Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

8Jan/160

Notes and Reflections on Mother Earth: Thich Nhat Hanh – Ancient Wisdom Lives

thic nhat hanh - love letter to the earth

The following reflections are pulled from the opening paragraphs of the book (chapter 1) , Love Letter to the Earth, by our elder and teacher, Thic Nhat Hanh:

At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth only as the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we are always carrying her within us.

Realizing this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this, we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth. We can begin to walk differently and to care for her differently. We will fall completely in love with the Earth.When we are in love with someone and something, there is no separation between ourselves and the person or thing we love. We do whatever we can for them and this brings us great joy and nourishment. That is the relationship each of us can have with the Earth. That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well.

Love Letter to the Earth
Thich Nhat Hanh
2013

16Nov/150

The moral bias behind your search results: TED Talk by Andreas Ekström

Interesting listen... Especially for those who believe there is something objective about the internet search results you get whenever you look for information online.

Search engines have become our most trusted sources of information and arbiters of truth. But can we ever get an unbiased search result? Swedish author and journalist Andreas Ekström argues that such a thing is a philosophical impossibility. In this thoughtful talk, he calls on us to strengthen the bonds between technology and the humanities, and he reminds us that behind every algorithm is a set of personal beliefs that no code can ever completely eradicate.

11Nov/150

Black Student Activists and Black Athletes Stand in Solidarity Against Racism on University Campuses

Yesterday on Democracy Now...

Despite what some people say, the landscape of anti-racism organizing is very different today. Universities, as with other institutions, will have to be far more responsive to the increasingly public student protests against racism and hostile educational environments experienced by Black students and other groups of students who find themselves on the receiving in of white racism and related hostility. Whether it will fundamentally transform the mission, nature and culture of these educational institutions, I'm not as convinced; however, that has to remain the goal.

Black Student Revolt Against Racism Ousts 2 Top Officials at University of Missouri

A revolt by African-American students at the University of Missouri has forced two top officials to resign. On Monday, President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced they will step down in the face of protests over their handling of racism on campus. African-American students have staged weeks of demonstrations against what they called a lax response to bigotry and vandalism. In a key moment Saturday, African-American football players joined the protest, vowing to boycott games and other team activities until Wolfe resigned. We are joined by Mizzou student Danielle Walker, who has organized "Racism Lives Here" demonstrations on campus; and University of Missouri Black Studies Chair Stephanie Shonekan. "[Racist] incidents just seem to be almost a rite of passage for black students when they enter the University of Missouri," Walker says. "I think it is atrocious that these protests had to get to this point in order to truly bring about change, that a student was willing to give their life in order to bring the necessary attention [to] what we have been experiencing so long at this university."

(approx. 23 minutes)

How Black Football Players at University of Missouri Changed the Game on Racism

The protests at the University of Missouri have been growing for weeks, but a turning point came this weekend when African-American players on the school’s football team joined in. In a tweet quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the players wrote: "The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.'" They announced they will no longer take part in any football activities until Wolfe resigned or was removed "due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experience." The coach and athletic department soon came out in support. We are joined by Dave Zirin, sports columnist for The Nation magazine and the host of the Edge of Sports podcast.

(approx. 9 minutes)

"Another Yale is Possible": Students Confront Racism at Ivy League School

The protests at the University of Missouri come as a similar dynamic plays out at one of the nation’s top Ivy League schools. On Monday, more than 1,000 students at Yale University in Connecticut held a march over racism on campus. The "March of Resilience" comes after several incidents where students of color said they faced discrimination. One woman of color was reportedly denied entry to a fraternity party because she is not white, and a faculty member drew criticism after rejecting calls for students to avoid culturally offensive costumes on Halloween. Monday’s crowd chanted slogans including: "We are unstoppable, another Yale is possible." We are joined by Lex Barlowe, African American studies major at Yale University and the president of the Black Student Alliance.

(approx. 9 minutes)

4Nov/150

Esther Ndichu: Hunger isn’t a food issue. It’s a logistics issue. (But don’t forget about racism and public will.)

