Search

AllEyesOnDC

Building a Black Nation, One Post at a Time

Category

Community

COMING SOON: The AllEyesOnDC Show Discusses Zoning Laws & Gentrification

Once approved, D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan will determine how land in the District will be used, whether it’s for the benefit of longtime residents or major developers eager to expand their influence over a gentrified city.

The stakes are high, so much so that constituents of varying ideologies and interests recently converged on the Wilson Building earlier this month, testifying before the D.C. Council into the wee hours of the morning in the hopes that the final version of the Comprehensive Plan reflects their vision for D.C.

With discussion around the Comprehensive Plan for D.C. underway, it’s time that Africans in the District understand how zoning regulations, the laws that affect the allocation of land for residences, shopping districts, and the like, enable corporations to gentrify Our communities. Ari Theresa, Esq. of Stoop Law L.L.C. will grace The AllEyesOnDC Show on Friday, April 20th at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe (2714 Georgia Avenue NW) and educate us while reflecting on his experiences in this field. This is a show you cannot afford to miss. The show starts at 8pm. 

Before you come through to witness the magic of The AllEyesOnDC Show, watch this video of Ari Theresa speaking with Sam P.K. Collins last year during Howard Homecoming. Peace and blessings!

Advertisements
Featured post

Two Black Millennials Reveal the Keys to a Stable Life

Courtesy photo of Black family 

Black people’s collective economic condition in the United States, and more specifically D.C., warrants some concerns about how residents of African descent, whether they arrived yesterday or have been in the District for generations, will fare amid mass corporatization, skyrocketing college debt, increasing costs of living, and the lack of conventional employment opportunities, compared to what their parents and grandparents experienced in the years after the end of the Civil Rights movement.

In recent years, many Black Millennials, part of a generation scarred by the Great Recession and disillusioned by growing income inequality, have embraced unorthodox means of financial stability. Instead of relying solely on income generated from fulltime jobs, young people, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, are creating additional revenue streams through investments in properties and forays in the stock market. This has become part of a strategy to be self-determined and avoid the pitfalls that decimated Black wealth in less than a generation.

On the March edition of The AllEyesOnDC Show, Sade Chase-Marshall and Makiri Pugh, two Black millennial entrepreneurs from the D.C. metropolitan area, revealed the paths they are blazing on their path to socioeconomic self-determination. While their stories and tips for success in the capitalist market wooed some members of the audience, it sparked a much-needed discussion about the feasibility of similar results for those struggling to make it day by day. For better or worse, the conversation also compelled Baby Boomers and members of Generation X in the audience to examine how lack of communication between elders and the youth may have contributed to intergenerational financial setbacks within the Black family.

 

D.C. Council Missed the Mark with TOPA Single-Family Home Exemption

Earlier this week, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of a change to an essential law that, when implemented, will accelerate gentrification and displace tenants long dependent on the graces of homeowners with extra space in their residences.

In a 10-2 vote on Tuesday, the D.C. Council moved to abolish protections afforded to tenants of single-family homes under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). For nearly 40 years, TOPA has granted tenants of apartments and single-family homes the first-right-of-refusal when their landlord announces their intention to not renew their lease and sell the property. This means that tenants can intercept the transaction between the homeowner and third-party buyer, most likely a developer, and match the third-party buyer’s offer. After that, they would have an allotted time period to secure a home loan in that amount. The entire TOPA process takes 180 days, or nearly six months.

Tenants in apartments could use the law to purchase the property as a co-op. In some cases, they could lobby for ownership of their single unit, saving the owner some costs. The writer of this article, a native Washingtonian and one-time tenant in a single-family home, successfully navigated the TOPA process last year on the journey to homeownership, as had 19 other single-family home tenants since TOPA’s inception.

