Friday, February 26, 2010

The Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba (Makeda)

"Let my voice be heard by all of you, my people. I am going in quest of Wisdom and Learning. My spirit impels me to go and find them out where they are to be had, for I am smitten with the love of Wisdom and I feel myself drawn as though by a leash toward Learning. For there is nothing on earth more precious than Wisdom… Now I have heard of the wisdom of Solomon and I love him merely on hearing this about him, and to discourse with him is the desire of my heart, like water to the thirsty."

The Queen of Sheba

This queen has been called a variety of names by different peoples in different times. 1 King 10 refers to her as the Queen of Sheba. In Islamic tradition she was called Bilquis although not mentioned by that name in the Qur’an. Ethiopian tradition refers to her as Makeda. She was also believed to be half-jinn, and was reknowned for her beauty and for her wise leadership.

In Beresh't (Genesis) 10:7 there is a reference to Sheba, the son of Raamah, the son of Cush, the son of Ham, son of Noah. The name Ramaah is mentioned as the fourth son of Cush, who is the son of Ham, who is the son of Noah in Gen. 10:7. He is the brother of Nimrod, who founded several cities in Mesopotamia, including Babylon and Nineveh. We know from the inscriptions of ancient Sheba that Raamah's descendants settled near to the land of Havilah (Ethiopian shore) to the east of Ophir. This country of Raamah is usually assumed to be somewhere in the region of Yemen. Raamah and his descendants are often held to be included among the Sabeans (an ancient people speaking an Old South Arabian language who lived in what is today Yemen). Some Sabaeans also lived in D'mt, located in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, The Yemenites are dark-skinned as are the descendants of their progenitor's eponymous grandfather, Kush or Cush, commonly translated in the Bible as Ethiopia, meaning dark.
1 Kings 10
"When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. When the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the lord thy creator, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.… And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants."

According to the Qur’an 27:22 Solomon heard of The Queen from the Hoopoe bird.

“…Surely I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance and she has a mighty throne: Qur'an [27.24] I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah, and the Shaitan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them and thus turned them from the way, so they do not go aright. He sent her a letter…
[27.30] Surely it is from Sulaiman, and surely it is in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful;[27.31] Saying: exalt not yourselves against me and come to me in submission. In response she sent a messenger bearing gifts.

[27.36] So when (the envoy) came to Sulaiman, (King Sulaiman) said: What! will you help me with wealth? But what Allah has given me is better than what He has given you. Nay, you are exultant because of your present. Eventually she came to his palace…[27.44] It was said to her: Enter the palace; but when she saw it she deemed it to be a great expanse of water, and bared her legs. He said: Surely it is a palace made smooth with glass. She said: My Lord! surely I have been unjust to myself, and I submit with Sulaiman to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

The Queen of Sheba (Nigiśta Śab'a), is named Makeda in the Ethiopian account (which from the Ethiopic languages translates literally to English as "pillow").
The narrative given in the Kebra Negast - which has no parallel in the Hebrew Biblical story - is that King Solomon invited the Queen of Sheba to a banquet, serving spicy food to induce her thirst, and inviting her to stay in his palace overnight. The Queen asked him to swear that he would not take her by force. He accepted upon the condition that she, in turn, would not take anything from his house by force. The Queen assured that she would not, slightly offended by the implication that she, a rich and powerful monarch, would engage in stealing. However, as she woke up in the middle of the night, she was very thirsty. Just as she reached for a jar of water placed close to her bed, King Solomon appeared, warning her that she was breaking her oath, water being the most valuable of all material possessions. Thus, while quenching her thirst, she set the king free from his promise and they spent the night together.
The imperial family of Ethiopia claims its origin directly from the offspring of the Queen of Sheba by King Solomon. Tradition also says that she bore his son, Menelik I.
Josephus says in his Antiquity of the Jews, book 8 chapter 6, that it was the "Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia" who visited King Solomon. Also, Jesus refers to her as the "Queen of the South" in Matthew 12:42. Daniel 11:5 and 8 identify "the South" as Egypt. There also have been claims by some scholars that the ancient Egyptian name Hatshepsut translates as "Queen of Sheba." Hatshepsut was a female pharaoh of Egypt, born c. 1508 and died 1458 B.C., who revived active trade with neighboring kingdoms and created a flourishing and prosperous economy for her eighteenth dynasty kingdom.

