Tag Archives: Black Men

Between The World And Me, And Every Other Black Man.

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More times than others, I read books that compliment my moods. If I am happy, I will not even think to touch a Toni Morrison, but rather consider some work from Maya. When I want to feel hopeful, Ill grab Zora Neale. And on a rainy day, shade is usually being thrown from Richard Wright and Audre Lorde.

But I didn’t get a chance to choose this book, it just happened. And I realized that I not only read the book at the right time, but so did everyone else. And that was because we had no choice.

I took my seat on the Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bandwagon and I don’t think that I will ever get off. In fact, I might have to bully someone for their front seat  because his new book, Between The World and Me, helped heal my temporal fury.

The overall purpose, a letter to his son, was more than I can bare. The thought of constructing a letter that contained all the problems to Black male existence and not even giving a solution, because there is none that you can possibly provide, shows me all the revolutionary steps needed in the awakening  process.

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The idea of the body; existing physically, biologically, politically, and socially, was extremely necessary to digest. The consequences of not living  causes disembodiment. Both self-inflicted and inflicted, in which you have no control over. The tennis game of Coates analyzing his manhood versus raising a child to challenge manhood was extremely striking.

And the responsibility of mustering up a narrative that share Black America’s grief has already been acknowledged by one of the finest American writers ever, Toni Morrison.

‘The modern-day James Baldwin’ comparison straps this author with an extreme high award of valor, because someone has to fill the shoes. And Coates, with his blunt references and his bold opinions does nothing less than remind you of our Uncle Baldwin himself.

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This is no ordinary book review, because this is no ordinary book. I usually include fancy quotes and witty remarks, but it is nearly impossible to choose quotes that are more important than others.

I found myself in a salsa of emotions during my time reading because it is reflective of the current happenings in the world. This book does not put you in some kind of fairy tale land that you are able to get away from once you close the book. The reality is, the book is just as dark as the world we share.

Go ahead, it is safe to pick up.

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The Music & Metaphysics of Sun Ra

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Sun Ra, the “godfather” of Afrofuturism in music and pioneer of the genre “free jazz,” is in a league of his own. His large body of creative work and personal style speaks directly to the souls of Black folks everywhere, seeking to use art as a platform for Black liberation. With the help of his Intergalactic Myth-Science Solar “Arkestra” (see: band), Sun Ra used free jazz, old Egyptian symbols, and “far out” ideologies concerning the state of Black identity in his 1974 film “Space Is The Place,” which is a total embodiment of what Afrofuturism is all about. Through his eccentric costumes, Afrocentric radical thought, and almost incompressible “transmolecular” sounds, Sun Ra takes his followers on a journey of “imagining possible futures through a Black cultural lens.” (Ytasha Womack)

In the film “Space Is The Place,” what first catches the eye of viewers is Sun Ra’s stand-out appearance. This alone speaks volumes for the energy this man brings through his artistry. By looking at him dressed as the Ancient Egyptian god Ra, you’re immediately taken back to a time when Black ruled the world. Sun Ra’s alternate universal appearance brings the past and possible futures to the present in an attempt to spark both memory and possibilities into the mind of Blacks here on Earth. The film begins with Sun Ra descending from space in spaceship which unifies with the yellow cape and Sun crown worn atop his head. At first glance this is both shocking and exciting for the viewer. His style, in my own words, can be best described as ancient Egyptian Pharaoh meets futuristic space alien. He is clearly not of this planet, as he won’t let us forget throughout the remainder of the film.

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            Sun Ra totally rejects Earth as his home. In an attempt to escape the rigidness of racist white supremacist societies and the many stereotypes forced upon him and his people, he takes the form of an intergalactic god. Bound by no definition or ideology that isn’t his own, he returns to Earth to square off with his arch nemesis “the overseer,” who is an amalgamation of Black archetypes, specifically the Black man as “pimp,” which were commonplace in most Blaxploitation films during the movie’s release. Sun Ra’s god portrayal was an alternative challenge to this archetype. He rejected racist white lens of his Black being and defined himself as “the altered destiny; the presence of the living myth.”

