December 31, 2016

Kwanzaa: Kuumba ('Creativity')

Habari Gani? Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah)!
Day 6.  December 31

Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.

I don't consider myself to be 'creative' in the normal sense.  I haven't written many poems in my life.  I don't create original artwork of any kind.  I don't create my own songs.   I imagine that I'm not unlike many of you.  I suspect that many of you join me in feeling confined in the roles we play, expected to conform to the expectations of others.

However, God gave each of us 'wings' on which to fly our personal journey.  Caged, we can do little more than flutter those heavenly wings in frustration.  We must sing to give vent to our misery, to express ourselves and to create beauty in our own world.

We all need to find outlets for our stifled selves.  In the act of creating, we enter an almost meditative state where our troubles cease to exist and our spirit heals and fortifies.

Painting, playing an instrument, or writing a poem my readily occur to us as means of creative expression, but so are blogging, gardening, cooking, or quilting -- whatever appeals to our individual natures.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this sixth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Kuumba'! Perhaps it is time ... as we prepare for a new year ... to allow our creative natures to breathe a little more.  Perhaps it is time for each of us to allow the caged bird inside of ourselves to sing ... to fly.

On this day, I will do something artfully.  I will write a letter, make a pencil sketch, or just rearrange one of my rooms in a different way.

Those are my thoughts about Kuumba. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Kuumba comes to mind?


December 30, 2016

Kwanzaa: Nia ('Purpose')

Habari Gani? Nia!
Day 5, December 30

To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Can any hill stand between you and your beloved? No. Especially if it is your purpose or goal to be with that person. Of course, there are hills in life. Heck, sometimes there are mountains. But when life is good, it seems like there are no hills. Why? Because, like a baby driven to walk, we are undeterred by the obstacles between us and our goal.

African Americans have certainly had our share of disappointments and setbacks. But, we have learned that when we are really focused, nothing can hold us back. When we believe that our goal is worth and that we are worthy to achieve it, we are more than halfway there. We need only plant our feet on the road and keep moving forward.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this fifth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Nia'! Perhaps it is time ... as we prepare for a new year ... to set written goals for all of the areas of our life: family, financial, health and spiritual. If not now, when? We can always do more to set and seek out specific goals in life, because we all benefit when our brothers and sisters succeed.

On this day, I will do at least one thing that will help me accomplish one of my goals.

Those are my thoughts about Nia. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Nia comes to mind?


December 29, 2016

Kwanzaa: Ujamaa ('Cooperative Economics')

Habari Gani? Ujamaa!

To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them.

Cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. Did you know that 95% of all earnings in the Black community ends up in the hands of non-Black people? Is it any wonder that when one community has $1.95 and our community has a nickel ... that one community is more respected by local government; has better police relations; has better schools; has better economic outcomes? Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this fourth principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Ujamaa'!

We can always do more to support our people, because we all benefit when our brothers and sisters succeed. If it means going a block farther to a Black-owned store, let's do it. And if the quality of the merchandise or service disappoints us, let's communicate that to the owner so we give her every chance to rectify the situation and count on us as a permanent customer.

Let's buy books and albums by African Americans, and go to movies by African American directors. Remember the simple saying, "Put your money where your mouth is." Let's show support, and not decry the lack of it.

Those are my thoughts about Ujamaa. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Ujamaa comes to mind?


December 28, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Wayne Hicks. Senior and Junior.

Kwanzaa: Ujima ('Collective Work and Responsibility')

Habari Gani? Ujima!
Day 3, December 28

To come together to build and maintain our communities.

None of us walks alone. Especially in the Black community. We need to realize that we stand on the shoulders of others. Celebrating the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Ujima', gives us a chance to reflect on those that helped us reach our current platform. We can pay homage to our parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, mentors, colleagues or others that came into our lives. Nubians in America should also lift up in praise those African Americans that came ... some were lost ... so that we might have the freedoms we enjoy today.

In other words villagers ... let's be proud of our accomplishments. We earned the right to be proud. However, let's also remember that our accomplishments may never have happened without the help of others struggling before us. Now, we must pay it forward. We must reach back, down or across to others to help them on their journey.

Those are my thoughts about Ujima. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when the Ujima comes to mind?


