AfroAsiatic Perspectives 23: The Ever-changing Evolution of Blackness

BlackisBeautiful

Takuan Amaru

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Black Creatives Japan. Black Creatives is a social-media group for independent, progressive-thinking people of Afro-descent. Ms. Ayana Wyse, the organizer of the event, stressed in her promotion that everyone (not only blacks) was welcome; and this is exactly the type of atmosphere we walked into. Upon our arrival, initially, I must admit that I felt a bit perplexed; this is because what I was witnessing both encouraged and alarmed me simultaneously. Although heavily accented with darker hues, the melanin-rich crowd reflected various shades of the human spectrum as brothers and sisters from all parts of the diaspora rubbed shoulders with Japanese as well as the few attending Caucasians.

Laid back and tranquil but friendly, this is hardly the type of “black event” that I was used to attending back in Philly or NYC. Venues where (the threat of) someone getting beat-up, robbed, dissed, or arrested was the normal atmosphere. Well, having to watch my back is easily one of the “black traits” I don’t miss…but on second thought, when I really think about it, the ‘danger’ of attending, let’s say, Hip Hop events in the 90s was part of the allure and excitement.Sugar Shack What I mean is, strange as it may seem, some of the hypest events I’ve been to were likewise (at least potentially) some of the most dangerous. No one ever talked about it but everyone knew that living precariously was a significant part of being black.

Scanning the crowd between acts, it seemed many of the attendees knew little of this type of black experience; so here they were expressing their own version of blackness. I decided to take notes.

My family lived in both Japan and the Philippines before arriving in the U.S. Therefore, as a child, I was often told by black kids: “Tak, you ain’t black!” This was due to my unfamiliar accent and mannerisms; it was not until after puberty that I developed enough swag to be recognized by my brethren. I write it like this because, unlike many other multi-racial people who have bought into the status-quo (i.e. white is right), I immediately intuited blackness as the pinnacle of human existence. Therefore, I’ve always been proud of being Japanese but due to the dominating presence of my father, I’ve always identified as a black man…a black Japanese man.

What is the meaning of “Black?”

By the time my friends and I entered Bar Ludo, which is located in the Shinsaibashi district of Osaka, the Talent Show was already underway. One of the first acts really got my attention.Melanin Magic In addition to being attractive, I sensed the caramel-complexioned sista was also (mixed with) Japanese. As a child, whenever I met kids who were like me, we always stared at each other, almost feeling like siblings from another lifetime, or maybe some other parallel world. For me, I was deciphering their identity: basically whether they were choosing to be black or white. Many people claim that nowadays, the black-white dichotomy is being replaced with a class system based more on income brackets than race. Perhaps this is a topic for another article. During the intermission, I approached the young lady and overheard her talking about her racial make-up and the military posts that she had lived on. Having that in common with her, it was easy to strike up a conversation. “I thought you looked like one of us,” she divulged during our discussion. Long before I spoke with her or shook hands with her Caucasian boyfriend, I had already predicted she had not chosen “black. How did I know? Because black females become singers at church and it was clear that she had never sung any gospel music. Just the way she approached the microphone was enough of a tip-off; but when homegirl didn’t know the lyrics to the song, it was a wrap. Leaning forward, I whispered to a sista in front of me who was from Detroit, “You know she didn’t grow up in church.” And together, we shared a snicker.

Many Japanese are surprised when they learn their favorite American singers honed their craft in a black church. whitney1Under the strict guidance of older black women who, as far as I’m concerned, are the best singing instructors the world has ever known, these teachers squeeze every ounce of musical potential from their on-stage prodigies with a simple but stern, “Sang girl!” (Note: not “sing”) From Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston to Alicia Keys and Beyonce, the church has been the proving ground for the very best. Perhaps Janet Jackson is the only female singer I can think of, due to being a Jehovah’s Witness, who may not have undergone this indoctrination.

Before I could pat myself on the back for the accuracy of my prediction, another sista with short locs and a dashiki came on-stage. “Oh yeah!” I uttered, believing the show was now getting started. After she announced she was performing a song from the movie, Lion King, I sensed something was amiss. Nonetheless, when she prefaced her act with an apology, I almost screamed out loud: “This is definitely not black!” In hindsight, it would not be fair to critique her because she wasn’t even trying to sing; she was just up there to have fun, kind of like karaoke. What’s more, the crowd supported her through not one, not two, but three songs. Having been schooled on blackness watching shows like Soul Train; or better yet, “Amateur Night” at the Apollo Theater, Apollowhere if the performer did not appeal to the audience, she/he got booed harshly before Sandman Sims would tap-dance his way on-stage to sweep the misfits away with his legendary broom—all this amidst catcalls and laughter—I was dumbfounded.