Unfortunately, D.C.’s realtor lobby, developers, and D.C. Council members anxious to serve their money hungry constituents, failed to consider the aforementioned facts of this case. Instead, they ignored nuance, bypassed the pleas of tenant association members, and heavily relied on the findings of an investigation that showed how TOPA lawyers helped secure payouts of up to $30,000 for tenants who had no intention to purchase property from their landlord. This information supported Council testimony from homeowners who revealed instances where TOPA abuse interrupted plans to finance children’s college education and moves to elder care facilities.

Proponents of the single-family home exemption argue that not doing so would discourage homeowners, wary of conniving tenants, from renting out their basements, a trend that could negatively affect D.C.’s housing market. That concern has legitimacy, which is why an amendment scrapping the TOPA payout portion of the law would have sufficed. As can be seen from the outside looking in, the powers that didn’t explore that option. Developments around the TOPA debate have also provided insight. Last year, a committee, led by D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson (D), was tasked with exploring the case further and coming to a commonsensical solution. Instead, Mendelson dissolved the committee, telling his colleagues they had nothing more to discuss on this matter.

The financially conscious among D.C. residents would disagree. In the era of gentrification, spurred by the construction of Nationals Stadium and other projects, several Black and immigrant families living in the Shaw, Petworth, and Ivy City neighborhoods have been displaced by rapid development, finding themselves with little to no place to go. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless families increased by 30 percent, according to a study conducted last year. D.C. currently has the highest rate of homelessness among all major American cities.

With D.C. home prices at the highest they’ve been in 10 years, few options exist for tenants who want to transition to homeownership in the D.C. neighborhood of their choice. By exempting single-family homes from TOPA protections, the D.C. Council has opened the gates for a developer buying frenzy, in which developers will buy these homes at below market-rate prices, furnish and add amenities to them, before selling it for a much higher price. The losers in this deal are the tenants who could’ve matched that low offer and gotten a chance to own the place they’d helped their landlord pay off for some time, especially with the help of the Home Purchase Assistance Program. Ultimately, the losers will also be indigenous Washingtons, on both sides of this issue, who will see the very fabric of their community torn apart by colonizers, more than it already has been since at least 2007.

A second reading and vote on the single-family home exemption for TOPA has been scheduled for April. It’s incumbent upon the D.C. Council as a unit to think long and hard about the implications of this move. There’s no way to ensure that eliminating TOPA rights for this class of tenant will encourage homeowners to rent out their homes, but if history is a teacher — and it is — majority-indigenous D.C. communities, such as Deanwood in Northeast, could go to the wayside much sooner than later.

 

Leading the Charge: Equipping our Black* Youth with Knowledge of Self

*** In February 2018, during the Curriculum Summit in Pennsylvania, Brother Sam will tout the benefits of a culturally strong education that affirms Blackness in Black children that lack knowledge of self. This hour-long presentation will look at the struggle for quality education in that context, making the case for the African-centered education model that spiritually feeds Our youth. More information to come about this event. For now, read Sam’s article about this perspective as originally posted online.*** 

Even with post-secondary gains made among Black people in the more than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, Black children in the United States, particularly those in urban school systems, lag behind their counterparts when it comes to high school completion and, more importantly, the grasping of concepts that better allow them compete in a globalized society.

This means that upon high school graduation, Black students are of little, if any, use to employers and, more importantly, their resource-starved communities. Situations like this are common and often increase the likelihood of incarceration, unemployment or underemployment, and a permanent underclass status among members of this group. Without a generation of fully educated, socially and racially conscious young people, the global Black community, as a collective, will forever look to the nonprofit industrial complex and mainstream political parties with racist histories for panaceas — including monetary aid, food drives, and housing vouchers — cloaked as real solutions.

 The Awakening

Unbeknownst to a good number of young Black people, there are racially motivated historical, political and economic factors that have set the stage for what’s considered a virtually hopeless situation. The maintenance of this “New World” by former colonizers and slaveowners pushes those classified as “Black” to forget that their ancestors led fruitful,independent lives in their villages, reservations, cities and towns long before they were called slaves and treated as such.

Just as the proponents of African-centered cultural nationalism attempted to do in the 1970s, Black educators and parents must demand and create opportunities for Black children to learn their true history and affirm the African legacy stolen from their ancestors through Maafa, also known as the Middle Passage or African Holocaust.

