Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Death Of Dr. Donda West

The death of Kanye's mother, Dr. Donda West
and the circumstances surrounding her passing
struck a deep cord with me. I often marvel at how Black people, especially those in the entertainment industry, have become so caught up in the Hollywood frenzy of acquiring facial features and undergoing plastic surgery as a means of improving on what God has already made perfect.

The whole situation reeks to me of a deep sense of self hatred and self loathing. For me, the plastic surgery craze amongst Black folks stems from a desire, not only to look more European (whatever that means, because Europeans, before they came to America had all types of features, hair textures and skin tones, and many were not considered "White.") but also to look like someone other than who you are, who your momma is, who your grandmother is. It is a rejection of the self plain and simple.

It is evident and all around us, that Black people are lightening our skin and straightening our hair as well as our noses and are suffering from a split personality that says "I am proud to be Black or African- American," all the while desiring look less and less "African" (which also includes various skin tones, hair textures and facial features), but I digress. The bottom line is that White Supremacy and Institutionalized racism have caused us to internalize a deep hatred for how we look and most of us are unaware or claim to be unaware of the phenomenon.

Tyra Banks will feature a show that talks about how she has cellulite and how she is naturally a big girl, but will not mention her many nose jobs or how she almost is never seen with natural hair or features anyone on her show with natural hair. Many of us play this game and stand up and say we are proud to be "African-Americans" then do whatever it takes to make sure that anything identifiably "African" about us is erased.

We need to really examine our values as individuals, but also a a race. And also look at the message we send to the world when blonde weaves and straight noses have become our standard of beauty. Did our ancestors fight the good fight, die and experience unspeakable brutality for us to become literal "Imitations of Life?" We are imitating the behavior and adopting the value system of those who seek to oppress us and keep us from being acknowledged as fully human. We are using our intelligence, our brilliance and our culture and selling it to the highest bidder and wondering why our children are rebelling. Can they tell the difference between a drug lord and a accomplished actor, singer or rapper? No, because almost everyone of them is dripping with blood diamonds and walking with a woman who does not look like their mama on their arms.

Dr. West's death is a tragedy. One, because she was an inspiration to so many and gave us the gift of Kanye, a powerful and beautiful soul who has blessed us with his music and two, because Dr. West was a beautiful sister, intelligent and strong and powerful in her own right, yet she did not think she looked good enough the way she was, and for some reason did not hire a personal trainer, or a personal chef (which I am sure she could have afforded) in order to lose the weight and possibly the inches off of her breasts in a more healthy and integrative manner.

I hate to say this and reiterate what Bill Cosby and others are saying but "Come On People!" We cannot claim to be proud as African-Americans and not take care of our bodies, our minds, and truly love ourselves and at the same time slice up our noses, alter our breasts, lighten our skin and expect not to pay a very high price. It goes against spiritual law to claim to love yourself, then seek to erase your ancestors memory from your body and your face. Our bodies are our last frontier. They are the last thing that we have control over. Yet, they are being conquered, reshaped, shifted, lightened and tightened to exemplify a White ideal that does not really exist. It is an illusion. Death is not.

My prayers go out to Kanye and his family and I hope and pray that Kanye will use this tragedy to dig deep within himself and emerge a the true voice of a generation that he is.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Sojourn at World Fellowship

Greetings Good People!

I have returned from my sojourn in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The experience proved to be one of great healing, and growth for me, as well as the many different people that I lived, taught, learned, and worked with on a daily basis from June to September.

Living and working in an intentional community, that is committed to social change, and living in harmony with nature, has reinforced my belief that communal work, and living, will prove to be the cure for much of societies ills. Much of what ails us, especially those of us of African decent, has to do with the fact that our communities have been destroyed, and the way of life that is most natural to us, has been replaced by a way of life that focuses on individual progress over collective progress, isolation and separation from nature, and the "nuclear" family.

I was not raised this way, and have never felt comfortable with this way of living, and seek to find and create community wherever I go, and to spend as much time in nature as I can. I consider this my own form of resistance. By choosing to align myself with people, and a way of life that speaks to my personal values, is how I combat the ever encroaching, and often soul-stifling urbanization of ever corner of our existence.

Communal work and living are not perfect and there are many challenges. Being one of the only black people on staff, and the only black woman, had its challenges, and many times I had to remind people of their illusion that white supremacy and institutionalized racism are no longer alive and thriving, and are not eradicated by time spent in Africa or Latin America. They are alive, and well and need to be challenged constantly, not only by those of us who have to deal with its attacks on our humanity and our souls, but also by those who "benefit" from it. Truth be told, all of us are dehumanized, and marginalized by what I learned from my Irish friend Dugald, "Systems of Oppression".

