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In Marching For Our Lives We Recognize That Black Lives Matter

The Educate to Liberate collective (comprised of conscious scholars, educators, activists and others aligned with an academic, liberation ideology), wholly salute the #MarchForOurLives movement for its inclusivity. We acknowledge this initiative as a powerful platform to prioritize both the uncompromising survivor spirit of Parkland students who were very recently victimized by gun violence; and to highlight the pivotal, unfiltered voices of Black youth, whose very existence has always been unjustly traumatized by violence. Given that violence is a tangible accompaniment and by-product of America’s embedded system of institutionalized racism, Black youth are passionate and informed advocates. Though all-too-often marginalized, the courageous voice and historic revolutionary activism of Black youth can now begin to duly earn a righteous position of esteem in the youth leadership canon. The recognition that Black lives, do indeed matter, is long overdue. And in order to truly be meaningful it is incumbent upon this and all other viable movements, to increasingly sustain deep inclusiveness to engender respect and/or to impact history as an authentic, revolutionary force of change.

It is an inarguable fact that Black youth have long laid an exemplary foundation with which to usher in this modern, clarion call for anti-violence activism and systemic change. The uncompromising, valued and painfully self-aware narratives of Black youth have repeatedly been sounded: in Oakland-on behalf of Oscar Grant; in Chicago-on behalf of Hadiya Pendleton; in Ferguson-on behalf of Mike Brown; in Baltimore-on behalf of Freddie Grey; and perhaps most tragically, in New York-as evidenced by Erica Garner’s unscripted, martyrdom-aligned supreme sacrifice on behalf of her unlawfully murdered father, Eric Garner. In fact, because the articulate and impassioned voices of Black youth have so long been ignored by mainstream media-it is glaringly apparent that the #MarchForOurLives youth movement stands on mighty shoulders.

Judging by the passion and eloquence of the conscious youth of all ethnicities able to utilize this national platform to our collective advantage, the selective omission of past injustice upon oppressed masses (in particular that of Black people), has clearly not been lost on this informed, social media armed and politically savvy generation. As a matter of documented record, today’s youth are literally screaming: “Representation Matters” in the most poignant ways conceivable, as they speak truth to power on behalf of the issues of gun reform, marginalization of the needs of American youth and misplaced political allegiances. Undoubtedly, the notion of inclusion is itself a Revolutionary act.

Based on the widespread success of the #MarchForOurLives initiatives around the country the empowered, collective message of our youth is clear: enough is indeed enough and it seems NRA funded politicians are being put on notice, at the same time the media is being duly forewarned that the whitewashing of the anti-violence movement, is unacceptable. It is both transparent and disingenuous for the mass media to continually capitalize upon the abject suffering of the Black masses in a vacuum as merely “a Black problem”. Violence in the Black community has been intentionally used as a means to further perpetuate the myth of White supremacy, exacerbate the oppression of impoverished schools, neighborhoods and/or to increasingly promote injustice, racism and the systemic extinction of Black people. Clearly gun violence (and the extremist right-wing, hate propaganda determined to have repeatedly fueled the countless young, White, terrorist shooters), has now officially backfired on America. As such, violence can no longer be falsely characterized as a norm of the Black experience, but is an unprecedented enigma which encompasses the entire American experience…

The #MarchForOurLives movement leaders are duly noted for their conscious, moral barometer and strategic, inclusive attempts to engage a few key voices of Black youth in this initiative. It is becoming more apparent that the experienced voices of Black people are no longer considered incidental to the youth leadership narrative, but rather worthy of a vital national platform of significance, which should have been here all the time. No longer will the Black experience be overwhelmingly ignored and omitted from the public platform of the national anti-violence stage. Our dues have been paid and our investment is in blood, sweat, tears and the incalculable loss of Black lives.

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And A Child Shall Lead Them…

The youth of America have spoken. Their message is loud and clear. And like @LittleMissFlint their impassioned plea and powerful, uncompromising leadership will resonate throughout the annals of history, as far more than just a mere 17-minutes, non-violent demonstration. The wave of meaningful student activism, sparked by the outspoken survivors of the most recent school shooting massacre (at the now infamous, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida), has only just begun to reveal the leadership potential of this savvy demographic. As the world watched, our children officially forged a firm place in international history on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 also known as #NationalWalkoutDay in concert with what is bound to morph into a formidable youth-led movement to stand the test of time. The simple yet significant takeaway from this historic movement? #Enough.

