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Resurrecting Ourselves from the Tomb of Our Psychological Enslavement

Reflections From Behind the Wall

Creating the New Boston, Designed to Include Us All

Chuck TurnerOn August 28, 1963, I was among the hundreds of thousands of people who listened to Dr. Martin Luther King and others launch the national campaign for an Equal Accommodations Act, which passed in 1964 and a Voting Rights Act that passed in 1965. On August 28th of this year, there will be events throughout the country celebrating that historic occasion. It is certainly appropriate to pay tribute and memorialize the March on Washington and the victories that followed. However, we also have to analyze our progress as an African-American people in our struggle to achieve equality and racial justice.

From my perspective, the assessment is grim. We certainly have ours stars of stage, screen, and the sports field. We have professionals in every field of human endeavor. We even have an African-African President. All those are significant and some what amazing accomplishments given our history of racial oppression and our ongoing struggle for liberation. However, the grim reality is that our historic discrimination continues and the majority of us are mired in poverty and the lower rungs of the American economic ladder. We had been making some economic progress; yet, the consciously contrived mortgage scam targeting of our communities across the nation has decimated the asset base of our struggling middle class.

Our unofficial, yet all too real, unemployment rate is in the 20s to 30s for older adults and in the 40s and 50s for youth and young adults. In addition, as I have pointed out in the three previous reflections, the economy is stagnant as are workers' wages, while the wealth of the 1%, their corporations, and allies is growing at a hyper rate. In fact, the stock market is at its highest point in history.

This growth of the wealth of the rich and the stagnation of the wages and assets of the majority of people, regardless of race, means that in cities like Boston with large numbers of those who are doing very well, it is difficult for the average person and family not only to keep up with the standard of living but to pay the rent. Given the gap between our incomes and assets and white income and assets, it is even more difficult for us.

Caught in the vice of artificially stimulated desires and the lower rungs of the economic ladder, our youth not only fall prey to the lure of crime but also the insanity of killing each other. There are many explanations given for the senseless behavior. My belief is that a major cause of this insanity is the insanity of the culture that pervades America and the western world. The thought that killing others solves your problems is reinforced not only by TV and movies but also by leaders of this country advocating the same behavior and sending young men and women around the world to carry out their fiendish ideas.

As a people, we have always looked to education as a ladder to success. Yet our young men are falling further and further behind whites in terms of their academic achievement. At the same time, our young men and women who successfully navigate the high school system find it more and more difficult to pay for the rising costs of a higher level of education. Even if the Supreme Court does not strike down affirmative action admissions at the college level, the economic bar is being dropped across the entryway.

Gentrification is a major problem in the urban areas in which we live. Fifty percent of the apartments in the City Council district that I represented in Roxbury, parts of Dorchester, and the South End, were subsidized through federal section 8 vouchers, based on the inability of the residents to pay the rents of $1000 a month plus for a one bedroom apartment. This May, the local administrator of the Section 8 program, the Boston Housing Authority, announced that Section 8 vouchers would no longer be issued and that vouchers for 1000 of the 11,000 families would be rescinded due to cuts in the federal budget based on sequestration.

I could go on and on but you can see the picture. Fifty years have passed since Dr. King shared his dream, yet a growing number of us find ourselves trapped in a nightmare. Yet, despite the dark and depressingly grim reality just described, I continue to believe in our ability as a people to fulfill our responsibility to build a strong foundation not only for ourselves and families but also for our future generations.

This belief in our future is not based on the idea that there is going to be a dramatic turnaround in the economy or that the obstacles that have been put and continue to be put in our way are suddenly going to disappear. No, I don't believe in fairy tales any more. I do believe, however, in our ability as a race and as individuals to transcend the degradation that we have experienced in this country. As Maya Angelou reminds us, "And yet we rise".

My belief in our ability to improve the quality of our lives is based on my knowledge of the powers possessed by every human being. These innate powers give us the ability to overcome even the most difficult situations that confront us. Our heroes and heroines are those who have maximized the use of those powers. "What are these wondrous powers?" They are the essence of every human being: whether in the 99% or the 1%; whether black or white; whether male or female. These powers are our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical power. These powers are the reason why the human being deserves the title " The crown of creation".

