Tag Archives: America

Orisha On The Horizon

The year is 1619. On a voyage across the Atlantic ocean towards Jamestown, Virginia, captured African slaves carried with them a disabling sense of loss and a nagging uncertainty about their forthcoming destinies on their journey to the new world. Among the pain these resilient people also held onto various spiritual traditions and ways of relating themselves to the world from their perspective homelands which helped them sustain some sense of sanity within the hellish conditions they were forced to endure.

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Amidst European Christian and Spanish Catholic indoctrination, enslaved West Africans who were transported to various parts of the Americas had enough dignity and audacity to secretly practice various indigenous African spiritual belief systems against the will of their captors. Most prominent of these indigenous beliefs was the worship of Orishas, a Yoruba practice known as Ifa, with origin in present-day Nigeria and surrounding areas. Ifa is a potent method for displaced Africans to rediscover their true identities, claim access to birth-right cultural memories, and empower the world with a religion rooted in humanism, ancestor reverence, and the preservation of Earth. Ifa evolved over time into several distinct spiritual systems known today as Regla De Ocha (also known as “Santeria”) in Cuba, Candomble in Brazil, and Haitian Vodou.

Ifa stands out from the reigning religions of the day, some of which encourage separatism, because of its humanistic aspect. Practitioners of Ifa place all power into the people. While the Orishas are worshipped, it is clear that they are not merely outside entities, but symbols of nature and representations of ancestors. Here is where the value lies, because unlike most European religions where energy is invested into mere ideas, Ifa seeks to empower the individual, the community, and the world at large.

The rediscovery of our true spiritual traditions, rooted in West Africa, begins with the resurrection and globalization of the Black gods known as Orishas, who were almost successfully wiped clean from the communal memory banks of enslaved African peoples by colonizers. Profoundly described by Wole Soyinka as “paradigms of existence,” the following mythical symbols are, in my opinion, the most beneficial to know: Osanyin, Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya. Each of these Orishas teaches a valuable lesson through their various stories and what they represent which can prove to be useful in the evolution of oppressed Black peoples across the globe.

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During these times of critical health crisis’s and medical apartheid within the global Black community, a proper knowledge and respect for the healing powers of nature is necessary. Osanyin, known to be the god who has dominion over wild plant life, especially herbs, serves as a bridge into ancestral medicinal wisdom. Consider him Father Nature who rules all flora and fauna. The spirit of Osanyin can be found at the core of Blacks like famous botanist George Washington Carver, urban gardener and food activist Ron Finley, and the many other “healers” around the globe. Osanyin’s ashe, or life force, peaks Black interest in the field of medicine in addition to the cultivation and nurturance of plants and herbs. All of which are needed today with the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ebola, mental health disorders, and preventable diseases like diabetes that plague the Black community.

Yemaya and Oshun are two goddesses embody the power of motherhood, protection, and hold the memories of our fallen ancestors. In the Yoruba tradition where spiritual baths and cleansings are commonplace, water, like herbs, is a constant necessity. Though both embodiments of water, each Orisha has a distinct purpose when called upon. While Yemaya reigns over the oceans, full of purifying salt water, Oshun is the essence of rivers and fresh waters.

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It is widely known that Black women are among the most oppressed and disrespected individuals in the world. “Misogynoir,” a term coined by Myo Bailey, is used to describe how racism coupled with misogyny specifically affects Black women. Faced against powerful forces such as racism and misogynoir, the goddess image can be extremely empowering for Black women of the Diaspora. Yemaya and Oshun are not passive mothers. They can be gentle, but are fierce protectors of women and children. These goddesses, as well as Oya, divinity that guards the cemetery, are warrior spirits who not only give birth to nations, but are just as powerful as their male counterparts. Having female warrior goddesses to turn to in moments of strife and hopelessness, for Black women, can prove to be affirming and earn them proper respect from all others.

Ifa is a beautiful religion rich in ritual and adornment, but what’s most important is the devotee’s connection to spirit, the earth, and a respect for the past. Ifa forces its followers to open up to the worldwide community, being a religion of undoubted acceptance and care of fellow man, regardless of sex, gender, religious affiliation, or race. At the core of worship, Ifa would be most rewarding as a dominant force in the world because of its promotion of healing, loving, and respect, for self and others. As a people so stricken with pain, these Yoruba religious practices maintained and taught by those dragged unwillingly across the Atlantic ocean, provide for Black people a home in foreign lands.