This entire generation was raised in the literal crossfire of countless episodes of school violence – rendered more disastrous by the widespread proliferation of U.S. assault weapons. Therefore, no other population is more acutely affected, painfully aware and ultimately more qualified to comprise this organic movement and address the prevalent U.S. school gun violence issue than our children. In terms of specific demands, the youth driven, @NationalSchoolWalkout platform realistically advocated for the following 3 Congressional actions:

-Ban assault weapons;

-Require universal background checks prior to gun sales;

-Pass pivotal gun violence legislation empowering U.S. courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.

While students across the country marched to enact Revolutionary and grassroots level reforms to end gun violence and ensure school safety, the U.S. House of Representatives simultaneously passed a bill to fund security measures within our nation’s schools. This bipartisan bill was a definite start in the right direction, however it admittedly fell short of the intended goal due to its conspicuous lack of inclusion of any of the aforementioned platform demands. Of course, as a potential form of adult-inspired and nonsensical distraction, there is also an increasing debate about whether or not to arm teachers (who already suffer from the criminal absence of tangible resources and a respectful increase in meager pay wages to empower the successful education of our students), but alas…I digress. The most significant and newsworthy caveat to this powerful youth movement which bears mentioning for its admirable ‘Bad-Assness’, is that the youth overwhelmingly frown upon any form of traditional, sell-out, NRA-aligned, hence ‘deep political pockets’ financed gun control initiatives; but opt instead to ‘give the finger’ to the status quo, which openly prioritizes guns over their lives.

In a nutshell, our children are courageously paving the way for entire generations of seemingly clueless adults, as well as future generations yet to be born. The youth are righting the wrongs they unintentionally inherited from us-their beloved parents-and in the case of the #NationalSchoolWalkout movement, they are literally fighting for their lives. This radical changing of the guard is the fulfillment of prophecy of all successful movements and is – as it should be – an uncompromising force teeming with independent thought, interracial/intergenerational support and replete with lasting change agent capabilities. Our legendary Civil Rights Movement predecessors would be proud. I am wholly inspired and deeply ecstatic to witness this remarkable show of well organized, civil disobedience. As adults let’s agree to remove the limiting constraints of either Democrat or Republican party agendas and reserve our trademark and otherwise woefully misplaced judgment to simply stand in awe of our children’s collective ascendancy to leadership. Our future is in good, capable (and assault weapons-free), hands.

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My African Spirituality Explained

Religion is manmade and as such, inherently flawed. Despite addressing the seemingly innumerable soul and spirit devoid shortcomings of religion, I prefer instead to highlight that I am unashamedly and deeply spiritual and acknowledge my oneness with the divine source of life – God. Finally, years after having been raised as a devout Christian and then later having cultivated a healthy knowledge and love of the discipline inherent in Islam – I am proud to have wholly embraced and proudly raised my daughter to have a deep spiritual base and an equal acceptance of and respect for religious freedom. As such, my journey to African spirituality begins…

Though my life has spanned the absolute extremes of: periods of religious fanaticism; multiple Christian church inspired instances of ‘giving my life to Christ’ and baptisms; an abrupt, ideological rejection of Christianity and an eager embrace of orthodox Islam in college; a permanent, legal name change and spiritually affirming, African-centered name change ceremony; a hesitant yet spirit-filled and brief return to Christianity in young adulthood (but with an informed, discerning and inquiring mind – adoring qualities which the Black church generally frowns upon); an African-centered and decidedly ecumenical marriage ceremony which featured an idyllic commune with nature and was jointly officiated by a team (my A.M.E. pastor, revered members of the elected and Black Nationalist centered “Council of Elders”, AND spiritually uplifting, culturally inspired dancers/drummers), and a wedding ceremony, reception replete with ancient African traditions; only to determine (throughout my 30s and now in my 40s), that I am no longer a willing convert to organized religion, in any form. On the contrary, for the past 8 years or so, I have evolved to adopt a non-organized and much more fitting, affirming form of African spirituality – which I realize now was always implied in earlier, pivotal life decisions – and which, I pray, sustains me through the remainder of my unique life’s journey.

