Our way: Bartering

Let’s do more of it.

 

Brooklyn Women Barter Goods and Services to Ease Hard Economy

A Brooklyn organization for women and by women is championing economic empowerment.

Farah Tanis, cofounder and executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint (BWB), is working to provide Black women with more economic options.

BWB, a Brooklyn-based organization, uses “solidarity economy” principles, wherein in-need members barter and exchange goods and services, from child care to carpooling. “The core of our system is, ‘Your struggle is my struggle,'” says Tanis, 42.

“We’ve created a community where we can sustain each other. ‘Do you have children? Do I have a car? Let’s barter babysitting for car service.’ Most of us are just making ends meet.”

The group’s system is working. Just ask Christina Jaus, 39, who is unemployed and can’t afford medication for her acute arthritis. “One of the women I barter with grows natural herbs and plants that serve as alternative medicine,” says Jaus. “In exchange, I drive her to drop off her herbs to different customers.”

Tanis, whose organization now has about 200 members, was purposeful in her decision to form a bartering system that was give-and-take, instead of going the nonprofit route and providing free services. “I believe that method—just giving someone something—can really disempower people,” she says.

To read more about Tanis’ barter system and other trending topics, read “10 Things We’re Talking About This Month” in the October issue of ESSENCE.

More Black Families are Choosing Homeschool Over Traditional Learning. This is Why.


Queen Taese and students at Liberated Minds

”My husband and I wanted our child to be able to learn in an environment that she could thrive in academically and socially. Some place that didn’t make her feel inferior,” says Business Executive Kumani McAfee. McAfee’s five year old daughter, Da’ Naia attends Urban Village Academy -a popular African-Centered home school in Southwest Atlanta that exceptionally thrives on both academic and cultural excellence presented in an experiential learning style. According to the National Center for Education Statistics an estimated 290,000 African American children are currently being homeschooled. The Atlantic newspaper, reports that “although Black students only make up 16 percent of all public-school students nationwide, they now account for 10 percent of the homeschooling population and these numbers are rising rapidly.” McAfee and her husband Cory say that as they became more conscious-minded they realized how important it was for their child to not be in a learning environment that mis-educated her about her culture and history. The McAfees were afraid that institutional racism would deprive Da’ Naia from the education required to be her best self.

Like an open incision with no intentions of being closed, institutional racism in America cuts much deeper than day to day images of unarmed innocent Black victims being killed by police officers. Institutional racism cuts deeper than not getting a job because you are qualified but Black or have an ethnic/foreign-sounding name. Institutional racism operates through layers of history and psychology where Black children are at times seen as threatening adults and instead of being disciplined like other children, they are getting sentenced as adults in the juvenile court system. Institutional racism is not a minor or unobtrusive cut, it severely pierces through the lives of the melanin-rich ones who are seen as targets because of their beautiful blackness. Today, there are fathers who are taking their life insurance more seriously because something as simple as getting in to your car becomes a game of chance where survival is no longer promised even when obeying the laws.

Incidentally the US World News reports that Black pre-schoolers are far more likely to be suspended than white children and despite the fact that Black children only make up 18% of the population, they represent almost 48% of all out of school suspensions. As we move into middle and high school, 44% are referred to the police. There are recorded incidents of elementary and middle school students being handcuffed in the classroom. In one incident a child was charged with larceny for taking a free milk at lunch. If you mix all of this with the fact that the public school curriculum has failed to be academically inclusive as it pertains to teaching Black culture, African history, Native American history and global culture as a whole than it leads to a very discouraging situation for many parents who just want their children to be educated and succeed without their psyche and sense of value being damaged. This reality was critical for longtime educators Queen Taese who organizes The Liberated Minds Expo and fellow teacher Aubrey “Walli” Williams who founded Urban Village Academy and operates it with his mother, Deborah Boldt.

