Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

30
Nov
10

Don’t Drink the Maji Maji Part 2

However, there is a catch. There are important “keys” to unlock the door of success should we desire to enter. First, we must evaluate ourselves to be sure that we are not enslaved to anything outside of our own power. This means cutting out whatever is not conducive to our health, progression, or evolutionary advancement as a wise and balanced human being. Unhealthy habits, thought patterns, and relationships have got to go. Second, we must evaluate the motive and ultimate purpose of our goal. Should one desire to start a multi-level marketing scheme to get rich at the expense of others, how can it be a success? Even if the business makes millions, if humanity operates as a collective and people are harmed, then the person in question will also be harmed. We must base our success on the success of the whole if we wish for it to truly be effective and sustainable. For instance, opening a business that genuinely assists others in becoming successful business owners with collective societal gain in mind. We need more clothing stores, laundromats, restaurants, schools, and even tax preparers who operate out of honesty, with a smile. In short, we must consider the gain of all in our personal gain. Lastly, we must go through the process of attaining knowledge and skill in the desired area, as well as following proper protocol. Should one wish to open a bowling alley in his hometown, it will benefit him to visit the small business association, secure literature, attain a business license, hire an accountant, study marketing, and pay for local advertising. It will also be a necessity to attain the proper building and operating permits for the space. The pure desire is not enough; we must follow it up with work. Regardless of what we have heard from motivational gurus, the power of positive thinking is nothing without the power of positive doing.

In closing, each one of us can reach and exceed all of our life’s goals should we realize our power and follow these simple rules. It will take discipline, yes. It will take an immense drive to push past the many years of self-given obstacles. And it will take continued diligence throughout the years to build a “good idea” into a great manifestation. Do we expect anything less? Most of have enacted discipline to push through at least the first 9-12 years of school, even if we were grumbling all the way. We utilize our drive to create new meals, ways of managing our children, methods to stretch a dollar when the budget gets tight. And our diligence! Oh, our diligence! Forty or more hours every week of diligence – task in, task out – whether or not we are cursing out our boss in our heads the whole way long. We can and must use this same energy for our personal life purposes because we know, we wake up every day and know, that we must be here for a bigger reason than to live a life that we feel is not truly ours. In those private moments when we feel excuses or self-doubt creeping in again, let us extinguish it by chanting aloud, “No, I will not drink the maji maji!”

30
Nov
10

Don’t Drink the Maji Maji Part 1

Once upon a time in real world land, in the country now known as Tanzania, lived a man named Kinjikitile Ngwale who felt he was divinely possessed to lead his people against the oppressive German colonialist empire. These hundreds of thousands of East African people felt the power of Ngwale’s words and made the decision to take a collective stand against further German subjugation. There was however the dilemma of attaining weaponry. The Germans had a strong arsenal of machine guns and other modern murderous technology that could wipe poor rock-throwing people off the map. But Ngwale had a solution – he gathered the people to introduce their armor. He held out his hand to the water that lie before them and announced that this water not any regular water, but “maji maji” – water possessing the spiritual force to protect them against German bullets. The people were ecstatic! Kinjikitile had lived up to his word and delivered their safeguard! They would finally be free of the tyrant’s iron fist. The people drank the maji maji and went out to face the German troops with empty hands, demanding freedom. Thousands of eager East Africans were brutally slaughtered by German troops’ machine guns. The maji maji did not work. Kinjikitile was captured and hanged for treason. (“Kinjikitile Ngwale,” 2010) Though this a great tale of the courage and spirit of a people, it also leaves an even greater lesson for us all.

The maji maji will eternally represent the power that we seek outside of our selves. Many time we get caught up into drinking our own “maji maji”, whether it be in an addiction, relationship, political party, organization, religious group, or leader. We place our power in addictions, claiming that we cannot overcome smoking, sex, or overeating because of reasons outside of our own control. We place our power in relationships, claiming that we cannot reach our goals because our partner will not allow it; because they continually present obstacles to us reaching our full potential. In our affiliations, we hope that the democratic party will “turn this all around”, that we “have no hope” without this or that Party, or that the Republicans will “not allow” any real change to take place for the people. Or else, we say that we “are nothing” without our church, mosque, or spiritual society; feeling enslaved to participation, as if we could not carry on as a human being without this social structure. Or worse, that we would be eternally punished for opting out. So many times in history, millions’ hopes have been destroyed by empowering their leaders at the expense of themselves. The leaders either fall tremendously short of the saintly status they have been lifted to or are assassinated; which unfortunately often does irrepairable damage to or altogether extinguishes the movement.

