Sunday, March 27, 2016

Amen!

A social media friend and powerful Black community activist - whom I respect - posted a "resurrection" picture and a pray today. She ask's for Amen! If we believe it is a powerful symbol. Here is my response. Please take a minute to read beyond the first paragraph. It is not an attack. I responded out of love and connection.
Amen!
It is a powerful symbol of white supremacy that America has been praying to since its inception and Europeans have been using since Constantine in 325 AD. Whites from the Klan to the Presidency to the Military have been inspired by this symbol to invade, kill, capture, and dominate and abuse us.
We - Black people - infused the symbol with African spiritual (not religious) meanings and ideas of unconditional love, righteousness, authenticity, the one-ness of humanity, etc. This is what we wish that they'd pray to get filled with. I get that, and wish the same too.
The symbol/story for them is a tool of domination. For America (and Europeans in general) domination long, long ago became their surrogate - a substitute for the vaulted spiritual transcendence that WE seek.
If I weren't crying so much for Laquon McDaniels and the Saints of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, I'd cry for them for choosing the puny domination of others as a spiritual goal over the one-ness with others.
But I'm at risk for using the spiritual high-ground afforded by my African culture (secretly passed to us under the umbrella of this symbol) to blind me to their active use of the symbol to maim. I'm also at risk becoming numb to the abuse and ignoring the cost to me and succeeding generations of Black people when I do so.
Our ancestors were miracle workers to figure how to apply the healing salve of our culture during captivity by hiding the ideas and the practices in the WAY we approached and worshiped. To touch the words or the symbols would have meant certain death, so they infused them with new meaning - real spiritual meaning for us. I'm grateful for them keeping us infused with values that allowed us to make community out of chaos, brutality and hostility.
It was a temporary fix. Some didn't get the ancestral memo - It was a temporary fix! Today, the same symbol not only inspires others to maim us, it provides a doorway for us to access white culture and for white cultural vultures to access us.
With each succeeding generation that access has eroded the African values and practices that have kept us - as my Grand Ma, Hettie Tucker, would say "clothed in our right minds." This symbol which was fashioned into a secret portal to African values, is now a highway for Eurocentric, hedonistic, misogynistic, materialistic, and perverted values. To a few, the symbol even has become a justification for our abuse. My grandmother, and her mother, and her mother are weeping.
They are also praying for a resurrection of those African values that held us and healed us. She knows that times have changed, that oppression has changed its tactics, and that we need a new container, a new portal.
I'm praying that we read the memo "it was a temporary fix", take the baton, and run our leg of the race to victory for our people and the world - in that order.
-------------------------

Sunday, March 13, 2016

This is American History That We Must Own



A social media friend posted this photo along with a caption:
"This is American history that we must own."
My response:
I don't know if you were talking to me, to Black people or to white people You are right. I do own it, and also believe that we should never make this mistake again!
To send this lone Black girl to face the white humiliation and terror was a mistake and much of our wounded-ness - identity confusion, need to be where white people are, need to be approved by them, and our lack of confidence in our own - selves and creations - comes from this.
Zora Neale Hurston opposed it. She was ahead of her time, though she wasn't alone.
To be sure, Dorothy Counts was brave, powerful, and smart. We can laud that, and I do. Afiya Madzimoyo, my wife, played a similar role in Alabama. I laud her bravery too.
As a Black man, I say that we (Black men, particularly) should have been there to face them down and give her a sense of OUR protection. If we couldn't protect her, then it wasn't time for her to be there.
As your photo makes abundantly, clear, it wasn't just individual vs. individual, it was her against an entire system - only the tip of which were the ugly faces that we see in that photo. It should have been a negotiated group to group association - with clear conditions and protections. The NAACP thought otherwise, and we unwisely followed suit.
The Maori people of New Zealand did it better. They negotiated that even in job or school interviews, the clan could come and even speak for the person being considered. Upon being chosen, they would bring the Sister (or Brother) to the white racist institution and say, we are lending you her, if you mistreat her, we will come and get her. If she had a grievance, the entire clan would come to back her and/or to speak for her. Group power to group power. Individual vs. institution/group can only lead to delusional progress that hides the inevitable surrender.
Currently, we're paying for this "progress." Students of today are more terrified than angry or determined to challenge oppression than at anytime in our history - even when were were being lynched!
We - their parents - have showed them the Jedi mind trick of how to hide our pathological anxiety from ourselves as "apathy, boredom," "ignorance" "self blame," or even as " the price that we have to pay for progress."
A group of my students who were aware of the cultural racism and identity theft in the recently released "Gods of Egypt," still said: "That's going to be a good movie, I want to see it." They have been seasoned to ignore the abuse for the thrill of the familiar, and for vicariously- experience power even as their own is being stripped away.
We have "seasoned" our own children.
We, their parents, wait for white people to come to their collective senses when they see one more police brutality video that makes it plain who is at fault. We are waiting until they've had their fill of our blood.
We seek to appeal to the white intellect and conscience as if their was ours.
We swallow another "16 Bullets," another "Hands up, Don't Shoot," another "I Can't Breathe" like we swallowed their jeering insults and even brutality to integrate the schools.
The psychic terror was instilled. Our hopes smoothed the way. It slowly mutated into surrender.
By way of delusion we're not aware of the mutation. Instead, we came to kiss the oppressor's knife that was cutting us as the sword that knighted us. It seemed cleansing - riding us of tainted ways or tainted blood - paving the way for "harmony," and a new day (a thin veil for their acceptance, or their fill).
Our delusional "morality" called us to accept those who terrorized us as "competent and legitimate" authority. This same morality still calls us to forgive them their abuse and even their killing of us.
We seek their approval (proximity, hair, skin, morals, values, desires, worldviews, docility, rationalization, etc.), not for survival of an immediate threat. Instead the integration-born delusion convinces us that it's the "right thing," or the "best thing" to do.

