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What the Death of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Says About Us | by Kenneth D. Price (aka bloggerken)
Ask about Gabriel Union, and many will readily give details about the actress' recent engagement to Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade. Ask about Beyoncé and get the skivvy on her 2013 CD of the same name. Ask about Olivia Pope and get the most insightful predictions of upcoming Scandal episodes. Ask, however, about deceased Private First Class [Pfc.] LaVena Johnson and all too many will reply, "Who"?
If you have asked the "who" question, know that you are not alone. And if it is some consolation, also know that a number of factors contribute to your lack of knowledge. Being unaware is not completely your fault. Mainstream media is unlikely to touch the story of LaVena Johnson due to the powerful interests that might that it go quietly into the night. Black media is consumed with the goings-on of celebrities. Cultural blogs make these rather simple reports that require little serious journalism and research their focus and top priority. As a result, the broader community masters the scoop on the rich and famous as if this demonstrates being in the know on key issues of our times. And [black] politicians are likely to risk their political fortunes on the tragedy involving some 19-year old black girl. And as if the death of Pfc. Johnson is not sad enough, after answering the "who" question, one is left with another equally disturbing question. How?
Thanks to a film documentary The Silent Truth, reports on alternative media such as Democracy Now, and a recent article that appeared on The MadMan Chronicles, the story of this young lady is regaining much needed attention.
SO WHO WAS U.S. ARMY PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LAVENA JOHNSON?
Pfc. Johnson, a daughter of Missouri Dr. John Johnson and Mrs. Linda Johnson, was stationed in Balad, Iraq on July 19, 2005 - the date on which her life ended. The Army's official ruling stated that Johnson died from a self-inflicted, non-combat "intraoral" gunshot wound. According to investigators, Johnson was depressed at the time of her death and had made overtures to fellow soldiers that she was contemplating killing herself. Johnson's lifeless body was found in storage tent owned by contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root [KBR].
Parents of Pfc. Johnson indicate that their daughter was very patriotic and desired to serve her country. At the time of her death, Pfc. Johnson was looking forward to a brief return home before completing her tour. Long-term plans included attending college upon re-entering civilian life.
SUICIDE OR COVER-UP?
In April 2007, the Johnsons had the casket containing his daughter's remains exhumed at Jefferson Barracks Cemetary, followed by a new autopsy. This came nearly two years after unsuccessful attempts to obtain further details from the Army. Dr. Johnson, with a 25-year record of serving enlisted personnel, maintains that his daughter was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered. And further, that her body sustained additional trauma to conceal the attack she suffered as well as to complicate identifying who committed these crimes. Dr. Johnson raised a number of issues that are not easily explained by the Army's account. Namely:
It is unconscionable that our nation has arrived at this place where a young woman commits her life to the service of our nation, ends up dead, and little attention is given. At a time when our nation has chosen a more aggressive military posture in the world, citizens are being called upon for dangerous, lengthy tours of duty. Further, this call comes without conscription (i.e., draft), thus requiring an appeal to younger citizens who might otherwise attend college or pursue a trade. Surely, the Armed Forces must appreciate the need to take every precaution to rest any concerns about the safety of military personnel stationed on domestic and foreign bases.
In May 2013, the Pentagon released a report that highlighted the serious extent of sexual assaults taking place within the ranks of the military. The report found a 35 percent increase in unwanted sexual contact since 2010 and a 6 percent rise in incidents from the previous year. During a May 7, 2013 news conference in the East Room of the White House, President Obama announced his "no tolerance" policy regarding sexual assaults in the military:
"I expect consequences. So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period... For those who are in uniform who’ve experience sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their commander in chief that I’ve got their backs,” the president said. “I will support them. And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff, and there will be accountability.” Given the backdrop of a known problem and the President's zero tolerance commitment, resolving all legitimate doubts associated with the Pfc. Johnson's death would go a long way in changing the troublesome culture of sexual assault.
Even more shocking is the African American community's overwhelming support for an African American Commander-In-Chief that has not translated into White House calls for a thorough investigation into the death Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Some might argue that President Obama is the "president of all, and not just blacks". However, when lesser misfortunes, as in a wife appealing to the President on-behalf of unemployed worker Darin Wedel, the White House responded. If the notion of "sanctity of life" still exists as a central tenet of who we are as a nation, then surely LaVena Johnson's mysterious death merits more attention from the Commander-In-Chief than the troubles of an unemployed worker whose particular solutions are beyond the scope of the White House. And if 96% and 93% of black voter support in 2008 and 2012 count for something, let it be counted in African Americans demanding justice and a President responding to this demand.
Civil rights leaders are likewise complicit in their silence. Al Sharpton was outspoken in the 1987 case of Tawana Brawley, the teenager later found to have concocted a story of being kidnapped and raped. The NAACP [rightfully] took a vocal position in the matter of murdered 17-year old Trayvon Martin, organizing marches and circulating a petition to the Department of Justice that obtained 1.5 million signatures. Jesse Jackson interceeded during the deportation of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban-American boy whose Cuban father successfully fought to regain custody of his son in his home country of Cuba. Jackson, on his own volition, negotiated the release of hostages in conflicts involving Hafez al-Assad, Fidel Castro, and Saddam Hussein. How Jackson has been so quiet on the Pfc. Johnson matter when previous involvements have taken him around-the-world to Cuba, Serbia, Lebanon, and other hot spots is a mystery. And consider the outpouring of protests led by the ACLU, Amnesty International, NAACP, and other groups as the State of Georgia deliberated the execution of Troy Davis.
