Sunday, November 14, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Distressed By Stress?
How to turn off your body's automatic tension switch
and keep strain within manageable levels
It looks like an epidemic. It is everywhere. And it seems as if everyone has been afflicted by it — mothers, fathers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, preachers, teachers — no profession or individual has been left unscathed.
I call it Public Enemy No. 1. You may just call it stress.
You experience stress from four basic sources:
1. Environment. The sun, rain, pollution, noise and more can affect your mood.
2. Social stressors. Outside forces such as deadlines, financial problems, your work environment, long hours on the job and staff shortages can increase your stress level. Personal changes like the loss of a loved one or constant demands on your time from family and friends can also be a factor.
3. Physiological stress. Biological changes like menopause in women, illness, aging, lack of exercise and weight gain can increase your overall stress level.
4. Your thoughts. Your brain is like a giant computer that interprets changes in the environment and decides when to turn on your body's emergency response. How you interpret and label your present experience and what you predict for the future can serve to either relax or stress you.
Stress really begins with your appraisal of a situation.
The Stress On/Off Switch
Hans Selye, the first major researcher on stress, found that any problem — real or imagined — can cause a biological response. When a potential stressor is identified by your brain, the cerebral cortex sends an alarm to the hypothalamus. That, in turn, stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to make a series of changes in your body. Your heart may race. You may start breathing faster. Your hands and feet may get cold as blood is directed away from your extremities and digestive system and into the larger muscles that can help you fight or flee.
Unfortunately, problems arise when the fight and flight response continues unchecked as it does during times of chronic stress. Your adrenal glands start to secrete corticoids (adrenaline or epinephrine and norephidrine), which inhibit digestion, reproduction, growth, tissue repair and the response of your immune and inflammatory systems.
Fortunately for us, the same mechanism that turns on the stress response can also turn it off. This is called the relaxation response. As soon as you decide a situation is no longer dangerous, your brain stops sending messages to your nervous system. Three minutes after you shut off the threat, your brain stops sending messages to your nervous system and the fight or flight response burns off.
It is interesting to note that approximately 3 minutes after the fight and flight response is extinguished, your metabolism, heart and breathing rate, muscle tension and blood pressure all return to normal.
Coping With Stress
We must be very concerned about continuous stress. Stress can be cumulative if the stress receptors are constantly turned on. For example, stress from 2 years ago could still be affecting you now. It becomes important to know ourselves and our ability to cope with stress well enough to know when we need to ask for help. We need to cope with stress, not bottle it up.
There are some simple things we can do to reduce our stress level.
Body scanning involves taking a mental inventory of areas of tension in our body and mentally releasing this tension.
Want to try it? Close your eyes and ask yourself "Where am I tense?" Start with your toes and mentally move up your body. When you find a tension area, e.g., your neck, tell yourself that neck tension creates tension in your shoulders, your jaw, your entire body. You are hurting yourself. Tell yourself to let go of the tension. Then do it.
Keep a stress awareness journal for 2 weeks. Make a note of the times of day that are most stressful to you and what activity or activities you are involved in.
Be very specific in your journal. For example: 7 a.m. — Arrived at work. The night nurses had emergencies all night, the unit feels like a mad house. I've been here 3 minutes and already I'm tense.
By keeping a stress awareness journal, you will be able to see your own stress patterns. You'll be able to plan your day better, thereby avoiding as much stress as possible.
Next develop a plan of action to deal with everyday stress.
Meditation is the practice of uncritically attempting to focus your attention on one thing at a time. It is relatively unimportant exactly what that thing is and varies with one tradition to the next.
For example, you could use the cardiac monitor, IV pole, the tip of your nose, even your mother's maiden name as a focus point. The heart of meditation lies not simply in focusing on one object to the exclusion of all other thoughts, but rather in the attempt to achieve this type of focus.
The nature of the human mind is such that it does not want to stay focused. It may take some time for you to achieve a meditative state. You don't have to feel like you're relaxing in order to actually become relaxed while meditating. However, when you open your eyes at the end of your meditation you should feel much more relaxed than you did before meditating.
Harness Your Imagination
You can significantly reduce your stress with something enormously powerful — your imagination. While it's hard to will yourself into a relaxed state, you can imagine relaxation spreading through your body and can visualize yourself in a safe, beautiful space.
Emile Coue, a French pharmacist, believed the power of imagination far exceeded that of the will. Coue asserted that all of our thoughts can become reality.
How many times have you heard: You become what you think? If you think sad thoughts, you become sad. Therefore, if you think happy thoughts, soon you'll be happy.
There are some ways to make your visualization more effective. First, find a quiet place where you can be by yourself. Loosen your clothing, lie down and close your eyes. Mentally scan your body to see if there is tension in any specific muscle. If you find tension, relax that muscle. Use an affirmation. Repeat short positive statements that affirm your ability to relax now in this moment. Use present tense and avoid negatives. Don't tell yourself "I am not tense," rather, say "I am relaxing. I am relaxed."
Visualization practice is easiest in the morning and at nighttime while you are lying in bed.
Scent and Music Therapy
I have found that using all kinds of aromatic scents — such as essential oils or incense — helps me relax. I often combine this with a music CD designed to help produce alpha waves. Alpha waves are the rhythm the brain produces when you are in a relaxed state. I combine the two into what I call scent and sound therapy.
Nourishing Your Spirit
The best advice I will give you is to develop a passion for life. Nourish your spirit.
When I say spirit, I do not mean spirituality as organized religion. In German there are two words to represent the different kinds of spirituality. "Geistlich" means spiritual matters reflecting a religious orientation and "Geistig" refers to spiritual matters without ties to a specific religion. It is "Geistig" that I write about.
Nourish your spirit by doing things that have personal meaning to you and enhance your life. Take time to hear the squawking of birds; recognize the thoughtfulness of colleagues
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:30 PM
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
The Great Slavery Debate: Reparations Twist
When witnessing a debate on reparations, I often feel like I’m listening to people speaking completely different languages. Consider that when unarmed Black Oakland BART rider Oscar Grant was killed by a White police officer on a train platform, Blacks demanded a first-degree murder charge, although it had little chance of being sustained (no malice aforethought). While the accusation made Blacks feel good for a minute, the illusion of fair play departed when the jury opted for a more accurate charge.
