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Monday, April 20, 2009

HOW DID CALIFORNIA GET NAMED AFTER A BLACK WOMAN


The history of the state of California is intricately connected to the history of the Mali empire? Say what, how can that be?

At first glance they appear to be totally unrelated. However, on the examination of the history it has been revealed that they have a lot more in common than one would expect. We were taught in school that the year 1492 was the year that Columbus sailed the ocean blue. What we were not told is that it was also the year the king of Aragon was able to complete the expulsion of the Muslim caliphs from Al Andalusia (Spain), as well.

Mind you these Muslims were primarily from the African nations along the Northern Mediterranean, as well as West Africa proper. They came from the countries now known as Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Egypt and even Ethiopia. Therefore, from all historical evidence we know for sure that a large majority of them were of the African racial type.

The occupation of Spain lasted for 700 years. During that time Spainish culture was alive and vibrant, while the cultures of Europe, as a whole were stagnant and dead, hence the name we've that era, the Dark Ages, meaning there was no significant learning or serious thought going on during that time.

Spain or as the Muslims called it Al Andalusia was just the opposite, with lit streets, indoor plumbing, aquaducts, courtyard fountains and magnificient architectural structures that remain among the most popular tourist attractions in the world. The University of Salamanca was the most prestigious institution of learning in the known world. Under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate science and learning flourished, while the Dark Ages formed a cloud over Europe, where only the priestly class was even allowed, or enouraged to read. In fact, the same kinds of restrictions that were placed on African slaves in the U.S., following the rebellion of Nat Turner, were placed on the entire population of Europe, with punishments which were just as severe.

I'd like to note here that there was some evidence of the mechanical genius of the inhabitants of Europe that came out at that time, unfortunately, it seemed to be mostly in the area of torture. The implements of torture that were devised during this time for the use of the clergy in carrying out the Inquisition were truly ingenious. We've all heard of The Rack, thumbscrews, The Pear, The Iron Maiden, The Gibbet (gallows), The Whipping Post, Stocks, etc. Of course, we wouldn't want to forget the most humane instrument of death every devised, The Guillotine. These are inventions, which are wholly European and I believe unique in the annals of history.

The stated purpose of these Inquisitions as detailed in a 1578 handbook for inquisitors was: ... quoniam punitio non refertur primo & per se in correctionem & bonum eius qui punitur, sed in bonum publicum ut alij terreantur, & a malis committendis avocentur. [Translation from the Latin: "... for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit."] Note the use of the word terrified in describing the purpose of this practice.

TO BE CONTINUED

RITA DOVE'S LATEST WORK: "SONATA MULATTICA"



Her latest book is called "Sonata Mulattica" and it's a tour-de-force. Written, as only Rita Dove could write it, we learn about the life of George P. Bridgetower, a virtuoso musician who grows up in Poland and becomes the toast of European royalty. His exquisite performances on the violin inspire Beethoven to write a piece dedicated to him, which they perform before a concert audience, only hours after Beethoven completes it.

That she would pick someone to write about who is a virtual unknown to Americans is not as odd as it may appear, for her subject and her have a lot in common. Rita played the cello when she was going to school right here in Akron, Ohio; she's known for being fluent in German, which was a language Bridgetower undoubtedly spoke and they're both descendants of African immigrants.

Much of the story is told in the title of the book. "Sonata Mulattica" is an abbreviation of the title Beethoven gave to what's been called his penultimate violin sonata (opus 47). The full title was "Sonata mulattica composta per il mulatto Brischdauer, gran pazzo e conpositore mulattico," meaning "Sonata composed for the mulatta mulatto Brischdauer, big wild composition and mulatto."

The idea of the "tragic mulatto" came into existence during Bridgetower's lifetime. However, his own story was not quite so ill fated. He actually had quite a bit of success as a musician. The patronage of the young English prince, who continued to support him as the King of England, certainly helped. His affiliation with Beethoven, Haydn and other musical geniuses of his time certainly helped.

But, there was still a cloud of racism hovering over his head, which became even more apparent upon his death, as this book is one of only three full length treatments of his life. Dove's presentation is totally unique, however in that it gives us an entirely new path to Bridgetower. This is the surprise in store for anyone who decides to go on this adventure to discover, just who was this African prince of Poland.

