Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Harper's Song Pt. I

The Harper's Song

He is Happy this good prince: Death is a kindly fate. 
A Generation passes, another stays. Since the time of the ancestors... none comes from there, to tell of their needs, to calm our hearts, until we go where they have gone! 
Hence rejoice in your heart! 
Forgetfulness profits you, Follow your heart as long as you live!
Put myrrh on your head, dress in fine linen, anoint yourself with oils fit for a god, heap up your joys, let your heart not sink!
Follow your heart and your happiness. 
Do your things on earth as your heart commands! 
When there comes to you that day of mourning, the Weary-hearted (Osiris) hears not their mourning. 
Wailing saves no man from the pit! 
Make holiday, do not weary of it! 
Surely, none is allowed to take his goods with him.
Surely, none who departs comes back again!

Song from the Tomb of King Intef, c. 2000 BCE.

What did the Kemetians (Egyptians) believe about the afterlife?

We have been told : "The Egyptians believed that when they died, they would make a journey to another world where they would lead a new life. They would need all the things they had used when they were alive, so their families would put those things in their graves. Ancient Egyptians were buried with their belongings and the tomb walls were painted with scenes from the dead persons life. The objects included furniture, games and even food was placed in the tombs for the long After Life journey!"

"Once the mummification process was complete, the mummy was carried from the deceased person's house to the tomb in a funeral procession that included his or her friends and relatives, along with a variety of priests. At the tomb entrance, a number of rituals were performed, including the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, in which a priest touched the mummy with various ceremonial tools to restore the dead person's senses and give him or her the ability to receive offerings. Then the mummy was buried and the tomb sealed.[1] Afterward, relatives or hired priests gave food offerings to the deceased in a nearby mortuary chapel at regular intervals."

1Taylor, John (2001). Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. University of Chicago Press. p. 25.

However the phrase "you can't take it with you" - comes from the last line of Harpers song above, relating to King Intef II(pictured here and above being led by Anupu or Anubis). There must be more to the story. Did the average Kemetians not follow the religion of the priests? Was there an understanding that these rituals were symbolic of something spiritual? Did all Kemetians believe the same thing to the same degree?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mental Slavery

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."
~Bob Marley

The first and most important step we as African Americans can ever take is to design a curriculum and build independant shcools for our children - as supplement in the least to their public (or private) schooling.
As a background, consider what was done to the American Indian. - During and after the heat of the wars by Europeans to strip land from the original Americans, a reservation boarding school system was established. "The Reservation Boarding School System was a war in disguise. It was a war between the United States government and the children of the First People of this land." The purpose and policy of these educators was to "kill the Indian, save the man".

"Two themes permeated commencement rhetoric. The first was transformation; Indians arrived in a state of savagism, but now returned thoroughly civilized. This had been the school's quintessential mission. "The Indian is DEAD in you," the Reverend A. J. Lippincott proclaimed at one Carlisle Indian Industrial School commencement. "Let all that is Indian within you die! You cannot become truly American citizens, industrious, intelligent, cultured, civilized until the INDIAN within you is DEAD." (Adams, p.274)
This was an all out form of cultural genocide. Intentionally speaking any language other than English was strictly prohibited, as was any attempt to adhere to any Native spiritual practice.

If that was done to Indians what do you think was done to us? Do we think it is a coincidence that after 100 years of being taught in U.S. schools our teenagers come out semi-literate, unemployable, violent, hating each other, hopeless, with no knowledge of who they are and only feel qualified to sell crack or Big Macs? And those who do come out and become "successful" are only equipped to help Europeans continue their mission of world domination?

Is this all a coincidence?

No. I say that in 2010 after all we have seen and all we know our first duty is to rescue our children's minds. 1) creating a curriculum for them will restore the connection with the lost works of their past in Africa, Asia, Arabia etc. 2) This can give them a better sense of what they are really up against and why it is so important to make enough money to become truly independant. 3) As adults we are already tainted but we at least owe it to future generations. 4) Even if we are Flava Flav or Bob Johnson and did not make our money in the most respectable way, at least some of the money made can go to these schools. 5) Jewish people have been teaching their children this way for years (quietly). 5) Finally, all of the educators and Phds and experts can work together to make that one positive step for their people by hammering out a curriculum that will give future generations the unity, the pride, science, math, history, purpose, love, warmth, encouragement and intellectual honesty for which they have been yearning for the past 390 years.