Juxtaposing these direct actions is the virtual silence regarding Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Indifference to the tragedy that befell the young soldier suggests unequal concerns about justice. Indeed, one might argue that the left is more concerned about bringing pressure to President Obama than it is about justice for LaVena. And that politicization of injustice calls into question lofty overtures about fairness.
Lingering questions about the Johnson death deserve answers. The implications speak to our honoring the dignity of Pfc Johnson's life, an intercessory compassion for the Johnson family, and general concern for women in the armed forces.
By Komozi Woodard
Speaking for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in June 1966, Stokely Carmichael introduced the new agitation slogan: Black Power. The SNCC challenged a new generation of leadership to realize self-determination, self-respect, and self-defense for black America by calling for broad political and social experimentation with black liberation and political autonomy. As Harry Haywood wrote in Black Bolshevik, “The emergence of Black Power as a mass slogan signaled a fundamental turning point in the modern Afro-American liberation struggle, carrying it to the threshold of a new phase. It marked a basic shift in content and direction of the movement, from civil rights to national liberation, with a corresponding realignment of social forces." In addition, the Black Power movement was a global cultural and political phenomenon; and the names and politics of some of the groups in the United States—such as the Congress of African People or the Republic of New Afrika—suggested its international dimensions.
Amiri Baraka and Internationalism Alongside SNCC, another important group was produced by the fusion of Black Power conferences and a Black Arts movement: the Congress of African People, led by poet and playwright Amiri Baraka. It was not accidental that black artists like Baraka came to leadership in Black Power because the foundations of the movement were supported by “black” culture and consciousness, essentially a blues matrix; Baraka’s first book was Blues People, and many subsequent Black Power leaders read the 1963 publication in one sitting.
Born Leroi Jones in 1934, Amiri Baraka came of age during the formative years of Third World independence, the decade between the 1949 Chinese Revolution and the 1959 Cuban Revolution. These international developments left an indelible mark on his Black Power nationalism.
Black Power radicals like Baraka supported not only Castro’s Cuban Revolution but also the pan-African socialist experiments in Ghana designed by Kwame Nkrumah; and his generation identified with such writers as Aimé Césaire in Martinique and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in Kenya. They sought the truth of black liberation in the pages of Frantz Fanon’s writings, from Black Skin, White Masks’s theory of identity crisis to The Wretched of the Earth’s jeremiad against the betrayal of the African bourgeoisie.
In 1961 when Baraka was arrested at the United Nations, protesting the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the premier of the Congo, the African Americans actively supporting African liberation represented only a handful of the activists inspired by the independence movements in such African nations as the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, and Guinea. However, by 1970 the efforts by Black Power nationalists to support African liberation reflected the sentiments of millions of African Americans who grew up during the triumph of freedom movements from Tanganyika to Algeria.
By 1970 the radical wing of the Black Power movement, influenced by Mao and the Chinese Revolution, suggested that the struggle for black liberation would unfold in stages: the first stage was national liberation, and the second stage was social transformation, involving some form of socialism. While many of those militants argued that internal colonialism was the paradigm for the national movement, the international dimensions of their politics became more pronounced as Baraka rose to leadership in the national black political arena. His wing of the movement suggested three anti-colonial African models for Black Power politics, combining national liberation and socialism: Amílcar Cabral’s PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde), which was leading the fight against Portuguese colonialism in the West African territories of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands; in West Africa, Sékou Touré’s Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) , which had led a successful radical movement against French colonialism in the 1950s; and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which led its independence initiative in East Africa.
The road traveled by Nyerere’s TANU in Tanganyika had been peaceful; however, the path taken by revolutionaries in Zanzibar and Algeria was bloody. By the 1970s most of the liberation movements in Africa were involved in some phase of armed warfare against white colonialism. At that time, Black Power nationalists led a determined national community in the support of African liberation movements, targeting South African domination in South-West Africa (Namibia); Portuguese colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau; as well as white minority rule in both Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa. By 1975 these African liberation movements had defeated Portuguese colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, and subdued white minority rule in Zimbabwe. Inspired by African ideals of nation building and liberation, the central theme of Baraka's Black Power politics became black self-determination.
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Controversial to many Cultural Nationalists
Yesterday, Amiri Baraka died. Formerly known as LeRoi Jones, Baraka throughout his life wrote poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticisms. He was a leader in the 1960's Black Arts Movement. I am connected to Baraka in two ways: My embracing of cultural nationalism, and my relationship with one of my mentor, Professor Milford Graves, who was Baraka's musical accompanists during his poetry presentations/performances. In the case of Graves, myself and other students came to know Baraka through Graves' eyes, based on his prejudice and perspective which he formulated during their years of working together. As a cultural nationalist, who early in my development often engaged in polemics with revolutionary nationalist, Baraka holds an interesting position—a controversial one. So I guess when white America calls Baraka controversial, I guess I agree; however, not for the same reason(s).
