on top of the evermore clear recognition of her place as a Black woman in a country that places less value on the lives and contributions of both.

Her story should shed light on the lack of treatment for depression among Black Americans, and Black women specifically – Black women being THE MOST UNDERTREATED group in the nation.
It also sheds light on the overall poorly functioning mental health system in America. Many like her, struggling to make ends meet (grossing a whopping $8,000 in 2013!) don’t have the option to seek mental health treatment. Even with Affordable Care, many end up with cheap plans that don’t offer mental health service. I can speak to this personally, having recently found that counselling services are not covered under my plan- plus the nice icing on the cake- I owe $300+ for the past few months of appointments:) I’ll be ok, but imagine those worse of than me, suffering like Sandy was, and the main concern is, YOU MUST PAY. This is not a healthcare system, it’s a business above all.

It doesn’t appear as if she was murdered(by the largely Black & Latin jailers), but it clearly seems that those who had her in custody did not take seriously the very poor mental-emotional state that she was in (and that she told them about in detail). There’s not much value for people in this country. Our god is money. Profit is the primary concern. People in this culture are viewed primarily as units of production and consumption. She had a few misdemeanors, so she owed the state (time and/or money). What’s happening with her internally is a side note at best.

Despite how dark and disappointing this story is, I found some motivation in reading it. I can identify with her in some ways but I don’t think my darkest days compare to hers, particularly those spent in Waller county jail. Envisioning her last hours made it more clear that I don’t want to see mine anytime soon.

 

What Happened To Sandra Bland

I apologize if the link doesn’t allow u to read the article, I know The Nation only has limited access to content online -it’s a great magazine tho!

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‪#‎LetmetellYouSomethin‬ I started this as an IG post but realized quickly that it was #toomuchforthegram it’s a topic I’ve addressed before but it deserves, requires even, further and continued appreciation.
This first image is an ‪‎Asante‬ (‪Ashanti‬) Goldsmith and his young apprentice in 1891 (5 years before they were successfully invaded and destroyed by the British(they’d tried several times b4)).
I bet they stuntin with those fly hats on too 😛 Anyway
‪metalurgy‬ and advanced ‪‎ceramics‬ in ‪‎West Africa‬ go back at least 2,000years (see ‪‎Nok‬ culture in by ‎Nigeria‬). Images like this are intriguing and empowering to me. To glimpse a world where ‪‎Black people‬ were‪ Independent‬ and largely controlled the world around them.
– Now I say largely because in this region, contact with ‪‎Europeans‬ goes back to the 1470s. Many ‪‎Akan‬ states fought for dominance of coastal trade, trade (that ultimately became disproportionately dictated by Europeans but that’s another post).

My point is this. Knowing ones history can be empowering. And despite what some might tell you, it’s nooot really hidden(anymore) ‪‎marginalized‬‪, ‎downplayed‬, undervalued‬ still ‪‎distorted‬ even. But, we have at least a good 40 yrs of serious ‪ African American‬ and African Studies scholarship to be thankful for. We don’t need the ‪‎myths‬ and ‪‎pseudohistory‬ of ‪Farrakhan‬(who is by the way if u somehow missed this, a proud ‪‎scientologist‬ now yea idk how tf that works) information is out there. Books, articles, Wikipedia.
I heard Louis make the most asinine claim in his sermon defending his new involvement with scientology. He said essentially that the fact that enslaved men allowed their women to be raped because they were so striped of their identities and manhood. What?! You don’t think many resisted, men and women. You don’t think at the same time many suffered silently knowing how futile their resistance was. How ignorant and disrespectful is that. He’s essentially saying you people are nothing and know nothing, and there for you need my Mythology to be whole. But we know how strong our ancestors were. We know their history and the cultures they forged, and we know the many ways they resisted. We don’t need crazy, ignorant Black supremacist myths.

I am not a ‪‎Moor‬ I know their history it’s a fascinating part of African and world history but I can’t dig the Mythology. I know my people. I know how the Fante grew rich selling my ancestors. I know how ‪‎Nzinga‬ fought to stop the‪ ‎Portuguese‬ from expanding the ‪‎slave trade‬ in ‪‎Angola‬ and ‪Mbundu‬.
I know how our ‪‎diasporic‬ cousins in ‪Brazil‬ play a unique and dangerous game to African rhythms interwoven with the powerful kicks of the ‪Ngolo‬.
I try to stay calm when someone tries to replace my real history with something like Hebrew Israelites those so-called Black Israelites that would paint ALL of African peoples as what? Descendants of one group? There’s cultural and genetic evidence that a hebrew people migrated all the way to South Africa (see Lemba people) but that’s one small group (that they probably don’t even know about).