This is not to speak against creating social fellowship out of common interest, maintaining hope in leaders, or adhering to the moral and ethical structure of a religion – these are all important to the fabric of society and may need to be continued to prevent chaos. This is about where one’s true sense of power originates, within or without. With realization of the power inside, no leader’s immorality or lack of immortality can diminish one’s drive for social justice. We would continue the mission ourselves, knowing that no one can stop us but us. With acceptance of our own ase (power), it does not matter if the Republican Party or the Third Reich held the national political majority. We would disregard it and execute our plans of entrepreneurship, education, and establishing institutions by ourselves for ourselves. Ultimately, yes, it is up to us, to move forward to purpose whether or not we can get a support group, signature, or start-up stipend. The church may not stand behind us. Our wife or husband may say our ideas are stupid and we need to grow up and get with the program. The world may say we do not have enough tenure, experience, or that we have never really been successful at anything else but our depressing job or failed marriage and it would just be stupid to take the risk of doing anything else at our age. But we will stand up and refuse to drink the maji maji! We will reclaim the power that never left us – the ase within – and boldly proceed ahead knowing that we cannot fail because we were not put here on this earth to fail. We were put here to succeed and succeed grandly!

References:

Kinjikitile Ngwale. (2010). Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinjikitile_Ngwale
20
Nov
10

What’s in the Water?

“This fluoride water is a chemical soft-working tranquilizer. Hitler put fluoride in the water to keep his prisoners quiet, and the same thing happens in other parts of the world.” DR. JAN DE VRIES, Dr. H.Med., Ph.D., D.Ac., D.O., N.D.

“The environmental protective agency in the United States has shown that the water in the 90 largest cities in the United States’ all cause cancer.”  DR. WILLIAM ELLIS, D.O.

                It becomes a frightening future when you realize that your water supply is no longer safe to drink.  Fluoride is a chemical derived from fluorine, a highly poisonous chemical element.  Fluoride has been titled a “soft working tranquilizer” because of its highly calming effects on humans and animals (McLellan 1).  Fluoride has been shown as a forming factor in many types of cancer, including in the mouth, ovaries, intestines, and kidneys, and has even been linked to osteoporosis.  It seems quite strange that a chemical that could harm us so much would be intentionally introduced into our everyday drinking water.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened.  Fluoride was first introduced into the United States drinking water supply in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan (“City of Grand Rapids”).  Citizens were told then and have been continuously assured that fluoride is ‘good for your teeth’.   These same citizens sadly have not been told that fluoride causes them to be more docile.  No sane human being wants to be drugged without their knowledge.  Fluoride is now is drinking water all over the United States, in some bottled water, and in toothpaste.  Children even have to gargle with it at many schools as a part of their daily regimen.  I remember having to do this myself in elementary school each day.

                The conclusion here is that fluoride is dangerous and a drug.  It causes us to think and respond more slowly, as well as causing bodily diseases.  Do you think it is okay for a chemical of this nature to be in our drinking water supply?  How do you feel about this information?  What do you think about using fluoride in toothpaste? Fluoride does help prevent tooth decay; do you think that is an okay trade-off for long-term brain effects and disease?  Leave your thoughts.

References:

McLellan, Helen. “Fluoridation.” Consumer Health 3.2 (1986): 1. Web. 19 Nov 2010. http://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=19990817225011.

“Fluoride in Drinking Water.” City of Grand Rapids. City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2010. Web. 19 Nov 2010. <http://www.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=7654&gt;.
15
Nov
10

Ritual in the 21st Century

When one thinks of rituals, dances around ancient fires with painted or masked faces may come to mind, but this is not the modern reality. Rituals can be defined as any practice regularly conducted at a designated time. A simple act such as brushing your teeth every morning upon rising is in fact, a ritual. Though they may usually be paired with cosmological belief systems, rituals are the fabric of any organized society; weaving the intrinsic values and history of the community into each person’s daily life.

To understand this concept, we can examine, the ritual that K-12 students participate in each morning, verbally pledging allegiance to the United States of America. This ritual consists of pausing all activity, standing in unison, facing a symbolic representative of the United States of America – the flag, reciting words aloud that reinforce commitment to America, fellow citizens, and God, and then resuming daily activity.

Ronald Grimes, a groundbreaking researcher, has described methods for “mapping the ritual field” in his work, “Beginnings in Ritual Studies” (Grimes, 1982). The methodology that he outlines for categorizing a ritual consists of pinpointing the ritual place, foods, objects, time, and sounds. In the case of “The Pledge”, as we colloquially term it, the ritual place is the classroom, a place that children are almost guaranteed to be in each day. Ritual food is not used in this case. The ritual objects are the American flag, and usually a loudspeaker, so that the whole school can hear the recitation at once and speak along with it. The ritual time is usually an hour or so into the schoolday, when everyone has had time to arrive. The ritual sounds are the recitation itself, and usually a moment of silence afterwards.