Every being on the earth possesses a body whether mineral, plant, animal, or human. Only the plant, animal, and human being have a body that possesses the capacity to grow and develop. The physical bodies of the mineral, plant, animal, and human are composed of inert chemicals. Without the vital energy within the chemical body there could be no growth. We would be in the same state as minerals.

The animal and human being have bodies that not only grow but also have the capability to move based on an internal desire to achieve a particular objective. However, only the human being has the capability to make choices based on the ability to analyze the circumstances and use reason to determine what is considered the best choice. Coupled with our ability to reason is our spiritual consciousness, our connection to Spirit, to that intelligent force called God/Allah/Yahweh (God) that created and overseas the development of the universe.

Our spiritual consciousness is that spark of God consciousness, the highest force within the energy system of every human being. Our spiritual consciousness is the basis of the universal religious concept that human beings are created in the image of God. To fully appreciate the meaning of spiritual consciousness and its relationship to God, we need to take a moment to consider the creation of the universe.

Science affirms that the universe was formed through the combining of sub atomic particles into atoms and atoms into the physical forms that surround us, including our bodies. When I look at the order of the universe and its uniformity as defined by science, my rational mind affirms that there had to be a consciousness, an awareness of what was to be created, a mental concept that guided the creation of the universe. The intelligent force possessing that consciousness, that awareness, that mental concept is called by the major western religions God, Allah, Yahweh.

So when we are told by all religions that we are created in the image of that Spirit, that force called God that created the universe, they are telling us that we each have within us a fragment, a spark of the divine fire, spiritual consciousness that created the world. Every day we demonstrate this truth when we use the lower aspects of our spiritual consciousness to create the world around us. When used at this level, the power is labeled mental. Through our intuition. we make contact with our spiritual intelligence, our spiritual consciousness that enables us to create in conformity with our God's plan. The objective of all religions is to enable us to reach this level of consciousness.

This ability to create through the use of our innate powers means that regardless of the circumstances, we have the capability to improve our situation if we recognize and use these powers. My experience during the last two years has confirmed that belief. Those men who view the prison situation as an opportunity to strengthen themselves leave with the feeling and the reality that they have benefitted from the experience. Those who can only perceive the experience as a burden and defeat leave with a sense of defeat.

This ability to create and transform does not mean that we can move magically from the place we find ourselves in the economy into the tax brackets of the allies of the one percent. However, our power does mean that we have the ability to create a positive and productive life for ourselves as well as build a foundation to enable future generations to create with their fellow citizens a civilization worthy of the name. To me, we are here to fulfill this purpose and to spiritually evolve through carrying out this responsibility. Our powers are given to us to accomplish this two fold goal.

Despite the attempts to push us further and further back, not only do we have the power to resist those forces but also have the power to build a foundation for our future. Isn't that what Maya Angelou is telling us when she says "And yet we rise". I know. I know. You are dying to ask, "If we have these wondrous powers, why are so many of us doing so bad." My response is that we can't blame it just on racism. We have to appreciate that our attitude, our psychological perspective directs the actions carried out by our mental and emotional powers.

We do not consciously direct these energies. Their response to particular situations is based on the beliefs we have about ourselves and the world around us. Let me give an example. If you find yourself in a particular part of your city which you believe is dangerous, you will begin to feel nervous, you body will begin to sweat. If you see a person coming directly toward you, a look of fear will probably appear on your face as you unconsciously prepare to fight or flee. These responses are automatic based on the belief, the thought that comes into your mind.

As African-Americans, our ancestors were conditioned to accept the thought of their inferiority and the superiority of the slave master in particular and white people in general. The reality of their situation reinforced the thought of white superiority since our ancestors were "owned" by the master and controlled by his allies. The mental and emotional anguish accompanying this human travesty indelibly imprinted that thought within the psyche.

Every dictatorship focuses on persuading those they seek to control not only of their inferiority but also that the quality of their life and their well being depends on satisfying those in control. The acceptance of that idea turns a human being into a slave. There were reports after World War !! that despite the longevity and strength of the Jewish culture, there were Jews in the concentration camps who tried to dress and act like their captors.