As of late, embracing change has been a challenge. Being a child of the Hip Hop generation, I remember the scorn I felt for “old people” who did not understand our music—especially before there were actual Hip Hop records. No joke, my father would literally become violent if I tried to include anyone in the music category who wasn’t a recognized Jazz Great like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, or Charlie Parker; this even included Smooth Jazz artists like Grover Washington Jr. Back then, I promised myself I’d never become that closed-minded; therefore I want to be careful about how I describe that night’s, hmm, let’s say “fun performances.” That said, near the end of the show, someone did appear who matched my preconceived idea of a singer. Not only were this queen’s lyrics strong and poignant but it seemed she had sung them before (in front of black folks). In addition, being a conscious brother, I especially appreciated her song about ‘melanin magic.’

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Ms. Wyse and her assistants for organizing such a classy event; I met some cool, intelligent, down-to-earth people that night. A.WyseHopefully, she will have another sooner than later, and if I’m fortunate enough to attend who knows, perhaps I’ll try my hand at performing stand-up…especially since everyone’s gonna support me even if I bomb horribly. On second thought, considering there was a comedian there—and the brother held it down—perhaps I’ll just be content to continue taking notes on the ever-changing, evolution of this dynamic called Blackness.”

Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story

 

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AfroA 22: Have “Uncle Tom” and “Sellout” become the definition of Success?

 

Takuan Amaru

What do HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, the Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha god, and ESPN’s Sage Steele have in common?

All of them, at some point, have been labeled by critics a sellout or an “Uncle Tom.” In his book Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal, Randall Kennedy defines sellout as “a disparaging term that refers to blacks who knowingly or with gross negligence act against the interest of blacks as a whole.” In spite of the contentious title, Kennedy ends up almost defending perhaps the most commonly regarded Uncle Tom of our era: Clarence Thomas. He does this by examining the attributes of “racial betrayal” through such a narrow lens that very few can meet the criteria.

Nicki Minaj, in an interview with Funkmaster Flex, reassured Hip Hop fans not to worry that her new genre-bending songs like Starships signifies a crossing over to pop music.  “This is who I am,” she stated. “I’m not going to change, I’m just adding on to my brand.”

No matter how much a music artist compromises her values, no matter how much a star-celebrity might turn his back on his people (i.e. OJ Simpson), or throw them under the bus (i.e. Bill Cosby / Charles Barkley), over and over again we hear these bigwigs deny they are sellouts. For this reason, maybe the terminology requires an update. Does the definition need to be changed?

Another question is: if The ‘Uncle Tom’ card is Dead, as Michelle Malkin suggests in her article, is it because people of color no longer share a  common sense of solidarity? BlackandProudOnce regarded as a sacred concept, does “Proud to be Black” still mean anything? Is this what Dr. Aseer Ali Cordoba was suggesting when he asked his podcast audience: “Where does the white man end and you (Asiatic person) begin?”

Do you even care?

Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama…the list of successful blacks who have been indicted as a ‘house negro’ is virtually infinite. This is nothing new. Certified leaders in the past like Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X were known to use this label for those who opposed their views. W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and A. Philip Randolph are some of the names on this prestigious list. Aside from the pigment of their skin another common thread shared by the aforementioned is they all achieved a certain level of success. So is selling-out a necessary component of success? When discussing this with a friend, he pointed-out something interesting about the average black-white relationship: “Amaru,” he said with a knowing grin, “how many times have you seen a white girl with a broke black guy?” Before I could respond he answered his own question. “Almost never. Once in a while the brother might not be rich but he’ll at least be financially secure, if not well-off.”

In life, is being a sellout equivalent to being successful?

Realizing people have different ideas about what a sellout is, I asked some other folks their opinions. This, however, turned out to be a bad idea. At the first mention of the topic many became noticeably uncomfortable, and three people got angry before deciding they would not comment further. Uncle-Toms-and-Sellouts-640x480One social-media network—a forum supposedly devoted to Black issues—has all but rescinded my membership: i.e. my posts are no longer “approved” by the administration. Why does this conversation rattle people so much? Professor Griff, of the legendary group Public Enemy, states that ambitious people in the mainstream are “seeking a comfortable place to reside within the system of racism/white supremacy.” Assuming this is true, it is easy to imagine why inquiries into the character of a sellout would make some people uncomfortable, and also why they might result in banishment from the “successful” social arenas.