In addition to a bold, eccentric, style and an autonomous definition of self, Sun Ra’s main goal while on Earth was to free those “ghetto” Blacks who couldn’t escape the many labels they were caged by. He teleported into a recreational room filled with “good time” Black youth in an attempt to reach them by countering their accusations of him as “unreal” by confirming:

I am not real, just like you in this society. You don’t exist. If you did your people wouldn’t be seeing equal rights…You’re not real. If you were you would have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myth’s…I came from a dream that the Black man dreamed long ago. I’m actually a present sent to you by your ancestors.

In this message to his people, Sun Ra forces the youth to think critically about their place in society. He challenges their ease in the identities bestowed upon them by the white man and urges them to be the natural creators they were born to be. In a sense he is saying “you don’t matter here, on this planet, anyway, so why not be whatever you want to be.” This stream of afrofuturist thought is one of the most standout scenes in the film, for it is the crux of Sun Ra’s “job” there on Earth.

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            Sun Ra’s music, much like the language he uses throughout this film, is seemingly nonsensical. He continues the traditional use of coded language Blacks have used for centuries as a tool of communication and survival in order to confuse the listening ears of slavers and government agents looking to infiltrate any plans of liberation. One could describe the sounds of his free jazz genre as purely improvisation. He seems to make up notes and sounds and compilation of the two as he goes along to make the statement that as a free Black, not bound by Earth, he can do as he pleases and present himself in his own choice. Likening himself to the wind, viewers can better grasp the radical essence of Sun Ra’s artistry when he makes the powerful statement of “I, the wind, come and go as I choose, and none can stop me.”

With such powerful messages from both past and the future, one begs the question of where an artist like Sun Ra emerges from. From my viewpoint, he is afrofuturism in the flesh, in that he lives and breathes this “kingdom of darkness and Blackness [where] none can enter except those of the Black spirit.” A kingdom where “nothingness” and boundless sound waves reign supreme in a land, similar to Kemet, where Black is free to just be.

Watch the Brilliant film below to get a better understanding of the “other world” in which Sun Ra dwells:

Foods & Habits to Maintain Radiant Melanin.

As children of the Sun, “melanated” peoples have an inherent glow that needs to be maintained. With the consumption of daily Sun, whole foods, and a useful skin care regime, this natural glow of “Black gold” will effortlessly shine. BlackHealth365 introduces foods and methods Black people can use to help maintain the natural beauty of their skin:

The Importance of Sun Exposure:

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Melanin is the pigment in our skin which makes humans the different hues we have come to be. It’s also present in the hair, eyes of not only us, but other species of animals. It is responsible for the tanning of skin exposed to sunlight. As people of African descent we have some of the highest content of melanin. In places closest to the equator, where sun exposure is more prominent, the people of such lands harbor a darker hue, giving them this glow of “Black gold” raved about. Melanin is produced as a response to UV ray exposure from the sun, so it is essentially protection from the harmful aspects of the life-giving ball of heat. The more melanin you have, the better protected you are from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This also means that in order to get essential vitamins from the sun, like the essential vitamin D, it is important for people of color to spend ample amount of time in the Sun on a daily basis. Sun rays contain rare dosages of Vitamin D, which provides humans with minimal free radical damage and maintains skin moisture and even tone.

Black people with a medium to darker hue are recommended to spend at least 35-45 minutes daily in the sun. For extra protection & moisture during time of exposure, apply either shea butter, coconut oil, or aloe vera gel on skin instead of chemical-laden, harmful sunscreens.

Foods For Skin Health:

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There are many foods that aid in the maintenance of beautiful skin. These are normally fruits high in vitamins A, E & beta-carotene or fatty nuts like almonds that the expansive organ loves. Here are a list of 10 foods to consume which are loaded with the vitamins & minerals necessary to promote beautiful skin:

1. spinach
2. mangoes
3. papaya
4. sweet potatoes/yams 5. raw almonds
6. aloe vera juice
7. carrots
8. blueberries
9. avocados
10. pomegranates

The best way to receive the nutrients from these foods listed is by way of smoothie drinks! This way the nutrients enter the bloodstream easier and can be sorted through the body accordingly without the added task of having to be broken down in the digestive system. In addition to these skin health boosting foods, water is a MUST for attaining beautiful skin. You can also add antioxidant-rich teas (green teas) & fatty fishes like salmon to your regular eating regimen to feed skin cells.

