Thursday, July 15, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 67)

it makes me so sad to be here sometimes... living in a place where, even though 'free expression' is encouraged, it seems so wrapped in a nice little bow. 'weirdness' seems to be a badge of honor. "keep portland weird" they say. the question is, who gets to define what that is? is dressing up like a pirate, or riding around on a bicycle naked 'weird', when there are places and days designated to do those things? when communities are formed around these sorts of activities, is that really strange?

the concept of 'weirdness' is only in the mind.

it's interesting. because i feel that so many of my belief systems lie in 'traditionalism'; i admire the concept of the family, be it extended or nuclear; i love children. i love just being at home, reading. i also feel that it's a traditional thing to question what ends up in your face. because of the instantaneous nature of media and how information is distributed, it's set up where we're not really encouraged to question sources. even if i agree with you, it's nice to know where you got your concepts from.

in this way it can be a bit isolating as well... people whose philosophies lie outside of the 'two-party system' still can be questioned. no political philosophy is immune from critique. there's corruption in aspects of all of these systems. there's also not necessarily an awareness of how times and communities have changed. with that, because at this point in my life i don't hold an absolute belief about any of these systems i get into quite a bit of dis-agreements.

i'm so tired of this conditioning: that we have to choose sides, even though so much to life has those 'gray areas'. granted, i am extremely opinionated... i do realize i'm not the only person who lives on this plane though.

i could, again, only imagine that's how you felt. not politically, necessarily... well yes, that too. it was as if you lived that 'double existence' that w.e.b. du bois referred to. not only as a black man who lived in this country, but as a black man who was expected to appeal to the world. it's an anomaly for any black person to retain roots AND be able to reach the world. that we can openly speak of injustice to black people in this country without hatred STILL becomes branded with a label of 'reaching too far', 'being too sensitive', or of course, 'racist'.

there's never a gray area for most of us; and there never seemed to be one for you. it's either shuck and jive... sing and dance or do nothing at all. heaven forbid you SPEAK! when you began to speak about certain issues- when you made the decision to not apologize for your views, even through dance (which is what they wanted you to do, right?), you were forced to apologize, living in that 'double existence'.

so i take back what i said, sort of. the gray area is reserved for someone like yourself, who's not supposed to take a stand on anything, except for 'be nice to everybody' and stuff like that. with that you are never supposed to see the gradations in your own life which make you into who you are. you're supposed to be what they created you to be, which IS a mesh of gray: a person with no true voice.

so many are not aware of any work you do behind the outcome of the product, because we are not supposed to know... we aren't supposed to know the power struggles and the isolation.

what i DON'T take back is the rest of us (and this includes the part of you which is supposed to be repressed): we are supposed to take sides. if we don't than we are not black enough, not loyal enough; or, because we do hold some sort of questioning points of view 'think (we) are too good', we are 'uppity'.

i know we have been in this place before, but it just keeps returning... life is cyclical, but it doesn't cease just because one end has met the other at one point.

i thought of the zulu nation and its philosophy of respect and cultural awareness, and knowing that this philosophy can be applied worldwide. we are a universal people.

this is the universal zulu nation mission:

"The Universal Zulu Nation stands for knowledge, wisdom, understanding, freedom, justice, equality, peace, unity, love, respect, work, fun, overcoming the negative, economics, mathematics, science, life, truth facts, faith, and the oneness of God."


"We believe in power, education in truth, freedom, justice, equality, work for the people, and the upliftment of the people."

this is about the search for TRUTH. THE truth, based in love.

really, i don't see your message as being so far off. we are a universal people.

here are most of the principles of the zulu nation, combined with the temple of hip hop/KRS ONE... i didn't put the first principle, as it related directly to hip hop culture/kulture; these other principles i felt were very much in line with how you lived your life on many levels.

Hiphop Kulture respects the dignity and sanctity of life without discrimination or prejudice. Hiphoppas shall thoroughly consider the protection and the development of life, over and before the individual decision to destroy or seek to alter its natural development.

#3: Hiphop Kulture respects the Laws and agreements of its culture, its country, its institutions and whomever it does business with. Hiphop does not irresponsibly break Laws and commitments.

#4: Hiphop is a term that describes our independent collective consciousness. As a conscious way of life, we acknowledge our influence on society, especially on children; and we shall forever keep the rights and welfare of both in mind. Hiphop Kulture encourages womanhood, manhood, sisterhood, brotherhood, childhood and family. We are conscious not to bring any intentional disrespect that jeopardizes the dignity and reputation of our children, elders and ancestors.

#5: The ability to define, defend and educate ourselves is encouraged, developed, preserved, protected and promoted as a means toward peace and prosperity, and toward the protection and the development of our self-worth. Through knowledge of purpose and the development of our natural and learned skills, Hiphoppas are encouraged to always present their best work and ideas.

#6: Hiphop Kulture honors no relationship, person, event, act or otherwise wherein the preservation and further development of Hiphop's culture, principles and elements are not considered or respected. Hiphop Kulture does not participate in activities that clearly destroy or alter its ability to productively and peacefully exist. Hiphoppas are encouraged to initiate and participate in fair trade and honesty in all negotiations and transactions.

#7: The essence of Hiphop is beyond entertainment: The elements of Hiphop Kulture may be traded for money, honor, power, respect, food, shelter, information and other resources; however, Hiphop and its culture cannot be bought, nor is it for sale. It (Hiphop) cannot be transferred or exchanged by or to anyone for any compensation at any time or at any place. Hiphop is not a product. Hiphop is the priceless principle of our self-empowerment.

