A few days ago a member of the AfroSpear Google Group asked this question:
“It appears that the Afrosphere Google Group has died a slow and unfortunate death. Is the Afrosphere a group in name only? What should be the next steps, if anything for the Afrosphere Google Group?”
First, it’s difficult to keep something alive when you keep getting it’s name wrong. However, it started an interesting conversation within the AfroSpear Google Group where members provided their opinion, understanding and vision of what the AfroSpear has meant to them and where it should go. Fortunately, most felt it hasn’t died… as yet… and it still has the potential to carry on and be relevant within the AfroSphere and beyond.
Eddie Griffin gave a quite thoughtful and inspiring response which I want to share:
Sorry I am late for the party… responsibilities… responsibilities… responsibilities… from family, to church, to the community. Nevertheless, I share intimate time and experiences with members of the Afrospear, both through the Google group and on Facebook. To me, the Afrospear is like members of my family.
I run from battle to battle, and never get trenched down in trivia and personalities. I confess that I did not vote in the mid-term election. But of course, I would not advocate the same to my Afrospear colleagues, living in different sections of the country. I already have my political lineup in Texas, and I was not about to become part of the “shellacked”, when the “counter-revolution” to the Obama administration became evident. Eddie Griffin does not participate in defeat. Neither do I debate a fruitless political debate with colleagues.
It is what it is… a shellacking that has nothing to do with this part of Texas. I have been busy trying to get whatever I can from the Obama administration for our people, our kids, particularly federal funds for education. With education, we can dig our way out. With these minimum-wage stimulus jobs, we can work our way out of the hole. And, ObamaCare (as the call it) now covers “blue babies” which was once a “pre-existing codition”.
Some members of the group choose to join in the chorus of Tea Party critics… so well and good. But I am not going to debate while our boy holds the presidency. It is up to the opposition to take it. And, if they do, they can still never undo the infrastructures we have built.
I am satisfied with a one-term president, if that is to be. Four years are enough to get done what we need to get done. And if, by chance, we get another four, then that would be icing on the cake.
I am satisfied that, for once, a black man had the opportunity to look into the federal government’s dark secret closet, and find all the tales and conspiracies waged against African-Americans over the centuries.
I can breathe easier and move on to other priorities like Education, a subject shared intimately between me and many individual members of the group. As everyone, from the beginning, knew, Eddie Griffin has four priorities: (4) Social Justice and Public Safety; (3) Economic Development; (2) Education; and (1) Religion (my faith). All of my work has been concentrated into these four areas. Politics is merely a vehicle. Protest is a vehicle. Blogging is a vehicle.
I never confuse the means with the ends. We are a means to each other, whereby we can (if we cooperate and work together) reach a greater end. In the meantime, most of us work in silence without much fanfare, calling only upon members of the group who support our position. This is the way it should be. We support each other’s cause on a selective basis, not as a universal single voice.
We do, however, have mutual areas upon which we have chosen to associate and work together. I see no need for this platform to be abandoned, though everyone may not support any one individual cause to their likings.
Hello Afrospear family, I am Jessica Ann Mitchell, the facilitator of The Black Love Speak Column (BlackLoveSpeak.com). A few months ago I started another website, BlackBloggerNetwork.com. The purpose of the site is to support the initiatives of Black Bloggers. In an effort to encourage healthy dialogue about issues important to black communities, I am launching a blogging contest on BlackBloggerNetwork.com. Each month BBN will post a new topic. Bloggers will take the topic and write a 500 words or less response. Every month, the best blogger will win a $100 cash prize along with a feature as Blogger of the Month. If you are interested in this contest, please share it with your readers. My hope is that more bloggers will share their thoughts and ideas about issues very pertinent to the lives of African descendants everywhere. The question for the month of October is: Barack Obama is now in the 2nd year of his presidency, has he succeeded or failed in supporting initiatives for Black America? Why or why not? Or has not enough time passed for us to tell? Submissions are due by October 18th, however early submissions are encouraged. The winner will be announced on the 27th. Submissions can be email to BlackBloggernet@gmail.com I also welcome submissions from Afrospear members as well. Furthermore, if there is any news that Afrospear would like me to share with my readers, feel free to let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Best Wishes, Jessica Ann Mitchell M.A. Pan African Studies BlackBloggerNetwork.com BlackLoveSpeak.com (478) 696-2061
You know you’re addicted. Tell me you’re not, and I’ll tell you that you are. You actually need a white person to approve of you as a black person in order to feel good about yourself.