To be continued tomorrow, with a video of Rita reading a selection from her latest work.

KSU ALUMNI ORGANIZE REUNION IN CYBERSPACE



The 4th Annual Black Alumni Reunion was held last weekend at Kent's Rathskeller. It was a very successful event with approximately 300 Black Alumni in attendance. Members came from all over the country. The member who came the furthest distance was Adisa Alkebulan from San Diego, CA.

Event organizers Andrea Wright and Kellea Tibbs brought the event into the 21st century by notifying attendees via a new network on Ning.com a relatively new networking website. Ning allows members who sign up to communicate with each other 24/7 using a variety of user created networks for free.

The Kent State Black Alumni Association now has a membership of almost 300 people. Their network on Ning was established in 2008 and is now in full force and effect.

Andrea Wright, one of the founders of the association, which just gained and official status at Kent, states on her personal page that,

"I count it a blessing to be able to greet all of the Black Alumni from Kent State University. Thank you for joining the social networking site designed to be a tool to bring us back together to remember our days on the campus in Kent, Ohio. Kent State University is one of Ohio's top public universities. The university played an important role in all of our lives. It's continuing to make a difference in young student's lives and as Black Alumni, we can play an important role.

The ultimate purpose is to reconnect and unify ourselves for one purpose. The purpose is to be officially recognized again as The Black Alumni Chapter. As an official chapter, we will be able to access budgeted funds to do programming designed with not only bringing us together but assisting those students still matriculating at the university.

Our goal is not just to socialize. However, through socializing and networking, we can broaden our goals and maximize our possibilities."

One of the ways that the organization plans to meet this goal is by creating a scholarship fund, financed initially by the admission fees collected by the association at the reunion. Now that the association has been recognized by the KSU Alumni Association they can apply make funding requests from the university and take the organization to the next level.

The party's over, but the beat goes on. We look forward to covering future events sponsored by the Kent State Black Alumni Association.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SAINT MAURICE & THE THEBAN LEGION


Check out the coat of arms of Pope Benedict the XVI. For those non-Catholics amongst you, he's the current Pope, who hails from Germany.

When I saw the close up of Saint Maurice's statue I did not have to think twice about what happened to his nose. It was all too apparent, that someone had deliberately broken it off. There are many statues all over Europe, especially in cultural havens like Rome. Many of them have missing appendages, typically the arms or even the legs, but most prevalent are the missing arms.

In Egypt, however we see something that doesn't jibe with that whole vibe, missing noses. The question begs to be asked how has it happened that so many of the pharaohs statues have endured earth quakes, inundations, etc. and the only significant damage is to their noses, while other civilizations all over the globe have antiquities which are younger, but with intact noses.

I have to conclude that some body or bodies have gone through the country and systematically removed the noses from the statues in a vain attempt to erase the Black man from the historical timeline of the ancient Egyptians. Why would someone do this? It's really quite simple. The Egyptian civilization is the forefather of Western civilization. In order to maintain the unnatural premise of white supremacy history had to be rewritten.

This is what we see with Saint Maurice, the rewriting of history, where whites have always ruled and Blacks have been their subservient slaves. The problem is that historians like J.A. Rogers and Runoko Rashidi keep pulling off the bedsheets, uncovering a "master race" that worships Black people as gods or at least in a godlike manner.

There's much more evidence of this "hero worship" than there is of our supposed inferiority. We have good examples of this in the numerous European coats of arms with depictions of a coal black St. Maurice or one of the 20 other Black saints, who stood firm with him on the battlefield of Aganaum and refused to slaughter their Christian brothers and sisters, that fateful day in 287 CE (common era).

SAINT MAURICE AND THE THEBAN LEGION


I first heard of Saint Maurice from J.A. Rogers. The stunning picture you see here accompanied the story of St. Maurice of Auganaum. The idea of a Black patron saint of Germany was intriguing, indeed. J.A. Rogers also spoke of the numerous Black Madonnas of Europe. Again, this was a revelation, as who would have thought that white people could worship Black saints and even a Black Madonna and child.

Well, Runoko Rashidi has just returned from visiting some of the sacred sites of Europe dedicated to the Black saints and Martyrs of Christianity and he's brought a picture with him that has stirred a renewed interest in St. Maurice, in particular. This picture shows St. Maurice without a nose. Now, clearly he's Black in skin color and features. The antiquity of the statue is without doubt, but like the statues of the pharoahs of Egypt, the nose is missing.