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Baraka moved to Greenwich Village, New York where he came into contact with the avant-garde Beat Generation, Black Mountain poets and New York School poets. In 1958 he married a white woman, Hettie Cohen, with whom he had two daughters. He and Hettie founded Totem Press, which published such Beat icons as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He (and Hettie) founded a quarterly literary magazine Yugen, while Baraka also worked as editor and critic for the literary and arts journal Kulchur. He also edited the magazine The Floating Bear for two years. In the autumn of 1961 he co-founded the New York Poets Theatre with other artists.
Clearly Baraka's politics were integrationist. But events of the 60s were continuing to radicalize him—the Cuban Revolution, the assassination of Malcolm X, and the Newark riots of 1967. But after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Baraka left his family, cut off his white friends, and moved to Harlem. (Baraka divorced Cohen in 1965 and a year later married Sylvia Robinson, whose name became Bibi Amina Baraka.) Breaking away from the predominantly white Beats, Baraka became very critical of the pacifist and integrationist Civil Rights movement, and dismissed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a "brainwashed Negro." He and his poem shifted from the Civil Right movement to the Black Power movement. This gave birth to the Black Arts Movement. For Baraka, poetry became the weapon of action, and his poetry demanded action against those he felt were responsible for an unjust society. The Black Arts movement was a basically a counterpart to Black Power, and Baraka wrote a number of books now seen as foundational for a certain kind of black aesthetic and cultural identity. He scorned art for art's sake and the pursuit of black-white unity. Baraka called for the teaching of Black art and history and producing works that bluntly called for revolution. "The people's struggle influences art, and the most sensitive artists pick that up and reflect that," he said.
In 1967, Baraka generated controversy when he went on the radio with a Newark police captain and Anthony Imperiale, a politician and private business owner, and the three of them blamed the riots on "white-led, so-called radical groups" and "Communists and the Trotskyite persons." This would suggest that he was not a Marxist (yet). Later that year, Baraka visited Maulana Karenga in Los Angeles and became an advocate of his philosophy of Kawaida, a multifaceted, categorized activist philosophy that produced the Nguzo Saba, and Kwanzaa. At this point Baraka converted to Islam, and changed his name to Imamu Amir Baraka, and later just Amiri Baraka. Baraka would bring Kawaida and cultural nationalism to the East Coast and while Karenga was imprisioned he became the chief proponent of cultural nationalism.
In 1970, Baraka founded the Congress of African People (CAP) in order to advance his own vision of cultural nationalism. His vision was inspired by Karenga and influenced by Afrikan leaders such as Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral, and Ahmed Sékou Touré. CAP was a cultural nationalist organization that main objective was the creation of operational unity among Black people. In 1972, Baraka, along with Gary, Indiana, Mayor Richard Hatcher and Michigan congressman Charles C. Diggs Jr., convened the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, arguably the high point of the black freedom movement in the 1960s and 1970s. During that convention, the delegates adopted the National Black Political Agenda (NBA), also known as the Gary declaration, a statement that was a major step toward creating an independent Black political party. During this period ideological conflicts between socialists, communists, and Black nationalists began to divide the NBA. Baraka at the guiding force in this political movement in the mid-1970s abandoned cultural nationalism and began to transformed CAP into a more purely Marxist organization. This created conflict in CAP between the Marxists and the cultural nationalists and eventually led to the disruption of this amazing experiment in operational unity.
Baraka's denouncement of cultural nationalism as reactionary was damning and damaging to the progress and development of our people in our restoration mission. It set up back. But there is no denying Baraka role in the spread and propagation of cultural nationalism. Karenga developed it but Baraka put it on the map.
Posted by A Moore
When traveling to Germany it is important to know that the country’s constitution prohibits racial discrimination in general, but there is basically no case law that specifically deals with it, according to Hendrik Cremer, who has worked with the German Institute for Human Rights since 2007. “Those who want to take action against racist remarks are only able to refer to Section 130 of the Penal Code, which refers to sedition.” The legal hurdles, therefore, are high.
However, racial insults may not be what Black travelers (Africans, Americans, Caribbean people, etc.) visiting Germany should be most concerned with. Former government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye said in a 2006 radio interview that dark-skinned visitors to Germany should consider avoiding the eastern part of the country where racism runs high.
“There are small and medium-sized towns in Brandenburg, as well as elsewhere, which I would advise a visitor of another skin color to avoid going to,” said Heye. They “might not make it out alive” if they dared set foot in certain towns, he warned.
Africans and other dark-skinned people in Berlin, Wisner and other cities know certain areas in the eastern part of Berlin, such as Marzahn and Hellersdorf, are “no-go” areas where they are certain to be attacked or killed. It is also reported that German police routinely ignore these racist attacks and Germans, in general, are in denial about the depth of racism in their society.
Black visitors will also have to be extra careful when they venture outside of Moscow into the rest of Russia. In a chilling warning, the Russia expert of New Republic, Julie Ioffe, said, “There’s quite a bit of violence against people considered to be Black” in Russia, raising new fears about the safety of Olympic athletes, visitors and media attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ioffe warned that nowhere in Russia is safe for a person of color to visit, outside of Moscow’s city center.
