By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
When I was a kid in school, my most favorite thing to do was to learn something new. Being a bookworm from the age of 3 made it easy to do. And having to write about what I learned, either in the form of a mandatory book report from the teacher, or via a private journal I kept on all the books I had read, and what I liked or didn't like about them, was my second most favorite thing to do.
Books, real books, with pages etc., hold a very special place in my life and in my heart. I tried to instill the same love of books in my kids early on. They each had their own library, and each went with me on Sundays after church to our favorite NY book store – Coliseum Books, which used to be at 57th and Columbus until the banks began cannibalizing all the small stores and replacing them with their branches.
I'm saying that to say this: I had taken a departure from sharing what I had read and learned from the books I'd recently read. In an effort to reaquaint myself with time honored authors, and new authors on the horizon, I'm getting back into the mode of highlighting books you should know about, and which should be on your bookshelf or coffee table.
But I'm going to preface it by saying that they most likely will be about Black people, or metaphysical, or self help, or historical, or do-it-yourself books. I rarely, if ever read the current genre of urban books that have hit the market over the last 9-10 years – can't take the profanity and the insults. I'm into constructive, positive, empowering, uplifting, fun, entertaining books. Hope that meets with your approval.
In keeping with those themes, I actually have two books that I highly recommend, and that I think you'll both enjoy and get value from:
Seven Little White Lies – by Brother Jabari Osaze; and America, The Black Point of View/
The Autobiography of a Ghetto Boy – The 1950s and 1960s – by Brother Tony Rose
America, The Black Point of View/
The Autobiography of a Ghetto Boy – The 1950s and 1960s – byTony Rose
I actually read Tony's book first, back in late November. I was so stunned and awestruck by his writing, that I'm still absorbing and having flashbacks on some of the information he revealed in this very personal semi-autobiographical piece – which I now understand is part of a trilogy.
You think you know a person. I've known Tony and Yvonne Rose since the mid-80s. We've worked together on many a community project in Harlem, USA. I was always awed by this dynamic couple and their love for their community and Black people. When they decided to move to Arizona and start their own publishing company, AMBER BOOKS, I couldn't believe it. I admit I didn't expect it to meet with much success – especially in Arizona. But I was wrong. Not only have they witnessed success after success, and award after award, they are the go-to couple when you to get published; and when you want to find books relevant to Black people, education, history, lifestyle, business. They publish it all.
|TONY & YVONNE ROSE of AMBER BOOKS|
Tony's book is in two parts, “The Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy” & “America The Black Point of View.”
Actually, the Autobiography is the second part, but it's the part that I tend to focus on the most, because it can be somewhat of a shock when you see this suave, sophisticated, well built, eloquent hunk of a brother standing before you elucidating on his latest discovery. It's hard to equate him with the kid who grew up in the mean streets of a Boston ghetto, under harsh and difficult parentage. And when you read his story, you have to shake your head, and simultaneously praise God for the resilience of the human spirit resident in this brother.
He takes you through some pretty graphic experiences; some which could and should have resulted in his death, or his being an extremely bitter Black man. And you have to think, what was it that made him rise above all this and now live on the pinnacle of success? That there was something in his inner being that continued to drive him toward survival is absolutely certain. That he let his higher mind finally override the promptings of his lower mind and the hostile environmental influences is totally admirable.
His courage in recounting all he's been through is not only cathartic, but constructive and instructive to our youth and many adults who think the odds are against them, and they can never make it or turn their lives around. Tony Rose is living proof that that is definitely not the case.
In “America, The Black Point of View,” Tony states: “The Trayvon Martins, Jordan Daises and Michael Browns are murdered by 70% of white people in America.” (Prologue, p. 11).
“After careful study and research, I have found that 70% of white people in America hate me, dislike me and my culture, wish I didn't exist, want me to go back to Africa, think that I am not human, and if there were not hundreds and hundreds of laws to prevent it, would castrate me, burn me, cut my dick off, and lynch me. The other 30% tolerate me, love me and my culture, love my culture, but don't like me; like me, love me and think I could do much better.” (Chapter 1, p. 17)
He has ingenuiously shuttled back and forth between contemporary times and history; he's defined clearly his concepts of slavery and oppression, as well as their geneses. Who benefited from it, who was destroyed by it, and where we are in terms of today's world.