Without a wholistic, race-conscious education, Black children will continue to imagine themselves as the former enslaved and colonized, rather than the self-determined beings who birthed civilization. That means they’ll go into the world unable to avoid the pitfalls of predatory lending, wage theft, gentrification, and police brutality. Without knowledge of self, Black children also won’t effectively organize in their communities just as other race-conscious, culturally centered groups have done and continue to do with tangible results.

 Helping Students Find Knowledge of Self through Literature

The salvation of Black children in American school systems requires an overhaul of curricula designed as a tool of forced integration into mainstream American society. Though they have American citizenship, the so-called African American hasn’t enjoyed the rights exclusively guaranteed to white male landowners in the U.S. Constitution. Under what some might consider a radical pedagogy, Black students, and other students in American schools for that matter, must be exposed to African-centered historical and contemporary texts that affirm their African heritage and alert them to the true nature of Black people’s relationship with the United States, and other duplicitous Western powers for that matter.

Literature, whether it be memoirs, speeches, or biographies, open a window of opportunity to explore the historical context of those works and redefine the authors as socially and culturally conscious freedom fighters, not victims begging their oppressor to affirm their humanity.

In Malcolm X’s Ballot or the Bullet speech, for example, the speaker’s call to Black people to move beyond religious and political divides to consolidate their vote during the 1964 presidential election can pave the way for discussions about voting rights, effective lobbying, and grassroots organizing. The same applies with Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman speech, a work with which Black male students explored intersectionality and came to grips with the ways they perpetuate misogyny toward their female counterparts.

More relevant to the overall point of this post, students, when using these types of texts, can still learn to correctly interpret main idea and how it develops, build their vocabulary, and analyze elements of storytelling and figurative language — all while closely reading and annotating texts, writing argumentative paragraphs, and speaking about the text in Socratic seminars. This method places cultural nationalism and the Black identity at the foundation of curriculum design and goes further in making the whole Black child, who by the completion of this program will proudly identify as an African — an homage of sorts to the birthplace of civilization and the land from which all human life originated. For that student, Black will no longer be a mark of shame but a sign of solidarity with oppressed around the world.

Implementing a redesign of this nature would require Black and non-Black educators to take a greater interest in global Black history and culture so that their knowledge of Black people goes beyond the trauma porn that’s chattel slavery and colonization. Additionally, educators, especially those who are white, must confront how white supremacy has always and currently permeates every facet of the education system. In doing so, they, and eventually their students, will understand and appreciate the regality of Africans — Mansa Musa of present-day Mali for example — before the arrival of the European.

Ultimately students, after being exposed to the truth about their history and the Western World and its history as it relates to Black people, will see themselves in a new light: no longer as the oppressed, but as agents of change and descendants of the world’s first human beings fighting to reclaim the glory stolen from their ancestors long ago. In the long term, it’ll affect their decisions, such as their choice in an undergraduate major, or which political party to join.

A State of Emergency in the Global Black Community

Some educators might question the need of the paradigm shift of this nature, arguing that students must be exposed to the “classics” that’ll equip them for college and conversations in educated circles. From this vantage point, it’s clear that those detractors don’t have an intimate understanding of the collective Black community’s current state, which arguably has remained stagnant for the most part despite political and social gains made in recent decades. Regardless of class, location, sexual orientation, and whatever else, Black people globally are in a state of emergency.

Though they live in more of a diverse society and are exposed to more opportunities than their elders, Black youth, as is the case with Black adults and Black society at large, haven’t embraced an identity outside that which has been created in the U.S. — a land built on the genocide and intergenerational exploitation of non-white people. Long after the end of slavery and Jim Crow, societal slights including gentrification, mass incarceration, colonialism, and neoliberal foreign policy in the form of proxy wars in third world countries continue to influence Black migration — local, nationally, and internationally — and dictate Black families’ choices in where they live, sleep and eat, often to the detriment of a Black child yearning for stability.

