Where Are You From?

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As I stated in an earlier post I am in Saas Fee, Switzerland in a short term Media & Philosophy program. Participants in this program are from a variety of countries and since we are in the 3rd day of the program I am meeting new people and inevitably someone will ask “where are you from?” This question always makes me uneasy because all I can say is America, when Africans ask me this question I grow more uncomfortable because they sometimes think I am African due to my name (especially Nigerians). I have sometimes replied “I am just from America” because the furthest I can trace my roots back is North Carolina where my family was owned by the Alston family who were the largest slave holding family in America (for more information about the Alstons read
Family Name by Rev. Alston).

When asked “where are you from” I am always reminded of the fact that my family’s history and heritage was stolen, identity is essential to understanding yourself, your past and your future. When a huge piece of your identity is missing you feel a sense of loss that cannot be replaced. Though, I know my ancestors were brought from Africa it is also important to know which country and tribe you are a descendant from because this information is essential to understanding yourself. I know African-Americans have created a powerful culture that blends Africa and our experience in America but we are still missing a essential piece of our cultural puzzle by not knowing about the roots we have grown from. All Africans were and are not the same so by claiming “Africa” in general we miss something particular about who we are. Identity is the foundation of our development and without it we can be like boats drifting in the sea of a Western society that does not honor us and we can not honor and respect ourselves.

Photograhy: Saas Fee, Switzerland

On August 1st I left NYC to travel to Saas Fee, Switzerland for a short term Media & Philosophy Program and then I will head to London for a few days to celebrate my Birthday.  I may incorporate the Olympics into my celebration (forgive the Leo moment LOL).  I took the train from Geneva to Saas Fee which is a beautiful resort town in the Alps. I took some pictures in route and in Saas Fee, enjoy by clicking through the slide show below!

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Show-Up! Show Out! A Celebration of Natural Hair!

I am currently in Saas Fee,Switzerland doing a short term Philosophy & Media program and today we looked at the work of the German Philosopher Theodor W. Adorno who speaks of “Natural Beauty” vs. “Artistic Beauty” and this reminded me of the agony many Black women have over their natural beauty. Adorno was speaking of nature vs. art and the fact that art tries to capture what is seen in nature but cannot.Many Black women have difficulty accepting their natural beauty which is unfortunate because natural beauty cannot be duplicated. As Black women we possess Mitochondrial DNA and from this DNA all of humanity was born, therefore the Black woman is closest to nature and natural beauty. Sadly, we fear and often resent our natural beauty. As the Bible says “we perish for a lack of knowledge” and as Black women we are not loving ourselves because we lack the knowledge of who we truly are. We attempt to look like everybody else yet we are the prototype of humanity, which does not mean we are better than others but it does mean we are valuable.

On Saturday July 28th I attended a fabulous event: Show Up, Show Out hosted by Imena Salon and I Love My Fro. This event was a night of fun to celebrate women with natural hair and the men who love them. The celebration was held at the fitting Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in Harlem. As I walked up the stairs of the center I saw a powerful quote about beauty from Malcolm X where he talks about true beauty or what I would call “natural beauty”.

“Love is disposition, behavior,attitude, thoughts,likes, dislikes-these things make a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife. This is the beauty that never fades.”-Malcolm X

The night included a hair show, massages, dancing, vendors, belly dancing and more. I loved seeing so many sisters in their natural beauty, confident in the crowns God gave them. See the pictures below.

   Amen! (I don’t know where the light orb came from)

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