When Blacks argue for reparations, it does not mean that they know or care anything about an accurate application. What they care about is a means to take revenge, while getting compensated for the suffering of their relatives (the end). Of course, Whites (and some Blacks) try to explain that reparations do not apply, to a chorus of ‘I-don’t-give-a-bleep what a White man or Uncle Tom thinks’. It’s not about laws or evolving moral codes of the day – it’s about emotion and payback. We need to call it what it is.
Reparations debates will never be resolved until Blacks can inject some objectivity where only emotions currently exist. For their part, Whites will never be a part of the resolution until they can cop to how reasonable it is for Blacks to blame slavery, as the catch basin, for the litany of misdeeds that continued after slavery ended.
Hopefully the day will come when Blacks stop soliciting unfulfilling indulgences from Whites, when what they really want is for Whites to admit that their ancestors outsmarted themselves, not only by kidnapping Africans, but more so by not making Blacks equal opportunity citizens after the emancipation. Both Blacks and Whites need to work (together), minus race cards, at understanding how pretend equality (of opportunity), the sustained post-slavery sin, got us to the dysfunctional mess we find ourselves today. Only then can we start making decisions and taking action to reverse the damage.
The Great Slavery Debate: Ungrateful Negroes
When it comes to discussing, or even thinking about, slavery, the great taboo of White folks is embodied in the question forever on their minds and almost never on their tongues, “Why are Blacks so ungrateful to be in America, when Africa is the worst place on the globe in terms of health, jobs, government, education, crime, climate, resources, blah, blah, blah?”
They will go on to say, “sure, slavery was bad for your ancestors, but it ended a long time ago”. They will also say that racism may exist, “but it exist in Africa too, and much worse, with one tribe committing genocide on another”. In the days before political correctness, Whites were fond of telling Blacks that they should go back to Africa, if they don’t like it here. The implication was always that however bad Blacks think America is, it is worse in Africa.
Where White people got off track is in thinking and acting like Blacks are immigrants. “Go home”, has always been the retort for the disgruntled immigrant, and some even made the return trip. But the African ancestry that was forced here is mostly like those people who stayed behind in Europe, China, India, etc. – meaning they are not immigrant-minded. So why did Black people stay here? Out of those that could have returned, they stayed mostly out of spite, and certainly not because anyone offered them a shot at the American Dream. This was the grand screw-up of US leadership before, during, and after the Civil War.
Fast-forward - if Black people could ever find a reason to want to be here, because of the relative opportunity, instead of being here to simply piss-off White people, a lot of the problems of the day would disappear. And ditto, if White people could ever accept responsibility for post-slavery abuse, without pretending to handover the keys to the kingdom, or other counter-productive acts of contrition.
The paradox is that Blacks cannot make Whites miserable about the past and what followed, without assuring their own adjacent misery, and Whites cannot make amends by only pretending to consider Blacks capable and
deserving of a fair shot. So we are all miserable together down the crapper
The Great Slavery Debate: Was Slavery Profitable?
Note: There are many who say that the economics of slavery were not very profitable, Thomas Sowell notably, and I would say they are wrong. However, it is important to distinguish (as I will attempt) between plantation slavery economics and the greater commerce value/impact of the triangular trade.
There are two high schools (Part 1 today), and one graduate school (Part 2 coming), of thought on the degree to which this country owes its fortunes to slavery, and by inference to Black ancestry. It is this notion of who benefited and who is owed, intertwined with current dysfunction, which sits as a big bugaboo to progress.
The Atlantic Slave Trade was a profitable component of triangular commerce of that day, but by itself not world changing. In fact, slavery has often been the spoil of a society that was good at something else, mainly war. Having other people to do your loathsome work has been a luxury for the already rich. The Atlantic Slave Trade was a final burst where pure labor was of pivotal importance to a more sophisticated system of commerce, mostly involving sugar and Europe’s sweet tooth for its by-products.
In the labor-starved Americas, slavery is what made the triangular system happen, on the front end. Thereby, it deserves a disproportion of the credit for the very profitable distilled-spirits and textiles on the back end. On the other hand, while plantation slavery made those owners rich, those same owners were not directly responsible for this country’s economic fortune. The overhead required to administer slaves within a system of zero incentive, was high. As a sidebar, had slaves been able to work in parallel to purchase their freedom, the US might have avoided a devastating war with itself.
The Wall Street banks and insurance companies in the north were a different story than the plantations. The slave trade business gave this country a critical foundation in establishing the commerce and banking infrastructure that world leadership would require. The names of those companies and their impact are undeniable – JP Morgan, Chase, Lehman Bros., Aetna, New York Life, to name a few.
So, in answer to whether slavery was profitable, the answer is both no and yes, but much more yes – as it was the lubricant for the most profitable European commerce transactions of the day. This is true even though American plantations were inefficient in their brutal waste and high overhead cost.
Up Next: Part 2 (Graduate School). Just because slavery was profitable does not mean that slaves, or their ancestors, have a rightful claim. The details and context of the day, both legal and ethical, must be applied.
Robyn I love you.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. Love puts the fun in together, the sad in apart, and the joy in a heart.
Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for you. Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love and you fall forever. Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. Are we not like two volumes of one book? Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely.The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.
I've fallen in love many times... always with you.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:47 PM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Blacks Buy Blue Eye Surgery
Continuing my pandering to Blue-eyed madness, I am compelled to write about idiots/people who pay big money to have blue implants surgically inserted into their eyes. Yep, you heard me, inserted as in carved! I first thought that this could not be true, but after various aging relatives had lenses implanted to remedy cataracts, I thought I better do some homework.
The procedure for quasi-permanently changing the color of one’s eyes involves implanting a colored, optic-neutral, lens behind the cornea and in front of the iris. Knowing a bit about how the eye works (don’t ask how), the first thing I wondered was how this implanted lens would not irritate either the cornea or iris while being held in place to give the owner those factory-fresh baby-blues? It is this potential to obstruct these two parts of the eye that would contribute to damage and the body’s immune response, all resulting in complications of a blinding nature.
