Deborah Jones, Gail Davis, Makinya Sibeko Kouate
Happy Kwanzaa Eve, ya’ll!
I want to preface this post by saying that while I support uplifting Black women, I gotta be honest here, my motivations in making this post wasn’t just for that purpose alone. There’s a problem that I’ve observed, and I think that addressing it is necessary to fulfill Ujima and help better sustain Umoja.
For those of you that haven’t done a google search on Maulana Karenga or avoid right-wing conservative sections of the internet, here’s something you may or may not know: Maulana Karenga was convicted in 1971 of torturing two women in his US Organization, a Black liberation movement he founded. The two women in question, Deboarah Jones and Gail Davis, were suspected by Karenga of being spies set out to poison him. To this day, he affirms his innocence, if he’ll even discuss the topic at all.
There are people who believe Karenga’s innocence and will publicly state as much. Then, there are those who are passive--they’d tell you that because he served time we should drop the matter (I believe in letting people move on from their crimes...but they gotta admit what they did first). There are some that are vocally against him and decry him publicly. And then there are those who, like me for a long time, thought that the best method would be to move past him.
If you scroll through this blog, you’ll see me point out that we should acknowledge that what Karenga did was wrong, but not make Kwanzaa about him. I still believe that wholeheartedly; Kwanzaa should be a holiday without heroes or idols. As long as we put people on pedestals, these problems will repeat. This is a grander problem of the human condition that goes beyond Kwanzaa, the Pan African movement, the Black community, etc. But I don’t really care about that--I made this blog for the Black community, and I argue that it’s imperative for the Black community to reject idols, celebrities, heroes, etc.
That said, I’ve spent some time thinking lately and would like to add some nuance to my earlier perspective. We should actively make Kwanzaa not about Karenga, but that doesn’t mean not bringing up this matter. Gil Scott Heron (another contentious figure for me) has a quote that I wholeheartedly agree with, “In the end, unity will be thrust upon us.” What that basically means is that it’s not going to be Black people’s choice to become a solid, stable group, those that oppress and marginalize us will make that choice for us. I say that in the end, Karenga’s crimes and legacy are a story that will be defined for us. And I see that happen all the time, because we actively don’t talk about it, not nearly to the extent that I think we should. Every time I see Karenga’s crimes brought up, it’s by someone (90% of the time a white conservative) using this horrific event to invalidate Kwanzaa and the political and cultural movements that birthed it. They act like Karenga invented Kwanzaa out of whole cloth with no influence, and that celebrating it means hero-worship of him and validation of every bad thing he’s ever done. It is rare that I see Black people talking about it, and most often that conversation is sorely lacking--either it is a lukewarm acknowledgement which adds nothing to the conversation (like most land acknowledgements that I come across) or it’s someone simply saying “I don’t celebrate for this reason” and moving on.
I have in the past, brought up this topic in passing. I have in the past made other references to how cisheteropatriarchy is one of the single greatest threats to our unity. I still think that isn’t enough.
Some of you may have come across the hashtag “SayHerName”. This was a tag started in recognition of the fact that Black women’s cases of police brutality and hate crimes don’t get as much notoriety as those against men. There’s no question that, due to gender specific stereotypes, Black men represent more cases, but that in no way validates their over-repesentation in our anti-police and anti-brutality activism. We need to do better at acknowledging that these issues affect us all, while also acknowledging the unique ways the police harm Black women. And I think one of the core principles of SayHerName applies here--we need to elevate the stories of Gail Davis and Deborah Jones. More than just a land acknowledgement, we need to use their stories as a jumping-off point to discuss greater issues of:
-Misogynist violence in the Black community
-Misogynoir in the political space
-Cults of personality and how they can be damaging
-The toxicity of ‘anti-snitch’ culture in both political and everyday spaces
-Nepotism among the Black elite
And any other issue related to Karenga’s crime, which does damage to our community.
Every Kwanzaa event I attend or host, from now on, I’m going to bring up Deborah Jones and Gail Davis. I’m going to commit their names and story to my memory as best I can, and encourage others to do the same. Included in every Umoja discussion I hold (because you should be holding discussions each night, even if they’re brief), I’m going to comment on the above issues by highlighting specific problems and specific solutions that I believe myself and all those present can take to combat them. I will carry this with me throughout the year to ensure that Black women feel protected and respected in every space I enter.
In the end, this conversation will be had for us. This history will be defined for us. We have an opportunity to ensure that this event is not the thing that destroys our community. All Black people should feel safe among other Black people, but that cannot happen if we aren’t willing to have these difficult conversations.
That said, it’s going to be hard to juggle this. Between acknowledging that Karenga did indeed invent the holiday while also adding his crime against Deborah Jones and Gail Davis to the narrative, it’s hard to say that we’re not actively making Kwanzaa about Karenga, still. That’s where I get to the third name in that title, one that I also think we should all commit to memory. The Queen Mother of Kwanzaa, who traveled across the country and world to promote the holiday and its principles, Mama Mikenya Sibeko Kouate. The promotion of Kwanzaa to our community is just as important as it’s creation, and her work and legacy should be acknowledged in any discussion of this holiday.