In examination of “The Pledge” ritual practice, one must also consider the mental implications of collective participation as a classroom and society. “The Pledge” is not analyzed by students for current viablity, most do not understand its meaning, and though recitation is not mandatory, the option to not participate is not publicly presented by teachers or administrators. In fact, children who do not participate are looked on as odd or unpatriotic by faculty and fellow students. A collective evaluation of “The Pledge” through the eyes and minds of modern day multiculturalism, societal issues, and varying belief systems may result in a new pledge, uplifting love and acceptance of all, and unity beyond the lines of race, religion, and sexual preference. How would it affect American children to recite each morning, “I will greet each person I meet with a smile and treat everyone as valuable human being.”?

Can you name other rituals that we practice collectively as an American society? What about rituals you practice in your personal life? Do you think that our collective rituals should be reanalyzed? What about “The Pledge”? Do you think that all of the words are still viable or that we could create a new commitment to allegiance that reflects 21st century American society? Reflect and respond.

References:

Grimes, Ronald. (1982). Beginnings in ritual studies. Virginia: University Press of America.
06
Nov
10

The State of Hip-Hop

This week in my Intro to African American Studies class at University of Houston, we watched a documentary titled, The MC: Why We Do It, about the state of Hip-Hop music, where it came from, and where its going. Hip-Hop can be defined as a representation of African-American culture, struggle, and progress through musically-backed poetry delivered in a fast-paced cadence. Other cultures have began to express their thoughts through Hip-Hop now as well, but there are not many new methods or styles being introduced.  Many new artists continue to use the same type of fast-paced cadence, express thoughts that reflect personal ‘struggle’, and wear clothing and hairstyles that are similar to Black popular fashion, such as fitted baseball caps and baggy jeans.  Though the style remains mostly the same, the lyrics become more just for fun or entertainment than a cultural representation as a greater diversity of artists step into Hip-hop.  What does this mean for the art?
 
 Aesop Rock, a Caucasian Hip-Hop artist, voiced a similar query in the documentary.  He basically stated that though Hip-hop was created by African-Americans, and like Rock, artists of many cultures were claiming a place in it now.  He wondered if there would come a point when you did not see African-Americans performing Hip-hop anymore (The MC: Why We Do It). Cultural expansion may indeed present a threat.  Rock music began with African-Americans,  but one does not see many as  Rock artists presently.  Rock has become dominated  by other cultures to the point where it is considered rare to see a Black Rock lead musician.  

There could come a time when African-Americans are completely pushed out of Hip-Hop like Aesop Rock projects, but even more likely, the original intent of the art, to express a cultural plight musically, will be diluted to the point of no return.  Alternatively, input from other cultures can also expand the artistic breadth of a musical genre. However, cultural expansion is not the only ‘threat’ to this art form. America is a capitalistic country where every creative medium is at risk of becoming a marketing tool. Mainstream Hip-hop artists now have to take the responsbility of selling cars, clothes, and other products if they want to be financially successful in the industry.  This brings up the question, how can one translate a history, present, or future into lyrics while trying to tie in Coca-Cola, Lo’real, and Mercedes without diverting from the message? “The MC” touches many of these points through interviewing past and present popular musical artists.

What do you think is in the future for Hip-Hop? Will it grow through cultural expansion and marketing influence or fall apart? Does taking an art form ‘mainstream’ inherently destroy the essence of the art? What are some recent commercials that you’ve seen using Hip-hop music, and do you think these products represent the essence of what the music should be? What are your thoughts?

References:
 
The MC: Why We Do It.  Dir. Peter Spirer. Perf. KRS-One, 50 Cent, and Common. QD3 Entertainment, 2005. DVD.
02
Nov
10

The African Origin of X-Men

The film series now known as X-Men was originally devised as a comic book titled ‘The Merry Mutants’ by author Stan Lee, and illustrator, Jack Kirby in the early 1960s.  The sixties was a time of high racial tension in the United States, with the Civil Rights movement reaching a climactic point of sit-ins and marches nationwide.  The X-Men storyline centers on ‘mutants’ who are ostracized and hunted by humans who hate them because they are different.  While it would be easy to dismiss these connections as happenstance, the mutants’ relationship to African-Americans lies deeper than their social plight. 

