Africans are living with a memory that is laced with a brutally profound pain emerging from the time of our ancestors’ enslavement. Black people have been traumatized deeply as a people. The first traumatic experience is from being torn from our mother/homeland. The second traumatic experience is from a twisting of our nature through the tormenting process of enslavement.
The detail of this brutality, which was leveled against the mind, body and spirit of Black men and women, is depicted with clarity in the recently released film 12 years a Slave. It started more than 22 generations ago; yet this evil persists today.
Generations later, we are recovering from this attack on our thought process, language, customs, beliefs and traditions. This attack treacherously and systematically stripped our individual and collective psyche.
As I see what we have endured and what we must face head-on to reverse the stripping of our peoplehood, I see that the ripping of the skin from our spiritual core must be healed. I beseech the natural, the original language, culture and traditions that remain at the core of our being to come forward and make themselves known unto me/us again.
Working altogether, our intellectual, spiritual and psychological knowledge will return us to our natural self. Our natural self remains intact inside of us but is hidden and overwhelmed from constantly needing to survive the attack.
Look at the spirit of the African. This is an innocent spirit that continues to embrace God the Divine, “the sacred.” No other place is this Natural Innocence in the African personality more visible than in the repeated times that one or all of us embrace those who have brutally violated us and all of God’s creation.
We repeatedly open the door for trickery and deceit from those who hate us unabatedly. They continually violate the trust we so freely give while brutally stamping on the fragile, hallowed grounds internal to our spirit.
They strategically separate the sacred coatings of the threads that hold creation in place. We have been on the front line of this attack of the Slavers and all of their allies to destroy the sacredness in creation’s main fruit, “the Human Spirit.”
The African is the knowledge holder of what it takes to protect the Human Spirit. By facing the raw brutality as dramatized in this film without editorializing, the raw truth, we have the opportunity to restore our nature and natural ways of living out the plans of the Creator for mankind while continuing the Creator’s plan for creation.
Let’s get to work! Tactically, our work could last over the same number of generations that it has taken to get where we are today.
There are huge inequities in the health outcomes and life expectancies of African people in America. We, as a community, have work to do in the area of self-care and self-love. As a part of cultural wellness, we are working with individuals in reconnecting with the Creator and spirituality while reconnecting with African cultural practices.
One of the reasons we have become such a broken people is due to shame and self-hatred. This brokenness stemmed from lies and negative propaganda about our African roots. In our work, this will be reversed so that shame and self-hatred are replaced by pride, love and self-respect.
There is great power in enduring tragedies; it brings wisdom. Wisdom is a sign of maturing not only for a person, but also for the community.
Again, this madness began in 1619, when African men and women were first captured and inhumanely transported to the Americas. I repeat, Africans have endlessly been violated, raped, oppressed, and sub-humanly degraded. We’ve been segregated into slums, ghettoes, and substandard living conditions while simultaneously being deprived of educational and economic opportunities.
A conscious study of the treatment of Black people has revealed the amazing resiliency of the African spirit. The African has the capacity for deep love, using the talents of dancing with the spirits to tap into the unseen world, while revealing our creativity and skills found in the African sounds, tones, and the ability to have powerful connections with the Creator.
We have the capacity to be disciplined by accessing the Divine Creator even at times when the Divine seems to be nonexistent. African American restoration is a process of healing inter-generational trauma or cross- generational trauma through reasserting the family lineage by re-bonding, re-attaching to love all the way back to God.
Traditionally, African people have always been spiritual people who are very much connected to the Creator. Through the process of enslavement and its aftermath, many of us have become disconnected from the Divine.
Please stop denying our African heritage. Please reconnect, not only to African heritage, but also to family and cultural ways of being graceful in the Divine. Please stop today the beating our children, breeding our babies, denying our truth. It must stop, today.
We must acknowledge us! No one else will, nor should we expect anyone else to do it.
Hotep, I am grateful!
Elder Atum Azzahir is executive director of the Cultural Wellness Center and elder consultant in African ways of knowing. She welcomes reader responses to [email protected].