Walli Williams

“Knowledge of self is the foundation of success,” Williams shared. “Being confidant about who you are comes from what you know about where you come from. It’s hard for parents to trust an educational institution that intentionally omits the truth about our culture,” said Williams. This past year, McGraw Hill who publishes public school textbooks was forced to rewrite their history books after minimizing slavery by stating that “The Atlantic slave trade brought millions of workers and immigrants to America. One children’s books that was utilized in elementary schools even depicted slaves as very happy workers as well. This is insulting. The slave trade was a forced involuntary Holocaust which resulted in historic rapes and deaths of millions of Africans during the middle passage. Many couldn’t survive the atrocious conditions on the ship, others committed suicide. So many Africans died during the middle passage that it changed the migration pattern of sharks. In the book, A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea Dutch merchant William Bosman wrote  (1705), “I have sometimes, not without horrour, seen the dismal Rapaciousness of these Animals (sharks); four or five of them together shoot to the bottom under the Ship to tear the dead Corps to pieces, at each bite an Arm, a Leg, or the Head is snapt off; and before you can tell twenty have sometimes divided the Body amongst them so nicely that not the least Particle is left.” Millions of human flesh and bodies were thrown into the ocean that it provided sharks with so much food that the sharks redirected their migration pattern. We cannot minimize horror to accommodate feelings.

The lack of truth and apathy towards something as brutally horrific as slavery says a lot. Parents are taking education into their own hands. In addition to teaching her students, Bold promotes the general history of Africa through her publishing and resource company, Hieroglyphics Magazines and Books, which focuses on the ancient history of African civilizations, societies, and institutions.  “We assist and empower all African decedents in re-claiming their rightful heritage and pride by restoring and correcting the 20th century political version of African history and of Egypt and its people,” shared Boldt. Through the Hieroglyphics website, teachers and parents can acquire coloring sheets, trading cards and projects for their students and children.  Boldt whom the students affectionately call “Nana” says “teaching children about their enormous self worth is vital.The impression we want our children to have of themselves is to be strong in their spirit, body and their mental being. “When we give them this first impression of themselves they know that they can conquer anything. ”

Deborah Boldt
Deborah Boldt

Taese explained that so many factors are causing the shift away from traditional schooling. “Many Black people are now waking up to the fact that the public school system cannot offer their children a liberating education, where their natural gifts are nurtured in the right cultural context. I have been homeschooling for 20 years and the rewards incredibly outweigh the challenges. One of the most cherished aspects has been being able to bond with my children in a way that is invaluable. Learning and living with our culture as a foundation has been pivotal in setting high expectations for my family. We have grown together in this experience and I have been able to see my children actualize so many of their goals at a tender age. Black homeschooling is no longer just looked at as an anomaly. It is clearly spreading like wildfire and the results are consistently proving to be astronomically successful in transforming the minds of Black children to be thinkers and solvers of the critical problems plaguing the Black community. My son wasn’t just dreaming about flying, but instead he was able to dive into his passion of aviation engineering alongside his other studies, and became a pilot at 16. My daughter was able to discover how a labor of love can truly turn lucrative by winning Atlanta’s top Caribbean chef award at 12 years old with all vegan dishes. She then went on to start a booming vegetarian catering business, wellness institute, and now travels abroad as a certified Yoga instructor at the age of 17. The potential and possibilities for all Black children are infinite with the right knowledge, will, and support. “

Walli Williams

Like Taese’s school, a major aspect of Williams’ Urban Village Academy is that he focuses on experiential learning, self worth and a hands on approach to education. Parents seem to be attracted to this style of teaching and the one on one attention their children receive at Homeschools. The students at Urban Village attend a nature preserve on Wednesdays. They hike and explore things such as metamorphosis in its flesh, learning how caterpillars turn into butterflies especially when they are allowed to grow and not clipped because of their flaws or transition. The students study fungus, roots and soil in living color.

Walli Williams
Walli Williams with students on a trail

They even learn how to find stillness and balance through yoga, meditation and capoeira. They learn chess and swimming as early as kindergarten. Professionals such as nurses, writers and engineers serve as occasional guest-speakers at the school allowing the students to get a close up look at various professions. The students are exposed to a global educational curriculum where they learn African foreign languages and study about Black history. Boldt says, “It’s shameful how much Black history is omitted in public school. A lot of kids think Black history begins with slavery and that’s far from the truth considering all of the kingdoms that thrived in Africa since the beginning of civilization. There is architecture, medicine and art that proves all of this but children are unfortunately not educated about this in most schools.

