Author Archives: Tarajah

Whites have become black?!

I came across this video and just want to share. Nabil Abdul Rashid says what I and many others have been thinking and saying. The use of basic critical thinking skills and intelligent thoughts shown in this video to refute the opinion of a popular historian are just incredible. He discusses the prejudice that society has against black culture. Society sees certain negative acts as being specific to the entire black population and disregards those same acts as being universal regardless of the color of someones skin. 

This particular historian, David Starkey, in 2011 during the England riots claims ‘whites have become black” because they are acting out violently. He blames Jamaican immigrants for “intruding” on English culture and hip-hop for promoting rioting. Of course no one in their right mind would belive that before the riots white people across the globe were never violent until black people started to influence them. Violence is a human behavior regardless of color of skin. I wont say that there isn’t behavior specific to different cultures and there are certain meaningless acts we attribute to certain cultures based on race. Black people have rhythm, they can dance and always talking back to the movie screen. White people wear flip flops in freezing cold weather and always run towards danger to “investigate” (which I find to be so true but hey its just an opinion). Regardless of how true these statements may be at the end of the day we are all human with the same genes and same potential to display the same behaviors. Race is always thrown out first as a reason for someones action instead of looking at class and privilege. Ignoring social and economic factors in terms of behavior is deceiving.

Simply put-Read books. Know your own history, tell your story before someone else tries to. Challenge and question.

Please enjoy and feel free to share your opinion.

Hide your uterus..Mississippi wants to ban abortions.

Today voters in Mississippi are up against Proposition 26 which would introduce the toughest anti-abortion restrictions in America by giving all fertilised embryos the same rights of people.

If passed the “personhood amendment”, would redefine the term “person” to begin at the point of conception, which would ban abortion. They could restrict in-vitro fertilization, which typically involves fertilising several eggs and then using just one or two. There will limited access to birth-controls that prevent embryos from implanting in a woman’s uterus, such as intrauterine devices.

I am pro-choice. So naturally I am against this proposition. I am looking at the consequences of this admendment. It literally forces a female to give up her own “personhood” and constitutional rights at the moment of conception. I don’t want the government with their hands in my uterus. It takes away our right to choose. A women may be placed in a position where she may be charged with MURDER for not keeping the child. Women who face pregnancy complications would be unable to terminate the pregnancy. Ending an ectopic pregnancy WOULD NOT be considered self-defense even though ectopic pregnancies remain the leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the first trimester of pregnancy.  If the right to abortion is taken away, then women would only resort to self-induced or back-alley abortions. So anyone could claim to perform them, and with no other alternatives women would be dying due to infections, unsterilized instruments and conditions, and improperly performed procedures. It is a lot to demand of a women who is raped to give birth and keep the child. The morning after pill will also be illegal, and if a woman is raped she will be required to carry the baby to term and put the baby up for adoption if she chooses.  Could you imagine if you got pregnant by being raped and then having your rapists baby? Yes, I know it is not the baby’s fault but how many women could actually raise that child without some type of emotional toll or resentment? I personally don’t know what I would do but I do know I don’t want someone else to make that decision for me.

If this passes in Mississippi, it will encourage this amendment to be put on ballots in key states such as Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin next year, affecting millions of women. This proposition will do more harm than good. It will almost be impossible to please everyone when it comes to abortion that is why it should be the woman’s choice to decide what is right for her body, her life. Proposition 26 is not the answer.

Voting in your state and local polls are so important, more important than voting for president. Know the issues and vote responsibly.

I am Troy Davis.

Wednesday September 21, 2011 at 11:08pm Troy Anthony Davis was executed in Jackson, Georgia.

I am against the death penalty in all cases and so I was deeply effected by this case. To kill a potentially innocent man with so much doubt is disheartening. I sat with a heavy heart last night as they executed Davis. I am now left with this overwhelming feeling of sadness but also a stronger desire to fight for human rights. I saw the face of my little brother, cousin and friend. They are Troy Davis. I saw a purpose in all of this unfortunate sorrow to end the death penalty, for prison reform and justice. I can not sit blindly to tragedy and injustice.

I am Troy Davis.

My prayers are with the family of Troy Davis and Mark MacPhail. Two lives lost does not make it right.

A message from Troy Davis:

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.

I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.

So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.

I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,

“I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”

Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!

For more information on the death penalty and how you can help: Amnesty International, Innocene Project and Death Penalty Info

Black people read science fiction too.

