Friday, April 22, 2016

Time To Breathe and Celebrate A Man's Man!

Time to breathe. Life is a circle. Time to celebrate Chisulu (Cornell Geddie, Jr.) - the man from whose seed I came.
He's the man who most showed me how to be a man. And while he wouldn't have known to call it this - the man who most showed me how to "be Afrikan" - hold Afrikan values, hold Afrikan visions and make a circle of community.
I say "most" because I was raised in a community of men - my second Dad - Garrie Wright, my grandfathers, and even great grand fathers, uncles, great uncles, cousins and male family friends so close that they were called "uncles." To all of these men, I'm deeply indebted.
Shout out to my mom for keeping me in this community of men, even during our time in Brooklyn, NY - 500 miles removed from my father who was in Fayetteville, NC.
April 20, 1931 is the day he came into this world. His father and mother merged to become him. He and my mother merged to become me. I extend myself into my children - let the circle be unbroken.
He told me once: "Son, don't let nobody beat you giving." When I was a teenager, I wondered why he gave so much away in his business. He ignored my protest with a "Son, just keep on livin'" kind a look. He abhorred injustice. While he was less vocal about it than my mother, he felt it just as deeply - maybe more.
There is a hospital scene that comes to mind as I seek to breathe in Chisulu's spirit. It's really an implanted memory - from a story my mother told me over and over about how he helped pull me from the spirit world to this one.
You see... I was born premature. So much so that my mother says she could hold me from head to toe in the palm of her hand. I weighed less than a pound. It didn't look good. My mother had lost all her children before me. The hospital, on the FT Bragg army base, was more a glorified barracks than a neo-natal center. I was placed in an incubator.
Depressed at the thought of losing yet another baby, she left the hospital refusing to name me.
"I'm tired of naming babies and they just die."
My mother told me that two nurses blurted out names that became my first and middle names. Geddie, like my father, would be my last name. She left the hospital to nurse herself and to hold on to her sanity by fighting off that "something" was wrong with her.
Meanwhile I clung to life by a thread thinner than a spider's web. She tells me that my Dad Cornell, that I call "Chisulu" came by every day.
dikenga bw
Chisulu means man of steel. In our salvage work, he handled the torch, he was the man who handled cutting the steel.
Every day from Nov. 19th to Dec. 25th. Everyday, he'd talk to me, she said. Everyday he say:
"C'mon son. I know that you can make it. I just know that you will make it, C'mon..."
I must have heard him, or more accurately 'felt' him. His was the only family touch I knew for the first month of my life. Everyday I got a little stronger.
Trying not to get her hopes up only to be dashed for a 4th time, my mother refused to come.
Chisulu / Cornell refused not to come. Refused to give up hope or to turn loose that slender bio-genetic rope that held me from returning to the spirit world from which I came.
He didn't know, nor did my mother at the time that in some Afrikan cultures, like Mali, the "men of steel," the blacksmiths were also the mediators between the living and the dead. Chisulu / Cornell was the man of steel, and his prayers, his heart and his love pulled me through.
Wekesa in chitown abpsi
On Dec. 25th, my mother and father came and took me home. That was 61 years ago.
So, now here I sit with tears of joy welling up in my eyes for the man of steel. Though he was a man's man, a big man, a junk man with rough hands, it's not his "hardness" that fills me so. It's his love and the deep river of his emotional/spiritual giving that threatens to wet my keyboard.
As I say medase (thank you) to my Dad - The Man, please join me by sending a "thank you" deed, a "thank you" touch, thought or pray to the men who have given to you, then pass this on.
Let's make sure the circle is unbroken.
Wekesa O. Madzimoyo
Co-Director, AYA Educational Inst.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Resistance and Healing!

I Love AYA!

That was this morning’s focus in this dynamic class - The Economic Conundrum. Was it too deep for Monday morning; too deep for mere high school students? 

I've written about the course before - AYA High School students are learning about our Circle of Culture and how we used it to heal us. They are studying this in an economics class because they know that we had to have healed ourselves for us to have displayed such economic cooperation and economic nationalism in many places in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in places like Memphis, Atlanta, Rosewood, and in the better known Black Wall Streets - in Tulsa, OK and the Hayti District in Durham, NC. 