Here's another TED Talk, this time about the challenges of and potential solutions for getting food to people who are hungry, and communities otherwise unable to access fresh foods. So much of this discussion centers around the technical challenges involved in getting food to people who are hungry, and who are often in difficult-to-reach places. I am clear that this is a huge deal in many respects, and in many parts of the world - not to mention many parts of this very country.

I'm not as sold on the way technology is being used, however, and would much rather see the technology be used for purposes of accountability in terms of making sure the distribution networks - and the people who are responsible within them - get the food to the communities and people who need it in a timely way.

I'd still add that so much of the challenge also appears to be a lack of will among the public, and the governments and corporations that manage this country's and the international community's trade and transportation policy and networks, to make sure food gets to the communities that need it most. Racism and judgments about whether the expense is "worth it" still seem to abound in so much of this nation's discourse about supporting communities with unmet needs, also seemingly reflected in international aid policies and practices.

Similarly, none of this accounts for the continuing legacy of exploitative relationships between farmers and food producers, governments that manage commerce and trade practices, and people and families within communities who actually need food. Also not factored into any of this discussion is whether the food being made available is actually healthy and responsive to the nutritional needs of human beings, and/or whether the food is predominantly comprised of genetically modified crops and their derivative products.

I think any community serious about its own health and well-being should be thinking about all of these dynamics with respect to its own community development needs and strategies.

At both a local and an international level, the ideas discussed by Esther Ndichu are very much worth thinking about more critically.

Most people presume that world hunger is caused by a lack of food. But Esther Ndichu, the humanitarian supply chain director at UPS, argues that the real issue is logistics. She points out that food often rots just miles from the neediest people and that farmers often can’t get goods to market. By fixing the "last mile," she shows that hunger can be solved in our lifetime.

(approximately 12 minutes)

29Oct/150

If the Novel is Dead, So Are We All. Keep Reading Alive.

Literature must live...

Literature, explains Pulitzer-winning writer Junot Díaz, is the closest that we've come to telepathy. It's through literature that we educate our souls by transporting ourselves into some other character's mind. It builds empathy. It allows for new perspectives. It triggers provocation in all the best ways. Novels aren't as popular a medium today as something like Twitter, but that doesn't mean they're not still hugely important.

28Oct/150

“Think Out Loud” – A discussion about the emerging “black digital intelligentsia”

From October 15, 2015 at the Schomburg Center in New York...

In the New Republic's fall issue, contributing editor and Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson explored how the emerging black intelligentsia is embracing social media and technology to shape American thought. On Thursday, October 15, the New Republic brought this conversation to life with a discussion with a bevy of black thinkers, including Dr. Dyson, Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux, Duke professorMark Anthony Neal, Director of the Schomburg Center Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Assistant Rutgers Professor Brittney Cooper, and Lehigh professor James Braxton Peterson. New Republic Senior Editor andIntersection host Jamil Smith moderated.  (approximately 2 hours)

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12Oct/150

From Million Man March to Columbus Day: Challenging White Supremacy & “Doctrine of Discovery”

From Democracy Now - Monday, October 12, 2015

Tens of thousands from across the country gathered on the National Mall in Washington Saturday for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The rally commemorated the 1995 event, when Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan called African-American men to the nation’s capital for a "day of atonement." This year’s rally, themed "Justice or Else," called for an end to police brutality and demanded justice for communities of color, women and the poor, and was more inclusive than the first. Among this year’s crowd were women and other people of color, including Native Americans who are calling for a renaming of Columbus Day, the federal holiday that commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called New World in 1492. The holiday has long evoked sadness and anger among Native Americans who object to honoring the man who opened the land to European colonization and the exploitation of native peoples. We speak with Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, who was at the first Million Man March in 1995 and also attended the 20th anniversary march, and Gyasi Ross, author, speaker, lawyer and member of the Blackfeet Nation.

(Approximately 10 minutes)

30Jul/150

#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Makes Clear the Movement’s Mission and Efforts

The ways in which Black lives are taken with impunity does not make sense. To be alright with this, and to not be moved to action in stopping this, is to not be human.

Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly accused #BlackLivesMatter members of wanting to tear down the country, and a new report reveals the Department of Homeland Security has been keeping tabs on group members. Co-founder Patrisse Cullors joins HuffPost Live to respond.

Originally aired on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
(approx. 18 mins.)

21Jul/150

Michelle Alexander: Beyond Black Spring – Understanding the Roots of a Growing Movement

A brief discussion with Michelle Alexander about the undergirding factors that have shaped community conditions across the country... factors more recently spotlighted during the uprisings in Baltimore, and that continue to inform and shape the national response to incidents like the killings of Sandra Bland (in Texas) and Kindra Chapman (in Alabama), among too many others.

Protests against police violence continue across the US, and this week's episode continues our exclusive reporting on the movement behind the protests. How are the legacies of the eras of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow still with us today? Laura talks to civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander about citizenship and the prison industrial complex. Michelle Alexander is author of the best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a book which has taken on even more urgency in the current protest moment. This episode also features an exclusive new report from Baltimore, with a look at the issues behind the recent uprising, from housing to education to jobs, and Laura connects the issue of lead paint in Baltimore homes to the death of Freddie Gray.   [Published on Jun 2, 2015]

8Jun/150

Affirming Our Humanity in the Face of Police Brutality and a Society that Condones It – Another Monday Meditation

MMM - Logo 6

It pains me to watch video after video, from incident after incident, involving the brutal treatment of African American children and adults - both women and men - by law enforcement officials and others acting in a similar spirit or capacity.

It pains me just as much to see people, everyday citizens and people in positions of influence and "leadership", offering the typical rationale for why such horrendous behavior among law enforcement officials shouldn't be second guessed on one hand, and that the people on the receiving end of such abusive behavior must have done something to deserve it on the other.

While I support the calls for changes in the polices and procedures that shape the professional requirements and expectations of law enforcement officials, and also calls for more police accountability, I'm sorry to say that those cries will continue to fall on deaf ears.

The brutality and barbarism we see playing on our television screens day after day is not in its essence a function of poorly trained law enforcement officials.  The same law enforcement officials, and certainly the larger departments they are a part of, do in fact apply a different sort of law enforcement approach when working with other groups of citizens.  What many African Americans experience in our interactions with law enforcement officials is a consciously applied policing strategy, one developed and applied deliberately, and with the implicit (and many times explicit) support of the larger community.

It's repetitive at this stage to point out the vastly different versions of law enforcement experienced by many or most white Americans - including those involved in criminal activity - and that experienced by African Americans involved in no criminal activity at all.  The two recent incidents in Texas alone show the contrasting approaches well - insanely well I might add.  You had officers coddling violent white thugs riding around and shooting each other up in Waco, while out-of-control cops were terrorizing and manhandling Black teenagers at a pool party, most notably a young African American girl wearing her bathing suit, in the small suburb of McKinney.

Since African American emancipation, the law enforcement apparatus in this country has always had as a primary component of its operation the control and ordering of Black movement and conduct, especially in our relationship with and proximity to white people and the spaces they'd like to claim as their own.  This has been true throughout our history in this country, and is certainly just as true today.

The reality is that this dynamic will likely continue to escalate as white people continue to wrestle with the reality that their idea of what it means to be white, and to be superior, was always a fabrication.  The same is true for the declining spaces they are able to control for their exclusive use and enjoyment.  My best sense of it is that for centuries now, they have been sold a fake bill of goods, and so many of them don't know what to do now that the curtain is rapidly falling.

What we must continue to do (I'm speaking of African Americans) is to rediscover our fundamental humanity and the many centuries worth of examples of us affirming such in the presence of our inhumane counterparts, begin to affirm the same in our interactions with one another today, and continue to demand it in our interactions with others.  Some white folks get it, but way too few.

When our humanity is fully appreciated, it will be reflected in our interactions with each other, with other groups, and in our interactions with all of society's institutions.

The good thing is that the activists among our younger generations get it.  Our struggle will continue.  And our humanity will be affirmed.