Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 A Prophetic Tale

We've been talking about this year for so long now, that 2012 already feels like the year we lived and left behind.  Instead it is the year that we are about to experience and document against all the prophecies that have been told.  This is the year of armegeddeon, Mayan prophecies, end of the world, and cataclysmic events to forever shape or change our so called world.  2011 shaped up to be a year of protests, riots, natural disasters, heat waves, earthquakes, floods and unusual news events.  2011 also churned out to be a year of mediocrity at best in music and the arts.  But the most important thing to happen in 2011 was on the economic and political fronts in which the 'people' finally started taking back their power. 

Interestingly, protests and the like don't get coverage when only Black ppl are shouting for their rights.  I can distinctly remember several Black groups protesting in the down town streets in the cold day after day in DC since 2008, with their picket signs in disguist for discrimination, employment inequities and the cronyism of the corporate machine.  But there were no cameras and no media to report about them.  But as soon as whites organized around the same ideas, the media was there, and a coalition name was given to them.... Occupy Wallstreet, etc.  Whether we believe it or not, if Blacks dared to protest in such fashion, day in and day out in any open facility, the media would ignore them as much as possible.  The fact that whites made an overwhelming impression to be heard, cameras, media and outlets wanted to know what were their grievances.  We all know that the very fabric of Amerikkkanizm has always functioned on the ability to divide the masses, in some form or fashion.  With whites feeling the brunt of the corporate machine, as in slavery days, many of them also were at the bottom of the totom pole, but the powers of so called Democracy ensured that poor whites would have a better outlook on life than Blacks ever could, despite their wretched condition.  In 2012 expect to see more of the same.  While many young whites have not had the privilges that their fore parents may have had, many of them are realizing that this American dream thing may just be a hell of a nightmare for them too. 

President Barack Obama really showed his stuff in 2011, with bombings on the African continent, drone killings all over the place, guantanamo still a torture goulag, and he upped the ante by signing into law american citizens can be held as terror suspects with no probable cause or proof of evidence and be held indefinately.  What did you say about change Obama?  Damn a sister had some hopes for you, but now, its clear you  must do the devil's bidding, after all, you're sitting in his seat.  So do we really think any benevolent policies would come out of the Obama Administration.  Lets not kid ourselves, as Black ppl we love that a brother is in the whitest house in amerkkka, and as 2012 shapes up for his re election bid, four more years of Obama, I suppose is the lesser of two evils, better than any of those neanderthal repulikkkans that are opting to fill that seat.  But Obama has showed, he can be as gangster as he can be compromising.  Gangster when it comes to killing american citizens with no due process, gangster when bombing african nations, gangster when locking up more ppl in the american military/prison industrial complex, oh yes, Obama showed his true colors in 2011.  And we thought he was only going to grovel to the repubs to get some play.  In other words, at home Obama seemed weak, but abroad, he was like Bush on demerol and steroids.   Nonetheless, I'm sure Obama will reign in the 2012 nominee for President once again, and he will hold true to being in the devil's seat.

The African Diaspora in 2012 have a lot to look forward to and it is best that we keep abreast of the entire African landscape to see our progress or decline.  Right now, it appears on some fronts we are progressing, but in so many others we are declining.  Depending on who you ask, but personally everyone I know is going through it, and rough times only seem to be on the horizon for us as we witness the fall of the amerikkkan empire, and it predecessors in Europe.  The same economies that became wealthy and grandeur from the enslavement and forceful rape of Africa, are now crying about austerity measures and how their economic future is dismal and broke.  So was the enslavement of African ppl really worth it to be broke 400 years later?  We can not get back our ancestors who were stolen and demonized, but europe and america can keep creating money out of thin air.  In 2012 we must continue to keep our eyez on the prize, and that prize is our uncompromised freedom, economic and political, while our ancestors keep over our movements, we shall continue to honor them.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I love the Gambia

Its a small little country, but sometimes with small things, there is a large charm that comes with it.  The Gambia, the smallest country on the African continent, resonates a large charm that is unforgettable and always leaves an imprint on my soul.  I've been going to the Gambia since 2003, and in 2005 bought land and began building a home there.  In 2006 I moved there with my family and each time I have been there or returned, I find myself taking the most beautiful photographs of the changes and development in the country, or at least within my view.  I remember when we first moved to the newly developing area, we had very few neighbors and there were no conveniences in the immediate area.  Now just 3 years later, we have a lot of neighbors, and booming development of businesses and services that used to be miles away.