The implants, commercially labeled NewColorIris™, are available from a Panamanian eye surgeon, Delray Alberto Khan. It is critical to note that the Khan (ironically pronounced “Con”) cosmetic procedure is not approved anywhere outside of the third-world (where it seems authorities do not care if doctors butcher patients). It also seems that Khan’s patients/victims are fond of having those damn things removed pronto, in an attempt to save their sight. I found one patient who seemed to be happy, for now (here).
Interestingly enough, there is an eye surgeon in Beverly Hills, Kerry K. Assil, who repairs and replaces damaged or congenitally missing (here) irises, presented as medical conditions. Assil’s implants, while potentially changing eye color, also reveal themselves, by not obscuring the entire original iris. However, Dr. Assil’s location in Beverly Hills, is suspicious, as 90210 is also the mecca of the cosmetic surgery industry. It would not surprise me if Assil was padding his account by making blue eyes bluer, on the QT, but this is only conjecture right now.
Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.
Note: A Blue-eyed fellow like the one in the picture had his NewColorIris(tm) implants removed due to complications, and removal only cost him $16,000.
The Great Slavery Debate – An Introduction
Perhaps the most recurring historical truism of America is the need for Americans to move past slavery. Mind you, move past does not mean ‘get over it’, in the snide way some people admonish. At the front of the line of the many who need to move on are Black people. In therapeutic lingo, this means squarely facing the past then letting it go, so as not to impede the future.
This weekend I had a spirited debate with some family members, including my 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend. The young Black man, from Atlanta, was the most adamant contender that ‘our slavery’ was worst than previous instances, although he offered no specific difference, other than the distance that slaves were transported.
Others in the debate gave examples of the brutality of slavery in the South, from beatings, murders, assaults, to the wrenching apart of loved ones. My offering, that these treatments were within the range of treatments of slaves throughout human history, fell on deaf ears. Nope, the contention remained that ‘ours was worst and this is why Black people are so messed up today’.
Over the coming weeks/months, I will take a look at some questions about North American slavery, against the context of today. Why did it happen? Who benefited the most/least? Why did the founders adopt it, and then fight about it. Who was Jim Crow? What is the social and economic legacy? How has slavery history affected modern-day immigration? What lessons were learned/not learned?
If this weekend was any indicator, it might be kind of interesting.
The Great Slavery Debate: The Footing
The second most challenging aspect of a slavery discussion is not getting blasted out of the saddle, with your point-of-view still in the holster. Unless your words are something like, ‘slavery in America was the pinnacle of man’s inhumanity to man’, you barely stand a chance. This is because today’s discussion is most often against today’s morality, rather than the progress of that time. Of course, to say that America’s slavery was not the worst is nothing close to saying that it was anything less than bad. All slavery was/is bad for the enslaved, as well as the society.
The only relative comparison I will make is that the Atlantic slave trade objectively delivered more slaves from Africa to South America (over 5,000,000) than to the North (500,000), and by all accounts, those delivered to the south suffered a much higher mortality. Their life spans were short, only one to five years, due to the grueling work, mistreatment, and harsh conditions on plantations, in mines, and elsewhere. South American slave owners expected to get no more than a few years of hard labor from a slave, and they went about fulfilling this prophecy. The work was 7 days/week, 18 hours/day, no women, no children, bad food, no care, and no mercy.
The most challenging aspect of a slavery discussion is the notion that current Black plight, with respect to crime, unwed parenting, drug abuse et al, is somehow a function of the ‘slavery-at-it’s-worst’ label attached to the American colonies (British and French). I have yet to find a description of slavery, anywhere, or at anytime, that tracks to the dysfunction within today’s Black community. So, I think it must derive from another source. FYI, my authority on slavery is a book entitled, Slavery: A World History, by Milton Meltzer.
My objective, in this series, is not to deny or discount the negative impacts of slavery, then or now, nor is it to absolve its practitioners or their beneficiaries. I will discuss this later. Rather for now, I will say that dispassionate research indicates that current Black plight is not located at the intersection of the two, nor are any solutions. In its proper proportion, slavery informs us in critical ways. When taken out of proportion, it mostly blocks our view and advancement.
The Great Slavery Debate: Origins
Considering that most Americans cannot name all fifty states, or find S. Dakota on a map, it would not surprise me at all that those same folks think that slavery was invented, or re-invented, in the colonies now making up these United States. Unfortunately, what most Americans know of slavery was passed down from people who saw Alex Hailey’s fictionalized Roots mini-series. There is much more to slavery than this, as it has been going on for thousands of years.
Slavery began when hunter-gathering ended, some say about 11,000 years ago. Once agriculture advances produced more food than people in certain areas could eat, people began enslaving others, as they could afford to keep their captives fed. Before that, they simply killed their enemies without a blink. To help our perspective, during the 1,000 or so years of the Roman Empire, 100 million people in an around the Mediterranean area were enslaved.
The lives of slaves have rarely been ‘good’, as some would describe. Throughout time, slaves have been property not people. Their treatment, and very existence, has always been at the whim of their owners. This means they could be killed, assaulted, neglected, or simply worked to death, without repercussions. In most cases slave women bore offspring into slavery, both replenishing and growing the ranks.
Slavery has always been profitable and the foundation of commerce for all societies. Slavery commerce was often the aim/outcome of going to war, where entire societies were enslaved and sold as spoils. It is estimated that 25 to 50% of the world’s population has been enslaved at some time in history. So, the millions of slaves captured and delivered during the Atlantic Slave Trade hold no distinction other than the distance they were transported, and timing with the moral question of acceptability.
The taboo nature of slavery history has fostered a level of ignorance, all the way around, that hinders placing it in proper perspective.
Robyn I love you.