Finally, because this blog’s name is kwanzaa-wakanda, let me connect it back to Black Panther:
In World of Wakanda, Roxxanne Gay introduced a storyline in which Ayo and Aneka create a safe-haven for Wakanda’s women to escape male violence and rape. It’s a phenomenal story that I recommend everyone check out. That said, my only problem was that this problem even exists in Wakanda. I think if we’re at the point that Wakanda has such widespread rape and male violence that a separate, all-women village is needed, then it’s officially lost it’s fundamental appeal as a country where the Black fantasy of life without oppression exists. I like the story, it’s one that needed to be told, I just don’t love how BP’s writers keep making Wakanda more and more unlivable with every major story arc (it’s like if Superman kept turning into a dictator in canon and not just in Elseworlds--he stops being Superman after a certain point). I’m using Wakanda here as a metaphor for Kwanzaa--a holiday which promotes Black unity should not be so controversial a point for our people. A holiday that promotes Black unity should not also have to wrestle with people who would excuse Karenga (he’s inexcusable) or argue that Deborah Jones and Gail Davis were lying (they weren’t). Let’s not leave this problem un-checked and let it divide us--let’s do the hard work of wrestling with this legacy and using it to fix the greater underlying issues of the Black community. Though I would support a group of Black women creating an explicitly Womanist/Feminist holiday like Kwanzaa to celebrate in addition, I don’t want us to feel that HAS to be a thing. I want us to make Kwanzaa BE explicitly, unabashedly, pro-Black woman and anti-misogynoir.
To close; It’s true that it’s possible to celebrate Kwanzaa without ever mentioning Karenga. It’s true that nothing in Kwanzaa’s principles affirm his attack against Deborah Jones and Gail Davis. But neither of those is enough. We must draw a clear line in the sand that this is wrong, and we must do the hard work of creating community spaces where all Black people feel welcomed, respected, and safe. I truly believe that most people who celebrate Kwanzaa do not support Karenga as a person, because that’s what I’ve observed. But I think we all need to step up and make that clear.
Joyous Kwanzaa everyone! Now let’s do the hard work to live by the Nguzo Saba
You cannot sit there as a wealthy, famous person from a developed country trying to convince people to move to impoverished countries, saying "it's a spiritual ancestral experience, and you'll be much more respected there" or "I went there and it was completely fine, the media is lying".
You have the power to drastically improve people's lives, to raise awareness about issues that the world continues to ignore, to give careers to people from a place where they'd otherwise remain unknown...
yet the mystical idea of a homecoming is more important to you than helping people in materially poor conditions who couldn't leave if they tried.
#Smdh Reposted from @freddyoart Posted @withregram • @black2theblock Think about that.🤔 Repost: @regnald4939 👉🏽👉🏽👉🏽Follow @black2theblock for Black News & Media, BlackExcellence, BlackLove & Inspiration. Black Owned News Media Outlet. We got you covered! #blackbuilding#blacklivesmatter#blackwallstreet#blackownership #buyblack#blackrelvolution#blackwomen #blackwomenmatter#blacklove #blackwomenrock#blackamerica#blackentrepreneurs#blackwealth#blacksuccess#blackamerica#problack#blackandproud#panafricanism #Unapologeticallyblack#Blackempowerment https://www.instagram.com/p/CP3gIr6MvRy/?utm_medium=tumblr
Nkrumaism is the highest stage of Black Power!
- In 1957, under Kwame Nkrumah's leadership Ghana produced 4,000 new teachers per year, prior to his leadership it was next to none, he also built 9 new hospitals, 2 new health centers, a medical school, 60 bridges, installed 4,800 new telephones, built 13 new post offices, 12 new teacher training colleges, 15,000 new housing room units, the Barekese Dam, dispensaries and primary school enrollment increase far beyond a half a million.
A man who went to a HBCU (Lincoln University), lived in the Hood, preached at black churches, created a futbol team (soccer team) called the Ghana Black Stars, became the first Black president of any country prior to Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, designed a country flag inspired by the Garvey red, black and green flag and developed a shipping line influenced by Garvey's Black Star shipping line, became co-president of another country under Ahmed Se'kou Toure' in Guinea, prasied by both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), was called a son by W.E.B. and Shirley DuBois, survived several assassination attempts by the CIA and was a writer of many books.
Oh I almost forgot to mention that he also expressed the term of having a United Socialist States of Africa that will liberate and give a physical freedom landbase for all Africans worldwide.
Nkrumah created his own philosophy based of principals of Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and Africa!
#Nkrumaism is the highest stage of #PanAfricanism & #BlackPower!#KwameNkrumah#industrialism#AfricanLiberation
Chi Explained - Igbo Cosmology
Subscribe if you want in-depth, weekly videos on Igbo spirituality, cosmology and culture (Odinala/Odinani). In this video I explain the meaning of 'Chi' in Igbo Culture. The Chi in Igbo cosmology has been referred to as the 'personal God' 'God within' and 'God' it's self. In this video I explain the Chi as a concept that incorporates elements of these three definitions, but stands alone as a unique understanding of self in Igbo cosmology.
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Reposted from @africanbadgyals Y’all moving like sims 😂 Read • Comment • Share kingant.3 ❤️ @africanbadgyals - Join the tribe. We love ABG. 🖤 @thirdcultureguy - My personal page 💚 @urbandivercity - Empowerment is our brand ▪️ Link in Bio for promo/rates. Or DM me. #melanin #melaninbeauty #blackgirlmagic #vegas #panafricanism #blackexcellence #blackwoman #blackculture #blackwomen #blackbusinesswomen #blackgirlsrock #blackqueen #africanbadgyals #powertoempower #viral #skit #fyp #reel #explore https://www.instagram.com/p/CU_iIMQDvEhYz8H4rBQ2CnOh0cM8AcQvPNjdeI0/?utm_medium=tumblr