My increasingly intimate relationship with the divine source is strengthened through a unique combination of (previously learned and admittedly religious routines), including prayer, meditation, song, dance, praise and worship, charity, activism, physical exercise, work and using my life toward the fulfillment of the greater good. Yet, even in my heightened spiritual consciousness and innate joy of having grown closer to the divine, it is not lost on me that my unique African spirituality is yet another representation of the many ways in which my life differs from the accepted norm(s) of this society. Admittedly, my enlightened embrace of a powerful and affirming African spiritual base, also draws unfavorable judgments from some ‘holier than thou’ religious zealots (primarily among close family and friends), who consider it their obligation or self-appointed, pious duty to damn all who fail to subscribe to their myopic and various, un-enlightened forms of organized religion, most often expressed via the more popular routes of Christianity or Islam.

There is at least more widespread acknowledgement of other religious and spiritual paradigms in 2018. In light of a recent New York Times article highlighting Black people’s widespread abandonment of Christian Evangelical churches (and its corresponding White Supremacist ideology); and data reflecting the Millennial generations’ reticence to subscribe to virtually any of the traditional tenets of organized religion-I am convinced that a depth of spiritual growth may well ascend to a powerful universal movement. My own adoption of a rich, spiritual life in favor of organized religion, is a powerful testimony of my personal growth, an expression of Revolutionary faith, and a fierce acknowledgement of the divine. I am enormously blessed and affirmed to honor God in much more substantive ways at this stage of profound enlightenment.

Perhaps there are some who after reading this blog, would still reserve judgment and prefer to pray for my salvation and soul’s redemption as they struggle to fully comprehend my name, abandonment of organized religion, or unique form of African spirituality and all-encompassing praise. However, in my ultra peaceful household with strategically placed, ancient Egyptian/Kemetian symbols of life (the Ankh), and daily rituals which inspire prayer, praise, worship, joy, and most importantly, LOVE… I am at peace with my unique spiritual ascendancy to this coveted rank. I am interested in upholding the sacred tenets of divinity in my conscious, Revolutionary and purpose filled life which solely honors God and my ancestors than in being preoccupied with the judgment of others (who may unknowingly still be on their own, individual journey to spiritual fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment).

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White Supremacy in The Trump Era

The Metro Detroit area has always been marked by the racially divisive undertones of White v. Black separation and as so goes Detroit, the rest of the country mirrors this pattern. In a curious paradox, Detroit is just as noteworthy for our historic alignment to figures like Detroit Red/Malcolm X and the infamous Rebellion (erroneously referred to as a riot) in the 60s; as we are for the storied legacy of White Flight, segregated city and suburban population trends and for a history of active, continuous Klan activity in areas like Howell, Mason, and even within the heart of the city. With Detroit area locations like the Little Caesar’s Arena and area artists like Kid Rock serving as the veritable ‘poster child’ for confederate flag wearing forms of institutionalized oppression – it is timely for all Detroit area residents to #StayWoke and to continually #EducateToLiberate the marked surge in White supremacy in the Trump era, particularly as it manifests in this city.


The age of Trump marks a curios surge in White supremacy activity nationwide and this area is certainly no exception. This weekend, Alt-Right attorney Kyle Bristow has convened a conference of like-minded White supremacists (to be held in a ‘secret’ location in Detroit), and this is not surprising given that this area is not unlike other metropolitan areas in this country, which have become a hub for White supremacist and neo-Nazi activities. Perhaps as a public and unprecedented show of the Trump administration’s support of such endeavors, Vice President Pence is uncharacteristically ‘visiting’ Detroit today as well…(things that make you go Hmmm).