Parents who are considering homeschooling their own children for the first time are not alone. Taese offers a support system. “In the beginning, I didn’t have the knowledge or ready-made resources. Therefore, it was truly a mountain to climb having to find my way. As a result, In 2012, I founded The Black Homeschool and Education Expo to bring light to the world of Black Homeschooling, where the goal of the Liberated Minds Expo is to build competence and confidence in parents who decide to embark on “ the road less traveled,” said Snowden. The Expo is specifically designed and tailor made to address the needs of educating Black children and empowering families with the resources and a social community made up of those committed to cultivating the success and greatness in Black children.

The Liberated Minds Black Homeschool and Education Expo celebrated their 5th Anniversary, July 15-17 in Atlanta, GA at Georgia Piedmont Technical College Conference Center. The network has now grown into the thousands and assists both families and educators alike. The expo consisted of workshops given by top Black scholars, successful parents, and avid homeschoolers sharing information, skills, and techniques on how to educate Black children in a wholistic way. This year they were ecstatic to present a big screening of the world’s fastest growing African animation, “Bino and Fino” along with the characters that are quickly becoming a household name. www.LiberatedMindsExpo.com or call 678-368-8593.

 

Colouring books for us and our youths

Have fun!!

7 Inspiring Natural Hair Coloring & Activity Books for Kids

http://ladykhadija.storenvy.com/products/14620059-sankofa-a-coloring-book-of-african-prints-proverbs

African Proverbs in a colouring book

African Coloring Books For Adults

http://yeslioness.bigcartel.com/category/coloring-books

Our home libraries: Books for our daughters

Girls are natural leaders. We gotta show them so through the literature we expose them to.

 

7 Inspiring Natural Hair Coloring & Activity Books for Kids

http://yeslioness.bigcartel.com/category/coloring-books

African Coloring Books For Adults

http://m.essence.com/galleries/brown-girl-bookshelf-10-books-read-our-daughters

http://www.bustle.com/articles/144443-10-childrens-books-with-black-girl-protagonists

10 Middle Grade Fantasy Novels with Black Girl Leads

 

How Doctors Traumatize Pregnant Women With Unnecessary Procedures

No joke. AND THERE IS MUCH MORE. The less pregnant & birthing mamas are poked at the better. Really. You gotta really stand your ground if you don’t want all the tests, procedures, ultrasounds etc. Trust me. P.S.- Natural pregnancy & homebirth rock!

 photo iStock_87453221_MEDIUM.jpg

by Sevonna M. Brown

Recent studies highlighted in Elle magazine show millions of women are injured during childbirth. While “injury” is a nice way to put it, something more contestable is happening in the labor and delivery rooms of hospitals across the country and the world.

Twelve cuts, $50,000in court fees, and 430,000 Youtube views later, Kimberly Turbin, who survived a forced episiotomy during childbirth three years ago, is fighting back and seeking justice for birth trauma. The doctor’s shortcut — a surgical cut between a woman’s vagina and anus just before delivery — is a common practice and a moment that would change Turbin’s life forever.

Her experience compelled me to continue my work as a doula, a person who offers personal comfort for women during delivery. One night, I and other doula training cohort members watched a video of Turbin’s episiotomy and saw her laboring through concern and confusion as her doctor prepared his instruments for an episiotomy. We sat, covering our mouths, shutting our eyes tight over and over again through tears, nerves, heat around our ears, and palpitating heartbeats.

“Is he really going to do this to her,” I thought as we watched the woman protesting in the background of the video. I clenched my jaw as tears rolled down my cheeks and I heard the voice of a woman pleading “Don’t cut me!”

We decided then and there: No woman deserves to be cut without consent or coerced into forced medical intervention.

Doctors continue to perform forced episiotomies for reasons such as billing, lack of awareness of alternative best practices and continued ritual abuse or “They’ve always done them.” I suspect the issue runs deeper than a medical practice and instead further proves a mainstream issue. This practice demonstrates both a lack of societal humanizing around female-bodied individuals and a horrifying legacy of power and oppression exerted over women’s bodies within medical institutions. A recent Bitch article shows us some still struggle to believe women even experience pain. Furthermore, an expose in the New York Times demystifies the presumed low impact of “hot flashes” that are often undermined by physicians.