That’s why you’re so mad that there are still racists out there. It’s so upsetting to you because you want them to understand that you are a person too! You won’t rest until white racists stop being racist. Because the way they see things and the way they view you is very important to you. You don’t feel too good about you when you know there are so many racists out there and that they hate you for no cause that you can figure out. This to you is unacceptable. You are starved for white racist love. You desparately want it, and won’t rest until you get it.
Black man, how important is it to you to get a white woman’s approval–STILL? When a white woman tells you, “I like you” do you feel vindicated, empowered, or validated? Or if she says, “I’m sorry about racism”, does that make the racism more bearable? Does it become OK that she still profits from that racism? It’s like saying I’m sorry that I’m stealing from you, and you then you say “that’s OK”!
Black woman, is it still so important when a white man tells you that you’re beautiful? Does it become more real when he tells you, is it more believable, and is it a bigger compliment coming from him?
Now black folks, don’t go off on a derailing tangent. I have the right to look at this phenomenon of white approval addiction–to analyze it from my own perspective, if I wont to. So I’m wondering why after all this time, do we black folks need white approval? Why do we struggle so hard to get it? I’ve come to some conclusions about this thing. I think that black folks need white approval only when they don’t truly know who they are as a people, when they don’t know anything about their history, beyond the lame statement “We come from Kings and Queens”, that generic statement that lacks any true power or knowledge of history, but that is thrown around in a weak attempt to show that one has an understanding of who he or she is as a black person, when one really doesn’t. I have concluded that white approval addiction proliferates in the hearts of black folks who haven’t taken the time to learn about themselves. Those black folks who may be afraid to look deep into their history as a people for fear of what they might NOT find.
I know that white approval addiction is catching in black people who deep down believe all the negative things that are reported in the media, maybe because it’s easier than learning the truth, maybe because it’s convenient, or maybe because the fight for liberation is too much work. Since we don’t have the strength to find out all the hidden truths about ourselves, we weakly just accept not knowing. Then we overreact to every stupid thing white racists say. We allow ourselves to be manipulated by everyone, turned this way and that way, raging all the while.
Then a magic white person comes along and tells us simple shit like “you black people are really good” or “my white people are really bad” and we fall damn hard for that shit!! Yeah I said it! Well I like what Peter Tosh said a long time ago. “Everybody cries out for peace, but none cries out for justice” “I need equal rights and justice”!!
I don’t need a white person to tell me that I’m good as a person, nor tell me that they are bad as people. That’s just bullshit. What I would respect more, is a white person who goes into his or her own neck of the woods and fight against racism from their own little place or big place depending on who they are. Otherwise, I don’t need your approval of me.
In comparison with the span of time, ten years really isn’t that long, however a lot can happen in that time. The last ten years have brought lots of significant changes to my life. I got a new job, moved twice to different cities, got divorced and remarried, had a son and met through blogging some amazing people from various parts of the Diaspora. Through it all I have come to appreciate and enjoy my life more and more.
On this, the last day of the decade, I will highlight year by year, a couple significant events which at least changed my world.
2000: The largest non-event that happened to begin the new decade: Y2K! We were told to expect the apocalypse when the clocks hit “0-0-0”. Computers would crash, planes and satellites would then fall from the sky, traffic lights would go haywire causing multiple accidents, we would be without electricity, heat and water. There was to be worldwide panic followed by widespread lootings and killings. We were encouraged to hoard food, water, batteries and get rid of our condoms… so we could immediately begin to repopulate the planet. I was assigned to a uniform detail and sat in a basement with a riot team ready to be deployed to protect life, property and restore order. I ended up playing Euchre ’til 6 in the morning, while my family and friends partied like it’s 1999!
2001: 9/11 happened and changed the world as we know it. It lead to a new assignment and a couple relocations for me. Selfishly, it also made it more of a hassle for me (and all of us I suspect) to travel by plane than increase my (our) confidence in the safety of air travel.
2002: I moved from Toronto to Windsor.
U.S. and other allied forces invasion of Afghanistan begins on 01 March.
2003: Tampa Bay Buccaneers whip the Oakland Raiders 48-12 in SuperBowl XXXVII on 26 January. The Raiders haven’t recovered since.
The U.S. and the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” invades Iraq on 20 March.
2004: The Madrid Spain, train bombings on 11 March.
Re-election of George W. Bush.
2005: London, England subway and bus terrorist bombings on 07 July.
Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans and the Gulf Coastal region causing death and mayhem.
2006: On 31 January my father died.
On Friday 05 May, my partner was murdered.
On 28 July I got married.
In October, I move to our nation’s capital, Ottawa.
2007: The birth of my son.
The genesis of the AfroSpear.