It is the doorway to being the "better person," to spiritual ascension, and salvation, right?

This happened on my generation's watch.
Often when I'm in front of younger Black people, I apologize for me and my age group for participating and/or allowing this surrender disguised as progress. "This happened on our watch," I say, and I promise them to forever work to right this wrong.
So, the same breathe that allows me to celebrate Sistah Counts, pains me to facilitate our recovery, and to never let this mistake happen again.

(C) Copyright 2016 Wekesa O. Madzimoyo All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

7 Steps 2 Recovery: Home Schooling Authenticity 2016 Spring Educational Series


7 Steps 2 Recovery: Home Schooling Authenticity Educational Series
For Home-Schoolers, First Teachers and Life-Long Learning Directors
Contacts: Afiya Madzimoyo & Yinka Winfrey
(404) 832-9958 or (770)882-9515
www.ayaed.com


Sponsored by AYA Educational Institute,

Courses based on research and practice of AYA Educational Institute.
Presented by  Baba Wekesa O. Madzimoyo


AYA Educational Institute presents 7 interactive webinars to increase your educational effectiveness in a challenging time. Educating parents, grandparents and community educators rarely have the access to continuing education resources which are proven effective, and are also tailored to Black youth. Now, you do.
AYA Educational Institute is a research, educational, and consultative resource with more than 17 
years experience available to you now. Models, scripts, and cookie-cutter lesson plans have 
their place. Still, sometimes you need to know the thinking and methodology behind the script. Sometimes popularity isn’t the answer. Sometimes, you just need to ask questions. That’s why 7 Steps 2 Recovery Educational Seminars are live and interactive. What you learn will be applicable to teaching across the curriculum and across various ages.


 The 7 seminars will cover 3 basic areas: 
  1. Oppression and Education (Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away)
  2. Innovative STEM Projects (with practical application)
  3. Healing Alienation (subject matter and cultural)   

Where? Login in from where ever you are!
Login via the Internet from the comfort of your own home, office, your car or the local coffee shop. You can also attend class via your phone. We recommend a tablet, laptop or desktop computer for the full benefit of the webinar.

Dates and Courses:

Sun. March. 27th - Blue/Eyed, Brown/Eyed - The Black Eye of Education: White children demonstrate the effect of oppression on academic performance years ago. Is it the same now? Is it worse for our children? Does it sneak it in our own safe home schools? How to reverse the damage to increase student performance.

Sun. April 3rd - Cracking the Code, Circling the Line, Solving the Riddle: using the awesome power of emotional authenticity and the River of Touches, we heal oppression in writing, math, science, and other academic wounds.

