Posted on 4 Comments

I’m Still African First!

male and female couple near tree

We’ve all heard it “I’m African, not because I was born in Africa, but Africa was born in me.” It’s true, there is something about our spirit that has created sub-cultures all over the world, even through being victims of enslavement. 99% of what we do as Black people can be directly linked to Africa; even family reunions, even battle rap cyphers, even tap dancing, even creating cornmeal to create cornbread. We have a way of multiplying everything, even if we are not aware of the origins, the origins are in us.

Many people know that I have a dad that is directly from the African continent, and a mom that is a descendant of enslavement victims; they are both Igbo, however. Either way, growing up, I always looked for the similarities between the two cultures, and I always found that we are obviously more alike than different. We are Africans, dispersed by force, and always resisted, so I can imagine that through that resistance we have held on to our cultures as much as we could. As for me, I am an African baby, I always was excited to go to Africa as a kid, I always was excited to be around Black people in America; I just wanted to know what we were doing, and what we had going on. I have been told my love for Africa is strange, and even other Africans who have had children here have stated that their children resisted the African upbringing, so they were happy to see I embraced it. Even though my dad took me to places like Europe – Switzerland, France, Amsterdam, etc., I still wanted to know what the Black people were doing. I was a child that never cared about conforming like the other Black people I knew – no offense to them, but I didn’t care about trying to talk different, or wear certain labels; I was perfectly fine being African. At the time I did not identify as African, I identified as Black, but I never identified as American. Oh, my dad hated it, “why don’t you want to be an american?”, “I’m a citizen of the world!” I replied. America never felt like home, I only ever felt home in Africa, no matter all the places I’ve been and the trips my dad took me on in and out of the United States, I only felt home in Africa.

So I get older and now all of a sudden, because I am so centered on myself, and the reflection of that is being centered on African people worldwide, suddenly people think “you need to get out more”, “you need to experience other types of people”, lol. I laugh, loud, because my experience ranges with so many people. I have sat in the white house amongst politicians, and stood up to speak my mind on the hill to members of congress. I have tutored undergraduate Asian students as a grad student , and grew up being one of the only Black students with white people. I have visited many embassies in Washington, DC, and engaged in their cultures for the purpose of learning their cultures. I have engaged other cultures and asked them very detailed questions for the purpose of learning, and appreciating who they are. I lived with Italian, white Dominican, and Korean roommates in undergrad, and participated in each of their cultures through food and information sharing; my Korean roommate taught me so much about her culture. I could go on and on, but it doesn’t matter, I am still African first. I still only care to be involved in and uplift the mentality and actions of my people. I am still going to greet my people as if I am one of them and one with them, no matter where they are from. I am still going to care about the little Black child in every room I am in, even if their parent is there. I am still going to speak up for all Black people in every setting I am in. I am African first, not because I was born in Africa, but Africa is me. I am an extension of the greatness of the continent and my ancestors before me. I am an explorer, a learner, a teacher, and I see the world through an African lens. I am the very being of my ancestors who came before me. I am ubuntu in spirit and in action – I am because we are, my people. I am well versed in our spirit, and I can feel what you need before you even vocalize it. Don’t ever mistake my love for my people with a lack of knowledge of everything else. And let me be clear, even if Africa and Black people was all I knew, I would be just fine.

