I had two topics I wanted to write about tonight: the first was the sad state of my Buddhist practice and the second was Afro-centrism. I went with the second topic which came about after watching YouTube videos posted by two beautiful and intelligent, natural, African-centered women.
I trodded RastafarI for a number of years. One of the major teachings is the idea of repatriation, or returning to one's homeland which for Black people is Africa. Most RastafarI people are very Afrocentric (or try to be) in their world views and I tried to be too. But it didn't come naturally. I didn't have any romanticized ideas of Africa and I know it's because I'm only a first generation American born to parents who immigrated from Nigeria. Repatriating, to me, was not necessarily the end to all ills and I didn't have any illusions about what moving back to Africa right now would be like. So I never really had a burning desire to repatriate physically although I thought I should and honestly, probably would have had the right man come along talking about building and going back to our root by living in Africa.
What did resonate with me though, was African ways of thinking and being, ways of thinking and being that are forgotten by Black people--both those on the continent and those that are part of the diaspora. It's worth it to me to remember from whence you came. Mental and spiritual repatriation, if you will. It eliminates future mistakes and helps you to stay true to yourself. I do believe our ancestors had a certain wisdom that you don't readily come upon these days. And so I really did (and do) try to embrace an Afrocentric way of thinking--although it may not be obvious.
Now that I'm raising my children, I notice that I don't place a big emphasis on Africa. I'm not planning to take an Afrocentric approach to their education although it is definitely important to me to teach African history and geography and also to teach general history including Black people. Africa (and Black people) is largely ignored in mainstream education so I'm so happy to be homeschooling in that regard since I can provide this aspect of my children's education. I had to learn all the European countries but not the African ones. This will not be the case for my kids.
But, I guess, being Afrocentric or at least, really loud and proud about being African (and natural, and conscious) is not something I am striving for anymore. But I remember the energy with which I did. I kind of hate to say it but my whole ordeal with my thinning hair and locks really set the stage for a whole reorganizing of how I think and what I am. Because of this, I hesitate to say that hair is just hair. Even though it is just hair. It has really influenced my politics and my spirituality.
Africa is important to me but not in a fanatical way. It's important to me in a natural way, because that's where I come from. It's my homeland. I hope to live there one day. I think when the west falls, that may be the best place to live. But I don't really rock daishikis anymore. Or wear traditional clothes at all. The only ankh I wear now, from time to time, is a small silver pendant on silver chain and when I think why it's significant to me now, it's not because it shows that I know about ancient Khemet (and am therefore "with it" when it comes to all things Afrikan). It's more so because I am moved by the meaning of it and really, I would wear something that means what it means no matter what culture it originated from. There was a time in my life where you wouldn't catch me without my ankh, a button, pin, ribbon or something declaring AFRICA!! Currently, there are really no signs that I'm "afrocentric". Talking to me you might not know. Looking at me, you definitely wouldn't know.
I'm African but raised in America so I'm American too. I'm just learning to embrace both and keep it moving without guilt and without any inclination to be something I'm not.