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Archive for April 2014

When Flipping the Script Goes Wrong: Review of 'The Isis Papers'

I'm a little embarrassed to say that as a scholar of African American Literature, I'm just getting around to reading Frances Cress Welsing's The Isis Papers: The Keys to The Colors. I'm also a little reluctant to admit that just about every one of the 206 pages I've read so far has been a struggle.

As a brief overview, The Isis Papers is a collection of Welsing's essays pertaining to white supremacy, its effect on blacks and what we can do to break this cycle. Summarized, this sounds like a good look, but upon reading it, I've discovered this book comes with its own set of problems, two of which I'll address here.

1)You can't address hate with hate
If an individual gives you reason to dislike them, fine. But hating a group of people has never solved anything. And it may just be my perception, but I feel that in trying to define and break down the white supremacy structure, the author has to categorize all white people. I don't know about you, but I'm not aware of any people that are so homogeneous, they don't mind being categorized in a negative light. Do I believe all white people have benefited from their push for power? Yes. I also believe there are those who haven't actively contributed to the movement and aren't aware of the extent of their privilege. I can't hate them for this, all I can do is try to educate them and in turn hear their experiences.

And while we're on the subject of my beliefs, I believe every group has their good and bad and as is often true in this sinful world, the negative gets more attention. I also believe God made us all and made all of us different for a purpose. And I believe we all share the common purpose of love.

All that being said, the best way to address people and situations is as they come. Goes along the lines of one of the book's gems.
"Truth is 'that which is.' It is specific energy in the universe"
- Paper Money and Gold As Symbols
Frances Cress Welsing
2) You can't define yourself through someone else
The above statement is something I couldn't quite put into words until I ran across this statement in the essay Justifiable Homicide:
"Black manhood does not mean macho or money, but instead it means warrior or soldier against white supremacy."
All of which I agreed with up until the last part. Manhood should mean all that all the time not just in the face of white supremacy. Definitions like this one are scattered throughout the book and have left me thinking, if we define ourselves solely in the context of fighting white supremacy, we're left without anything outside of this struggle. I'd like to think that I'm so much more than that. And based on Welsing's call for black self-respect, I'd like to think that she wants all of us to know we're much more than that.

That's all the analyzing I have energy for. Like I said previously, there were some gems in this book. I highly recommend The Symbolism, Logic and Meaning of "Justifiable Homicide" in the 1980s. Taken with a grain of salt, it's a very interesting essay.

I almost didn't write a review for this book because it's been so hard for me to read, but then I realized it deserved more than that. Although I didn't agree with a lot and found many of the metaphors stretched to the point of being loopy, this book opened my eyes to different schools of thought and forced me to analyze my own belief system. It tested and taught me. And after all, nobody said growth was easy.

Dance Fever

Earlier this year, while I was being lazy and not posting to my blog, I was actually not being lazy in other areas of my life. After 10 years, I've returned to my first love - ballet. I started taking two ballet classes a week, so now I'm dancing three days a week (yaye!!).

In my Monday evening class, I've noticed a silver-haired dancer with pretty good technique. Curious on if she is a former pro with exotic tales of the ballet of old, I approached her and asked how long she'd been dancing. She told me she danced a little as a child, but didn't really pick it up until her 30s. She's now in her 60s.

30 years of dance.

And then I got to thinking - at 32, I'm a 29 year vet myself. Although in different stages of our lives, the silver-haired dancer and I found our passion around the same time.

We talked about how you may leave dance in pursuit of other life interests, but somehow it's in your bones, embedded in your very essence and so it always pulls you back. And I left our conversation hoping I'll never need to give up this feeling, praying that I'll dance into my twilight.

The next morning, I ran into this video of a 79-year-old woman with such a story. She left dance to raise her family, then years later and after the loss of her husband, she learned to do this

The Classics: 'Infra 5' - Max Richter

I always say if someone were ever to make a movie about me, this song has to be in it. Love how it mimics life. Everything starts out so simple and layers keep getting added until you have a beautiful creation which quickly morphs into the chaos of every day life.

[My] Definition of Friendship

Sometimes the easist way to define something is to list every thing it's not. So here goes.

Having just entered my 32nd year of life, it's as good a time as any to reflect on one pressing lesson I've taken from the past year. That being, I've confirmed I truly cannot exert energy on those who wouldn't do the same for me.

I've always maintained a select group of friends and was quick to cut people off if they showed an inkling of disloyalty. But this past year or so, I made an effort to be forgiving and cultivate relationships I would've ended in the past. This decision was based on my acceptance and love of my own perfect imperfections and realizing those around me have resolved to do the same for me.

I've come out on the other end having defined these philosophies about selfishness and friendship:

Every relationship is selfish. We have other people in our lives because of how that relationship makes us feel. The problem comes when someone consistently feels it’s okay to ask of you without ever providing energy in return. No relationship is ever going to be equal, but it should always be a give and take.

Which brings me to this: I can’t be in any type of relationship where I’m putting more into a person than they’re willing to put into themselves. We all had to start from somewhere, but at this point in my life, I can’t be around people based on their potential. I have my own work to do on myself and relationships based on bettering someone else do nothing but take energy away from this. It’s selfish for someone to expect me to do the heavy lifting in their life. And simply put, I cannot love anybody more than they love themselves.

So, to get to my final point and to end on a light note – thank you to all of my loved ones who made my birthday celebration unforgettable. You’re exceptional people and even more (and selfishly) so, you’re great friends.

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