There is an exquisite beauty in the Gambia, the nature is divine, the swaying palm trees, the voyerism of the vultures, or the multiplicity of bird life and fauna envelopes the landscape.  The other exquisite beauty are the women.  I always find something so immeasurably beautiful about the women in the Gambia.  The way they walk, and the constant multi tasking they do, carrying stuff on their heads, baby on their back, and carrying items in their hands, all while elegantly gliding along in their african dresses.  I find them remarkable, selling in the market, or just simply standing on the corner waiting to cross the street.  There is a reminder of the instrinsic, or even ancient beauty that we as African-American women derive our beauty from.  Mama Africa is the source and you find yourself looking in the mirror at the beauty in Gambian women.

This year, I found myself wanting to experience more and revel in the day to day grind in the Gambia.  People here are hard working and constantly finding a way to make it.  Nothing is easy in paradise, and while the sun and her fruits are intoxicating the constant need to exist in an increasingly materialistic world is driving Gambian people to seek the unavoidable all mighty dollar.  This need is creating a new kind of Gambia, one in which scrupulous deals and outright fraudulence is committed to keep up with the demands of a money world.  But in a place like the Gambia, one shouldn't need money so much, where mangoes hang so fully from trees, cashews grow wild and fish is in abundance from the Atlantic.  With more foreigners coming to the country and investing, living and developing, for the average Gambian, building a compound or buying land is practically impossible.  There is always this constant disadvantage to not being able to travel abroad to get the money needed to start one's business or build one's compound.

The impractical and racist reality of other ppl's money having more value than African money keeps the brain drain in over drive.  But this is not a deterent for african people because they continue to make a way regardless of the hierarchal forces that shape their economic futures.  In many talks with my Gambian friends, investment is always the talk of the day over a hot brew of attaya.  The many ways one can invest and make money is always of top concern.  Because opportunities are in low supply but chance opportunity for someone to invest in them is also scarce.  When visiting, you become more aware of the opportunities to invest, and create wealth in Africa that is certainly possible and deemable, but it doesn't come without its caveats and problems. 

My husband and I tried several times to have a business in Gambia, and each time we failed, not because we didn't give it the good old college try but because there are many deterrents to doing business there, and trust is one the main problems.  Finding people to trust to either run, work or manage your business is often very difficult, and you often find people are more concerned with what they can get out of the deal more than how they can help you succeed, even if you are helping them.  But after several years and experience of being in the Gambia, we are more knowledgeable now, but like any business, one needs capital to make capital, and it is very difficult to accumulate capital in the Gambia, which drives many to leave if they can.  For me this is my journey, I've had to return to the US to survive and to support my family and try to gain capital to establish a business there, to no avail yet, but that doesn't mean I won't keep trying.  The reality is everywhere people need to survive and Gambia is no different, I have kids who are in school, gas to put in the car and food to put on the table, and to adequately do that, one needs adequate and consistent capital.

I have found many great business ideas that could work in the environment in Gambia, and with the internet and technology increasingly becoming tools that people are using, we no longer are forced to do business with borders.  My initial business was to establish an internet business that would link artists, and vendors with the world to sell their products online.  In the Gambia, art is in abundance, the creativity that streams from so many artists has been one of if not my primary passion.   You are always invoked by the amazing and resourceful work that artists produce, and how they do it.  Gambian artists need the support and exposure of their original works.  You can find yourself walking in the tourist market looking at sculptures, clothing, textiles, and so much original works that you want to take everything home with you.  The vendors as well, can be very aggressive when they want to score your attention especially if they know you are a 'tourist'.  Because once you're in their shop, you're not leaving without buying something.