In 1963, Malcolm X delivered a speech at Michigan State University entitled “20th Century Uncle Tom.” Like Randall Kennedy he gives a description of a sellout; but this is where the similarities end.  Unlike Kennedy, Malcolm does not waste time using sophisticated, grandiose terminology to describe something so common, but rather, gets straight to the point by explaining the dangers of blind faith and token integration before exposing the “Uncle Thomas” as one who “always wants to be next to the white man.” How does Malcolm X’s 1963 description compare to the profile of the average “successful” black person in 2018?

“This modern, twentieth-century Uncle Thomas…is usually well-dressed and well-educated. He’s often the personification of culture and refinement. The twentieth-century Uncle Thomas sometimes speaks with a Yale or Harvard accent. Sometimes he is known as Professor, Doctor, Judge, and Reverend, even Right Reverend Doctor. This twentieth-century Uncle Thomas is a professional Negro—by that I mean his profession is being a Negro for the white man.”

Is it getting stuffy in here?Stop Cooning

 

Takuan Amaru is the author of Gaikokujin – The Story.

 

 

 

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AfroAsiatic Perspectives 21: Reflections on my Trip to America: “Everyone’s Gay!”

karlabalcazar15-twitter-650x867

Takuan Amaru

When I announced I would be traveling to the U.S. to participate in some book festivals to an American friend who had recently visited there following almost a decade of living overseas, her response was thought-provoking. “Tak, America has changed,” she warned, “everyone’s gay!” Although I was aware that former-President Barack Obama was an advocate of gay rights, I have to admit that I was surprised at how much the LGBT landscape has developed.

I flew into JFK International Airport and caught a taxi to an address in Astoria, Queens. I was able to reserve a room on the Air BnB site, not far from Central Park by subway. As I stepped onto the porch, I noticed the LGBT flag hanging above the door, realizing the proprietor of the apartment was gay. On my first night, I took a shower and forgot the combination-number to unlock my bedroom door. Wrapped in a bath towel, with all of my stuff locked away in my room, I was forced to knock on other tenants’ doors in the same suite. I was hoping I could use someone’s phone to check my email for the combination.

Fortunately, there was someone on the other side of the second door I knocked on: a melanin-rich brother with locs draped over his shoulder. Having already gone to bed, as he exited his dark room and stepped into the light of the living room, I noticed something was a bit different from what I had anticipated. At first, I thought it was the simple matter of his locs being dyed blue. However, upon further inspection, I realized that what I thought was a wife-beater T-shirt turned out to be the top-half of a full-length night-gown. Then reality sank in: Oh my god, this guy’s a cross-dresser.

“Hi, my name’s Ruby,” he said in a voice sort of deep for someone named “Ruby.”

gay crossdresser pink panties

“Umm, good evening,” I rattled, trying not to seem surprised at his choice of apparel. After explaining my situation, Ruby was good enough to allow me to use his (her?) phone. I have never been “homophobic” (assuming that is a real word), but it was sort of disconcerting to sit there wrapped in nothing but a bath towel while a guy in a woman’s nightgown gawked at me with a big Kool-Aid smile. Long-story-short, once I got dressed, I returned to the living room to thank Ruby. In spite of my resolute heterosexual stance, Ruby was determined to hit on me anyway.

The following day I found Ruby had left me a note prior to checking out. This was the last line: “Let’s spend some time together…I can show you some things.”

Now I know how sexually harassed women feel!

Along with this new, millennial open-mindedness, I also noticed a mixing of the races like I’d never seen before. As a child, having been the victim of much verbal-haranguing for my “mixed race” status by classmates and friends—both black and white—at first, I received this revelation with open arms. Nevertheless, it was not long before I noticed that just as I mention in book 1 of Gaikokujin – the Story, the blurring of the racial lines consistently involved melanin-rich folks losing their culture / language and replacing it with behaving and talking like “white people.” whitewashed black guyAgain, if this were a genuine melting-pot, many ethnicities’ characteristics would be represented: not just the idiosyncrasies of the ruling class.

With the boom of technological devices in the 21st century, individualism is increasing. Instead of communicating to those standing nearby, many folks opt to talk into their I-phones to friends who, in some cases, may be in other cities or even foreign countries. In spite of this, much of the friendly, talkative spirit of the average New Yorker continues to thrive as I was able to strike up interesting conversations with bus drivers and store clerks alike about the latest goings-on in the “City that never Sleeps.” Also, the neighborly mannerisms in the South seem to still exist as I was greeted “Good morning” by many smiling people during my stays in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Still, it was a bit daunting to see the lack of children playing outside or even walking around. Parents, it seems, have been tasked with the chore of being their children’s personal Uber drivers. Another friend of mine, Dr. Griselda Thomas, who is a professor at Kennesaw State University, detailed how the kids of this generation are losing out on many of life’s lessons simply by not walking to school. “Children of my generation learned the fundamentals of fitting into society; you know, getting along with others and understanding where “your lane” is from basic interactions with our peers like walking to school.”

