In Honor of Black History Month


Cape Coast Today: Slaves Departure Point

Dear Readers,

Yes, I am fully aware that BHM is relatively an American tradition. And yes, I meant to post the article below a few days ago. It’s been a busy month. Getting ready pursue a different path,  more in line with my life’s calling.

I will never forget my trip to the Motherland. Having spent two weeks among some of the most beautiful and kind-hearted people I have ever met. The visit to the slave castles, left an indelible impression on my soul. How I wished that I had more time to return again, and again. I plan on returning to Africa, until then I have memories.  So, there was no doubt in my mind, when I found this piece below, what I would share to honor this month, and what it represents to me, as a black woman.

Read on.

“Soooo you mean to tell me that someone down your ancestry line survived being chained to other human bodies for several months in the bottom of a disease-infested ship during the Middle Passage, lost their language, customs and traditions, picked up the English language as best they could while working free of charge from sunup to sundown as they watched babies sold from out of their arms and women raped by ruthless slave owners.

Took names with no last names, no birth certificates, no heritage of any kind, braved the Underground Railroad, survived the Civil War to enter into sharecropping…

Learned to read and write out of sheer will and determination, faced the burning crosses of the KKK, everted their eyes at the black bodies swinging from ropes hung on trees…

Fought in World Wars as soldiers to return to America as boys, marched in Birmingham, hosed in Selma, jailed in Wilmington, assassinated in Memphis, segregated in the South, ghettoed in the North, ignored in history books, sterotyped in Hollywood…

and in spite of it all someone in your family line endured every era to make sure you would get here and you receive one rejection, face one obstacle, lose one friend, get overlooked, and you want to quit? How dare you entertain the very thought of quitting. People you will never know survived from generation to generation so you could succeed. Don’t you dare let them down!!

Give this to your young people who don’t know their history and want to get weak!

It is NOT in our DNA to quit!” – Author Unknown

 Until the next post, take care of yourselves and your families.

Best,

 Juan

 

 

 

Will U B The 1?


Jack Kerouac once said: “I don’t know, I don’t care, and it does not make any difference”. This quote appears counterproductive to the point I am trying to make in today’s blog. We’ve all uttered these words. Perhaps, in a futile attempt get someone to stop hounding us about an insurmountable problem. The title of this post might lead some to believe it is about finding the love of their lives. Knowing the signs. And person. To avoid. Etc. Sorry to disappoint.

Today’s post is a horse of a different color. Cliche. It’s about making a difference. In the life of one. Amidst the ills and strife in the world. The Ponzi schemers. Dodgy politicians. Stories of death.Hunger.Starvation.Natural disasters.Animal cruelty.Child slave labor. Civil wars and the resulting death toll. Dictators defying the UN.Human trafficking. Add to this list. Is it any wonder many are disconcerted?Weighed down by heavy burdens of helplessness? Guilt for not knowing what to do. Surely someone else with more prestige, and power,would do a better job. My small, sometimes insignificant efforts don’t really matter. Do they? A band-aid is ineffectual against a gushing wound.

Here is an invitation to consider a different perspective.We are familiar with the Starfish Story. Motivational speakers have used it to energize crowds. And light fires in hearts. Read it here  The Star Thrower. Whether we do a random act of kindness.Volunteer. Or go the extra mile. One simple act can change lives. And restore faith. To the one who received it. And perchance, to the person who saw our selfless example.

Every day the media greets us with one crisis after another. At the forefront is the major humanitarian crisis in East Africa. The unthinkable crimes in the Syrian cities, such as Homs. Let’s not forget the genocides of the early 1990’s. I have often wondered, how can these things be allowed to happen? How can millions starve to death on one continent, while food is being discarded everyday on another? How can one dictator be allowed wreak havoc on people’s lives? We all have questions. And watered down philosophies with which to answer. Not forgetting eloquently spoken rhetorics. It does nothing for the those who are suffering. In the eyes of world. Or the neighbor next door.

Maybe you and I cannot do much for the hunger crisis in East Africa. Maybe we are powerless to go into Syria. And confront the cowards who ruthlessly and methodically take lives to scare. And control. Maybe we can’t bring the men without souls from the Congo, and other areas of the world, in front of the ICC. Try them for kidnapping boys and girls under 15, and force them to take part in hostilities. Justice or karma does prevail, as it did in this case; Well Done . However, we simply can’t stand by. And wait around.

We may not have the money and star power of well-known philanthropists. Or rock stars. The great Muhammad Ali once stated: “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause. In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about”. However, we can raise awareness. We can infect our communities with our passion. And enthusiasm. And pray the infection spreads. Like a virus. And contaminate thousands more. We can hold a garage sale. And give the proceeds to charity. We can host a dinner party for friends, present information, and brainstorm ideas of how you can band together. And do something. Most people will help if asked. We don’t have to feel helpless. We don’t have do it alone.We can dedicate a day’s pay or more if you can afford it, to a cause. This site www.onedayswages.org shows you how to do this. Do you draw? Paint? Are you good with your hands? Perhaps you can sell crafts at a fair. And give away all the proceeds.

Here are more ideas by Karen Chaffe. We can help. In our own backyard. Volunteer to read to the elderly or to tutor the young or illiterate. Organize the planting of a community garden in a vacant lot where those on low or fixed incomes can give to putting more food on the table. Donate at or to a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a shelter for abused women and children. Start a neighborhood watch group to help lower crime. Adopt an impoverished family for the holidays, or any day, through your church or place of business. Help them with food and clothing. Start a book drive and make them available to the disabled or to children who have none at home. Cook a meal or run an errand for an elderly, ill, or person with a disability, or a veteran. Involve your children when you can. They will learn by your example.

Permit me to revisit the starfish story before concluding. It is possible the youngster did not save the life of every starfish he threw back into the water. Maybe some of them died. However, for the one (s) that made it? It made a difference.We will not solve all the problems in the world. Truthfully, the problems will remain. Long after you and I have fallen asleep for the last time. Nevertheless while we are here, we have life. And hope. The hope of making a difference in the life of one. Remember how you felt as the recipient of a kind act. You did not ask. Nor hinted you needed help. The person somehow knew.

Who needs our help today? The homeless. The lonely, elderly neighbor. The mother with a mentally disabled child. The person you served his only meal for the day, at the soup kitchen. The animal left for dead, but whom you nursed back to health. The child you sponsored in Africa. And the generations you helped to save. The seat you gave up on public transport. The pro bono work you did for the one who could not pay. The run/walk you completed to raise awareness for a global cause. Shall I continue? No. You get it. Someone benefitted. The one whose faith in humanity you helped to restore. The one who now has more hope for tomorrow.The prayer you just answered.

Time does not allow me to cover all the issues I wanted to get across. I hope we feel a renewed sense of purpose. Remember,we might never see the results of our actions. Perhaps no one will thank us. The situation won’t change much. Perhaps people will question our ability to take matters into our own hands. Then again, we may see small changes.Our actions can spur a movement. A revolution.The march you took part in could result in legislative changes.Or help to create new laws. You can help someone see a better way. After so many have tried. And failed. Someone could be waiting on you to call on them today. This minute. Regardless of how things turn out, the greatest mistake you and I can ever make is to do nothing.

I must thank my fellow blogger and friend Paul, for “planting” the idea in my head to write about this topic. I’m a follower of his blog for a reason. You can check it out here www.mazunguman.com . Our conversation has led me to make a more concentrated effort in learning how to recognize the one who needs my help.

Enjoy one of my favorite songs of all time; Circle of Life

Until the next post, can one person make a difference? You bet.

Best,

Juan