Talking about Malidoma Patrice Some's "Of Water And The Spirit" in my local study group, the conversation turned to thoughts on the probability (or odds) of transcending destructive ways of life in many ghettos around the nation. Certainly, African people's existence in America proves that we can survive and some of us can thrive without needing to separate ourselves from these spaces that contain so much destruction and destructive energy. But what about "most" of us? Living in a space like Brooklyn is almost heaven compared to a place like Minneapolis. Philly, Atlanta, even DC, all have something that I never had growing up -- these functional communities that extend outside of the blood family, that help provide cultural context and a consciousness of unity. Where I come from it was essentially, me and my family against the world. With a few close friends thrown in for good measure, of course.
But African people organized, wow. I mean it's not like the Panthers are patrolling Bedstuy, but RELATIVELY, black folks in Brooklyn are light years ahead in terms of being able to have centers (however small) of effective community organization. And the organization need not be formal to be organization. Not every space in Brooklyn has a name, but that there are spaces in Brooklyn, is something I'm extremely thankful for. I can't imagine the person I'd be if I lived in Minneapolis. And that's nothing against it. I just know that there's something in Brooklyn that other ghettos just don't have. What's ironic is that those "other" places, like Minneapolis, did have that type of energy at one time, but I've mostly only heard about it from my elders.
Instead, I see young black folks running from places like Minneapolis and other Western and Midwestern ghettos, to places like New York -- my homie Mike, aka the young James Baldwin from South Central, my home Mitch from Chicago, a handful of folks from Minneapolis, my homie Alvin from Arkansas -- They are running for their lives. Literally, to take back their lives, and find community, and the freedom that comes with having a healthy one.
And I'm sure that's part of what makes a place like Brooklyn or Philly or Atlanta special, there's some degree of immigrant energy mixing with friends and folks who have been there all their lives or who were born here. In other words, Brooklyn's ghetto immigrants, domestic and otherwise, seem to be just as much apart of what makes Brooklyn special as are Brooklyn "natives". A place like Minneapolis just doesn't have people dying to get there to experience the great cultural community. Frankly, spaces like Minneapolis are filled with a relative many folks who aren't really socialized to be secure in having a true strong unified cultural identity.
A video like this one, on rites of passage, reminds me of the Malidoma Patrice Some book because, like Malidom'a re-initiation into his clan, it involves a process of SEPARATION in order to become a functional, healthy, free person.
And in my own mind, I can't help but wonder when that point might come -- for different folks at different moments, probably -- when my brethren and sistren in those ghettos come to believe that there is no better option but to make separation an integral part of raising healthy kids. I don't think the separation need be permanent, although it could very well be -- even need to be -- for some. But it could very well be an adopting of temporary exodus. Maybe not circumcising kids in tents, but getting away from ghettos that resemble nuclear blast zones, hit by H-Bombs called crack rocks. I know we are a people of survival, but the thing about nuclear bombs is that it leaves the ground poised, and sometimes the only way to heal is to remove yourself from the toxic space.