Racial Justice Served Cold in a Test-tube

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Image Credit: Pixabay

The myth of race and idea of difference as an inferior ethnic identity lies at the root of the conflicting cultural landscape dynamics at Santa Clara’s Pueblo in the 1990s, my former colonial Nigeria, and the recent Charlottesville’s alt-right nationalists’ rally. Every historical and current account of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and racial discrimination stems from negative views about this myth called “race” and the manipulation of our ethnic variables by power groups for their benefit. 

I was crestfallen at the poisonous social ideology displayed on banners, and racist chants at the recent Unite the Right rally on August 12, 2017, by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. They spelled out their nationalist agenda – Whites are in; but Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, and Gays are out. Nationalism is always a contested space, identifying who belongs and who is excluded. Can I say that I was NOT surprised when President Trump condemned “…Violence on many/both sides…” He applied a false equivalency and failed to distinguish between activist groups of marginalized citizens like ‘Black Lives Matter’ who strive for racial equality from the privileged white nationalists who seek to mainstream or normalize their ideologies of exclusion and racial supremacy.

Other than the Native Americans, being an “American” is NOT a tribal identity but a nationalist and highly contested identity about who qualifies as one, and so this “made-up” nation tries to regulate who benefits from its cultural capital. The answer to bigots and supercilious agitators called Neo-Nazis is  – man-up, spit into a test-tube, and find your tribe – then they can talk about race and ethnicity.  Many will be surprised, and I bet crestfallen, to realize that their “pure” breed is another myth. Thanks to the paleoanthropologists and sociologists at the National Geo; we have this historical fact – That every living person shares a common direct maternal ancestor known as mitochondria Eve. She lived in Africa around the time of the Idaltu Skull* and had enough daughters to pass down her genetic signature through the generations. As they say, “Our mothers were her daughters.”

How many more mothers have to grieve before everyone realizes, that our biological differences are affected by natural selection, environmental survival, and genes that determine hair texture, skin color, and blood group? We bleed and pee the same. If all anyone has, is this claim to supremacy via the color of their skin, that person needs to dig deeper, get brave, and face the truth about their mitochondria. We are more complicated than our physiology and God has a great sense of humor – He made us all brothers and sisters. Anyone who seeks division is misguided and ignorant of the purpose of our collective humanity. Furthermore, the Confederacy lost the American Civil war in 1865, so any monument honoring the emblems of this nations’ torturous past, especially those on dismantled slave auction blocks should be taken down. 

Many were injured and hurt not just the nineteen hospitalized but every decent and unprejudiced human being. Sadly, we also lost three lives on August 12th – Susan Bro, the late Heather Heyer’s mother, at her daughter’s memorial service quoted her daughter, saying, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” The Alt-right is wrong. Racial discrimination is abhorrent. Thank God for our DNA that proves this. 

 

Notes:

  • Homo sapiens idaltu, also called Herto Man, is the name given to some hominin fossils found in 1997 in Herto Bouri, Ethiopia. They date to around 160,000 years ago. (Wikipedia)
  • My sincere condolences to the families and friends of Heather Heyer, Berke M.M. Bates, and H. Jay Cullen, as the nation mourns the untimely deaths of your loved ones. 
  • Interesting Article on White Nationalists reckoning with the results of their DNA tests. http://www.businessinsider.com/white-nationalists-genetic-ancestry-tests-dont-like-results-2017-8 ( A strange moment of triumph against racism)
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How Much Longer? Are We There Yet?

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How to stay sane until November…

I feel like a child in the back seat with two squabbling parents
fighting for the steering wheel. I can’t ask, “Are we there yet?”
So I’m left with – how much longer can we stand this?
The fringes of our society have taken hold of their ideological ends
and are reaping us apart like skirt seams.
I cannot wait for the sun to rise on November 8th.
It will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.
Like deep-sea divers, how low can we go?
I hope that those who have drowned their sense of civility and elected to
engage with prosecutorial glee in depraved depths of inhumane rhetoric,
blatant falsehood and tribal rage will once again be neighbours and friends.
Did the salacious appetite for coliseum-style politics seep
into our veins while we were asleep?
How did this get so vicious that we are demanding the heads of political rivals on silver platters and shackles on their supporters’ wrists across the aisle?
Surely America is better than this.
Surely once again, rays of love will beam across this land,
and we can fix the labels sticking out like tongues at the back of our heads.
We are officially in the twilight zone, and we should all feel
betrayed by the state of our union.
What to do? Let’s pray and read haikus to ease our troubled minds.

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Full moon night
All that is
and isn’t.


“Xyz?”
“Abcdef,
Xyz!”


Hydrangea rain
will I see you again
in my dreams?

Credits:
Haikus – Johan Bergstad, Kika Hotta, and Kris Kondo respectively
Images – Pixabay.

When Magic is All Too Real and in Your Face.