#8: Companies, corporations, non and not-for-profit organizations, as well as individuals and groups that are clearly benefiting from the use, interpretation and/or exploitation of the term Hiphop, (i.e. Hip Hop, hip-hop,) and the expressions and terminologies of Hiphop, (i.e. Hip Hop, hip-hop,) are encouraged to commission and/or employ a full-time or part-time certified Hiphop Kultural Specialist to interpret and answer sensitive cultural questions regarding the principles and proper presentations of Hiphop’s elements and culture; relative to businesses, individuals, organizations, communities, cities, as well as other countries.

#9: May 3rd is Rap Music Day. Hiphoppas are encouraged to dedicate their own time and talent to self-development and for service to their communities. Every third week in May is Hiphop Appreciation Week. During this time, Hiphoppas are encouraged to honor their ancestors, reflect upon their cultural contributions and appreciate the elements and principles of Hiphop Kulture. November is Hiphop History Month. During this time Hiphoppas are encouraged to participate in the creating, learning and honoring of Hiphop's history and historical cultural contributors.

#10: Hiphoppas are encouraged to build meaningful and lasting relationships that rest upon Love, trust, equality and respect. Hiphoppas are encouraged not to cheat, abuse, or deceive their friends.

#11: The Hiphop community exists as an international culture of consciousness that provides all races, tribes, religions and styles of people a foundation for the communication of their best ideas and works. Hiphop Kulture is united as one multi-skilled, multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-racial people committed to the establishment and the development of peace.

#12: Hiphop Kulture does not intentionally or voluntarily participate in any form of hate, deceit, prejudice or theft at any time. At no time shall Hiphop Kulture engage in any violent war within itself. Those who intentionally violate the principles of this Declaration of Peace or intentionally reject its advice, forfeit by their own actions the protections set forth herein.

#13: Hiphop Kulture rejects the immature impulse for unwarranted acts of violence and always seeks diplomatic, non-violent strategies in the settlement of all disputes. Hiphoppas are encouraged to consider forgiveness and understanding before any act of retaliation. War is reserved as a final solution when there is evidence that all other means of diplomatic negotiation have failed repeatedly.

#14: Hiphoppas are encouraged to eliminate poverty, speak out against injustice and shape a more caring society and a more peaceful world. Hiphop Kulture supports a dialogue and action that heals divisions in society, addresses the legitimate concerns of humankind and advances the cause of peace.

#15: Hiphoppas respect and learn from the ways of Nature, regardless of where we are on this planet. Hiphop Kulture holds sacred our duty to contribute to our own survival as independent, free-thinking beings in and throughout the Universe. This planet, commonly known as Earth is our nurturing parent and Hiphoppas are encouraged to respect Nature and all creations and inhabitants of Nature.

#16: Hiphop's pioneers, legends, teachas, elders, and ancestors shall not be inaccurately quoted, misrepresented, or disrespected at anytime. No one should profess to be a Hiphop pioneer or legend unless they can prove with facts and/or witnesses their credibility and contributions to Hiphop Kulture.

#17: Hiphoppas are encouraged to share resources. Hiphoppas should give as freely and as often as possible. It is the duty of every Hiphoppa to assist, whenever possible, in the relief of human suffering and in the correction of injustice. Hiphop is shown the highest respect when Hiphoppas respect each other. Hiphop Kulture is preserved, nurtured and developed when Hiphoppas preserve, nurture and develop one another.

#18: Hiphop Kulture maintains a healthy, caring and wealthy, central Hiphop guild – fully aware and invested with the power to promote, teach, interpret, modify and defend the principles of this Hiphop Declaration of Peace.

it is about respect, honoring your ancestors, and love. it's about embracing a sense of self, and honoring who YOU are, despite the cries of 'weirdo' (or in your case, 'wacko'). it's about allowing those 'gray areas' to come in, and acknowledging that none of us are perfect. we all have something to contribute to this plane, but we must focus on the positive/pro-active.

something really crazy happened today. today was one of those rare days i did not have to work, and i decided to run around and do a few errands. i went to the post office to pick up mail, and as i was getting ready to leave, a young man walks out and sees the little michael doll i have (which someone gave to me almost three years ago). little michael was perched on the little bicycle he sits on (someone i know surprised me and attached the bicycle to my own. "now he can ride with you all day" she wrote).

"oh! is that a michael jackson doll?!" he asked. yes, i exclaim. "he goes everywhere with me." he told me how he used to have a doll of your likeness; we talk a little bit about dolls. he asked if i was still grieving. he seemed concerned. i told him i wasn't because you were now in a better place. he then told me how he was in the pepsi commercial with you in 1984. he mentioned that he was the kid who handed the can to alfonso ribeiro. "we have to talk", i said. "we have to talk."

i couldn't explain everything to him right away, what you mean to me and everything. i don't think i could dump all that on someone within seconds of meeting them. i suppose it depends on the situation. but right there was not the right time.

his eyes then lit up because he mentioned new york, referring to the filming of the commercial. he grew up there, he said. brooklyn. "I'M from new york!" i responded. he revealed he was from bed stuy. just like me!!! it felt like such a rich reunion, without even really knowing him... it's always lovely to meet people here in portland, from new york city. we both mused on people saying we are mean, because we're up front with who we are. he mentioned how he was part of the zulu nation; and we discovered that we knew some of the same people, as portland is not that big of a place.

everything is circular.

as we bid our farewells i smiled at such a fortunate moment. it seemed unreal, that this person could live here. and THEN to be involved in such an experience with you as well. it just seems very unreal. you were a part of this experience, michael. i think this was part of your message, to present that connectivity in unexpected places. we just have to be open to it.

again, thank you. always.

i love you very much,

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