Nonetheless, I was embraced by many, with a love and acceptance, that I have rarely experienced outside of my biological family. In fact, I found an extended family at World Fellowship. As the Youth Fellowship Coordinator, I was allowed the freedom to connect with the young people in my own way, and on "our" terms. Meaning I connected with the youth, met them where they were, and worked from there. I created activities, and circle discussions that tapped into their personal experiences, and allowed them to opportunity to express what they felt about world issues, school, their parents, other adults, race etc. You would be surprised what came out of their mouths. Most of the young people I encountered, thought deeply about many of these issues, and were able to give voice to those concerns with great depth and eloquence. Many of their parents were surprised that I got them to open up and talk about anything, let alone world issues, and many asked me "What did you do?" I respected them by asking what they thought, how they felt, and spoke their language. And I constantly went back in time to remind myself of what it was like when I was a teenager. That kept me humble!

So after nearly 3 months of; workshops, political discussions, Capoeira, soccer, bonfires, nature walks, and mountain trails, Contra Dances, Paneurythmy, Yoga, more ice cream than I have ever eaten in my life, 3 delicious and nutritious, mostly vegetarian meals a day (with many of the vegetables grown in and harvested from WF's garden), I am back in what some call "civilization."

With all that we see transpiring in our world, the time is right for all of us to begin to examine the way in which we live, and to ask ourselves if we are living a life that is truly in alignment with who we are, and what we value, and to begin to make necessary adjustments and changes before we are forced to do so.

Many Blessings and Peace,


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mount Chocorua

Yesterday, I climbed Mount Chocorua, which is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The experience was one of profound exhilaration and insight, that left me breathless (literally).

I started off the hike with a group of six people, who were a mixture of staff, as well as guests of The World Fellowship Center where I am working for the summer as a Youth Fellowship Coordinator. The group was a mixture of young and old, experienced and inexperienced, who all shared a love of the great outdoors, and were excited about a day spent in nature.

Mount Chocorua is visible from the main lodge on the grounds of World Fellowship, so is an inescapable part of the landscape. Whenever one walks across the lawn, one can see the mountain capped in white, and dressed in nature's greenery, rising admidst the clouds. The power and majesty of the mountain creates an ominous presence that permeates the atmosphere. I now understand why legends about mountains abound, with magical tales, and myths that illustrate how they came into being, and how these tales have become an intergral part of regional folklore the world over.

The legend of Mount Chocorua is a story of revenge, and tragically ends with an Indian named Chocorua leaping to his death after being pursued up the mountain, and shot by white men after it is believed he avenged the accidental poisoning of his son, by killing a white family. I won't bother going into the legend of the curse that was put on the region, by Chocorua. Needless to say, I kept the details of the legend in mind as I made my climb.

As I began my journey, I thought of the legend of Chocorua and the Native Americans who originally populated New Hampshire. I walked along the path deep in thought, Sage and Native Medicine ( courtesy of my sister friend Leslie's, Black Cherokee Cirlce) in hand. The hike for me proved to be a meditative one. As others rushed along the trail, as if in a race to reach the top in record time, I and a few other, older and slower, and therefore more reflective in nature, took in the beauty of our surroundings, that were a mixture of Birch and Evergreen trees, streams and brooks. I stopped on many occassion during our acesnt; one because I frequently found myself out of breath, and also, simply to listen to the hush of the forest. I took my time, sat on huge rocks and underneath mammoth trees, breathed deeply and tarried on.

The climb took about three hours, and took all the resolve I had in me to complete. As we neared the top, the trees became thinner and shorter, and the sky gradually became visible. As the summit showed itself in the bright clear sky, it seemed as if we would never reach it. The climb seemed to go on and on, and the summit farther and farther away no matter how close our trek leader said we were getting to the top. In order to motiviate myself, I repeated one of my favorite scriptures over and over again: "The race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to those who endureth until the end." I used the words as a reminder, as I and a few others brought up the rear, that this journey was not about how fast I could make it up the mountain, so I climbed on, took my time and stopped when I felt it was necessary.

