Just wanted to share this amazing poem by the late Henry Dumas, who was called an “absolute genius” by Toni Morrison.
So, after a small hiatus (it seems), Umojah Nation hit the stage this past weekend at Jilly’s in Akron and we had an amazing time. I have so much fun with my band mates, we are such a family, and in many ways this has helped sustain my inner being. I have had periods of severe creative droughts, usually due to drastic changes in my environment, like when I moved to Cleveland from the mid-south.
Admittedly so, I was lost for a while and wasn’t creating much of anything. This went on for a while until I began working at the Solon Branch of Cuyahoga Public Library. There I worked side by side with my supervisor who played guitar and allowed me to bring in small hand drums to play for children at various programs. From there, I was introduced to a couple of playwrights and got involved in a stage play called These People out in Chagrin Falls, OH. After that, I began to get that hunger back. And now, the creativity flows daily and I am so excited to be alive and in these moments, surrounded by wonderful people who nurture me in the arts and also allow me to be myself.
With Umojah Nation, I feel the reggae music from a deep spiritual place. The heartbeat that drives the music automatically puts me in a place of connection with the ancestors, with the struggle and hope of the Diaspora, as well as that of humanity. I am blessed, and I am thankful.
I had to reblog this one. We need a daily dose this message.
Richard Pryor from live on the Sunset strip describing why he stopped using the word nigga.
“It’s nice to have pride about your shit. I went home to the motherland. And everybody should go home to Africa. Everybody. Especially, Black people.
Really man, there is so much to see there for the eye and the heart of the Black people. Cause white people you’ll go there and you’ll get ideas: “Well that’s where the Black people of America should be walking around with sticks.” You’ll get the wrong idea.
But man you’ll go, I went to motherfucking land of my roots. 700 million Black people not one of them motherfuckers [unintelligible]. I looked in every phone book in Africa. I didn’t find one god damn Pryor. I found one familiar name, “Jabo Walker.” I called that up, they said he was in Arizona.
One thing I got out of it…was…
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I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Pineal gland, Melatonin, & Melanin and I just wanted to express my thoughts and findings thus far. I’m not an expert in the field or subject matter (nor do I claim to be). This is just a ‘brain dump’ of all the things I’ve collected to this point on the matter. Hopefully this is helpful to someone else doing the same research. More posts on this will come and I encounter more information. Enjoy…
When discussing Melanin we can not go fully in-depth without discussing the Pineal gland & Melatonin. The Pineal gland is an organ that is found at the center of the brain. This gland, also referred to as the Inner or 3rd eye, is approximately the size of a single kernel of corn.
Ancestrally it was well known that the Pineal gland, or 3rd eye, was the ‘seat…
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There is such a deeper side to life that very few ever encounter. What makes it even worse is that many who actually encounter this deeper side don’t know how to use it to guide them, or to express their gift to the world, or simply enjoy the world in a fulfilling way. I have found that the power behind symbols brings a rich focus to my day-to-day journey. As I look at them, I remember to remember as with the Sankofa Bird, I see the beauty in our queens, as with the Duafe, and on the flip side, I see the symbols that have brought on a sense of hatred and inhumane ideals as with the Nazi use of the swastika and the confederate flag being proudly waved all across the southern states.
The symbols that have represented my stance for some time now are the ever present Ankh, of Kemet, and Akofena, an Adinkra symbol of the Akan people signifying the swords of war, standing for courage, valor and heroism. These symbols will always be at the forefront of my journey because their meanings have been such a stronghold in my mental make-up over the past couple of decades.
My introduction and understanding of the Ankh pre-dates the Erykah Badu explanation. Until she defined it on her Live album as the female-male principles, I always saw it as a protective talisman, a source and bearer of energy. So, combining the two brought about a grand meaning, an ultimate partner for me in life. And I have been with it ever since. Akofena on the other hand was a more recent understanding for me. A symbol realized in the light of rhythmic and poetic artistry a.k.a. the Griot Project out of Cleveland. The realization deepened when this particular artistic journey showed me how long the struggle for the Afrikan Diapsora would be and how the enemy of Afrikan unity and progress was a relentless beast. Thus, the swords of war.