Progress is just that—moving ahead. However, the question remains in the process of discarding the ‘old’ and bringing in the ‘new’ are we , in some ways, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater?”

Tattoo woman

Lastly, I have to comment on the body-art I saw: lots of tattoos! Although Japan is at the forefront of much advancement, this is one arena where they lag far behind. Due mostly to the stigma that attaches tattoos to the criminal underworld—the yakuza—any Japanese who relish body-art will usually relegate them to areas which can easily be hidden underneath clothing. I may be exaggerating but it seemed that during my stay in the U.S. most people I crossed paths with on the street, or at the mall, had at least one visual tattoo. No doubt about it, some of the body-art was impressive indeed; the details and colors very vivid and powerful. Why, I even saw senior citizens sporting tattoos…old man tattoos

However, in some of these cases, I had to wonder when they got them.

Being a student of the Journey called Life, I have learned that the only constant in this world is change itself; so I embrace it with open arms. The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, brushes it down nicely.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story.

 

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AfroAsiatic Perspectives 20: Japan or the USA? Take your Choice…

makeamericawhiteTakuan Amaru

“I can’t believe the U.S. still condones (primitive ideals like) racism…it’s the 21st Century. What I mean to say is, in Japan we discarded out-of-date notions like racism decades ago!” ~this is what a 33-year-old Japanese salaryman said in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin

Five years ago while Suzuki-san was saying this to me I couldn’t wait for him to stop talking so I could verbally slay him. Being his English teacher, it was my job to critique the content of his rant. And, oh boy, I couldn’t wait! I mean, what’s he talking about? I thought to myself. No racism in Japan? He must be crazy…then I realized something which caused me to remain silent and probe his claim a little deeper.

According to census statistics, almost 99% of the population in Japan is Japanese. However, these stats measure citizenship, not ethnicity. The Japanese government refuses to collect data on any specific ethnic identities claiming the Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, Hafu, and the naturalized immigrants are all just Japanese. This includes Chinese, Koreans, Brazilians, and Filipinos (many with Japanese ancestry) who readily tell you they are not Japanese if you ask them.burakumin

Suzuki-san, seeing I was content to sit and listen, continued making his claim. As he did so I thought about my friend Aya, whose parents are both South Korean. She used to tell me about some of the bigotry she experienced as a child living in Ikuno-ku, Osaka. Ikuno-ku is known as “Korea Town” due to its large Korean-Japanese population. I also recalled my homeboy Shinobu, who told me with pride about his Burakumin ancestry. “I’m not Japanese!” he loudly stated in his Japanese laced with the distinct accent found in the Kansai region. Just as Suzuki-san stopped talking and took a sip of his oolong tea, I sat up to speak.

“You’re absolutely right,” I replied with a smile.

Honma?” Suzuki-san replied with an incredulous look. It seemed he had taken some time to prepare his argument, knowing all too well how I liked to play the devil’s advocate in our discussions.

As bad as Aya’s and Shinobu’s experiences had been they were not the standard policy of Japanese society. Therefore, by definition, they had to be classified as exceptions. Exceptions to what, you ask? To the rule, of course.

Historically, Japan is famous for having racist doctrines as the rule…or the policy of the country.「攘夷勅命」 pronounced “jōi chokumei” was an edict by Emperor Komei in 1863 to Beheadedexpel the European “barbarians.” Although Indians, Chinese, Koreans and other Asians were known to Japanese, the western European was a new face when Commodore Perry invaded the islands in 1854. Mainly due to their lack of personal hygiene plus other customs seen as peculiar, they were not welcome in the Land of the Rising Sun. Some historians claim the movement pronounced “sonnō jōi“「尊皇攘夷」, which means “Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians” was widespread until well after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Many people in the United States believe Japanese are bigots by nature, it seems. And perhaps I am partly to blame for reporting over the years about the “No Brazilians allowed” signs I used to see in Hamamatsu back in the 90s; or the black-face caricatures that can still be seen in stores and on TV. Many people are familiar with these characters such as Mr. Popo, from the Dragonball Z series.

Popo2

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying this nonsense is okay—or even tolerable—it’s just not the rule….meaning it’s not the standing policy in Japanese society.

To add some light allow me to tell you about my visit to the U.S.A. last week. I had not been there in over a decade so many things were new to me. Right from the start, I was traumatized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) welcoming committee. Behind their plastic gloves and sinister looks they seemed to be saying “Welcome to the Savage Lands!” boy-stopped-by-tsa

I couldn’t believe U.S. citizens were being  exposed to such harsh, brutal treatment. Regular people, it seems, are being treated like common criminals. Well, at least this is no longer only reserved for Blacks and Latinos. I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but the people in Philly seemed polarized to a degree I’ve never seen before. Even in South Jersey, which is somewhat rural, I read about the latest gun slayings in the newspaper. Wherever I was walking or driving, I noticed how people were afraid to look at each other so I didn’t have the opportunity connect with nearly as many folks as I used to whenever I visited the City of Brotherly Love.