Black politicians, without a race consciousness and beholden to mainstream power brokers instead of their people, carry out most of the damage and help perpetuate the false narrative that we live in a post-racial society. WIthout a solid cultural identity, Black children — including those who come from abroad and fight for a chance to integrate into American society — embrace a definition of Blackness that American society manufactured millennia ago as a means to legitimize its harsh mistreatment of Black people. Just as many Black children fall on the sword of that definition, the youth who ascend educationally will work to escape Blackness, as defined by the U.S., by any means, even if it hurts their own.

A false Black identity, as currently parroted in popular culture and the paradigm through which we teach the disciplines in American schools, is rooted in criminality, sexual promiscuity, dysfunction, lack of industry, perpetual victimhood, economic immobility, and a persistent sense of “otherness” that not even the election of the nation’s first Black president could eliminate. It’s fallacious to think that Black children can thrive in a system that endorses this outdated and inherently racist definition of Blackness. It’s even more dangerous to think that educators can ignore its effects on the youth’s psyche.

Final Thoughts

Obliterating a mindset of oppression among Black youth through the model outlined in this post will not only prepare Black children for critical thinking that the real world requires, it will allow them to act independently and make decisions in the spirit of self-determination and unity that has often paved the way for economic and political success in other communities. One could argue that this outcome wouldn’t benefit the U.S., a capitalistic society in need of mindless laborers. The author of this post agrees, as the denial of African children of their heritage has become the means through which they’re controlled and packaged into whatever mold the American system needs them to fit.

However, this is the season for change as many have see on televisions and online newspapers. Now’s not the time to embrace a false narrative of the U.S.’ current situation. No, Americans, especially educators, must confront the truth and work so that children are fully aware and able to fight against injustice, even if doing so makes said educator uncomfortable.

May all teachers, administrators, and parents alike take these words into consideration as they weigh choices about how to mold their students’ educational experience in Babylon.

——-

*This post explores Blackness in an international context that allows the so-called African-American child to affirm their African identity and stand in solidarity with the international community, especially people of African descent of various phenotypes across the globe who suffer from societal ills engineered by white supremacy, including but not limited to: economic inequity, police brutality, corporate exploitation, and political marginalization.

 In this post-racial society, people of African descent, whether they’re classified as Black, Latino, or continental African, have varying degrees of leeway with which they can escape the societal scar of Blackness, including exploitation of other Black people. However, Blackness is inescapable. Once one recognizes this and embraces their Blackness with knowledge of self, they would be able to fight for their community using the tools at their disposal.

 Though it has developed throughout millennia, this school of thought came out of post-1960 liberation movements in the U.S. and around the world that furthered Pan-African philosophy touted by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and often freedom fighters.

 

Mama Hasinatu Tribute Promotes Kwanzaa Spirit

The spirit of Mama Hasinatu Camara was alive and well in Sankofa Video Books & Cafe on the night of Ujamma, the Kiswahili word for cooperative economics from which the fourth day of Kwanzaa gets its name. In the last years of her long and storied life, Mama Hasinatu practiced group economics when she patronized the gathering place of conscious minds, even hosting a tribute to her late comrade Kwame Ture there for two consecutive years.

Mama Hasinatu’s impact on D.C.’s African-centered community goes even further, as shown through the youth she taught at Bridges Academy, the now defunct Booker T. Washington High School, Nation House and other culturally driven educational institutions for children of African descent. Those who knew her considered her youthful disposition to be one of a kind. Even as old age crept up on her, Mama Hasinatu continued reasoning with the young people and imparting words of wisdom.

Thus were the words, and more, said about The Black Power Enforcer on the night of Friday, Dec. 29th at Sankofa, based on Georgia Avenue. The three-hour program, standing room only, attracted people of various ages, and ideologies and spiritual systems falling under the Black Power umbrella. Alma Negra Set, brainchild of Falani Spivey, a young person who grew up under Mama Hasinatu’s wing, hosted this function along with AllEyesOnDC, the monthly program on which Mama Hasinatu appeared and where she sometimes found herself along with D.C’s young people on the third Friday of the month.