During an “Ask Me Anything” discussion on the social media site Reddit, Ioffe was asked by a Black college student whether it is safe for an African-American to study in Russia. Here’s her answer:
“Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. I think that, for the most part, you’d be okay — if you consider people glaring at you and cracking racist jokes okay. (Russians are, er, not the most tolerant bunch.) There’s quite a bit of violence against people considered to be black, which includes, in the Russian mind, people from Central Asia and the Caucasus. My advice is go, but stick to the city center and try to go to a bigger city like Moscow. (St. Pete is crawling with skinheads.) Be extra, extra careful and make sure the American Embassy knows you’re there. They have a special unit to deal with threats to American citizens, so you should report anything that happens immediately.”
Human rights groups report that the number of racially motivated attacks have increased in Greece, as did the severity of the violence involved. Kostis Papaioannou, head of the National Commission for Human Rights, says the 2012 figures “shows some very interesting and very worrying tendencies regarding racist violence in Greece. We have both an increase in the numbers of attacks but also – which is really worrying too – we have an escalation of the tension of this violence.” The incidents have spiraled as Greece’s economy has worsened over the past few years.
The vast majority of attacks occurred in Athens, mainly in inner-city neighborhoods. Immigrants are often set upon by groups of men wielding metal bars, chains, brass knuckles, broken bottles, knives and wooden clubs. The victims suffer from broken bones, damage to sight and hearing and extensive bruising, reports the Racist Violence Recording Network, composed of 30 aid and human rights groups.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Greece has warned Americans traveling to Greece to be wary of “a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived as foreign migrants.”
“U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent in Athens and other major cities,” cautions the embassy in a statement first posted on its website last November.
Spain has a long-standing reputation for virulent racism, and many tourists of African descent complain of their poor reception by Spanish citizens. The nation was singled out by United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, who called on Spanish leaders to take greater steps toward eliminating racist and discriminatory practices against Africans and other immigrants in the country.
After the unjustified arrest of two African-American government employees in Barcelona in 2009, the U.S. State Department issued a warning that “racist prejudices” could lead to the arrest of African-Americans who visit Spain. The notice was removed two days before first lady Michele Obama visited the country, but many Black tourists say they experience racism during visits to Spain.
The world is not yet colorblind, and Italy is no exception. Anyone not noticeably of European descent will likely be looked down upon by Italians. Oftentimes a darker-skinned tourist will only have to deal with imposing stares, however; some Black women report a rather high incidence of gawking that leads to inquiries for prostitution.
While physical violence is not commonly practiced against Black tourists in Italy, biased ill-treatment of Black visitors can run rampant. A dark-skinned traveler may be questioned longer at border crossings and on trains, and his baggage may be rifled through by officials more often than those of white travelers. Sometimes hotels may tell Black tourists they are full for the night, and then give a room to the next white person who walks through the door. A Black traveler may also be a more frequent victim of ripoffs and scams, as is true for all foreigners.
Many people of color who have lived in Thailand can attest to the problematic racial attitudes commonplace in the country. Thais have an aversion to dark skin in general, and are prejudiced against people of African descent or anyone who has a darker skin tone, even among themselves. Black people frequently face discrimination in the workplace and are targeted for scrutiny from police. According to some travelers, it is legal there to discriminate on the basis of skin color or ethnicity.
In 2010, while visiting Thailand for a series of music performances, Ribkat, a well-known member of the multi-platinum selling group Fort Minor, and Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park were notified by a hotel manager that they did not allow Blacks or Indians at their hotel. Ribkat and Shinoda, who are both African-Americans, were told they should respect the racist policy and leave. The white band members were told they could stay. The policy to exclude Blacks and other foreigners can also be seen implemented by some local businesses.
A person of African descent traveling to China should not be surprised if they are repeatedly stared at or even swarmed by crowds of curious Chinese who will treat them as a spectacle by taking pictures, touching their hair, rubbing their skin, and asking questions that reflect their ignorance and lack of interaction with Black people.
Racism against Blacks may be the strongest form of prejudice in China. Chinese racism is linked to ignorance, class divisions, ethnocentrism and colorism that exists within Chinese society. Many people in China look down upon other Chinese of darker skin, and believe the whiter skin has more beauty.
In China, Black people are viewed through stereotypes, and most Chinese assume Blacks are poor, uneducated, violent, play basketball, are barbaric and wild, and even eat each other. The most common Chinese slur used against Black people means “black ghost.”
Racist mockery of Black people is very common in the public sphere in South Korea. When a Black person turns on the television in Korea, they can expect to experience Koreans using blackface and other stereotypical depictions to mock African people, the Diaspora, and Black culture in general.
Tourists can also anticipate being mistreated because of skin color or ethnicity. Foreigners say although many Koreans are polite and respectful, it’s not unusual to experience an angry, public xenophobic outburst from some of Korea’s citizens and taxi drivers, who they say overlook them in favor of picking up Koreans. A number of visitors have also reported locals shifting uneasily away from them on public transportation.
Some Koreans and visitors explain the racism against Black people as stemming from a fear of the unknown, since the country has historically been one of the most ethnically homogeneous nations in the world. Some Koreans will go their entire lives and never see a Black person. Others say Koreans, over time, have adopted whites’ attitudes towards Blacks.
Several years ago, I attended a colloquium held in Salvador, Bahia, hosted by the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC). The colloquium was entitled, “Multiculturalism and the Prospects for Africa and the African Diaspora.” I was there as a member of the Pan African Strategy and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG). One of the presenters, a white female professor, who is married to a prominent and highly respected Nigeria, who was also a presenter, made a presentation that I found out of place--it was a cultural imposition, and was anachronistic. It made me question why she was even there! Her paper focused on two areas that Afrikan nations needed to make improvements in: Acceptance of Homosexuality and Gender Equality. Really?