Perhaps it was on my return-trip to Japan which best sums up the contrast between living in Japan and the U.S. I arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport just after midnight for my 7:20 am flight. After a week of participating in author seminars, visiting family and friends, and lastly, attending a 6-hour lecture at the Wyndham Hotel, I was exhausted. So I decided to go to the airport and doze there. Upon my arrival, the on-line check-in machines did not work so I sat down and fell asleep.

Hours later, I woke up and noticed that five other passengers had arrived. Soon everyone started lining-up, so I did as well. After about ninety minutes, a very rude Delta Airlines employee appeared and started yelling at us. “If you haven’t checked-in here (pointing at the check-in machines) you will be refused and sent back to the end of the line…NO EXCEPTIONS!” she boomed to the drowsy travelers. “Oh, and the machines are now working,” she added before disappearing behind the counter. Knowing I had not checked-in, I then realized I couldn’t check-in because my smartphone was in my luggage and the battery was dead. All week I had difficulty linking my (Japanese) phone to the (US) wifi. Frustrated, I had given up and put my phone away, thinking I could just check-in at the counter…like I had done in Japan. The people in-line next to me knew my plight and wished me luck.

Soon the mean lady, accompanied by one other, appeared at the back of of the line. With the bearing of two NAZI officials, they started checking people’s boarding passes. “No boarding pass, sir? You have to get out of this line and check-in over there first,” one lady snapped at a man in a cold voice while pointing at the now-busy check-in machines. Just then, the line I was in started moving. Looking ahead of me I scanned the four women’s faces behind the counter to see which one might be sympathetic to my cause. But, to my dismay, all I found was four “I hate my job” bad attitude expressions glaring at the customers in front of them. It reminded me of a time back in 2001 when I was at the NJ Division of Motor Vehicles. Just as one of the Delta hags asked the lady behind me for her boarding pass I had a stroke of luck. Another section of counters, which I had not noticed until that moment, opened. “The next four people step forward.” Although the command came from the same counter we were led to the adjacent area which had just opened. These employees had different uniforms than the nasty ladies to their left. I don’t who they were but once I put my luggage down and saw a smiling woman I knew providence had rescued me. Long story short, she checked me in. However after this harrowing experience, I was then subjected to the “Total Recall” body scanner before getting body-searched.

“I have to pat you down” claimed a very robotic TSA agent, despite nothing strange being detected by their scanner. “Would you like to do it here, or in a private room?”

What a stupid question for a white officer to ask to a black man

Fast-forward to my arrival in Japan. There’s not much to say because I was in and out of the airport so fast I cannot remember much. Upon entering the terminal a very polite Japanese officer herded us into two lines: “Japanese passports this way…foreign passports to the left,” she said pointing in both directions. Since I don’t have a Japanese passport, I went to the left. Before I stopped walking another official, who was checking people’s passports, asked to see mine. Once she determined I was not a tourist, but instead lived in Japan, she switched from English to Japanese. “Do you live in Nagoya?” she chatted with me as she unhooked ropes and told me to follow her. Together, we walked around the foreigners as they watched wondering why I was getting the VIP treatment.

Thirty seconds later, I was collecting my luggage…no fuss, no muss.

The point is, in Japan, although some people might stare at you in public or make a crass remark or two, the bottom line is the policy dictates if you are a law abiding, tax paying resident with a job etc., you are treated with respect. So you see, Suzuki-san’s claim was on-the-money. I can’t begin to express how much I’ve grown (as a person) in Japan just due to being treated like a human being…not like a criminal! While my skin color and my locs get some unwanted attention there isn’t much stereotype embedded. So, am I saying Japan is a haven for melanin-rich folks? To each her own but the short answer is “no.” More on that coming in future editions of AfroAsiatic Perspectives!

bakajapan

Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story.

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AfroAsiatic Perspectives 19: Are you a Second Class Citizen?

Takuan Amaru

honky

Takuan Amaru

Many people are offended if Caucasians are referred to as “Cracka” or “Honky,” claiming these monikers are racist terms. But history demonstrates these words are based on class as much as race. After all everyone in black communities knows “honky” was a nickname black men gave to white men who would honk their horns outside their homes. These men, many times unemployed, sat in frustration watching their daughters, sisters, and even wives leaving to meet the “johns” or “curb crawlers” who came into their segregated neighborhoods looking to make prostitutes out of their family members.

