Sunday, December 28, 2008

Habari Gani?


Hello and welcome to the third day of Kwanzaa, Ujima. Ujima represents Collective Work and Responsibility. In essence this day focuses on the need for us to work together, to internalize the needs of each individual in the community and work collectively to maintain that community working towards solving our problems. The feeling that we are all responsible for each other is an important part of Ujima.

If we don't have a sense of connectivity, then we cannot conceive of the need to work together. The African American and Pan-African communities are expansive. When we speak of community in this context, it is meant as a collective gathering of our people wherever they may be. In the United States, we still have 'Black communities' concentrated near larger metropolitan areas but we are widespread in the suburbs and rural areas. So, in this respect, you may feel that the concept of Ujima is no longer applicable. You can espouse this concept by doing simple things like what we saw in the Obama campaign-many small community organizations developed all over the nation. You had the opportunity to create your own group right in your own home if you wanted to.

The 'community' has many problems, issues and concerns upon which we can all focus our attention. For example, with the global problem of teen pregnancy, we can work on educating our own children, teaching them abstinence, getting them the proper birth control. We can volunteer to help tutor school-age children so that they perform better academically. We can organize a community garden, teaching each other how to raise our own food. There are so many things we can do. The key is doing them together all over the world.

It starts small but can grow to something much larger, just as Kwanzaa has grown over the years.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Kwanzaa!

Habari Gani!

Remembering all our ancestors who first brought knowledge and enlightenment to the world; who suffered the cruelty of slavery, racism, segregation and oppression throughout the world. Thank you, great ancestors, for the precious gift of your blood, sweat and tears and your fight for freedom, justice and equality. You have helped to bring us to this point in History as we prepare to receive our first Black president of the US and we can begin to say it has not all been in vain. The World sees him as a symbol of hope and honesty because of who we are and where we have been.

The Official Kwanzaa Website

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Her Beauty Was Skin Deep

I was walking in the mall the other day with my beautiful daughter, had no makeup on... just jeans, a turtleneck sweater, flats and a leather jacket. ..43 with gray hairs peeking out from the rinse that is wearing off. I notice when I am being noticed (and love it!) but I try to be respectful to my admirers, smile and just move on. I never disrespect an admiring brother because they get enough of that from others. Anyway, we came upon some very handsome what seemed to be like 25 to 30ish, 6-foot plus tall, fashionable brothers and I noticed them checking me out. I played it off and simply smiled (I did noticed one of them had turned completely around to follow me and made sure that I had noticed him looking). My daughter exclaimed, "Wow, Mom...that guy did a complete 360 just to look at you and watch you walk by!!" I merely replied, "Oh really?". In my mind I thanked him for boosting the ego of a 43 year old, married 20 years sister.

I was always a shy timid girl growing up and fealt that I was ugly. Why? Because not one boy in my high school ever asked me out. When I got my driver's license and started to visit the local mall, I began to realize that I was wrong. It wasn't that I didn't look pretty enough...the problem was that I was the only Black girl in the school. The only other Black boy was my brother. It was in the country in upstate New York in the '80's. say...that explains it! Yes! That explains it all right! Anyway, when I started to go to 'town' I noticed the black boys would try to talk to me and give me compliments. WOW! I really wasn't ugly after all! It was just racism or fear. I think that if someone did 'like' me at my school, they were afraid of what others may say. They just could not get past the racism but I sure got past thinking I was ugly!! But, that's another subject all by itself for a future blog.

I am thankful that it is better for my daughters. They are growing up in a world that often does not care about your racial ethnicity (to a point). Don't get me wrong...racism still exists. In fact, the problem of racial identity and the idea of beauty still exists and may be more prevalent now. Black women not only braid, press and straighten...they have turned the clock back and are starting to wear wigs again. They shave everything and even wear foundation on a daily basis. Sad, sad, sad...Asian women are getting operations to 'open' their eyes, make their noses more European...African men and women are addictively bleaching their skin. European women have their own set of problems as bolemia, anorexia, plastic surgery, etc. continue to be bigger and growing problems. Teens are now going under the knife and asking for a boob job as a sweet 16 birthday gift! The list goes on.

