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The Roots of the Problem: A Tale of Two Legacies

Posted by J. Menaq on June 3, 2016 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (2)

The Roots of the Problem: The Tale of Two Legacies

By: Jeff Menzise, Ph.D.

In 1977, there was a mini-series that aired on national television, highlighting the journey of the enslaved African from the west coast of Africa to the east coast and south of the embryonic United States of America. Roots, an incredible and revolutionary masterpiece, boasted a star-studded cast including: Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, Lou Gossett Jr., Madge Sinclair, Leslie Uggams, John Amos, Sandy Duncan, Ben Vereen, Lloyd Bridges, LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, and Robert Reed. It received more than 20 Emmy nominations, as well as Golden Globe and Peabody recognition. This mini-series ranked high according to Nielsen, with more than 140 million viewers (over half the U.S. population). This series was inspired by author Alex Haley, who found his own ancestral roots by tracing his genealogy to the SeneGambia (Senegal and Gambia) region of West Africa. His story inspired countless numbers of American Africans to begin searching out their African ancestry and to seek a better knowledge and understanding of the enslavement process, and to reclaim some form of their African heritage.

In the late 1970s, this was revolutionary and even necessary…but what about 2016? Many people have mixed feelings about this new rendering, or “reboot” of the classic mini-series, including many of the original actors. LaVar Burton is quoted as having been unsure about the remake stating that he didn’t know that we “needed this.” His perspective was swayed by Mark Wolper, who happens to be the son of the executive producer of the original series, David L. Wolper. Mark Wolper shared his experience of showing his own teenage son the original mini-series that his (the teenager’s) grandfather made 23 years before his own birth. He was attempting to show him their legacy and the greatness of his ancestors. The teenaged Wolper was not feeling the original, stating it was “paced weird” and that it “looked funny.” He also said that “It is kind of like your music. It doesn’t speak to me.” This conversation is what encouraged (read gave courage to) Mark Wolper to follow in his father’s footsteps and bring forward the story of Kunta Kinte and his enslavers in a language (both verbal and visual) that would speak to his son and his generation. LaVar was sold (pun intended).

There is an interesting, underlying narrative about inheritance running throughout this story and the surrounding conversations. On the one hand, the late producer David L. Wolper, his son Mark Wolper, and his teenage grandson are all preserving their legacy and privilege as White males, financially benefitting from the same, while they tell the story of how their European ancestors dominated and subjugated an “inferior” race of Africans, even as they fought to the death for their freedom and rights as a human being (it is unknown by this author if there are direct links between the Wolper family and any plantation owning enslavers). This seems to be an attempt by Mark Wolper to have “the talk” with his White male son, and the son wasn’t getting the picture. How many other Whites have tried to have “the talk” with their children and have had to use outdated material as references, only to find that their children were resistant to the indoctrination of the legacy of White superiority and non-White inferiority? Is the remaking of Roots an attempt to update the narrative, a tool for transmitting the notion of White Supremacy across generations? Is this also the reason why it was aired on at least three networks simultaneously and also why television series like Underground are getting so much play?

Other American African stars from the original series had mixed feelings about the remake as well. Leslie Uggams, who played Kizzy Kente Reynolds in the original mini-series, was unsure about the remake. She expressed that the role was very dear to her and that she was concerned about the remake. Another actress, Olivia Cole, was very supportive and even seemed to be excited about the remake, stating, “Everyone has a wonderful story. We need to have these voices out here. We need to know where we come from. We need to know how we got here.” The conversation of race, racism, slavery, and how certain parts of American society continue to benefit from these crimes against humanity has always been a tough topic, the Roots reboot is no different.