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker. You learn to like someone when you find out what makes them laugh, but you can never truly love someone until you find out what makes them cry. Sometimes we make love with our eyes. Sometimes we make love with our hands. Sometimes we make love with our bodies. Always we make love with our hearts.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 9:29 PM
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Black Boy’s Blue Eyes Show Lesion
The boy in the pictures is probably one of the most striking examples of a black person with blue eyes. I believe his name is Laren Galloway and I do not announce his identity lightly. While it is interesting to see how the lad is growing up, this is not what caught my interest. Rather, what jumped out at me instantly was that he has some form of growing lesion on the inside of his left eye, specifically in the area of his iris. This lesion needs to be examined medically ASAP, (of course I leave room that his parents are already on top of it).
Eye lesions are usually benign (non-cancerous) and remain so, but this is not always true, nor does it mean that they should ever be ignored. What is really key is that they are kept under routine watch by a medically qualified eye specialist. What that person will watch for are changes in shape and size, as indications of brewing problems. Laren’s lesion, barely visible in the first picture, has clearly increased in size, as he has aged.
I have no contact with his family to voice my concern. I do recall that he might live in Louisiana. If you know this boy’s family or parents, please contact them and express the concern I present here. His eye sight and greater health/well-being are at risk without proper medical care. If you know this boy, but do not feel comfortable approaching his parents, you may send me contact information and I will contact them. Thanks (in advance) for helping to make sure this boy is being cared for.
Syndrome Gives Blacks Blue Eyes
A recent commenter on this blog suggested that the blue-eyed Black boy, in an earlier post, may present Waardenburg Syndrome, a rare autosomal genetic disorder that has possible bright blue eyes as one of its qualifying criteria, along with possible deafness (common). Actually, the cause of the blue eyes is a form of albinism that may include patches of non-pigmented skin or forehead hair, regardless of ethnicity.
There are four types of Waardenburg Syndrome, with a mix of possible characteristics as the determinant. Medical challenges increase with type. The boy in the picture is displaying two major symptoms of type 1, as does the previous boy (perhaps) (here); bright blue eyes and dystopia canthorum, a condition where the inner corners of the eyes are set more widely apart, but with normally distanced eyes.
Waardenburg occurs once in every 42,000 births, and is a deficiency inherited from a single parent, who may or may not display similar characteristics. Regarding the eye, color abnormalities come in three forms; heterochromia (multiple colors), bilateral isohypochromia (pale blue eyes), or fundus (reflective) pigmentary alterations (spottiness).
So, besides naturally occurring genetic blue eyes in dark skinned people, as previously discussed, understanding Waardenburg's is another avenue of accurately recognizing phenotype (gene expression) in eye color.
Robyn Why do I love you?
You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip. A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you. The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:59 PM
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Why are White People White-Skinned?
Being black, I scarcely wondered why I was black, but I did often wonder why white people were white. I never believed in the ‘God wanted it that way’ answer. It seems very natural that whites and blacks would harbor the same question, however taboo it is to toss it into conversation. Indeed, science has provided us with an answer, but I hardly see it in print for non-scientists.
The scientific record shows relatively hair-less humans evolving from hairy primates in Africa. At the time when hairy proto-humans ‘loss’ their hair and developed sweat glands for cooling their big brains, they also needed to adapt their production and regulation of the pro-steroid hormone, Vitamin D(3), which was critical to healthy bones and reproduction. The result was an adaptive higher level of melanin in the skin, turning it dark. Viola, healthy dark-skin humans to populate the world!
As early Africans migrated north to Eurasia, with its lessened sun intensity, dark skin posed a problem. Vitamin D(3) fell to unhealthy levels, except that built-in genetically adaptive skin traits quickly kicked-in to lightened skin responsible for producing the required D(3). The farther north they ventured the lighter the skin needed to be to absorb the right amount of sun. It really is that simple. There is a great book that explains all of this in detail, written by recognized skin authority, Nina Jablonski PhD., called “Skin: A Natural History” (here).
So there it is - latitude (north/south position) on the globe pretty much dictates skin color (here). There are a few exceptions to this rule, associated with levels of Vitamin D in the diet. By example, the Inuits (indigenous Arctic people) are relatively darker, even at such a high latitude, because of oily-fish diets laden with Vitamin D(3). Aborigines in continental Australia, arriving via the ‘intercoastal migration’, maintained their melanin through similar fish-rich diets, on the coast, coupled with the fierce demands of an intense interior desert sun.
As a side bar, and from a Vitamin D(3) healthiness perspective, the continental US is (on average) too sunny for most fair whites, and not sunny enough for most brown-skin blacks. Everyone needs Vitamin D management for good health.
Robyn, I love you.
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. A life lived in love will never be dull.
Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well. Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope. The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Love's greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred. Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:15 PM
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Why Are Black People Black-Skinned?
While asking the question ‘Why are White People White?’ (here), I touched on that black people are black by the same mechanism. However, my explanation was too brief, and the question deserves its own full answer. Keep in mind this evolutionary cheat-sheet: first, there was panting and hairiness, and then came limited sweating and hairiness, and now we have full-body sweating and no hair (little hair).
To begin, earlier hairy primates, or proto-humans, living in Africa were less efficient at dissipating the body heat that resulted from strenuous exertion (hunting, gathering, and avoiding predators). Panting is the way most mammals cool themselves, rather than through sweating. As an evolutionary alternative, sweat glands appeared first over hairy bodies and then over less-hairy bodies, allowing for rapid cooling and quick evaporation. Evaporative cooling pulls heat away, countering the insulating effect, whereby the moisture stays on the skin, trapped by hair, and increasing in temperature from both the sun and internal exertion.
Indeed, sweat glands were an improvement over panting, allowing for greater exertion, but there was another hurdle. Full-body hair on proto humans grew out of ‘white (non-pigmented) skin’ underneath, in combination to regulate Vitamin D(3) production, for bone and reproductive health. Without the hair to block the sun, the skin had to take on this critical task by itself, via melanin production, thereby making the evolutionary case from fully covered, dark haired, white-skinned, proto-humans into hair-less dark-skinned humanoid descendants. Viola, black people!
It was relentless large brain demands (thinking) of proto-humans that drove body evolution to change and advance. Hairlessness, sweat glands, and dark-skin proved a potent combination in response, allowing humans to run greater distances, fight longer fights, dehydrate at a slower pace, and recover normal body temperature more quickly. Humanoids quickly became formidable foes, as their body capabilities ‘caught up to’ their brainy demands.