I just found out that the author of my favorite book series has passed. It actually hurt my heart to hear this news. I felt like I knew her personally. L.A Banks wrote the twelve book series “Vampire Huntress.” She wrote in various genres, including African-American literature, romance, women’s fiction, crime suspense, dark fantasy/horror and non-fiction. Sadly she passed August 2, 2011 from late stage adrenal cancer. She was only 51.

I have always been open to reading any genre of books. I enjoy reading sci-fi, paranormal books. Yes, not many black people read sci-fi but I am a fan. So when I was introduced to this series by a friend I fell in love. I read these books like a hungry child devouring every word. I actually started reading the series twice and after each fix I was steadily hooked. I bought each one like it was crack and Barnes & Nobles was my supplier.

The series focuses on a young woman named Damali Richards. She is a spoken word artist but she is also The Neteru, a human who is born every thousand years to fight the Dark Realms. Plus she adorns a crown of locs on her head (maybe why I like it even more). She is gifted with powers that enable her to destroy the supernatural creatures and fight against all forces of evil but vampires are her biggest threat and enemy. L.A Banks once said “To me, the vampire represents a lot of what we see in society. They’re scarier because of that; because the vampire can be anybody. He just blends in and looks perfectly normal. Like your serial killers often look like normal people.”

Thus one of the main reasons that I love this series is because Banks made it relatable to modern life. It’s not just a typical book about killing vampires. She writes on the never-ending struggle between good and evil and how important love is. I found the series engaging and evolving. I will admit that the first book was a little slow but she got better with each book. The characters being described, as young, hip-hop, people-of-color, with culture and proud heritage were believable. They were a mix of musicians, veterans; Ivy League educated and drug dealers. I was glad to read a sci-fi book that had characters of different ethnicities African-American, Native American, Mexican, Laotians.

One theme throughout the story was always “Stay in the Light.” Stay in the light by staying positive, opening your third eye, acknowledging and using your talents and gifts for the betterment of yourself and others. L.A Banks writes of respecting and learning from your ancestors, using their wisdom in our lives. Her story line weaves a mix of conscious thought, holistic medicine and battle strategy. Characters practiced natural healing and laying on of hands while still using holy water grenades and glock nine millimeter, with hallowed earth-packed artillery. Like I said it is not a typical book about vampires.

This series is more than just sci-fi. It is romance, history, religious, spiritual, action packed. It is about a person’s internal struggle and of redemption. There is a passionate bond between Damali and Carlos Rivera, her lover and partner, that creates conflict and purpose in the story. Despite all their pain and faults, they truly believed in each other. That hope served as a beacon in uncertain times. By the end of the series I saw myself as Damali in love with my Carlos. I became a part of the book.

There are some other interesting observations from the book and the view that she writes from but I will reserve those opinions for myself and choose only to speak on the positive that I took away from the series but…

I know a lot of people can’t get into fiction much less science-fiction but reading different genres of creativity inspires my own. My imagination is not one dimensional and sci-fi opens up another side to that imagination. I encourage you to branch out and read outside of your normal genres. Try some sci-fi. Try fiction. Read between the lines you will be surprised at how it may relate to you and your life. Allow your imagination to wander and live out in another world.

“Hey Baby”

Street harassment is the unwelcomed words and actions of strangers that can be everything from sexually explicit comments and groping to public masturbation and assault.

The other night there was this interesting dialogue about street harassment and pedophilia that young women have to deal with. It’s a normal occurrence to walk down the street and have a car drive by screaming out “hey baby” and honk. As if I would run over and reply sweetly “yes daddy?” but I don’t want to be the “baby” of any man who couldn’t approach me in a respectful manner. I don’t respond to catcalls and obscenity as a way to get my attention.

I remember going to south beach one year for memorial weekend in Miami and hating to walk down the sidewalks. It’s known that if you’re going to walk the strip you are going to get harassed and it doesn’t even matter what you have on or how you look. The men were brutal. My friends and I paused as we came up on a group of men standing on both sides of the sidewalk. Other than walking in the middle of the street, we had to walk through them to reach our destination. Walking through the crowd of men someone touched me and my instant reflex kicked in. I swung my hand back to defend myself. I looked back to realize I hit the wrong person and as the group of men started getting loud and closer my friends and I literally and quickly ran down the street. That was just too much unnecessary excitement for me. And for the rest of our time on the strip we had to deal with men grabbing us and shouting out names to get our attention. “Hey, lil yummy.” “Come here brown skin.” I saw women get approached and after turning the man down he curses her out and calls her all types of vulgar names. I even saw some women get things thrown at them for not wanting to give a man their number. It was a prime example of the male ego and feeling the need to put a woman in her place. Needless to say that was our last time on south beach for memorial weekend.

