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

30Dec/150

Kwanzaa 2015 / NIA – Purpose

Nia - Kwanzaa - Day 5 Dec 30

29Dec/150

Kwanzaa 2015 / UJAMAA – Cooperative Economics

Ujamaa - Kwanzaa - Day 4 Dec 29

28Dec/150

Kwanzaa 2015 / UJIMA – Collective Work & Responsibility

Ujima - Kwanzaa - Day 3 Dec 28

27Dec/150

Exemplar of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): Professor John Henrik Clarke – A Great and Mighty Walk

"The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child." - Professor Clarke

27Dec/150

Kwanzaa 2015 / KUJICHAGULIA – Self-Determination

Kujichagulia - Kwanzaa - Day 2 Dec 27

26Dec/150

Kwanzaa 2015 / UMOJA – Unity

Umoja - Kwanzaa - Day 1 Dec 26

26Dec/150

Kwanzaa: Understanding the History and Context of a Community Celebration

On this first day of our 2015 Kwanzaa observation and celebration, we once again share the following interview and discussion with Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Howard University in Washington, DC.  This discussion took place for the Sankofa Community Affairs show, hosted by Brother Salim Adofo, with the National Black United Front (NBUF).

In this discussion, Dr. Carr highlights both the African historical context that produced Kwanzaa, as well as the cultural significance of this holiday and celebration within the larger African (-American) community.

Approximately 30 min., Sankofa Community Affairs with @SalimAdofo - Kwanzaa Episode with @AfricanaCarr

22Dec/150

Reflections on Malcolm X

Malcolm X always encouraged people to think for ourselves, to research and assess information for ourselves, and to come to an intelligent conclusion about the reality of white racism and the condition of African American people for ourselves. By so many people's accounts, Brother Malcolm was also a great human being, always encouraging and spending time with people, challenging people but never failing to be gentle and kind.

The following set of reflections - by Gil Noble, as well as three African American women who knew Malcolm - helps to paint a more fully human picture of and perspective on Malcolm X's life and influence.

14Dec/150

Timely Speaking — James Baldwin, 1968: “I can conclude what white people think and feel from the state of their institutions…”

In this 60 second clip, James Baldwin is especially on point. Still applicable some 47 years later.

In the very brief piece, brother Baldwin makes the case that in every significant institutional relationship or arrangement between this American society and the African American community, we are on the more disadvantageous side of that relationship. And note that these are institutional arrangements, guided by laws, policies and practices, and not the individual arrangements between individually bigoted people and other individuals they wish to exploit. (Although, individuals indeed accept and breathe life into, sometimes intensifying, these arrangements.)

He then dismisses what is seemingly an appeal for Black folks to have more faith in, and be more optimistic in our assessments and willingness to trust, the collective good will and intent of whites in this country.

Now, this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith risking myself, my life, my woman, my sister, my children, on some idealism which you assure me exists in America which I have never seen!

I've said this to people I've worked closely with over the years, and it's still the case today... I'm not impressed with the ability of people from different racial and ethnic groups to get along and socialize together, even to support one another as individuals in times of human need. That shows that we have some level of humanness in our spirit that allows us to be humane to other people. I think that's important for sure, but it doesn't suggest a high level of courage; nor does it suggest some level of remarkable character. It shows one to be human in a most basic sense. Given the society we live in, that may seem commendable. Given the examples of civilized societies we've seen throughout history, it reveals a very low moral and ethical bar.

I'm far more interested in whether they/we do the harder work of telling the truth about the worldviews, value systems (and the institutions they produce) that undermine the human potential of some groups of people while stacking the deck in favor of other groups of people. Moreover, I'm interested in whether people do what is within their/our power and sphere of influence to work towards the destruction of that way of living in the world, in favor of a world that is just, that is humane, and that supports the healthy development of all people to their fullest potential.

Having said this, I must also say, consistent with brother Baldwin's reflections, that I'm not as yet convinced that everyone is capable of living in such a world, as the evidence would suggest that some people only know how to live in an environment with hierarchical, exploitative and oppressive human and social relationships, and in which they are on the top and/or in control. The sad reality is that for these people, at least as the evidence would suggest, such a world characterized by exploitation, domination and oppression is in essence their view of what constitutes healthy human relationships.

This notwithstanding, or should I say, because of this, the struggle and everyday work of humanizing - and bringing about justice within - this world, and among the people in it, continues. I am certain that there are courageous folks of all walks of life who are committed to this. For each of us, however, the test of our commitment is in what our actions produce, and not what we profess to believe... in what we do to create justice, optimal health and well-being for all people, and not in how many people we count as friends from other "racial" groups.

Watch the very short clip of Baldwin just below...

4Dec/150

Some Reflections and a Song for the Evening: Marc Dorsey – People in Search of a Life (1995)

Feeling pretty tired after this week, and actually pretty disturbed by the increasing level of overt racism, violence and intimidation we see all around us. This includes a deep pain and sadness associated with the daily insanity that has evolved from our collective experience adjusting to and fighting racism and white supremacy in this country, as well as the state sanctioned violence directed at our people at alarming rates. While there is an intellectual component to understanding and strategizing against racism, this is no academic exercise. This madness is very personal, and can be seen and felt on streets and in homes throughout each of our cities and neighborhoods.

Our people are hurting. The stuff we're struggling with and fighting against is no joke. We have to take better care of ourselves and each other, good people. There's no magic day in the future when we can make time for doing things differently. Now is our time to bring some sanity back to this world. And within our history, we have examples of what that can and should look like. Don't give into the craziness that has been born of and normalized as a result of white racism and oppression. Fight back. We can and must create something better. And we have to put our people, and our struggles, and our aspirations and dreams, at the center from today forward.

Below is my song for the evening, as I think about the limits of resilience, and the increasing urgency for justice, voiced most effectively today by our younger generations.

There's no reprieve from the struggle, though. And the struggle will continue.

And we will win.

Marc Dorsey's People in Search of a Life (1995):

There is a place that is so hard to find
Behind the walls we build inside our minds
Some break the walls, some break the rules, some even get things changed
And when they do, that leads to truth
Their questions still remain
But all that it's sayin'

Chorus:
Somewhere in life there's a joy to be
Between the hope and reality
There in a mirror and then the street
That's where you'll find
People in search of a life

And what of love, is that a point of view?
And when you're alone, it can seem so confused
That's when a friend can pull you in, bring you a helping hand
But what happens when your only friend sells you out in the end
How do you face it?

Chorus x 1

Beyond the sheets of skin, beyond the rules of hate
Within the project walls
There is a cry that will not die
A cry for life
Life

Chorus x 2

In search of a life
Oh, tell me about people
In search of a life
Oh people, people
Looking for a life
Searching, looking in a bottle
Lookin' in a needle
Lookin' in the street
Searchin' everywhere