Robyn, I will always love you.
What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow. A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night. Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal. One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love. Experience is how life catches up with us and teaches us to love and forgive each other.The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:11 PM
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
The History Of African Liberation Day
On April 15, 1958, in the city of Accra Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, The United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples. This conference was significant in that it represented the first Pan-African Conference held on African soil. It was also significant in that it represented the collective expression of African People’s disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African People. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with.
After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade, which cost Africa in excess of 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African People singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said, “enough”! But in 1958, at the Accra Conference, it was being said in ways that emphasized joint, coordinated and unified action.
This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan-Africanism, the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. The conference as well laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African Revolution, for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unification.
The Conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to, “mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”
Five years later after the First Conference of Independent African States in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia another historical meeting occurred. On May 25, 1963, leaders of thirty-two independent African States met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule. At this historic meeting the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from April 15th to May 25th and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day (ALD). African Liberation Day has been held on May 25th in every corner of the world since.
African Liberation Day as an institution within the Pan-African movement reflects the growth and development of Pan-Africanism. When Pan-Africanism was faced with fighting colonialism, the focus of African Liberation Day was on the anti-colonial struggle and the fight for national independence. As Pan-Africanism grew stronger and developed into a more mature objective, African Liberation Day activities reflected this maturation.
African Liberation Day has contributed to the struggle to raise the level of political awareness and organization in African communities worldwide. It has further been used as a tool to provide a platform for many African and other oppressed peoples to inform the African masses about their respective struggles for true liberation and development. Particularly for Southern Africa, African Liberation Day played a critical role in the defeat of colonialism and apartheid. It inspired others to support through various progressive organizations, liberation committees and movements both in Africa and the socialist countries around the world, the building of anti-colonial and national liberation movements by generating arms for the freedom fighters, offering a platform where the world could receive political education on the nature of the struggle, and providing a mass assembly where the spirit and moral of the freedom fighters could be reinvigorated.
African Liberation Day has helped to expose U.S. led imperialism, Zionism and colonialism as enemies of Africa. Imperialists for decades have attempted to distance African Liberation Day (and the African Revolution in general) from the struggle for socialism. Remember that it was, and is, capitalist Europe, and not the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China or Vietnam which occupied, colonized and exploited Africa. Several states in Africa today stand independent because of military and other assistance from socialist countries.
From the first ALD held in Accra, Ghana where Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah planted the first seed to the hundreds of African Liberation Day observances which have occurred all over the world. African Liberation Day stands committed to the struggle for national independence, African redemption, African liberation, African unification and scientific socialism. Today African Liberation Day activities are being organized throughout Africa and all over the world where African people are living and struggling. The journey down the Revolutionary path can only be accomplished by joining a revolutionary organization working for the people. The freedom of Africa and African people demands revolutionary action through revolutionary organization.
Welcome to the Official A-APRP Website.
The All-African People's Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) is a permanent, independent, revolutionary, socialist, Pan-African Political Party based in Africa, the just homeland of African People all over the world. It is an integral part of the Pan-African and world socialist movement. The A-APRP understands that "all people of African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean, or in any other part of the world, are Africans and belong to the African Nation."
The All-African People's Revolutionary Party recognizes that African People born and living in over 113 countries are one people, with one identity, one history, one culture, one nation and one destiny. We have one common enemy — capitalism, in its many forms and manifestations — imperialism, zionism, racism and neo-colonialism. We suffer from disunity, disorganization and ideological confusion. And, we all have only one scientific and correct solution, Pan-Africanism: the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 11:55 AM
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Splendor in Medieval Africa A visit to Mali's medieval past.
As an amateur medievalist, I have become keenly aware of how the history of Europe in the middle ages is often misunderstood or dismissed by otherwise intelligent, educated individuals. The medieval era of those nations outside of Europe is doubly ignored, first for its disreputable time frame (the "dark ages"), and then for its apparent lack of direct impact on modern western society.
Such is the case with Africa in the middle ages, a fascinating field of study that suffers from the further insult of racism. With the unavoidable exception of Egypt, the history of Africa before the incursion of Europeans has in the past been dismissed, erroneously and at times deliberately, as inconsequential to the development of modern society. Fortunately, some scholars are working to correct this grave error. The study of medieval African societies has value, not only because we can learn from all civilizations in all time frames, but because these societies reflected and influenced a myriad of cultures that, due to the Diaspora that began in the 16th century, have spread throughout the modern world.
One of these fascinating and near-forgotten societies is the medieval Kingdom of Mali, which thrived as a dominant power in west Africa from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Founded by the Mande-speaking Mandinka2 people, early Mali was governed by a council of caste-leaders who chose a "mansa" to rule. In time, the position of mansa evolved into a more powerful role similar to a king or emperor.
According to tradition, Mali was suffering from a fearful drought when a visitor told the king, Mansa Barmandana, that the drought would break if he converted to Islam. This he did, and as predicted the drought did end. Other Mandinkans followed the king's lead and converted as well, but the mansa did not force a conversion, and many retained their Mandinkan beliefs. This religious freedom would remain throughout the centuries to come as Mali emerged as a powerful state.
The man primarily responsible for Mali's rise to prominence is Sundiata Keita. Although his life and deeds have taken on legendary proportions, Sundiata was no myth but a talented military leader. He led a successful rebellion against the oppressive rule of Sumanguru, the Susu leader who had taken control of the Ghanaian Empire. After the Susu downfall, Sundiata laid claim to the lucrative gold and salt trade that had been so significant to Ghanaian prosperity. As mansa, he established a cultural exchange system whereby the sons and daughters of prominent leaders would spend time in foreign courts, thus promoting understanding and a better chance of peace among nations.
Upon Sundiata's death in 1255 his son, Wali, not only continued his work but made great strides in agricultural development. Under Mansa Wali's rule, competition was encouraged among trading centers such as Timbuktu and Jenne, strengthening their economic positions and allowing them to develop into important centers of culture.