My site would take away all of that, and just bring the buyer to the goods, and one can select and venture into the array of work that abounds in the Gambia.  The artisians, craftworkers etc., are diligent and Gambian art is always a reflection of the beauty of the land.  But like any entrepreneur, I've needed the capital to invest, and to no avail.  But it doesn't mean I won't stop dreaming of the day I will become a business owner in the Gambia, and to sell the beautiful products that come from there to the world.  Until then, enjoy some of the photos that I took this year and leave your comments if you feel me!  http://www.ilovethegambia.com/ (coming one day soon)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Macy Gray v. being an artist of conscious

Published Feb. 7, 2010 National Black News Journal

Letters to the Editor
Share your thoughts, opinions and commentaries by emailing them to us at TaylorMediaPrime@yahoo.com . Please include your first name and the city from which you are writing.

Reader Critical of Macy Gray for Deciding to Perform in Israel
There are soldiers of conscious and then most times there are soldiers with no conscious. The fact that Macy Gray considered the Palestinians in her appeal to go to Israel and perform shows she's a soldier of conscious. However, it appears no matter what her fans would say, she had already made up her mind to go. Artists have the right to have a conscious its just sad that most of them don't use it when it comes to dire human conditions in various parts of the world that they may be asked to perform.

Israel has brought in many artists to perform, and for the typical artist that has no conscious-- as long as its a free trip and a paycheck and the chance to be seen or heard is all that matters. But as an artist, when you have no levy to protest or to bring awareness to a situation, then you're just an entertainer, who deserves no honorable mention in era of any publicity is good publicity. Most artists pivot their back to political and social inequalities, and tend to ignore it because after all its not them suffering from apartheid. Even when their own fore parents had suffered such indifferences, today's era of musicians either don't care about the past or feel they are not part of that past. For Grays' credit she thought of the Palestinians, but in the end it was her paycheck that was most important (oh yeah she said her fans).

It appeals to the fact that artists no longer have a voice to educate, protest or heighten awareness about serious inequities such as the Israel/Palestine situation. If I were Macy Gray, I would never play there and would give my reasons for doing so. Sometimes its lonely being the voice of conscious, but its a price that many artists before have had to pay, so people like Macy Gray can sing anywhere in the world. So many of todays artists stand on the shoulders of those who said NO they will not perform they will not support apartheid regimes, and racist countries where their people were being dehumanized. But that tradition is long gone, and today’s artists are blatant examples of what amnesia can do to a people.

Adjua Dubb - www.adjuadubb.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Natural Hair should not be a Phenomenon

Its so interesting to see so many websites, blogs, magazines and groups dedicated to the 'natural hair phenom'.  The great debate over Black women and their hair has taken an unusual interest and increased activity online and off.  However, the reality is when I'm in typical places like the mall, restaurants, and occassionally a nightclub, I don't see a lot of 'natural' sisters.  The perm is still the 'standard' and is still the overall obsession for Black women.  It has been a good uptick for the naturalites because many hair salons are incorporating more natural elements to their services which is far better than the creamy crack and typical bleaching out of Black hair. 

Everybody has their journey and everyone who has made the transition to acceptance, has shown growth and even a better attitude about themselves once they go 'natural'.  Everyone speaks on the journey from  being a little girl getting relaxed, straightened and hot combed to burns.  A ridiculous ritual that continues well into adulthood and seniorhood if any hair is still there by then.

So I had to put my .02 in this phenom, because everywhere, and I mean anywhere I go people always want to know one thing.... 'how long have you been growing your locks' and when I tell them, their eyes go oh.  Like they can't even remember what they were doing  or if they were even born back then.  I've been growing my locs or rather been 'natural' since 1993.  The exact date Dec. 26, 1993 because everything that happened up to that point in my life was a big blur... I really didn't know who I was.  I had done everything to my hair to escape the pressure of being real.  Weaves, blonde, braids, extensions constantly, a revolving door or fakedom I had no escape from.  It was never just me. Its hard to be real, when society has told us to be fake, but its very rewarding when you decide to be real.