Sun. April 10th - Kumbuka: An Afrikan Source for Learning, Memory Acceleration & Subject Mastery. How to use our African Cultural strengths to enhance memory, comprehension, retention and recall of difficult reading material, science and math.

Sun. April 17th - Fish To Feed the Multitudes: Aquaponics and the Raspberry Pi. This segment demonstrates project-based teaching across the curriculum. From fish stories to Raspberry Pi - Biology and technology meet to instill confidence, scientific knowledge and social responsibility.

Sun. April 24th - Sankofa Math -Defeating the Alien Blocking The Door to Math Excellence. Math as taught in most schools - public or private - is a forked tongue snake - it either alienates students from the subject, or the student from our people/culture. Both roads lead to failure. The latter is often at first disguised as success. We go back to fetch our natural math excellence, heal old math wounds, and show you how to teach it in ways that stimulate excellence and service to our people and the world - in that order.

Sun. May 1st - The Choke Hold vs. The Sleeper Hold: The Resurgent Racism & Helping Our Students Cope. Infusing our academics with thoughts and feelings about resurgent racism to generate lessons, discussion, action and a greater motivation for academic success and social responsibility.

Sun. May 8th - Seven Steps To Recovery: What Recovering Athletes Teach Us About Education. We examine professional athletes who have recovered from career threatening injuries to learn how to help ourselves and our children when we or they need to recover from personal, family, and academic injuries. Combining the lessons from athletes with our history and culture will create a solid foundation for learning, and for getting you and them out of academic jams.

Bonus Discussion: Web and TV Resources: Addiction, Implants or Both. Can Brain Games cure your addiction or do they cause it? Will Ted Talks cure false memories or implant them?

Tuition: You name it! 

For real. This series is offered as a fundraiser for homeschool parents, homeschooling organizations, and Black independent educational efforts and organizations. The tuition amount you choose to pay for each class goes to support AYA and the other co-sponsoring African American home-school and alternative educational initiatives that you choose to support. So we trust that if a class touches or teaches you, and/or proves useful, in the spirit of reciprocity, you’ll choose the right tuition.

Because of this liberal fee policy, seats are going fast. 
Please call or register today.

(404) 832-9958 or (770)882-9515
afiyao@gmail.com

Cleansing...

A FB friend posted this photo along with a caption:

"This is American history that we must own." My response: I don't know if you were talking to me, to Black people or to white people You are right. I do own it, and also believe that we should never make this mistake again!

To send this lone Black girl to face the white humiliation and terror was a mistake and much of our wounded-ness - identity confusion, need to be where white people are, need to be approved by them, and our lack of confidence in our own - selves and creations - comes from this.

Zora Neale Hurston opposed it. She was ahead of her time, though she wasn't alone.

To be sure, Dorothy Counts was brave, powerful, and smart. We can laud that, and I do. Afiya, my wife, played a similar role in Alabama. I laud her bravery too.

As a Black man, I say that we (Black men, particularly) should have been there to face them down and give her a sense of OUR protection. If we couldn' t do that, then it wasn't time for it.

As you photo makes abundantly, clear, it wasn't just individual vs. individual, it was her against an entire system - only the tip of which were the ugly faces that we see in that photo. It should have been a negotiated group to group association - with clear conditions and protections. The NAACP thought otherwise, and we followed suit.

The Maori people of New Zealand did it better. They negotiated that even in job or school interviews, the clan could come and even speak for the person being considered. Upon being chosen, they would bring the Sister (or Brother) to the white racist institution and say, we are lending you her, if you mistreat her, we will come and get her. If she had a grievance, the entire clan would come to back her and/or to speak for her. Group power to group power. Individual vs. institution/group can only lead to delusional progress that hides the inevitable surrender.

Currently, we're paying for this "progress." Students of today are more terrified than angry or determined to challenge oppression than at anytime in our history - even when were were being lynched!

We - their parents - have showed them the Jedi mind trick of how to hide our pathological anxiety from ourselves as "apathy, boredom," "ignorance" "self blame," or even as " the price that we have to pay for progress."

A group of my students who were aware of the cultural racism and identity theft in the recently released "Gods of Egypt," still said: "That's going to be a good movie, I want to see it." They have been seasoned to ignore the abuse for the thrill of the familiar.

We have "seasoned" our own children.

We, their parents, wait for white people to come to their collective senses when they see one more police brutality video that makes it plain who is at fault. We are waiting until they've had their fill of our blood.