“History is a clock that people use to tell there political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.”
There is no doubt that many nations are addressing these concerns, as they are pertinent to where these nations are in terms of their political and sociological development. But with issues like genocidal wars, political corruption, extreme poverty, growing class and even ethnic divisions, poor to non-existent healthcare, lack of educational facilities, high infant mortality rates, selling of mineral-rich land and water rights to foreigners, and I can continue ad infinitum. So, my question is, in terms of Afrika's developmental needs, “Where does the acceptance of homosexuality fit in?” What priority should it be given? Her second point, also raised some concerns. I have no problem with Gender Reciprocity, which is building balanced, male-female roles and relationships based on observable laws of nature, and not the misogyny imposed by Western culture, Islam, or the ridiculous idea of some supposed innate female inferiority. It is the Western notion of Gender Equality, which is derived from Platonic dualism, rather than the Kemetic harmonious interaction of complements, that cautioned me. My fear lies in her conception and not in the fact that in modern Afrikan nations we must redefine or reassess the question of gender and the role it will play in the (new) societies we must perfect. But that role must be based on our past, our worldview, and not borrowed from our various oppressors. Since we, as Global Afrikan people, are at a different place in our history, our existing issues are uniquely ours, and WE must address them. Everybody's issues (whether disingenuously labeled as universal or as human issues) are not ours.
We in error think that because a person in the ancient world had a Greek or Roman name, that that person must have been either Greek or Roman. That would be the same as thinking that because Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Delany, Joseph de Graft-Johnson, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Marcus Garvey had English names they were English or British. In the ancient world, many Hellenized Afrikans took on Greek names, similar to the way many Afrikan Christians have Biblical names in addition to their traditional name. The following Christian thinkers and church leaders that I will talk about were all Afrikans. Why? Based on a combination of factors such as they were born in Afrika; they were of Afrikan parentage; spoke or wrote an Afrikan language; acknowledged their Afrikan heritage in their writings; were identified as Afrikans by other writers; had names that reflected Afrikan beliefs.
Basilides, an Alexandrian teaching in the early second century C.E., was considered the father of Christian Gnosticism. He taught the idea of the Trinity and of a pre-existent Supreme Being who through a Demiurge carried out Creation. This latter idea can be found in both the Memphite Theology and Platonism. Missing from Basilides’ doctrines are the multiple souls of traditional Afrikan thought. Instead, a Platonic dichotomy characterizes his notion of two souls, with one soul dominating the other.
Valentinus taught his brand of Gnosticism in Egypt and later in Rome. His school was the most popular in Egypt and it attracted much attention in Rome. He expressed the idea that the disciples were a sort of initiatory school in which Christ taught them the Word. This is consistent with the following biblical quotation from Luke 8: 10, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” Valentinus claimed to have received his teachings from a student of Paul named Theudas.
Tertullian was born in Carthage around 155 C.E. He was the first to popularize Latin in Christian literature. A Montanist, believing Jesus would return in his lifetime, he lived a strict life of prayer, fasting, celibacy and regarded martyrdom as a most honorable service. Tertullian taught that seven unforgivable sins excluded Christians from the church — without the hope of readmission — namely murder, idolatry, theft, apostasy, blasphemy, fornication and adultery. He also popularized the ideas of the Trinity, baptism, the Lord’s Prayer and repentance.
Origen, the most noted student of Valentinus, whose ideas later would be at the root of the Arian controversy, was a native Egyptian whose father, Leonides, Roman officials had murdered for making new converts. Origen’s writings and teachings were popular during his lifetime (186 C.E. to 255 C.E.). He taught the doctrine of reincarnation, advocated martyrdom in the cause of Christ, and subjected himself to extreme asceticism, practicing long periods of fasting, sleep deprivation, poverty, and ultimately self-mutilation. Origen went so far as to cut off his testicles, heeding the words of Matthew19: 12.
An ordained presbyter (which could be a minister, pastor or elder depending on the context) like Origen, Cyprian was once a wealthy Carthaginian lawyer who upon his conversion to Christianity renounced his wealth and later became the Bishop of Carthage around 250 C.E. In these early centuries, the three centers of Christian power were Alexandria, Egypt; Antioch, Syria; and Rome, Italy. These three powerful centers began to exert control over lesser sees (jurisdiction of a Bishop). The original religious authority, which passed from Jesus to Peter to the Apostles and their students, was the basis of church unity and the power it exercised over the years. Cyprian argued (to no avail) for the equality of sees — despite location — since they were all connected to a disciple or Apostle and had a common bond.
Born in Libya, Arius was an ascetic Christian presbyter and priest in Alexandria, Egypt. His teachings were based on the biological reality of the chronology of father and son. Arius argued against the trinity, stating that the father gave birth to the son thereby he preceding the son; consequently the Son could not be coequal or equivalent to the Father. In effect, Arius believed there was a time before the Son of God, when only God the Father existed. As many Afrikans easily identified with this concept, many were attracted to Arianism, as it was called. As Arianism grew it presented a problem in the growing church as it was in direct conflict with the most powerful sect of early Christianity (the Orthodox). The First Council of Nicea was convened in large part to squash “Arianism.”