I decided to include in their search for *HOW* we used our culture to heal - a discussion of role of resistance, rebellion, and revolt (individual, group, and mass action) against White domination as a strategic and effective healing "treatment" for the psychic injuries resulting from the wounding blows of captivity.

I can't underestimate the importance of this part of our healing treatment. Today, those who would help us heal from our psychic wounds born of old and continued oppression rarely prescribe initiation or participation in resistance, rebellion, or revolt against oppressive people, policies and practices - as primary or even part of their prescribed "healing" treatment. The students had been warned about this "error" by Dr. Amos N. Wilson's discussion of how the Mental Health establishment works hand in hand with European history writing to oppress us. 

These students weren't going to make that mistake, or were they?
When I asked students to ponder the healing power of our ancestor's resisting white domination. 

Here's what they said:

'We resisted taking on their spiritual ideas and religious systems because those systems reinforced that they (Whites) were superior and we (Africans) were inferior. Resisting their religious ideas and systems, and restoring and even recreating our own beliefs was healing because it rejected the central idea that Europeans and their views were superior to ours, and it kept us connected to our own. 

Earlier in the course, the student already had established that connecting to our own gave us "purpose, direction," and it even gave spiritual ascension to rebellion and revolt. 

Both Dr. Sterling Stuckey and my departed friend and teacher that lead me to him - Dr. Sonja Hayes Stone - smiled with me as I heard the students' minds churning.

Another student added: We resisted using their language and chose to speak in dialect to hold on to pieces of our own culture and to resist the idea that European language, their culture, and therefore White people were superior to us, our language and culture.

When asked about our actually revolting - which would include using force to overthrow and kill our captors - they said "It would have been healing because it restores a sense of power that we had prior to captivity."

I just shook my head, and thought, "if this were a college psychology class that might be called restoring a "locus of control." 

These 9th-11th graders are going in deep!

I then reminded them of our teachings from Dr. Amos N. Wilson that European history-writing robs us of strategies and tools as well as inspiration and identity.

So I asked them to contrast how today we often use another strategy to "prove" or "defend" ourselves from European's claim or idea that we are inferior. I asked, "Have you seen us today defend ourselves from the idea that we are inferior by claiming that we're more European than Europeans?"
A student asked: "What do you mean?" 

I responded: In other words, as a counter to their claim of our inferiority, we say something like -
"We can speak their language better than they can!" 
"We know their culture than they do! 
"We know and practice their religion and spiritual beliefs better than they do or can!"

I could tell that this hit home, that some students felt sad about this. Reluctantly, they agreed that they'd seen us use this strategy. 

They also saw the contrast and agreed that our ancestors didn't use that strategy as a healing one, and that those ancestors would probably have frowned up it. They were clear that our ancestors' healing strategy was to reject the captor's cultural impositions, and to remember, retrieve, preserve and recreate our own in anyway we could - even if fragmented.

I reiterated: "that's what Dr. Wilson meant when he said when oppressors write and tell your story about yesterday, they manipulate your strategies, possibilities, and your power today and for the future.
We weren't done. There was one more healing benefit of resistance, rebellion and revolt. 
But I fear this has been too long a post, and my mother - who could be a bit long-winded herself - is in my head: 

"Now, Wekesa, don't make 'em happy twice." 
"Huh, Mama?" 
"Don't make them happy that you started the story, and happy that you finally, finally got to the end. Son, leave 'em wanting a bit more" 
"Mom... it's just one more thing!" 
"I know your "one more thing!"

Unfortunately, she won't relent. So, to get the last healing benefit that also helped the students really understand what Dr. Wilson was talking about in Falsification of African Consciousness, tune in this Wednesday for another edition of I Love AYA. (If you message me your email, I'll send it directly to you)
PS... I think I can slip this past Mom's ubiquitous ears. Check out WEB Dubois on the Durham Black Wall Street that many don't know about. That's why the students know THAT we healed ourselves substantially, they're just trying to learn HOW. Please pass this on. 

Hope is Not a Strategy. 

Choose AYA.

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