Hygiene Habits:

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 7.28.46 PMThis goes without saying, but showering on a daily basis, at least once a day is a must. Skin requires water nourishment inside and moisture provided on the outside. Going through this world filled with germs and bacterias, and harmful chemicals lingering in the air, especially those of us who live in cities, it is imperative that we wash that off our organ every day. In addition, remember that skin is a detoxifying organ, meaning it releases toxins collected within the body through the skin. You need to wash those toxins off or else they’ll linger on the skin and cause possible unwanted bumps & marks. You also want to incorporate sugar or coffee scrubs into to hygiene regimen to scrub off dead skin cells and help maintain your melanated casing’s youthful radiance.

Raw unrefined African Black soap is recommended for daily deep cleansing of the skin. This natural soap not only works better than commercial soaps filled with skin drying chemicals, such as Dove, but it cheaper, rich in real nutrients, and lasts longer. I, personally, use raw unrefined African black soap for facial and body cleansing.

 

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Keeping the skin moisturized on a daily basis is very important! Throughout the day the skin gets dry from movement an exposure to the outside world and needs replenishing. The best time to give the skin moisture it needs is right after a shower or nice bath. Literally as you’re soaking wet out of the shower, apply coconut oil (my favorite) or a shea/mango/avocado butter mixture of some sort and let it air dry into your
skin. Towels drying is unnecessary unless you want to pat dry. An ideal skin oil mixture for appliance after bathing would be a mix of vitamin e oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. I only typically use heavier butters in my hair or during “dry seasons” like winter.

 BlackHealth365 Recommended products:

-organic cold pressed and unrefined coconut oil
-raw unrefined African black soap
-Nubian heritage soaps or other shea butter/vegetable glycerin based soaps
-whipped Shea butter (belle butters, Whipped, or your own homemade mixture)
-vitamin e oil
-almond oil
-brown sugar or black coffee to make scrubs

Following these suggestions will guarantee an improvement in the health of your skin and will surely make melanin shine bright! We must not forget that the skin is also an organ and needs to be fed to be at its best, like every other organ in the body. Remember, if it’s not safe to ingest then it isn’t safe to put on the skin. The skin absorbs so if you’re loading it with chemicals, these same harmful agents will eventually end up inside your body. You don’t want that. Eat right, drink PLENTY of water, spend quality time outside under sun, wash daily, and moisturize and you will glow like the child of the Sun you are!

Guest Submission: Women’s Disciplines.

Author and scholar, Alice Walker, shed light on a discipline that made Black women feel at the center. There are two disciplines, which are broken into two parts, feminism and womanism. Womanism was first coined by Walker in a narrative essay entitled “Womanism: Coming Apart.” In 1983, Walker went into depth further when she explained just exactly who the womanist is.

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Each of the disciplines can be problematic for some. For an example, feminism falls into two categories [white] feminism and Black feminism. Womanism is also broken down into womanism, coined by Walker and Africana womanism, which was coined by Clenora Hudson-Weems. Each of the disciplines have stated the problem, as most disciplines do. Feminism is problematic on so many different levels because although there were Black women who were the first feminists, the construct like many others faced a “manifest destiny.” This meaning that the ideology was removed and stripped by white supremacist though or the social construct of whiteness. 

