Sunday, February 15, 2015


What is bravery? defines bravery as the ability to do something that frightens you.

Some say bravery is not letting anything scary scare you.  Some say it means doing whatever you want because you can, and still others say it is doing what you have to do because you can.  Tobias Eaton, for one, touched all our hearts when he said that bravery isn't all that different from selflessness.  Some will even say that bravery is the equivalent of rebellion.

I'm starting to think that all these abstract terms-- happiness, love, freedom, bravery-- are like famous people.  They are intangible, so each individual must define them for themselves.

I think that before we can call ourselves brave, we must know ourselves and what we are striving for. Maybe you want to become a more confident person, or a greater soccer player.  Maybe you want to make the world a better place.  Bravery means to overcome all the obstacles that stand between you and what you're striving for and just do it.

Everyone that marched with MLK couldn't fight back because it was a nonviolent protest and that was how they decided to try to change things.  So by preserving their will even in the moments when it would be scary not to fight back, they were brave.  And it worked.

What do you strive for?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Slavery in Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

This was beyond her grasp, to torture a child like this.  What kind of people are they?  And then she saw it-- the dark figure of an alligator appeared in the water near Tidbit’s splashing feet.
--Copper Sun p160

Slavery-- the darkest moment in American history.  I did not quite understand the cruelty and brutality of American slavery until I read Copper Sun because the history textbooks leave so much out.  It is still beyond my understanding that any person can be so evil, so arrogant, as we see in the characters of Clay and  Mr. Derby in Copper Sun.  Mr. Derby shot a beautiful newborn baby because she was black.  When reading the novel, there was a moment when I realized that these horrors really did happen, and they happened to our people.  

It is unnatural for any human being to try to control another.  Once we realize that we are slaves of Allah, we are free.  The sense of despair at being trapped in a ridiculous system, which said that you are an animal, that you are less than an animal and your whole life is under the control of other people, left an indelible impression on me.  The concept of white supremacy was ingrained into society.  I mean, Mr. Derby and Clay and the white masters they represent actually believed that “‘Slavery just makes good sense... Anyway, our slaves are better off here than in some jungle eating bugs and slugs like savages... They need us.’”  That line made me very angry.  Back in her beautiful home, Amari was free to be herself, free to be brilliant.  The moment that that disgusting, evil man dragged her across the ship into his room, though, all of her dreams were destroyed.  She was a slave, and there was nothing she could do about it.  Her life was over.

Amari survived by learning English from Bill the red-headed sailor and Polly.  She kept her head down and obeyed Clay and his father, no matter what they told her to do.  But even Amari, with her strong spirit, wished for death a few times after a few nights with Clay.  She hardened herself from all emotions.  She distracted herself with her work, and sometimes she thought about her beautiful home and her family, her memories of happiness.  When she was with Teenie, Polly, and Tidbit, she was safe.  Finally, she found her freedom with survival techniques she had grown up learning in Africa, and with Polly and Tidbit by her side.  Slaves throughout history sang songs as they worked to keep them occupied and to pass secret messages that the master would not understand as a way to survive.

If I lived in West Africa back then and we saw some new people coming, I would be curious, just like Amari.  When my family and friends were killed, I would be too shocked to do anything.  I would continuously fight back against my oppressors.  If men came anywhere near me, I would punch them each in the face as hard as I could-- that is, until they broke my neck or my spirit, if they could break my spirit.  As a slave, I would have so much anger and bitterness and hatred inside that I would lash out at my fellow slaves.  And I would cry day after day after day.  I doubt I would survive such a nightmare.  I would be scared to try to escape, but my strong yearning for freedom might force me to.  And I hope I would be brave enough under such conditions to pray, even if they killed me for it.

To maintain our African culture, we can learn from oral tradition in our families or our communities because it takes a village to raise a child.  We should love each other as brothers and sisters just like everyone in Amari’s village helped each other out.  We should travel the world and visit Africa to learn about African culture.  How can we just stay here in Atlanta when there is so much more world out there, so many beautiful people?  Maintaining our African culture is important because Allah created us a certain way for a reason, and we should never be ashamed of that.  

How do we repair our broken souls?  I really don’t believe our souls are broken. If our souls were broken, black people would not have been fighting for the Union.  If our souls were broken, people would not be marching to the capitol for voting rights.  If our souls were broken, Ferguson, Missouri would be a quiet, normal town right now.  It wouldn’t even be in the news.  A sense of justice is not inherited, nor is cruelty.  We should unite behind justice, not colour.  

The question is, how do we eradicate racism?  We swallow up all this propaganda that America is all about liberty and equality and justice, but if that were true, Daniel Pantaleo would be indicted for strangling a man to death for no reason.  There wouldn’t be so many black people in jail right now.  There wouldn’t be so many black people on the street instead of college.  There wouldn’t be so many black women physically mutilating themselves just so they can have straight hair (Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches).  We can’t breathe.

Remember David and Goliath?  David and the small army he was a part of were tasked with bringing down an army of giants, huge giants led by Goliath.  There was no way they could win.  Some of them ran away in fright.  The thing is, though, David and the small army had Allah on their side.  As Goliath and the giants were stomping on all the people and eating them, David got his little slingshot and took out Goliath’s eye.  No matter how big the injustice is, if we’ve got Allah on our side, we will be the victors in the Afterlife.  That’s who gives me hope, not Locke or Jefferson or Obama.