Mama Hasinatu, a native Washingtonian, spent her early years on 8th and H Streets in Northeast. As a member and key organizer of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, Mama Hasinatu touted the benefits of scientific socialism as it relates to African liberation, while here in the United States and on her travels with Ture, the Pan-African organizer formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, in Guinea. In her role, she organized African Liberation Day celebrations throughout the 1970s and 1980s while speaking about Zionist imposition in international affairs at the expense of oppressed, melanated people. Mama Hasinatu’s activities as a then newly awaken African woman would set the stage for greater opportunities and other roles as The Black Power Enforcer until she transitioned in mid- December of last year.

For much of the night, guests poured libation, sang, played music, and reflected on the goodness of Mama Hasinatu’s time in this realm. Speakers included Mama Luci Murphy, Baba Senghor Jawara Baye, Baba Tarik Oduno, and Haile Gerima, co-owner of Sankofa Bookstore and director of the famed Sankofa film, in which Mama Hasinatu played a valuable role. Members of Mama Hasinatu’s family, sitting in the very front of the space, also counted among those in attendance that evening. Though they might of not been a part of her widespread “ideological family” as Mama Hasinatu always called her comrades, they too had valuable memories, adding photos to one of two collages erected on Sankofa’s stage. Kevin Orlando Miller, Mama Hasinatu’s eldest son and saxophonist for the Proverbs Reggae Band, entranced the audience with a short number.

The three-hour program, in its entirety, can be watched in these three videos, the longest of which is more than 1 hour, 40 minutes. Check it out and relish in Mama Hasinatu’s memory. Information about Mama Hasinatu’s homegoing services are below.

Mama Hasinatu’s Homegoing Memorial Service
Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018
10am to 5pm
Northeastern Presbyterian Church
2112 Varnum Street NE

Looking Back: The AllEyesOnDC Show Reveals Indigenous America

As a native Washingtonian, I’m no stranger to the slew of anti-indigenous American rhetoric and images that floods our local media, the most prominent example being the Washington Redskins name, logo, and mascot, all given to the Washington-area football for which my peers and their families have cheered on for several years.

Not even a mass movement to abolish the Redskins name has significantly curbed use of that name in recent years. The notion that We stop saying that name has elicited scoffs from Black people, many of whom refuse to identify with their indigenous American counterparts in the struggle against white supremacy.

From what I reckon, this mindset among some so-called African Americans often comes out a frustration with an American government that seemingly prioritizes the issues of other “minorities” over that of Black people.

I have no reason to contend with that point and have argued that the American government, and other white-centered entities for that matter, often turns its back on overtly Black/African interest groups in favor of those that fit the model of ambiguity that maintains a racist, capitalistic system. This plot however may be part of a grander scheme by the powers that be to box Black Americans into stringent racial categories that deny them of their connection to the hodge-podge of indigenous tribes and nations.

 

In comes Ali Sanders,a descendant of Black indigenous Americans and proponent of indigenous living in which indigenous people operate outside of the American system, the matrix that replaced their people’s ancient way of living, to build a new life for them and their family.

How do they do that? Watch this AllEyesOnDC video and find out.

The nearly two hours of footage includes information about indigenous living and the African origins of the people currently known as Native Americans. After this video and proliferation of similar information, hopefully we as people of African descent can learn to respect each other and move beyond the European-created boundaries that have divided us for far too long.

The Youth Speak!

** watermarked photo of Congress Heights metro station** 

Though young people today are speaking out more about police brutality, community violence, and displacement of Black people in major cities, the ways of the world still corrupt those who don’t understand the historical context of these events and how they dictate the code of conduct in their social circles. That, along with lack of knowledge makes them fall prey to forces that can negatively alter their life.

This summer, two youth took on the call to learn more about their revolutionary Black/African heritage and represent the Black teenage perspective on AllEyesOnDC. Our AllEyesOnDC youth representatives Roneisha and Ma’kal learned about the writing process, followed the production of a community news program, toured historic DC. staples, and saw organizing in action.