Olivia Cole and her husband Richard Venture

The Tale of Two Legacies

Snoop Dogg, a.k.a. Snoop Lion, has become more and more vocal in regards to perceived racism and injustices experienced by American Africans. He most recently made media headlines as he called for a boycott of the new Roots series. He stated, via an Instagram video that he is:

“…sick of this sh!t. How the f*ck they gonna put Roots on on Memorial Day?…They gone just keep beating that sh!t in our heads of how they did us, huh? When y’all gonna make a muthaf*ckin series about the success that Black folks is havin’? The only success we have is Roots and 12 Years a Slave and sh!t like that, huh?"

He has received a mixed set of responses to his comments. Many have cited the apparent hypocrisy of his stance on the negative portrayal of American Africans, while simultaneously perpetuating and promoting self-defeating behaviors via the same Instagram account. Snoop Dogg is perhaps most famous for his career as a “gangsta rapper” from the LBC, and his collaborations with the Dogg Pound, Death Row Records, Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, Master P, and No Limit Records. In many of his songs and videos, Snoop can be seen promoting gang violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and the treatment of women as female dogs (bitches). Many are rightfully asking “Who is he to criticize what media and popular culture are doing to negatively portray American Africans?” Nonetheless, the quality of the message should not be confused with the flaws of the messenger.

Mr. Neely Fuller, Jr. speaks of how racism, and its only functional form, White Supremacy, operates as a well organized system, and that everything done under †he system of racism, by racists and suspect racists, is done to further the system by one or more of the following: 1) Establishing it where it never existed; 2) Maintaining it where it has been established; 3) Expanding it beyond where it already exists; and 4) Refining how it exists, meaning, there is a constant updating and changing of the ways that racism/White supremacy is manifesting in all areas of people activity, including: Economics, Education, Entertainment, Labor, Law, Politics, Religion, Sex, and War/Counter-War. This refinement is necessary because sometimes systems get outdated and need an updating. With the constant advance of technology, and the ever increasing sophistication of delivery systems (i.e, social media, HD and UHD television, digital music downloads, front facing cameras on smart phones, etc.), the message and methods of racism also need to be advanced and updated.

The younger generations are born into a more technological age, which has far surpassed the media technology of the 70s; as a result, their brains are wired for another form of entertainment, attention, and focus...as stated by Mr. Wolper’s teenage son, the original looked funny and did not speak to him. Mr. Fuller encourages American Africans, and others, to question everything that is done under the system of racism/White supremacy, in order to find out “how” a specific action serves to further the system via one of the four methods mentioned above. In the case of rebooting Roots, it is clear that the remake serves to: maintain, expand and refine.

The new version of Roots may help to maintain White supremacy by showing how Whites have historically dominated Africans during a certain and very specific period of time. This remake helps to keep the narrative of American Africans “coming from slaves” relevant, and told from the perspective of the enslaver (while giving a moment or two to the African s/heroes who fought against such an experience). The movies and television series that Snoop mentions, in addition to The Butler, and several other similar stories serve the same purpose. The making of The Gods of Egypt, The Mummy, X-Men Apocalypse, and most other films that feature the ancient African societies of Kemet (Egypt), also help to reinforce this message by "white-washing" the image of Ancient African greatness.

The Roots remake could also assist in the expansion of the system of racism/White supremacy by making sure that it travels trans-generationally. Not only will the adults and children of the 70s have seen it and been exposed to its message, but also those in 2016 and beyond. In the 70s, it was a proud moment for many to learn that their family tree does in fact, have roots. But we must be clear that Roots did not exist in a vacuum, nor was it the only source for American Africans to learn something of their African heritage. On the contrary, there were many scholars and activists who were fighting and dying in the decades before Roots being aired, while assisting American Africans to reclaim their African heritage and to learn of their ancestral lineage. From Marcus Garvey to H. Rap Brown, and from Anna J. Cooper to Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, the quest for African legacy, in a positive light, has been consistent. The difference is, this mini-series, Roots, was made a public and mainstream event, with full support from major television networks of the time. But, why?