Then, in case you've forgotten his initial premise, he repeats is throughout the book in further illustration of his point.
One of my favorite quotes from the Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy which ties back in to America – The Black Point of View, states: “Think about how much damage the white people of western Europe and America did to West Africa, Africa, Africans, African Americans, people of African descent all over the world over a five hundred year period, through slavery and the colonization of Africa. The damage, destruction, hatred and self-hatred continues to this very day; and of course, white people do as they always do and say, 'poor Africa, poor West Africa, poor Black people, why can't these people seem to get it together – why can't they be more like us.” Never thinking it might take another five hundred years to wash the stench of the white people of western Europe off our skins and out of our hair.'” (p.199)
Tony's autobiography graphically spans nearly 20 years of his life – and what a life it was, beginning in the 1950s through the late 1960s. Raised in the projects, yet having had root beginnings in an upwardly mobile (we would call them bougie) family, who saw the finer things of life erode and be displaced with a meagre existence.
You will find it incredulous to walk with this boy into manhood and realize that he is now the CEO of Amber Communications Group, Inc., winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature, and the 2014 African American Publisher of the Year.
Additionally, he moved from thug to an mechanical engineer working on aircraft in the US Airforce; a music producer, community activist, and so many more positive emanations from what many thought would have been a potential for life in the penitentiary, or a recidivistic criminal. What made the difference for Tony Rose? How did he rise, because of and in spite of his heinous beginnings, to a level of admiration and success? There are some great words of wisdom throughout the book. But it's not for the prudish or the faint of heart. I think he kind of restrained himself somewhat from expressing even more graphically the things he witnessed and endured through his journey into manhood.
There are several high points, but to me, the most important was Tony Rose's stance on REPARATIONS due Black people the world over for all that we've suffered at the hands of white/europeans. In the chapter, “Reparations (2) Why America Needs to Pay Reparations to African Americans,” he breaks it down:
“History consistently shows that slaveery and segregation destoyed the family life and the quality of life for African slaves and our African American descendants, and simultaneously enhanced the quality of life for white Americans.”
“Apologies cannot compensate an entire people for all of th social and economic ills we faced as a result of our forefathers' enslavement. Apologies alone cannot address the residual effects of slavery and American segregation.”
Stating that many corporations that are so prominent today would not even exist were it not for slave labor, he states: “Instead of apologies, American corporations could give back to the African American community by donating billions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, so that every African American child who wants a tuition free college schholarship can have one at a Black University.”
Of, courrse, while that's one way of looking at it, I'd much rather they pay each descendent $1.5 million in tax free dollars – placing them in interest bearing accounts; where they could only be accessed after they completed a 6 week course in money management, financial literacy, etc. But the college angle is a good one, too.
On the negative side, there were some grammatical and spelling errors – too far and few to be of any serious consequence; and which can be easily cleaned up upon revision. And it would have been great to have had a bibliographical account of all the books he referenced throughout his research.
There is so much to this book – it's to be read and absorbed, not skimmed and scanned. There are so many life lessons here, you just might want to take notes so that you don't miss the message. Using the backdrop of Black culture and racism to inform his autobiography, Tony Rose has truly transformed his tests into his testimony.
But, don't just take my word for it; read it for yourself; you can order your copy here:
Seven Little White Lies – The Conspiracy to Destroy the Black Self Image by Jabari Osaze
This amazing book was written by brother Jabari Osaze, scholar, cultural researcher and resource, who has spent more than 25 years studying Africa, specifically the Ancient Kemetic history (a/k/a EGYPT) and spirituality. In partnership with the African Genesis organization, he has led annual tours to Egypt as well as tours of local museums in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Chicago, and elsewhere. But he calls Harlem his home.
|JABARI and ANIKA OSAZE|
I'm giving you his bio up front because, while he is a new comer to the book scene, he is definitely not a new comer when it comes to things African and the African culture's influence on the world. In fact, he is a much sought after speaker, who, along with his wife/partner, Anika Daniels-Osaze, host a series of workshops in Harlem and a weekly TV show, Kemetic Legacy Today.
I had the pleasure of meeting Brother Osaze and his wife for the first time at the African American museum in Philadelphia in May of this year. They were featuring the book he had just authored, and I found the concept of seven not so little white lies interesting. In fact, I asked, “Only seven? Really? How could you narrow it down to such a small number, when they lie every day?”