As is the case with the many shrines and depictions of Africans in Europe today, there's typically been a series of convoluted explanations to explain away such anomalies. It's been said of many of the Black Madonnas that smoke produced by thousands of candles burnt over the years has blackened specific parts of the statues without blackening other parts. For instance, the face, and hands will be black, while Mary's headdress and clothing is pure white and sparkling. I'd be interested in hearing someone actually try to explain how that happens, just for kicks.

I haven't heard Runoko's story of the missing nose of St. Maurice, but I'm sure it's a doozy. The only story I've heard so far that sounds true to form, when it comes to the missing nose of a statue, is the one about Napoleon and the missing nose of the Great Sphinx. It's been said that he blew it off with a cannon, because he went all the way to the home of the ancients, the founders of the philosophical base which is Western civilization and found someone immortalized their that looked like one of his chief rivals and that of a rebel chief in the French colonies. I'm speaking of Thomas Alexander Dumas, the French General and Toussaint L'Overture, the Haitian Revolutionary. It was too much for him.

Look for Part II tomorrow

Monday, March 16, 2009

WHY POT COULD BE CALIFORNIA'S NEW CASH CROP



Former SF supervisor wants public to cash in on $13.8 billion pot crop


By JACKSON WEST


Updated 12:18 PM PDT, Mon, Mar 2, 2009

Besides raising revenue, marijuana decriminalization would save the state in enforcement and incarceration costs.

Tom Ammiano wants to effectively legalize-- and tax -- California's trade in cannabis.

AB 390 "would remove all penalties in California law on cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, or use of marijuana, natural THC, or paraphernalia for persons over the age of 21," Ammiano's press secretary Quintin Mecke told the San Francisco Weekly.

Ammiano, a rookie state legislator and former San Francisco supervisor, may have a unique opportunity to win support for the bill in the wake of the state's budget debacle.

"California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana," he said.

Mecke suggested taxes on the trade could amount to $1 billion according to advocates.

And I'd bet that's a conservative estimate.

"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense," Ammiano said at a morning news conference at the state building on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.

Estimates value the state's crop of marijuana at $13.8 billion, double that of the vegetable and grape markets combined. Nationwide, it may be the fourth largest cash crop, behind corn, soy and hay but ahead of wheat.

The proposed bill would allow Californians over the age of 21 to grow, transport, sell, possess and consume the plant, with state and local law enforcement professionals barred from enforcing the federal ban.

The tax would amount to $50 per ounce of marijuana, which retails on the black market for anywhere from $250 to $500 depending on the source and quality.

While it may sound like a pipe dream, with communities from the emerald triangle of Humboldt, Mendecino and Trinity Counties to liberal districts all along California's cost all strapped for cash, other lawmakers and voters might just tune in and turn on.

Frankly, I think they should sign an endorsement deal with Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

Jackson West figures libertarian stoners will inevitably complain about the tax.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

OBAMA COMPARED TO HITLER AGAIN

In my last blogpost I warned readers to be on the lookout for more insults, barbs and racist attacks to be leveled against President Obama. This past Monday an African American reporter, by the name of Harris Faulkner, read two comments from their website. One of them compared Obama to Hitler while the other called him a monkey. These types of comparisons are expected from the general public, but it is totally out of order for a major news organization like Fox to read it over the air. Theses kinds of comments should not reach the light of day and should certainly not be given credence by responsible purveyors of the daily news.

Well, that explains it! Obviously, Fox News network is not a responsible news agency, as evidenced by the fact that this is not the first time Fox News has read these kinds of incendiary comments on the evening news. On February 14th, 2008 Tom Sullivan a Fox News radio personality took a call from a listener that compared Obama to Hitler. The funny thing is that he already had a tape of Hitler and a tape of Obama cued up ready to play if a listener called in making this comparison and wasted no time in playing them back to back.

"When a later caller complained that Sullivan was "denigrating" Obama with the comparison, Sullivan said he wouldn't play it again, then begged: 'Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again. ... Until the next time.'"


There's an old saying that when you point one finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you. Seeing as how the Fox broadcasters have Hitler recordings so handy, it appears as though they may be some of his biggest fans. How else do you explain their ability to pull up a Hitler recording at a moments notice.

