Tag Archives: beauty

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

#BlackHealth365 Spring Detox Giveaway!

Rejoice, Spring is finally here!

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We want you to get excited about the fresh air, rising flowers, and yummy seaonsal fruits coming your way! #BlackHealth365 is hosting a giveaway contest, beginning Friday, March 20th through March 22nd, and everyone is invited to participate! The object is to get our bodies ready for the new season via a 3 day detox utilizing fresh smoothies, juices, and clean meals. We have beautiful prizes to give away to the most creative and active participants who follow the rules:

1. You must share pictures of your smoothie/juice/clean meal on twitter and/or Instagram telling us what it is and how long it took you to prepare using the hashtag #BlackHealth365 so that we can see your unique creation.

2. You cannot post the same smoothie/juice/meal recipe twice. Variety is the spice of life, so each detox component must be something different to share with spectators and participants!

3. You must upload at least twice a day for the 3 days.

4. All ingredients must be fresh!

5. Have fun and good luck!

There will be a total of 5 giveaway winner who we know will be more than satisfied with the fruits of their hard work! We are more than excited to be coming into the new season with you beautiful people on such a healthy start!

At the end of the contest we encourage everyone to comb through the hashtag and write down recipe’s and ideas never tried before. We also ask that you continue to use the hashtag because you never know when we may do a surprise giveaway for folks who frequently share the wealth!

Tweet @BlackHealth365 with any questions you have about the contest, beginning March 20th. 😉

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“All About Love: New Visions” (bell hooks) Final Discussion

Hello everyone! Thank you soooo much for participating in our previous discussions on bell hooks’,  All About Love! This space is solely created to get in depth with the final portion of the text. On twitter, we usually send out a series of tweets tell you how we feel about the book, but we never really get to know what’s going on in your head too much. So, we want to try something a little different. We are going to pose a few questions about the book to start the discussion off, but we want all book club participants to get the discussion rolling and connect with each other! Answer a question, comment on an opinion, create your own question, do it all!
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Questions to ponder:
Chapter 9: The Heart Of Love
-Hooks discusses the idea of “privilege of power” through the patriarchal system. In what ways does patriarchal thinking affect both men and women in relationships? Have their ever been a time when you felt that a relationship was hindered because of a reflection over power or control?
“To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking in whatever form it takes in our lives.”
Chapter 10: Sweet Love
“Sexual pleasure enhances the bonds of love, but they can exist and satisfy when sexual desire is absent.”
How do you feel about hook’s strong statement? How can this be applied to the normalcy of casual intercourse?
Chapter 11: Loving into Life and Death
“All the worship of death we see on our television screens, all the death we witness daily, does not prepare us in any way to face dying with awareness, clarity, or peace of mind. “
We never really talk about love and how it correlates to death. So how did this chapter show realization to your personal lost loved ones and the fetish that our society has over death?
Chapter 12: Redemptive Love
Probably our favorite chapter, learning how to heal a broken, misused heart to love again.
“No matter what has happened in our past, when we open our hearts love we can live as if born again, not forgetting the past but seeing it in a new way, letting it live inside us in a new way.”
What stuck out in this chapter for you? What have you learned about redeeming your own past for your own hearts sake?
Chapter 13: When Angels Speak of Love
Love and spirituality: How can those factors relate to each other? And more importantly, why is love the central commonality in all spiritual intents and religions?

Feel free to answers the questions or post final thoughts on the book in the comments section below or tweet them to us on twitter! (@AfroMadu)

Sustaining the Black Community with Holistic Health

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“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process, heal our own.” -Wangari Maathai

The Black body has endured more than the growth-halting grip of former enslavement. We have suffered trauma to the African trinity of health (mental, physical, and spiritual), which greatly affects how we interact in the world, “post enslavement.” With media messages telling us to eat this sugary saturated fat to feel good, and drink that 80-proof poison to be as cool as our favorite rappers, the abuse to our bodies and overall well beings live on. Faced with limited access to life-sustaining foods due to socioeconomic status, the burden of low self-esteem from living in a racist society, and a general lack of knowledge about “living well,” a comprehensive timeline comes to mind about exactly how we have landed in the reality we are in today. Best believe this exclusion is systematic and purposely enacted. Though unfair, it is no one’s responsibility but ours to undo the mass confusion around health in the Black community and begin the journey towards healing from post-traumatic slave syndrome.