In her book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Dr. Joy Degruy outlines, in great detail, the processes used to condition free Africans into enslaved Africans. By focusing in on the trauma of enslavement, she brilliantly identifies how the constant portrayal and or re-airing of, and how re-exposing and flooding the psyche of traumatized people with, these reminders of their dangerous and uncertain existence, serves to maintain the fear response often displayed by traumatized people. This is easily verifiable by counting the large numbers of videos circulating of police shootings, the mass incarceration and/or effeminization of Black males, as well as the portrayal and rewarding of the “nigger” personality. By using the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, we get a clinical view of how the updating and airing of Roots, Underground, and movies like 12 Years a Slave, absolutely serves as a vicarious exposure to trauma, and can also reinforce and deepen the already installed trauma. An interesting change to the diagnostic criteria has removed media, movies, etc. from the list of potential sources of triggering the traumatic response unless it is work related. This change just occured with the most recent version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual).

Part of the ongoing legacy inherent in this process is this psychological state called PTSS (Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome). PTSS is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is acquired trans-generationally, by the trauma induced behaviors of previous generations, stretching back to the days of enslavement and being plantation prisoners. One of the most relevant features of PTSS, as it relates to the Roots controversy, is found on pages 124 – 143. Dr. Degruy discusses how “the experience of multigenerational trauma, together with continued oppression and a real or perceived lack of access to the benefits available in society leads to PTSS.” She continues by identifying how PTSS manifests in many patterns of behavior, including: vacant esteem, ever present anger, and racist socialization. She continues by quoting Yeal Danieli from the International Handbook of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma:

“Viewed from a family systems perspective, what happened in one generation will affect what happens in the older or younger generation, though the actual behavior may take a variety of forms. Within an intergenerational context, the trauma and its impact may be passed down as the family legacy even to children born after the trauma.”

Part of the expansion phase of racism/White supremacy is to ensure that this trauma continues to impact the targeted groups, across generations, far into the foreseeable future. The task of the refinement phase is to ensure that this transmission continues in the most efficient and effective manner, producing products that are easily and willingly assimilated by the subject population. Some hypothesize that this is the reason why popular culture (i.e., hip hop) serves as a major vehicle for transmitting trauma and promoting examples of the trauma induced behaviors displayed by traumatized people (vacant esteem, ever present anger, racist socialization). One of the most insidious "refinement" accomplishments of racism/White supremacy is its ability to manifest as “Black-on-Black violence.” Amos Wilson gives a wonderful treatment of this phenomenon in his book Black on Black Violence: The Psychodynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination. His major thesis is that the majority of American African behavior is actually in response to their experience with some form of violence perpetuated by Whites, and how this detrimental behavior is actually designed to maintain White superiority. The popularizing of the "prison culture," the glamorizing drug dealing, and the plethora of illegal activities being promoted by American Africans to American Africans is undeniable evidence of this phenomenon.

T. I. as Cyrus, the runaway slave.

Another major accomplishment of the refinement phase is the employment and promotion of American Africans into positions and roles that financially or is otherwise beneficial to them, while they are serving to expand the system of racism/White supremacy. This new Roots mini-series does both. Not only have they updated the imagery and the story of Roots, but they have also updated the cast to include actors that are more popular with today’s generations, including hip hop artist T.I., who also promotes the concept of Black on Black violence, in his music, much like Snoop Dogg. T.I. was also initially hesitant to join the cast as a runaway slave, but eventually agreed to play the part. The goal at this phase is to create a situation where it seems as if there is no more racism, and that any and all issues that arise, are race neutral, race beneficial, or self-inflicted by the oppressed racial group. In Dumbin’ Down: Reflections on the Mis-Education of the Negro, I use the analogy of dominoes being set-up to knock each other down to illustrate this very point. If the dominoes could talk, and if you were to ask the 3rd domino who knocked it down, it would accuse the one standing next to it; which is true. However, the fact that they were set-up to knock each other down, by an external force, brings a better understanding of that truth; such is the case with much of the current Black on Black violence.