2008: Election of 1st African-American president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
2009: H1N1 global pan(ic)demic.
Death of Michael Jackson.
Nigerian terrorist attempts to blow up plane, now justifying even more racial profiling of Black people travelling by air. I’m done travelling by plane for a while!
2010: We made it! Happy New Decade!
I watched a fascinating discussion on Sunday afternoon on a program on BBC World called “The World Debate”. The panel, which was made up of Carl Bernstein, the award winning journalist who helped uncover the Watergate scandal; Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of the internet giant Google; Dan Gilbert, a Harvard Psychologist; Queen Noor of Jordan and the Ugandan journalist and broadcaster, Andrew Mwenda, discussed the role and influence of the “New Media”, via the IT revolution, specifically the dissemination of information and the pros and cons associated with this democratization of journalism.
What I found interesting was how the old guard and protectors of the status quo, embodied by the views of Bernstein and Gilbert, were openly condescending and somewhat alarmist in their opinions concerning what they referred to as the “citizen journalism” via the internet. Berin, Queen Noor and Mwenda were more understanding and supportive of the value and need of alternative voices, who aren’t “trained or schooled” at some recognized institution for journalism and therefore don’t hold the standard eurocentric prejudices, but in many ways provide a more realistic, personal and honest view of events in their environment.
As I listened to the discussion I came to realise once again the power of the internet in sharing information (especially real time events), views, beliefs and opinions among people throughout the round corners of the world. We have all heard the adages: “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword and Knowledge is Power”. This is truer today than any time in the history of humankind and whomever controls knowledge, and more importantly the access to knowledge, as well as controls the pen (or today the keystrokes), is the master (or chief manipulator) of reality. This is why regimes such as China and Myanmar have such strict controls on their populations access to the information highway. This is why during periods of civil strife and unrest in countries such as Pakistan and Kenya, access to certain sites such as Youtube by their citizens, which may show videos of the brutality of the regime against those protesting for their political and human rights, are shut down. This is why the Bernsteins and Gilberts are fearful of the “New Media”, because the power to shape ideas, beliefs, values (and henceforth culture)… and the power to control (and restrict) information and knowledge, are no longer in the hands of the elite or a select few with common interests to maintain and perpetuate the status quo. This rise of the “New Media” is much more than a democratization of information sharing, it is more of a revolution in “people participation”.
It is this participation, or the potential of the power of this participation, which makes the blogosphere in general and the “Afrosphere” in particular such a potent force. It brings people together who would have never had the opportunity to connect before and through these relationships, we have the ability to expand our focus, influence and experiences. Through blogging, I have been able to communicate with many people throughout the world. People I have never met face to face and most likely, never will. People from different countries, as well as a variety of political, religious, economic, cultural and social backgrounds, beliefs, values and opinions.
“This gathering of people of African descent — whether born in the U.S. or Africa or elsewhere, whether descendants of slaves or free men, whether rich or indigent –this gathering arises out of a need for self-determination and a history of forced subordination and removed relativity to an abstract outsider. We face each other under a banner of survivalist solidarity because regardless of our differences — whether they be our sexualities, our disabilities, our religions or our interests — we are viewed as one. What jerks at one of us sends tremors through all of us. So we need to understand each other.” From the Mission Statement of the Afrospear, written by Sylvia.
Powerful! The above statement is truly a call for those of African descent throughout the world, who have the ability to utilize the “New Media”, to come together for the advancement of our people, regardless of our “isms” ! It is a challenge to revolutionize our way of thinking, and rise to the higher and uncharted territory of focusing on the value in our different perspectives. We need to do away with the mindset that because we are all not of, and/or from, the same social or economic class, political beliefs (or affiliations), religious or spiritual sects, continent, country, tribe, ‘hood, gender, sexual orientation etc., that we can demonize, dehumanize, disrespect, define and declare who belongs to our community and who does not. We need to do away with egotistical and self-righteous declarations that those who do not think, believe or live like us… are not with us… they are against us. We need to do away with intellectual tribalism… which like Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone and most recently Kenya… leads only to our communal genocide. The only requirement is that one is sincerely working for the benefit and advancement of people of African descent, whether in the local, national, international and/or virtual arena.
I am not so naive to believe that all people of African descent will agree, get along with each other or come together for the greater good of the community. It won’t happen! I am resigned to the fact that it will never happen! Selfishness and self-centered interests are chief among the reasons which makes this impossible. I have already seen it within the Afrosphere and Afrospear, how differences in beliefs and opinions, as well as self-interests, have caused very smart and committed Black people to refuse and/or decide that they cannot… will not… work with other very smart and committed Black people.