One of those instances, highlighted in this piece, came out of an experience with the New Black Panther Party less than a week before their march for affordable housing in early July. Roneisha and Ma’kal, still learning about Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism, as we all are, soaked in the sights and sounds of that July evening.

Below are their reflections:

Yes, Black People are Special

By Roneisha B. 

AllEyesOnDC Contributing Writer

Earlier this summer during a gathering hosted by the New Black Panther Party, I learned about how special it is to be a Black person and that you can only move forward by yourself. Black people are special because we have so much history and there could be a lot of information we don’t know.

Roneisha Bennett
Roneisha B.

From the meeting I now know much about the important people who came before me who did what they needed to do so the people of this generation could be free and have equal rights. White supremacy has been trying to take over our country and we have to stop it. But we can only stop it if we are united as one whole. Nothing can be done if our people are beefing with each other instead of the opposition.

One person that stood out to me was Marcus Garvey. He was important because he was an activist and the leader of the Pan-Africanist movement. He did what he needed to do during his time so the people that come after him can take on the same actions as him. Things like this aren’t taught in schools and should be because this is the history that we need to be learning. This is the history of what our people did and how it would affect us then and now. If things like this aren’t taught then the younger generation is walking around with knowledge that isn’t important. The young aren’t aware of information like this because schools only teach you certain stuff instead of the more important history.

 More young people should attend meetings like this because it makes them aware of what’s happening in the world and how it can affect them and their lives. Because of white people trying to take over, opportunities for African Americans are lessening unless we fight for what we want. You have to be your own leader and take initiative. Nothing is going to be handed out so we have to go and get it if we want it instead of letting the opposition take the power away.

We need to follow in the footsteps of those important role models and fight like our elders did. They didn’t let anything get in their way; they fought through violence but still found a way to get what they needed. Instead of trying to do exactly what they did, we can do things in the same manner they did.They aren’t our greatest leaders but we are our greatest leader. In order to do this and achieve our goals, the youth need to be one instead of taking sides. That slows us down and isn’t helpful to one another. Lending a helping hand can move the pace faster.

This is an important affair in my life because I thought activists should do the same exact thing that our ancestors did but instead you should do things differently but the same way they did it to get more of an effective outcome in general. What I mean by that is making change that will have a positive outcome for sure. All in all the whole beginning of the meeting is important to the youth because it affects their future.

Speak Up and Speak Out

By Ma’kal F. 

AllEyesOnDC Contributing Writer

What I learned during the New Black Panther Party’s meeting in July about black liberation is that it only represents Blacks and their own belief that Black people are just as good as people of other racial backgrounds. The Black Panthers started a movement about Black pride. It was a movement boost ideologies that encourage Black people to celebrate Black culture and embrace their African heritage.

IMG_1371
Ma’kal F.

The New Black Panthers also spoke loudly with their words so that everybody could hear them. I think the Black Panthers represents speaking loudly. I speak softly because when I was a child, my mom always told me to be quiet. All those words made me the person I am today. It’s hard for me to speak loudly because when I speak in a low voice I think everybody can hear me. It’s quiet in my household so if I were to say something everyone there could hear me. It’s not right for a person to not be able to talk loudly in their own house.

That why I thank the New Black Panther Party for helping me. If it wasn’t for the New Black Panthers, I wouldn’t know how to speak up and use my mouth. If you don’t speak up, no one can hear you Black Panther party was a revolutionary Black nationalist and socialist organization. The panthers represent courage , valor and power.

 What I also learned about Black Panther is that’s every time members of the New Black Panther Party greet each other, they say Black power. Black power is a slogan and a name for various associated ideologies aimed at achieving self- determination for people of African descent. What I would tell younger kids from my learning experience is to speak up and use your words to make sure everyone can hear you. If they can’t hear you there, is no point in talking.