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Magic happened in this year’s BET awards and it wasn’t in Beyoncé’s surprise performance or the beautiful tributes to the late Prince and Mohammed Ali. Magic happened when the bold and unapologetic face of activism, with blazing light-eyes showed up in Jesse William’s speech while accepting his Humanitarian Award.

The Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) actor who plays Dr. Jackson Avery graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts, he taught public school for six years and is a board member of Advancement Project. He was an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males and Stay Woke, a documentary that traced the genesis of the revolution movement,  better known as Black Lives Matter.

 

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His speech woke everything up in me and I realized why I have been so silent in the past few months…it hurts too much to be cute, superficial and entertaining.
I could either vent or stay silent and not ruffle our well-coiffed sensibilities in the face of the constant barrage of everything evil to our humanity. Instead of speaking, standing or sitting-in, it was easier for me to remain numb and impotent, secretly abhorring the rash of hatred that has triggered senseless murders and mass killings all over the world.

Somehow till it affects our neck of the woods, we are content to watch others be killed every day, being slaughtered like sheep. Sometimes even in the name of God.(Rms. 8:36)

Jesse Williams paid homage to the unsung heroes in the crusade against systemic racism: “The black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.” He added, “We can and will do better for you”

While the honoree called for fairness in policing, he decried the extrajudicial killing of black people, invoking the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd, among others. I say let’s go further. Let’s stand for a return to love and acceptance for those of a different color, lifestyle or creed. None of us is qualified to judge another.

Here is an excerpt of Jesse’s speech but really, you want to watch the entire clip. (And you’re welcome)

“We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness, uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment… ghetto-lyzing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is — just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Jesse Williams Speech

Ah, Magic! It’s in our glossy sienna skin, fiery eyes and golden smiles. We need reminders lest we forget that we matter and all this is real.

The Foolishness of Nature Worship

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The Foolishness of Nature Worship by King Solomon.
(Reflections of a royal philosopher)

For all people who were ignorant
of God were foolish by nature; and
they were unable from the good things
that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan but his works.

They supposed that either fire or
wind or the circle of the stars, or
turbulent water or the luminaries of
heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these
things, people assumed them to be gods, let
them know how much better than these is their
Lord, for the author of beauty created them.

And if people were amazed at their power
and working, let them perceive how much
more powerful is the one who formed them.
For from the greatness and beauty of
created things comes a corresponding
perception of their Creator.

Can we blame them? Perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
For while they live among his works,
they keep searching, and they trust in
what they can see, because the things
that are seen are beautiful.

Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did they fail to find sooner the
Lord of these things?

Credits:
Text – Paraphrased from The Book of Wisdom (Chapter 13) – NRSV Edition
Image – Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

The Aftermath – What Remains?

 

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Credit: Pixabay

The shaking is intended for certain heartbreak and our fainting.

How do we deal with the aftermath?  The consequences of a significant unpleasant event lingers like a bitter aftertaste. It is the rumble left behind when our foundations are jolted out of alignment by an unexpected earthquake. It is when embedded chains even invisible to us are brought into full focus and we have to deal with our new reality. Are we going to stay bound or break free from false foundations? Anything that can be shaken should not have been trusted in the first place.

I would not confuse
the bogus
with the spurious.
The bogus
is a sore thumb
while the spurious
pours forth
as fish and circuses.  (An excerpt from Spurious by Rae Armantrout.)

We hold fast to wrong  foundations as the definition of our core identity till a slip-up exposes the hollow circuses  we’ve allowed to define and be responsible for our happiness. I held on to the love of a certain boy long ago, whose lopsided smile took my breath away till fishes and circuses rained on my parade. It was a fantasy interrupted by a rude rap on my door.

Who goes there?

Rain.

I’ve been a Californian for so long –  I don’t know how to behave in the presence of rain.
Especially a torrent propelling me down fury’s road of liquid drama featuring three deranged and frazzled people needing Dr. Phil’s intervention. Metaphors are always adept in helping me manage painful realities. I closed my eyes and refused to see rain – messy, distressing and unwelcome.

Marriage, friendships, job or career, beauty or charm, money, wealth, sexual orientation or even race, make pretty wobbly foundations.  I’m not sure race should even make the list but in the context of self-worth for some pathetic folks, it is an over-aching standard.

Still I refuse to give up on family and children – pain and joy comes with the territory and privilege of loving and being loved by others. I found out through my experience that only faith can withstand the tremors and earthquakes.  Faith is what remains. God is able to turn what was intended for our unravelling for some sort of good – like stripping us from clutches, laying a new foundation of greater faith and exposing our false gods.

“When you connect your purpose to your perspective, nobody else holds your keys.” Pastor  Steven Furtick 

The venom of anger and hate would only serve to shackle my future to my past. Praise is the only tool powerful enough to break every chain. Indeed life is so much more than these disappointments that now loom so large but in a few years will be so insignificant when compared to God’s greater vision for our lives.
May each aftermath find you and me standing in faith, with hands raised so high the chains are broken. There is only One worthy of our trust because He will always be faithful in His love for us.

Peace to all our broken pieces.