Next to Sundiata, the most well-known and possibly the greatest ruler of Mali was Mansa Musa. During his 25-year reign, Musa doubled the territory of the Malian Empire and tripled its trade. Because he was a devout Muslim, Musa made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, astonishing the peoples he visited with his wealth and generosity. So much gold did Musa introduce into circulation in the middle east that it took about a dozen years for the economy to recover.
Gold was not the only form of Malian riches. Early Mandinka society venerated creative arts, and this did not change as Islamic influences helped to shape Mali. Education was also highly valued; Timbuktu was a significant center of learning with several prestigious schools. This intriguing blend of economic wealth, cultural diversity, artistic endeavors and higher learning resulted in a splendid society to rival any contemporary European nation.
Malian society had its drawbacks, yet it is important to view these aspects in their historical setting. Slavery was an integral part of the economy at a time when the institution had declined (yet still existed) in Europe; but the European serf was rarely better off than a slave, bound by law to the land. By today's standards, justice could be harsh in Africa, but no harsher than European medieval punishments. Women had very few rights, but such was certainly true in Europe as well, and Malian women, just like European women, were at times able to participate in business (a fact that disturbed and surprised Muslim chroniclers). War was not unknown on either continent -- just as today.
After the death of Mansa Musa, the Kingdom of Mali went into a slow decline. For another century its civilization held sway in West Africa, until Songhay established itself as a dominant force in the 1400s. Traces of medieval Mali's greatness still remain, but those traces are fast disappearing as the unscrupulous plunder the archaeological remains of the region's wealth.
Mali is just one of many African societies whose past deserves a closer look. I hope to see more scholars explore this long-ignored field of study, and more of us open our eyes to the splendor of Medieval Africa.
From around AD 750 to 1500, lands to the south of Africa’s Sahara Desert were home to many thriving civilizations. Muslim kings ruled in cities like TIMBUKTU, and chiefs called OBAS were powerful in rainforest kingdoms. SWAHILI peoples became rich through trade.
HOW DID TRADERS CROSS THE SAHARA DESERT?
Traders from North Africa crossed the Sahara together in a group called a caravan. They led as many as 10,000 camels, heavily laden with goods, in a long line known as a camel train. At the southern edge of the Sahara, the goods were transferred to donkeys or human porters, to be carried farther south.
WHICH AFRICAN GOODS WERE HIGHLY PRIZED?
Gold, ivory, ebony, and slaves from West African kingdoms such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were sold in North Africa and the Middle East. They were traded for salt and copper, mined in the Sahara. Later, European traders came for gold, ebony, and slaves.
Timbuktu (in central Mali) was one of the most important cities on the edge of the Sahara. After Muslim scholars brought the religion of Islam to the region, around 900, it became a great center of Muslim learning, with schools, a university, and a special market where valuable, handwritten books were sold.
HOW DID TIMBUKTU BECOME WEALTHY?
Like a number of other cities on the edge of the Sahara, such as Gao and Jenne, Timbuktu was also on the banks of the Niger River. These cities were inland ports. Merchants from the south sent boatloads of gold, ivory, cotton, dried fish, and kola nuts upriver to them, to be sold to people living there, or to be carried to lands farther north. Timbuktu became a terminus (end point) for one of the main trading routes crossing the Sahara.
WHY DID MUSLIM PILGRIMS GO TO TIMBUKTU?
Many Muslim pilgrims traveled to Timbuktu to honor the city’s 333 resident saints. These were celebrated Muslim scholars and teachers who taught their faith to people in the surrounding lands. Many beautiful mosques were built in Timbuktu.
Swahili became the main language used by different peoples on the coast and islands of East Africa. Many of its words were taken from Arabic—the language of traders who sailed across the Indian Ocean, linking India and Arabia with East African ports such as Mogadishu, Gedi, and Kilwa.
WHO DID THE SWAHILI PEOPLES TRADE WITH?
East Africans produced valuable goods, such as leather, frankincense, leopard skins, ivory, iron, copper, and gold. They sold these to Indian Ocean traders. From around 1071, they sent ambassadors to trade with China, and, from 1418, welcomed Chinese merchant ships to East Africa’s ports.
The island of Zanzibar, off the coast of East Africa, is where Swahili was first spoken. It became a major trading center for slaves, ivory, and cloves.
From around 1250 to 1800, a number of different kingdoms made up what is now southwest Nigeria, in West Africa. Each of these was ruled by an oba. The obas were both religious and political leaders. Their subjects, the Yoruba people, lived as farmers, and built city-states surrounded by massive walls of earth.
WHERE WERE MANY STATUES OF OBAS MADE?
People living in the rainforest kingdom of Benin, now in south Nigeria, were expert metalworkers and cast elaborate portrait heads of their obas, as well as decorative plaques and ceremonial objects. These were made from brass or bronze and were used for ancestor worship, or to decorate the rulers’ palaces.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE KINGDOMS OF THE OBAS?
The power of the obas and other African rulers was weakened by the arrival of Europeans. Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders took back news to their countries of the riches of Africa. Explorers were encouraged to travel there and, by 1900, almost all of Africa was ruled by European powers.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 8:00 PM
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
BLACK WAR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TASMANIAN ABORIGINES
To many, the mention of Tasmania evokes humorous recollections of the Tasmanian devil--the voracious marsupial popularized in American cartoons. Tasmania is an island slightly larger in size than West Virginia, and is located two-hundred miles off Australia's southeast coast. The aboriginal inhabitants of the island were Black people who probably went there by crossing an ancient land bridge that connected Tasmania to the continent of Australia.
The Black aborigines of Tasmania were marked by tightly curled hair with skin complexions ranging from black to reddish-brown. They were relatively short in stature with little body fat. They were the indigenous people of Tasmania and their arrival there began at least 35,000 years ago. With the passage of time, the gradual rising of the sea level submerged the Australian-Tasmanian land bridge and the Black aborigines of Tasmania experienced more than 10,000 years of solitude and physical isolation from the rest of the world--the longest period of isolation in human history.
It is our great misfortune that the Black people of Tasmania bequeathed no written histories. We do not know that they called themselves or what they named their land. All we really have are minute fragments, bits of evidence, and the records and documents of Europeans who began coming to the island in 1642.