Mathtew 12:42. "The queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Black Epistemology

How Do We Know?

What do we do when black people disagree? How do we choose the way to move forward? What happens when an Al Sharpton and a Tavis Smiley disagree? How do we reconcile competing ideas in the black community? How do we know what’s true and what’s not?

This is a call for an “Epistemology” in black thought. Of course we won’t call it epistemology – a long sounding word of greek origin. Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? Or more simply, what is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know?

The Western world wrestled with this question for centuries. They had to move beyond religious Scholasticism in order to stretch out and grow intellectually. Scholasticism was the dominant western Christian theological and philosophical school of the Middle Ages, based on the authority of the Latin Fathers and of Aristotle and his commentators. During that time they knew something was true because Aristotle and the Church fathers said it was. As black people we have to ask are we stuck in the same boat? How do we know if something is true? If someone cites Dr. Ben Jochannan, John Henrik Clarke,  Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, or Elijah Muhammad as a source of truth can we comfortably dispute it? Can any one person be the ultimate source of knowledge? Or should those with trained skills contribute to the accepted body of knowledge collectively?

These days we hear things ranging from the assertion that melanin granules are minicomputers that can respond to and analyze stimuli without interacting with the brain, or that our ancestors are aliens from another galaxy, or that black men were alive trillions of years ago, or that since 2003, the 144,000 are being trained for battle against Lucifer in the Nibiru spacecraft. How do we decide what’s true and what’s not? Or how do we determine what belongs in the realm of belief and what belongs in the realm of knowledge? This is something we have to establish for ourselves now before the idea of any true lasting unity is completely abandoned.

For black people, another criteria or authority for knowledge is based in Afrocentrism. We often ask ourselves 'hmm how black does that sound?' Or how good does that make us feel as black people? Afrocentrism is a defense of African cultural elements as historically valid in the context of art, music, and literature (Asante). It is rooted in a response to Eurocentrism. But rather than being Afrocentric, shouldn’t our orientation be truth-centric? Accepting the reality that it is natural and healthy to be interested in our own identity, is that the end of our quest for knowledge? Were pre-colonial Africans Afrocentric? When they looked at the stars and the heavens did they see Africa, or Africans? Were they looking for Africaness? Is that what they were looking for? Any method they used would naturally be African. Not being part of a diaspora or not yet facing the onslaught of white supremacy, they had the luxury of being able to focus on natural phenomena in order to ascertain truth – universal, cosmological truth.
Now what happens when two very Afrocentric notions compete or conflict? How do we determine which view or fact is more desirable or more accurate? What if two Afrocentric leaders or scholars collide – what do we go by? The one who is more articulate? The one who is older? The one with who displayed the most courage in standing up against the white establishment? Or do we look at the facts presented themselves and analyze which is the most reliable? We will also need to ask, “which approach will more likely get us to the position in which we’d like to be?” Or which approach is more likely to get us to the truth?

So we also have to ask, what is the purpose of the knowledge we use? What’s the point? Why are we talking about this? How does this substantially help us as a people?

If the purpose of studying history or learning is simply to instill ethnic pride, we have to ask “is that what a consistent focus on only good things about blackness really does”? Does it really make us feel better or does it marginalize us further? Wouldn’t it be better if we focused on determining and defining truths that can stand in the light of day, stand up to criticism and stand the test of time? That would be a foundation of knowledge upon which we can really begin to build. The school of thought we develop need not be “formal” but it would need to have a discernible form, so that future generations can “grasp” it and develop it. Of course not all we know comes from our limited five senses. We cannot discount the power of faith, imagination and a genuine spark of creativity, but we should define what belongs in that spiritual, esoteric realm and what doesn’t.

In the end, do we just look to Christianity for guidance as the authority? What if we learn that 72% of what we consider Christianity is extra-scriptural Greco-Roman symbolism and philosophy? Do we look to Islam for guidance? What if we find that Islam took Africans as slaves and invaded Egypt (Kemet), destroying its temples and looting it’s tombs? Do we look to Egyptian Civilization? What if we find that Egpyt took Nubia’s religion and culture then went to war with Nubia, invading it numerous times (See Thutmose III), taking slaves in the process? Do we then look only to Nubian or Sumerian culture for guidance? The bridge across all of these civilizations and cultures is wisdom. Whether it’s the wisdom literature of Egyptian scribes, the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, the wisdom (hikma) of the Qur’an, there is a common thread throughout all that bridges time, religion, culture, class status – which is reason, strategy, thoughtfulness and common sense. All these texts sound almost identical. It’s an approach that can be used here and now. Let’s start with wisdom and common sense and try to apply it to the facts we determine are reliable and true. (For more, see the Chapter “Developing Black Thought” in the book Inner Civilization).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Presidents Celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month Special