So what I’m saying is learn. Don’t just latch onto myths and ideologies.

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Next photo: Asante Hunter/Soldier 1883
This man’s image has been in my head since reading The Healers 2yrs ago. Among the Asante images I downloaded in order to more clearly picture the world Armah was describing. To add definition. Detail to a stories often painted with too broad a stroke.
I grew up very much interested in Egypt but have you heard of Sundiata? Ife?Nok? there’s More to African than Egypt.
Just as there’s more to world history than “Western” history. It seems many well meaning people encourage learning about Africa but do so in a limited and distorted way. It’s like there’s more of an agenda to situate oneself as superior (by association with Ancient Egypt, The Moorish Empire or and Ancient African Hebrew tribe) rather than a genuine passion to learn the long, complex and intriguing history of African peoples.

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There’s a dismissal in there, intended or not. It says there’s little(or nothing) to know about Africa outside of Egypt (or the Moorish Empire etc). I appreciate the beautifully complex and tragic story Armah painted in Healers. My heart broke when the Gatlin guns gave the British entry into the impenetrable walls of Asante.

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I was there, up north Cape Coast and saw the amazingly imperfect world they’d built for themselves. These stories are worth telling. Myths about biblical tribes are a pointless waste of time.

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Many who study actual Africa history may fall victim to romanticization. I once did. Better to romanticize history than dwell in falsehoods.

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I saw more of the Akan States in The Healers and these rare photographs than I did studying abroad there.
They razed the royal palace and other structures. Sad story perhaps. But empowering to know. palace and other structures. Sad story perhaps. But empowering to know.

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“Bantama “Ayakeseho” Place of the Great Brass vessel. The Ayekese sat in front of two trees entrance to mausoleum – Presumably 1896.
If I  recall correctly, the head of a British general was said to be kept here correct me if I’m wrong #AfricanScholars.

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Of course the British couldn’t handle this sort of humiliation and quickly destroyed this and many other structures.
We’re inundated with images, historical and mythological, of Western greatness. From story books and cartoons to major motion pictures, TV shows and video games. While our stories are left in the dark.

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Thankfully history isn’t hidden or lost as some would have you believe, it’s just unpopular. Almost every American has the Internet. Read a book or three. What do you want to know about? Ask me, I’ll recommend a few
#YoumustLearn

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I lost a lot of respect for this guy a couple years ago when he said he’s a republican- But I was writing/brainstorming a little on the Hip-Hop Industry and remembered this video from my Watch Later list- figured I’d take a quick break, check it out to get a little insight…

He definitely made some good points in the 1st few minutes of the 1st vid

He’s really concerned about being forgotten (Him, the Getoboys and other Old School artists).

He expands on it in the second one

I can’t see Hip-Hop going the route that Rock & Roll went for several reasons- one major reason being that there’s a very obvious (and often exaggerated) sense of Black, urban identity attached to Hip-Hop.  And additionally, my understanding is that we’re a bit ahead of the curve relative to  how long it took Rock music to become largely white.  If Hip-Hop were to follow that same trajectory Vanilla Ice would be Hip-Hop’s Elvis and most rappers today would be white. Nonetheless I understand his concern over Corporate influence on Hip-Hop and Black culture.

He makes a great point in the second video too about Soul and R&B.  I asked myself the same question back in Grad school, “Who stole the soul?” What happened to R&B, it seems that R&B acts solo and (especially) group acts used to be much more popular, and popular among women and men.  I think that’s an issue worth exploring more on its own.  It’s as though singing, and subsequently the issues often discussed in song (Love, relationships) are less acceptable parts of Black masculinity now (excuse me if I’m romanticizing here).

I do however find it surprising that he seems so bewildered by white/corporate influence.  Being in the industry for twenty plus years, I’d think he would’ve noticed it years ago, and understand it better than he seems to.

He mentions Kendrick Lamar and that there’s a sharp divide between the garbage and the true talent- which I agree with. Kendrick, Black Hippy, J.Cole, Joey Bada$$, these artists give me hope for the future of Hip-Hop. I know there are a few white rappers growing in popularity over the past few years- I’ve only really heard a couple of them (MGK and Yellawolf).  The corporate control of Hip-Hop has been an issue since the 90s but I don’t think we’re in danger of going the route of Rock & Roll at this point.  If anything, we face a greater danger. Hip-Hop acts will likely remain predominantly Black (for the near future at least ) Hip-Hop consumers will continue to become increasingly white, and white consumers and record executives will continue to have a large influence on Black cultural production.

But it ain’t nothing new- been the same since like back in ‘92