Modern "Master-Slave Retreats" take place in Saratoga Springs, California

Overall, the legacies inherited by those exposed to and participating in the new Roots mini-series differ greatly along racial lines. On the one hand, Mark Wolper is carrying on the success of his father, and is motivated, in part, by the desire to create a story, that is accessible to his son and younger generations, of how his ancestors were able to capture and enslave Africans. On the other hand, American African children, the same age as the teenaged Wolper, are being shown the enhanced version of how their ancestors were able to be captured by Whites and kept in an oppressed state until this very day. The experiences are totally opposite and so are the potential results. This is the deeper implication behind why certain people are uneasy about, and others were downright opposed to, the remaking of the Roots mini-series.

Is boycotting the viewing of Roots the most productive and effective means of expressing this concern? Probably not. In fact, it was likely an emotion-based reaction to the deeply felt frustrations of having the atrocities of slavery “beat in our heads,” as Snoop lamented. The economic resources (time and money) spent on recreating this series, could easily have gone towards the creation of a more empowering story of Africans in America or anywhere else in the diaspora. The reality is, most of the American African experiences in the United States are directly related to, and perhaps a direct result of, the existence and experience of racism/White supremacy. So for anything to be historically accurate for the American African, this theme must at least be present.

An alternative to the rehashing of the story of slavery, is to find stories of success and triumph and amplify those. Filmmakers can easily demonstrate how early pioneers such as Lewis Latimer, Granville T. Woods, Madame C. J. Walker, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, Mamie Clark, and the countless others, made strides in a positive direction for American Africans. Another alternative could be to create fictional accounts of how American Africans exist in the future. Showing how we can be successful without the negative stereotypes and other detrimental characteristics that we are currently bombarding unsuspecting viewers through the media. Many younger American African celebrities such as John Legend, the Smiths, and the Carters are following in the footsteps of Oprah, Harry Belafonte and Paul Robeson, demonstrating degrees of social responsibility by producing culturally empowering and positive images for the race. It would be nice if Snoop Dogg, in addition to protesting the viewing of Roots, jumped on board and also protested his own production of self-destructive entertainment…and perhaps, put some money and effort towards the creation of positive success stories.

Evolution of Modern Consciousness

Posted by J. Menaq on May 28, 2016 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Evolution of Modern Consciousness

By Jeff Menzise, Ph.D.

“It must be clearly understood that the mere fact of living in the present does not make a man modern, for in that case everyone at present alive would be so. He alone is modern who is fully conscious of the present…Indeed, he is completely modern only when he has come to the very edge of the world, leaving behind him all that has been discarded and outgrown, and acknowledging that he stands before the Nothing out of which All may grow…"

"A great horde of worthless people do in fact give themselves a deceptive air of modernity by skipping the various stages of development and the tasks of life they represent. Suddenly they appear by the side of the truly modern man—uprooted wraiths, bloodsucking ghosts whose emptiness casts discredit upon him in his unenviable loneliness. Thus it is that the few present-day men are seen by the undiscerning eyes of the masses only through the dismal veil of those spectres, the pseudo-moderns, and are confused with them.”

In the above quote, C.G. Jung describes what he considers to be an individual, or rather a class of individuals who have evolved in their consciousness. They have, by some special instruction, developed an uncanny ability to heighten their awareness of the current space and time occupied by reality, and have somehow leveraged this perspective to their own advantage. These are the human beings who usher in the next era of experience for the world. They are the ones pushing back the boundaries of the paradigm, in hopes of expanding the possibilities offered by tomorrow. They seek to revolutionize what it is to be human, and how this newly evolved human being functions with their newfound gifts and talents.