Turbin decided to post the video of the forced episiotomy on YouTube, y garnering nearly half a million views. She is taking a stance on the case of her own birth trauma, calling the forced episiotomies assault and battery

Given her activism and the support of several advocacy groups, including Improving Birth and #BreaktheSilence Campaign, Turbin has started a movement that examines and combats obstetric violence, birth rape and birth trauma. More American medical malpractice attorneys are becoming familiar with cases that fall outside of high C-section rates and forced sterilization

This physical violence during labor and delivery in Turbin’s case raises a number of issues given that she came out as a survivor to the medical staff prior to delivery, and requested they seek consent before touching her or undergoing any procedures either mild or major.

The lack of well-woman care in medical institutions, and the reproductive dehumanization of women is directly connected to the history of gynecology, and absence of agency over women’s bodies, anatomy and reproductive lives. Most notably, J. Marion Sims, the father of modern gynecology, is known for his unethical legacy of experimentation during surgery. It is also uncommon knowledge that episiotomies are not generally medically necessary and do not support laboring mothers in any way.

They have a reputation for causing significant complications such as muscular damage to the vaginal and perineum (between the anus and vulva) areas, painful intercourse after childbirth and chronic incontinence. An episiotomy is among the top five things pregnant women fear. The tears after the dreaded “tear” is not only about physical recovery but also spiritual and emotional pain, shame and silence.

 

Given her activism and the support of several advocacy groups, including Improving Birth and #BreaktheSilence Campaign, Turbin has started a movement that examines and combats obstetric violence, birth rape and birth trauma. More American medical malpractice attorneys are becoming familiar with cases that fall outside of high C-section rates and forced sterilization

This physical violence during labor and delivery in Turbin’s case raises a number of issues given that she came out as a survivor to the medical staff prior to delivery, and requested they seek consent before touching her or undergoing any procedures either mild or major.

The lack of well-woman care in medical institutions, and the reproductive dehumanization of women is directly connected to the history of gynecology, and absence of agency over women’s bodies, anatomy and reproductive lives. Most notably, J. Marion Sims, the father of modern gynecology, is known for his unethical legacy of experimentation during surgery. It is also uncommon knowledge that episiotomies are not generally medically necessary and do not support laboring mothers in any way.

They have a reputation for causing significant complications such as muscular damage to the vaginal and perineum (between the anus and vulva) areas, painful intercourse after childbirth and chronic incontinence. An episiotomy is among the top five things pregnant women fear. The tears after the dreaded “tear” is not only about physical recovery but also spiritual and emotional pain, shame and silence.

A recent study from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discusses new recommendations on obstetric lacerations and protocol for after-care, treatment, and healing. The study notes there can in fact be severe perineal trauma. Evidence-based materials fail to acknowledge the additional emotional and spiritual trauma of forced episiotomies and reproductive health abuses.

The emotional scars of forced episiotomies have brought communities of women together to share in healing and journeys toward recovery, reclaiming bodily autonomy and freedom. It’s time, and if we don’t, who will?

Sevonna M. Brown is the human rights project manager at Black Women’s Blueprint in Brooklyn and a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow. She enjoys reading Zora, Ida, Toni, and Assata. Her favorite tears are red raspberry leaf and lavender.

7 Reasons To Send Your Kids to School In Africa

Africa is a great continent with abundant human and natural resources. To a racist, it’s a dark continent, but to others, it’s a place of treasure that lives on in their memories even after years of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

If you fall within the latter category and there is a lot of doubt in your mind about sending your kids to school in Africa, here Face2Face Africa looks at some of the reasons why that decision may be the smartest choice you ever make.

Cultural Consciousness

A major player in the enslavement of Black people has been the distortion of their cultural consciousness. When people’s cultures are distorted, the ability to deal with reality is impaired. Thus, sending your kids to school in Africa is a process of re-Africanization, which will make them aware of the existence of their beautiful and fascinating culture.

Agent of Restructuring

The African culture like any other culture has it flaws; no culture is omnipotent. Your kids coming back to Africa might be a causative effect in the modification and optimization of African culture as a result of their wider exposure.

Self Identification

There are black people scattered around the world that have lost their self-identification after years of slavery and change. By sending your kids to school in Africa, you are giving them the opportunity to search, rediscover, and reconstruct their true identities that have likely been transformed after years of colonization and slavery.