However… this does not prevent me (and others) from working to create a “new deal” among us. To be a part of, connected to and add our collective voice to the variety of other Afrocentric/Black individuals, cells, conglomerations and collectives out in the AfroSphere. I am indeed hopeful because I have also seen the potential and practice of the power of the “New Media” in the past successes of the Afrosphere surrounding the issues of the Jena 6, Kenneth Foster and Shaquanda Cotton. Furthermore. I have foreseen the potential power of the Afrosphere spurring the future successes that are to come, regarding issues such as BET, Dunbar Village, Darfur and even the election a person of African descent as the President of the United States of America.
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman [of any color] he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.” Geraldine Ferraro.
Ms. Ferraro made this statement a week ago and it has caused a firestorm surrounding the Democratic Presidential primaries. Although there are obvious racial overtones to the statement, there has been mild vilification of Ferraro’s comments from Hillary Clinton and other leaders of the Democratic Party establishment. There is however more focus in the media on Barak Obama’s affiliation with his spiritual mentor and the retired pastor of his church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, than on Ferraro’s comments. Why? 1… because deep down those in the Democratic Party leadership and the media knows what she said was true. 2… this whole affair was a strategic move by the Clinton team to introduce the issue of “race” into campaign in such a way, that it could be utilized for their own benefit.
There is a lot of things that can be said in regards to what the Democratic Party Presidential primary process is all about, but one thing it’s not is democratic! The whole institution of the Super Delegates was created by the Party, to prevent those possible contenders who are populists (or who like Obama campaign on a populist platform), from obtain the nomination (see here for details). Ferraro intention was not to make a “racist” comment as such, but a calculated, strategic move (by the Clinton campaign) to explain (complain) why the populist sounding Obama was still in contention. The truth is if he was white, “he would not be in this position” to win the Democratic Presidential nomination because the Party establishment would have shut him down long ago! (I am not too sure about her view that if he was a Black “female” candidate who was doing just as well, that “he would not be in this position”. Hillary and the Democratic Party establishment would then have to contend with both race and gender, a much taller order to try to defeat. But I digress).
The fact is Hillary was promised the nomination. She was groomed to be the 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate. The Party and her campaign team felt that the nomination would be locked up by February 5th, “Super Tuesday”… and stated as much. Then came along this Black junior senator from Illinois. They thought he was going to be a novelty at most… but good for the image of the Democratic Party. They saw him as no threat to the established order of things. However with superior strategy, an understanding of the mood of the people, electrifying charisma and inspirational oratory skills, this Black man became “a fly in their ointment!” The problem became… as he started winning more delegates, more states, and more of the popular vote than the “back room” ordained candidate… how could the Democratic Party establishment i.e., through the Super Delegates, do what they were created to do: prevent him from securing the Presidential nomination without seeming to be disenfranchising a Black man!
Recently I have been contemplating if the church has any real significant and positive influence on the world today, especially in the beliefs and actions of western society in particular. There was a time when Christian ideology, through the church was very influential (good and bad) in shaping political, social, cultural and even personal beliefs and viewpoints. I would argued that today this influence is not as great as it was say… even 30 years ago.
I read an analytical report on The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life website which somewhat dealt with this issue, from an interesting point of reference. This article entitled: “Science in America: Religious Beliefs and Public Attitudes”, discussed the findings of a survey which concluded that “when scientific evidence and long-held religious beliefs come into direct conflict, many Americans reject science.”
According to the authours of the report, American society has a unique dichotomy in that on one hand, it is the most religious of the advanced industrial democracies, while on the other hand, it’s leadership in scientific research and application has been instrumental in making it a powerful nation. This has… not surprisingly… created some conflict between faith and science on societal beliefs, particularly on controversial issues such as evolution, homosexuality and global warming. The report primarily looked at the influence of religion and science on these three topics in American society.
The report contended that a close reading of the survey shows that large majorities of the American public respect science and scientists, but where scientific evidence and long-held religious belief come into direct conflict, “many Americans reject science in favor of the teachings of their faith tradition.” However, surprisingly today such areas of explicit differences are not common.
It was interesting to compare the beliefs of Black and White Christians (specifically Evangelicals) on the above three issues, as well as secularists, Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals, college and high school graduates. The results were not as straightforward and/or obvious as one would be expect. There are definite mixtures and combinations of scientific and religious influences which run through even strong held beliefs and opinions.
The report does not necessarily answer my original question on whether the church, Christianity and religion in general is a positive driving force on western society, but it does offer some insight on what motivates beliefs and therefore actions… which can have obvious implications in areas such as the formulation of government statutes and public policies.