The special processes and procedures associated with the awakening of a so-called “modern” man has been widely known to the greater part of humans for the major part of human history. It is often codified in the many rites of passage and initiatory sciences found amongst the so-called primitive factions still found in various corners of the planet. Most pronouncedly, we find a very clear and detailed record amongst the Kemetic people of Ancient Egypt. Where Jung uses the word “modern,” the Ancient Egyptians used the concept of Ausar. An Ausarian is an individual who, like Jung’s modern man, has evolved his level of consciousness (in both Awakeness and Awareness) to the degree that he truly experiences himself and his life as being One with All that is. And like the modern man “standing before the Nothing out of which All may grow,” the Ausarian stands before Amen, the Hidden Nothingness, from which All things are formed.

The idea that there are somehow fraudulent imitators of modern or evolved Ausarian people is as true today as it was when Jung wrote his essay. It was also true of the ancients, however, their masses were perhaps more endowed with the gifts of discernment to distinguish between the authentic and the fake. In today’s society, with all of our technological advances, we have infinite amounts of information readily available at the click of a mouse, the stroke of a keyboard, or the swift movements of our thumbs. Where once we were required to unroll scrolls kept by wise teachers, we are know searching terms and videos for the information. Where once we were commonly encouraged to develop the inner ability to tap into more-subtle resources of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, we are now more encouraged to simply use media-supplied catch phrases that give the appearance of intellectual depth, and a fortified character.

This is the culture that has spawned the mis-use of the term “Hoteps” to describe a group of fakers who pose as modern or Ausarian men and women. It is these who Jung speaks of as uprooted wraiths, bloodsucking ghosts, and pseudo-moderns, with whom the masses confuse a true Ausarian modern. The heightened sense of awareness, that is, the awakened and superior consciousness of the Ausarian becomes both the blessing and the curse because the modern is fully-capable of discerning the fraud, and is fully aware of the blindness of the masses due to their inability to perceive reality beyond the surface. This leads to experiences of persecution, and is why the initiate has to develop the “freedom from resentment under persecution,” as written in the laws of Hermes (Tehuti). As an Ausarian, the modern individual is no longer attached to certain desires and conditionings as are the fakers. Where a faker will still do things that clearly demonstrate their entanglements with the worldly ways of the sleepwalker, the Ausarian, in truly mummified form, is impervious and in no way motivated by those forces. If an Ausarian is viewed engaging in such things, it is surely based on a clear-minded decision to do so. A perfect example of this is the story of Jesus (an Ausarian) overturning the moneychangers’ tables and appearing to be angry as he ran the thieves out of the Temple.

There is no way that he was truly being led by anger, but is guaranteed that this story illustrates his ability to use emotion to convey a specific message to those in a way that they need to hear it. On the flip side, the fakers will attempt to reverse engineer an excuse for engaging in such behaviors, attempting to ascribe “righteous indignation” to what in reality was an inability to control and utilize their emotions. Pulpit pimps, and other so-called powerful people who fall prey to their desires are also clear examples of the fakers; the pseudo-moderns. They give the appearance of piety, only in dress and language, the superficial aspects of their being; however, when one observes their behaviors with a true sense of discernment, they are easy to identify as were the aliens in the movie “They Live,” once Rowdy Roddy Piper put on the shades.

The accessibility of information is what allows the fakers to be able to skip over the stages and processes of development that are truly necessary for becoming an authentic modern, an Ausarian. They, sometimes innocently, actually believe that the command of information, the wearing of certain cloths, and the use of certain words and phrases is what actually makes them conscious. There is a false belief amongst them that reinforces this fraud; this belief is that information is knowledge, and that information, details and facts are what determine the truth…not realizing that the information, details and facts can all be false, and hence, not true.

For those who are truly interested in standing on the edge of today, aware of the immediate present, and developing a superior present-day consciousness I say the following:

Learn to sit still in both mind and body. Prepare yourself to deepen your perspective of reality, while shedding the oft-times rewarded aspects of your superficial nature. Align yourself with self-refinement and self-discipline, improving yourself from one day to the next. Detach from the insecurities that have secretly encouraged you to fake your consciousness…then, and only then, will you be able to release that which binds you to your fakeness. 

