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How Do You Know You Believe in It? #ForwardFridays

frustrated black girl between arguing parents at table

“If you’re not willing to answer the hard questions about what you believe in; then you don’t believe in it.” ~ Ndidi Love

Everyone, I would hope, believes in something. There are those of us who believe in something strong enough to fight for it, there are those of us who believe in something strong enough to put it on the front lines. With that, people will question you. They want to know if you’re about what you say you’re about. That’s normal. It is easy to get annoyed when people are asking you questions about what you believe in as if to challenge you or even doubt you my Melanated Gems. I had to get used to it. Trust me, I know I have lived what I believe, so a lot of times, I say, “who is this person challenging me about what I believe?” but I had to understand that their challenge allows me to become sharp. Not only will people challenge you, but life will challenge you. Once you put something out there, believe a situation will come to put you to the test. That is part of life, and we should even be challenging ourselves. That is another reason I argue for the validity of higher education as a sharpening tool to become a scholar and expert, being critiqued by professors and your peers; it is not just a piece of paper if done right. I am pretty sure the person who invented the first car did not just put it out there, she/he had to drive it first, test it out, and work out the mistakes. That is what often happens in life: we put ourselves to the test, then the people come and test us, then finally life comes and tests us again. I often say that Washington, DC was the building of my faith, and Texas is the activation of my faith. My, my, my; all the things I believe as it relates to resistance, faith, and overcoming planned injustice towards Black people, has all greatly challenged me here in Texas. I’d say I have always had a strong willed spirit, even my mom told me that, but Texas brought out that strong will a little more loud than usual. I am very loud with my resistance now, and I find that the more I resist, it gets easier. It’s like life is saying, “show me what you’re about, don’t just talk about it.”

Life talks to me, you know, and so do humans. But I have learned that I need to take these challenges with joy, and learn from them. We are not above error, and the challenges allow us to tweak our approach. So long as there is a challenge, there is always a solution. For me, Texas is the challenge of corporations. From the workplace, to my car manufacturer, to my apartment complex, I said “gollee, I have never had to challenge this many corporations in my life!”, but I can say that with these challenges I have been victorious, and have found my strength that I can apply to other areas of the fight for justice. I literally can’t believe I sat there in 2020 and called all 523 seated congress and senate members, and literally typed up a 4 page presentation on my own to present to them. I look back and say wow. What I found is that once you continue to resist and stand up to the challenge, life responds positively. I literally was told by the good majority of senate and congress members that I connected with (70+), that they usually do not, and haven not talked to non-constituents (a constituent is a member of their governing district – ex. district 2 of Louisiana). Although they expressed that they never do that, they were impressed with my will to educate them on solutions for African Americans in such a way, and at least 2 actively stated their intent to utilize a couple of my bullet points to incorporate into their ongoing changes. I didn’t want to meet with them as a representative of an organization, I wanted to present to them as a citizen. I invited others to join me, but they all expressed intimidation. I was pleased to meet another brother online who is doing the same thing, fighting for reparations, on his own, and meeting with senate and congress members. I would tag him, but I don’t know if he wants that publicity as of yet. I said all that to say, sometimes what seems challenging is just a call to act. I have to answer for what I believe in and what I stand for; I have to be the example of what I believe in, because it’s my belief. Again, as I stated yesterday, prayer! I prayed for a solution to contribute to the well being of my people during the time of uprise during quarantine, and that was the answer.

My dears, of all the representatives, 2 challenged me as if I was public enemy of the United States, but I was glad to be challenged, because I stood my ground, respectfully, and I understood that they would want to know why one Black girl would put herself on the line to argue on behalf of America’s Black people. They could have asked in a different tone, but the feedback from others was so great that I said hey, somebody has to eventually disagree, it’s all good.

So, what are you willing to answer for today? What do you believe in? Are you shy when the opportunity comes to show yourself, or are you standing up to the challenge? Big up your chest na!

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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!

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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…

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Whether You Like it or Not, Anti-Blackness is in Everything: Here’s How We Move Forward

man in white shirt looking at the documents on the desk

It’s not rocket science, the institutions that have implemented and enforced the racist policies that impact us all today, they are not gone. This is why I say, I know the importance of unity and sticking together, but individually we must be able to stand up and challenge every situation that we face. As we gradually begin to take personal responsibility for situations that happen to us in every racist situation, big or small, in every institution – medical, educational, workplace, corporate, legal, social, everywhere!

I was talking to my great aunt, well, she’s my grandmothers first cousin, we always talk. She is in her 70s, and so lovely, she tells me stories of being the first Black manager at AT&T years and years ago, and all the stories of racism, while overcoming to still make some of the most accomplishments while there. I have the same stories she has years later, and we share stories a lot, I am at least 40 years younger than her. We cannot ignore that a lot of these micro and macro aggressions are literally embedded in the framework and thinking of people. Even if let’s say, someone is naïve enough to believe that greater society has eradicated racism, the very fiber of how we interact is seen at work, where most people make a living, and social events/social activities, where most people gather. In these institutions, this is where many of these acts of racism are seen and the most impactful. The reason why I can go to the store right now and be confusingly greeted with “is there something you need?”, when the white person right before me was greeted with “hi, welcome, how may I help you?”, is because of the literal DNA of these institutions. I remember the most recent outrageous one was at the post office a few weeks ago; I literally walked in, fly as could be, and the post office worker was like “umm is there something you need?’ maybe because the post office is in an all white area, she was confused by seeing me – too bad for her, however, I said “I’m here for my health, no, obviously I’m here because I want to send out a package.” Again, I had just watched the white customers be greeted with joy and extra care as I stood in line. Why else would I be coming to your business if I didn’t need help? That is why I have an attitude in my response everytime and allow them to see their ignorance real time. You may not think it matters but, it helps not to be passive. This is a common occurrence in every institution I enter that requires me to receive customer service, and it’s because people are ignorant and think black people don’t require good service, or we should just be happy that someone is even talking to us. Watch very closely, that is why diversity and inclusion is a scam; they will include you, as long as they can still talk to you any kind of way. What we fight for is total liberation.

I am not passive with the little or the big things, because I have heard many people say we should overcome those little moments with kindness and kill their ignorance. My sisters and brothers, no! We have been kind through slavery, jim crown, civil rights, and now Black Lives Matter, all while being the only people in the world to not receive reparation’s or any kind of bill protecting us as every other group has. Different name, same fight, you may not see a plantation but as I said in Tuesday’s blog post, they still behave as if the plantation is there. So we are constantly running away from the plantation, we should not be compliant or passive on the plantation, the pseudo slavemasters need to know that we do not accept micro or macro aggressions against us and that we will fight everytime, and we won’t stop until they are eradicated, just like the Asians did to receive the Anti-hate bill, you get me?

I like to bring things down to a micro level often, so people understand me. If you are in a relationship, and the person keeps disrespecting you, the day you finally stand up, they may laugh and think you are not serious, until you show them that their disrespect could cost them the relationship. The relationship between whiteness and Blackness, (as I wrote about in this blog post) and unfortunately the entire world that has taken on a whiteness stance towards the treatment of Black people, is very toxic, yet the world depends on Blackness and Africa’s resources to sustain every institution. Passiveness is not how we regain control of our livelihoods and resources, active challenging makes it easier for us to be a united front.

What will you do to stand up today?

Be sure to check out my Decolonize Your Mind webinar to learn how to unify and regain control of our thinking!