Our worldview is greatly influenced by our life experiences and early in childhood. Our parents greatly influence how we perceive the world around us and our relationships with others. If raised in a home that was unsafe, it’s likely that we would develop mistrust in our relationships. Similarly, if raised in an safe environment where we felt nurtured, loved, and protected than it is likely that we will learn to trust others. This is a very basic understanding of the Nature vs. Nurture argument that specialists have been arguing about for years. Author Joy DeGruy seemed, to sum up, this theory when she stated in her book that: “We carry our painful experiences into our adulthood, and they become the basis for our worldview,” which is defined as our beliefs, our attitudes, and our response to the natural environment. Just as our parents influenced our worldview, historic racism also influenced our environment. An environment that is unsafe will always produce insecurity.

The topic of Evolution exposes the  our insecurity because it forces us to address the nature Vs nurture argument. Most of us reject evolution in favor of a feel-good explanation of life, not because we understand evolution, but because of hate science, and the premise of a gradual development that is categorally opposed to intelligent design.  We are much more comfortable with pseudo claims of extraterrestrials, astro-projections, and gene splicing than science because it allows us to escape and avoid taking responsibility our problems using science that forced is evaluate what does and what does not work. Scientific literacy is defined as “knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.”

In itself the rejection of evolution does not equate to scientific illiteracy. However, the implications of having leaders who are scientifically illiterate is  detrimental to our survival and growth. The community must achieve a level of scientific literacy; otherwise, we will never progress. According to the National Science Education Standards defines scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions that are derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. Therefore a scientific literate person can do the following:

• Describe, explain and predict natural phenomena.

• Identify scientific issues underlying decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed.

• Evaluate the quality of scientific information using sources and identified methods used to support a specific position or ideas.

• Form arguments based on evidence and apply conclusions based on the evidence. (Wikipedia)

In the past 10 years the standards used to describe, identify, evaluate and then form conclusions have been greatly diminished by scientific illiteracy. We are no longer encouraging scientific discovery and innovation. But have allowed our hatred, fear, and obsession of the oppressor to dominate our discussions and created an environment where intimidation is used as a way to maintain the status quo. Instead of using scientific problems solving methods, many of the leaders threaten physical harm to resolve conflicts.  In a recent video posted by the self-proclaimed revolutionary leader of the conscious community  “General SETI” in a highly charged emotional five-minute response to Marcus, threatened physical violence. In the video, SETI handed down a warning that anyone who dared challenge his information would be subject to physical violence. He also made  insensitive comment regarding Marcus social status in the community stating “the only thing you can do for me is deliver my newspaper and bag my groceries.” He went on to say that instead of debating, Marcus should be in the “in the third grade, shining his shoes.” By the end of the video, Seti warned that the next time he came in contact Marcus in the streets, Marcus should run the other way. He also made a threat against Ankh warning that if he even dared to challenge him on the topic that “he would break his back.” The entire rant was based on a belief/claim that Ankh armed young Marcus with information on evolution that somehow threatened his position as a leader. A claim that seems paranoid given evolution is a topic that is widely debated in the community and one he Is currently promoting with Pharaoh Allah.
This behavior is an example of post traumatic slave syndrome, a condition that impacts your worldview and decision-making as well as the ability to define problems in an effective, coherent, and logical manner. Instead coming us with solutions, people with this condition will attack, use ad-hominems, and use threats of physical violence as a means of maintaining power and control. It is a condition that will cause a person to act in a way that is contrary to his goals. A condition that we must resolve because it impacts our ability to establish a worldview based on African values with the ultimate goal of unity. Seti a Man who was raised up in “the craft” and taught by Dr. Ben and who has traveled the world with many elders, revealed our failed worldview.

It seems the African community world view is in the Dark Ages similar to that of Europe when the church hunted, persecuted, and killed those who opposed religious doctrine. How did we get to this point and most importantly, what is the solution? When did it become acceptable for us to threaten each other over information? We have to demand accountability from our leaders and intimidation should not be tolerated. We must encourage the youth to study, ask questions, and challenge the status quo. We must develop relationships based on respect, good character, and we can’t allow those stuck in the past dictate our progress.

In conclusion, how we perceive the world around us is substantially influenced by our worldview, childhood, and environmental stressors, therefore it’s important that we adopt sound ideological practices. The human psyche is fragile and highly influenced by our experience. A person who is willing to die with a plan is not a warrior; he is a psychopath with nothing to lose. The only strategy against oppression is a strategy. One of my favorites quotes is “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”.

Voices of Fire

Nyah Amara

Photo Credit:Bavarian State Theater


Gang Prevention

The National Institute of Justice defines a gang as the following: “an association of three or more individuals whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation”. Gangs became increasingly popular in the 1920s, and over the decades, there have been gangs of all kinds of backgrounds; from the infamous Italian mobs and gangs to the Irish, Hispanic, and African American.