As I reached the final landing before the summit, I turned and looked behind me to see what lay before me and beneath me. I was overcome with emotion and began to weep. One, because I am always awestruck at the wonder and majesty of God's creation, and also how much the White Mountains of New Hampshire remind me of the mountains of Sierra Leone. I have longed to go back to Sierra Leone to see my father and my many relative who live there, as well as to bask in the beauty and warmth of the African sun, eat my fill of Cassava Leaves, and swim in the ocean. I had to take my final break and allow all the emotions that were swirling in my chest, to rise to the surface. I wiped the tears that streamed down my face; tears that represented joy, love, loss, journeys, family, home, distance, war and brutality, and made my final ascent to the top.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Return To Innocence

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed".-- Albert Einstein

In our culture, knowledge and intelligence are coveted. We live in a nation of experts, where people pride themselves on having mastered various concentrations of knowledge. You can be an expert on anything from medicine, to sports, to religion. And, now with the Internet and the access to endless amounts of information, knowledge that was once only available to the wealthy and elite-- who could afford expensive educations at mostly private institutions, is now available to the masses. At the click of a button on your computer keyboard you can have access to statistics, scientific data, as well as various historical accounts on the lives of everyone from Jesus to Nostradamus.

And in true American cultural fashion, Americans recount these facts, and figures with an arrogance and certainty, quite like the fore-fathers belief in Manifest Destiny. With a culture that has been inundated with "perfect-looking" and "perfect-Speaking" actors, and newscasters who have the benefit of learning scripts and reading teleprompters, many Americans have copied these techniques and speak with an authority and with an assuredness that what they say is true--even is it is a bunch of rubbish.

This form of so called intellect is mesmerizing, as well as it is astonishing. I have met so many people who can rattle off knowledge about various subjects, and have often found myself quite dazzled by their seeming eloquence, and the breadth of their experiences. Many have read all of the books, and journeyed to many places, studied various subjects, taken this course, and sat at the foot of, and studied with this Shaman or that Guru. But I have often found that when it comes to having a deep grasp of who it is that they are, or having developed a strong foundation within the core of their being, most fall short.

Because so much information is so easily accessible, and because education in our culture has come to mean an ability to read, write and regurgitate facts and data that is often times archaic and incorrect; people's heads have become so full of "knowledge." Many can give long discourses on what they think they know, but when a life test or lesson appears, many have not developed the wisdom to be able to really apply what they have learned. And this is assuming that what they have learned is really true. As many of us eventually discover, much of what we have been taught in not true.

One of my favorite quotes is from Erykah Badu's song "On and On" where she sings, "The wise man knows that he knows nothing at all." It has become almost shameful in our society to say "I don't know" or "I am not sure" or "I thought I knew, but I am discovering that what I thought I knew, is not really true." People feel that they have to come off as experts on anything and everything. People even go as far as to say they know what the mind of God thinks.

What happened to the mystery? What happened to the innocence that Christ said it took to enter in to Kingdom? The more knowledge I acquire, the more I realize that most sacred, and important things in life remain mysterious, and cannot be intellectually dissected. The understanding of these things comes in the silence, and to a humble heart and an open mind-- a mind and heart that has to be emptied in order to receive.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fast Forward Into Spring!

Spring represents a time of regeneration and renewal, and offers an opportunity to get rid of the old and to usher in the new. Many people use this time to do Spring-cleaning. Most people associate Spring-cleaning with the external, but what of internal Spring-cleaning or fasting? The warmer weather and longer days offer us a time to go to the local market and exchange our heavier winter diet with fresh fruits and salads. The abundant variety of tropical fruits and local berries, along with the wide array of greens that are available all year around, but become cheaper as the weather gets warmer, all offer a chance to go on a fast and to cleanse our bodies on an internal level.

Fasting is an age old practice that is usually associated with monks, nuns and monasteries; the belief being that denying oneself food and drink took ones mind away from all things worldly and brought ones focus closer to things Divine and therefore closer to God. Now, people fast for a variety of reasons. Some fast to lose weight, others as a show of solidarity with a particular social or political movement, others fast as a way to cleanse the body and to give the digestive system a break. It all is a matter of personal choice, and should be approached carefully and with proper knowledge of the potential side affects and health hazards. For example, women who are pregnant or those who have diabetes or hypoglycemia should consult a physician or a holistic health care practitioner to receive guidance on what type of fast would provide all of the nutrients that their particular case requires.