December 27, 2016

Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia ('Self-Determination')

Habari Gani? Kujichagulia!
Day 2.  December 27

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

The second principle in the Nguzo Saba calls for us to spend less time worried about what 'THEY' are thinking and more time focused on our own decisions. We can't waste our time trying to live up to the expectations of others. We must value the importance of our own personal goals. How are we living up to our own inner compass of what is right and wrong ... our own values ... our own dreams.

I plan to spend more in 2016 focused on setting and exceeding my own financial, family, physical and spiritual goals. I intend for 2016 to be a year in which I live my dreams. No more sitting back and waiting for others ... it is time for me to take control of my situation fully and completely.

Today, I take the first step.

I hope that other villagers are considering what the concept of 'kujichagulia' or self-determination means to them.

Here is an affirmation for today that we can all use -- 'On this day, I will take five minutes and visualize that I have accomplished one of my goals.'

December 26, 2016

Kwanzaa: Umoja ('Unity')

Habari Gani? UMOJA
Day 1.  December 26.

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

You live long enough and you begin to realize that you cannot have an impact on your community, nation and race until you first have an impact on your family. It is through the good you do with your parents, siblings, spouse, children, nieces, nephews and cousins that you leave your mark on the world. The pebble that you drop in the lake called family will begin to flow out in concentric circles that will grow larger and larger over time.

Make yourself and your family stronger ... you make our community and our nation stronger. Am I doing enough to make ourselves stronger mentally, physically, financially and spiritually?

The past is gone. Our ability to changes things for the better begins today. What can I do to make myself better mentally? physically? financially? spiritually? These are questions that I will ask myself today as I meditate on the meaning of 'umoja' in my life. I will find ways each day to improve myself and my family ... even my blogging family ... so that we might be stronger as a community and as a nation. Each one, reach one.


Care to share your thoughts on the concept of Umoja, the first principle shared in the Nguzo Saba?

Rest In Peace: Teena Marie (1956-2010)

The Internet and Twitter informed us that legendary soul singer Teena Marie was dead on this date in 2010 at the age of 54.

Teena Marie was a remarkable singer who amazed me when I was in college. I listened and loved her songs like 'Deja Vu' ... however, I didn't realize until much later that she was white. Her voice was such a soulful one ... and her remarkable duets like 'Fire and Desire' with Rick James were a staple at how of the house parties in basements and in the clubs.

I don't recall the song ... it was probably 'Square Biz' ... but, I remember seeing her on a video singing a song that I liked ... and she had on these HORRIBLE bell-bottoms. It took me awhile to digest her look versus what I had imagined from listening to her on the radio or from her albums (which never had her picture on them back in the day).

However, at the end of the day -- her soulful talent could not be denied.   She remains one of my favorite singers.   One of the songs that displayed her full-range of talents was a ditty called 'Casanova Brown'.

Born Marie Christine Brockert, Teena Marie released 13 studio albums, six of which went platinum on the Rhythm & Blues chart. Two of her albums went platinum, and six altogether were gold.

Teena Marie could straight-out sing...

What are your thoughts or remembrances of Teena Marie?

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles

Villagers, I created this blog in order to inform and uplift people of African descent. Too often we are bombarded with negative images of what it means to be Black in America and throughout the diaspora. My hope is that the Electronic Village provides an outlet for us to share some self-love, self-respect and self-determination. I am hopeful that you will become engaged through your village voice to share your thoughts on the posts that we provide each day.