I’m sure we have all heard those who complain and ask ,"why did they give us Black History Month in February, the shortest month of the year?" Well, actually African-American author Carter G. Woodson (pictured left) initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, in 1926. He chose February because it corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February. Also, in the mid-1980s "Presidents' Day" began its public appearance, initially commemorating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. So in February, in honor of Black History month and President’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to have the great U.S. Presidents themselves recognize, and give their own special salute to, black people - in their own words.

"Sir: With this letter comes a Negro (Tom) which I beg the favour of you to sell, in any of the Islands you may go to, for whatever he will fetch, and bring me in return for him: one pound of best molasses, one of best Rum, one barrel of Lymes- if good and cheap …” George Washington, 1766 .

Washington actually felt injured by slavery:"I wish you would inform him [Isaac] that I sustain injury enough by their idleness, they need not add to it by their carelessness."

"The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life." Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:197

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race." Abraham Lincoln.

During his administration, Woodrow Wilson imposed full racial segregation in Washington D.C. and hounded from office considerable numbers of black federal employees.

When a delegation of blacks protested these actions, Wilson told them that “Segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

President Wilson’s words were used in the early film; The Birth of a Nation.
“The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation… until at last there sprung into existence a Great Ku Klux Klan a vertiable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

At the 1924 GOP convention that nominated Calvin Coolidge, black delegates were separated from other delegates by chicken wire. A proponent of eugenics, Coolidge said: “Biological laws show us that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races.”

“One white man equals two to three of the colored races, even in the simplest forms of work such as shoveling.” Hebert Hoover.

"I think one man is just as good as another, so long as he’s not a nigger or a Chinaman.” Harry Truman (1911).

“Southern segregationists are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negro.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Chief Justice Earl Warren.

“My Story about the PT 109 collision is getting better all the time. Now I’ve got a Jew and a Nigger in the story and with me being a Catholic, that’s great.” John F. Kennedy

“I’ll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.” -Lyndon Baines Johnson to two governors on Airforce One.

"I have the greatest affection for them [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like." Richard M. Nixon [From the Nixon White House Tapes].

But I think out of all the Presidents mentioned, Teddy Roosevelt actually got it right:

"The negroes were formerly held in slavery. This was a wrong which legislation could remedy, and which could not be remedied except by legislation. Accordingly they were set free by law. This having been done, many of their friends believed that in some way, by additional legislation, we could at once put them on an intellectual, social, and business equality with the whites. The effort has failed completely. In large sections of the country the negroes are not treated as they should be treated, and politically in particular the frauds upon them have been so gross and shameful as to awaken not merely indignation but bitter wrath; yet the best friends of the negro admit that his hope lies, not in legislation, but in the constant working of those often unseen forces of the national life which are greater than all legislation." - Theodore Roosevelt.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Is Ignorance Always Bliss?

"Those who know and those who know not, are they equal?" Qur'an 39:9

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Malcolm....

Missing Pieces, Missing Chapters

Yesterday, February 21, 2010 marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. A lot of what we know or believe we know about Malcolm comes from his “autobiography”, but now more information is coming out about its writer Alex Haley and missing parts of the book itself.
Haley saw a great story. A charismatic, handsome, articulate Black leader who had a controversial past as a hustler, a pimp, a drug addict, a numbers runner, “Detroit Red,” “Little Bugsy Siegel,” who goes through a metamorphosis, he comes out, he explodes onto the scene. He creates seventy to eighty new mosques in less than ten years. He goes to Africa and the Mideast. He is treated as a head of state. He is welcomed at the Fateh by the Saudi royal household. He eats breakfast with Anwar Sadat in Egypt. He caucuses and meets and gets to know Che Guevara while he’s in Africa. So Malcolm is this extraordinary figure, dies at the age of thirty-nine.

