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Titles Don’t Matter… As Much as The Work #TeachMeTuesdays

I don’t disagree with the philosophy of many titles, I’m just authentic to myself, and always one to never care about what you believe more than what I see you do – more importantly how you treat me, and other people. You see, it’s the English language, titles were earned in African languages; it’s only in English where people put titles before actions. Even in some African cultures, babies aren’t named until you see their character. I identify with action words. You can see it in how I talk, I tell you what I’ve done, I’ll tell you that I teach, I’m not so focused on you calling me a teacher.

I’m African first, African is Ubuntu, that shows up especially in how we treat other Black people. I love and respect and follow many philosophies of PanAfricanism, but as I’ve said, I’ve already reckoned that I’m fully African. No matter what one believes, it doesn’t absolve them from the self work. I’m well versed in enough African history to know that I embody all of what PanAfricanism is, and more, which is completely African. More than a title, it’s the reclaiming of my heritage, especially the parts that were stolen. You see, that means I accept and not reject other Black people who even follow religions and ways that I don’t agree with, because the African mind is an understanding mind, especially knowing our 400 year history, we work to restore not reject. That means I show love to Black people who live lifestyles I don’t agree with, unless they’re causing unnecessary physical harm. That means when I am amongst my own people, I should be doing my best to unite us and not divide us. If you can’t greet the poor black Woman or Man, don’t say you respect me.

That’s just it, I have never in my life met anybody from any belief system – to include religion, politics, social, and philosophical, that talked about their title so much and also embodied the qualities of the title, even to this day, even many of the people who follow me and that I follow online. I talk a lot, but about ways I embody the titles. I keep reminding everyone that there is so much pessimism in our community that I tell these stories to change the narrative and say that it can be done at a micro scale, let’s join together and achieve these victories at a macro scale, but people are waiting for me to claim a title and that will never happen. People claim to be revolutionaries and have not named one solution and state the problems all day, and are hopeless pessimists! They come and comment on my posts then go back to posting their pessimism. People claim to be PanAfrican but go back and forth insulting Black people all day, publicly, that they don’t like. In 10 years on this blog and online, you have never seen me do that, because I find no fulfillment in it. Our enemy is not other Black people but the system that has divided us. I’m African because I’m African, not as a political title but it’s literally my DNA, I don’t believe in politicizing everything, especially life.

It’s hard for people to understand when human beings are so complex. I went to graduate school to get a Master of Arts in Africans Studies, to learn and be able to educate and serve my community from many angles. I enjoyed learning, and especially loved learning about PanAfricanism and Marcus Garvey. I just never believed in following someone so hard that I never met, and I understand that in this life I have my own purpose. While I respect and love the greats, they lived their calling, I have my own greatness to live. We take what is useful for us but we don’t have to agree with and embody everything a person said just to seem dedicated. I wish for people who quote Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all day long to actually tell me an original quote of their own. I know it’s in there, but I notice people get so caught up in wanting to know and be well versed in other people, that they live their whole lives not being well versed in themselves. Wake up! The same greatness is in you! The same greatness is also in those around you. You can celebrate someone living, the only reason many people celebrate the greats who are dead is because they didn’t know them. The way people go back and forth about the greats who are living; tearing them down, is the same thing that happened to the greats who are dead, and many now who praise them would’ve joined along in tearing them down based on some things they did and believe.

I can come up with any group today and if people are infatuated with me enough they’ll follow everything I say, that’s never my goal. My goal is to get people to think for themselves, and follow their purpose because this world is big and there’s enough room for many ways to achieve the same goal. That’s why I’m not quick to criticize other African leaders’ styles such as Dr. Umar Johnson, or whoever people ask me my opinion about; because if his work is liberating people, then that’s his style; my style reaches different people. As long as we’re reaching, that’s what matters, and it doesn’t look the same for everybody. I empower people by letting them know that I am not needed to lead you because you have those same qualities in yourself. A lot of times people see me as strong, which I am, and strong enough to lead them, which I won’t. All this energy I have is also your energy, which is why I change the narrative in people’s mind, because I understand the power of a transformed mind and actually believing in the person of the mind you are transforming. It’s also my teaching style, the reason my young students were successful is because I gave them the tools to think for themselves and empowered them to exceed their expectations, which they did, and the expectations of other “professionals” who didn’t believe in them. Critical thinking is a gift.

We have to understand that the framework of the world we live in doesn’t allow for authenticity as much as we claim to believe. That’s why we create it ourselves. I’ve come to my own understanding of the world and that I am a speck in billions of specks. I can live authentically to myself and attract other authentic people based on that. That is my tribe. Those who connect with me, will, and those who don’t, won’t. The way capitalism and classism has destroyed the minds of people, all philosophies are tainted. Which is why within many philosophies and religions, it leads to more division. People ultimately agree with who has the most money and influence, hence, following so hard those who are dead and popular, and can’t appreciate those who are living and genuine.

That’s why I created my Decolonize Your Mind™class and the Dear Black People™ series. It is based on truths and facts that I put years of research into, and I provide references; but the purpose is for everyone to leave thinking for themselves, and to create the dialogue in their mind that leads to true freedom… join!!!!