If you don't think that what happened to them happened to us consider that one of the reservation boarding schools was the Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute: teaching American Indian Students (1878-1923; Now Hampton University). Photographs such as the pair below were taken for the purpose of showing the "successful civilization" of the Indian students. Both Armstrong, founder of Hampton and Pratt of the Carlisle Indian School thought this would garner broad support, both political and financial, for their Indian schools.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sharpton Conference Spawns a Black Agenda

Various groups commit to specific goals in a televised action plan.

By: Posted: April 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM
By ER Shipp

Lord knows various people have had the chutzpah to try to define and articulate a "black agenda". And they have generally fallen short, not only in that endeavor but also in executing what they do come up with.
Perhaps the most successful gathering of intellectuals, lawyers and policy makers took place in 1935 when the question was well defined: What do we do to improve the education of black children? Of course, back then the term was "negro." Some wanted to mobilize to demand more money for segregated (and inferior) public schools for blacks. Some wanted an assault on segregation and a demand that black kids attend the much better endowed white schools. Participants ranged from Thurgood Marshall to Alain Locke to W. E. Du Bois.
The action plan, if you will, that ultimately won the day was the one championed by Marshall and the NAACP and culminated in victory with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education.

As the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, told me after a ministers' luncheon Friday at the National Action Network annual meeting: "This conference is important at a moment like this because we are still confronted with major issues in the African American community, and in some ways they are more complicated than they were 30 or 40 years ago. Our coming together around shared struggle, sustained resistance and deep analysis - in some ways it takes more work."
In trying to tackle some of those "major issues," Tavis Smiley has been at it for years with his State of the Black Union summits that seem to draw from the same pool of leaders every year but which accomplish little. He held a pared-down version in March in Chicago, where the focus of 12 panelists was on pressuring President Obama to reward black support by explicitly addressing that elusive "black agenda".
The National Action Network came at it a little differently during the convention that concluded Saturday. It promised a 12-month action plan. I naively expected a plan in the form of a document prepared ahead of time that would be discussed, modified and endorsed. That was not the case. Instead, an impressive revolving panel of leaders of one thing or another and academics and journalists talked for two hours in a forum broadcast by TV One.
The good news is two-fold. First: A two-hour window of opportunity meant that answers had to be relatively short and to the point, something that Prof. Michael Eric Dyson cannot do. (After one long-winded, though eloquent, statement on how blacks can improve their financial standing, the moderator, Roland Martin of TV One, said to him "So, specifically, out of all that: Buy black!") Second: Martin took his role seriously and tried to pin down each participant to a specific thing that he or she would do in the next 12 months.
Of course, many panelists went for the easy applause lines and the "Yeah!" and "Amens"! from the packed First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. One person suggested that blacks should counter the Tea Party movement with a "Cocoa Party" movement focusing on the well-being of black children. Others suggested establishing black financial institutions and demanding that governments at all levels deposit some of their money in those institutions. And several talked about expanding mentoring opportunities and finding ways to re-integrate convicted felons into society and to help them find jobs.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House Majority Whip, explained that many of the concerns being raised - targeting stimulus funds to communities that are really suffering rather than distributing money to places that are not in such bad shape, providing job training, providing summer jobs - were already addressed in the stimulus bill and in the health care reform bill, including money for community colleges and HBCUs that can train people for jobs. That led several panelists, including Sharpton, to say that someone needs to explain the contents of these bills to black people.
President Obama tried to in a letter he sent to the convention that was read by one of his aides. But the greatest applause came to Obama's praise of Sharpton and NAN "for another year of fighting for the rights of those who have no voice and lifting up causes that would otherwise go unnoticed." The letter ended with: " wishes in your pursuit of economic security, social justice and peace for all Americans."
Among the pledges:
Sharpton said that NAN will launch a voter registration drive in key states with a goal of a 5% increase turnout in mid-term elections in November.
Marc Morial of the National Urban League said his organization will help 10,000 people find jobs over the next 12 months.
Debra Toney of the National Black Nurses Association said her organization would identify, train or re-train 10,000 people for the nursing field.
Dr. Lezli Baskerville, who represents HBCUs, said the network of campuses would provide 500,000 students for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts and that more campuses will make their facilities available to young people for after-school activities, including recreation.
In the end there was no document, but the pledges were documented because they were made on national television and the Internet. Martin said that TV One is committed to regularly posting progress reports on its web site ( That sounds like an action plan.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Enlightenment?

