What’s Culture Got to Do With it?

Simply stated culture is an individual’s way of life. It’s an all-encompassing term. Culture includes everything that defines our lifestyle and our way of being in this society. For example, culture includes the holidays celebrated, the food we eat, rites of passage, family structure, social behaviors, spiritual/religious beliefs and gender roles and expectations.

The travesty for African-Americans is that our culture was redefined for us when we came to America. In short, before we came to America we were strictly African with our own very progressive culture. We had great respect and oneness with nature. This connection allowed us to vibrate at an extremely high level determining our abundant individual productivity and the effective ways we related with one another. We were very creative, intuitive, and supportive of one another because we saw ourselves in our brother or sister. The ancient African understood the potency and beauty they possessed in themselves was merely a reflection from their brother or sister.

Our African ancestors left us an awesome and remarkable legacy. Ancient Africans had an advanced written and spoken language long before Europe even existed. Our understanding of our naked bodies was a beautiful thing. There was no sense of shame attached to our nakedness. The lines of how we interacted with others in our nakedness were not blurred. Indeed, we dressed for the occassion and climate in which we lived.

We understood our divinity and connection to the Creator and that connection was evident in every aspect of our lives. We have always been spiritual people!  The essence of our Creator was at the center of all African activity: diet, dress, family, education, worship etc.  In fact, there was no need for theology to try to explain the Creator to the African. Theology is a European concept. Why explain what was is inherent and intrinsic? The Creator was in sync with our being and our actions. We just existed in that power and presence—that was our own identity. That is our awe-inspiring cultural inheritance!

There were African spiritual practices for birth, death, and marriage. Much of what we practice is not African in origin. The result is willfully passing on a common legacy that is uncommon to our souls. We even had our own rites of passage. There were also ceremonies and spiritual practices for young people. Young men and women knew clearly their defined roles and were prepared to follow through with willing hearts. Young people had the utmost respect for their elders always interacting with them with the greatest humility.

The entire African community had a communal spirit. We worked together as a collective. Every endeavor was we centered and not I centered. Men and women worked together as one. The woman was not behind or in front of the man. She was beside her man. The woman was respected and revered in African culture. The African woman was not a bitch, whore or anything of the kind. It was clearly understood she was the giver of life. The Master Teacher Dr. Ben Yosef Johacannan stated within a spiritual context, “Heaven is between the legs of a woman. Feminine energy compliments male energy and vice versa.

When we came to America as slaves in the hulls of slave ships, we were made to forget every aspect of our culture. Our culture was a contrast to the Europeans that enslaved us. There’s not enough space here to tell it all. (More info will come in future post.) Just know whatever we believed Europeans were at the opposing far end of the spectrum. Their belief system was based on principles that were the exact opposite. In their eyes, our differences were barbaric and uncilvilzed. We were in need of a savior. I heard it said this way: when you’ve got your foot on a man’s neck how can you not feel like a son of bitch other than convincing yourself that it’s for his own good.  So, in the European’s mind they were showing us the right way to live because it was in our own best interest. Cognitive dissonance was in full effect.

We were forced to abandon every aspect of our culture through horrendous abuse, mind control and malicious oppressive acts so that we would in turn embrace theirs. Africans were required to revere Europeans if they wanted to survive. The dreadful resulting hope is that we would never be able to reproduce ourselves in the original sense. The plan has been very successful. Most African-American people are ignorant of their history and it is not by accident. It is by design. Lies were created and negative images were displayed to get African-Americans to hate the Motherland and African culture. We have forgotten who we really are. Our educational system has not supported knowledge of self for the African and our parents cannot be responsible for teaching us what they did not know.

We are resilient people and like always we have found a way to adjust. We created a culture for ourselves from scraps and in the spaces of time where we dared to express ourselves while wearing chains like animals, existing in shacks, ripped away from our families, tending well to the slave masters plantation, and singing songs of triumph while picking cotton or working in tobacco, and sugar cane fields all because we are innovative adaptable people. Think about the oppression have endured as people. We have been socially conditioned to believe that we are inferior and white or European is superior . We have been marginalized, underestimated and devalued. Yet, we are still here! Not only are we still here and but we are accomplishing great feats. Through it all, we still manage to culturally influence the masses.

African people are survivors! We are indeed are overcomers. Chattel slavery is the worst kind of slavery every enacted upon a group people. Just because the literal chains are gone, it does not mean we are no longer slaves. We have a personal responsiblity to remove the chains from our minds.  The way I see it, slavery was a debilitating evil distraction that deterred us from living out our truest essence.