It was a dream that changed my life and changed my hair.  A dream that shadowed me in grace, warmth, protection and fortitude.  A warm glowing light was shining above my 'crown' and my hair was natural, in this dream, was unlike any dream I had ever had, it moved me so deeply and personally that the next day when I woke up Dec. 26, 1993, I went to the barber shop and told them to cut all that blonde ish out of my hair.  I had taken the weave out and it was just a hot blonde mess.  The barber laughed and teased me terribly, 'how short you want it honey'? he asked.  "Cut it all off" I said.  Affirmatively he did so.  But when I got out of his chair and saw what was left of my 'true' hair, I raised the bar.  He wasn't laughing at me no more, in fact he was surprised and delighted at how beautiful I looked.  I came in as a shell and left as a queen.  From that day on I've been 'natural' and locing my hair. 

The influences at that time in my life were Rastafari.  I have to give so much love and respect to Rastafari because it was this prophetic and minimal lifestyle and historical relevance from jamaica that changed my whole outlook on myself.  The cultural integrity of Rastafarians made me revere and respect them a great deal, and I only wanted to be one of them, carrying this legacy of Black redemption.  Locing my hair definately had spiritual significance, and cultural signficance.  I'm not one of those 'dread's walking around with no perception of its importance to me, or it being just a fashion thing.  Because Locs never go out of 'style' NEVER!  As well, when i started growing I wasn't caught up in keeping them 'pretty' and all, I wanted to just exist you know like I had never done so.  As they grew in length I was able to shape and form them, and learn how to take care of them.  By the time I had been growing them for over 5 years, I wrote a book in 1998-99 called "Spiral Identity: the Majesty and Mystery of Black Hair".    I journaled my story just as I see so many sisters doing today.  When I was doing it, the internet was just a grain of salt and the idea of making money off such a thing wasn't reality back then.  But now the natural hair phenom has taken on grand dimensions and its a wonderful thing to see.  But as i look at so many going 'natural' I can only hope in the next 18 years or so, they will still be, and the idea of being natural will not be a phenomenon but the standard.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 A Tragic Year

As I continue to assess my position and role here, I find my mind in many places because there are so many things going on in the world.  As an Afrikan, it is my duty to respond and at least be aware of what's going on from the most sensational events of our world to even the mundane.   2010 has been a tragic year for the Afrikan Iaspora.  At the start of the year, Jan. 12th to be exact, a collosal earthquake shaked the tiny nation of Haiti.  Our long lost brothers/sisters/cousins whose own revolution in 1804 catapulted freedom for the entire Afrikan slaves in the West to be free.   A republic whose continuous drain of resources, people and culture has been taken away in less than 30 seconds.  It seemed like the most un-natural natural disaster the world had ever seen, (I would say even over Katrina in New Orleans 2005).   Haiti, it appears has no friends, and has no infrastructure to support itself.  It was already dependent on international support and as a result has been left extremely vulnerable to those who have plucked at its insides for the pass 200 years, trying to devour the nation that is Haiti.  This entire year just saw complete collapse after collapse in the country, with the continued corruption and depletion of economic depravity that it was experiencing before the earthquake.  Later in the year, the hurricane season passed through with torrential rains as people were forced to weather the storm in tents, and plastic sheets as their home.  Millions and millions of people living in squalid conditions, that it appears a priviliged eye can only turn its nose at, or feel completely dissolved at seeing.  The helpless situation turned from worse to even more worse when cholera was found in streams where UN soldiers were dumping excrement and all kinds of stuff, quickly amputated the country once more into an epidemic that has killed over 2000 ppl and infected hundred thousands more.  When will the pain in Haiti stop I've wondered.   Toward the end of the year election factions quickly set off another round of dampening news that Haitians were displeased of results that they didn't want.  Corruption, corruption, corruption is all one can say.  Meanwhile millions and millions of dollars and resources wait in coffers until a leader is elected that can effectively distribute the goods to ppl.  But it seems a long time coming for Haiti.
I can only sigh a deep sigh for the nation that showed us what Revolution is truly all about.