Agent of Black Nationalism

The Black world is faced with a series of problems that can only be solved by the people itself. Schooling in Africa would give your kids the spirit to administer and control their own communities. As a part of African society, they will begin to take their destinies in to their own hands and help to fix communal problems.

In addition, schooling in Africa is an exercise in the concept of Black nationhood. Schooling among their people will give them the right attitude and foster Black upliftment within them.

Inculcate Racial Pride

When you live with your people in a world where you share the same way of life — free from any form of racial abuse — pride in one’s self sets in, erasing the abusive effects of  discriminatory behaviour.

Fluency of Indigenous Languages

For those who want their kids to speak their local languages, one of the best ways to achieve this is by putting the kids at school back home in Africa.

There is no true African-centered education unless it is controlled by the African people in an African environment.

Role Model to Others

As an advocate of pan-Africanism, sending your kids to school back home in Africa would go a long way in passing the right attitudinal message to others who are in doubt.

Be an example today. You won’t regret it.

Books, books, books

Know thy Self. Keep readin’! Thanks to a brotha I know here are a few suggestions:

THE CAUSE OF OUR CONDITION

1. The West and the Rest of Us (Chinweizu)
2. Decolonizing the African Mind (Chinweizu)
3. The African Slave Trade (Basil Davidson)
4. Capitalism & Slavery (Eric Williams)
5. Yurugu (Marimba Ani)
6. How Europe Undervalued Africa (Walter Rodney)
7. A Political Economy of Africa (Claude Ake)

OUR HISTORY FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE

8. The Destruction of Black Civilisation (Chancellor Williams)
9. Black Man of the Nile and His Family (Yosef ben Jochannan)
10. The Black Jacobins (C L R James)
11. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa (Cheikh Anta Diop)
12. The African Origin of Civilisation (Cheikh Anta Diop)
13. Readings in Pre-Colonial Central Africa (Theophile Obenga)
14. When we Ruled (Robin Walker)

OUR PHILOSOPHY IN FOCUS

15. The Husia (Maulana Karenga)
16. Odu Ifa (Maulana Karenga)
17. African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period (Theophile Obenga)
18. An Essay on African Philosophical Thought (Kwame Gyekye)
19. Cultural Universals and Particulars (Kwasi Wiredu)
20. Self and Community in a Changing World (D A Masolo)
21. Oludumare: God in Yoruba Belief (E Bolaji Idowu)
22. The Philsophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey (Amy Jacques Garvey)
23. Foundations of African Thought (Chukwunyere Kamalu)

A FURTHER LOOK AT SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION

24. Decolonizing African Religions (Okot p’Bitek)
25. Conversations with Ogotemmeli (Marcel Griaule)
26. African Religions & Philosophy (John Mbiti)
27. Creole Religions of the Carribean (Olmos, Paravisini-Gebert)

AESTHETICS/NOVELS

28. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali (D T Niane)
29. God’s Bits of Wood (Sembene Ousmane)
30. The Concubine (Elechi Amadi)
31. The Palm-Wine Drinkard (Amos Tutuola)
32. Two-Thousand Seasons (Ayi Kwei Armah)
33. The Healers (Ayi Kwei Armah)
34. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
35. Devil on the Cross (Ngugi wa Thiongo)
36. Matigari (Ngugi wa Thiongo)
37. Wizard of the Crow (Ngugi wa Thiongo)
38. The Lunatic (Anthony Winkler)
39. The Duppy (Anthony Winkler)
40. Song of Lawino / Song of Ocol (Okot p’Bitek)

SOME RESPONSES TO OUR CONDITION:

41. Unity and Struggle (Amilcar Cabral)
42. I Write What I Like (Steve Biko)
43. Stokely Speaks (Kwame Ture)
44. On African Socialism (Leopold Senghor)
45. The Wretched of the Earth (Franz Fanon)
46. Blueprint for Black Power (Amos Wilson)

A FEW OTHERS:

47. The Coloniser the Colonised (Albert Memmi)
48. Class Struggle in Africa (Kwame Nkrumah)
49. Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism (Kwame Nkrumah)
50. Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis… (Cheikh Anta Diop)
51. African Perspectives on Colonialism (A Adu Boahen)
52. Anatomy of Female Power (Chinweizu)