We seek to appeal to the white intellect and conscience as if their was ours.

We swallow another "16 Bullets," another "Hands up, Don't Shoot," another "I Can't Breathe" like we swallowed their jeering insults and even brutality to integrate the schools.

The psychic terror was instilled. Our hopes smoothed the way. It slowly mutated into surrender.

By way of delusion we're not aware of the mutation. Instead, we came to kiss the oppressor's knife that cut us as the sword that knight us. The cutting - turned knighting is cleansing - riding us of tainted ways or tainted blood - paving the way for harmony (a thin veil for their acceptance, or their fill).

Our new morality called us to accept those who terrorized us as "competent and legitimate" authority. This same morality calls us to forgive them their abuse and even killing of us.

We seek their approval (proximity, hair, skin, morals, values, desires, worldviews, docility, rationalization, etc.), not for survival of an immediate threat. Instead the integration-born delusion convinces us it's the "right thing," or the "best thing to do." It is the door way to being the "better" person, to spiritual ascension, and salvation.

This happened on my generation's watch.

Often when I'm in front of younger Black people, I apologize for me and my age group for participating and/or allowing in this surrender disguised as progress. "This happened on our watch," I say, and I promise them to forever work to right this wrong.

So, the same breathe that allows me to celebrate Sistah Counts, pains me to facilitate our recovery, and to never let this mistake happen again.

Clothed In Our Right Minds!

I Love AYA. 

"How was, or how could our ancestors insistence on using various Black "dialects" be a form of resistance, healing and restoration?" I asked our high school students. "I don't know," one student responded. "Guess," I said. Slowly the wheels began to turn. A student from Lexington, KY led the way, Georgia followed, NY wasn't far behind. They were rolling now.

Today, the Economic Conundrum drama continues. The students are trying to wrap their minds around how our ancestors healed, restored, and kept us clothed in our right minds when white brutality and bestiality uprooted everything that we knew - family, law, justice, values, spirituality, love, hygiene, health, etc.. 

When their goal was to turn us into animals, to distrust each other, to devour each other, to alienate ourselves from our way, 
  • How did our ancestors heal the psychic, emotional, and physical wounds? 
  • How did we protect ourselves from going insane? 
  • How did we  restore family when mother, father or child was ripped apart? 
  • How did we still see ourselves as whole enough to make families even when we had been violated?


The students already know that we succeeded for we didn't turn on each other. They know of stories of our people searching for miles and miles, and years and years for family at the end of captivity. They know of how we worked together to create the Black Wall Streets and other Black economic and social centers. 

They know THAT we succeeded in restoring and protecting ourselves to a significant degree. But, they are searching for HOW - with no schools, no church buildings or recognized services, no recognition of family, or humanity, and no money.
They extracted their mission from Nana Amos N. Wilson's Falsification of African Consciousness to become restorative tellers of our past and culture. Now, they were learning what that really means.
Our ancestors kept us "clothed in our right minds" - our Afrikan minds" to the extent that at the end of legal bondage in the US, there was still a distinct difference between Europeans and Afrikans. 

The Afrikan roots were stronger than the routes of the captive ships such that, even as late as 1865, we trusted each other to start co-op businesses and organizations together. 

The evidence of our ancestors restorative power could also be seen in our  turning over our dollars 36-100 times before they left our community.

The students are NOT looking for a list of accomplishments! List are rarely instructive. They are not trying to prove our worth by how much our stacks up the captor's stack.

They are looking for:
  • Our universities without walls or funding 
  • Our families with no blood connection 
  • Our secret societies 
  • Our secret spiritual development 
  • Our invisible governance process 
  • Our restorative strategies and results, etc. 
which guided us to build for and fight for Afrikan people.


Sterling Stuckey's The Circle of Culture chapter from his "Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America" serves as one guide. Again, not just a list of accomplishments, they are looking for stories, strategies, and actions. They have to "see" our ancestors at work, so they can transmit those images, characters, choices, and actions to you, their families and their friends. 

The student search is hampered by our cultural surrender from this recent  integrationist/assimilationist period. We see things like "school," "family," "culture" through an alien eye, so even when we find our ancestors in action, we can't see them or their considerable powers.