He explained his rationale:
This book came about, according to brother Osaze, as the result of the request of a great scholar, historian and philosopher, Dr. Edward Robinson, Jr., JD of Philadelphia, who, nearing the end of his life, wanted to write a compilation of lies that Black people had been told over the centuries, but, at the age of 96, was much too weak to do himself. Brother Osaze spent months tirelessly researching and compiling the information based on Dr. Robinson's teachings and his own forensics. The result is a very well thought out and presentation of what Dr. Robinson had named as the Seven Little White Lies .
Now, of course, I beg to differ with Dr. Robinson and Brother Osaze – these are not “little” white lies, these huge, egregious lies – that have been taught in history books, used against us, and repeatedly drummed into our heads from birth.
Briefly, they are as follows:
LIE NUMBER 1:
Caucasians are the Original People
Brother Osaze adroitly debunks this fallacy, and concludes by establishing the fact that Africa was not only the birthplace of the first man, but the birthplace of civilization. “The concept of the European origin of humanity has been refuted. Africa was not only home to early ancestors of modern humans, but also its most evolved form, Homo sapiens. Africa is the cradle of humanity.” (p. 22)
LIE NUMBER 2:
Ancient Africa Contributed Nothing to Civilization
These LIES were told for several reasons: to rationalize enslaving Black people; to pretend they were doing Africans good by taking them out of their environment; to further exploit Africa's wealth and riches. As Brother Osaze stated, “It allayed European consciences. After all, if Africans are essentially beasts of burden, what's the harm in enslaving them? Hard work is what they were created to do.”
Of all the damage these miseducations have cost, the most egregious has been that of Black people thinking that slavery did them a favor by getting them out of Africa; or that had it not been for slavery, there would have been no great Black Americans. A sad state of affairs that is often mouthed by brainwashed negroes and whites alike. As Osaze so adroitly stated: “It's one thing when your enemies question your humanity and your ability to contribute to civilization; it's quite another when you question yourself. The powerful European ruling class has no problem with Diasporan Africans shunning their motherland. If the Continent of Africa is the birthright of its people, African Americans are also heir to the most valuable landmass on the planet. When Africans state they have no interest in a land they have been brainwashed to believe is “savage” and “undeveloped,” it simply means that powerful Europeans have no competition as they (*and the Chinese) continue to rape the continent of its resouces (**while Africans starve to death). Africans – continental and diasporan – must reclaim the image of their African ancestors as the parents of civilization. This correction will also led to ultimate African control of the continent. There is no more important task.” (NOTE: * & ** are my input, not that of the author)
LIE NUMBER 3:
The Ancient Egyptians were Caucasian
The white washing of Egypt is nothing new. There have been movies from time immemorial casting the likes of Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor as “Cleopatra;” and of course Rameses – in the 1956 movie, “The Ten Commandments,” was portrayed by Yul Brynner. Back then there was little in the way of historical honesty, and few Black scholars were standing on the front line trying to make Hollyweird toe the mark. However, as Osaze pointed out, when the remake in 2014 tried to get away with the same thing, a much more informed and intelligent society protested the all white cast. According to Osaze, this points up the great harm the whitening of Egypt has had on both Blacks and whites.