I understand the NAACP has started a campaign to bring these racist assaults to a halt. As Dick Gregory used to say to us in the 70's "you young people have a big job to do." Certainly, it is a big job. Racism is woven into the fabric of this country, which makes it particularly difficult to eradicate without destroying the fabric itself.



"Fox News' Faulkner highlights viewer blog comments on stem cell policy invoking Hitler, comparing Obama to a monkey." Media Matters staff, 3/9/2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BILL & MELINDA GATES SUPPORT MODEL EDUCATION PROGRAM IMPLEMENTED BY APS



"KnowledgeWorks in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Education is transforming Ohio’s public schools, where only 7 in 10 students graduate every year, from a one-size-fits-all education system into schools where respect for the individual is paramount, and every child is considered 'college material.'"

The village of Stewart Africentric met last week with Superintendent James where he answered questions and spoke of the vision that APS has for Stewart Africentric as they prepare to move into their new home within the Crouse Community Learning Center.

He brought with him a new board member by the name of Amy Grom who is in support of applying the "school-within-a-school" model, which is looked upon very favorably by KnowledgeWorks, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that are both working with the Ohio Department of Education to improve the success rate of students in Ohio public schools.

Stewart Africentric was created as a small school that could give more focused attention to each and every student to increase the likelihood that they would not only successfully graduate from high school, but also successfully matriculate from the college of their choice. The recently retired superintendent was very supportive of the Stewart model. The village of Stewart Africentric expects that they will receive even more support in the future.

According to an ERIC report on the "school-within-a-school" model there are a number of factors that will lead to

success with this model. Two of the most important factors are:

Making sure the "guest" program is autonomous by having the "guest" program administered by an APS administrator.

Fully funding and staffing the "guest" program with all the staff necessary to ensure the success of the program.


One of the encumbrances that teaching staffs have had to contend with under the Bush administration is embodied in the NCLB, an unfunded government mandate. In this case government was not the solution but has caused more harm than good. By requiring the students of all public schools to meet the standards of the NCLB without giving them the financial support to meet these criteria they've created a "Catch 22" like situation within the elementary education system.

" . . . smaller schools help struggling students by raising graduation and achievement rates, according to more than 30 years of research. Small schools in other states have successfully improved student performance, reduced violence, and increased student graduation rates."


Crouse Community Learning Center (CLC) is in a new state of the art building with all of the modern accouterments necessary to run a top notch school, there's no question about that. The question is how committed is the district to the ideals of Stewart Africentric? Superintendent James has made it perfectly clear in his last two meetings with the Stewart community that over the past 10 years there have been several occasions where Stewart has been on the chopping block. He also stated that the school's overall academic performance needed to be improved in order for the program to continue, but without the proper support, particularly financially, it's a plan that's destined to fail.

The Akron Public School system has a chance to be on the cutting edge, in terms of elementary education. Smaller schools are the wave of the future and the "school-within-a-school" model is one of the ways this small school model can be implemented. The benefits are worth the effort and the expense it will take to make this model successful. The KnowledgeWorks Foundation is prepared to make an investment in our childrens' future. What is APS doing to take advantage of this opportunity? What is APS doing to prepare our elementary students to begin doing college level work from the 10th grade through 12th grade.

George Crouse Elementary School was built in 1919. It was named after one of the major benefactors and original trustees of Buchtel College, the precursor of Akron University. Buchtel College was instrumental in making Akron the "Rubber Capitol" of the world. Akron is no longer the "Rubber Capitol." In fact, Akron is a city in search of a new identity. The choices we make now, regarding the education of our children, will determine what the future will hold for Akron and the role our children and grandchildren will play in that future.

We can all agree, "it takes a village to raise a child." The question now is, what role will Stewart Africentric play in the development of that village. Moving into a modern facility is obviously a good thing for the students of Stewart Africentric. But, it could be just as beneficial for the Crouse students, by giving them an example of how to function using a different paradigm. Success at Crouse CLC can also serve as a model for other schools within APS that are going to have to operate under one roof.

At the high school level this school-within-a-school model has led to higher test scores, improved morale and decreased incidents of violence, all of which lead to improved overall academics.

