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