It’s a hell of a story. Haley understood that. And so, it was on those terms he agreed to work with Malcolm to write the book. But, what Malcolm didn’t know was that Haley already was compromised and had basically been a purveyor of information—a kind of, not informant, but a client of the FBI in this disinformation campaign against the NOI. Haley had collaborated with the FBI. Malcolm never knew that. In the summer of sixty-four when Malcolm was in Egypt, Haley was taking the book manuscript and giving it to an attorney, William O’Dwyer, rewriting passages of the book trying to get it passed as Malcolm’s survey. Malcolm’s on the run, people are trying to kill him, they’re trying to poison him in Egypt. He’s not going to have time to look at the book carefully. Then, he dies.

Haley adds a seventy-nine-page appendix to the book where he has his own integrationist and liberal Republican interpretation. And then, they have M.S. Handler of the New York Times writing in the front of the book. I mean, you know Malcolm respected Handler. But this is not who you want to lead in to a Black revolutionary’s text. So Haley did a variety of things to reframe the book. And, toward the end of the book, there’s a lot of language in it that simply doesn’t sound like Malcolm. It doesn’t sound like him. There’s a lot of information that is just wrong in the book. They misspelled “As-Salamu Alaykum” several times. They give the story of Johnson Hinton. They have Hinton Johnson. They put the date of this very tragic beating of this brother who’s in the Nation, Brother Johnson, in 1959, rather than the year it actually occurred, which was April 1957. So there are simple mistakes in dates, of names, events that clearly show Malcolm did not have access to the final manuscript. He didn’t see it. And it’s gone through the prism of Haley who was a Republican, integrationist, and a defender of U.S. power. You should read the anticommunist articles he wrote for the Reader’s Guide in the mid-fifties on Hungary. This is the man you’re dealing with. ~ Marable.

Manning Marable, on the missing chapters: I’m sitting here frantically reading these pages. But it only takes me a few minutes to recognize what they are. They were obviously written sometime between August 1963 to December 1963. There’s a presumption in the text that Malcolm is still in the Nation of Islam. So he hasn’t broken with the Nation yet. What they call for is the construction of an unprecedented Black united front, uniting all Black organizations. So Malcolm is envisioning the Nation actively participating in antiracist struggles and building various types of capacities: economic strategies, housing strategies and health-care strategies. Malcolm envisions a broad-based pluralistic united front, which is spearheaded by the Nation of Islam, but mobilizing integrationist organizations, non-political organizations, civic groups, all under the banner of building black empowerment, human dignity, economic development, political mobilization. I believe that if we could see the chapters that are missing from the book, we would gain an understanding as to why perhaps—perhaps—the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the New York Police Department and others in law enforcement greatly feared what Malcolm X was about, because he was trying to build a broad—an unprecedented black coalition across the lines of black nationalism and integration. I think that that is what frightened the FBI, and that is what frightened the CIA.

Where Is John Ali?

The murder took place on February 21, 1965, as a result of the culmination of three separate groups. There was no classic conspiracy, no direct collusion, but, rather, a convergence. Three things had to happen for the murder to take place, and they all did. Law enforcement, the FBI and the NYPD, and its Bureau of Special Services (BOSS), which was its red squad, actively wanted to do surveillance disruption of Malcolm X and possibly eliminate him; certainly the FBI, because their nightmare was seeing King and Malcolm embrace. That was their nightmare. And they realized much to their horror that they were far better off with Malcolm in the Nation of Islam than outside of it, because then he was being treated like a head of state in Africa.
Then you have the Nation of Islam. But what people need to understand is that there were different points of view in the NOI about Malcolm. Some of the leadership, especially in Chicago, the national secretary John Ali, (inset: on Malcolm's right) the national head of the Fruit of Islam Raymond Shareef, Elijah Muhammad’s son-in-law Herbert Muhammad, the sons of Elijah Muhammad, Jr., and several others wanted to silence Malcolm permanently. Joseph X, who was a captain of the Fruit of Islam and the Northeast regional security director at Mosque No. 7, formerly Malcolm’s associate and friend, as was John Ali—they actively sought to eliminate him, to blow him up with bombs, to kill him, or firebomb his home or whatever. But other members of the Nation of Islam were against the murder and it is questionable if Elijah Muhammad ever gave the order.

Malcolm once confided in a reporter that Ali had exacerbated tensions between him and Elijah Muhammad, and he considered Ali his "archenemy" within the Nation of Islam leadership. On February 20, the night before the assassination, Ali met with Hayer, one of the men convicted of killing Malcolm.