The Stewart Africentric village still needs more details in regards to the implementation of this school-within-a-school model. Hopefully, some of these details will be forthcoming at the meeting with Superintendent James, at Stewart Africentric, this Friday at 11:30 AM.

Unanswered questions that remain include how will the students be prepared before they move? How will the two schools maintain their separate identities while living under the same roof, if the Crouse school colors dominate the building, as they do now? The Crouse colors dominate the majority of the walls, furniture and floors tiles throughout the building. There are also questions about students transferring from one program to the other within the building.

If this move is done right it could create a atmosphere of camaraderie and unity within the two programs, and between their respective staff members and students, making Crouse CLC a shining example for the entire district.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

DR. LEARY SPEAKS ON: POST TRAUMATIC SLAVE SYNDROME

I pulled this down from Youtube and was not only impressed, but enlightened by her analysis. What she talks about here is directly related to what I've experienced myself in my relationships. Check out the segment I've included. Double click the picture to go to Youtube and put all 11 segments together in one playlist so they can be played as one video.


She also has a book out that can be purchased at Amazon or Half.com, under the same title. Read the book or view the video and realize just how significant the impact of slavery is in our present situation.

Every year Congressman John Conyers reintroduces H.R. 40 in Congress. This bill calls for the establishment of a committee to study the need for reparations and a method of delivering them to the sons and daughter of Africa in America. Dr. Leary's thesis that we continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is powerful. She's been able to explain, in short order, why we react to certain situations and cues the way we do.

I lived in Los Angeles, CA for 10 years. I still refer to L.A. as "Hell A." I loved living in a place with a moderate temperature and a star studded background, but it took its toll on my psyche. The first five years I had very few valuables, other than my life. But, during those five years that primary valuable was always in jeopardy. When I first moved to the city I didn't know who to be more afraid of the police or the gangs. I figured the police could shoot you on purpose and call it justifiable homicide (legal lynching). The gangs might shoot you and they'd call it collateral damage. I didn't know anyone who got shot by the police in all my years in L.A., but I did see a drive by go down, when I lived in Compton and I did know of someone who got shot outside a party in a driveby. So, the possibility was there of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, for me and many others, as well, the everyday threat was that my vehicles would be burglarized, vandalized or just broken into. That happened on a regular basis. It got to the point that I knew who was doing it, but was powerless to do anything about it, for fear of retribution.

I moved from Hollywood to Costa Mesa, in Orange County, CA. Life was sublime there, but the mother of my children would get pulled over by the police all the time. So, everything was not right. Finally, we moved out of state to Seattle, WA in the early 90's. We bought a brand new vehicle after selling our late model VW's and things began to feel "normal." It still took one year for me to realize that I was, in fact, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It dawned on me one day that the fear I had in L.A. of my vehicle being towed, or ticketed by the police, because we had to park on the street; the fear of the Cholos using my car as a drug drop; the fear of parts of my car, that would incapacitate it coming up missing, for no reason; the fear of my battery, headlights, car seat, etc. coming up missing, for no reason was unreasonable, because we had moved into a totally different environment.

That whole process took one year. Imagine if my wife had been raped! Imagine if I had been physically assaulted! Imagine if I had been torn away from my children as they were sold down the river. Imagine if many of the things that we came to experience during slavery had happened to us, not in secret, but right out in the open. I just read a tale description of one of the most barbaric punishments imaginable, where women would be stuffed with gunpowder and blown up in front of the slave community. This was domestic terrorism at its worst. Imagine the impact that would have on the children, born and unborn, the men and the women.

I've got a relative who lives in the north and refuses to return to Georgia, the land of her birth, because her mother was shot to death by a White man while she was in her arms. Now, this relative is more than grown, she's in her 70's or 80's, but the pain of that occurrence is ever present. How could slavery have been any milder. Certainly, the after effects continue to ripple like the waves, not on a pond, but on the ocean, because these incidents didn't end with the demise of plantation slavery. Following slavery we lived through reconstruction and the subsequent development of the Klan, The Knights of the White Camellia, The John Birch Society and numerous other groups of White Nationalists, so called patriots, who are still with us today.

We continue to read stories in the daily news of brutal acts committed by Whites on Black people from all across this nation. We continually see reports of white mobs, individuals and organizations perpetuating violent acts on members of our community for no other reason than they can do it and get away with it. So, the trauma of slavery, the stain of slavery still covers this nation like a pall.