Yes, Learning about African Spirituality Made Me Accepting of Christianity Again (Kind Of)

The July 2017 edition of The AllEyesOnDC Show, centered on African spiritual systems and featuring Nana Kwabena Brown of the Temple of Nyame, attracted more than 40 people, the highest number of guests we’ve had at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe for an AllEyesOnDC event since the beginning of the year. It also altered my position on Our practice of Abrahamic religions in the West, just a little bit.

That Friday evening, Nana Kwabena charted the chronological development of African spiritual systems, including those practiced by the Akan and Yoruba people, through the migration of ancient Africans escaping Islamic persecution. He also showed me, as well as the audience, how Old World belief systems manifested into habits and traditions that have persisted through Maafa and other atrocities. In this powerful interview, Nana Kwabena outlined how ancient spiritual systems determined who held the power in local African communities. Oftentimes, it were the elders with a lifetime of experience who We respected.

CAPTION: Part I of Nana Kwabena Brown’s interview with AllEyesOnDC on Friday, July 21st at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe 

CAPTION: Part II of Nana Kwabena Brown’s interview with AllEyesOnDC on Friday, July 21st at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe 

I wrapped up my interview with Nana Kwabena more appreciative of my Christian upbringing in a Liberian church and understanding of how African spiritual systems, the practice of many that continues today, set the foundation for the Abrahamic religions, also developed by ancient African people. Like other groups, my Liberian ancestors found ways to mix their spiritual systems with Christianity as a survival tactic. Although they hold up the holy cross, my people, as have others around the diaspora, maintain some remnants of their culture.

However, there’s work to be done if we are to build a strong nation that doesn’t fall prey to the ways of the Western World.

The paradigm shift that continues to threaten Our normal, peaceful way of life came long before I appeared in this body, when Europeans replaced the elements of nature We revered with caricatures of their own. These days, as other races and cultures worship spiritual beings that reflect their ancient ways and mirror their image, We’re blindly following the traditions of a people who took our ways of life and manipulated it for their enjoyment. It’s time to let go of these systems and embrace Our spirituality. At the same time, failure to understand the nuances in Our spiritual differences, even those among Us who observe Abrahamic religions, threatens any opportunity for Us as African people to come together.

At this juncture in Our liberation struggle where we’re reclaiming Our identity, celebrity worship, sexual abuse, and disrespect of elders have reached an all-time high. Celebrity and vanity often trump experience and wisdom. Babylon’s infiltration of Our families have made it so that We leave Our children’s development to the streets, television and school system. However, it wasn’t always like that. Like the Rasta livity, Our African spiritual systems allowed Us to coexist peacefully with the world and maintain balance through all aspects of Our lives.

No, we’re not born in sin. We’re Godlike beings going through a lot of Hell in the Earthly realm, all in an effort to find Ourselves and become the reflection of God created in Our mother’s womb. As a young man raised up in the Pentecostal Church, a West African one at that, it baffles me that I developed this attitude that favors looking beyond Christianity for my salvation. But it was a long time coming.

Upon learning that, and coming to terms with the fact that other spiritual systems existed before Christianity, I grew ready to dump the religion altogether in 2014, although making that leap, publicly at least, would take another year or two. A series of vitriolic attacks against Christianity and Christian organizations, to the chagrin of those who’ve known me for some time, followed. Even after my 2015 trip to Ethiopia and acquisition of knowledge about Christianity’s African origins encouraged me to embrace the Rasta livity, I still spoke out against those who erected Christmas trees during the holidays or didn’t understand the Kemetic origins of Christ’s birth and resurrection.

More of my verbal attacks recently have focused on modern-day Christian institutions I felt didn’t do the Earthly work in the same vein as the man known as Yeshua for whom this religion received its name. In one Facebook post, I said that idol worship has caused Us to wait for a Messiah to do the work that the Universe mandated We do to keep Our ecosystem running efficiently.

