Listen Siblings, I come in peace,
“I grew up like a neglected weed, ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Now that I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is.” — Harriet Tubman
By our eyes, it seems to surprise that something so dreadful as enslavement wasn’t deemed as dreadful when it was the life experiences of our people. This is partly because we do not understand that there are four needs of survival: food, clothing, shelter, and lastly, unknowingly, consciousness. In an Asian consciousness or European consciousness, enslavement or domination, respectively, is the order of the day. In the position of being enslaved or dominated, as long as one’s mind is conditioned to accept it, it’s ‘bad’ but not ‘dreadful.’ The same can be said about our people today, enslaved and dominated but taking it with a smile. The following letter from a Sister of the African Blood Siblings attests to this. Please read her letter, and other letters, then commit yourself to this organization, the only organization promoting African consciousness. Write to help build an African Blood Siblings Community Center. This letter attests to why with insight into real community. Subscribe, share, love.
Letter from Kuraja: Why create Communities?
Sent to Onitaset Kumat under a different title
I once thought that I started my life five years ago, but I started it much more recently. Five years ago marks the day that my ex-boyfriend and I, in Prospect Park on a Sunday, heard the drumming circle beat the booming beats that remained with me for many years.
“I am African” I learned at twenty-five years of age.
It felt like no experience I ever had, yet it seemed that I alone felt that way. We passed by after standing for only ten minutes. I wanted to stay forever. As we left, I struggled to not look back, pretending like I wasn’t leaving myself behind.
After my outing, I sat in my apartment confused. I collected music, but nothing ever touched me like those drums. I go to clubs, but it’s as if I never saw dancing in my life. I watch BET, but how could I be so unaware of who I am?
Whatever I was experiencing, I needed more. I asked around, looked around, researched around, and found Malcolm.
I engaged even distant cousins on the need and necessity for the Black man and Black woman to rise!
“In every society in this world, Black people are on the lowest rung,” I would inform.
Even my employer, a tall, gray-haired White man, heard from me how necessary a Black struggle is.
I would stop young boys on the streets, “Do you love yourself?” They would answer”Yes” despite their manner of dress and language. Self-love looked a lot like self-hate to me.
I remember standing in front of a bodega, and insisting that Community members stop patronizing their oppression. It actually worked. But the bodega was replaced by another store. Boycotts work, but you need more strategy to change a community.
And with successes were many failures. It wasn’t an entirely cheerful experience. Ask a man on the streets, “Do you like Malcolm?” and chances are he’ll say “No.” Ask them of Imhotep, Shaka, Nanny, or Piankhy and they just plain don’t know.
This is a world of music and the streets, where women hear a car honk and turn around, and men see a pair of legs as a green light.
I’ve stood in neighborhoods where dogs “decorate” the thoroughfares and people happily walk in this “decoration.” Their conditions are that of dependents. Kelly Miller wrote “The Negro pays for what he wants and begs for what he needs.” This I saw as Black people with $300 Louie Vuitton Bags used food stamps to get subpar groceries, like “Seedless Watermellons” and “Boneless Whole Chicken.”
I was ready to give up–on life.
During this time, some three years, I studied a great deal of our history. It dawned on me that we created so many amazing structures, we lived so many fruitful years, we expressed ourselves so majestically, we were consulted the world over for our wisdom.
But now, we’re in a nation of almost total non-productivity. We are mostly consumers. We are mostly materialists. We do not even eat properly. We dress like we work in a prison or a brothel. We live in small apartments without working temperature control. We fell far from our legacy.
The more I tried to awaken people, the less I saw the point. How could one live so bad and smile as we do. Are we lying with that smiling? I asked a Bookstore owner what’s the real problem.
The owner and I spoke long hours, sometimes as many as eleven other people joined in the discussions. We didn’t all agree. We were stubborn. But after deep personal contemplation of the conversation that passed, ranging from the destruction of African civilizations, to the promotion of African degradation, I came upon one definite truth:
The problem is White people.
I needed to get away and get away quickly.
I took an extended vacation from work; this, one year ago, is when I really begun my life.
Walking around Brooklyn, knowing White people as the problem, I walked into the deepest, darkest neighborhoods, where Black men stood on corners and young Black girls walked with fishnet stockings.
I never been to this part of Brooklyn and I looked the part. The mindless walking made men come to surround me. They looked like mirror reflections of what television calls danger. A whole ten men surrounded my person and one very animated one gestured for another ten. I was surrounded and ill-intent marked the ambiance. I looked one deeply in the eyes and spoke, “Man, know thyself . . . and thou shalt know the gods.” He sprung toward me.
I didn’t flinch. He held me in his arms and whispered in my ear. Releasing me, he held up his hand and the crowd dispersed. He had told me to continue North seven blocks and I shall find what I sought.
I thanked him and moved northward. As I moved, deep in Black territory, I heard, centering this section, drums. My life began.
Rapid, repeating drums and loud, rhythmic bellows rushed into my spirit and spoke feelings I never had. I cried, a rush of tears that just fell from my eyes without a care. I saw an Elder, called her “Mama,” and ran for her embrace. This woman I never knew held me close and kissed my forehead. She welcomed me to the town. My tears kept running.
Here was Black Community. Home grown vegetables and fruits. Knitting and weaving circles. Open kitchens and spaces. Over five-hundred Black people living together peacefully, providing for themselves and family. Every woman was a mother, every man a father, every child cared for. We danced with our feets, sang with our voices and produced with our hands. Smiles were authentic. Young men and young women easily connected. Here was Black Community.
I was there for nearly a month, never wanting to leave, when you came in. “Onitaset Kumat, the Crowned One.” You set down the flag of Africa, the Red, Black and Green, and flanked by Elders, paraded into the largest temple. I followed. There a gathering stood in a circle with many of the Community, though mostly the Elders.
“Onitaset Kumat,” one spoke, “We have a daughter to become a Sister.”
“I see her.”
“Step forward,” the Elder called. No one turned around to me but I felt a push from behind. Looking back, seeing no one, I knew I needed to move.
I came upon you. “Aunatset Kebat” I fumbled your name.
You only smiled. “Young lady,” you started, “we need to learn your name.”
I didn’t understand. I always introduced myself. But somehow no one ever called me by my name. I remembered Malcolm and “slave names” but it didn’t connect to me if this was the reason.
An Elder shouted “Kuraja.” Other Elders nodded their heads. Then you asked, “Do you like this name, Kuraja?”
I didnt know what it meant but it resonated. I nodded my head.
“Kuraja, the Community learned who you are. We shall call you heretofore ‘Kuraja.’ Visit any time, but I understand that you must go.”
I wasn’t aware that a month was soon to pass. Time is a different concept when every morning centers around doing better for the race, and every night is a celebration of the results.
Since we spoke I slipped in and out of town. I was all the more effective rallying people. I see some in town and I wish I saw more. But I never strayed from your request. I read the African Blood Siblings and I am helping to build African Blood Siblings Community Centers. We need more Communities like that town.
But I write you mostly, as per your request, that at 30, I am truly, genuinely happy. And I attest that you are Maa Kheru–True of Voice.
Please pass on this message,