THE BLACK FAMILY IN TASMANIA
The Tasmanian aborigines were hunter-gatherers with an exceptionally basic technology. The Tasmanians made only a few types of simple stone and wooden tools. They lacked agriculture, livestock, pottery, and bows and arrows.
The Black family in Tasmania was a highly organized one--its form and substance directed by custom. A man joined with a woman in marriage and formed a social partnership with her. It would appear that such marriages were usually designed by the parents--but this is something about which very little is actually known. The married couple seems to have remained together throughout the course of their lives, and only in rare cases did a man have more than one wife at the same time. Their children were not only well cared for, but were treated with great affection. Elders were cared for by the the family, and children were kept at the breast for longer than is usual in child care among Europeans.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE BLACKS
The isolation of Tasmania's Black aborigines ended in 1642 with the arrival and intrusion of the first Europeans. Abel Jansen Tasman, the Dutch navigator after whom the island is named, anchored off the Tasmanian coast in early December, 1642. Tasman named the island Van Diemen's land, after Anthony Van Diemen--the governor-general of the Dutch East India Company. The island continued to be called Van Diemen's Land until 1855.
On March 5, 1772, a French expedition led by Nicholas Marion du Fresne landed on the island. Within a few hours his sailors had shot several Aborigines. On January 28, 1777, the British landed on the island. Following coastal New South Wales in Australia, Tasmania was established as a British convict settlement in 1803. These convicts had been harshly traumatized and were exceptionally brutal. In addition to soldiers, administrators, and missionaries, eventually more than 65,000 men and women convicts were settled in Tasmania. A glaringly inefficient penal system allowed such convicts to escape into the Tasmanian hinterland where they exercised the full measure of their blood-lust and brutality upon the island's Black occupants. According to social historian Clive Turnbull, the activities of these criminals would soon include the "shooting, bashing out brains, burning alive, and slaughter of Aborigines for dogs' meat."
TASMANIAN DEVILS IN HUMAN FORM
As early as 1804 the British began to slaughter, kidnap and enslave the Black people of Tasmania. The colonial government itself was not even inclined to consider the aboriginal Tasmanians as full human beings, and scholars began to discuss civilization as a unilinear process with White people at the top and Black people at the bottom. To the Europeans of Tasmania the Blacks were an entity fit only to be exploited in the most sadistic of manners--a sadism that staggers the imagination and violates all human morality. As UCLA professor, Jared Diamond, recorded:
"Tactics for hunting down Tasmanians included riding out on horseback to shoot them, setting out steel traps to catch them, and putting out poison flour where they might find and eat it. Sheperds cut off the penis and testicles of aboriginal men, to watch the men run a few yards before dying. At a hill christened Mount Victory, settlers slaughtered 30 Tasmanians and threw their bodies over a cliff. One party of police killed 70 Tasmanians and dashed out the children's brains."
Such vile and animalistic behavior on the part of the White settlers of Tasmania was the rule rather than the exception. In spite of their wanton cruelty, however, punishment in Tasmania was exceedingly rare for the Whites, although occasionally Whites were sentenced for crimes against Blacks. For example, there is an account of a man who was flogged for exhibiting the ears and other body parts of a Black boy that he had mutilated alive. We hear of another European punished for cutting off the little finger of an Aborigine and using it as a tobacco stopper. Twenty-five lashes were stipulated for Europeans convicted of tying aboriginal "Tasmanian women to logs and burning them with firebrands, or forcing a woman to wear the head of her freshly murdered husband on a string around her neck."
Not a single European, however, was ever punished for the murder of Tasmanian Aborigines. Europeans thought nothing of tying Black men to trees and using them for target practice. Black women were kidnapped, chained and exploited as sexual slaves. White convicts regularly hunted Black people for sport, casually shooting, spearing or clubbing the men to death, torturing and raping the women, and roasting Black infants alive. As historian, James Morris, graphically noted:
"We hear of children kidnapped as pets or servants, of a woman chained up like an animal in a sheperd's hut, of men castrated to keep them off their own women. In one foray seventy aborigines were killed, the men shot, the women and children dragged from crevices in the rocks to have their brains dashed out. A man called Carrotts, desiring a native woman, decapitated her husband, hung his head around her neck and drove her home to his shack."
THE BLACK WAR
"The Black War of Van Diemen's Land" was the name of the official campaign of terror directed against the Black people of Tasmania. Between 1803 and 1830 the Black aborigines of Tasmania were reduced from an estimated five-thousand people to less than seventy-five. An article published December 1, 1826 in the Tasmanian Colonial Times declared that:
"We make no pompous display of Philanthropy. The Government must remove the natives--if not, they will be hunted down like wild beasts and destroyed!"
With the declaration of martial law in November 1828, Whites were authorized to kill Blacks on sight. Although the Blacks offered a heroic resistance, the wooden clubs and sharpened sticks of the Aborigines were no match against the firepower, ruthlessness, and savagery exercised by the Europeans against them. In time, a bounty was declared on Blacks, and "Black catching," as it was called, soon became a big business; five pounds for each adult Aborigine, two pounds for each child. After considering proposals to capture them for sale as slaves, poison or trap them, or hunt them with dogs, the government settled on continued bounties and the use of mounted police.
After the Black War, for political expediency, the status of the Blacks, who were no longer regarded as a physical threat, was reduced to that of a nuisance and a bother, and with loud and pious exclamations that it was for the benefit of the Blacks themselves, the remainder of the Aborigines were rounded up and placed in concentration camps.
In 1830 George Augustus Robinson, a Christian missionary, was hired to round up the remaining Tasmanian Blacks and take them to Flinders Island, thirty miles away. Many of Robinson's captives died along the way. By 1843 only fifty survived. Jared Diamond recorded that:
"On Flinders Island Robinson was determined to civilize and Christianize the survivors. His settlement--at a windy site with little fresh water--was run like a jail. Children were separated from parents to facilitate the work of civilizing them. The regimental daily schedule included Bible reading, hymn singing, and inspection of beds and dishes for cleanness and neatness. However, the jail diet caused malnutrition, which combined with illness to make the natives die. Few infants survived more than a few weeks. The government reduced expenditures in the hope that the native would die out. By 1869 only Truganini, one other woman, and one man remained alive."