More to the point, as he continues to show that Egyptians were definitely Black and discovered and developed many of the systems we use today, it is clear that whites have either tried to systematically appropriate Egypt's wealth of knowledge, and simultaneously separate Blacks from their original Egyptian legacy. Failing that, there have been many Europeans who have tried to outright destroy any semblance of Blackness found in the Egyptian figures, such as the Sphinx, or discount the Black ingenuity that went into building the Pyramids. “The tangible effects of the whitening of Ancient Kemet are disturbing. Imagine for a minute how little children of African Descent would respond knowing that their ancestors gave the world virtually all of the elements of civilization.” (p. 93)
LIE NUMBER 4:
Hebrew Slaves Built the Pyramids:
There is a great deal of conjecture as to how the concept started that the Hebrews built the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt; as well as whether or not these Hebrews were white, or members of the Falasha – who were Black. That, coupled with the fact that Kemet was Black as well, brings about a great deal of confusion, controversy and distortion as to just who it was that brought about the great technology that has withstood the test of time. Speaking of time, there's a serious glitch in the time during which the Hebrews were said to had built the pyramids and the time that they were actually in Egypt of approximately 1,000 years; making it, according to Brother Osaze, impossible for them to have even existed during that time. Additionally, he proves that the kinds of expertise and precision required to build the pyramids could not have been handled by slave labor; but by mathemeticians, and architects who knew to one one hundred thousandth of a millimeter exactly what to do and how to do it (I had to spell that out for emphasis). These skills came from ancient Africans who inhabited Kemet. (p. 107). As he also so ably outlines, there is a love/hate dichotomy on the part of African Americans when it comes to Kemet (Egypt) and Hebrews (slaves) that are often used in parallel to our plight here in the US. The 400 years of bondage outlined in the Bible, and the 400 years of modern chattel slavery endured by our ancestors and continuing to this very day via racism, prejudice, police brutality, etc. Most churches align with Hebrew mythology and paint Egypt as evil; when in fact, our very legacy stems from Egypt's greatness, since we are the ones who fashioned the pyramids, founded math, and so many other wonderful things that have benefited society for thousands of years. However, it is difficult to separate us from years of religious conditioning. One is history, the other is faith based and allegorical – something he makes very plain in his research. He concludes by stating: “As long as Africans continue to equate their greatest civilization with the very symbol of oppression and evil we will never truly find our collective genius. We will never be able to set the historical record straight.” (p.121)
LIE NUMBER 5:
Africans were Savages When the Europeans Enslaved Them
Perhaps one of the biggest lies of all was that of Africans being savages when the Europeans invaded Africa and kidnapped them, forcing them onto ships and dragging them throughout the world to perform slave labor for hundreds of years without compensation. The rationalization was supposedly to make it look as if they were doing us a favor by stealing us from our families, causing the deaths of millions on the middle passage, and separating us from our culture, family, friends, and homeland.
But, as Brother Osaze states, if you're going to tell a lie, you might as well make it the biggest lie possible, so that those with lazy minds, low morals, and greedy interests will not take the trouble to refute it; and those who have been captured have no resources with which to defend themselves. Of course it totally ignores the fact that Africa had founded and established great empires, such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Timbuktu, Ethiopia – to name a few. Nor that one of the richest men in the world in ancient or modern times was the great Mansa Musa. Brother Osaze so details the vast greatness of Africa's many empires, many of which were destroyed with the European invasion – guns and lies – that I can only urge you to read it for yourselves. There is a great deal of pride that should be accrued knowing that we emanate from great kings and queens; however, as with the upsurge of Black power in the 60s, that can be quelled if you only have surface knowledge of your greatness. Brother Osaze provides the proof, but it requires more than a cursory read; it requires in depth focus. This is not the internet. You have to take the time if you want to undo the damage that has been done to us for over 400 years. As he states: “It is of critical importance to dismantle the African savage stereotype...it has been used with deadly effect in the 150 years since the Civil War. While the entire world needs to understand that the role that Africans have played in human civilization, it is encumbent on people of African descnt to become
aware (knowledgeable) of the history of their people.” (p.157)
LIE NUMBER SIX:
Columbus Discovered America
Most of us were taught that in “1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Our history books are rife with tales of how he “discovered” America. We even knew the names of the three ships he took with him trying to find Asia and the spice islands. Columbus, it seemed, got everything wrong, but owing to the ignorance of Queen Isabella of Spain, he nevertheless was rewarded and made Admiral of the Ocean/Sea. No one talks of this efforts to exploit the indigenous people – the Taino and Arawaks who were already there; or that his sailors brought diseases with them that nearly wiped them out. That they stole everything in sight, raped the women and tried to enslave the men, was made clear from the many diaries kept by those who traveled with him; information that was largely suppressed when he became the national hero of his Italian descendants, and a folk hero in the US.