Change is spreading across the Diaspora like germinated seeds blowing in wind produced by Oya, searching for fertile ground in which to settle. My ancestors and I share a common surety about the rising of the Orishas, who, like the Costus Spectabilis, are destined to flower in the minds and spirits of reawakening oppressed peoples.

FW.289 Yellow Trumpet, Costus spectabilis, N Zambia

Livestrong: Why the Cancer of Injustice Lives On

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Everything hidden in darkness must come to light. This seems to be a relevant saying, considering the recent phenomenon of racial and gender scandals in the media. That means bigotry in the NBA, new domestic violence reports, and growing evidence of racist police forces. But when light shines on an issue, do we look for the roots of the issue or do we just just follow the headlines?

Follow the patterns. We are fooled into thinking justice has taken place, when time and time again systems are simply punishing behaviors and people who got caught, instead of the thinking and philosophies that led to those behaviors. Instead of healing, we treat symptoms. We medicate. In a similar way, when we correct people–racists, abusers, etc–all we tend to correct is behavior. People then adopt rules: don’t say nigger, don’t hit a woman, don’t do this, don’t do that. We never correct the way the dominating culture thinks. There are systems of thought and control laced in our political, economic, and religious culture.  The monster you see peeking its head in recent scandals is only a symptom of the great cancer that lies in our systems of thought. If we never plan on attacking a way of thinking, that monstrous cancer continues to live–police brutality, racism (in the economic, judicial, and political world),  domestic violence, even so called abortion rights. The root of all our issues seems to be the ancient storyline: one group of people thinks it is superior than another, and essentially that they are more human–or that they are the real humans, and the others are not. The self perceived superior group either cannot see the others’ humanity or they undervalue that humanity.

Some people only see  only race, gender, or ethnic group. Today, whole systems of governance and socialization have normalized this view. The cancer seems to have been dormant, with a few complaints from its underclass. Today, however, the evidence is in the blood on our streets. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, Janay Rice, and so many more.

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In pursuing the cause for these atrocities, we point to all the wrong things: the victims themselves, the racist cop, the scared neighborhood watch, etc. For me it boils down to one thing: were these victims seen as people. On the contrary, the personhood of each of these people seems to have been in question, or at the very least it had to be proven.

They tried to show Trayvon Martin was sweet and made good grades. They said Michael was going to college. Every one of those efforts is to make the victim more relateable, more human to the average white public–as if them being human was not enough! There is a gap in the viewed personhood of a white 17 year old and a black 17 year old, in a beaten woman and the man who beat her, in a daughter from the Hamptons and a daughter from Detroit. I will skip the cute stuff, and say why. The measure of humanity and personhood is often dictated by a few things:
1. Whiteness, and one’s relation to it
2. The male sex, and one’s relation to it
3. Economic stability

Somehow, if you fail in anyway to have a father, or to come from an economically sound background, or you look a little too different–you lose the function of the mass culture’s ability to relate to you as a person. Your personhood erodes. Your humanity is in question. Tommy, we see. Rachel we can vouch for, but Tamika must prove to me that she is deserving.

Some of the greatest atrocities done to people happened because some one  thought the other was a little less human. Once you are capable of thinking someone else is less than human, then you are the one capable of great inhumanities towards people. The Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and so much more. Each of the people group victimized were thought less, just a little less, than full human beings.

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There is something particularly sick with a society that cannot see the humanity of those different from their perceived selves. The symptoms of that sickness shows itself in the numerous displays of injustice towards black men and women in this country. Yet, we have an opportunity. A major light is shining on issues we have always known, all too well in fact, but were unable to protest due to lack of evidence and following.

Now we have all the evidence of the cancer inside our country.  We have all the following of the general public. What do we do? We point only to the symptoms. We take a little tylenol for the runny nose. We point at the thinning hair here and there. We cut breats off. We tell the weak parts of the body that the cancer is their own fault. “Finger, you must let go of the past.” “Foot, well If you just looked like the hand, you know not so threatening.” We don’t get healing, we get quick fixes. We don’t call for justice, we call for  sacrifice. We sacrifice all the wrong people.

We let the cancer survive. We let the erroneous thinking, that is, the root of injustice live. We forget that it is living inside us. We do not attack the cancer itself, the harmful thinking that is the cause of the deaths of young people, the oppression of women, the imprisonment of minorities, etc. We let the cancer live. We bill it and we let it give commentary on the news.

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Book Review: Sister Citizen.