“Cracka” was the name given to the foreman on the plantation who cracked his whip on the backs of the slaves. If the man cracking his whip happened to be black or mulatto, he was not any less a cracka. So this is not restricted to a particular race but many whites insist cracka is a racial epithet aimed at them. And let’s be honest, they’re probably right. But if calling your white boss or co-worker a honky or cracka is so bad why don’t Caucasians mind the most known and notorious racial tag—the infamous N-word— being used in the official names of natural landmarks such as the “Nigger Rapids,” which is a stretch of the Gatineau River in Maniwaki, Quebec?

“Nobody talks about this,” stated Claire Hamel, a Canadian resident who resides near the rapids. She insists the name is not a source of controversy. “It’s the name, that’s it. Like Bouchette, like Maniwaki, like Ottawa.”

In all walks of life the line of demarcation between the two classes is clear. Let us shift to the world of sports for our next example.

Recently Colin Kaepernick’s kneel-down stance during the national anthem has  become contagious. Apparently there is a segment of America’s citizens who are not satisfied with their government’s policies; particularly their treatment by the police. It’s been a minute since a race-related protest made these types of headlines. This, in turn, has resulted in whites responding by venting their opinions, which in many cases has revealed white supremacist attitudes. A great example is the retired NFL quarterback and current football analyst, Trent Dilfer. No matter how much he tried to hide behind traditional ‘football values’ like putting the team first, what really ticked him off about Kaepernick and the other athletic protesters spilled out repeatedly with phrases like “stay in your place,” “sit down,” and “be quiet.”

Once again let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if it wasn’t dark-skinned, unarmed men but instead Caucasians who were getting blasted by cops, do you think Trent Dilfer and the rest of the ‘Confederate Crew’ would tell young, white protesters to sit down and shut-up? Or would it be more like: “Stand up and lock-and-load!” Let’s refer to what we know. How many blacks have been murdered right after some random Caucasian woman claimed she was stared at “inapproriately.” And we don’t have to mention more than a few of their rape indictments were proven to be lies—but innocent men still got lynched.lynched-negro-headline This aggression even extends into the animal kingdom as the western man will not hesitate to kill dozens of lions, tigers, or sharks in an effort to find the one “man-eater.” But in spite of their Samurai-like penchant for vengeance if one their own is harmed, whenever the victim is a non-Caucasian, the general attitude is it’s no big deal. “Ah come on, he was resisting arrest,” is a famous by-line heard in the media throughout the years; and perhaps most recently in the Sandra Bland case. It’s almost as if they’re saying that melanin-rich people dying, or being killed, is the norm. Again we are reminded of the infamous Dred-Scott ruling in 1857.

Having concluded there are two classes of American citizens, what are the factors which determine your class? In any capitalist nation a person’s net-worth largely influences his or her social status and importance. And many of our brothers and sisters have achieved  important positions, stardom, and even riches; but in spite of their high-profile status, are they merely black-faces being manipulated by an unseen puppetmaster?barack-obama-puppet-master When some are asked about the U.S. having second-class citizens they like to quote the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which starts as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” However, since the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776—which was during the chattel slavery era—others argue this only applies to the European immigrants and not to the native inhabitants of the land, or the Africans kidnapped for slavery.

 Symptoms of the Second Class

Do you identify yourself by a name created in recent years, such as African-American or Chinese-American? Or by some sort of mathematical equation such as: “I’m such and such percentage West Indian and such and such percentage white,” or “I’m half Japanese and half black”? Many people have no idea these terms were previously used to designate a slave‘s status. Recently, actress and co-host of the The View, Whoopie Goldberg, showed symptoms of first-class citizenry when another co-host made a joke about Whoopie needing to seek refuge abroad due to Donald Trump’s bid for presidency. “You know what uh uh! This is my country,” Goldberg said. “My mother, my grandmother, my great-grand folks, we busted ass to be here. I’m sorry. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m not a chick American, I’m an American!”

What about you? Have you accepted some made-up terminology to identify yourself? Or, are you the one who determines your class designation…your identity…who you are? These are questions we will explore further in future editions of AfroAsiatic Perspectivespeace!

Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story.

 

 

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AfroAsiatic Perspectives 18: Will the Real American Please Stand Up?

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Takuan Amaru

What does it mean to be “American?” When Japanese attempt to label me thus, I always reject the term because to them, being American means eating at fast food joints, wearing your shoes in the house, and growing up in one of the situations depicted on the sitcom, Modern Family—basically being white. None of this even comes close to describing me or many people who are U.S. citizens. So what am I you may ask? Hmm, I’m not really into labels for myself; however I wouldn’t be opposed to being called American if we’re talking about a real American; not to be confused with a colonized subject of the Americas, i.e. a slave.