When we come to know who we really are as African people everything about our person, our family and our community will change. We cannot be afraid to wake up from our slumber. Have you found comfort in discomfort? For many of us, the knowledge is present but dormant within our DNA on a cellular and spiritual level. Given enough truth we will wake up to our African mind. We can have the families, relationships, businesses, financial power and oneness in our community that we long for. I asked, “What does culture have to do with it?” In my opinion, culture has every thing to do with it!  Rise and manifest!

Master Teacher Dr. Asa Hilliard III author of The Reawakening of the African Mind, said it like this, “A fundamental decision must be made by each African. It is a decision to understand and accept uncompromisingly our African ethnicity. It is not a decision about race or class. Rather, it is a decision to recognize and accept our connection to the human family with all of the responsibilities that come with that decision. Our survival as a people is connected to our unwavering identification as Africans.”

In Love and Peace,

Dr. Free

Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and or respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

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Blessed or Not

Blessed or Not

I have heard so many boast about being blessed when things are going well in their lives. Celebrities and musician’s accept awards by first acknowledging God with sparkling gratitude. So, does that mean that the other people who were nominated in the same category were not blessed or favored? Are the favored blessed, better or worthy of blessings?  Further, is there a group of people who are not favored and undeserving of blessings? And are gifts of abundance, opportunity, victories, grace, and mercy the only blessings we should expect to receive?

When one person is sick and the other is well, then is the healthy person blessed and better off? Better off maybe. Blessed, I don’t know. In the midst of a tornado those whose property and belongings are spared from destruction are blessed but those who lose everything—what are they? Whenever we seem to win against all odds many give thanks and praise unto God for the blessing. What about everyone else who fails?

If the team I am cheering for wins does that mean I have the blessing of an answered prayer? Does that mean the other team is cursed? How often do we ascribe the good in our lives to blessing and the bad to a curse of misfortune or some type of evil force? Moreover, is losing and struggle in life such a terrible thing? Are we so spoiled or selfish that we only expect and accept blessings with gratitude? So do we only learn from mountain top experiences?  Aren’t our times in the valleys of life just as important? Whats the right proclomation while walkining in the valley? Do you still say I’m blessed?

If blessings do exist? Are they a result of our own actions or some type of divine intervention? Is the blessing something I can earn or something I am predestined to receive? What exactly does it mean to be blessed? Does claiming to be blessed engender feelings of comfort, a sense of approval and acceptance in the eyes of one’s creator? Maybe using the word blessed is just a way to justify the means of immoral acts? So, are you blessed or not?

Authentic thought:

            Today, I think our actions and thoughts whether good or bad contribute to outcome in our lives. Whatever a man thinks in his heart is what he becomes. The energy we put out us what comes back into our lives. The sunshine and the rains comes down on us all. The word blessed is often misused and over used for the good that cannot be explained.

In Peace and Love,

Dr. Free

Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and or respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

 

Express and share your authentic thoughts…

Knowledge vs Belief

Knowledge vs Belief: Part 1

My Authentic Thoughts:

My life began to change dramatically when I seriously contemplated a statement that was made to me by three different people. Each were strangers to me and unrelated to each other. I believe it was by design that the universe prompted each to make a similar statement to me. In summary, each man boldly told me that when I know, belief is not necessary. I must admit, at first I did not know what was going on—meaning, what had they hoped to gain by making such a statement to me. I’m an ace on spiritual matters and biblical doctrine—or so I thought. In fact, based on the context of our conversation (the Bible and what it means to be spiritual), I found their words a bit offensive. I was deep and well informed or so I thought.

My entire religious foundation was based on belief. If I confessed what I read in the Bible and believed it with my heart, I would be miraculously saved from any adverse situation I was faced with. I could not be convinced otherwise. I had believed that since I was seven years old. Before now, belief and knowledge were synonymous for me. My understanding was sure and my heavenly address for my mansion was secure. I accepted that strong belief and resilient faith were the keys to eternal security. I held them both firmly in my heart. My faith was the substance of the things I hoped for and the evidence of the unseen even when it did not make logical since. I was what I now call “super religious”.  I was out of my African mind. I had been raised to think good religion was essential for successful living. I expected a miracle just about every day—that is until I decided to give serious thought to what was said to me: when I know belief is unnecessary.

Then I thought well damn! What do I really know for sure? I had to have a conversation with myself. During that conversation I asked myself several questions? What evidence do I have for anything I believe? Is my personal testimony enough? What infallible evidence do I have for the authority of the truth I believe? Why do I talk about what I believe more than I talk about what I know or have tangible evidence for? Whom do I attribute the good and the bad in my life and why? I questioned my beliefs and questioned my questions like never before. Maybe knowing really meant understanding and accepting? Isn’t what is commonly stated usually accepted? I had to figure all of that out.

