This moment of a worshipper at Kilbirnie Masjid embracing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the essence of all that we need to start.
That the divisions between Islam, Zoroastrianism, the Jain faith, Judaism, the Sikh faith, Hinduism, the Bahai faith, Yoruba spirituality, and yes Christianity in its many forms — they are illusory veils that separate us from each other. We can transcend veils.
That we need an end to violence.
That its time for more women to lead, because the corruption of patriarchy is hopefully now laid bare.
That the color of your skin, or the languages you speak, don’t make you any less human and deserving of love, humanity, compassion, equality.
That would be a Surrender to peace.
Here is the thought experiment that I can’t get out of my head — what if a country of 300+ million on the North American continent were to ban male presidents — just for a decade — and see what that does for the collective mental and emotional? What if it were to embrace its Muslim community, open its doors to the oppressed as it claims to, recognize the humanity of its original inhabits, and of all of its spectrum of citizens. That would be an amazing balm to the world.
In honor of Black history month, thought I would highlight some inspiring murals that adorn Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue.
The first highlights the contributions of four women to Atlanta. They are Selena Butler, Mathilda Beasley, Annie McPheeters, and Dorothy Thompson.
Dorothy Bolden Thompson was one of the true unsung lights of the Civil Rights movement. Employed for many years as a domestic worker (starting at the age of nine!) in Atlanta, she organized the National Domestic Workers Union, which “successfully improved the wages and working conditions of domestic workers in Atlanta, and other cities of the U.S.“. She was at one point a neighbor of Dr. Martin Luther King. I would like to think that their’s was a collaborative, mutually inspiring relationship. Ms Thompson organized successful strikes and protests to improve the lives of the women who performed the invisible, demanding, and often demeaning labor in the homes and offices of White families. Her story is to me so deeply inspiring and connecting. It is the story of the grandmothers and great-grandmothers and aunties, of the proud ladies of the church I attended as a child — the women with gnarled loving hands and unmatched fierceness and wit, the women who built and sustained a people.
Selena Butler (a graduate of Spelman College) is now considered to be the co-founder of the Parents Teachers Association — that is the PTA so ubiquitous across public schools in the United States. Concerned about the welfare of students, in the 1920’s Butler helped organize the first convention of teachers and parents united for better schools. Segregation being what it was, that first convention led to the formation of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association. So inspiring was her work that U.S. President Herbert Hoover appointed her to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.
Annie McPheeters was the first professional African American librarian with the Atlanta Public library. She was instrumental in developing the Auburn Avenue library and also taught library science at Georgia State University.
The second mural? That one is of Stacey Abrams who came within a percentage point of becoming Georgia’s first African American governor. Fittingly, she is giving a counter to the state of the union speech tonight (February 5th).
What do you have to do to be a winner? Be one of the first to create and send in a visualization inspired by the set of infographics on Black America that Dr. W.E.B. DuBois developed for the 1900 Paris Exposition.
Any visualization that you implement that is relevant to the peoples of SubSaharan Africa or the SubSaharan diaspora is relevant too!
Just email me or post as a comment. The first two submissions get the book, and I’ll try to hook up something outstanding works too!
When does the United States get to the level of spiritual and psychological maturity to honor the peoples and civilization that lived on its soil and held its skies and rivers sacred before the first European countries even existed?
I eat, live and breath on stretches of earth that were carefully and lovingly maintained, defended, honored by the Muskogee, Cherokee and their forebears for millennia. We can’t even approve an hour to remember and cherish our collective ancestors? They don’t even rate to the level of Halloween? That ain’t right.
Think of it this way. The pride of India is the Taj Mahal. The Mughal empire — in whose time it was built — has long passed into time, yet every child in Delhi knows some connection to this wonder of the world. India is home to so many diverse faiths, among them the Sikh faith. Not everyone — not even a majority — is Sikh yet the sacred days of that faith are celebrated widely. Because it is a denial of history and a warping of reality not to. Would any resident of London refuse to acknowledge their connection to Stonehenge, or to Shakespeare? Yet the governments of those times, even the notion of the country of Britain, has changed many times in the centuries since. Would any Egyptian deny the pyramids, or Hatshepsut?
So yea, this place we call the U.S. did not and does not begin and end with European settlement. Being complicit in Erasure is no way to live.
So what to do?
Well the image for this post is from the Ocmulgee National Monument mounds in Georgia. We know that the Ocmulgee peoples have held this site sacred for at least the last 17,000 years, give or take a colonizer shutdown or two.
My one resolution for getting beyond Erasure? Understand and live my debt to the Ocmulgee (forbears of today’s Muskogee Nation) civilization. A festival will be held on September 21 and 22 of this year on the grounds of the monument.
Early modern historian. Loves gender, women's, social & royal histories. Ventures elswhere when interest is piqued. Blog may cover above themes or something a little more random. Find me on Twitter @ruthrblair