Europeans call the eighteenth century the age of enlightenment because it was both a culmination and a new beginning. Fresh currents of thought were wearing down institutionalized traditions. New ideas and new approaches to old institutions were setting the stage for great revolutions to come. It was an age of reason based on faith, not an age of faith based on reason. The enlightenment spiritualized the principle of religious authority, humanized theological systems, and emancipated individuals from physical coercion. It was the Enlightenment, not the Reformation or the Renaissance that dislodged the ecclesiastical establishment from central control of cultural and intellectual life by emancipating science from the trammels of theological tradition the Enlightenment rendered possible the autonomous evolution of modern culture.
Scholars and intellects gained prestige in Western society because they helped topple the twin tyrannical powers of the Church and the Crown. They exhibited bold and courageous thinking--won at such a great personal cost--to allow their successors a level of independence never before known on the European contitnent. Ironically, three hundred years later academia appears to hold an authoritarian sway over current scholars, especially those of African descent in America. Do we need a new enlightenment?

The Persecution of Progressive Black Scholars
by Christopher J. MetzlerGeorgetown University

Institutions of higher education are supposed to be the place where the free market place of ideas takes hold. In fact, the basis for tenure has always been that academics should not be punished for speaking out. The theory is that such speaking out is protected even when university administration does not agree with the content of that speech. However, these same institutions are also political fiefdoms where tenure has been used and will continue to be used to punish those with whom the members of the promotion and tenure committee do not agree. In other words, academic freedom is only free when one agrees with those in power. All junior faculty understand very quickly that the definition of “scholarship” is a moving target and that if they wish tenure, they better move with the target. The hypocrisy of the promotion and tenure process (and I use the word process lightly) is that too many faculty are more about politics and less about scholarship. So, they play the game to get tenure and then when some of them get it, they punish the ideas of others they find unpopular by denying them tenure.
Progressive Black scholars find ourselves in a particular pickle.

On the one hand, we want to advance ideas that look critically at the academy and simply not accept the status quo. On the other, if we are too progressive, then we will be Boyced. That is, we will be fired from predominately white institutions that will reduce our entire scholarly career to a warm bucket of spit. Of course I am not suggesting that all predominately white institutions will Boyce progressive Black scholars. I am suggesting that too many can and do.First, regardless of whether one agrees with Dr. Watkins’ views or not, one cannot in good faith question his credential or his scholarship. One can disagree with it, one can dislike it, one can criticize but one cannot question its rigor, funny, I thought that this is what academic freedom is about. In fact, Syracuse University believed him to be of sufficient scholastic heft to hire him on tenure track in the first place. So, did he suddenly become a less than mediocre scholar after he joined the faculty? Of course not, in fact, an objective reading of his work suggests that he is a scholar who pushes his knowledge to a public that is very much outside “the ivory tower.” Perhaps the problem is that those judging scholarship should realize that scholarship as well as its consumption is evolving and that progressive black scholars such as Dr. Watkins must, if we are to be true to our mission, bring the scholarship to many who may never step foot on our campuses.Second, it is not an understatement to say that Black male scholars do not dominate the ranks of predominately white institutions. It is also not an understatement to say that progressive Black scholars are in the numerical and scholastic minority at these same institutions.

Thus, perhaps promotion and tenure committees should stop trying to pretend that they value our contributions and admit that far too many of them are more interested in visual representation (diversity for diversity sake) than diversity of thought, diversity of scholarship, diversity of methodology and diversity of thought. A reading of that which is considered “scholarly” by many of these committees reveals a common theme: protection of the status quo of ideas by a limited number of elite intellectuals. To be sure, one can argue that there is nothing wrong with this approach. I would argue that in the interest of transparency that promotion and tenure committees should not shrink from stating this since many of them believe it to be true. This way, progressive Black scholars will simply need not apply.Third, for Black scholars, the reality of being Boyced stifles academic freedom and suffocates scholarship. Many of us will be loathe to publish anti-establishment scholarship for fear that ultra-right wing bloggers and T.V. entertainers can influence whether we are promoted or fired. We will also question whether the entertainers of whom I write are adjunct members of the committee with whom we should vet our scholarship before we publish it. Of course, some of them do not have the educational or scholarship credentials to judge our work in the first instance.But, I digress.The losers here will be students who will not be exposed to a panoply of ideas and approach to teaching and learning but to educational malnutrition in the form of anti-intellectual mediocrity. It will also be academic freedom which in too many of these institutions is simply not free.How can institutions of higher learning justify living in a state of educational humdrum? Just ask the institutions that Boyce black progressive Black scholars.***