I read a story the other day about a Korean singer/model who was obsessed with her appearance and plastic surgery. She went under the knife many times and received silicone injections illegally. The first picture below are the after results. In Japan she was able to find doctors who performed many surgeries on her face until she was unrecognizable. She went home to Korea where her parents sough psychological help. That worked for a while until she again found a doctor who not only gave her the injections, he gave her the syringes so that she could inject herself. After she could not afford or get the silicone injections she did something else. I guess the silicone must have reminded her of vegetable oil because that is what she decided to use when she became her own plastic surgeon!!


When I saw the 'before' pictures, I was floored!! I could not believe that such a beautiful woman purposely made herself look like a monster!! What does this say about society today? What was she thinking? Was she mentally unstable? Is she suffering from the same apparent mental issues that may plague Michael Jackson? I don't know.


What I do know is that the image of beauty is greatly distorted. Women are trying to make themselves look like something that is not the norm in any society. The average woman does not look like the examples in the magazines nor on television. Heck, the ones in the magazines and on television don't look that way either...they are made up to look like that and it takes a staff of people to make the 'look' complete! But you already know all of this. There's no need to preach to the choir, right? My only hope is that women stop disfiguring themselves in the name of beauty and learn to love themselves for who they are. So at least once a week, go out without makeup. Be comfortable in your own beautiful skin.

Here's the YouTube Link to the story:

Monday, December 8, 2008

What's Wrong With Exponential Growth?

Part I of a series by guest writer Kamau:

What's wrong in the world today? As I scour the news waves daily, I can't find nary a bit of good news. Sure we have days the DOW goes up, but what does that really mean? Did a new factory open? Did a new revolutionary product or manufacturing process come into being? Did a million new jobs appear on the books? Are Americans making and/or keeping more of their own money? So what does the DOW signify? I will tell you; It represents the amount of activity or trade among the people that actually have wealth in this country. Last time I checked that was a scant few percent of the population (less then 10). So why do we get all excited to know the DOW went up (or down)??

Remember the Reagan years, the “trickle-down “philosophy? That rabbit hole goes deeper than you know and yes you (YOU) are still in it's clutches. Didn't think you believed in the idea, did you? Well, now you know.


Ask yourself why? If the DOW was a true indicator of wealth and welfare in America, why is it that even as oil prices dropped like a rock, there was no patterned effect to the larger economy. We are still losing employers by the droves and banks are dropping like flies. The larger banks are yet afraid to lend even to one another. So, what's wrong??

I listened to a lecture by Doctor Albert Bartlett about the theory and science behind exponential growth and the failure of mankind to truly understand it. In fact he stated “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is the failure to understand exponential growth”. The public school nightmare we call education today only takes a cursory swipe at teaching abstract subject matter, but a mere 20 years ago, we “youngster's “ had to know the basic mathematical tools. Exponents was one of them. We actually learned how to plot curves on graph paper (today graphing calculators have take that requirement away). My own high-schoolers have difficulty at linear math (i.e straight lines). Not to get off on too great a tangent here, but I want to point out that our current quagmire has a long history that took a while to devolve into the mess we see today. For example; can something...anything... grow forever??? Please narrow that question to the planet Earth. This rock isn't getting any bigger as the years click by [trust me]. Yet we have devised a global economic paradigm that requires perpetual growth. Think about what that means. Every year, every quarter, every cycle, we all believe that the economy worldwide must grow. And true, grow it must or it crashes.

But....we live on a finite planet. We are citizens of a finite country (empire building aside). Yet, still we must grow. Here is a question for you; when does it stop? Stop it also must because, again, this rock is the same size it was 1 million years ago. It will be the same size (unless it explodes) 1 million years from now. When do we stop growing.

The preceding question is posed for your conjecture. As for myself, its a given; we will stop growing and the only question is: What will happen? Going back to what is wrong in the world today. Answer: seemingly everything.

I can't find a single item in modern life that is correct and/or functioning properly. The economy is on the skids, the climate is whacked, the soil is eroding, the rainforest's are being cut down, species are disappearing, the oceans are becoming acidic, the fish are being depleted, CO2 is still increasing, hunger is becoming more prevalent, old diseases are coming back, the bees are dying, the oil is running out, the coal is running out, the natural gas is running out, copper is running out, iron is running out, uranium is running out, fresh water is running out; the list is very long and I have barely touched the surface. I hope we can all discern each item of depletion is a direct result of over-use. If the economy must continue to grow, so must the population. There is the core issue or shortcoming of the perpetual growth disaster. In part two let's take the population issue to task......Kamau