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Ever read a book that made you reevaluate your life because of the factual information it discussed? Black women! Melissa- Harris Perry’s thought-provoking book CAREFULLY weeds out the problem with Black women and their issues of trying to fit into a society that labels us as second-class citizens. Harris-Perry makes claim that our experiences in society has a DIRECT correlation in politics. 

At first, I was a bit apprehensive in reading a book that compared my experiences (as a Black woman) to the political system, but every detail and argument was super right in the evaluation of Black women trying to readjust in a “crooked room” (you will understand once you read). Each chapter showed real-life events that occurred in a 5-year span that depicted Black women being victimized or scrutinized, and how those events also linked backed to these “second class citizens”. Things like the “Mammy”, “Jezebel”, and “Strong Black Woman” stereotypes are also discussed, arguing that ALL labels are simply a way to gain recognition in a place where Black women are silenced.

It is interesting to have a  book that helps you understand the adversities that are faced from Melissa Harris-Perry, who is a Black women. It allows you to think differently and critically about the conversations that are talked about in your daily life, along with incidents and scenarios that happens on the news and even in your surroundings.

I don’t want to give the book away too much, but this book set the tone for understanding history, contemporary issues, and the problems we face, as Black women if we don’t dissect the many issues that follow. Feeding into stereotypes, or even trying to steer away from stereotypes will both be detrimental to Black women in America. 

AfroMadu, as always, challenges our viewers to read! If you read this book, or want to tell us about a book that you read, email us at afromadu@gmail.com. Let the world know what you’re reading! 

Panamanian Invasion: Operation Just Because?

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            “America will never be forgiven for the killing of my innocent friends.”

Maria Chacon was walking home from school on December 20, 1989 when the first bomb hit the town of El Churillo. Her story seemed like the bombing just occurred yesterday, vividly remembering the sky getting really dark and mayhem breaking loose. She ran for cover in the nearest alleyway as soldiers sprayed the general public with shells of tech nines and AK-47’s. She saw mothers running after their children to make sure they were out the way of bullets while men were sacrificing their valuables and even lives to protect their family. Houses were on fire and helpless bodies covered the quiet street that she walked down a couple of minutes ago. When the bullets stopped and the soldiers disappeared, Jessica came out of hiding to find that her home country, Panama, was destroyed. She ran home as fast as she could until she spotted some familiar faces lying on the ground. Her friends from school still in their uniform lay dead on the street with two bullets each to their chest. She couldn’t help but cry but remembered that she had to find a safe place to go, in which her home was a couple blocks down. 

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This account is a typical memory of the many people that experienced and witnessed the horrid invasion of Panama by United States troops. In a plan to capture their president, Manuel Noriega, US troops were ordered to attack the country with bombs and powerful weapons on innocent people in order for Noriega to surrender and be held in US custody. After the US took Noriega into custody and realized that thousands of bodies were left in streets and open places, they rounded up the dead bodies and build a “mass burial ground” where they dumped the bodies in and set them on fire until it was ashes.  After the invasion, nothing was said to reconcile or apologize for the deaths or conflict in the country.

How can an operation to capture a political leader end up leaving thousands of innocent people dead and injured? Was this act of violence justifiable to the citizens of Panama? Does America have some explaining to do?

According to the proposal of this invasion, which was called “Operation: Just Cause”, The U.S. felt that by capturing this evil “dictator”, Panamanian people will be saved from brutality, end the dangerous threat to Americans, freeing a country from a potential conflict, and restoring democracy to the country. This was in fact, not true and in order to understand how the US uses their power in order to go into different countries and stripped them for their personal interest. 

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The Panama Canal is a huge business in order to import and export goods throughout the world. This canal is in between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, making it and easier shortcut to get through Central America instead of circling around South America. It would make sense for a big power structure to come and control an asset of a country so by doing that, the U.S decided to train a Panamanian civilian and let him take on the job by giving the U.S. a cut of money keeping money for himself.  When the U.S. finally took control over the canal and began using this to their advantage, they did not wan to have Noriega, who was now said to be dangerous and crazy, run the country. And just like any leader, giving up some of their reign and power was not going to happen to Noriega, so the U.S. decided to do it the hard way by bombings and killings.

 

What was America trying to prove by stampeding through Panama and killing thousands of people? It was quite obvious that Panama had no type of military force to try and stop a first world country with the top military technology and power. What was the point of killing thousands of people? Were the people showing any type of actions that can make these troops believe that they were dangerous and that needed to be killed? This was a prime example of America showing superiority to the helpless people of Panama and making sure they knew who was boss. 