The movie Django was an extreme characterization of those African-Americans who did not accept the projection of their inferiority--women like Harriet Tubman and men like Frederick Douglas. The Djangos of the South were known as crazy ni------. They were called crazy because they refused to see themselves as inferior beings. While they may have been called crazy, they generated a healthy respect if not fear among the white population because of their refusal to be intimidated and their love of freedom. The Djangos lived by demonstrating daily their ability to maximize the use of their human powers.

While the 13th Amendment ended our legal slavery, it did not stop the use of terror and intimidation by the southern 1% and general white southern population to condition us into accepting the mental, emotional, and economic situation of a slave. When there were those of us who rose up to deny the projection of their inferiority, the terrorists were ready with their white robes and burning crosses to put the fear of "God" into those who chose to deny white, male supremacy.

The idea of our inferiority no longer had to be maintained by the daily use of the lash and the gun. Far too many of us became the walking dead. Our physical bodies functioned but the identity that our mental and emotional energies projected into the world was shaped by the idea of our inferiority, not by our spiritual consciousness. Our spiritual consciousness had no choice but to await our awakening. Many of us fled to the north in order to escape the terrorism and intimidation but many of us carried with us the thought that only through the grace and benevolence of white people could we hope to develop and prosper.

As mentioned earlier, we will celebrate the accomplishments of the civil rights movement later this summer. Let us not forget, however, that our civil rights leaders were often viewed not only by the southern 1% and southern whites in general but also by many in the black community as "outside agitators" as "trouble makers" disturbing the peace and semblance of prosperity that had been achieved through submission.

Today Dr. King, Ella Baker, and other leaders of the movement are revered. Then they were often scorned not only by the whites but also by those of us who had accepted our second class status as the natural order. Obviously, not all accepted that idea. Otherwise there would not have been a movement. However, those who rebelled against the acceptance of their inferior status were definitely not the majority.

To return to my original thought, once a person accepts the idea of inferiority, the idea that they are less than, they surrender the power of their spiritually based identity, their belief in their ability to maximize the use of their human powers. Their mental, emotional, and physical powers continue to function but they serve another master. They serve the idea of their inferiority. They walk, talk, and act like an inferior person, while their spiritual consciousness waits and weeps.

The last fifty years in many ways has drastically altered our situation. Yet, despite all of our individual accomplishments as a people we are stuck at the bottom of the American economic ladder of progress. While an internalized feeling of inferiority does plays itself out in different ways through different personalities, I believe the numbers of our young men killing each other and the growing violence among our young women is a clear indicator of a devaluing of black life by our culture.

The fact that our young and old spend an inordinate amount of their hard earned money and scare economic resources for the products of the 1% to make themselves feel valuable, worthy, important is another display of an internalized feeling of inferiority that they hope to mask by an outward display of wealth and fashion. The irony is that they often can't get jobs in the factories of the 1%, if they are located in this country, that make the products that they buy to make themselves feel better.

The fact that the gangsta rap culture projects such a negative, stereotypical image of the black woman as a sexual object to be used and abused, not appreciated and protected reflects the historical slave master's view of black women as sexual objects and black men as studs to produce babies that then could be sold for profit. Any culture that does not display, a respect, appreciation, and love of its women is a culture of a people who don't respect themselves and if a people don't respect themselves, they have to feel inferior to others.

The valuing of material goods more than self and kind; the acceptance and participation in the degrading of our women; and the rampant killing of each other by young and old; are examples to me the enslavement of our psyche by the thought of our inferiority and the acceptance of the ideology of white male supremacy. They are examples that regardless of the external realities, our internal reality blocks our progress.

I know it's difficult to look at and accept the reality that I've just laid out. Yet, it's critically important that we engage in a clear eyed, objective analysis of our psychic situation. Our lives, our families lives, and the lives of future generations depend on our not being in denial. We create the world around us based on the beliefs that direct our mental and emotional energies. If we want that world to be one that promotes our well being and the well being of those we love, then we must cleanse our psyche of all impurities that detract from the work that must be done.