Born in Upper Egypt, Athanasius (296-373 C.E.), called the “Father of Orthodoxy,” was to become Bishop of Alexandria in 319 C.E. During his lifetime the Arian controversy was the dominant issue. Arius, an Egyptian presbyter, challenged Origen’s idea that the Son of God was an eternal generation, arguing Christ’s inception was fixed in time and, therefore, could not be a timeless generation. Athanasius argued that to believe the Son was not eternal, violated the idea of eternal salvation. One reason the Council of Nicea met in 325 C.E. was to resolve this controversy. Despite the Nicene Creed, which upheld Athanasius’ position, the controversy continued for many years. Athanasius established the current twenty-seven (27) New Testament books that make up the present canon of the Bible. He also issued an order purging all “heretical” writings.
Augustine is considered the most influential Father of the Church. He lived from 354 C.E. to 430 C.E. Born in Tagaste, Numidia (North Afrika), he later served as the Bishop of Hippo, Afrika. Before his conversion to Catholicism he was a student of philosophy, astrology, and Gnosticism. Early in Augustine’s ministry as Bishop, Pelaguis, a British monk, challenged the idea of Sin, a pillar of the Church laid down by Paul. Pelaguis advanced that Grace could be obtained without going through Christ and that living a moral life was sufficient. Part of the doctrine of Christianity postulated that (original) sin enters humanity through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. It was passed down, causing us all to be born in original sin. The Grace of God forgave Original Sin only if one accepted Christ. Augustine staunchly defended Paul’s premise, becoming a steadfast opponent of Gnosticism and Arianism.
Building a community
Wake up all the builders,
And that is exactly what the famed songwriter, producer is doing these days in his South Philly neighborhood. He said, “I’m living the music now. The music has inspired me so, through my life, that I don’t take it for granted.”
In the late ’70s, Kenny Gamble stumbled upon his old landlord, Sam Sobel, who was ready to sell him his old house for a thousand dollars. Gamble ended up buying it and by the time he was finished he owned 130 vacant lots and empty houses. Gamble the music producer, became Gamble the social engineer. In the years to come, he poured money and time into his old neighborhood — funding community initiatives, anti-drug programs, and politicians he felt could help — but he was continually frustrated as he left his home in Gladwyne and drove through South Philly: still devastated. Still rife with dealers and prostitutes.
On day while at his suburban mansion, he complained to his wife Faatimah, that Philadelphia could be so much more than it is. He said, “Somebody ought to do something,” to which his wife replied “You’re somebody.” Gamble sold his mansion and moved back into a rowhouse in his childhood neighborhood, on South 15th Street. Back to the gangbangers, the drug dealers, prostitutes, and criminals.
First, he started Universal Community Homes, which grew into a nonprofit entity called the Universal Companies, that included the housing development company (which has rebuilt or rehabilitated about a thousand houses), a charter school that serve 700 hundred students, an investment fund, and social services ranging from credit building to computer classes. Before long Universal's influence and holdings comprised the entire south-central part of the city, running from 5th Street out to 22nd, and from South Street down to Tasker.
Gamble envisions South Philly as an entertainment corridor with an emphasis on the city’s musical heritage, similar to Beale Street in Memphis. In a major step toward that goal, Gamble persuaded the Rhythm & Blues Foundation to move from New York to Philadelphia, and next he plans to develop a $50 million National Center for Rhythm and Blues on the empty plot at Broad and Washington. He envisions a massive complex including a concert hall, a music academy and a Hall of Fame.
However, Gamble's efforts has it's local critics or adversaries. While some may voice genuine concerns, others sound like mouthpieces for those folks whose economic interest lie in exploiting Afrikan American communities. There are those who fear Gamble community will be a segregated black one. South Philly is already a predominantly black community and Gamble has made it clear he envisions it as such in the future.
When Gamble was interview by Matthew Teague, and asked about some residents’ concern about racial segregation or supremacy, he responded by saying. “It’s like cats. They’re all cats. But you don’t see the lion with the tiger. You don’t see the tiger with the panther.” He continued: “It pretty much boils down to mating. Every now and then you’ll see a tiger and maybe a lion copulate, and you’ll get a tiger-lion, or something strange.”
Teague followed up with: That sounds a lot like segregation, to which Gamble replied: It’s not, he said; it’s consolidation. Consolidation of jobs, money and influence. In his neighborhood, he argues, black people make up the vast majority of the population, but own only a small percentage of the businesses. He said he admires other self-sustaining and culturally insular neighborhoods: “There’s nothing wrong with the Chinese having Chinatown,” he said. “You don’t have people selling goods and services in the Irish community from some other community,” he said. “In the Russian community, you don’t have people from other communities. In the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Ricans have their own economy, they have their own stores.”
There are other critics that are concerned that Gamble, who converted to Islam in the 1970s, is building an Islamic community. Is there anything wrong with this if it were the case?