After pondering the statement for quite some time, I realized the statement was made because my being was yearning for more. The law of attraction was at work. I was hungry—even starving. I know I was starving because I had stopped growing. I was not receiving the nutrition of truth I needed to continue to grow and mature at that space in my journey. I was stagnant. I no longer asked questions or saw transformational change in my life. I was bored with business as usual. So, I pondered when I know belief is unnecessary. Eventually it hit me like a ton of bricks! I realized the great depth in the statement that was made to me. My life moved like an earthquake. A tsunami was rumbling beneath in my mind and soul.  It was frightening but worth it! Their statement to me was an invitation to move forward and live life a higher level of consciousness.

I gave myself permission to step outside the box of my comfort zone. That was the best decision I could have ever made. When I did I had an awesome growth spurt! It was not easy and I have been very uncomfortable—even in pain at times. However, where there is no struggle there is no progress.

My journey is now exciting again. I live my life at an entirely higher level of consciousness with unveiled eyes. I am finally free to be me and I’m learning to break the chains off my mind with truth that I know for certain. I am becoming freer every day. I don’t claim to know it all. In fact, I have peace in knowing that I do not have to know it all neither do I condemn others for what they do not know or how they choose to live their lives. Those days are behind me. We are all right where we need to be in our journey. I have no regrets. Further, I don’t discount any experience I have had up to this point—without them I would not have arrived in this wonderful place of enlightenment where I dwell today.

What have you allowed yourself to question lately? How comfortable or uncomfortable are you? Our level of discomfort determines our potential for growth and development. Are you experiencing remarkable growth? Have you given yourself permission to be free? Have you been invited to live outside your comfort zone?  Are you tirelessly living to meet the expectations of others while your personal expectations for yourself are on the back burner? What can you honestly say you know about your own needs and understanding?

Investigate the most important areas of your life. I have discovered that we are often challenged in those areas because they already have our attention. My area was religion but that may not be yours. For you it may be relationships, health or money matters. What will happen when the opportunity to grow knocks at the door of what is important in your life?

Hotep (Peace),

Dr. Free

Determining and Defining Truth

Determining and Defining Truth

The longer I live, the more I wonder what the word truth really means. As a child, truth was all about what my parents and grandparents told me. The authority of their word and presence in my life gave great weight to their opinions and directives. Their truth was the steering wheel through both the blooming and pruning formative years of my early journey.

I was influenced by their truth and as a child their truth became my truth until I became insightful enough to challenge certain aspects and lay a foundation of my own truth.  You may or may not have a similar testimony. But what does that say about truth? Is truth relative? What happens when a person grows up in an entirely different culture or part of the world than you? They are raised with respect to their parents and elders as well. Still, the truth they live by is quite different from your truth. Does that make their truth a lie? Is their truth inhumane or irrelevant because it’s different?

There are specific experiences that are significant to our process of personal growth and development. At the time, one may not have the vocabulary to articulate nor awareness to identify all the nuances of the event but it indeed has visceral meaning. The experience may have even been a seminally defining moment changing the trajectory of life. Furthermore, the timely words spoken from the participants resonated deeply. Rich meaning was indeed gleaned. Now the individual owns a powerful anecdotal story. Nonetheless, many times anecdotal stories are considered unreliable and influenced merely by personal perspective. Do we have a right to underestimate one’s personal experience? Who are we to judge? Is not truth the knowledge we need that meets us and equips us to handle the circumstances we are dealing with as we move along in our journey?

With that being said, does truth come from within us or without? Must truth be proven like a fact? If that’s truth how should it be or can personal truth be proven? Are there universal truths? Is truth only truth when it’s based on religious doctrines? Maybe truth is based on spiritual principles all humans possess? Is truth merely personal? Furthermore, is there a hierarchy in truth? For example, are some of us functioning at higher levels of truth while others resolve to live in black or white truth? How do you determine and define truth?

Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and or respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

My authentic thought:

Truth is indeed relative at times. Our personal experiences, including culture and social location, shape our thinking, create our lens and determine what we identify as truth. However, there are universal truths that we come to know in a variety of ways. Our hopeful segue to universal truth, if effective, may be through our family belief systems, religion and or spiritual practices. I think universal truths give all people a common connection and understanding by which we set standards for morality.  These truths are evident throughout the world regardless of culture or nationality.

Every person is on a personal journey. As human beings we are all in the process of becoming. One should never negate the meaning of the personal experience of another whether it be with a child or an adult. Every experience  has meaning and serves as a stepping stone as we navigate our way through life.

All we have is right now. Whatever emotions are evoked from our experiences arise to help us learn about ourselves, interact with people, and engage the world we live in. Whatever we glean and learn that adds to or improve the quality of our lives is truth.

In Love and Peace,

Dr. Free

 

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