While the Nguzo Saba are commonly linked to the yearly Kwanzaa celebration, they have year-round applicability. I'm sharing these seven principles in the hopes that we can refer to them often over the coming weeks and months.
  1. UMOJA (00-MOE-JAH) UNITY - The first principle is a commitment to the idea of togetherness. This principle is a foundation; for without unity, neither the family nor the community can survive. National African American unity begins with the family. Open discussions of family problems and their probable solutions are very important.
  2. KUJICHAGULIA (CO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-AH) SELF-DETERMINATION - The second principle is a commitment to building our lives in our own images and interests. If we, as a people, are to achieve our goals we must take the responsibility for that achievement upon ourselves, for self-determination is the essence of freedom. This day calls for a reaffirmation of our commitment to struggle for all people of African descent, particularly those of us here in America, to build a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
  3. UJIMA (00-GEE-MA) COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY - The third principle encourages self-criticism and personal evaluation, as it relates to the common good of the family/community. Without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible. The family and the community must accept the reality that we are collectively responsible for our failures, as well as our victories and achievements. Discussions concerning each family member's responsibility prove helpful in defining and achieving family goals.
  4. UJAMAA (00-JAH-MAH) COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS - Out of the fundamental concepts of "African Communal Living" comes the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. In a community or family, wealth and resources should be shared. On the national level, cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. On this day, ideas should be shared and discussed for cooperative economic efforts to provide for needs as related to housing, education, food, day care, health, transportation and other goods and services.
  5. NIA (NEE-AH) PURPOSE - The fifth day of Kwanzaa is a day for reviewing our purpose for living. Each family member should examine his/her ability to put his/her skill or talent to use In the service of the family and community at large. Take time to reflect on your expectations from life: discuss your desires and hopes with family and friends. On this day you should try to determine if this purpose will eventually result in positive achievements for family and community.
  6. KUUMBA (KOO-M-BAH) CREATIVITY - The sixth principle of the Nguzo Saba relates to building and developing our creative potential. It involves both aesthetic and material creations. It is essential that creativity be encouraged in all aspects of African American culture. It is through new ideas that we achieve higher levels of living and a greater appreciation for life. Each family member should find creative things to do throughout the year that will enhance the family as a whole. On this day, poetry reading, songfests, dance exhibitions and the like, can aid in promoting the importance of Kuumba.
  7. IMANI (E-MAH-NE) FAITH - The seventh principle is belief in ourselves as individuals and as a people. Further, it is a commitment to the development of the family and the national African American community. African America's goal of freedom rests significantly on our belief in our own ability and right to control our own destiny. Without Imani (faith), there is no possibility of victory.
Villagers, we will discuss each of these seven principles throughout the coming year. Perhaps you can begin the discussion by sharing your village voice on the Nguzo Saba. What say u? Which principle(s) are particularly meaningful in your life?

July 9, 2016

10 Tips for Black Men as Parents

Black men receive little information on what it takes to be a good parent.   Fathers and their children have special needs and they need special information about parenting that is unique to the circumstances they face.   Here are some tips:
  1. Be there when your children are born.
  2. Become financially literate.   Teach your children that honest pays and trying to beat the system doesn't.
  3. Be selective about who meets your children.   You are responsible for protecting your children from abuse.
  4. Love and discipline are both important.  Your need to set standards for how your children behave.
  5. Introduce your children to the spiritual world.  A solid religious background can help them in the future.
  6. Teach your children to be proud of being Black.  Make them aware of Black history.
  7. Assume responsibility for your children's education.  Be there to help them with their homework if they need it.
  8. Set academic standards before allowing your children to play sports.   And if they dream of being a professional athlete, insist that they have a Plan B.
  9. Educate your children about racism.  Don't allow your children to blame every problem they have on racism, but make sure they know racism still exists.
  10. Teach your children to respect adults.  Good manners can carry a person very fair in life.
As important as it is for you to be there for your children, it is equally important for you to know when to let go and allow your children to stand on their own two feet.

February 11, 2016

OURstory: Nelson Mandela Released From Prison (Feb 11, 1990)

On this date in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He was (then) a South African political activist and member of the African National Congress.

Still active, he had been in Robben Island prison in South Africa for 27 years.

What are your thoughts on Nelson Mandela?
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February 9, 2016

Happy Birthday: Alice Walker, 2/9/1944

It always bothered me that the 'Color Purple' never received proper recognition during the Oscar ceremonies in the early 1990s. The director and actors in that flick were outstanding. Who cannot still remember when Oprah Winfrey got medieval on her husband and her father-in-law?

The movie never exists if the book wasn't written first. Alice Walker was born on this date in 1944. She is an African American author, speaker, and poet. [SOURCE]

Born Alice Malsenior Walker in Eatonton, Georgia, she was educated at Spelman and Sarah Lawrence colleges. Walker is responsible for a number of writings.