Apparently Gamble's faith is an issue, especially in the Islamophobia of post-9/11 America. And all types of unfounded allegations, exaggerations, and propaganda has been directed at Gamble, whose Islamic name is Luqman Abdul Haqq. These allegations are partly because he maintains friendly ties with the Nation of Islam. (In fact, Gamble sent Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan his prayers and blessings for a speedy recovery before he went into surgery.) He is also affiliated with other organizations that the Zionists have attacked as anti-Semitic, hence he is guilty by association. Some of his critics have even implied that he is a radical Islamist. And there are a number of internet site that attempt to validate this. Of course this is pure nonsense. From the interviews I have heard of Gamble, he is approaching his practice of Islam as a religion of universal brotherhood and peace. He has demonstrated no "radical" tendency, unless building up a community where black people already reside, is radical?
It seems to me that Gamble is doing what other Afrikan American millionaires should be doing: giving back by putting their money where their mouth is and building communities, creating jobs, developing housing, and providing quality education through public-private sector ventures. If anything, his actions should serve as guidelines for our leaders and religious organizations and groups to emulate.
And when Gamble tells his various critics that “The welfare of the community overrides any individual,” it sounds like communalism to me. Power to that brother.
P.S. To the Universal Company and Luqman Abdul Haqq, I say, Ungawa! Now we need the traditionalist communities to follow suit.
Exposing the pseudoscience of Eurocentrists
To understand the Nubian Kametian Sumerian and Dravidian (NKSD) civilization you have to understand that Afrocentric researchers are falsificationist. We either confirm or disconfirm a theory.
Linguistic evidence suggest that there is a Sumero-Tamil connection. Yet Eurocentrists reject this evidence without comment and counter eduttukkaadu (evidences). This makes their discussion of ancient history in my opinion untrue.
I am a product of Western Civilization. As a result, I was indoctrinated from an early age via TV and books that blacks were inferior. Although I was provided this indoctrination many adults during my socialization and induction into the community in which I grew up in , on the Southside of Chicago (i.e., 47th and Evans) taught me at an early age that Blacks were the founders of civilization based on their reading of the Bible, and the story about the Children of Ham.
As a result, when I undertook the acquisition of abstract sign systems during my forming schooling/instruction I had already acquired a metacognition (awareness of your own thinking) that filtered the bias teachings out of me during my years of schooling. I knew who I was based on the truth of the ancient model of history.
Science is hypothesis testing. We either confirm a theory or disconfirm a theory based on eduttukkaadu. A true scientist would never dispute a theory without offering counter eduttukkaadu in support of the counter hypothesis, but Eurocentric researchers get away with this unscientific attack on the ideas of Blacks, Native Americans and Asians everyday due to Eurocentrism.
Science goes out the window when theories are advocated by researchers that are not accepted by the Academe. We like to believe that schooling broadens our knowledge base and makes us wiser but this is not the case.
Schooling provides an environment that constructs the cognitive structures, we use to interpret our environment. If that environment teaching us falsehood, we will learn untruths instead of the Truth. This results from the fact that the growth of the mind is strongly influenced by the cultural sign system in which we live. It is the sign system presented via culture that provides first the child, and later the adult the psychological tools to interpret the world.
To understand the NKSD cultures it requires more that one's racial status and being. Being a African, African American or Dravidian will not gain you entry into understanding these cultures. You can only understand these cultures if you find cognitive and psychological engagement with the study of ancient history based on the Truth covering law, of the Ancient Model of History.
Cognitive engagement is an internal indicator. These indicators are process, recognition and desire.
Firstly, cognitive engagement requires that you learn how to process information from a self-based approach. This information is processed both by neurological processes, genetics and the mind. The neurological system helps us understand the mechanics behind our learning.
It makes clear the processes involved in thinking. The mind allows us to interpret knowledge. We don't know where this mind is, but we do know that it has a physical and a meta-physical base. The physical mind is structure by or experiences that form representations or schemata to interpret the experiences we have had and explain what we find in the environment.
The mind is also metaphysical. This part of the mind helps us to find information and answers to the questions we may have about phenomenon through our dreams. (I can not number the times I went to bed with a question about ancient history that was answered in a dream that directed me to sources/evidence to support my inquiry.)
Seeking truth is also genetic. We often discuss the genes and how they make us unique. But no one really discusses the possibility that a genetic memory also exist. This genetic memory would consist of the memories we obtain from our both our parents up to the time of our birth, and the memories of our parents' parents, and so on up to the time of their birth. This memory may even go back to the first human ancestors.
This genetic memory would allow us to tap into the memories of our ancestors.
The second feature of cognitive engagement in our quest for the Truth is recognition. Recognition, simply refers to the way you think, learn and process information. Your ability to find Truth will result from three factors, a) your ability to access genetic based knowledge; b) interactions with known knowledge (via multiple intelligences); and c) desire to know the Truth.
A good example of accessing the Truth genetically, was made clear by a Western scholar who said he did not understand Greek philosophy until he studied Ethiopian civilization. He even claimed that he formerly may have been an Ethiopian. A Eurocentric scholar would belittle the idea expressed by this scholar, but in reality, maybe he was able to access knowledge relating to the Ethiopians from his genetic memory from his ancestors who may have lived in Ethiopia, because he kept himself open to Truth and Truth came his way.
Finally, to complete your quest for cognitive engagement the heuristic used for task analysis and completion must include a self-monitoring process guided by Truth Seeking based on the Ancient Model of History.