There are a variety of fasts that people engage in. There are fasts that call for no intake of food or water for a prescribed time. This is the most radical form of fasting and can lead to serious health issues and even death if done for too long. There are juice fasts where people only drink the juice of raw fruits and vegetables for a prescribed time. There are also fasts that consist of a completely raw food diet, where the person only eats raw fruits, vegetable as well as raw nuts. Some fasts require that a person cut out meat, dairy or all carbohydrates. It all depends on what the person in trying to achieve. Since I have a very high metabolism and burn calories very quickly, fasting for long periods of time doest not really suit me, as weight loss is rapid and my energy level tends to wane. My favorite type of fast is one that allows me to gradually build up to it. I begin by eliminating certain foods; for example all meat and all cooked foods. Then I work my way to only eating raw fruits and vegetables. It is certainly a test of one's will, especially if you are fasting alone while others in your household continue to eat a regular diet. You will find that you are sometimes subject to smells wafting from the kitchen that include foods that you are refraining from eating. It is all worth it in the end as the body has been given a chance to detoxify itself and the digestive system is given a break. I find that after a fast that my body is more energized, that my system functions more smoothly and that my skin exudes a clarity and vibrancy that was not present before. Also once you fast, even if it from sun up to sun down, for a few days or for weeks at a time, each time it becomes easier.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Reiki As a Way of Life

About three years ago, I was initiated into Reiki. One of my mentors, had encouraged me to look into learning a similar healing modality called Pranic Healing which is another form of energetic healing, but I never pursued it. I felt that I needed to do more self-healing before I could really consider becoming a conduit for healing others. Then I was introduced to Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese form of energetic healing, which means Universal Life ( "Rei"), and Energy ("Ki"). Reiki was discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan in in the early 1900's. Dr. Usui was the head of a Christian Monastery, and his students approached him about continuing in the tradition of Jesus by healing those who were sick. The story goes that Dr. Usui climbed a mountain where he meditated and prayed for 21 days, and was given the gift of Reiki. Of course there are those who would argue that the practice of laying on of hands in order to impart healing is nothing new; but this particular form as was rediscovered and developed has spread worldwide, and grown in popularity, as people seek to utilize this very gentle, yet powerful form of healing.
For those who are serious, Reiki becomes a way of life.

There are three levels of Reiki, Level I, where the person receives their first attunement by a Reiki Master and learns the basic hand positions and how to beam Reiki to a persons aura, where it believed that illness and disease first manifests. This level is designed to introduce the student to the energy of Reiki, and allows them to practice on themselvesas well as family and friends. After the first attunement one may experience a cleansing or sorts for up to 21 days, mirroring the 21 day time period of Dr. Usui's first encounter with Reiki. Level II involves learning to use powerful symbols that are used in conjunction with the energy of Reiki. These symbols are energetically fused into the Reiki practitioner's hands. The symbols are used to help guide and focus the Reiki energy toward certain areas in need of healing (physical as well as mental and emotional). Then there is the final stage-- Level III/Mastership, which is the teaching level. A Reiki Master is given more symbols that increase the impact of the Reiki energy and is able to teach/initiate others.

Once initiated into Reiki at level I and so on, Reiki can be used for self-healing, sent over long distances to heal those who are far away, can be used to heal traumatic events of the past, and even be sent into the future to energize upcoming events. It is a powerful healing modality that never depletes the practitioner, as the energy of Reiki flows from the practitioner to the person who is receiving the Reiki back to the practitioner in a affirmative energy exchange. Those who practice or receive Reiki, experience an increased sense of inner peace as well as profound healing. Since being initiated into Reiki, I have experienced a groundedness and sense of calm as well as a fierce dedication and love of serving and helping to heal others. Reiki has truly changed my life, as well as my approach to healing myself and others.

For more information on Reiki, visit the following sites:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Monastic City Life