Christopher J. Metzler, PhD is Associate Dean of Human Resources for the Masters of Professional Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Georgetown University, he was on the faculty at Cornell University's ILR School where he directed the EEO and Diversity Studies program.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Ausar, Asar (Osiris) was depicted as a bearded man, either green or black in color, wearing the Crown of Upper Egypt, and swathed like a mummy. He was described as the "Lord of love", "[H]e Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful", and also the "Lord of Silence". The meaning of the original name Wsjr (Asar), is likely  from wser signifying "the powerful". Moreover, one of the oldest attestations of the neter Asar appears in the mastaba of the deceased as 'Netjer-wser' (God Almighty).
In his hands were a flail and a crook, insignia of the earthly power vested in this dying and rising god. Credited with the introduction of agriculture and several crafts, Osiris was also the initiator of religious rituals, especially the mysteries surrounding the process of embalmment and mummification. The preservation of the body was regarded as essential for eternal life. Without a body there could be no survival after death. In addition to the body the Egyptians acknowledged the existence of a ba and a ka. While the ba was the soul, and pictured as a bird with a human head, the ka acted as a kind of guardian double of the body which was born with it and stayed on as a companion in the world of the dead. At first only the pharaohs became Osirises on death, being identified with the god of the dead as their successors were with Horus, the son of Osiris.

From the third millennium BC onwards all men able to pass the judgement of good and evil might achieve such salvation. Before Osiris and his forty-two assessors stood the scales of judgement, attended by Anpu (Anubis), who placed the soul in the balance against the feather of truth, while the record-keeper Thoth inscribed on his palette the result of the weighing. For the unfortunate waited a monster, part crocodile, part lion, and part hippopotamus: it was Am-mut, ‘eater of the dead’. In Egyptian cosmology the ‘other land’ of the departed was situated on the western horizon, where daily the sun disappeared with its light and life-giving warmth, and from which point descended on the Nile valley not only darkness but the chill winds of the rapidly cooling deserts. In myth Osiris is drowned, dismembered, and scattered over land and water. He was shut in a chest or sarcophagus and dumped in the Nile by his brother Seth. ‘

The drowned one’ floated down the river through one of the mouths of the delta into the Mediterranean Sea, and was carried to the port of Byblos. There he was discovered by Isis, his wife and sister, and daughter of the earth god Geb. Out of envy for the happiness of Osiris and Isis arose the undying enmity of Seth, who soon seized the coffin containing the dead god, cut the corpse into more than fourteen pieces, and scattered them throughout the land of Egypt. Again Isis sought her husband and with the assistance of Nut, the mother of Osiris, she resurrected the body, all except his genitals; these had been consumed by fishes. The reborn god, however, did not stay on earth, but became the lord of the departed in the infertile ‘other land’. Another legend suggests Isis buried each piece of Osiris where she found it, thus spreading the potency of the god everywhere. Horus, the son Isis miraculously conceived of the dead god, was to be the avenger.As a prototype of the resurrected dead man, Osiris and his cult spread widely, and during the Roman Empire assumed the form of a major religious sect in many provinces.

One view of the origin of the myth is that the god was an historical king who at a remote period reigned over Egypt from his capital in the delta. His violent death could have been the result of an insurrection by Ombos, the city sacred to Seth in Upper Egypt. The divided kingdom according to this version was reunited by the king's son, deified as Horus, who slew the rebellious Seth.