Dr. Carol Swain claims that asking for reparations would be upsetting to whites and that really all we need is an apology. An apology would be a start, but it cannot be the end result, for an apology negates the fact that not only was harm caused in the past, but that we continue to be harmed in the present, because there were no long lasting consequences for the heinous crimes committed by the slave owners and their affiliates under color of law.

It wasn't just the acts that were grievous, it was the laws themselves, which is why we should, in all honesty charge the U.S. government with crimes against humanity and seek remuneration. They would have us believe that to pay such a price would be foolish, because we wouldn't know how to spend it. Bogus, that's never brought up when someone sues for real, psychological and emotional damages in court. They would have us believe that we're just a bunch of lazy nerdowells, negating the fact that we built this "great country" that everyone wants to immigrate to. They'd have us believe that our plight is due to our own lack of vision and planning, when they know darn well that they continue to place stumbling blocks in our path, at every turn.

At this point we'd love if the playing field could be leveled. But at the same time part of leveling that playing field should include reparations for damages that have been and continue to be done to the members of our community separately and collectively.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stewart Africentric Elementary Relocates to Crouse Community Learning Center

Contrary to misleading reports, in the Akron Beacon Journal, Stewart Africentric Elementary is not closing. The building will not be used after this year, but the Stewart community will be relocating to Crouse Community Learning Center at 1000 Diagonal Road in Akron. The current building for Crouse Elementary has been in continuous use since 1919.



At the end of this school year Crouse Elementary will be razed and out of its ashes will be born a new community learning center (CLC). As of the Fall 2009 Crouse CLC will be the home of the current student body already in attendance at Crouse and the student body of Stewart Africentric Elementary school.


Teachers, parents and interested community members took a look at their soon to be new home in the Crouse Community Learning Center. A parent meeting will be held at Stewart Africentric Elementary School on March 5th, 2009 at 6 PM to answer any questions community members may have. You can also reach school officials for more information at 330/873-3396.

The newly constructed building stands on the same plot of land as the old Crouse we all remember. But, instead of 3 - 4 floors, depending on how you count, the new building has a low profile with only 2 stories and lots of windows. As we toured the building the afternoon sun lit up every room. The inclusion of a number of large windows in strategic locations was a brilliant design stroke. From the rear of the building it looks somewhat foreboding. But, from the front it has a much more open and inviting feeling.

This feeling only lasts for a moment though, because all visitors will have to enter through the main office which is secured and will require visitors to be buzzed in by the receptionist who will have a birdseye view of anyone coming in the front door, while also being able to view all other entrances on a monitor from their office.

The building will house the 200 Crouse students currently enrolled and 120 additional students from Stewart Africentric Elementary. For the moment plans have not been announced for the current building housing Stewart's students. However, from all indications their will only be one principal with the possibility of an assistant principal. Whether or not there will be an assistant principal is unsure. All of the students from Stewart will be housed on the second floor. Crouse students will be on the first floor and will also occupy one additional area on the second floor in a separate wing of the building.



There will be some areas that the students from both schools will share, primarily the gym, cafeteria/auditorium, clinic, art room and the music room, not to mention the outside playground area.

The playground and a second parking lot that will allow people to enter the gymnasium at ground level are still in the works.



Overall the building itself gets a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It seems that they've thought of everything and have a realistic plan. The school will house 500 students at capacity, but will start with around 350 students. There will be a number of openings so parents whose children are not already enrolled at Crouse or Stewart should contact APS as soon as possible. These openings will not last long. When Helen Arnold CLC opened the demand exceeded their capacity to meet it, so some students were turned away in that instance.



It will be a real challenge for the Stewart parents and staff to maintain the Africentric program in their new environment. Hopefully, they won't be swallowed up in the new building or lose their unique identity. I'm hopeful, this merger with Crouse will work out better than expected and both programs will flourish in the bright light of day which will bathe the school on every sunny day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kofi's Inauguration Journal: Part I

Last week Barack H. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. His part was well orchestrated and quite dramatically portrayed on an international stage. With the exception of John Roberts misstep during the swearing in ceremony it appeared to go off without a hitch.