As the Spring Equinox approaches, I have been preoccupied with trying to maintain a balance between being a deeply spiritual person who values long periods of solitude, and who often seeks that solitude by retreating from the constant, bustling activity of the outer world, with that of the part of me that exists as an extremely social being, who loves to network and be part of a community. It is a continuous act of going within and remaining in tune with my psyche and spirit and allowing my soul to dictate which part of me needs nurturing at any particular given moment. Usually I can gauge by the seasons which part of me is going to take over. For example; During the winter months, like many other people, I find myself spending more time indoors, and will often spend my weekends curled up under a huge duvet with a good book, or watching a movie with friends and family, while cooking a big pot of soup. During the Spring and summer months, I am out and about attending outdoor concerts, festivals, eating at outdoor cafes with friends and spending as much time as possible soaking up the intense heat of the Vitamin D filled rays of the sun, that my melanin rich, African skin so sorrowfully and sorely misses during the cold weather months.
Those of us whose existence is based closer to and more in alignment with the spiritual side of living, know that the urge, or inner prompting that we receive that tells us to retreat from the outer world can pop up at anytime during the year. If you are like me, you know that not following the prompting of your soul can lead to trouble in the form of illness, sudden mishaps, accidents or whatever is needed to get you to pay attention. Surrendering to Spirit is never an easy task, especially because we live in a culture where everything is action oriented and you are constantly being judged, and your existence is continuously being scrutinized using criteria that is solely action based-- In other words, by what you are actively doing and what you produce materially. There is very little value placed on the care and the feeding of one's soul. Those of us whose values run counter to that of our society, know that unless we retreat for a few days, weeks or even months to meditate, fast, pray, detox, or whatever it is you are called to do, is that we will not really be able to serve humanity or live our lives in alignment with our true nature or our life's purpose. I have always valued my moments of solitude, as well as periods of deep reflection. I see it not only as a service to my own spirit, but also as proper preparation for those who I came to serve. What good am I if I am out and about in the world, seeking to help others, if I myself have not taken the time to do the necessary self- healing and self-examination that it takes for me to stay spiritually focused and on point? It is challenging though, because we do not live in a society that seeks to incorporate spiritual life with secular living. So those of us who walk this path have to come up with ways of honoring that part of ourselves that is crucial to our mental, emotional as well as our physiological well-being. Try fasting when you are in charge of events and have to hire caterers as well as choose the food that will be served at the event, and then have to hob-nob with folks who are all eating the delectable food that you yourself picked out. Or stopping to pray during a certain time of day while buses, trucks and sirens create a frenzy around you. It ain’t easy folks. One of my favorite authors, Caroline Myss, calls it being a mystic without a monastery. I call it the challenge of being a spirit living in a modern and very material world.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Martin Prechtel on Grief and Praise

Recently I was gifted with a CD of a lecture given by a Tzutujil Mayan Shaman named Martin Prechtel titled "Grief and Praise". Pechtel, a half-blood Pueblo Indian, trained in the Tzutujil Mayan Shamanic tradition, gives a delightfully engaging and and surprisingly humorous lecture on how the inability that many people have in our culture to grieve (weep) properly for the dead, is deeply linked with the inability to give praise to the living. In our society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone and without the support of a community. Prechtel explains that this is the reason for much of the social and cultural maladies that we are currently experiencing. According to Prechtel, "When you have two centuries of people who have not grieved the things that they have lost properly, the grief shows up as ghosts that inhabit their grandchildren." These ghosts, he says inhabit our children, and can manifest as disease in the form of tumors, which the Mayan refer to as solidified tears, or it can show up in the form of behavioral issues and depression. He goes on further to suggest that this collective, unexpressed energy is the long held grief of the Ancestors manifesting itself, and much work has to be done to free up this backed up energy. While listening, a sense of knowing filled my soul as I recalled countless times when I wanted to mourn the loss of something or someone, but held it in for fear that I would be viewed as weak or overly emotional. In our culture, tears make people feel uncomfortable, and we work hard to cover up such emotions and train our children to do so as well. According to the Mayan as well as the Dagara of West Africa, grief and tears cleanse the soul and make way for life to be fully expressed in light of who and what was lost. Grief and grieving allows us to express our great appreciation for the dead, the life that they lived and the contribution that they made. In his opinion, such an outpouring should never be repressed and in fact is healing in of itself. Martin talked about the women in his village that he referred to as "professional weepers." These women, and sometimes men, who are known throughout the village because they are "sensitive to life", come and listen to the story of the departed. These professional weepers begin to tap in to the collective grief of the community and help usher in the process, by recounting the life of the person(s) who has died, thus opening the gateway for the community to grieve. For the first time I felt a sense of validation as a sensitive soul and a self proclaimed empath.I know that if I lived amongst the Maya, I would be (and many other people I know) one of these women!

He goes on to talk about how in the Mayan culture, grief is inextricably linked to praise; in fact according to Prechtel they are different sides of the same coin. In the Mayan worldview, being able to grieve properly which quoting Pechtel means, "Looking bad after you are done" shows the human ability to show appreciation for what was lost. Just as praising someone is the ability to show appreciation for who they are and the gifts that they bring into the world. Often, in our culture people go unappreciated for the gifts that they bring into the world and even for their accomplishments. According to Prechtel, people who carry a huge amount of unexpressed grief are those who were not praised properly for something worthy when they were small. Again, in order to praise someone properly, it takes an entire community to acknowledge the person’s contribution, as the contribution benefits the entire community. How many little ones go without communal praise for their worthy achievements? Achievements that are not based on a spirit of competition, but on ones uniqueness, beauty and strength. To have a community praise someone when you create something wonderful, achieve a goal, even give birth to a wonderful idea, shows that they value your life and want you to continue to live! A large number of or youth learn the opposite about themselves, are shunned for seeking acknowledgement and act out this feeling of invisibility in their homes and in our society. As I witness the violence and destruction that many of our youth are expressing, I liken the extreme behavior as a cry for acknowledgement and praise (the reason why they are giving us so much grief!).