After the July 21st AllEyesOnDC show, I still stand by those words, looking to the ancestors, elders, sisters, and brothers who have found a way to use Christianity to fight for liberation and self-determination in their corner of the world. Those freedom fighters, including Marcus Garvey, a man I often mention on this medium, understood that the men and women in the Bible lived on the African continent, not in a fictionalized Middle East fabricated by Europeans. He, and other freedom fighters, saw themselves in those Biblical figures and events, taking their freedom into their own hands and neutralizing the Roman Catholic Church’s global manipulation of nonwhite humans.

It’s my belief, at this moment at least, that Black Christian churches around the world should, and could take on a similar mantra for service and redemption of all human beings once they start to acknowledge Christianity’s African beginnings and the presence of Africans in the Holy Bible. Those of Us who left the church, but still love our church family, can be the agents of change in this regard, slowly but surely educating Our elders and peers about that connection.

Now, more than ever, I’m ready to separate European manipulation of ancient African spiritual systems from the Africans who unknowingly work within those systems and adopt dogma destructive to Our wholistic development. At time same time, I’m passionate more than ever to study the various spiritual systems practiced on the African continent. It’s my hope that taking on this mindset will make me more patient in engaging my People when discussing Abrahamic religions in the context of Our experiences in the West. For sure, it somewhat healed a part of me

So no, I’m still not a Christian.

At the same time, I’m not going to stop attending the church I frequented as a youngster, even if it’s once every two months. For the first time in a long time, I’m going to deviate from Malcolm X’s message a bit and not keep my spirituality in the closet. Why would I do that when respectfully speaking to Black people of other backgrounds outside of their place of worship could help Us see the lineage in Our spiritual systems and unite as One?

After all, that’s the the real work in ensuring We unite as a people.

Looking Back: AllEyesOnDC Does It for the Watoto

The June 16th edition of the AllEyesOnDC Show, filmed live in Sankofa Video Books and Café, proved to be one of a kind, specifically because those featured that evening became the youngest AllEyesOnDC guests in all the grassroots media platform’s existence. This installment of AllEyesOnDC, themed “For the Watoto,” aired on Facebook Live on the International Day of the African Child, the African Union’s annual commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

The 1976 Soweto Uprising, for those who don’t know, popped off on the morning of June 16 that year when thousands of indigenous South African youth, fed up with the European-dominated education system’s marginalization of their native tongue, skipped school and led a series of street protests. South African police officers responded to these outcries with brutal violence, killing more than 700 young protesters and jailing many more. The 1976 Soweto Uprising, which inspired several other youth-led anti-apartheid campaigns, has since been depicted on the big screen and stage.

More than 50 years later, a new generation of Black youth in the D.C. metropolitan area has taken the mantle in the fight against global white supremacy and all that manifests from it. Four of these young people graced the AllEyesOnDC stage on June 16th, sharing their stories and showcasing how they use the arts to feed their minds and enlighten the masses.

These young people – youth motivational speaker and activist Elijah Coles-Brown and three young ladies from the Mass Emphasis Children’s History & Theatre Company – kept the audience laughing, awing, and thinking hard about the future holds for Black liberation. Elijah, the first guest, spoke about his activism and causes he’s furthering through his speaking tours throughout the country. Later, he returned as caricature of Frederick Douglass, decked out in a three-piece suit and gray hair, to recite one of the abolitionist’s 1865 speeches.

That evening, the three young ladies of the Mass Emphasis Children’s History & Theatre Company spoke about their roles in “The Sisters Who Fought with Their Pens,” an on-stage tribute to Phyllis Wheatley, Ida B. Wells, and other Black women who used the written word to advance the cause of Black liberation. The trio, scheduled to appear in a play about Kwame Ture and Colin Powell in July, also spoke about how the arts have raised their consciousness and prepared them for a world in which Black children aren’t protected. That evening, the young ladies also sang, recited lines from “The Sisters Who Fought with Their Pens” and even said the names of the 54 African countries, in alphabetical order.

This video captures the entirety of the June 16th AllEyesOnDC Show at Sankofa Video Books & Café. Check it out and mark your calendars for the July 21st edition where we’ll discuss African spiritual systems.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