Lots of folks get turned off when terms like ‘slave,’ ‘Uncle Tom,’ ‘racism,’ or ‘conspiracy,’ surface but how can any logical conversation about the founding of the United States of America be conducted without making reference to its very foundation…slavery? Isn’t this what the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick’s story is all about?colin-kae Think about it: After you peel back all the inflammatory media-hype what you get is the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1857 known as the Dred-Scott case. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney made it clear: “Current or former slaves and their descendants had ‘no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’” So why all the hub-bub now? The United States policy is, and always has been, clear on this topic. To their credit, they’ve been very consistent. Basically, this concludes my thoughts on this issue, if we can really call it an issue. To me, this story seems to be nothing more than just another way to distract people from the real story.

Message to the so-called “African-American”

Recently, News One Now host, Roland Martin “went bananas on Bill O’Reilly” according to blogger, Tony Magglio, over his harsh criticism of Colin Kaepernick. Martin is being billed as the voice of the black man speaking up to defend his people; but in actuality, he’s just more of the same hype…from a slightly different perspective. Martin called O’Reilly stupid in so many words; which while it may be true besides listing some good reading material he did little to enlighten blacks, or anybody, about what the true situation is in America. He continually kept his listeners in ‘the box’ of white supremacy by referencing famous historical dates; for example, the year 1619. This, according to Martin and most history texts, is when slavery began in the North American colonies. So Martin is basically co-signing on the fact that there were no blacks in the Americas before slavery. But what about all the Olmec heads found in Mexico? What about the Washitaw, Yamasee, Iroquois, Cherokee, Choctaw, Blackfoot, Pequot, and Mohegan (and/or all Indigenous People of America)?

The historical fact that gets swept under the rug by Uncle Toms like Martin is black people are the original people of the planet earth…period. We lived and thrived all around the world way before any 1492, 1619, 1776, or whatever other ‘in the box’ time-period the ruling class wishes to encapsulate you within. According to the historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke, over half of the documented history was already over—already finished—before most of the civilized world was even aware of the existence of a Caucasian race. So you see, the only way a descendant of the original race could be manipulated into labeling himself by a term invented by such a Johnny-come-lately is if he lost the ability to think for himself and instead viewed everything through a western (i.e. Caucasian) lens. If he can get you to believe you’re descendant from a group of slaves that came to America in 1619 but he, himself, came in 1492 he can then claim ownership of America. But if you were here before Columbus perhaps you are the American and he, at best, is a “European-American.”

Roland Martin repeatedly lauded the African-American soldiers who fought for the U.S. overseas even though they knew they had no rights at home. He called this “patriotism.” Is that patriotism? Or should it be viewed as stupidity, fear, or just plain accepting their slave status? When most people think about a slave, they envision a person who is bound by chains. But perhaps the argument should be made that a slave is one who does not require any chains to remain in his subservient position. What do you think?

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Stay tuned for the 19th edition of AfroAsiatic Perspectives!

 

 

Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy Gaikokujin – The Story

 

 

 

 

 

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AfroAsiatic Perspectives 17: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Contribution…in 35 Years

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Takuan Amaru

“What I suffered physically was worth what I’ve accomplished in life. A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life.” ~ Ali at a news conference on October 28, 1984

Exactly what does a person have to accomplish to be dubbed—by the entire world—the “Greatest of All Time?” Yes, he’s the only man in boxing history to win the Heavyweight title 3 times. And everyone knows how he “shocked the world” not once but twice by assuming the role of David and slaying two different (heavily favored) Goliaths. In these matches, virtually every so-called boxing expert predicted the bigger and stronger opponents to dismantle the “Louisville Lip” but it never happened. However this only covers his career as an athlete; what about his life as a man? On his way to becoming the world’s most famous person this gold-medalist was criticized harshly for being a “draft dodger,” not to mention being a minister for the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) under the tutelage of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. All in all, Muhammad Ali’s accomplishments are too many to number. Aside from his boxing accolades, he sacrificed his life and livelihood by defying the U.S. government; all this while refusing to take any part in the bombing of “brown people” in Asia. His quote, which was heard on every continent, established his AfroAsiatic connection forever: I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong…no Viet Cong ever called me Nigger.”Ali - no vietcong

For me, there has been no bigger personality…no bigger hero than Muhammad Ali. And for this reason, when I think of all the larger-than-life personalities who have walked the earth in my lifetime there is no one who comes to mind more deserving of a eulogy. In spite of this, I had a hella-difficult time writing this article. Why you ask? It’s very simple. Because what more can be said about the man, about his numerous accomplishments—including his controversial moments—that hasn’t already been published? Not much. Therefore, I’d like to talk about Ali’s influence from this point going forward. I imagine this may sound strange, considering we just buried his remains; so allow me to explain. But before I do that, I need to emphasize some things about his amazing life which stood out to me. Everyone knows this once unstoppable, fighting machine “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.” And by doing so he made black and brown people stand a little bit taller…feel a little bit prouder.