As I said at the beginning, the time has come for us to resurrect ourselves from the psychological tomb that enslaves us. I know your question has to be "How do we do it?" If our psyche as a people has been captured by an alien force, If as a people, we have allowed our self identity to be suppressed by the identity of another being, those of us who have awakened to that chilling reality have a responsibility to awaken those who are asleep. As Spike Lee said in School Daze, "WAKE UP".

"How do we do that? How can we wake up those of us who are asleep". Although the work is challenging, the path is clear. We have to loosen the alien being's grip on their consciousness. As the grip is loosened, their self identify, their spiritual identify will begin to come to life. As mentioned previously there is a divine power within all of us, our spiritual consciousness. This power is alive and well even within those of us who walk our streets zombie like. Our spiritual consciousness is there to guide us to the maximization of our human powers but we have to recognize the need for help; desire the need for help, and reach out for its help. As we do this, the help flows automatically.

"Interesting idea but how do we loosen the grip of the alien being. If they aren't even conscious of their spiritual consciousness' presence, how can they reach out for help. Don't they have to wake up in order to recognize that they need the help?" Of course, they have to wake up and reach inward for help but ironically the 1% is helping to wake them up; they're helping us loosen their grip on our people's consciousness.

"That doesn't make sense. How is the 1% helping to wake up those of us who are asleep. That 's definitely not in their interest?" You have to keep in mind that when you are unconscious, when you are asleep, you're living in a dream world. So those of us who are unconscious have our eyes open but we are in a dream like state. We accept what is given. We accept what we see. We don't question. We are just floating along.

However, as you know from your sleep experience, the emotional experience of a dream is different when it turns into a nightmare. In a dream, you float along accepting the dream's definition of reality. When you are in a nightmare you feel uncomfortable, anxious. You begin to want to get out of the situation, you want to end the dream so that you can escape from the nightmare.

Are you beginning to see what I mean? Fifty years ago, Dr. King projected his dream. It was a dream that was appealing--a dream of peace, love, cooperation" It was a dream that a formerly enslaved people wanted to be the reality. When the walls of Jericho began to tumble, we idolized King as a prophet who had led us to the promised land. Yes, the barriers were still there. Yes, the discrimination continued to exist but we held onto the dream. Many of us believed that if we accepted the ideology of those who controlled the promised land, accepted their supremacy, they would accept us and overlook our "inferiority".

Dr. King was awakened from his dream by the Vietnam War. He realized that he had a choice to make. He could keep silent and try to stay in the dream world of peace and love through integration while U.S. soldiers killed his Vietnamese brothers and sisters. Or he could wake up to the reality and speak out. Many around him said, "Don't do it, let us sleep. Let us dream". However, his passion for freedom from slavery of any kind and his love of humanity wouldn't let him sleep so he spoke out not only about the injustice of the war but also about the economic injustice in this country and they killed him, for fear he would wake us up.

While we were enraged by his death, their media blamed it on a crazed white racist, James Earl Ray, As a mitigation for his death, the inner walls of Jericho began to crumble and while we mourned our fallen hero, we hailed his prophesy as we rushed into the promised land to reap the blessings from the masters of Plantation America, the 1% and their allies. For a while we drifted in the dream. Some of us shot up to the heights of stardom and riches in sports, movies, TV, etc., etc.. They shouted down to the rest of us, how much fun they were having, how good the money felt. Don King proclaimed "God bless America".

Yes, the majority of us were not having that much fun. Yes, more and more of our children turned to crime and drugs. Yes, they changed the laws to keep our young men in jail for decades through mandatory minimums and crack sentences 100 to 1 greater than cocaine sentences. Yes, jobs became fewer and fewer but we continued to dream. What else could we do. At least we could keep electing our representatives. Perhaps they could help.

Then we even elected an African-American President. So we continued to dream. Didn't Jesse tell us to "Keep Hope Alive". Yes, Obama didn't seem to be doing much but at least he was there and we hoped that he was trying. Our hope was so strong that we came out in greater numbers than ever before and elected him to another term. However, despite the hope, we were beginning to recognize that the dream was becoming a nightmare. We were becoming more and more uncomfortable. We were tossing and turning, restless in a half awakened state.