We have much to learn from the wisdom of our Mayan brothers and sisters as well as many other indigenous cultures such as the Dagara of West Africa, on the "Dignity in grief and the nobility in praise".

For more on the work of Martin Prechtel and to learn about obtaining a copy of the CD titled "Grief and Praise":

Also a link to a an interview titled "Saving the Indigenous Soul visit:

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Marriage Industrial Complex, Part 2--Spiritual Partnerships

In my first post on marriage, which I referred to as an industrial complex, I examined the institution’s current state, it's history and the many challenges that many people face in the attempt to fit their modern lives into what I deem to be an archaic set up ( I am not married so this is an outsider's view). Recently, author and leader in the New Thought Movement, Gary Zukav appeared on Oprah to discuss the concept of Spiritual Partnerships, which he says, is the new paradigm that will replace traditional marriage. I was truly happy that Oprah had Gary on to discuss this concept and present it to the world. Like myself, Gary Zukav believes that in order for people to become truly evolved, partnerships need to be formed with spiritual growth as the main focus and intention. M. Scott-Peck brought forth a similar vision for people who were looking for something deeper, and more meaningful than the current relationship model in his book The Road Less Traveled.
Spiritual Partnerships are formed with the intention that the two individuals are on a journey, and are together in order to assist one another first and foremost with spiritual growth. Meaning, the traditional roles of "wife" and "husband" that people believe they are forced to assume, are replaced not with another role, but with freedom to grow while learning what would be best for each individual, both practically and spiritually.
I recently experienced an example of this while hanging out with a friend on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. We met a beautiful man who was with his three-year-old daughter walking along the beach. He lovingly pushed his baby girl in her stroller with the care of someone dedicated to the task at hand, showing her the beauty of the ocean and allowing the sun’s rays to shine lovingly on her beautifully brown and perfectly round little face. My friend, being much more open and outgoing than I, asked the brother what brought him to the beach during the day with his child. The man told us that he ran his own business and spent as much time with his three kids during the day when his wife, after giving birth to their children, proclaimed: "This is not for me!" He took over and became the primary caretaker of his children, since his wife did not feel suited to the traditional role of "mother". I was amazed at the ease with which this young man told the story. He obviously loved and was committed to his wife’s evolution as a person, and was able to accept that his wife felt more comfortable working. He did not force her to assume the role of caretaker and assumed the role himself. As a result, their relationship shifted its dynamic, with each partner assuming different roles in order to preserve the individuals identity. His wife went back to work and he started his own business. He was not afraid to take on a role that is usually reserved for the woman. He was much better suited at taking care of the children than his wife, so it worked for both of them. Both of them obviously wanted to see their family remain intact and both were willing to make the necessary adjustments. This is vastly different from what most people in relationships do, which is try to force each other to assume roles that do not reflect the truth of who they are. This, in my opinion, is what causes people to become despondent in relationships. This man and his partner's choice to do things differently is an example of being committed to your partner on both a practical and spiritual level. A new paradigm.
Gary also talked about how people in marriages and relationships end up so unhappy because people blame and judge each other, making the other person the scapegoat for their own emotional issues and the resulting unhappiness that stems from these issues. He advised couples to take responsibility for their own emotional well-being. He spoke about how maintaining happiness and contentment is first and foremost an inside job. He suggested that once people work on themselves and achieve inner peace, then the state of inner contentment will flow outward and positively impact the relationship. This differs vastly from the current paradigm that exists, of partners endless attempts to figure out how to make the other happy(which we all know is a futile pursuit). Happiness is first and foremost an inside job.
Oprah also brought up the fact that "romance" has really "screwed up" people’s expectations in relationships, and how many people create false expectations of their partners based on the fleeting feelings of romance. Of course neither Oprah nor Gary were suggesting that romance in itself is bad, but that true partnerships are firmly grounded in reality, not fleeting emotions. True partnerships are created intentionally, with both people aware of the work and level of commitment that is required for both individual and collective spiritual growth. It is based on expansion of the individual’s soul. Not, restrictions and control:"You do this to please me, and I do this to please you." And this mutual support exists even if it means that the person evolves beyond the realm of the relationship. Not and easy endeavor to consider, but it sounds much more inviting and liberating than ‘Till death do us part". And even if it is your intention to remain with your partner until death, in the ever-changing world that we live in, we need to make our intentions less permanent, learn to live in the present moment, and deal with the reality that "till death do us part" may not be as long as we think.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Documentary.