According to legend he taught his people the three foundations of civilization: the skills of agriculture, how to sow and reap; the laws of government, how people must rule themselves; the necessities of participation in creation, how to worship the Gods. In all these things, Isis, his sister and wife, accompanied him.Osiris taught the people of Egypt to domesticate cereals like emmer, durum, kamut, barley and sorghum. A plentiful crop of these cereals on the fertile flood plane of the Great River ensured the people's survival year after year. The river valley with its black soil was the ideal medium for agriculture. The Nile's annual flood deposited a new layer of nutrient-rich silt on the fields. When the flood receded, the fields were ready. Every man woman and childparticipated in preparing the field with the plough and the hoe and then sowing the seed. They even drove their hoofed animals to trample the seed into the ground, then spent two months nurturing the new growth. They also had to protect the grain fields by guarding them against both wild and domestic animals. Then came the reaping, another fully communal activity, followed by winnowing and storing.The rules of government were mostly abstract concepts that fully balanced the physical activities required by agriculture. Government, Osiris taught the people, depends on the triune principles of Sia, Hu and Ma'at.

Sia is the Understanding that all things are related in the sense that everything participates in the existence of everything else. Sia is the Perception of how an individual's thoughts, words and deeds, whether she is a washerwoman or he is a king, affect everyone else. The first responsibility of governance was to ensure that relationships among people remain open and measured.

Hu represents that thought, word or deed that comes after long deliberation: how will that thought, deed or word benefit both the self and the community? Hu is also the Manifest Activity that infuses the practical, proven habitual words and interactions of all people so that no one will be harmed by the individual's thoughts, words, or deeds. Hu is finally the Authoritative Utterance that comes intuitively from an individual's ancestor, or even from the King himself directly into the ears of the people, reflecting the collective wisdom of the community and the greater good of the whole land.

Ma'at is the resulting social Order, the overall divine Harmony within which all people and things function. Ma'at is the Righteousness of an act or a collective action that benefits everyone; Ma'at is the Truth of an utterance that is readily perceived by the community; Ma'at is a sense of Justice that urges an individual to live in harmony with himself, his family, his village, in fact, with all creation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Achieving Results Through Hypocrisy and Lying

How Hyprocrisy Works (for some people) -
How do you get away with enslaving people for 375 years, using them for cheap labor for another 100 years, then rebuking any legal or monetary responibility for anything that happened?
You just lie, that's all. You cannot be all bad though, so that whenever any evil is pointed out you can point to the good.
"Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions." ~Niccolo Machiavelli

(CNN)4/2010 -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell apologized Wednesday for leaving out any reference to slavery in his recent proclamation designating April as Confederate History Month, calling it a "major omission."
"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said in a written statement.
"The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War," the statement said. "Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans asked the governor to declare April Confederate History Month in Virginia, which had seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861.

Brandon Dorsey, a spokesman for the group, told CNN Radio that Confederate History Month isn't about slavery or race, but about studying the four-year history of the Confederacy. He said it will also help draw visitors to the many Civil War battle sites in Virginia, helping to boost tourism.
"The proclamation's main goal is to call attention to the fact that there is Confederate history in the state of Virginia, of course, across the South," Dorsey said. "It's simply a tool to expose individuals to that history. ... It's not meant to discriminate against anybody."
Other Southern states have issued similar proclamations for April. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Bob Riley declared April, the month the Civil War began, as Confederate History and Heritage Month. His statement condemned slavery.

2/26/2007 -

Once the heart of the Confederacy, Virginia has become the first state to express remorse for its past support of slavery, an action other states are in line to follow. The General Assembly passed a resolution of "profound regret" for "the involuntary servitude of Africans and the exploitation of Native Americans."
Virginia, which passed its resolution without objection Saturday, went further than any state has gone. This year, though, states and cities across the country are considering resolutions, launching studies and taking other actions to recognize slavery in their history.
Most are stopping short of apologizing. The Virginia resolution's authors, both great-grandsons of slaves, sought "atonement" for slavery but say they were told the word could prompt claims for reparations — monetary compensation — to the descendants of slaves. The definition of "atonement," according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, includes "satisfaction given for wrongdoing."
"This is as close as we can get to an apology in Virginia," says the Senate author, Democrat Henry Marsh III, a civil rights lawyer. "I feel vindicated."
No state has apologized for slavery, although a measure to do so is pending in Missouri. No U.S. president or Congress has apologized. In 1988, Congress apologized to Japanese-Americans who were held in camps during World War II and gave each surviving internee $20,000.
"Regret" is a form of apology, but it does not suggest the level of responsibility that could trigger reparations, says Ron Walters of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland. He says Americans may never agree on reparations, but "the discussion about it is extremely important" for national healing, especially during February, Black History Month.