Most of her material portrays the lives of poor, oppressed African American women in the early 1900s. The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970) is about the emotional growth of an African American man. Meridian (1976) follows the life of an African American woman during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Walker won the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her best-known work, the novel The Color Purple (1982).

Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), explores the tradition of female circumcision still practiced in some parts of Africa. By the Light of My Father’s Smile (1998), depicts a Christian missionary family, focusing on the relationship between the father and the three daughters and the relationship between Christianity and the spiritual traditions of the African community in which the family lives. Walker’s volumes of poetry include Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973) and Goodnight, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning (1979).

Her nonfiction works include the essay collections In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983), Living by the Word (1988), The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996) and Anything We Love Can Be Saved (1997). In 2004, Walker published her first book in six years, "Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart."

Do you have a favorite book by Alice Walker? Is there a part of Color Purple that you always remember when you think of that movie (or book)? My favorite thing about Alice Walker in recent years was her timely endorsement of Barack Obama!
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February 1, 2016

Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Award Winner: Laura Stanton (2016)

Dr. Jones Crockett
My maternal grandmother, Ethelene Jones Crockett, was born in 1914 in St. Joseph, Michigan and grew up in Jackson, Michigan. She attended Jackson Community College and graduated from University of Michigan. She married George Crockett, Jr. who was an accomplished lawyer, judge and congressman in his own right, and they had three children (including my Mom!) before she decided to attend medical school at Howard University in 1942.

Grandmother Crockett served her medical internship at Detroit Receiving Hospital but completed her residency in a New York City hospital because no Detroit hospital would accept an African American woman. She became the first Black female Ob/Gyn in the state of Michigan in 1952. She retired from active practice in 1972. In 1978 she became the first woman president of the American Lung Association. Unfortunately, she died later that same year.

Laura Stanton
My grandmother was larger than life. I loved her very much. I'm sure that she would be pleased to know that Laura Stanton, an alumna noted for her dedication to education and adoption, is Jackson College's 2016 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Award recipient. The Crockett award is given annually by Jackson College to honor distinguished alumni who have displayed a positive and personal involvement in the betterment of humankind and has ongoing contact with Jackson College. Stanton attended what then was Jackson Community College in the early 1970s, finishing her education at Eastern Michigan University, where she obtained a teaching degree.  [SOURCE]

Stanton spent 20 years as a Jackson Public Schools teacher and was a reading and instructional specialist before retiring in 1997. In 1999, she and her husband David established the Stanton Foundation, which is dedicated to education and adoption. Stanton helped coordinate the annual Wendy's Charity Classic golf tournament, which in 15 years has raised more than $2.5 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy's Wonderful Kids programs.

Congratulations to Ms. Stanton ... she's officially part of our 'village' now!

Happy Birthday: Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, MO on this date in 1902. He began writing poetry while attending Central High School in Cleveland, OH. He was educated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Click here to view most of the literary works of Langston Hughes!

He was an influential figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's. Hughes spent time in Paris and after returning to the United States, he worked as a busboy in Washington, D.C. It was there in 1925, that his literary skills were discovered after he left three of his poems beside the plate of American poet Vachel Lindsay, who recognized Hughes's abilities and helped publicize his work.

Langston Hughes was active in social and political causes, using his poetry as a vehicle for cultural protest. He traveled to the Soviet Union, Haiti, and Japan, and he served as the Madrid correspondent for a Baltimore newspaper during the Spanish Civil War. Hughes wrote over 50 books and his drama Mulatto was performed 373 times on Broadway. Hughes also became known for the character Jesse B. Simple that he created in the 1940's for the Chicago Defender & New York Post. The humor and dialect of Jesse Simple disguised his common sense while depicting the everyday American experiences of Black citizens.

Langston Hughes died in 1967.

Let America be America Again
Originally published in Esquire and in the International Worker Order pamphlet A New Song (1938)

Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-- Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-- And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-- Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That's made America the land it has become. O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home-- For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we've dreamed And all the songs we've sung And all the hopes we've held And all the flags we've hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay-- Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free. The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-- Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-- The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!

O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath-- America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain-- All, all the stretch of these great green states-- And make America again!

Do you have any thoughts about Langston Hughes? What is your favorite literary work by Bro. Hughes?