Too many friends and relatives shared the same kinds of stories. And sadly enough it all seemed so normal. The street harassment happens often and comes from young and old men. Whether it was the teenage boy who said I wasn’t shit because I said no to him or the man old enough to be my father that told me that he wanted to marry me and whispered dirty things in my ear, this mentality tells us that boys will be boys and have no self-control. More often its women who  say we just need to accept it as a part of life. Men and women alike need to challenge the sexism and patriarchy that allows for men to act this way and for women to accept it. 

There needs to be the mentoring of men and of boys who will eventually become men. They need to know the respectful and right way to compliment and talk to women. Men also need to relate and become allies in stopping street harassment. Men, show some respect when you see this being done to women, please tell your friends to stop it.

There is a simple rule: do unto others as you would want them to do to you. So simply: if you don’t want it said to your mother or daughters don’t say it to someone else’s daughter. Street harassment that women go thru by men can be compared to the harassment men go thru by the police. Seriously think about it. No one wants to walk down the street in fear of being hassled and violated.

Please remember 15-year-old Sakia Gunn. She was killed after being stabbed her in the chest in Newark, NJ after stating she was a lesbian and turning down the advances of two men.

Women have a right to walk through their communities and feel safe without being objectified. Street harassment is a real issue.  Hollaback- http://www.ihollaback.org/ – encourages the movement dedicated to ending street harassment.

Have you ever been hesitant or afraid to walk down the street because there were a group of men you would have to pass? Have you ever experienced street harassment?

Have you ever told someone to stop the harassment of another person? Why or why not?

Mid Week Inspiration- Passionate Living

Alarm goes off. Time for work. Dragging to get ready and make it on time. Physically there but mentally somewhere else. There is always some point in our lives when we have a job that we are grateful to have but don’t love. We get stuck in having a good job that supports our financial needs but does not satisfy our passion. It may seem hard but your passion and talents can work for you. Dont allow a job to steal your purpose from you. A job is work but a career is worthwhile. Love your position but plan your promotion.

Follow the signs that are placed in your life. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your education or financial situation. Passion is limitless and free. If you could do anything, that wouldn’t feel like work, regardless of how much it paid what would it be? What are you most passionate about? Think about your talents, the things you love to do, or the people you want to impact. I personally struggle between my passion and what’s practical. But I have realized that being practical and safe isn’t always whats best. Living passionately can be done by merging the hearts desires with the minds practicality.

Discover your passion and embrace it. Take baby steps. Volunteer, start a part-time home business, continue your education, travel, take every opportunity. Do what makes you happy and satisfied. Do not settle for mediocrity. Learn to fly.

Mid-Week Inspiration: Live Your Legacy

I was recently reminded about one of my college experiences where I asked numerous people “how do you want to be remembered?”  There were many different responses and it really showed the character of that person. Some people wanted to be remembered as fun or kind or loyal. But in order to be remembered as something that’s how you should live your life. It’s about living your legacy. Your legacy doesn’t have to start when you die, you can create and live that legacy now. People never remember what you said to them, they remember how you made them feel. How you make people feel is a part of your legacy. How you feel is a part of that legacy too. If you feel good about yourself then it will show. No need for makeup or fancy clothes. Wear a joyful heart, a confident smile and a loving spirit. I truly believe that everyone has greatness within them. You can be great! Greatness should not be defined as being a celebrity, professional athlete or popularity. Greatness is being the best at who you are! Take the time to think about who you are and what you represent. Regardless of our personal, financial or professional situations how we act and think should be aligned with our legacy. Everything that we do causes a ripple effect in someone else’s life and your greatness could be as simple as helping someone in need. Dont underestimate the power of you. Be great today! Be accepting. Be humble. Be brave. Be encouraging. Be focused. Let your life be your message.

Rebel R.O.O.Ts Book Club

Rebel ROOTS (Reading Our Own Truths) Book Club is created:

  • To expose literature written by and about the multi-cultural community.
  • To strengthen the community’s recognition of literature by reading a selection diverse books varying in genre from fiction to non-fiction, history to social commentary and autobiographies/biographies.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of constructive opinions on literature and culture.

The book list is here to open up a conscious stream of knowledge and with the group discussions engage the use of critical thinking skills.

Book Club-First Six Months

  1. If Sons, Then Heirs: A Novel, Lorene Cary (July)
  2. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel, Maaza Mengiste (August)
  3. The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (September)
  4. The Sexy Part of the Bible, Kola Boof (October)
  5. African Origins of Major “Western Religions” , Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan (November)
  6. Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, Sikivu (December)

If you are interested in participating in the book club discussions that will be held at the end of every month on a Sunday afternoon please email RebelArtistry@gmail.com for more details, as well on the fan page of Rebel Artistry on Facebook.