THE LAST TASMANIANS
With the steady decrease in the number of Aborigines, White people began to take a bizarre interest in the Blacks, whom Whites believed "to be a missing link between humans and apes." In 1859 Charles Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species, popularized the fantasy of biological (and therefore social) evolution, with Whites at the top of the evolutionary scale and Blacks at the bottom. The Aborigines were portrayed as a group of people "doomed to die out according to a natural law, like the dodo, and the dinosaur." This is during the same period in the United States that it was legally advocated that a Black man had no rights that a White man was bound to respect.
William Lanney, facetiously known as King Billy, was the last full-blood male Tasmanian. He was born in 1835 and grew up on Flinders Island. At the age of thirteen Lanney was removed with the remnant of his people to a concentration camp called Oyster Cove. Ultimately he became a sailor and some years he went whaling. As the last male Tasmanian, Lanney was regarded as a human relic. In January 1860 he was introduced to Prince Albert. He returned ill from a whaling voyage in February 1868, and on March 2, 1868 he died in his room at the Dog and Partridge public-house in Hobart, Tasmania.
Lanney, the subject of ridicule in life, became, in death, a desirable object. Even while he lay in the Colonial Hospital at least two persons determined to have his bones. They claimed to act in the interest of the Royal Society of Tasmania. On March 6, 1868, the day of the funeral, fifty or sixty residents interested in Lanney gathered at the hospital. Rumors were circulating that the body had been mutilated and, to satisfy the mourners, the coffin was opened. When those who wished to do so had seen the body, the coffin was closed and sealed. Meanwhile it was reported that, on the preceding night, a surgeon had entered the dead-house where Lanney lay, skinned the head, and removed the skull. Reportedly, the head of a patient who had died in the hospital on the same day was similarly skinned, and the skull was placed inside Lanney's scalp and the skin drawn over it. Members of the Royal Society were "greatly annoyed" at being thus forestalled and, as body-snatching was expected, it was decided that nothing should be left worth taking and Lanney's hands and feet were cut off. In keeping with the tradition no one was punished. William Lanney, the last Black man in Tasmania, was gone.
QUEEN TRUGANINI: THE LAST TASMANIAN
"Not, perhaps, before, has a race of men been utterly destroyed within seventy-five years. This is the story of a race which was so destroyed, that of the aborigines of Tasmania--destroyed not only by a different manner of life but by the ill-will of the usurpers of the race's land.... With no defences but cunning and the most primitive weapons, the natives were no match for the sophisticated individualists of knife and gun. By 1876 the last of them was dead. So perished a whole people." --Clive Turnbull
On May 7, 1876, Truganini, the last full-blood Black person in Tasmania, died at seventy-three years of age. Her mother had been stabbed to death by a European. Her sister was kidnapped by Europeans. Her intended husband was drowned by two Europeans in her presence, while his murderers raped her.
It might be accurately said that Truganini's numerous personal sufferings typify the tragedy of the Black people of Tasmania as a whole. She was the very last. "Don't let them cut me up," she begged the doctor as she lay dying. After her burial, Truganini's body was exhumed, and her skeleton, strung upon wires and placed upright in a box, became for many years the most popular exhibit in the Tasmanian Museum and remained on display until 1947. Finally, in 1976--the centenary years of Truganini's death--despite the museum's objections, her skeleton was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea.
The tragedy of the Black aborigines of Tasmania, however painful its recounting may be, is a story that must be told. What lessons do we learn from the destruction of the Tasmanians? Truganini's life and death, although extreme, effectively chronicle the association not only between White people and Black people in Tasmania, but, to a significant degree, around the world. Between 1803 and 1876 the Black aborigines of Tasmania were completely destroyed. During this period the Black people of Tasmania were debased, degraded and eventually exterminated. Indeed, given the long and well-documented history of carnage, cruelty, savagery, and the monstrous pain, suffering, and inhumanity Europeans have inflicted upon Black people in general, and the Black people of Tasmania in particular, one could argue that they themselves, the White settlers of Tasmania, far more than the ravenous beast portrayed in American cartoons, have been the real Tasmanian devil.
INDIGENOUS TASMANIANS TODAY: SURVIVORS OF THE HOLOCAUST
The above article was written around 1997 and was a part of an ongoing series of articles designed to draw attention to the past and present, the history and the current status, of Black people around the world. In that sense I believe that it is basically a very good article. It should be pointed out though that it was written before my first trip to Australia. More and more, over the the course of time, I have come to find that travel is a wonderful educational experience indeed, and that during the process you often come across information not commonly found in books.
In November 1998 I was invited to speak at the World's Indigenous Peoples Conference in Toowomba, Queensland, Australia. During my Australian sojourn, in addition to the Conference, I was able to travel to several regions and three states. For the first time I interacted with large numbers of Indigenous Australians. The Conference itself was magnificent; a real triumph and one of the great experiences of my life. Even before the Conference convened, however, I was shocked to meet for the initial time a Black man from Tasmania! He was professor Errol West of the University of Southern Queensland. Prof. West (a noted scholar and an excellent poet) and I quckly developed a close bond and soon became good friends. We talked and socialized together a great deal and it became readily apparent that only the full-blood Blacks had perished in the holocaust, and that there were Black people living in Tasmania today. Obviously, this was in stark contrast to all of the major writings on the subject. Prof. West also gave me a very different and contrasting view of Truganini.
My trip to Australia gave me a great deal to think about and a lot to reassess. Eighteen months later I returned to Australia and saw even more of this fascinating country, and I have since learned a great deal more about the history and current conditions of the original people. And the education hasn't stopped. Several months ago I received a series of emails from a Tasmanian sister who expressed tremendous gratitude for the article and encouraged and assured me that the Blacks of Tasmania "are alive and still fighting for our rights and the recognition that we deserve as Indigenous peoples." In 2002 I plan to travel to Tasmania itself. And the education continues.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 1:27 PM