When Obama's in town it's as if a hurricane just landed. Thousands of people rallied to his cause during his presidential campaign. Millions attended his inauguration and now the hopes of the nation rest at his doorstep. Will he be up to the challenge? Will the Congress back him to the hilt or will his flower wilt and die along with the hopes of the nation.

I was in D.C. for the inauguration with my oldest daughter, Miri Muhammad and Rita Rogers, a teacher from Stewart Africentric Elementary School in Akron, OH. Our first night in town we attended the African Inaugural Ball at the Hilton hotel in Silver Springs, MD.; a well attended international affair. The program and the participants were from numerous countries on the three most populous continents in the world. Africa was well represented, of course, but there were also guests from the U.S. and the U.K. as well.

The entertainment on Sunday evening derived from Africa, and the Americas. Countries represented included Canada, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Nigeria, USA and Kenya. The organizers of the event are US residents from Nigeria. Featured performers of the evening included a Nova Scotian African dance troupe and Emma I.K. Agu, a Nigerian singer who regaled us with his rendition of "Obama: the Wind of Change." Marcia Griffiths, one of Bob Marley's back-up singers, ended the evening with her hit song "Electric Slide." Everyone had a good time dancing the night away.

Following the Ball we went around the corner to Langon Ethiopian restaurant, where we enjoyed a well deserved meal of beans and vegetables. This was to be the first of a number of Ethiopian establishments we visited that evening. At each location we visited the excitement level was high and everyone was planning on attending the ceremonies the next day. It appears that Obama has broken down many of the barriers and eliminated many of the stereotypes of Black American men.

We spent the day before the inauguration and inauguration day in and around the National Mall. The day before the inauguration we visited the Pavilion below the Old Federal Post Office and traced part of the parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue, all the way to the North side of the White house to the see the presidential reviewing stand. Spirits were high and the atmosphere was congenial. People were in town from all over the world, not just the U.S. We got to meet many of these people and recorded their stories. It seemed like everyone was a vendor or a news reporter. There were armies of both in town for the swearing in ceremony.

Traveling to and from the mall was a breeze on the Metro. I was glad that we planned to stay with friends who had the foresight to plan ahead and purchase our commemorative passes in advance. The lines to get any kind of pass at the station were extremely long. But, with our prepaid passes we breezed right on through to the lower level where we got on board a train to the Federal Triangle station.

The next day we arrived at the Metro station at about 4am. The rush to get to the National Mall had already begun. Cars were lined up to get into the Park & Ride lot at the Old Branch Metro station. We managed to skirt some of it, by coming in another entrance. But, long lines would be the rule from then on out.

We had been told not to bring folding chairs, ice chests, back packs or even a thermos because of security concerns. So, upon exiting the Metro station the first thing we did was go to Star Bucks, where we encountered 2 uniformed Secret Service agents in line to get their morning cup of Joe. However, when we actually got to the National Mall very little of the security we had been expecting was in place. We arrived at the ninth street entrance at about 6:30am and waited patiently for the gate to open at 7:00am.

The crowd continued to grow larger by the minute. Everyone was in high spirits and on several occasions started up an Obama campaign chant, "Fired Up, Ready to Go!" As the crowd continued to grow several people passed out. In order to get to them the authorities sent a truck directly into the crowd. This caused a lot of confusion. A few cool heads prevailed and disaster was averted not once, but twice as the first vehicle was followed by a Humvee going the opposite direction. Soon after these incidents concluded we expected the gate would open, however we were informed that we needed to go to another gate on 14th Street.

We headed down the street to the appointed gate, but before we arrived someone in the crowd saw a gate that was open near the Smithsonian Castle. It was an unmanned gate hanging wide open. No metal detectors, no TSA officers, nothing but an open gate to the inauguration. People streamed through that gate with metal folding chairs and anything else they cared to bring with them. We had diligently come with only what was officially allowed according to information on the Secret Service website. Among the items we did bring with us were included three blankets. Each of us carried one of these blankets to the Mall.

Once we reached the Mall things went pretty smoothly. We found ourselves a spot with a good view on the hill around the Washington Monument and laid out some of our blankets. Rita and I headed across the street to the National Museum of American History (NMAH) to get warm. We were met there by throngs of people with the same idea. Here we did have to go through the pretense of security. But, by the time we arrived there at 9am the museum was packed to overflowing, seriously beyond capacity.