Any united people on this earth, and any proud person is proud of themselves first. They enter the world confident and prideful because they know where they come from. Loving one’s self is actually the key to truly appreciating others. I am able to give love so freely, because I freely love myself. I am able to demand the best for myself, because I freely love myself, and I am able to call out unworthy behavior towards myself, because I love myself. Black people have no allies but ourselves, this is true, because the world has become accustomed to taking from Black people and not giving anything in return. The number one key to eradicating that is to be Black first, demand respect based on your culture and legacy just like anybody else. Even if you don’t identify with Africa, Identify with your culture first, and show up in the world as a proud person, be well versed in yourself, and that is evident in the well-versedness of your people. Don’t be so concerned with being well versed in everybody else, be well versed in yourself. Listen, my people, we all know Asians are famous for opening businesses in Black neighborhoods, selling us products that are very culture specific to Black people. There are more beauty supply stores in Black neighborhoods, owned by Asians that only sell black products, than Black owned stores of the same caliber. Well, I walked into an Asian beauty supply one day, and the owner was not familiar with a Black culture I referenced. I straight up told him, you run a beauty supply store geared towards black people, and you don’t know this? Well my people, I told you this example to show you that other people engage with us having no regard for who we are, yet we are too concerned with trying to be globally minded. We need to master ourselves, it will show up in the respect and support we have for each other, and the respect we demand for ourselves. I understand that we as Black people are the only people in the world who have had the truth of our cultures stripped from us, hidden from us, and lied to about ourselves, however, we know enough about our power at this point to be prideful, even if we can’t connect it to a direct culture. If we remove the lies, we will see that American culture is built on Black culture. For those of us who do not have ties to a direct African culture, we should be on the frontlines fighting for reparations with free DNA tests (***please see the end of this blog post for a suggested resource). And yes, we should be globally minded, I can enter any space and be good in any space of any culture, but I would not be proud of that if I could not say that I am good in any black space, first.

Have some pride my people…

If you have not, be sure to check out Melanated Gem™, I created this brand of handmade jewelry to instill a sense of pride in us as a people. I create African centered jewelry with empowering words to remind us of who we are. I especially love the RBG Freedom Set©, which represents the PanAfrican colors of freedom, Red, Black, and Green; also the Igbo Biafran color of freedom that are the same. The name Melanated Gem™ is a reminder that we are Melanated Empowered Gems! We come in a variety of shades and colors and backgrounds, but all together, we are beautiful. I love you all ok!

***I think it’s important that I begin to give more examples of what I have done to achieve results in certain areas. If all my Black readers could at least identify the birthplace of your grandparents, it may be helpful to identify any museum or foundation that holds records in that area. In 2013, I was able to call the foundation of the birthplace of my grandparents in Virginia and request information on my ancestors that was very helpful. The name of the foundation is named after the slave owner (I hate to type his name). For example, I found out that my great grandfather changed the last name of the family and why; I found out that he was the first to leave a plantation and purchase a house at 100 years old, and recently, my elderly cousin was able to call the same foundation and get the death certificates of our enslaved family members. It is a shame that we have to request our information from white people, but it is worth it until we get full reparations. As I said in Sunday’s blog post, faith and action is the first step to anything, I guarantee if you take a step in the direction of actively seeking information, you will find it, and pray for guidance! I also teach about that in my Decolonize Your Mind™ class.

Toodles!

Posted on 2 Comments

Follow the Roadmaps…

group of people

Dear Black People, we can do it, it’s not a matter of just saying that, but pulling out the roadmap our ancestors left inside of us.

Listen, as we sit here, our ancestors are with us; guiding us, and letting us know the way to go. There is nothing that we cannot do, our ancestors may have not been successful in every revolt, but they successfully revolted. That fire inside you is the ancestors, they know you are their dream, you are to achieve what they laid the foundation for. At a point someone invented a chair, then another person came along and said I think this thing should roll, then someone else said, “hey! this thing should recline!” Did this all happen in the same generation? no, it happened over time. I don’t know why people quote ancestors, but don’t do the actions they did, a liberated mind is nothing without action.

I am the way I am because I know who I am, I know my ancestors stories, and I know what my ancestors have accomplished, especially Igbo women. I know what I can accomplish because if they did, I can, I am them. We must all think this way and act with faith. Don’t worry about it, it will work or not, half of the battle is acting, you never know until you act…

Posted on 1 Comment

Call Yourself the Right Name

What I notice is, people love to call their ancestors slaves but hate the idea of calling themselves African. Those slaves were enslaved Africans. How can one consider themselves a descendant of an African slave, but deny their Africanness?

