I always tell my students that Malcolm X came both to his spirituality and to his consciousness as a thinker when he had solitude to read. Unfortunately, tragically, like so many young black males, that solitude only came in prison.
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It's really important to have life strategies and part of that is sort of knowing where you want to go so you can have a map that helps you to get there. And the traditional way tells us oh we get into school and someone else advises us, helps us, but that often does not work for African Americans female and male. Because what works for the dominant culture often does not work for us.
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My grief was a heavy, despairing sadness caused by parting from a companion of many years but, more important, it was a despair rooted in the fear that love did not exist, could not befound. And even if it were lurking somewhere, I might never know it in my lifetime. It had become hard for me to continue to believe in love's promise when everywhere I turned theenchantment of power of the terror of fear overshadowed the will to love.
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It is important and vital is to keep that education for critical consciousness around intersectionalities, so that people are able to not focus on one thing and blame one group, but be able to look holistically at the way intersectionality informs all of us: whiteness, gender, sexual preferences, etc. Only then can we have a realistic handle on the political and cultural world we live within.
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In our young minds houses belonged to women were their special domain, not as property, but as places where all that truly mattered in life took place - the warmth and comfort of shelter, the feeding of our bodies, the nurturing of our souls. There we learned dignity, integrity of being; there we learned to have faith. The folks who made this life possible, who were our primary guides and teachers, were black women.
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It was the world of Southern, rural, black growing up, of folks sitting on porches day and night, of folks calling your mama, 'cause you walked by and didn't speak, and of the switch waiting when you got home so that you could be taught some manners. It was a world of single black older women schoolteachers, dedicated, tough; they had taught your mama, her sisters, and her friends. They knew your people in ways that you never would and shared their insight, keeping us in touch with generations. It was a world where we had a history.
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Dare I speak ,to oppressed and opressor in the same voice? Dare I speak to you in a language that will move beyond the boundaries of domination- a language, that will not bind you, fence you in, or hold you? Language is also a place of struggle. The oppressed struggle in language to recover ourselves, to reconcile, to reunite, to renew. Our words are not without meaning, they are an action, a resistance. Language is also a place of struggle.
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For most people, what is so painful about reading is that you read something and you don't have anybody to share it with. In part what the book club opens up is that people can read a book and then have someone else to talk about it with. Then they see that a book can lead to the pleasure of conversation, that the solitary act of reading can actually be a part of the path to communion and community.
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All too often we think of community in terms of being with folks like ourselves: the same class, same race, same ethnicity, same social standing and the like..I think we need to be wary: we need to work against the danger of evoking something that we don't challenge ourselves to actually practice.
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Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, revelling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.
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I mostly want to remind her of the recipes of healing, and give her my own made-on-the spot remedy for the easing of her pain. I tell her, "Get a pen. Stop crying so you can write this down and start working on it tonight." My remedy is long. But the last item on the list says: "When you wake up and find yourself living someplace where there is nobody you love and trust, no community, it is time to leave town "" to pack up and go (you can even go tonight). And where you need to go is any place where there are arms that can hold you, that will not let you go.
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