To see our ancestors healing power, we must heal ourselves. It's daunting and wonderful at the same time. This is what the students are going through - what we all are going through.

This healing search is one part of their mission to find and share our ancestors warrior, healer, builder mojo. They hope we'll be both inspired and instructed by our ancestors economic and social power in the early 20th century.

As you can image, this can be challenging and even a little isolating for high school students to dare such a task. Too often we only require that they remember some dates and trends.

This is where you can help. 

  • Please let them know that they are not alone, and if you are so touched, please pen a few words of appreciation that they have taken up this mission. 
  • Please tell them what it means to you and for our people that they've taken up this mission.


I'll share your words with them in class. They are the AYA Economic Conundrum students for 2016.

PS. Did you know that the Kikongo cosmology as expressed in this image below was communicated by our ancestors to each other in a counter clock-wise dance called the Ring Shout. Here's some of what they are still to learn about this from Baba FuKia:

"Recognition is given to the importance of Musoni time not only as the cornerstone of the Kongo cosmogram but also as the seed, the beginning  point of all development in Kongo society. The Mukongo would say, for example, that when a seed is put in the ground, the action is being rooted in the Musoni position. Similarly, when an idea is being formed or developed in somebody's mind or when a Mukongo couple plans for a family, they begin at the Musoni stage. It is the position at which the universal living "energies" (male and female) unite inside the womb and become (matter)."

"The Kala position is seen as the position at which all biological beings come into being (mu kala). It is the position of all births. It is for this reason that the birth of child (mwana) in Bantu-Kongo society is conceived of in the same way one sees the sun rising in the upper world: "the birth of a child is perceived as the rising of a living sun in the upper world (ku nseke), the physical world or the world of the living community" (Fu-Kiau 1991, p. 8)".

So our ancestors keep this kind of advanced Afrikan cosmological knowledge alive via our dances and ceremonies? Hmmm.

We're all learning.

I'll keep you posted.


----

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Teaching Love - To Blame The Victim!

A friend posted this meme on his FB page a couple of days ago.

My response:

I don't agree with this sentiment - in this context.

It shares the blame of our discord equally, and that's not true or productive.

Black and white discord is caused by white oppression of Black people - past and present.

They have earned our people's distrust, THEY must earn our trust, and we get to say if and when they have done that.

To share the blame equally - as this meme implies - is a form of "Blaming the Victim," while at the same time deluding the victim - Black people - into believing that if we stop having animosity toward white people, then they'll stop shooting us in the streets, poisoning our water, giving us syphilis, or smashing our children on their heads for breaking a no-cell phone rule.

We actually don't have that power, and pretending or deluding ourselves that all we got to do is be kind, understanding, speak well, blah, blah, blah, actually stops us from amassing the real power we need to stop them from bashing our heads in when the feel like it.

Time out for delusions, carrying white folks at our expense, or cliches - even if those cliches come from people we respect like - Martin Luther King.

There are better King quotes for these times:


I Can’t Watch It...

I can’t watch it...


“Knowing of our ancestor’s pain allows us to better know and animate their healing and restorative powers. It is also the path to their power animating us.”
- Wekesa Madzimoyo


This journey started for our students last semester. The vehicle is the course - The Economic Conundrum. 

Last semester, you will recall, there were several revelations as we sought to learn about Black Economic prowess and Black Economic Nationalism in the early 20th Century.

This prowess produced:



  • Black Wall Street (the Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK), 
  • Another Black Wall Street (the Hayti District in Durham, NC), 
  • Another center of Black commerce in Atlanta (Sweet Auburn), 
  • And yet another in rural North Florida (Rosewood) 
  • And more, many more. We created 50 Black towns in OK alone

Revelations:
  •   The Black community and our students have come to see that historical period as mostly as a series of White massacres of Black power
  •   We actually know little about that the Black power of that period, or how we built it, used, or sustained it.
  •   Sadly, we often use our references to that power to launch attacks on each other for not having or not exercising that power for our good today.
  •   The dominant narratives and white oppression hinder our telling two stories which are critical to that period and to Black economic and social power today:
    •   How just 50 years out of chattel bondage, Africans built those (and other) economic and social power centers
    •   How we battled the white invasions of our communities in ways that inspire us to continue to fight and to continue to build or rebuild



Charting a new course, as you remember, these revelations turned the language arts course - Soul Power: Writing From the Inside-Out, and The Economic Conundrum courses in slightly different directions.