On July 9, 1964 John Ali, answered a question about Malcolm X by saying that "anyone who opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad puts their life in jeopardy."
Further, in a documentary aired in 1992 on Malcolm X and narrated by Dan Rather on CBS television, the FBI is shown to have acted as agent provocateurs. For example, the FBI sent
provocative letters to the NOI and forged Malcolm's signature to the
letters. William Sullivan (subsequently, of Watergate fame) was the FBI
agent in over-all charge of both the infiltration of the NOI and Malcolm's
organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).

Karl Evanzz, a staff writer for the Washington Post, researched more than 300,000 pages of declassified FBI and CIA documents for his book, The Judas Factor. In its introduction he states, “After analyzing these resources, I am convinced that Louis E. Lomax, an industrious African-American journalist who befriended Malcolm X in the late 1950s, had practically solved the riddle of his assassination. He believed that Malcolm X was set up for the assassination by a former friend, John Ali, who was an agent/informer for an intelligence agency. Malcolm X had previously commented that Ali had been responsible for his ouster from the NOI. Ali eventually rose to the position of National Secretary of the NOI. Lomax was later mysteriously killed in an automobile accident (due to brake failure).

Friday, February 19, 2010

In Case They Ask...

The Foundation

Honestly, I'm not sure who they are, but if you were ever to mention off the cuff that the foundation of sophisticated civilization as we know it was laid out in Africa, Nubia in particular -and they look at you funny, here are two simple cornerstones of information to keep in mind.

Aristotle Said...

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. He studied at the Academy (founded by Plato) under Eudoxos of Knidos the great mathematician and Astronomer who is reported to have spent 16 months in Egypt, shaving his head in order to study with the priests there.

According to Aristotle the "Egyptian priests had invented mathematikai technai ( the mathematical arts) which included geometry, arithmetic, astronomy which the Greeks were beginning to process." [De Caelo II. S4.298a.]

The Qustul Censer
In 1962 the Aswan High Dam was due to flood the region where Qustal was located in Nubia. Keith C. Seele organized an emergency team of archaeologists to excavate the areas (Qustal was only one among many). In Qustul, thirty-three tombs were found, twelve being large enough to resemble predynastic Egyptian sarcophagi. The presence of the tombs seemed to imply that some sort of a monarchy existed amongst the Nubians---but anthropologists immediately jettisoned this possibility, stating that no such thing was possible. Egypt had the first monarchy and no others preceded it.

Then, in Tomb L-24 at Qustul, the Qustul censer was discovered.

The Qustul censer is an incense burner depicting three ships sailing toward a serekh (royal palace). In the middle boat a Pharaoh is shown (as archaeologist Bruce Williams discerned) wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and is adorned in royal Egyptian regalia. By his crown, a falcon symbol of the god Horus hovers, and in front of the falcon a rosette, an Egyptian royal insignia, is shown. This piece of characteristic Egyptian art was found not in Egypt, but rather 200 miles southward into Nubia. This discovery was mind-boggling. The Qustul censer was dated at 3,300 B.C., long preceding predynastic Egypt.

The evidence was unrefutable. The earliest displays of the Egyptian monarchy and Pharaonic symbols came, not from Egypt, but from the South---Nubia. A count of the royal tombs at Qustul suggested that as many as twelve generations of kings may have been buried there. (More information on Qustul is available in the book Inner Civilization).

So to put two and two together, the Greeks learned about civilization from the Egyptians and Egyptian civilization began in Nubia. In conversation, just remember to keep in mind (1) what Aristotle said and (2) that Qustul Censer. Then, for extra emphasis there are always the Pharoahs themselves, Menkuare and Mentuhotep in particular.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spotlight on: Taqwa Farms

Growing our own...

Black history goes back to...well, farming.

February 12, 2008
Nat. Geographic
"Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest known agricultural settlement, from ancient Egypt, a new study says. The 7,000-year-old farming-village site includes evidence of domesticated animals and crops—providing a major breakthrough in understanding the enigmatic people of the period long before the appearance of the Egyptian pharaohs."