The leading mutants, Xavier and Magneto seem to be based on the character traits of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and El-Hajj Malik Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X.  Xavier believes that the mutants can live in peace with humans while Magneto believes a civil war is inevitable and mutants should be armed and prepared.  Martin Luther King Jr. believed that Blacks and Whites could live in peace, while Malcolm X compared Caucasians to wolves and saw freedom as not a dream, but a reality to be achieved “by any means necessary”.  Malcolm X was influenced growing up by Marcus Garvey, the most successful organizer for a Black Nationalist movement in American history.  Black Nationalism supports people of African descent creating a nation, government, and economy of their own rather than trying to ‘live in peace’ or ‘fight for rights’ in a country that considers them inferior or views them as the enemy.  Magneto also promotes a ‘Black Nationalist’ view by establishing an island nation, Genosha, to repatriate to off the coast of Africa.  Liberia, a real country on the west coast of Africa, was repatriated to by many Black Nationalists from America.   Magneto desired a safe place for mutants because, “it appeared that over time, mutants would eventually supplant humans as the dominant species on Earth.” African people becoming the dominant race on Earth has been a long-standing fear for many supremacists, because when a person of any other race unites with an African person, the baby becomes Black.  CNN reports that “by 2050, minorities will be the majority in America.” (“CNN U.S.”)  Also, the first mutant, En Sabah Nur, was written to be born in Ancient Egypt 5000 years ago. (“Marvel Universe”)  Put simply, the mutant race was born in Africa, faced almost identical issues to African-Americans and had leaders with almost identical character traits, face the current issues of African-Americans, and some have repatriated to Africa. 

What do you think about these connections?  Do you think they should be dismissed as coincidence?  Do you think comic books are a serious form of coded journalism or petty ‘kid stuff’?

References:

 “Mutants.” Marvel Universe. Marvel Characters, Inc., 04 05 2010. Web. 21 Oct 2010. <http://marvel.com/universe/Mutants&gt;.

“Genosha.” Marvel Universe. Marvel Characters, Inc., 14 04 2007. Web. 30 Oct 2010. <http://marvel.com/universe/Genosha&gt;.

“Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur).” Marvel Universe. Marvel Characters, Inc., 2 09 2008. Web. 21 Oct 2010. http://marvel.com/universe/Apocalypse_(En_Sabah_Nur).

“Minorities Expected to be the Majority by 2050.” CNN U.S.. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 13 08 2008. Web. 21 Oct 2010. <http://articles.cnn.com/2008-08-13/us/census.minorities_1_hispanic-population-census-bureau-white-population?_s=PM:US&gt;.

23
Oct
10

Illegal Aliens vs. Patriotic Predators: a Preface

Octavia Butler was a lonely author in a White male dominated market.  Butler, an African-American science fiction author, began writing the genre without much support, no mentors, and no role models when she was only a young girl.  She grew to win the esteemed Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as the highly notable Macarthur Genius Grant.  To this day, there are only a handful of African-American authors in the science fiction genre; therefore, only a handful of Black lead characters within the stories.  Apparently, some do not feel the need to use Black characters in science fiction.  As Butler notes an editor saying at a convention, “He thought that it wasn’t really necessary to have Black characters in science fiction because you could make any racial statement you needed to make by way of extraterrestrials.”(“Octavia Butler on Charlie Rose- Part 1/2”)  This is a powerful statement because it brings one to note the connections between human-extraterrestrial conflict and racial conflict within the United States and between the U.S. and colonized countries.

Movies such as X-Men played an essential role in demonstrating this conflict.  The film series now known as X-Men was originally devised as a comic book titled ‘The Merry Mutants’ by author Stan Lee, and illustrator, Jack Kirby in the early 1960s(“Wikipedia”).  The sixties was a time of high racial tension in the United States, with the Civil Rights movement reaching a climactic point of sit-ins and marches nationwide.  The X-Men storyline centers on ‘mutants’ who are ostracized and hunted by humans who hate them because they are different.  The challenges that the mutants face within X-Men have a direct connection to the challenges African-Americans experienced in the United States in the 1960s.  African-Americans were facing opposition from hate-driven groups such as the Ku Klux Klan during this time when they were attempting to exercise their rights as human beings.  The extreme hate went to the point that many African-Americans were castrated, brutally beaten, set on fire, lynched, or such is the case of 13 year old Emmitt Till, all four.  This type of behavior in a civilized country makes you wonder if the aggressors and murderers did not consider African-Americans ‘mutants’ to be despised and destroyed, and if so, did they not realize that monstrous acts such as those made them appear as ‘mutant’ rather than decent human beings?  These are questions that will be further explored in my research to uncover these connections, the controversies involved, and explore the science fiction culture.  What are movies you have seen that utilized ‘alien’ characters to demonstrate real social concerns?

References:

“Octavia Butler on Charlie Rose- Part 1/2.” YouTube. Web. 22 Oct 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66pu-Miq4tk&gt;.

“X-Men.” Wikipedia. Wikipeda, 22 10 2010. Web. 22 Oct 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XMen&gt;.