The most challenging writing assignment was for the students to write about the white invasions of our economic and social centers, and our battling them. They were to create fictional stories based on the historical truths based on research study. 

The assignment was made difficult by the requirement that their story about our
defeats at Tulsa and Rosewood had to inspire Black readers to continue to fight and to build. I remember one student asking: "How can a story of defeat be inspiring?"

The goals were for them to uncover the learned obstacles to telling OurStory and to overcome them by practicing and writing an “Inside-Out” version of the invasions and battle. This challenge went beyond an adept placement of character, setting, plot, to disturb and heal their psychological conditioning. Some students worried about losing their white friends. Others worried that we might sink down to the level of the invaders. 

Through it all these high school students became tremendously creative and discovered much about themselves and their writing. Key discoveries were about their own “injected oppression,” and how Hollywood and the storytelling by whites had influenced their writing without their knowing or permission.

That journey has spawned the first AYA Stor-riculum - 

Our Economic Prowess From The Inside-Out:
 Healing Alienation and Trauma
(Publication Available April 4th, 2016)



Now for the sequel -

Last semester, we noted, studied a bit, and ultimately put off until this semester the more challenging assignment - Telling OurStory of economic and social power in the early 20th century before their invasions and our heroic battles, the story of why and how we successfully exercised such economic nationalism and economic power a mere 50 years out of captivity. Not only were we prolific business starters, we were cooperative builders. We knitted a Black community social fabric which sustained those businesses, and sustained us. Whatever mojo they had working, we could use a little of that today.

This story is really a pre-quel - it came first. We had to have had created something worth having and worth defending long before the invasion. This fantastic story of grit, creativity, faith, and intelligence and power was pushed to this semester because of another revelation:

  • While we may know lists of African historical creations and over-comings, we lack knowledge characters, or characters with depth from whose lives and choices we can extract possibilities and power for our own lives today; we lack setting, details, and visions of our ancestors’ ordinary and extra-ordinary actions; we lack plots that give powerful meaning to their actions - then, and to our lives today.



For example, one student admired the architectural design and building of the Odd Fellows building on Auburn Ave, that was a part of Sweet Auburn. While admiring, it hadn’t occurred to her that African minds designed it, and African hands erected it. How could she make the readers see and appreciate Afrikan men building it, when she didn't see them in her own mind?

Another student who read that we were carpenters had no idea, nor any real picture of what carpenters did, much less what challenges they faced, nor how to access or assess their skill or accomplishments. 

It became clear that a mere listing of accomplishments and the names of Black greats was insufficient to reveal the secrets of our amazing economic prowess 50 years out of bondage.

We had to go back home - in more ways that one. Here is the plan this semester:

To "story" the secrets we have to start on The Continent - Afrika prior to European colonization. We’ll have to find stories showing our productivity and our considerable skills in action. After Pre-Colonial Afrika, we’ll follow and find the productivity and skills-in-action stories warped and hidden under duress - captivity and white racial oppression in the Americas. Finally, fighting our way out of chattel bondage, we’ll be prepared to reveal how we achieved so much in such a short time from 1865-1920s  

We’re looking for warrior-healer-builder stories, because this is AYA, and that’s what we do. However, we needed more specificity, so we turned to one of our scholar-guides - Baba John Henrik Clarke. Upon reflecting on leadership  to help "our people will stay on this earth," Baba Clarke generated five questions that provided a framework for our search for warrior-healer-builder stories:

How will we be housed?
How will we be fed?
How will we be clothed?
How will we be educated?
How will we be defended?

To those AYA has added:

How will we be governed?
How will we be healed?

Students are on the journey searching for stories of us housing, feeding, clothing, educating, defending, governing, and healing ourselves. 

It is the “how we healed” search that has stimulated this installment. 

“I can’t watch it,” she said. “I’ve seen it before and can’t watch it again.” 
Two other sisters followed her lead. "It’s your choice," I said. Others continued to watch.

"It" was the iconic scene from Haile Gerima’s classic Sankofa where Mona becomes Shola. The ancestors snatch her through a time portal, and she finds herself in the bowels of a dungeon filed with captured Africans on the West Coast of our homeland. 