Jim Crow

During his extravagant love affair with us—at a time when non-whites were still running from the boogey-man known as ‘Jim Crow’—Ali constantly reiterated how handsome and talented he was…and how it was because he was black. As you can imagine, with so much Black Power in his words, all of his outbursts were not met with cheers and applause—even to this day. For example, how do you feel about Ali’s views on integration? He didn’t mince words when this topic was brought up: he was totally against it. In his words: “Any intelligent black or white wants their children and grandchildren to look like them.” These remarks were not received well, especially in the college community, but he stated them nonetheless, not caring whose toes he stepped on…and he never retracted them. Yet, once he refused to step forward for induction into the military, young people again revered him. During Ali’s 3-plus years away from boxing, he may have been stripped of his title and prohibited from earning a living but his notoriety grew by leaps and bounds.

ali cosellWho can ever forget the candid interviews with Howard Cosell—the only guy who had a bigger ego than Ali himself? Ali also got air-time by speaking at universities and making other public appearances and wherever he went a sell-out crowd gathered because the media and just about everyone else couldn’t get enough of the “People’s Champion.” All this paved the road to Ali becoming the most famous person on the planet.

When Ali was asked if he planned to run for office after retiring from boxing, he was 100% against it. In fact he said anyone wanting to be a politician had to be insane. This notwithstanding many pondered what type of influence he might have internationally once he hung up the gloves for good. This had to be a scary thought for the ruling class. Muhammad Ali came into prominence during the 1960s—the decade of assassinations—and since he was both highly controversial as well as charismatic, many predicted he might follow the same fate as Fred Hampton, Robert & John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Ali’s own teacher and friend, el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, a.k.a. Malcolm X.

In an article by Baxter Dmitry entitled, “Muhammad was Silenced and Murdered,” the journalist suggests in the late 1970s, at the Mayo Clinic, Muhammad Ali was injected with the drug, methyl phenyl tetrahydropyrinide (MPTP); which is known to cause Parkinson’s disease. According to Dmitry, the U.S. government did this to silence its most influential, charismatic, and dangerous critic.

“No athlete, politician, or preacher ever had a voice like his (Ali’s), or used it as effectively.”Baxter Dmitry

Dmitry emphasizes Ali had the “uncanny ability to make you like and admire him even if you didn’t agree with what he stood for. Even the KKK was susceptible to his charms.” If this is true, perhaps Muhammad Ali was considered too big a name to be outright slain—but he still needed to be neutralized. “He may have died in 2016, but the world lost him when his voice and strength were taken away in the late ‘70s.”

Can Baxter Dmitry’s words be debated?

For this reason, I am convinced Ali’s greatest contribution in 35 years had to be…just to simply die. Ali escaping his nightmarish existence released not only himself, his family, and black people, but everyone else who loved, respected, and adored him. This alone is enough, but hold on for a second because there’s more. According to an occultist who goes by the name, ‘Brother Panic,’ Ali’s transition marks something much more significant for melanin-rich people: his energy is now available for us to utilize.

Note: For those not familiar with Panic, many of his lectures are readily available on youtube. However a word of caution: he explicitly states his words are only meant for true occultists, like himself.

Panic explains that similar to Prince, MJ, and James Brown, Ali was wearing a sort of outfit or costume; kinda like a character-role in a play. The play, if you will, has been entitled “Humanity.” In a lifetime, a person borrows a body and a particular energy in order to live. But when that person dies, the body withers away and the energy is released back into the cosmos. Black HeroesLooking into the past, we’ve had some bad muthafu—watch your mouth!—who came to display a specialized genius through their human manifestation…a specialized energy. According to Panic these personalities are only displaying who and what we (all) are as melanin-rich people. And the best part, he goes on to say, is once these spirits exit the body, anyone with the proper apparatus can access the energy. So, on a certain level, we are actually waiting for our heroes and heroines to transition. In Brother Panic’s own words: “Ali’s energy has been ‘weaponized’ for us to use.”

So, as great as Ali was back in the ‘60s & ‘70s, perhaps his greatest contribution has yet to be revealed. In any case, rest in peace champ…you’ve earned it!

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Takuan Amaru is the author of the trilogy, Gaikokujin – The Story.

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