pirkle_jones_black_panther_free_breakfast At the best moments of the Black freedom struggle we recognized that we did not just need to change laws, we also needed to change our living patterns. Organizations like the Black Panthers not only told us to change our diets, they also imposed breakfast programs and other sort of community-oriented food programs so that people would have healthy living options and they understood the relationship between healthy living and a community, they understood the relation to building a Black nation and having healthy diets. – Marc Lamont Hill

Taking control of our lifestyles is not a new concept in the Black community. As Marc Lamont Hill suggested in the above quote from 2012 documentary “Soul Food Junkies,” we have always stressed the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle in our movements in the past and can do so once again. The same fervor Black Panthers displayed in picking up guns to protect themselves from the quick bullet of the racist can also be used to pick up plant foods, herbs, and spices to aid in the body’s defense against diseases.

black-man-and-child-hospital-bed1With the rise of genetically modified foods, mineral-depleted soils, and processed foods being more affordable and available, many of the traditional foods we are eating today in our soul food dishes look like what our ancestors ate growing up, but chemically are not the same. Altered genetic makeup of foods and the addition of sugars, salts, and harmful preservatives aid in the development of chronic diseases Blacks are dying from in droves today. Food-related diseases which plague the community like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes hold us back from being the fully functional beings were born to be. These many health issues act as blockades to our struggles towards freedom. Instead of actively working to defeat white supremacist oppression and earn back our rights as human beings, we’re fighting against our sickly bodies, and worrying heavily for our lives. This will change. It has to.

By embracing an attitude of  “self-care as healthcare” (Queen Afua), we can operate on an optimal level. Centering the importance of clean eating with whole foods, healing herbs, and antioxidant-rich spices, we can refocus our energies to where they need to be. By feeding ourselves well, we can expect a boost in self-esteem and a fulfilling sense of purpose, two things we, as a whole, lack for various reasons. Hope is not yet lost when we trust in our own capabilities and utilize the resources here on this planet to fuel us on our unique journey.

slide-03I propose purifying oneself through proper nutrition and a lifestyle that caters specifically to the Black body, promoting sound mental health, and welcoming a more freeing approach to spiritualism that pays homage to ancestors. As acts of self care as means of liberation and fortification to be pushed to the forefront of the many movements towards Black freedom.

Case Study, part one: Beautiful People.

beautiful people,
    lining up streets
    taking out shrapnel 970143_267108810101875_850091147_n
    and dancing off beat
beautiful people,
    clothed with their scars
    building their bridges 
    with old prison bars
beautiful people,
    singing off key,
    ‘down with your monopoly
    on our standards of beauty!’
beautiful people,  
     opening doors, 
     walking through fires
     and coming out in four
beautiful people,
     some sages, 
     some babies,
     some meek old ladies
     
     some Martin’s
     some martyrs
     some 300 missing daughters

284357_4073283304831_726547536_n beautiful people,
     who grew amongst weeds,
     who yielded true courage
    the fruit of imperishable seeds 

-Naomie Jean Pierre 

Revitalize Yo’ Hair!

We’ve all had those couple of days, weeks…. and if you’re me, months when you completely let go off your hair routine. 

You just say “fahget about it” and let your hair’s health sit on the back burner. 
Perhaps you’re busy with school, work, or just having a lazy weekend. When you come back to the real world your hair is dry, you’re suffering from single strand knots, breakage and a slew of other hair issues.
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Where do you go from here? Deep conditioning? Protein treatment? Oil Rinse? One of those may work, but if you’ve neglected your hair for an extended period of time you will need more than that. 

For two months I let me hair do it’s own thing. I did everything half-way… I sorta washed it, I kinda moisturized it, I may have kept my ends protected. When I woke up and smelled the roses my hair was a mess. I was suffering from dry, flaky, bleeding scalp; my ends where serious damaged and my hair was shredding like no tomorrow. I took 6 hours out of my Friday night to revitalize my hair and it worked tremendously. Whether you let you hair slide for a couple day, months or just need something to give your hair some extra life – I suggest you try this…

 

1- Avocado + Egg Hair Mask – 2 hours 

IMG_20130913_210541Tools: 
1/2 a ripe avocado 
1 egg 
coconut oil 
castor oil 
hand mixer or whisk 
bowl

 

 

Step One: Add your avocado and egg into the bowl, mix with the hand mixer on high power 
Step Two: Heat up your oils (I just the bottles in the sink under running hot water) 
Step Three: Add Oils to the avocado and egg mixture, blend on high power until there are very little avocado chunks left.
Step Four: Wet your hair – you can use a spray bottle or run you hair under water 
Step Five: Divided you hair into four to six sections and work the mixture into your hair from root to ends  
Step Six: Cover your hair with a shower cap. (I tripled up on the shower caps and wrapped my head with a t-shirt to promote heat)

 

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Let it sit for an hour to an hour and half. 

2- Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse – 15 minutes  

IMG_20130913_234113Tools: 
Apple Cider Vinegar 
an empty bottle of water

Step One: Mix 3 part water and 1 part ACV in the empty of water. 
Step Two: Wash your hair out with this ‘potion’ — working section by section 
*tip* be very careful not to get this mixture in your eyes, nose or mouth. 
Step Three: Thoroughly rinse your hair out 

– Your hair should feel much lighter with extreme bounce. Your curly pattern should also be very defined. 

Here’s a photo of my extremely defined hair strand:

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3- Deep Conditioner – 1 hour 

Tools: 
Your favorite deep conditioning product [ I used Creme Of Nature Intensive Conditioning Treatment pack] 

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Step One: work your conditioning treatment into your hair, root to tip 
Step Two: Put a plastic shower cap on your head and let it sit for an hour 
Step Three: Rinse it out thoroughly

After Care – You can follow this line – up by putting a protective style such like braids, twist or hair weave in OR you can style as usually. 
I followed this with a Bantu knot out and achieved great results . 

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Do Not Mistake the Television for a Looking Glass.

I went to an event tonight that was focused on the empowerment of the Black Woman, and I must admit as much as I thought I knew about Women in general, I had no idea how much baggage they carried in the curve of  their smiles, with the excess spilling out of their pockets books. For that, I apologize. I have often mistaken the sass of Women, for outright disdain when it simply, could have been fatigue from walking around carrying the weight of not only her thoughts but the constant judgement the Black Woman bares the instant she exits her threshold. I will no longer fall victim to the insensitivity many of my Brothers have falling victim to, trying to tailor the Woman that wears her heart on her sleeve. 

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I have written in previous post about my love for the Black Woman, I see them all as personified art, with each curve and each follicle being a stroke of the creators paint brush, each somewhat similar but unapologetically unique at the same time. So this hits very close to home. Raised in a house with two older sisters, my Mother and Grandmother, I would never think that the pain they self imposed, whether it be a perm, or eyebrow waxing or what have you, would be so that they could go outside and be seen as an actual member of society. The mind set is so absurd, that one must  jump through hoops to look “desirable” on the outside for people to want to know the beauty that resides within. This world is tainted and I want to take the time out and use my medium to let every Woman that is reading this that if no one ever told you, you were beautiful, I am saying it right now! You Are Gorgeous! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Do not hang your head for any reason because you were made in God’s image, so walk as if you are trying to talk to him face to face and thank him for your many blessing. DO NOT EVER apologize, for your complexion, your curves or the coarseness of your hair because you are so much more than any of those things. 

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The media has started this facade that all Women must be a default, no one varying from the next. Ladies this is a lie and you should not stand for it. If The Almighty wanted every Woman to look the same then he would have made you that way. Embrace your insecurities, sharpen them until they transform from a shield you hide behind to a sword that you fight with. The media is not real, what you see every morning is. Focus on the “Im every Woman”s and not the “Girl You Look Good Wont You Back That Thang Up”, even though I know that one genre heavily out weighs the other. The power of Man, in a general since of all human beings, comes from inside of you so for every compliment you do not get, you give yourself one and then give one to the girl who also may not have gotten one. Kindness has always been contagious, be the stone that causes miles of ripples in the Sea.

I hate when Men say that they apologize on behalf of all Men, that is asinine. I do apologize however for the times, however few, that I made any Woman feel as if you was not the Queen that she is. I make a promise to all Women that when my kingdom begins and my Queen and I welcome our Prince into the world, from day one he will be taught respect, humility and admiration for the beauty that lies within and outside of a women. My Princess will no that Daddy thinks she is gorgeous, and the television is a make believe place and the magazines tend to pretend that, the Women that call their pages home are perfect, and at this point I will point her to a mirror so she can see first hand want perfection really is.

As Always, I Love You, God Loves You, Love Yourself,

Man of Madu