Airs Tonight On PBS! Check your local listings for more details.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fire Women

Fire Women

I want to see more of these women on television and videos. These Fire Women, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Jill Scott, Christina Aguilera, Meshell Ndegeocello and Joss Stone are the real deal! They sing from their hearts using their entire minds, their bodies and their souls! I say put a show together with these fierce sistas and call it Celie-Palooza!

Also these sistas are not ruled by the industry's lust for scantily clad, hyper-sexualized, gyrating divas. They maintain their dignity, and are committed to their craft. They are artists first and foremost, and are willing to be viewed as kooky, crazy and lost for the sake of artistic integrity. Much love and mad props to these women who call their own shots!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Men That I Love!

Folks, so many of us give our attention to what we don't like. Whether our dislikes have to do with people, the government, our jobs or even our relationships, the Law of Attraction states that what we focus on expands. So in an effort to accentuate the positive or as they say in the hood: "Don't Hate, Appreciate," I am dedicating this post to the men that I love!

Dave Chappelle: He gets love because he had the heart to say no to becoming a $50 Million slave for Comedy Central. Dave was smart enough to realize that all money ain't good money. He has the gift of introspection and the ability to weigh the pros and cons of his particular brand of slapstick comedy. At the end of the day, Dave decided that he could no longer look at himself in the mirror and continue to make people laugh at racism. Bravo for you Dave!

Michael Eric Dyson: He gets love because he is the only professor I know who can spit rap lyrics , weave them in and render them relevant in his academic, social and political commentary. And he does it like a pro. This brother turned a stint in the penitentiary into a vision of obtaining a higher education, all the while never losing his love for da'hood. His sharp and witty intellectual delivery is made all the more sexy by his knowledge and command of Hip- Hop language and culture! And he is fine as hell too!

Dr. Cornel West: Gets mad love because when the powers that be at Harvard suggested that he was no longer academically inclined and that he should leave the movie roles (The Matrix) and Hip-Hop albums out of his academic repertoire, he said "See Ya!" Dr. West joined Princeton's illustrious faculty and kept it real. Never have I seen a man of such intellect, be able to capture the love of the masses. His love for the people is real and as a result, many may not be able to grasp what he is talking about but they listen because of the love he has for them ( Bill Cosby, take note).

Tavis Smiley: You gotta love this brother for his commitment and dedication to the cause of Black liberation and to that of democracy. Tavis ain't never been mainstream. When Bob Johnson would not acknowledge him or give him his props, he did a "Cornel West" and said "See Ya!"He maintains his political ideology and his "out of the box" manner of thinking, and has made a home for himself on Public Television and National Public Radio. With very little press or support from industry big wigs his book Covenant With Black America remains on the top ten sellers list. Check out his new autobiography What I know For Sure. Tavis is smart, intuitive and sexy! Question Tavis: Why are you still single, brother?

Stephen Colbert: Stephen makes me laugh! His political sense of humor is refreshing and
witty. He pokes fun at Republicans while pretending to be their staunchest supporter and makes it very believable. Behind those glasses is a tall, dark and handsome man who enjoys poking fun at the absurdity of it all! I try to watch The Colbert Report daily on Comedy Central.

Dr. Michael Beckwith:For those of you who are fans of The Secret, Dr. Beckwith is the brother who steals the show from all of the other Secret Teachers. He heads a church in Los Angeles called The Agape International Spiritual Center The brother is deep and intelligent. His down to earth manner and delivery make me want to watch The Secret over and over again just to see and listen to him teach. I think Oprah digs him too (wink)!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Eddie Murphy Needs Our Prayers!

About 25 years ago, when the stand up comedian Eddie Murphy debuted the hit stand up film "Delirious" I was attending high school in the Bronx.

It was the talk of my high school, and many of us had watched the HBO special so many times that we could recite the hilarious routine word for word.

Remember Aunt Bunny and Goony Goo Goo? The Story of his overweight aunt with the mustache who would always fall down the steps during the family barbecue.

25 years ago Eddie broke new comedic ground and made us laugh at ourselves and the unusual and sometimes scary members of our family . We could all relate to having a relative that scared the hell out of us, or made us feel strange when we were kids.

A quarter of a century later Eddie is still on the Goony Goo Goo tip and seems not to be able to leave it alone. What was once a joke that poked fun at someone who could have been any one's aunt, now seems to be an all out attack on Black Women who do not look like Halle Berry, Beyonce or Thandie Newton.