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When white feminists first began their movement, many of them were abolitionists. Even then, the white abolitionists within the slave period had no understanding that slavery was not the overall issue. Our history has taught us that. Humanity was an even larger issue. Once enslaved Africans were freed they were exposed to another world of problems thanks to what whiteness represented.  Black women were not included into the [white] feminist conversation. Why? Black women, the African woman had agency over herself before slavery, during slavery and after slavery. Enslaved Africans viewed their slaveowner’s wives as defenseless creatures. Even in enslavement, the African woman, knew and recognized her role and how important that would be for her people. Slavery, never allowed for her to lose sight of that. Feminism appeared to be more about working, something that African women were already breaking their backs to do, identity, something that African women were consciously aware of because of the extreme trauma that they faced, and being in the white man’s shoes, which was not a desire of the AFRICAN woman. Therefore, in so many ways many both men and women of African descent view feminists who not only identifies the man as the enemy within our patriarchal society, but within the same breath actually desires to wear his shoes. 

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Alice Walker states in “Womanist” (1983) that the womanist is “committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.” The question must be asked does feminism do the same thing in both white and Black disciplines? Walker also states that a  womanist is “wanting to know more and in greater depth than considered “good” for one.” This means, that the Black woman is concerned about Black people and not just Black women. She values and loves the Black woman “sexually and/or nonsexually,” but also has this same feeling for the Black man. A womanist has an understanding that we have faced so much together as a people, that it would make no sense within a white supremacist society to identify one another as the enemy. Who is the enemy? What white men and white WOMEN represent is the enemy to the discipline of womanism. Whiteness is the enemy. Walker when she coined womanism did have every intention on the attempt to support Black feminists, because they are our sisters. Hudson-Weems felt as though womanism was still too much similar to the discipline of feminism. Africana womanism, chooses to identify the homeplace, which is Africa. Not only is Africana womanism about agency as women, it is about the agency of being African. Womanism and Africana womanism has many differences, but they both target “whiteness” as the ultimate issue, because of the collective social injustices that we face in this world.

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-Melanie “CoCo” McCoy

Am I My Brothers Keeper?

I was recently at an event at my University about use of the N-Word, when a question was raised: Why do we greet each other with ‘Whats up Nigga?”, when it used to be “Whats up BROTHER?”. The host responded saying that it was just a change in the times. I respectfully disagree. There is no way that time has changed the word Brother to Nigga. The times are the same it is our mentality that changed. Personally I still refer to many of my peers as Brother, so am i behind on the times? I think not.
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As a people we have somehow fallen into a mindset that we are no longer apart of a large family fighting the same battles. We now see each other as competition, incapable of compassion for this pseudo-enemy that we have fabricated in our minds. There was a time where everyone was referred to as your Sister or Brother, now if you say it, you are looked at as eccentric. As if just the thought of you being equal with another person of color is this obscure concept to be shut down. There is nothing wrong with climbing a ladder and reaching down to help someone that slipped.
Unknown-28“Nigga” displays a sense of inequality no matter how you spin in. When we get out of the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mindset as a people we will then be able to thrive. Someone somewhere instilled the thought that if you do not make it on your own then it does not count, however that is not now nor has it ever been the case. Most of us do not have trust fund or any huge bounty awaiting us to come of age, all we truly have is each other. If you look at the news they do not care, where you are from or what you have as far as they are concerned we are all the same. It is not just the hoodlums that are being murdered by those sworn to protect, it is the student, the teacher, the lawyer, whoever unfortunate enough to adorn the influx of melanin that was bestowed upon us in the womb.
If we do not see each other as equal then why the hell should those in power? Last time I check there was no identifier that makes you better than another, so if you are on a pedestal, I pray it is so you can kneel upon it to gain the leverage needed to pull up another. The shines of your success will never, dim that of another’s but if you cross the path of another who has yet to find their light, then by all means use your light to illuminate their path so that they too can become a lighthouse to the many lost ships out there. So in short, Yes, I am my Brother’s keeper. And my Sister’s as well.
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As Always I Love You, God Loves You, LOVE Yourself,
Man of Madu

The Shunned.

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Step in the shoes of men who are viewed as criminals….

Seen so generally but never as an individual…

Scrutinized without any word or action….