Yesterday, Clarence Thomas and his brother conservatives decided we no longer needed all the protection of the Voting Rights' Act. Scalia had warned us to not get our hopes up when he characterized voting as an entitlement. Tomorrow the question in the beauty shops and barber shops is going to be "Didn't Clarence and the other justices see that the Republicans in the north and south are creating laws to suppress our vote". The answer will be "Sure but he and his buddies are Republicans. It's not about justice its about power." Yes, we're beginning to wake up through the help of the 1% and their allies.

"But what can we do to speed this awakening?" The peculiar irony of our situation is that over forty years ago Maulana Ron Karenga, an activist and academic from Los Angeles, laid a foundation for the awakening when he introduced the Kwanza principles, the Nguzo Saba which were celebrated in Africa for seven days at harvest time.

In introducing the Nguzo Saba to the African American community, he described the principles as the base of "a communitarian African philosophy" consisting of what he called "the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world." For decades, African-American communities throughout the United States have ended each year celebrating the Kwanza principles and dedicating themselves to following the principles throughout the year. The following are the Nguzo Saba principles:

1) Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race;

2) Kugichagulia (Self Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves;

3) Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together;

4) Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and profit from them together;

5) Nia (Purpose): to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness;

6) Kuumba (Creativity): to do always as much as we can in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it;

7) Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in God, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

To me the Nguzo Saba embodies the seven principles necessary to gain the emotional and mental health that leads to spiritual awakening. It is a value system upon which a civilization suitable to a 21st century world can be built. From a Christian perspective, it provides a practical guide to how to live by the commandment that Jesus said was the greatest, "To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and thy neighbor as thyself."

"But isn't the Nguzo Saba just about Africans and African-Americans"?" No. As Maulana Ron Karenga said the Nguzo Saba represents "the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world". Also as we as African-Americans acknowledge that within our blood is the blood of every racial group on the earth, African, European, Native American, Latin, and Asian, we will appreciate that when we commit ourselves to the principle of unity with our family, community, nation, and race" we are committing ourselves to unity with the human race beginning with our African-American brothers and sisters.

In addition to having the Nguzo Saba as a tool to use in exorcizing from our mental consciousness the materialistic dehumanizing values of white male supremacy, we also have the unconditional love that exists in all our hearts to cleanse our emotional consciousness. Through this love we can expel the negative remnants of our 400 year ordeal, and establish a mental and emotional link with our spiritual consciousness. Unconditional love is the highest stage of human love, the stage where an individual recognizes that the well being of his neighbor is as important as h/er own well being.

This understanding of our human interconnectedness is reflected throughout the Nguzo Saba. This is the type of love that sustained us through our ordeal of slavery despite the slave master's attempts to break our bonds. If you talk to our elders about their sense of community before the last fifty years of integration, they will talk about the feeling of love and togetherness. They will tell stories of their childhood when their neighbors felt as much responsibility for their well being as their parents. It is this type of love that builds and sustains healthy communities. That's the kind of love that builds strong nations.

Our process of integration has stifled if not smothered that sense of oneness, togetherness, common need and purpose, and commitment to care for each other that sustained us during our prior hardships. In order to be part of the American dream, we sacrificed our sense of interconnectedness with each other. How else do we explain more young black men killing each other in 2009 than died in Afghanistan and Iraq up to that point in the wars.

The spreading of love in the community will be a magic potion to help our people connect with their divine spark, their spiritual consciousness. The essence of God is love. All creation in the universe reflects the uniting of polar forces. Therefore all creation arises from the process of love. From a Christian perspective, God sent his Son to redeem us for our sins as an act of love. If we work to create an atmosphere of love in our community, we will awaken the love in the hearts of those who have been unconscious of their true identity. Since the love in each of our hearts is linked to our spiritual consciousness given its nature, once love begins to flow in the heart, the dialogue with our spiritual consciousness is begun.