As Bristow’s organization comprised exclusively of White men, Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc. spearheads this White supremacist conference event and America’s de-facto, alt-right spokesperson Richard Spencer converges on the Michigan State University campus on Monday, March 5, 2018 – it is imperative for grassroots and social activists, city residents and all people of good conscience to #StayWoke and not be lulled into a haze of complacency or mis-guided media propaganda. Informed activists have always suspected that the Fox-led media leanings to the alt-right intentionally focuses public attention on that which is reactionary or insignificant, rather than ensuring that we as a people are well-informed and proactive in our knowledge base. Therefore, it is our responsibility to monitor and effectively ring the alarm of such incendiary, White supremacist activities as they crop up nationwide. The prevalent surge in White supremacy is a poignant reminder of our collective obligation to be mindful of all of the Holocaust reminiscent ‘ethnic cleansing’ tactics of the Trump administration and to #StayWoke as we conduct our everyday lives.

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Rites of Passage: In Celebration of Our Daughters

As I welcome my daughter’s 19th year of solar returns, I pause to “Give Thanks” for my most revered role of: Mother. Among such titles as daughter, sister, wife, friend, educator, scholar, activist, writer, Goddess, Queen and soon-to-be Dr…still, nothing is, nor ever has been quite as fulfilling, (for indeed all else pales in comparison), to the esteemed rank of motherhood.

This year my annual, sacred and Rites of Passage inspired tribute to my daughter is rendered somewhat more public – because of this blog designed to Educate to Liberate. Moreover, what is natural to some, might be instructive to others – so I willingly share a portion of my unique philosophy of maternal experience as a means to exchange ‘best practices’ and to otherwise challenge familiar, Euro-centered, seemingly shallow traditions and norms accompanied with the sacred Mother-daughter relationship.

Namely, many conscious Black women don’t regard the title and responsibility of Mother (purposeful capital ‘M’) lightly, and this fact alone speaks volumes. On the contrary, I, like my Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmothers before me, recognize the divine presence of ‘Loyalty, got Royalty inside my DNA’. And so, as an intentional embodiment of God and the divine I Am… I am proud to be a Black Woman: Mother of Creation, Progenitor of planet Earth, and Queen of the Universe. This status is a reminder that it’s incumbent upon me to teach and (most importantly), to lead by example.

Thus, as is our family’s personalized interpretation of traditional Pan-African cultural custom, I exercise the right to annually salute the Rites of Passage significance of my young adult daughter’s solar return with expressions much more meaningful than that which our resources can afford. A traditional, ROP acknowledgement of one’s birth is to exchange authentic gifts of the heart. Such endowments are not expended or measured in wealth, but are priceless all the same in that they reflect the insight, instructions and literal wisdom of the ages that Mothers are duly obligated to impart to our beloved daughters. It is important to establish an annual practice to cherish and commemorate the sacred Goddess Consciousness of our daughters throughout their lifetime(s) – because the world is comprised of far too many young women suffering from low self esteem and without a knowledge of self thus dooming future generations.

Nurturing, lessons and love don’t automatically cease at age 16, 18 or even 21. Nurturing our Goddess consciousness is a lifelong endeavor-so I am proud to celebrate my daughter. As a pertinent case in point, in prior years our ROP-inspired occasions and gifts of the heart have encompassed: poetry, sunrise meditation near a body of water, sacred women circles, books, chocolate dipped strawberries, unique trips and stay-cations, narrative/video tributes, handmade jewelry and waist beads, ceremonial henna, piercings (not automatically bestowed at birth, but rather earned and gifted beginning at age 7)…the list is endless, but the objective is abundantly clear. So long as Mothers substantively sow into and celebrate our daughters via time-honored, culturally significant and notable traditions, then we perpetuate a legacy of strong women who too have ‘Loyalty, got Royalty inside our DNA’ for countless generations yet to come.

Ultimately, our solar returns are meant to foster an increased knowledge of God/self and to bathe one in the infinite love and light, which will divinely center their life’s purpose and order one’s steps for the entire year ahead. And when as daughters, we are no longer blessed to have a Mother’s physical presence to bestow these sacred traditions and gifts, we are then entitled and divinely encouraged to engage in ritual libations, to ensure one’s readiness for the path ahead. So this year, prior to embarking on a long anticipated spiritual retreat and commencing with an annual narrative or video tribute – I pause to publicly salute my ‘Warlike, Revolutionary Blessing’ of a daughter and to give thanks for the divine light that is Jendayi Nkenge. Ase’!