"Land ownership is the key to independence. Unless we produce what we consume, then we are playing self-sufficiency as opposed to living self-sufficiently. The basic necessities of life come from land. From land under cultivation, food can be grown, as well as cotton for the production of clothes. Timber can be grown for the production of lumber, which is used in the construction of homes. With food, clothing and shelter being the necessities in life, these are the income-earning entities that are to build seed capital to invest in other endeavors..." ~ unknown

Taqwa Community Farm

In a time when processed, genetically engineered foods are becoming more of an ethical, health, and social concern, many are looking for alternatives.

Abu Talib 74, has cultivated the two-acre Taqwa Community Farm in The Bronx, two blocks from Yankee Stadium, for 17 years. Talib took over the site after the city had demolished the duplex that had proved otherwise resistant to efforts to eliminate drug dealing. He planted fruit trees right away, so he has mature pear, apple, peach, cherry, nectarine, plum, apricot, crabapple and fig trees now. Visit and he will tour the green oasis with you, an incredibly fertile piece of land that’s home to 40 fruit trees – plums, peaches, pears, figs, apples, cherries – and a crazy array of crops, tended by some 30 to 35 gardeners. The garden also produced strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and all kinds of herbs, including lemon thyme, which smelled like lemon.
On top of that, the garden has a bee hive, which last year produced 60 pounds of honey, and would soon house 18 chickens in a coop Talib was building

Community members garden their plots in the farm. Kids play on the playground structure that was donated. "Kids bring the family in," he says. Talib, guardian of the garden keeps Taqwa open every day from 6 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m. – 10 p.m., making it accessible to gardeners and visitors who work 9 to 5 jobs. He would stay overnight if he had to.
“I love doing it,” said Talib of his gardening and garden stewardship. “What else can I do better than this? Play cards? Dominoes? Watch TV?” . “If all farming dies,” he says, “we all die.”

Taqwa Farms is a unique urban park in that it generates more than 2,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables per year within its two acres. Local families and residents garden on individual and community-managed plots. This farm contains a hydroponics system run by community children, allowing them to grow produce year-round with nutrient-filled water. The gardeners either sell or donate their food at the farmer's market or participate in the Grow & Give table where fresh fruits and vegetables are offered to those in need.
In addition to producing food, this garden provides a place where area residents find tranquility and relaxation. The garden contains a seating area overlooked by a children's mural where children and adults can sit and read, talk, or just listen to the natural sounds of the garden.

Talib is as much an advocate for city gardeners as he is for farms and food. When asked about encroaching development, he framed the issue as one of “shelter versus food.” “Somebody,” he said, “has to stand up for food. People have to eat.”

The farm is part of a project of the Trust for Public Land's Parks for People initiative, which works to ensure that everyone enjoys access to a park, playground, or open space.

Small community gardens, such as Taqwa, produce great bounties that can feed many people, particularly those on tight budgets. According to Talib, a small 4 foot x 8 foot plot, the standard size plot for most gardeners, can feed five people for a year, using canning and other storing techniques. His claim jibes with a comment from those who describe a vegetable farming system that makes it possible for people to farm – and earn money—on very small plots of land.

Talib and his son work with four youths in the neighborhood, teaching them the basics of farming. On weekends, he and the youngsters typically sell between 1,500 – 2,000 pounds of produce from the garden. They make enough in sales to cover the paychecks of the youths.
“I wanted to do something to get kids off the street and create some jobs in the community,” said Talib.

“He who controls your breadbasket controls your destiny.” ~ Abu Talib.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Drum Circle

Beating Stress

It’s interesting how things come full circle. When Africans first arrived on the shores of America, they were prohibited from owning or using, "drums or other loud instruments." The use of the drum was of course not understood completely and only seen by landowners as a threat to the established order of oppression. Currently however, many are witnessing the emergence of drum circles across the landscape of America. Both community and facilitated drum circles are rapidly gaining wide popularity. Community circles involve free-form drumming, are often open to the public and are entirely improvised in-the-moment. Facilitated drum circles may have a specific focus, like an educational kids' circle, a team building session for corporate executives, or a therapy session for special needs populations and done or accompanied by a music therapist.
Facilitated drum circles are more highly organized, accompanied by a protocol which sometimes involves other steps as well, in addition to drumming, such as guided imagery, discussion, and so on. Rather than a teacher, the leader is referred to as a facilitator, and it is his job to make the music making process as easy as possible for all.

Healing Drums
Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From Asia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self.

Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer's patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities.

Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all disease and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdowns. A recent study found that a program of group drumming helped reduce stress and employee turnover in the long-term care industry and might help other high-stress occupations as well.1

Chronic pain has a progressively draining effect on the quality of life. Researchers suggest that drumming serves as a distraction from pain and grief. Moreover, drumming promotes the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, the bodies own morphine-like painkillers, and can thereby help in the control of pain.2

A recent medical research study indicates that drumming circles boost the immune system. Led by renowned cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, the study demonstrates that group drumming actually increases cancer-killing cells, which help the body combat cancer as well as other viruses, including AIDS. According to Dr. Bittman, “Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin.”3

Drumming creates a sense of connectedness with self and others

In a society in which traditional family and community-based systems of support have become increasingly fragmented, drumming circles provide a sense of connectedness with others and interpersonal support. A drum circle provides an opportunity to connect with your own spirit at a deeper level, and also to connect with a group of other like minded people.

Group drumming alleviates self-centeredness, isolation, and alienation.

Music educator Ed Mikenas finds that drumming provides “an authentic experience of unity and physiological synchronicity. If we put people together who are out of sync with themselves (i.e., diseased, addicted) and help them experience the phenomenon of entrainment, it is possible for them to feel with and through others what it is like to be synchronous in a state of preverbal connectedness.” 6

Rhythm and resonance order the natural world. Dissonance and disharmony arise only when we limit our capacity to resonate totally and completely with the rhythms of life. The origin of the word rhythm is Greek meaning “to flow.” We can learn “to flow” with the rhythms of life by simply learning to feel the beat, pulse, or groove while drumming. It is a way of bringing the essential self into accord with the flow of a dynamic, interrelated universe, helping us feel connected rather than isolated and estranged. 7

In 1991, during testimony before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart stated:
Typically, people gather to drum in drum "circles" with others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entrainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.

Drumming helps reconnect us to our core, enhancing our sense of empowerment and stimulating our creative expression. “The advantage of participating in a drumming group is that you develop an auditory feedback loop within yourself and among group members—a channel for self-expression and positive feedback—that is pre-verbal, emotion-based, and sound-mediated.” 9 Each person in a drum circle is expressing themselves through his or her drum and listening to the other drums at the same time.

Everyone is speaking, everyone is heard, and each person’s sound is an essential part of the whole.” Michael Drake

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who Bombed Tulsa?

Tulsa, Oklahoma

What happened in Tulsa?
Many African Americans moved to Oklahoma in the years before and after 1907, which is the year when Oklahoma became a state. Oklahoma represented change and provided a chance for African Americans to get away from slavery and the racism of their previous places of residence. Most of them traveled from the states in the south. Oklahoma offered hope and provided all people with a chance to start over.
A lot of the settlers were relatives of African American slaves who traveled on foot with the Five Civilized Tribes along the Trail of Tears. Others were the descendants of runaway slaves who had fled to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in an effort to escape lives of oppression.
When Tulsa became a booming and rather well noted town in the United States, the residents and government attempted to leave out important aspects of the city. Many people considered Tulsa to be two separate cities rather than one city of united communities. The white residents of Tulsa referred to the area north of the Frisco railroad tracks as “Little Africa”. They were threatened by the success of the African American community and worried that the community might continue to grow. This community later acquired the name Greenwood and in 1921 it was home to about 10,000 African American men, women, and children.

Greenwood was centered on a street known as Greenwood Avenue. This street was important because it ran north for over a mile from the Frisco Railroad yards, and it was one of the few streets that did not cross through both black and white neighborhoods. The citizens of Greenwood took pride in this fact because it was something they had all to themselves and did not have to share with the white community of Tulsa. Greenwood Avenue was home to the African American commercial district with many red brick buildings. These buildings belonged to African Americans and they were thriving businesses, including grocery stores, clothing stores, barber shops, and much more. Greenwood was one of the most affluent communities and became known as “Black Wall Street.”
During the oil boom of the 1910s, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished—including the Greenwood neighborhood, which came to be known as "the Black Wall Street".
The area was home to several prominent black businessmen, many of them multimillionaires. Greenwood boasted a variety of thriving businesses that were very successful up until the Tulsa Race Riot. The buildings on Greenwood Avenue housed the offices of almost all of Tulsa’s black lawyers, realtors, doctors, and other professionals. In Tulsa at the time of the riot, there were fifteen well-known African American physicians, one of whom was considered the “most able Negro surgeon in America” by one of the Mayo brothers. When many in other communities looked over and saw what the Black community created, they grew jealous. When the average male student went to school in Greenwood, he wore a suit and tie indicating the morals and respect they were taught at a young age. The mainstay of the community was to educate every child.