Tools are valuable but they can only be effectively used when they are in the hands of a skilled mechanic. Therefore, the question is who are the mechanics in our community who can use the Nguzo Saba and the unconditional love in our hearts to unlock the spiritual consciousness of the sleeping African-American giant. It is our elders who have more capability than any other segment of our community to handle this responsibility. It is our elders who can be the soul mechanics, the spiritual engineers to bring us to life as a people.

Throughout history, it has been the role of the elders to pass on the cultural wisdom and understanding to the younger generations. It is the elders who build the spiritual, mental, and emotional foundation to enable the next generations to have the emotional strength, mental clarity, and spiritual values to move their people forward in the evolutionary process.

It is particularly appropriate for our elders to lead the process of our psychological resurrection since they are the first generation to have fully experienced the highs and low our integration into the American culture. They know the ups and downs of the experience better than any other segment of our community. Let us now examine the potential steps of the resurrection process through the Vision Statement with its long range goal and action plan.

Vision Statement of the Psychological Resurrection Process

1) Long Range Goal:

To resurrect ourselves as an African-American people from the tomb of our psychological enslavement through organizing our elders to build an atmosphere of love in our community through which our love for each other can be rekindled and the Nguzo Saba can be implanted in our consciousness as the image that guides our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies in building the world around us as a foundation for this and future generations.

That's a long goal statement but it sets forth our medium goal--our resurrection from our psychological tomb. It sets forth the tools we use, the Nguzo Saba and unconditional love. It defines our elders as the chief mechanics, the engineers of this resurrection process. It defines our long range goal of building a new world around us based on the values of the Nguzo Saba that can be the foundation for the work of future generations.

2) Action Plan:

a) Organizing The Elders/Developing the 21st Century Greater Roxbury Council of Elders

The first step in the process would be to spread the word among those from 50 up that their help is needed to build a psychological resurrection process in the community based on the Nguzo Saba and a return to the spirit of love, caring, and cooperation that used to be the standard for behavior within the community. Since Sadiki Kambon, Sheiry Smith, Representative Gloria Fox and others have been organizing Kwanza celebrations since the early eighties, the elders in the Boston community are certainly familiar with the concept.

At the initial meetings, the discussion would focus on two primary questions:

*Whether there is a need for the community to be organized around the Kwanza principles and unconditional love, the principle of concern for the welfare of others as well as self?

*Whether they would be willing to lead as well as participate in such a process?

My belief is that there would be a great deal of interest. The majority would be members of the first generation to fully experience integration and have first hand knowledge of both the ups and downs of the struggle. There also would be many who would recognize that there are those of us who allowed themselves to be blinded by the system's allure and ignored their responsibility to struggle not only for self but also for kind. Perhaps the most powerful motivator for involvement would be the recognition that the gains of the past are being eroded.

If there is a consensus to move forward, the goal would be to design initiatives to bring into every aspect of the community the goal of creating an atmosphere of love through which to introduce the Nguzo Saba not only as a set of principles to live by but also to use as a standard for judging the progress of our organizational life from business organizations to community groups. What follows are initiatives I would suggest under that goal. While the elders would be the organizers of the initiatives, the process would be intergenerational through the recruiting of those of all ages to assist with its implementation.

b) Initiatives Through Which to Create an Atmosphere of Love Within Which to Introduce the Nguzo Saba:

1) Bringing the Nguzo Saba and the Elders into the Schools of Our Community:

Given the difficulties in the schools of our community which the majority of our children attend, the initial focus of the process would be to gain the approval of the administration to bring a group of elders into the schools of Greater Roxbury. Their goals would be to assist the teachers in each of the classes in whatever ways were appropriate as well as assisting the teachers in introducing the Nguzo Saba as the standard of behavior in the classroom, school, and community life. The principles could be used as an ongoing set of standards for discussing life within the school.

An additional goal would be to conduct an after school program in the school building where there could be study time for the students, assistance with their school work, as well as discussion of the Nguzo Saba in relationship to life in the community as well as within their own lives. While the Nguzo Saba would be the focus on the discussions, the companion objective would be to bring an atmosphere of love and support for the students into the school. There are community and church groups now assisting in the schools. Attempt would have to be made to make contact with, to learn from, and coordinate with their initiatives. when appropriate.