My other spiritual home Jamaica was also troubled in 2010 with lots of criminal activity (but that may be usual) and senseless murders and tragedies.  However, the music that is reggae, my first love saw the passing of tall and irreplaceable giants in the genre.  Yabby You aka Vivian Jackson, (Jan 2010), Sugar Minott (Aug.2010) Gregory Isaacs (Oct 2010) were all pillars of talent and musical history that can never be duplicated.  The lives of these great men is showcased through their music, an impeccable history no doubt as Jamaican reggae music no longer produces musicians with such depth, calibur and cultural expression that these three men gave.  Other news in the reggae world saw an embattled Buju Banton foregoing a nasty drug trial in Florida, that was one of unbelievability, and absolute shock.  Buju Banton a renowned Rastafarian musican was charged with trying to buy and distribute 5 kilos of cocaine, the details in the transcript show Banton either was trying to extend his income in a world where he had become public enemy #1 by gay rights groups, hindering his ability to make money and perform as he used to.  But dabbling in drugs and diamonds to be a supposed kingpen slash musician?  The case smelled of absolute coersion and entrapment, but nonetheless Banton languished in prison for 10 months before his trial was found to be hung.   A retrial is scheduled for February 2011 and meanwhile Banton is out on bail.  No more Scaraface okay boo!

Vivian Jackson aka Yabby You
Sugar Minott

Gregory Isaacs
On the homefront or rather the home and the brave front, Black america continues to suffer under the demonic spell of white domination, and while there have been some strides, there has not been enough.  Black political leaders were targeted and taken down one by one, and some of them because of their own stupidity and corruption.  Black entertainers continue to be the brunt of all jokes, with most of them selling their souls for nothing, Black american music has been going completely to the gutter and there never really seems to be any improvement in this area.  Lastly there seems to be a constant obsession in Black hollywood films that show Black women as depressed and dysfunctional creatures of habit with no shame.  I don't know, but 2010 to be Black in america has been absolutely difficult.  Unemployment, underemployment and our lack of ownership continues to increase, lack of housing, decent education and justice continues to proliferate.  Racism in 2010 showed its ugly head more than ever, with white folks just going outright insane, committing openly racist acts in public, on camera in government halls and anywhere else they could not hide their hoods and sheets.   At the highest pinnacle President Obama, has encountered open racists insults against him and his family, his policies and sometimes in his face.  There has been an outright assault on him, because he is a Black man and he is the President.  Causing republicans and so called tea party voters to do everything they could to thwart his progress.  Despite Obama being a candidate of corporations, his candor does not come off as one who has sold out in his soul, but sold out to make a difference (if there's such a thing).  He's no MLK, and definately no Malcolm X, but each of us as black ppl see a little bit of both of them in him and as a result we have have been critical of him, but we haven't turned our backs on him.  Either way, no president can change our situation.  I say once more as I say again, repatriation is our only answer.  Progress for us is an illusion at best, casting off the flys as they sway in our face is all we can do here.

2010 has been a year that will go down in the books as the beginning of Armageddeon, it appears the dawn is on us whether we like it or not.  We can no longer accept the trivial commercialization of our souls as the norm, for if we do, we indeed perish in this illusion.  I wish you a better 2011, Africa, and the Iaspora.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Two worlds one love

Since being back in the US, I have had to deal with living in two worlds, physically I can only be in one, but mentally and spiritually I have been in two.  My children were all born in the US, had never spoken a day of Wolof, their father while being americanized couldn't fathom speaking to them in his native language because he was the minority Wolof speaker in the house.  He would only speak it when he was around other Gambians or Senegalese.  Wolof is the dominant ethnic group in the Senegamiba region.  Their language is spoken by everyone else, Mandikas, Fulas, Jolas etc. 

When we finally landed our feet in the great Gambia, its was only a matter of time before my children had picked up the language and were conversing with their playmates.  I was amazed.  I didn't have any playmates, and my brain I thought, was too old to learn a new language.  I found Wolof to be difficult, but like any language you have to learn the basics to get around, and people will respect you more when you try.
In my 1 + years of living in The Gambia, I never became a Wolof expert.  But I was able to understand and was just starting to feel confident when I went to the market and haggled with the sellers.  It was always fun to do that and to speak to them in Wolof "dafa sale" too expensive!