The overweight, loud, scary Black Woman who is aggressive, overly sexed and who chases down, bosses around and acts more like a man than the man she is with, seems to an obsession with Eddie and also with Hollywood. The film grossed over 30 Million in the first weekend.

Many groups balked that Eddie had gone to far and said that they were tired of the negative depiction of Black Women. Some even said that it might hurt his chances at winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Well no one listened. Who really cares if Black People want to continue to make films that ridicule, make fun of, and grossly distort the image of their own mothers, sisters and aunts. Hey R. Kelly was awarded an NAACP Image Award and he is facing charges that he molested several young Black girls.

My thing is that Eddie is so talented and versatile as an actor and even as a singer. He could do Broadway or become a director. Why is it that he seems to be obsessed with the distorted and derogatory image of a Black Woman.?

I don't know what happened to him when he was a kid. Maybe he was terrorized by a big black girl in class and has yet to get over it ( weren't we all terrorized by someone bigger than us?).

Eddie do us all a favor please? Work it out in therapy and focus on making some movies that celebrate the strength and accomplishments of Black Women of all sizes, shapes, and color variations. They can be comedies. Just stop making the Black Woman look inhuman and out of control! You may not know it and your "friends" in "Holyweird" may not tell you but your self hatred and your fear and loathing of Black Women is on patrol for all to see!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Open Letter to Brother Barack Obama

An Open Letter To Brother Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I am writing this letter to you to express my disappointment with much of the commentary that I have read and heard about you and the quality of your blackness. I am only concerned with the views that are coming from The African-American community. The reason being, is that it does not nor should it surprise me that some whites are trying their best to act, in a country where race is the proverbial elephant in the room, as if your race does not matter.

My concern lies with the African-American community solely, because we have made great strides in this nation, as Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently stated, to be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. So why are so many of us, politicians, news columnists and others so obsessed with judging your blackness and questioning whether or not you are black enough? It makes us seem as if we have split personalities and are confused about what we want. Are we, as African-Americans really ready to be judged simply by the content of our characters? Or, have we become so accustomed to relying on race as an issue to throw out as our trump card, that we are holding on dearly to the privilege of being treated as "other" due to the color of our skin?

What is also quite painful to witness, is that, in spite of the great strides made by African-American leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X and African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, who worked tirelessly to build a bridge between Blacks in America and their African brothers and sisters, that people are bringing up the issue that your father was an African Immigrant and that this fact somehow renders you unqualified or unable to relate to or represent American Blacks.

Have they forgotten that since the early 60's when African nations were receiving their independence from colonial rule, African-Americans have worked closely with their brothers and sisters in Africa both politically, socially and culturally to help assist them in making the transition to independence? Many African-Americans traveled to West Africa, joined the Peace Corps, volunteered during elections, and made nations like Ghana their adopted home. Also, the Freedom Movement in South Africa was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement here in America, and many South African Blacks looked to their African-American brothers and sisters in America for encouragement and inspiration. In turn, African-Americans led the fight on American soil, by sitting in, boycotting, and marching to help free their brothers and sisters from the Racist Apartheid Regime in South Africa.

So I am not getting the point that you being an African/American as opposed to an African-American somehow makes you less black. Anyone, from Colin Powell to Denzel Washington to Sean Bell to Amadou Diallo knows that being African/ Black/ Negro or whatever we choose to call ourselves, is an experience that is wrought with triumph and great accomplishment but also with the sting of racism, ignorance, hatred and many times death. It does not matter if you are from the 9th Ward in Louisiana or Cape Town in South Africa, like the words of a famous reggae tune "No matter where you come from, if you are a black man you're an African"!

I too am an African/American. My mother, from Harlem and my dad from Sierra Leone. And I experienced the worst in taunts and teasing from my African-American brothers and sisters. They said I was too black, that I was a filthy African, that I should go back home and live in the trees with the monkeys. My mother would wipe my tears and try to explain to me that the kids were ignorant and did not know anything about Africa and learned to hate themselves and me from what they saw on television.

Well that was 30 years ago. And we are still on the same subject making the same distinctions, in a much more grown up way, but still making the distinction. Your mom is White, so I guess that makes you too light.

When are WE going to stop the madness and realize that WE ARE ALL AFRICANS!!! And until anthropologists and archaeologists find one-million year old skeletal remains in Sweden... this includes white folks!!!

Best Wishes to you on your journey. May God Bless You, Keep You, and Protect You.


Aisha Karefa-Smart