Feel free to recommend any good books. Open to all suggestions.

Questioning Your Faith

As children we were told about God and religion in a very vague sense. We read the bible together as a family every Saturday. We knew morally right from wrong and what was right and wrong within Rasta. But I don’t remember ever feeling like I really knew God or what religion meant. My relationship with God really came to be when I was 8. I needed answers, so I prayed and I asked God “why do good people have to die?” My answer started my relationship with God. There was no parting of the heavenly skies, thunder and lightning or this big omnipresent being coming to talk to me. It was the subtleness of my own inner voice saying “when people die we realize how precious life is. We see its value and their value to us.” From then I knew that God was inside of me. I have never had a spirit of fear towards my God. I talk to God as openly as I do with any friend. I am in tune with the God within me so much that I am drawn to the God within others. It was the God within that drew me to the first man I ever fell in love with. His inner strength and compassion was palpable.  

Growing up I asked questions about the Rastafarian faith and sometimes I was given a direct answer I could understand. As I got older I stopped believing myself to be a faithful practicing Rastafarian. I didn’t agree with everything nor did I follow the exact same lifestyle. I had no idea about the different Christian denominations so in college I visited non-denominational, Baptist, Seven-Day Adventist, and African Methodist Episcopalian churches. I went to my first Baptist church and left feeling scared saying never again. The pastor touching foreheads, people dropping to the ground shaking, speaking in tongues and being covered in cloth was quite an experience and not for me. I didn’t mind hearing a good word that actually motivated or inspired me. But I did not like hearing a pastor say “no matter what you’re going thru Jesus is the only way.” That was my cue to get up and leave and say never again.  I had a college friend that did not believe in Jesus and it made me question if I really did. We never prayed to Jesus. Regardless of the simple letter change we called out to Negus or Jess-us. To me Jesus and Jess-us were two different people. This contributed to my Rasta confusion. Were we Christians or not? We had church services that resembled Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.  So I decided I didn’t want a middle man to God I would go directly to the source. I read lots of books on the history of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddha, and Yoruba. I spoke with deeply religious persons and atheists. I could relate and understand both sides to a degree.  I still have much to learn but I decided that all religions were pretty much the same. Did not see religion holding woman in an honorable, respectable position but rather saw bible filled passages of misogynist authoritarianism and patriarchal societies. Any religion, group or persons that feels like women are to be subservient and degraded by men was not worthy of my devotion.  

I am not interested in converting anyone’s religious or non-religious beliefs. I want people to test their own beliefs, ask questions, and seek out information that will affirm your foundations and faith or maybe cause you to make new ideals. How can you truly believe, or love something that you’ve never investigated? When you start to date someone you ask them a million questions, you ask a friend if they know their background. Question your religion. I believe in something called the “glass slipper theory”. It’s my theory that your faith, your religion is personally fitted onto your soul, your spirit. We should follow our intuition and trust ourselves. What fits someone else won’t always fit you. Personally for me it is hard to follow any religion especially ones that were forced upon my ancestors to “humanize their savage ways”. A man comes into your home and rapes your wife and children. He steals your home and car then tells you to respect him and learn his ways, his religion. To me that doesn’t make any sense. I believe long before slavery became an issue in Africa the religions and way of life that was practiced was authentically their own. I believe that the Christianity practiced in certain parts of Africa centuries ago has now been weakened by man’s constant interpretations. I don’t believe in religion. I believe in a God, a higher power. People ask how I can have faith in someone who I can’t see. But I have seen him in my own way that satisfies me. I have never felt the presence of God in any church building or gathering the way I do when I am at the edge of my sanity, my peace. It is the place where earth meets water, where I stand still and he washes my feet. It is my place of solitude, fortitude and security, my church is the beach. I am comfortable and confident in my spiritual relationship with my God. I do not believe God judges me because I wear pants, pays respect to the moon and nature or that I curse in my prayers( my mother doesn’t agree with my unconscious occasional curse word in prayer). I don’t pray in a monotone, rehearsed manner, I talk freely and openly.

Challenge your preconceived notions about religion, about God, about yourself. Don’t just accept what’s been handed to you regardless of who it comes from. Read something other than the bible. Reason with different opinions and beliefs. Don’t be afraid of not knowing. I know nothing still but in my learning I have gained some knowledge that forces me into action of creating a better self.