The Danger of Truffle Butter

Posted by J. Menaq on March 18, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The Danger of Truffle Butter

By Jeff Menzise, Ph.D.

For all my folks seeking out that "Truffle Butter"...yup, the beat is off the hook!!!! Sampling Mary Jane Coles "What They Say" with the Colonel Abrams sounding dude on the hook, we can't help but to rock hard to it. Not to mention the masterful delivery of all that are featured on the track. The 3 person tag team of Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj may very well be the best crew in rap right now...This is what makes a song such as this soooo potentially dangerous. Lyrically it's pretty much the same as most shit hop right now: glorifying drugs, violence, and risky sexual behaviors. What sets this one apart is the title and the meaning of "Truffle Butter."

For my vanilla folks out there, those of us that don't know much about the riskier sides of sexual activity, truffle butter is a slang term used to identify the light-brownish "cream" that is sometimes observed when a person goes from having anal sex directly to having vaginal intercourse WITHOUT cleaning themselves first. The brown in the cream is fecal matter, shit, dookie, etc. The creamy feature is due to the mixing with vaginal secretions and the friction of sex. This post is NOT about what people choose to do sexually, to each their own; quoting the great philosopher Andre 3000, "Whatever floats your boat or finds your lost remote..." This post IS about the dangers of allowing such irresponsible displays of sexuality to go unchecked.

Like really, do we think that Nicki Minaj is allowing Meek Mill or whoever she is sexing to go directly from her anus to her vagina? Do we really think that Lil Wayne will approve of his daughter to allow for the same thing to happen? Do you honestly believe that Drake's Rabbi who circumsized him as part of his Bar Mitzvah would have given him this advice. My answer to all three is ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! Why not? Glad you asked. The reason is that this behavior is KNOWN to create a hostile environment in the vagina leading to all types of infections, none of which are pleasant and comfortable to a woman. It's the reason why girls are taught to "wipe from front to back, and not back to front." It decreases the likelihood of bacteria found in the digestive tract, specifically the anus, migrating and populating the vagina, and urinary tract.

Another risk associated with unprotected and/or irresponsible anal sex is the higher chances of contracting certain STDs (some sources also say Hepatitis C). All of this and more, is what is being promoted, seeded and programmed via the song "Truffle Butter." The lyrics don't necessarily reflect that, however, if you read along, you will see that both dudes (Wayne and Drake) refer to it (Wayne more explicitly than Drake), but best believe, the children listening have looked up the phrase to see what it means. I looked it up one day after hearing the radio deejays joking over the phrase after playing the song. They said "We can't say what it means on the radio, but go to our website and look it up...you will be surprised!" So I went to the urban dictionary and yup, I was surprised.

The hook starts with "You Know..." but in reality, most are totally ignorant.

Trap Queens Falling from the Throne

Posted by J. Menaq on March 18, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Kemba Smith and her Son while incarcerated. 

Trap Queens Falling from the Throne

By Jeff Menzise, Ph.D.

For all my "Trap Queens" out there, you are being set up. Set up for what? Set up to spend the rest of your life in prison. Set up to indirectly get high and addicted to the drugs, the life, the abuse, and the drama that comes along with the trap. The use of the word "queen" in this title is a trick to get you proud to be on some shit. It's designed to make you feel honored to play a part in the destruction of your community, the poisoning of people's mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. They put it to a beat so you can sing along and to ensure that the idea is deeply embedded in your mind, subconsciously. Dudes singing voice is also a part of the strategy. It souds almost robotic, off key, raspy, thuggish, maybe even grimy...not to mention his eye being damaged.

I assume that most of you do not know the story of Kemba Smith. I remember her fondly because her parents were invited to visit Fisk University several times under the invitation of Dr. Ray Winbush and the Race Relations Insitute. At this time, she was still incarcerated and they were fighting to get her out. At 24 years young, Kemba faced 24 and a half years for having a boyfriend who was selling dope. He was killed so they had no one else to pin the charges on...oh yeah, she was like 7 months pregnant too.