We stayed in the museum until 11:30am, before we finally ventured back out onto the Mall. By this time it was impossible to cross 15th street to return to the base of the Washington Monument and there was a huge crowd in front of the Capitol. so, we reconciled ourselves to a clearing near a jumbotron on the Mall just outside of the NMAH. This turned out to be a good spot, as we had plenty of room around us and an unobstructed view.

No sooner had we stepped on the Mall many of the noted dignitaries made their grand entrance, including Malia and Sasha. Cheers rose up from the crowd at the mention of their names. Then Joe Biden took his oath and the crowd roared with delight. Last, but not least it was Obama's turn to take the stage. Right before he took the oath of office Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Izhak Perlman, pianist
Gabriella Montero
and clarinetist Anthony McGill performed a special piece composed especially for the inauguration of Barack Obama entitled "Air and Simple Gifts." We are not told that what we heard was actually a recorded rendition of the piece, as it was too cold to keep their instruments in tune. Obama took the oath and gave his inaugural address and the crowd dispersed.

Many of them did as we did and reentered the NMAH. The cold was bone-chilling, penetrating our outer garments in short order. All of the Smithsonian buildings were open that day. It purportedly cost the Inaugural Committee approximately $700,000 for these accommodations and was well worth it. Many of us would not have made it through the day without the respite offered us by the Museum complex.

Our plan was to give people a chance to exit the Mall before heading to the nearest Metro station, which on that day was at Le Enfant Plaza. We had found a cafe in the NMAH and decided 12:30pm was a good time to get something to eat. There are 2 cafes in the NMAH. We decided to go to the largest one on the Lower Level. There was a long line there, but it moved quickly. We went through the line and got our food.

The place was packed with people like ourselves from various places. Some of the most interesting people we met during our stay were seated at our table. One woman we met had been to the March On Washington, The Poor People's Campaign of 1968, three inaugurations and numerous other major events on the Mall. Everyone agreed the camaraderie was the main attraction for the day, not the swearing in ceremony, not the celebrities or the media, but the everyday people who willing and patiently shared their stories, they were the main attraction.

FOUR REASONS FOR NOT EATING ANIMALS

What follows are four basic reasons that people do not eat animals. From my experience everyone falls into one or more of these categories.

  1. Weight Loss - Over weight or obese individuals, models, actresses, military personnel, athletes.

A. This is the most common reason for changing ones diet in the modern world. Doctors who have accepted the hypothesis that cholesterol and calories are the bane of existence typically direct their patients to cut down on foods high in cholesterol and calories, which amounts to less animals and animal byproducts, such as eggs, milk and cheese.

B. These changes work for some people, however many people end up going from feast to famine. Oprah Winfrey is a good example of this.

  1. Health Concerns - Sufferers of Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma, Allergies, Constipation, Hemorrhoids (bleeding piles), heart disease, ulcers, etc.

A. Anthropologists have hypothesized what foods various extinct animals ate based on their physiognomy, particularly their jaw and dental structure. In other words, animals with dental structures similar to dogs and, or sharks; as well as short intestinal tracts are classified as “meat” eaters, while those with teeth structures similar to the elephant, cow, gorilla, etc. are identified as plant eaters.

B. The human dental structure is along the lines of these plant eaters, as is our long intestinal tract.

  1. Humane Concerns - Animal Rights Activists, Brahmins, Krishna Devotees and Buddhists.

A. The killing of animals is cruel and inhumane therefore, we should not kill them for any reason.

B. It takes more energy to make 1lb. of beef than it does to make 1lb. of vegetables because almost all the animals we eat are plant eaters. We could save a lot of energy by eating the plants ourselves, let the animals live and be healthier all at the same time.

  1. Religious Convictions - 7th Day Adventists, Rastas, Brahmins, Krishna Devotees and Buddhists. In the religious texts of the religions I just mentioned the eating of plants over animals is advocated.

A. Genesis 1:29 “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” King James Version

B. The vow of the Nazarites/Rastas: Numbers 6

1 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. 5All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. 6All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person. 7He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.

King James Version

C. According to the Hindu Holy Book Manusmriti, “Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to (the attainment of) heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun (the use of) meat. (5:48)”


Excerpted from "The Road To Better Health" by Kofi Khemet, copyright 2009.