There are many small pleasures that I deeply miss about living in the Gambia, hearing the call to prayer at 5am, and listening to the donkeys hawnky hawnky hawnky at the crack of dawn, as well the cuckadoodle doo of roosters.  Its a sound that never leaves your mind when you have to wake up to it every day.  You get used to it over time, the roosters are not just alarm clocks but a part of the african day.

I missed seeing people in the streets with cars, donkeys, horses, sheep and whatever else had legs to walk.  Its an interesting palette of humanity all trying to get along, the ladies walking in their slippers or flip flops who never seem to pick up their feet...but one thing that is always a sonic reality in the streets of The Gambia is the music.  Everywhere you go especially in the markets is the sound of mbalaxh (m-bah-lah) music, the thunderous, infectious sounds of the Senegambia region, whose biggest star is Youssou N'dour, but there are so many more, so so many.  I fell completely in love with the music that is mbalaxh, a music that no matter how bad it gets, once you turn it on, it is inviting to you dance your troubles away.  The music sort of encapsulates everything you see around you, palm trees, red dirt, concrete structures, development, sport utitlity vehicles and fresh fruit on market stands.  There's this constant edge of talking and drumming that is always fueling a rhythm in the people.  I found it endemic, and while I'm in america, I have no choice but to tune in to my favorite Senegalese or Gambian radio stations on line.  Because after all I'm still in two worlds, one body, two minds, two spirits, just trying to find a balance in it all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mainstream Black media and the Black out of Africa

There are many websites featuring African American news that feature consistent reporting on news that is relevant to Black ppl in America.  NewsOne, Black Voices (an AOL take over) Black Planet, and many others out there that focus on the dynamics of African American news.  I frequent many of these sites because lets face it, CNN is not talking about what's going on in middle class or lower class america for Blacks.  Niether are the rest of the white owned conglomerates that brush over the international and national news with a skinny brush. 

African Americans are taking notice and are creating their own vehicles and voices for discerning this information.  When the Bishop Eddie Long story broke, it was Black media and journalists who were all over the story, getting recounts and debating the history of the Black church and the scandals inside of them.  It was a story that captivated the audiences for the largesse of the personality involved and for the sanctity the 'black' church has been in America. 

Meanwhile other things were occuring, Nigeria was turning 50, Peace talks were faltering in Sudan, Buju Banton's trial was happening, and only Jamaican journalists were documenting the minute by minute updates, The Gambian President married his second wife, The King of Swaziland was detaining his minister for sleeping with his 14th wife, there were lots of things going on in the Diaspora that frankly even the Black media was not even sniffing.  It was more important to detail the sordid runnings of a Black Bishop gone wild. 

While many stories of Black content go under and unreported, its still very important for the Black media (that truly exists) to cover a Diasporic view to their readers.  Too often, Black America sees itself in a vacuum of dysfunctionality and crime ridden stories that fuel very little beyond a stale american view.  As a result Black ppl in America tend to be very narrow minded in what is 'news' or rather what is happening in their world. It keeps us from knowing the larger world the larger diaspora that is also us.  This limited view in thinking keeps a shackle on Africa's progress, because the more that Africans in the Diaspora know about each other, no matter where we are, the more we are able to see the problems of our separation and the more we able to converge more about the progress of Africa.  Our knowledge of the continent wouldn't be limited to wars and AIDS, and unfortunately that is the grist of what African Americans know about Africa.  Most don't even know how many countries exist, and a whole array of historical realities that has led Africa to the position it is in today. 

For the 21st century we have no room to be ignorant about Africa, the birthplace of humanity as well the source of all the raw materials that is generating our internet and telephonic social lives.  The overall media already marginalizes the continent to a large extent because it has no interest in reporting positive news or relevant news for that matter that encourages ppl to want to know more about the continent.  Instead we are used to the usual tribal warnings and depressive politics of poverty.  There is so much more going on in Africa than that. Some of it may be sordid but others is of the same relevance that we see in our own Black American communities.

The necessity for giving a fair and balanced view of what's happening in Africa is all of our jobs, if we truly want be considered enlightened individuals and an enlightened African Diaspora.