She’s screams "I'm not Afrikan, I'm American." It is to no avail. The white gun-welding captors overpower her, snatch off her blouse and with a red hot iron sear their brand in to her back. Layered onto the sounds of her screams and sizzling skin is Aretha’s Franklin’s rendition of Precious Lord. The song provides a bridge to her resolving herself to her captured status, and at the same time offers hope of relief and redemption. When the captors leave her searing in emotional and physical pain, she’s aided by other solemn Afrikan men in chains.

Once done, I asked the sisters who declined to watch what were they feeling that prompted their opting out. One said: “I feel afraid.” “Of what,” I said. “What’s the danger?” I asked in a respectful tone, for emotions hold honored places here at AYA. 

“That some of those people are still around,” she said. Others chimed in - agreeing. I told her that her fears are well founded for the same kind of people that branded Mona/Shola, were around - White police, business executives, educators. Another student added her fear that “it might happen again.” Again, I affirmed that her fears we’re well founded, and that indeed , “it could,” and “we are the only ones who will prevent it.”

The students know the AYA Feelings as Messengers model, so I asked the entire class what’s needed when we feel afraid. They responded: “protection, support, and reassurance.”  "Great," I said, "now the question is how do we protect ourselves from Europeans holding us in bondage and brutalizing us again?" 

The discussion was enlightening. And they all agreed that what we are doing in this class was a small, though significant part of the protection that they sought. Another student amended her first statement to say: “Instead of scared, I really feel sad and mad.” We affirmed that we all felt those feelings too.

I added that to write the story of our past and continued recovery, we need to know of the pain of our ancestors. I reasoned, if they saw me put a band-aid on a small cut on my hand, they wouldn’t notice or think my effort significant. If, on the other hand, they saw my finger hanging half-off, then saw me heal it, they’d have a greater appreciation of my healing power and skill. 

Accentuating our healing power and skill,  I assured them, is the purpose of our letting ourselves see and re-experience - in some small way - the pain our ancestors endured. “Your work,” I said “is to create and tell stories to touch our people so they can see and feel our ancestors’ healing power. These stories will not only be inspirational, they will also be restorative and instructional for us today”

For those who watched or remembered the Mona-to-Shola scene in Sankofa, I asked them to imagine what healing would be needed for Mona/Shola to get from this point of searing pain, extraction from homeland, etc. to where she’s actively cooperating with our people to build and maintain Rosewood, Sweet Auburn, The Hayti District, and Greenwood in Tulsa?

The list was powerful, and will help guide our search.

I reminded them that European brutality was designed to turn us into brutes to reduce white guilt with the rationale that if we acted like “animals, we deserved their treatment.” Reduced to animals, they believed we would come to distrust, disown, and devour each other. 

That didn’t happen. “Our ancestors were powerful healers!” 

They agreed, and now our search for our pain, our recovery strategies and our success begins in earnest. 

It will not be an easy journey. 

16 Bullets!


“16 Bullets,” “I Can’t Breath,” “Hands-Up, Don’t Shoot,”
and a bag of Skittles makes it an arduous journey. 

You see, the resurgent racism that we face today is what stimulates the fear response more quickly in these students that than at times in the past. 

Their seeking to avoid that fear will push our people and our youth to seek and live marginal and escapist stories or delusional ones that either 1. deny there is a problem, 2. promote "shaming" or "educating white folk as the solutions," or worst,  3. promoting stores that blame us for the old and resurgent racism we’re experiencing. 

Here, at AYA and in this class the students have accepted a mission to become restorative learners, researchers, and tellers. They’re learning to tell our stories in ways that will restore themselves and our people as warriors, healers, and builders. 

This mission, in concert with their being with others on the same journey, gives them a sense of safety, direction and power to resolve their fears and sadness. It gives direction to their anger. It gives purpose and hope during these perilous times.

My guess is that studying the warrior-healer-builder strategies of our ancestors will provide them even more powerful possibilities as well.


I’ll keep you posted... 
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Interested in the class for *high school students and up, your study group, or interested in learning how to teach it? AYA is offering it during spring break as a morning class 9 am-11:30am, April 4th-8th. This will be a live audio and video web-conferenced based class with Wekesa Madzimoyo as the primary instructor. Your children can access from home, church or community centers. Complete interest form HERE

*Younger students can participate with parental support or special permission. Use the interest form to ask for any exception.