Furthermore, the experience of the Afrikan in America calls for an understanding of symbolism above most disciplines and aspects of culture. Why symbolism? Because the meanings and visual stimulation that resonates stand firm over centuries, and they are proven commodities.
I choose to live in this moment with these symbols at my side because it is a necessary move! I encourage you all to find that deeper meaning of life. Don’t bandwagon jump, don’t piggyback, search and find something that speaks to you, guides your actions and manifests your greatness from within. Use these symbols (and others) to take your mind to another level, to reach our youth, to bond with others, to learn the history of a great civilization, or perhaps to create a family crest.
There is no limit… simply enjoy and be empowered.
Here are a few resources to check out a number of symbols:
Books (that can found at your local library):
Calling Ohioans “Buckeyes” goes back to the 1830’s. The buckeye is seen as a sign of good luck. Ohio State seems to personify this “myth” of luck, always winning everything, growing at an astronomical rate, leading in education, etc.
Well the Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland could say just the opposite. This area once showed extraordinary promise as a sustained, attractive area mostly inhabited by Hungarian immigrants. Fast forward and you see the common African American neighborhood, full of liquor, violence, saggin pants, potholes, boarded up houses, etc. all throughout.
“Things can happen in a band, or any type of collaboration,
that would not otherwise happen.” Jim Coleman
We often drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out: “Where do we start?” Well, I have to say, the answer has never been so clear to me. The answer is through the arts and collaboration. Simple as that. Yes, it is simple. Yes, it takes tons of work, but so does creating counterfeit money, or obtaining a college degree, or selling drugs, or talking to a beautiful woman who doesn’t fall for the same line. Everything takes work. People are even working hard at doing nothing! Looking at it from this perspective, you really have to wonder, what is the real problem here?
Lack of focus, from lack education, from lack of hope. The arts have to be the answer. The arts equate to edutainment, where motivation is born. That is what Buckeye represents. I have always been cautiously optimistic about the plight of African Americans, always thinking that underneath it all, we WILL overcome this dead mentality. I thought that it was inevitable. That we had to wake up at some point. But, it wasn’t that easy. I never gave up hope, but began to gradually realize that the system was not set up for African Americans to succeed. Simple stuff: you release an enslaved people with little to no assistance to adjust to the world they created, but never lived in and you get modern day urban America.
Despite all, I have seen how the arts and the collaboration of groups throughout the Buckeye, Shaker Square, Larchmere and Woodland Hills areas have began to come together en masse to make the real, sustainable difference. Mark my word and take note, this will serve as the microcosmic solution to the Cleveland delimma. Hopefully, Cleveland can become the microcosm of a Renaissance for the entire state, country, and Diapora as a whole.
We’re going to break it all down very soon. Going to name some names and give some hard facts – good stuff though!
Stay tuned on this one my people….
Much appreciation to University of Akron for bringing the Keeper’s Lounge concert series! C’mon Cleveland State, get with it! The DJ (Krate Digga) was on point with the old school to new school mixing. Since it was Dilla Day in Detroit, it was the perfect filler – especially after hearing (during the concert) that Whitney Houston had just died that day.
The first performer was a sister from Seattle – Choklate. She switched from a British accent, to a Southern accent, to her native Washington state accent. Can’t lie, it was a little confusing, mainly for me because of the relatively new explosion of British neo soul artists. I thought she was next one!
The band played for both she and Anthony David, but unfortunately the sound man was not on his job. In fact, this guy, who was quite visible, practically stood over the board without touching it! If you don’t know what to do, then at least get out of sight. Consequently, the guitar was far too loud, drums were nearly non-existent (you know how infuriating it is for a drummer to watch another drummer, see sticks moving all over the heads, and hear nothing!) Finally, the singers (David and one backup) weren’t bad, but the backup singer’s mic was distinctively more crisp than the lead.
Oh well, they still entertained, and his acoustic solo time, made up for the bad sound. I was surprised though, because he didn’t do As Above, So Below! That was a bit of downer. (The Queen was mad). We waited the whole time for it – never happened. The band was accessible after the show, which is always cool. The bass player even said that he told Anthony they should do As Above – win some, lose some.
Overall, it was good show. If I was to grade it, I’d say it earned a B-, or 7.8 out of 10. (But I don’t give grades).