The media did not make the invasion look like a troubled conflict between these two countries either. The invasion in the late 80’s was not even showed on television nor did people know what was going on in Central America at the time. This invasion solely took a couple of days but left the people and their land into shambles for the rest of their lives. An operation to invade a country to protect the lives of Americans should have been better publicized to the Americans to know that they were safe. Instead the U.S. did damage in a couple days without anyone really knowing. 

Many stories like Maria’s are commonly told to generations and generations of Panamanian children whom parents felt like this invasion was left with many unanswered questions and innocent loved ones dead and injured. Victims and family members of the invasion are entitled to truth and peace from this horrific attack. Just like every other conflict that occurred around the world, there was some sort of justice that was served for the perpetrators and victims. The United States owes Panama explanations to this tragic event that occurred, regardless of how small the country is. This well-thought out plan to kill thousands all for one dictator was just to show how powerful America can be in order to get the things they want, and in this case it left many broken homes, and general hatred to the US.

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Unconstitutional Killings: Drone Strikes.

America, once again, has blood on their hands.

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Drone Strikes have been a trendy controversy that people may have been talking about, but the government did not respond to the discussions until today. The government is owning up to the 4 Americans killed in the drone strikes and is scheduled for the President to have a press conference on National Security but what about the other innocent victims that aren’t Americans?

Drones are missiles that are able to point and shoot DIRECTLY at a target and have the ability to aim and kill a specific person, without having a single person in the craft and operate the drone through a computer on a land. Drones purpose is to get ” wanted terrorist” out of countries without causing havoc to the nation, but shoot a missile in order to kill them.

In April, America sent Drones to  Pakistan and Yemen, killing 12 in Pakistan and 7 in Yemen.

Granted, this is news to us, but there’s a reason. DRONE STRIKES ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

America using their resources and power to go into a country and kill “terrorist” is probably one of the most disgusting things this nation has done. Not only is it unlawful in American bylaws, but continuing to target specific people in different nations, IS TERRORISM.

America always finds a way to be a victim when someone attacks them, but does all of this dirty to provoke nations.

Wake up y’all, America is WRONG and STRONG.

Boston Marathon Explosions, and the Explosions Elsewhere

During the Boston Marathon yesterday, two bombs were placed in different buildings and exploded while runners were nearing the finish line. This attack resulted in casualties, 105 injured, and 2 dead. 

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Casualties. The nerve of American mass media to use that word about yesterday’s incident. Their is nothing casual about the U.S. getting attacked by other countries. In fact, America believes that they are so IMMUNE to attacks that things like this are not supposed to happen! “We are America. In order for the world to run smooth, we have to stay on top.”

How much is enough? Imagine waking up to bombs every morning. America bombs countries and families everyday. There are children who die and loose body parts BY THE MINUTE. The U.S. is so quick to let bombs loose in other countries but doesn’t consider the fact that those same bombs can kill their people as well.

Granted, attacks in general are not ok. AT ALL. But let us look at the bigger picture: Should we continue to be America’s toy soldiers for the corruption and beef of the government?

Prayers for the victims of the bombing, nothing for the administration.

America Going to War?

About a few weeks ago, AfroMadu released a post about North Korea and the nuclear weapons that they plan to send to America.

Recent news show that not only is North Korea planning to go to war with South Korea due to international conflicts, but America just sent a few jets to South Korea in order to help this conflict on South Korea’s end.

There is also suspicion on the role China will play in this battle. Because China is allies with North Korea and seeing a mini role that the U.S. is playing on South Korea’s side, the main issue is China and the U.S. fighting this battle for these smaller countries.

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Not only are people talking about possible drafts if this conflict becomes bigger, but what will happen with the relationship of the U.S. and China?

Most American corporations have shipped their labor overseas, mainly to China, causing this relationship to break. Not only would their be a problem within the governments, but corporations will be in hot water with China and the fate of their business and their money ( this might be a good thing; corporations send their jobs back to the U.S, more jobs for Americans, better economy…)

AREN’T WE IN DEBT WITH CHINA? Aren’t they liable to literally come after us? We honestly owe them our lives..

Maybe this might have stretched the current event a bit too far, but definitely be on the look-out for updates on this potentially detrimental conflict. No worries, AfroMadu will keep you posted.