2) Establishing a Community Supper in Different Neighborhoods of Greater Roxbury During Each Week:

This goal would begin with the targeting of one neighborhood for a weekly community supper. The purpose of the community supper would be to create an environment in which families in the neighborhood could be encouraged to come together to socialize, recreate, share information, and discuss the Nguzo Saba as a system of values for the neighborhood. Based on the principle of Ujamaa, cooperative economics, the suppers would be organized on a pot luck basis. Families would be encouraged to participate even if unable to provide. The objective would be to eventually expand to other neighborhoods.

3) Bringing the Nguzo Saba to the Doorstep:

Those elders experienced in outreach would recruit and train elders as well as others to go door to door to bring to the individuals and families within the neighborhood information on the Nguzo Saba as well as information of services and resources available to them from community organizations, the City, and other sources. The objective would be to establish supportive relationships with families through which information and support is offered in addition raising consciousness regarding the Nguzo Saba.

4) Establishing Neighborhood Worker Assemblies (NWAs) in Greater Roxbury:

In reflection 2, I discussed the building of a Boston chapter of a national movement for economic justice and economic democracy. Given the centrality of the issue of economic justice to Boston's black community, this would be a crucially important goal. Through working with the Movement in the organizing of a nwa (more if possible) in Greater Roxbury, the elders would be able to demonstrate care and concern for the economic well being of the economic life of the community as well as create another venue for the introduction and spreading of the Nguzo Saba as a standard of behavior in the community.

5) New Vision Community:

Again, the New Vision Community was a concept discussed in the previous reflection. There should be the consideration by the elders in playing a major role in the establishment of a New Vision Community. Given the number of young men and women who have not developed employable skills, a new community would give them an excellent environment in which to reorganize and reorient their lives. Such a community could also provide a new start for many others stuck in Boston, particularly, the formerly incarcerated.

A New Vision Community would also provide an excellent opportunity to use the Nguzo Saba as the foundation of a group of people of all ages to build bonds of loving support and cooperation as the basis of community life. The Nguzo Saba would not only create a set of standards for group and individual behavior but it would also provide a framework for ongoing discussion of the role and practice of value based living.

6) Establishing a Network of Martial Arts Academies:

During my period as a Councilor, I organized a number of meetings with community martial arts instructors to consider establishing a network of martial arts academies that could be the base of making martial arts part of the life development process of the youth of our community. Because of time difficulties on all our parts, we were not able to work out the details necessary to establish such a network. The encouraging aspect was that there was definite interest in the concept.

I would propose asking those elders who have martial arts experience to consider the formation of such a network in order to spread martial arts training to an expanding base of young people in our community. By combining martial arts training with the practice of the Nguzo Saba, we could begin to establish a philosophy of life among our young people where physical energy would not be viewed as a tool of aggression but as a tool for protection as well as a tool to build a community where love, mutual respect, and concern for the well being of others would be viewed as the standards of daily life.

7) Establishing Cooperative Linkages with Established Organizations:

There are a wide variety of organizations in our community from churches to community centers that have established positive, cooperative working relationships with those who participate in their activities. Nevertheless, I think there would be a value in extending to all the organizations in the community the opportunity to explore how to introduce the principles of the Nguzo Saba and their use as a standard of daily individual and community life to their members.

I believe as a people, we stand at a significant point in our 400 plus year history. We have integrated into the American society and found that while there has been material advancement for some of us beyond all expectations, the experience has continued the process of alienating us from an appreciation of each other and our own strengths and abilities as we have sought acceptance by others. We can now see clearly the spiritual, mental, emotional, and even the physical pitfalls of such a self negating philosophy.

However, I believe that Spirit is giving us an opportunity to resurrect ourselves from this psychological tomb in which we have become enslaved by a value system that denies our very humanity. The choice is ours. Do we wish to move forward building a foundation for future generations based on the principles of Nguzo Saba and unconditional love. Or do we want to continue allowing the values of white male supremacy to dominate our lives. The choice is ours. Aluta Continua! The Struggle Continues.

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