Archive | June, 2016

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

4 Jun
I was so sad to hear that one of my childhood heroes, Muhammad Ali passed away yesterday after a long bout with Parkinson’s Disease. He is such a larger-than-life person. He was a phenomenal athlete, a brave man that stood by his convictions, and a generous humanitarian.
The below sonnet is a poetic tribute to him.
“Rumble young, man rumble! AHHHHHHHH!!!!
________________________________________________________

He so dazzled us in the boxing ring.

He also made the first amendment real.

Winning by knockout was his preferred thing.

muhammad-ali-i-am-ali

An entertainer performing with zeal.

Courageous enough to let it all go.

Standing on principle over dollars.

Swimming upstream against the river’s flow.

Relating to common folk and scholars.

Strong and defiant before it was vogue.

Faith in his god and love for his people.

When others were passive he was a rogue.

A man transformed who led men, not sheeple.

Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

Is the remake of ROOTS necessary?

1 Jun

There has been a lot of chatter on social media about the reboot of ROOTS and other films and television series (e.g., 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and UNDERGROUND) that tell stories about enslaved Africans in the United States. Some say that they are tired of these type of films and that they are no longer necessary. Why is that? Is that because so many people are so well-read on actual human history or that they belong to cultural organizations that keep this consciousness alive?roots

I emphatically disagree.

roots

One of the West African values that I was taught was Sankofa — “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind” is the literal translation of this Akan word. People of African descent have many different stories to tell, but films like ROOTS are very necessary to give us an appreciation of what we faced and had to overcome to survive here in the New World. It also keeps American history honest and let’s the ancestors of African-descended people know that we honor them and will never forget them.

Jews will never let anyone forget the Holocaust. They should not. It was an atrocity that should be kept in the forefront so that it is never repeated. Just like Jews, African-descended people here in the New World must never, ever let the world forget the Maafa. Maafa is a Kiswahili term for disaster, calamity or terrible occurrence; the history and ongoing effects of atrocities inflicted on African people. The world must never forget.

Some feel that this all happened to African people so long ago and that black folk need to get passed this. No, no, no. Did you know that the Texas Department of Education is calling enslaved Africans in this country “involuntary immigrants.” That is crazy! The ugly, inconvenient truth of slavery in this country is trying to be swept under the rug. We can’t let this happen. It is not true to history and it is a dishonor to the ancestors.

Some want to see other films that are more upbeat and tell success stories. It is my understanding that Spike Lee is working on a film telling the story of the historical multi-genius of Kemet (Ancient Egypt before the Greek, Roman and Arab invasions). I wonder how many black people are going to contribute to the crowd-funding for this endeavor and will support it when it hits theaters. People say they want different type of movies, but let’s see see if they put their money where their mouths are.

Tariq Nasheed has produced a wonderful historical documentary about people of African descent called Hidden Colors. He crowd-funded his project on KickStarter. I wonder how many people who want to see something different contributed to his projects or bought copies of his DVDs.

Yes, we need happy, go-lucky films and such. African-descend peoples have many, many stories to tell. But there is certainly room for this reboot of ROOTS. Since the original, there has been more research done on the Mandika civilization (Kunta Kinte’s ethnic group) and this adaptation may be more true to life in that regard. I look at films like this as a periodic reality check to help me keep my spirit and mind right. Every once in a while, this is a good thing.

“We ain’t who we ought to be. We ain’t who we gonna be. But, thank GOD, we ain’t who we was!” ~Old Black Southern saying

So, what are your thoughts?