Lies dictate the fate of these men…

Premature accusations ridden with past fears that have no weight…

Yet they are supposed to fight a fight unseen by their own eyes…

Blind…

While already seen as an enemy, nowhere to flee…

A target embedded in them since birth…

Another gangsta born to caged or slaughtered in the streets…

Few weep as the sheep could careless…

In their eyes these men don’t deserve life…

While their mom’s only sees the innocence within…

Maybe a new king or shabazz within…

Take a walk in the shoes of men who don’t know what fair is…

Shunned because of skin they had no choice to bear….

Can you see it thru their eyes…?

Take a peak…

Read between the lies…

Time has passed but where is our change?? Centuries behind due to the chains…

Yet in our history we started as kings…

Now the only thing worth chasing is fame…

or playing a simple ballgame…

The only way I won’t be looked as the same.…

If only money could change everything….

Because in their eyes we’re all the same…

Just another colored man fiending for hoes and bling…

It’s Assimilate or gain nothing…

Maybe then the target will change…

Will these men ever be loved In this world?? Or Are we born to be slain?? Extermination of the past kings and queens…

A generational genocide yet no says a thing…

It started with our leaders now all we know is pain…

 

…….The Shunned……

Sincere

Little Black Boy

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I wrote a poem a little while ago and for some reason I decided to entitle it Little Black Boy,now at first i could not decide why I named it this because usually my poems do not have titles. Then I realized that I named it little black boys, because it seems that these days it is becoming harder and harder for little black boys to live long enough to become Men.
The preservation of life is becoming more and more important as we are constantly losing could-be future Doctors, Lawyers, Educators, Preachers, etc by the dozens. This statistic is expounding across every creed and culture, the amount of tears shed for this monumental loss of innocence could fill a multitude of seas. We have to start taking better care of ourselves and learning from the mistakes of our brothers and sisters. We must bring back the pack mentality, especially in at-risk neighborhoods, do not go strolling the streets by yourself. Always be aware of your surroundings!
I am not against any type of law enforcement but it is becoming more and more evident that We are not the demographic they had in mind when they were told to “Protect and Serve”, we are the danger! That can no longer be the case. If you are in the presence of an Officer please PLEASE, I implore you to do what they ask, but do not be afraid to ask questions! If it comes to a point where you feel that your, rights are being violated, ask questions and be as polite as you can. This is not being a bitch this is being intelligent. We as a people cannot afford to lose any more voices. It is our job, to shine brighter when one of the candles have been snuffed out. So shine bright. 

Now as for my poem, when I write, I do not for the page, I write so that one day it might be spoken so some things might not flow as nicely on page. Without further ado: Little Black Boy

I am the future and the past
And I hope that I last long enough to walk my future mini Me’s to class
Hear my joyous reverberation of a newborns first laugh
Am I pray my wife with have enough class to not adorn clothing that fits in such a way that her treasures are on display
Because it doesnt take a pirate to know that are scavengers out there plotting on your booty.

I want to get rich so when i dress poor its ironic
Instead of a peak inside my socio economical closet
Hella wealthy in mental money
Authors steady making deposits
Intellectual capitol one
Whats in your wallet?

Brain waves 360 like I wrapped it in a du rag
Old neighbors turned gang bangers dont know why they mad
Im like “why” i had the same opportunity that you had
You upset because you chose the gun and I chose the book bag

Youre the reason why when I pass old ladies on the streets they clutch their clutches
Because little Twon could never get a louis vuitton without snatchin and runnin

Many have no idea how hard it is to shoot for the stars
With a fully loaded fully stocked unlocked and cocked imagination
Especially when the weapons of those around you arent aimed as high and arent so metaphorical

Hard to keep track of time when on the look for the neighborhood watch
Hard to keep my train of thought when worried about over zealous transit cops
Who pick on me because they have a quota of repremandments
And if I act up he’ll break rule six of the ten commandments

Suits worn to home going services that were purchased  for interviews
There are no peaceful protest becauses everyones at the funerals

Dont let your potential go waste
Dont let your casket be your cubicle

I am the future, And I hope to honor my past before I pass.

As Always I Love You, God Loves You, LOVE YOURSELF,

Man of Madu