Psychological engagement is both an internal and external indicator used to interpret the truth. You need psychological engagement of the NKSD culture to understand the phenomenon. Psychological engagement has three parts 1) identification with an intellectual school of thought ( in this case the Ancient Model of History); a sense of belonging and connection to a group; and 3) a positive relationship with teachers and peers.
It is easy to find identification with a research model, but finding a sense of belonging and positive relationship with teachers is more difficult. You must love yourself and your ethnic group before you can use the ancient model of history to discovery aspects of the past. Yet, you can not be racist. You have to recognize that there is one mankind, even though we have different colors, because we all came from God.
Finding teachers is also difficult. It is hard to find teachers for the study of NKSD at Universities and Colleges because most of the faculty members at these institutions maintain the status quo. As a result, your teachers will be scholars who are outside the Academe. Scholars who provide the necessary eduttukkaadu (evidences) to support and test their hypotheses.
In summary, Truth seeking is the result of cognitive and psychological engagement along with socializing agents who provide us with the schemata we use to recognize Truth in our research. Truth is like beauty, it is only recognized by the eyes of the beholder of what ever one believes to be true, and interpreted via the Model of History you chose to understand the past.
Thomas Hagan, then known by the name Talmadge X Hayer, was in his early 20s and a member of the Nation of Islam the day he entered the ballroom armed and ready to kill. He was a loyal follower of the Nation, and was outraged some of the statements Malcolm had made since leaving the Nation.
After the shooting, Hagan tried to flee the scene but he was shot in the leg. He was then captured and beaten by the crowd before the police got their hands on him.
Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Kahlil Islam were the two other men found guilty of the murder of Malcolm X. In 1966, all three received sentences of 20 years to life. However, Aziz and Islam both proclaimed their innocence. Hagan was the only one to admit his part in the assassination, and he testified at trial and subsequent parole hearings that the two other men were both innocent. Even at last month's parole hearing, Hagan again maintained that Aziz and Islam were not the other assassins. He said it was two other men who helped plot, plan and participate in the killing. He gave no names, however. Aziz and Islam both served their terms, the former being released in 1985, and the latter in 1987.
When asked, “Did they receive orders from the Nation to carry out the killing?”
"I can't say that anyone in the Nation of Islam gave us the idea or instructed us to do it. We did this ourselves for the most part, yes," Hagan told the parole board. "I understand a lot better the dynamics of movements and what can happen inside movements and conflicts that can come up, but I have deep regrets about my participation in that." He added, "Unfortunately, I didn't have an in-depth understanding of what was really going on myself to let myself be involved in anything like that. ... I can't really describe my remiss and my remorse for my actions -- basically a very young man, a very uneducated man." He added, that he felt the urge to kill Malcolm X because of his inflammatory comments about the Nation's founder. "It stemmed from a break off and confusion in the leadership," Hagan said. "Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam, separated from the Nation of Islam, and in doing so there was controversy as to some of the statements he was making about the leader."
He added, "History has revealed a lot of what Malcolm X was saying was true."
Last month, Hagan pleaded his case for freedom: To return to his family, to become a substance abuse counselor and to make his mark on what time he has left in this world. He was dressed in prison greens as he addressed the parole board. He had been before that body 14 other times since 1984. Each time, he was rejected.
Hagan, the only man who admitted his role in the 1965 assassination of iconic Black leader Malcolm X, was paroled Tuesday, New Year's Eve. Hagan, 69, walked out of the minimum-security Lincoln Correctional Facility at 11 a.m. The facility is located at the intersection of West 110th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. He was freed a day earlier than planned because his paperwork was processed more quickly than anticipated, according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services. To win his release, Hagan was required to seek, obtain and maintain a job, support his children and abide by a curfew. This he had done since he had been in a full-time work-release program since March 1992. The program allowed him to live at home with his family in Brooklyn five days a week while reporting to the prison just two days. He must continue to meet those conditions while free. He told the parole board he's worked the same job for the past seven years. He told the New York Post in 2008 he was working at a fast-food restaurant.
Hagan is still a Muslim but no longer a member of the Nation. He volunteers at a mosque to help young men. He told the parole board he hopes to become a qualified substance abuse counselor. Hagan received a master's degree in sociology while incarcerated and said that that has helped him deal with his actions from 45 years ago. Today, his primary mission is to help his four children, ages 21, 17, 14 and 10. He has two other grown children. "My focus is to maintain my family and to try to make things a little better for them. It's upward mobility, and to encourage my children to complete their education because it's a must."
The ballroom where he was killed has now been converted into The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Board Chairman Zead Ramadan said the center doesn't have a position on Hagan's release.
"I personally find it strange that for a couple decades any person convicted in the assassination of such an iconic figure would be allowed such leniency," Ramadan said.
There's outrage among some African-Americans, he said, that he's being released. Would he be set free if he had killed an iconic white leader?
"It's really a struggle for Muslims to contemplate this issue, because our faith and our religion is full of examples where we have to exert mercy," he added. "The Malcolm X story has not ended. His popularity has grown in death. ... Only God knows why this was allowed to happen."
The center is preparing for a special service next month to celebrate what would have been Malcolm X's 85th birthday. Would the center welcome Hagan if he asked to attend?
"We'd cross that bridge if he called us," Ramadan said, "Think about that: How far-fetched is it that he could meet one of the daughters of Malcolm X? And what's going to happen then? Mercy, fury, anger, emotions -- who knows?"