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I May Be Learning from You, but You Ain’t Teaching!

thoughtful young african american female sitting on chair and drinking water

I can definitely learn from everybody, but everybody can’t teach me. You see, Melanated Gem, people are always teaching us, if you look carefully, you can always learn from someone’s actions whether you like them or not. You can always learn what to do and what not to do. I understand not everyone is a deep thinker, but for the deep thinkers, learning from all situations is imperative, however, our ability to learn from all situations and apply the knowledge makes us teachers. You see, there are people designed to teach, it’s in our words, our actions, and our influence. I can say that I know many people actively learn from me, but I am also a dedicated teacher. I live to empower minds and help people become their best selves. Having an opinion is natural and human, but it does not make you a teacher.

In the age of social media, which I love for Black people specifically, is that we get to have an opinion and tell our own stories. I love that telling our own stories has changed the narrative for many Black people, especially Africa. I say this because, Africans on the continent being able to show their lives and tell their stories has given people a different view of Africa. When I started posting pictures of my experience, all the Black people I knew who had negative views of Africa had instantly changed their minds. They just never knew that Africa was so filled with beautiful, regular everyday people who loved the same things they loved. However, apart from being able to tell our own stories, and having an opinion, all of these opinions should not inform us. There is a huge difference between an opinion that has been tried and tested and being dispersed to make change, and just talking to talk. most people who talk to talk, have not walked the walk. The reason I get so annoyed with social media and have to step back often is because, I’m too genuine, I actually believe, live, and have tried and tested what I’m saying. I know people can tell the difference, but being amongst so many uninformed opinions and people just talking to talk makes me feel like I’m cheapening my message, to be honest. That is why I now mostly post commentary that is not so influential, and leave the important commentary to my blog and my class, in my space, away from all the noise.

So today, are you going to be a teacher or a talker? I encourage those who have a passion to talk to really live what they say and live beyond the noise. Be a part of society that talks to uplift. I know I have strong comments about the history of white people’s actions in this country, but it is from an informed place, it is from a place of trying to liberate my people’s mind from thinking that they’re god and looking for their approval. I want them to focus on us and liberating us at this time. I speak to my people in a way that tries to get them to see reality. However, I live what I speak, I live what I teach, and I live to be an example, although I’m not perfect.

If you are a teacher, teach, if you have an opinion, don’t pose as a teacher. Be honest with yourself where you are in life, and let the teachers teach.

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Go ahead, try and prove me wrong :-)

I was told before starting my journey as a Namibian teacher that “the learners in Namibia have a hard time thinking critically”. i challenged that statement when I heard it. I asked the person, “well did you try and help them with that when you were teaching in Namibia?” From then I knew what and how I was going to teach these learners. The lessons I have been giving them have allowed them to definitely think critically, and guess what? They did! My learners have no problem thinking critically, and as a matter of fact, they catch on very quickly. There might be one or two that need me to explain or show something again but once I do, they’re on it. I have had them work in groups to create business flyers for their own made-up businesses, i have had them interview each other, and was surprised at the depth of the questions they asked; I’ve had them write their Autobiographies, I’ve had them do powerpoints. And to my surprise, they all told me that they never knew or learned these things before I came to Namibia to teach them, but somehow, the work they do in my class shows that they are capable of anything. Imagine, I teach grades 8-12, these are some people who have told me they never touched a computer, but If I show someone all the work they’ve done, they wouldn’t believe that some of that work was done by someone who has never touched a computer. There is something about traveling outside of the U.S. that makes one challenge everything they’ve ever been told or believed. It makes you realize that your way of life is such a small portion of the many ways of life there are in this world. It makes you start thinking more critically about the decisions you make, and allows you to become more accepting, but less tolerant of nonsense. Life is what you make it.

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Better with time

Sometimes it’s the little things that make teaching awesome. I learn so much from my learners. I’m very hard on them in the classroom because I expect the best from them in my short time here. Today I took over a class for an absent teacher who had an emergency to attend to back in his hometown. It was my favorite class, which helped, but they were just in the class doing nothing. i went there and they wre in the middle of doing nominations for an organization that allows student ambassadors to represent their school politically. I forgot the name to the organization, but trust me they were anxious about being picked for this position! After that was over, and the nominees from that class were picked, I told everyone to quiet down. I drew a hangman logo on the board and asked them if they knew what game it was. They all knew immediately! So I began to play hangman with them since although they were in their math period, I know nothing about math. The game allowed them to calm down and participate in a game which requires cooperation. They were each calling out letters and trying to guess what I was saying and I was just laughing in joy at their excitement. Finally the phrase as finished, “please be quiet” was the final answer. Everyone began to laugh becuase it is a phrase I say often. The next one I did was “Why are you laughing?” Again we all laughed because that is another one of my favorite phrases. Afterwards I felt it was necessary to let some learners get a chance. 7 learners got a chance to do their own hangman. We had so much fun trying to figure out what everyone wanted to write. One learner misspelled a word and tried to add more letters, that was funny because he tried to be slick, lol. All in all, I wish I had a camera because I love those moments where simple things make everyone so happy. I can see them outside of being learners, I just see them as kids who want to have fun just like any other kid.