“The truest legacy of Christopher Columbus must bereligious intolerance...economic exloitation, rape the sexual trafficking of minors, and genocide. (p. 175)
LIE NUMBER SEVEN:
Abraham Lincoln Freed the Slaves
Brother Osaze begins by stating that while most Americans consider Lincoln perhaps the most popular and revered president of the US, African Americans have a special affinity for him because of his life long struggle to end slavery, the fact the Civil War was initiated because he became president in direct opposition to slavery in the antebellum South; and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which eventually culminated in his assassination at the hands of a crazed actor/racist/fanatic, John Wilkes Booth. Brother Osaze states: “It is true that Lincoln played an important role in endin African American enslavement; but the common phrase, 'Lincoln feed the slaves,' implies much more. It implies that the 16th President's role in the abolition of enslavement was altuistic or moral; that he was a friend to the African.” Lincoln stated during his debate with Stephen A. Douglas (called the Lincoln-Douglas Debates) which took place from 1851 through 1853, when they were running against each other for senate: “We think slavery is a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the territories, were our votes will reach it. I think slavery is wrong, morally and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States; and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.”
This is where I make a point of departure from Brother Osaze's scholarly attempts to prove that Lincoln did not materially free the slaves. And it would be disingenuous of me to pretend neutrality on this topic. There were too many indications from the Great Frederick Douglass, a contemporary of President Lincoln, to totally buy into this argument. However, I do applaud and agree that the role our forefathers played in winning the war, which had been largely ignored, was highlighted in a manner most Black people are totally unaware of.
I also agree that Lincoln did not necessarily have any great “love” for Black people. True his first responsibility as President was to save the Union; and that in the 1860s, he was probably as much not in favor of integration as many of the southerners. But, as my teachers told us during our in depth study of Lincoln, it did not matter whether or not he liked or loved us, it was that he did what needed to be done when it needed to be done; and for that he paid the utmost price; and for that he deserves our utmost gratitude.
But, did he sign the paperwork, to make it happen? Yes. Did he go forth with it in 1863? Yes. And did he write into the deal compensation for all the work and privation that Blacks had suffered from the time they were brought here? Yes. It was called 40 acres and a mule, which translates to millions of dollars in todays money. A contract he fully intended to implement, had he not been shot in the back of his head by an assassin.
Frederick Douglass lamented long and loud about what might have been for the future of Black people had Lincoln not been murdered; and the racist vice president, Andrew Johnson from Tennessee, did everything in his power to eviscerate Lincoln's orders. Fortunately, the “original Republicans” were able to stop him. But Rutherford B. Hayes pretty much put the nail in the coffin of the emancipation and Black people getting what was due to them; and the south reverted back to the racist regime they had been prior to the civil war.
President Lincoln may have made some enemies when he offered to relocate descendants of African slaves who were northern freedmen to countries outside of the US, ignorantly and erroneously thinking that it was a way to save the imperfect Union. “You and we are different races. We have between us a boader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong, I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both; as I think your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us; while ours suffer from your presence.”
(He was right about that – the biggest disease Black people have has and will always be white people – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially).
However, Lincoln did not realize that many Blacks had decided to call America home, and had no intention of leaving. He made an even greater error in saying that the Civil War would not have occurred had it not been for slavery, giving the impression that he was blaming he victims. This conversation occurred a few months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Rather than saying Lincoln did not free the slaves, I think it more a matter of both/and - Lincoln and the more than 178,000 Black men who joined the Calvary were instrumental in defeating the South. So that the emancipation was now law throughout the entire US – but more especially, the South.
Brother Osaze was also correct in quoting Frederick Douglass: “Without the initiative of the Afro-American people, without their illumination of the nature of slavery, without their persistent struggle to be free, there would have been no national Abolitionist movement.”
It is clear that the legislation made it possible for Black people to move from the plantations of the racist south; but, as Brother Osaze states, “Ignoring or discounting our role in ending one of the most lucrative AND barbaric institutions destroys our individual and communal agency. Perhaps if we truly understood the magnitude of our role, we would understand just how powerful we truly are. We wold recognize that we are the saviors we are waiting for. This understanding would obliterate African American apathy, and reassure us of our fundamental humanity and nobility.”
The most important feature of this great book is that he concludes with a Blueprint for the Rehabilitation of the Black Image. He offers SEVEN STEPS FOR RECLAIMING THE BLACK IMAGE. What are they? You need to read the book for yourself in order to find that out and then apply them in your daily lives and the education of your children.
If I were to offer up a criticism of this great book, it would be this: It would have been wonderful to have had colored photos so that the greatness of the many African empires, pyramids and other artifacts from Africa could truly be seen and enjoyed.
Again, this is not a book to scan or skim; this is a book to study and learn from. I highly recommend it.
Now That You Know, What Are You Going to do About It? You can order your copy here:
Stay Blessed &