I always say, if you take a Chinese person who has 2 children, one goes to live in another country and never returns, never talks to their parent again, but has children and grandchildren in their new land; that does not cut the blood ties, it only cuts the location. So many people have traced their habits/talents back to tribes in Africa. For example, I met a lady who was so into basket weaving. She stated that she did her DNA ancestry test, and she found out that the tribe in Africa she is from is known for basket weaving. There is noting wrong with acknowledging your roots. People are only ashamed to identify with Africa, because America teaches that African American history starts with slavery, no, Africans have a long history, part of it is slavery, but we were enslaved as victims, that is nothing to be ashamed of, but something to continue to fight against. We take no blame, although society likes to victim blame, we are not to be blamed for the repercussions of slavery, only to be blamed individually if we know better and don’t do better. But let’s not get it twisted, we have done better, extremely better, thrived throughout evil imposed circumstances, revolted at every chance – we never accepted our status as slaves, and have made major world accomplishments that are not credited to us – copyrights and patents stolen. We are so busy listening to narratives by people who are not us, mainly white people, that we forgot, they are paid to paint a negative picture of us, but would never paint that negative picture of themselves. They are so calculated that they framed rapists, murderers, and enslavers as “founding fathers”, and “revolutionaries”, if anything, that is something to be ashamed of. Instead, they want us to be ashamed of something that happened to us, and gaslight us into believing that being loyal to america, one of the countries that enslaved us, is patriotic. Never! I am patriotic to the nation that birthed me, that great nation is Africa, and it will never change. Africa is the reason I am resilient, the reason I am brown, the reason I have tight coily hair, the reason I have a place to call home always, and the reason that the entire earth has resources. Let’s not be fooled, every cell phone you hold is thanks to Africa and Africans. Therefore, being African is nothing to be ashamed of, but everything to celebrate. No matter the current status, we are still the only people in the world who shape every single institution with our ideas, energy, vernacular, style, and resilience. The world would simply not be without Black people, and I mean that.

Make sure you check out Melanated Gem™ empowering handmade jewelry! My African Ancestors gave me the idea and I am keeping it going, order today!

Posted on 5 Comments

Our Origins Move Us Forward… #ForwardFridays

Hey Y’all! I often hear people say that “history doesn’t matter” or, “don’t stay stuck in the past”. That narrative is often posed to Black people, trying to gaslight us into forgetting our past, the good and the bad. If we say “we were queens and kings”, someone will say, “well we aren’t now”; if we say “we were enslaved and we are owed reparations”, someone will say “well we aren’t slaves now”. The point is, all of our history matters, why?

Well, there is nothing new under the sun. I remember living in Namibia and them teaching me the importance of hairstyles. Braided hairstyles on both women and men could tell the person’s age and status, along with jewelry and markings that furthered these symbols (widow, wife, etc.). There was a particular hairstyle that was designated for little boys, it was two braids, braided towards the front or the back with the rest of the head shaved off. I remember coming back to the US, and 2 years later, that style becoming popular over here with the men. I told someone one day that their hairstyle is symbolic to Himba culture in Namibia and they laughed. Again, if we knew what a lot of the things we do mean, we would not take them so lightly. What if they knew that their hairstyle was a symbol of boyhood, and the next level hairstyle represented manhood, or even that it identified the tribe they were from? He could either wear it with pride, or wear the hairstyle that represents his status as a man! Through enslavement, all these identifiers were taken from us, and that part is important too! However, the fact that the royalty still found its way into the diaspora even through enslavement is why it matters, because we can still celebrate and live out our royalty, building on the legacy of the ancestors, even though some feel like they are doomed, and there’s still work to do…

Young Himba Boys

I always get excited when I find cultural similarities between the diaspora, it’s the sociologist in me, but I find that others do not care. As I stated yesterday, freed Africans purchased their own land in Texas to even be able to celebrate Juneteenth in peace without being harassed for being on “white property”. Now, we are still being harassed on land that belongs to all of us, and in the spaces where we celebrate ourselves, we are not really living out the true meaning of these holidays and celebrations. Not that it has to be 100% serious, but we should always use these spaces to educate and edify and empower. There’s always the 1 Black person at the cookout who wants to celebrate blackness and teach everyone there, everything they know (I’ve been that person), but they get laughed at or told “this is not a Harriet Tubman moment” , you know what I’m talking about and you know I’m not lying. We always have people trying to remind us, but because of brainwashing, we are told to forget, or laughed at…. our origins matter!

So, this weekend, as you celebrate Juneteenth, and every other holiday for us, be sure to use those moments to be that person, whether laughed at or not. Educate, edify, and empower, trust me, they are listening!

Become a Melanated Gem today when you order the Melanated Gem RBG Freedom Set for 20% off… and get 50% off when you sign up for July Decolonize Your Mind Classes!