"I did not traffic in drugs, but I knew my boyfriend did. I knew that while living with him that he did not have a job and we were living off of the proceeds of his drug crimes. I never claimed total innocence and this is the reason why I pled guilty," testified Kemba before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights in 2006.

It's long past time to start calling this shit out...We should not be comfortable with music that celebrates dudes teaching girls how to cook cocaine into crack, girls who are willing to carry the drugs for dudes, and songs that celebrate the wholesale destruction of our communities. It's pure insanity. But the beats are phat right? See that as cheese on the trap.

Teaching African History and Legacy to a 6 year old American African Male...Question from Ask Dr. J. Menaq

Posted by J. Menaq on October 31, 2011 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

J. Menaq
Site Owner
Posts: 1

Vroom at October 30, 2011 at 8:18 PM


I would like to get your take on this topic. I am homeschooling my 6 year old son. I want to teach him history the right way...I know very little myself, but I do know that I want him to have a true understanding of his african history and legacy. Where should I start?

Greetings Vroom,

Thank you for the question. Teaching African history and legacy to an American African male is a very important aspect of homeschooling & education in general. Unfortunately, this is usually left out of the proces in many of our public and private schools around the world (even on the continent of Africa). I recall being perplexed, while working with the Ministry of Education in two West African nations, by the emphasis on the history of their colonizing nations (i.e., Great Britain) while only referring to their own histories within the context of their reaction (positive or negative) to the presence of the colonial governments; meaning information regarding their pre-colonial cultures was usurped just as the cultures had been.

Regardless of this fact, many of the families in the local villages and compounds that I visited maintained a very strong tradition, holding fast to remnants of their ancestral ways. The ability to function in both Western and traditional African cultures serves as an asset to Africans throughout the Diaspora. It is here that we find a major gap in the development of many American African children; there is often emphasis placed on the American but not the African existing within our youth today.  

In regards to your 6 year old, I feel it is most important to immerse him (and all children of this developmental stage) into the psycho-spiritual culture of their African Ancestors (Shepsu). Even if the direct lineage is unknown, this can be easily done using the surviving symbolism of these ancient cultures. For example, stemming from the Ashanti Kingdom in West African (Ghana) we have the Adinkra symbols. These very popular and widely accessible symbols were created to transmit cultural principles and spiritual precepts to those within the society.

Each symbol is mystically embedded with particular energies and convey specific messages to the subconscious mind and spirit of those who ponder and reflect upon them. The same goes for the many symbols found in the Dogon culture of Mali, and those of the the Nile Valley (including the Medu Netcher of Egypt & Ethiopic scripts of Ethiopia).

Being 6 years young, your son is at the prime age for being enthusiastic about the ability to draw and replicate these divine symbols. In the process of replication, your son will not only begin to master his artistic abilities, but will also begin to sow the seeds into his subconscious mind and spirit, those values maintained by his ancestral cultures. This exercise will also assist you as the parent in better learning the spiritual and cultural principles associated with the continent of Africa and its many cultures and civilizations. I highly recommend using various vivid and lively colors and a variety of medium to recreate these sacred symbols.

As the lessons progress, you can incorporate more about the culture, the people, the geography of the nation in which the culture is found, the natural resources, political orientation (including the sometimes difficult discussion associated with enslavement and colonialism), etc.

There are tons of materials that may be used to assist you with this journey including a "heiroglyphic" book by Ayi Kwei Armah, the various versions of the Per-t Em Heru (so-called Book of the Dead), The Adinkra Dictionary, books by Laird Scranton, etc. etc. etc. The main thing is to get started. An excellent way to award the child's performance is to actually frame and display his work. You may also teach him business and money principles by encouraging him to sell his work. 

All the best,

Dr. J. Menaq


Master Your Mind!


[email protected]


October 31, 2011 at 3:55 PM