The “Riot”
The riot began because of an alleged assault of a white woman, Sarah Page, by an African American man, Dick Rowland. Rowland had tripped upon entering the elevator and, in an effort to prevent himself from falling, grabbed the arm of Page, who subsequently let out a startled gasp or scream. The Tulsa Tribune got word of the incident and published the story in the paper on May 31, 1921. Shortly after the newspaper article surfaced, there was news that a white lynch mob was going to take matters into its own hands and kill Dick Rowland.
Small groups of armed black men began to venture toward the courthouse in automobiles, partly for reconnaissance, but with their weapons visible, they were also demonstrating that they were prepared to take necessary action to protect Rowland.
A misunderstanding ensued when a gunshot was fired in the air. The gunshot triggered an almost immediate response by the white men, many of whom returned fire on the black contingent, who exchanged fire. The black men retreated toward Greenwood, but not before several men, both white and black, lay dead or dying in the street.
The now considerably armed white mob pursued the black group toward Greenwood, with many stopping to loot local stores for additional weapons and ammunition. Along the way innocent bystanders, many of whom were letting out of a movie theater, were caught off guard by the riotous mob and began fleeing also. Panic set in as mobsters began firing on unassuming blacks in the crowd. Rioters were shooting indiscriminately, killing many of them along the way. No one was exempt to the violence of the white mobs; men, women, and even children were killed by the mobs.

Attack by Air

Numerous accounts described airplanes carrying white assailants firing rifles and dropping firebombs on buildings, homes, and fleeing families. The planes, six biplane two-seater trainers left over from World War I, were dispatched from the nearby Curtis Field (now defunct) outside of Tulsa. White law enforcement officials later claimed the sole purpose of the planes was to provide reconnaissance and protect whites against what they described as a "Negro uprising." However, eyewitness accounts and testimony from the survivors confirmed that on the morning of June 1, the planes dropped incendiary bombs and fired rifles at black Tulsans on the ground.
As the fires spread northward through Greenwood, countless black families continued to flee. Many died when trapped by the flames. During the 16 hours of rioting, over 800 people were admitted to local hospitals with injuries, an estimated 10,000 were left homeless, 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire, and $1.8 million (about $21.7 million in 2009 dollars) in property damage was caused.
Officially, thirty-nine people were reported killed in the riot, of whom ten were white. The actual number of black citizens killed by local white militiamen and others as a result of the riot was estimated in the Red Cross report at around 300, making the Tulsa race riot the worst in US history. Other estimates range as high as 3,000.
In 1997, following increased attention to the riot brought on by the seventy-fifth anniversary of the event, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission was created to study and develop a "historical account" of the riot. The report of the commission recommended Direct payment of reparations to survivors descendants of the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa riot. A documentary has been made about the Survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot and their quest for justice. The name of the documentary is "Before They Die!" This documentary chronicles efforts in Oklahoma to gain reparations for the survivors.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is This God?

Is This God?

Is God an older Italian gentleman?

Does God ever shave his beard? What would he shave it with?
If God looked like this, wouldn’t his son look like this? (Below left.)

If hair, skin, eyes etc. are composed of the chemical elements, hydrogen, carbon, H20, etc., what did God look like before he created the elements?

If Exodus says don’t make any images of God, why would the Church commission Michelangelo to draw this picture?

Is this really Zeus?

If Adam (according to Genesis) or the first man (according to anthropology) came from Eastern Africa, who is the guy “God” is touching?

If Adam was black and made in the image of God, who is the guy floating around in the pink dress?

Does Allah look like that too?
Why did Jesus call him Elah? (Matt. 27:46)

As modern people, if we know better than to actually see an Italian dude as God, why do the Discovery/A&E/ History channels still show these images when discussing God?

Can God be a woman? Can God be a Man?
[Num. 23:19] "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent..."
[1Kings 8:27] "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"
[John 4:24] "God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Lost Found Lesson 1-40:  #10. "Who is that mystery God?
ANS. There is not a mystery God."
"I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God".
~Sufi Proverb