African American gangs make up about 35% of the countries gang, making it the second largest ethnicity involved in gangs (“National Youth Gang Survey Analysis”). The two largest and most known black gangs are the Bloods and Crips; though there are many gangs African Americans gangs all over the country from large cities to small rural towns. No matter where they reside, they are a controversial topic. Gangs are notorious for their involved in violent crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, murder, rape, etc.

The statistics on African American youth gang violence is alarming. Niaz Kasravi, a member of the NAACP, said, “the type of violence we see in poor African American communities of color on a daily basis is heartbreaking and should also be given attention”. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the year 2009, had 7,391 gun-related cases- of which 90 percent were males and the majority of which was black males. Along the same lines, a study conducted by the Washington D.C. Violence Policy Center showed that African American citizens are four times more likely to be murdered than any other ethnicity. The root of all of the violence being a crippling economic support for the African American communities, which is what gangs stem from. (Schou 2014).

A poor economy leaves African American families struggling, making their family structure significantly weak. Young boys turn to gangs as a means of protection and support. African American gangs. While it may be true that it offers young boys protection and a sense of family, the true reality of a gang is harsh and violent. In the life of gangs, no one is safe. It is not just the people within the gang, but their families as well. In November 2015, Tyshawn Lee, a nine-year-old boy, was murdered by three gang members of an opposing gang to his father’s. Tyshawn was targeted to get back at his father.

The first step is, of course, educating the youth about the risk factors of joining a gang. By helping the youth understand the cons about joining gangs, it will provide the insight to the harsh reality of the life of crime and help our youth understand their lives are much more valuable. Programs such as the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) and Preventive Treatment Programs already exist and are working hard to reach out to the youth in hopes to help solve the youth gang problem. Community programs are other excellent alternatives that in provide hope and sense of belonging and family. By understanding the risk factors and using those to pinpoint at-risk youth, our  communities can prevent kids from joining gangs. The African Centered community should take the lead and develop grass roots gang prevention programs our community.

Works Cite

Gorner, Jeremy, and Peter Nickeas. “Man Charged in Killing of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee,   Woman in Gang Feud.” Chicago Tribune. CBS Chicago, 08 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 June               2016.

Howell, James C. “Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs.” Juvenile    Justice, Dec. 2010. U.S. Department of Justice. Web. 21 June 2016.

“National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.” Demographics. N.p., 2012. Web. 21 June 2016.

Schou, Solvej. “Here’s Why Gang Violence Deserves as Much Outrage as School Shootings.”   TakePart. Participant Media, 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 21 June 2016.

“What Is a Gang? Definitions.” National Institute of Justice

Double Consciousness as Defined by W.E.B. Du Bois: A Look at the Dynamic, Which Birthed Consciousness in the African-American Community.

If we take a look at history and consider the influential characters that found purpose in explaining our social structures and social organizations, we are doing ourselves a favor – chasing a special type of knowledge that provides us insight into understanding and explaining these structures even today. Like many other concepts and theories that have taken hold and claimed a spot in the explanation of sociological structures and circumstances, the concept of double consciousness as defined by W.E.B. Du Bois can be studied and analyzed to gain a greater understanding of ourselves, those around us, and our general society. As defined by Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian, and civil rights activist, double consciousness is the concept that gives a definition and name to the feeling an African American as a result of being black and American. His explanation took a particular look at the sentiments felt by black Americans during and leading up to the time that he wrote his first book in 1903 titled The Souls of Black Folk. His writings took into careful and thoughtful consideration, the difficulties in identity that were being felt in the African American Community. He introduced the idea that Black people often experienced many challenges when it came down to the development a sense of self because of the trials we face and the confusion experienced as a result of being both black and American in a white supremacist society. His ideas highlight the sentiment that African Americans felt as a result of being oppressed and devalued, while living in a country that, on the contrary, encouraged equality and dignity.This contradiction, according to Du Bois, led to our inability to unify a proud African identify with an American identity in a meaningful way. If we fast forward more than one hundred years, we can still analyze this concept of double consciousness and look at how it has impacted the conscious community today. We can look at the Hebrews and see this confusion, we can look at the so-called black Natives and see this confusion, we can look at those who are enmeshed in the religious indoctrination and see this confusion, and we can look at those who practice pseudoscience and see the same confusion, all examples of failed attempts to successfully integrate one’s consciousness in a hostile society. The tension that is felt can be understood in light of Du Bois’ theory. Africans American today, like in the early 1900s, are also finding difficulty unifying these two very different identities. We instead are forced into stereotypes of the athlete, the rapper, the criminal and even in some circles we have taken on the characteristics of the oppressor, by claiming other oppressed people culture, creating fake story’s, and narratives in order to avoid the reality of being black in American.In many ways, we have lost contact with reality, our true identity, and our true purpose. Instead, we have replaced it with story’s that support our own flawed logic and low self-esteem. It seems we are content with simply “dipping it in chocolate” to satisfy the very basic human need to feel valued and accepted. As a result, we have lost our way and have forgotten those ancestors like Dubois who addressed the need to develop an African conscious and who understood its relevance and how the concept perfectly explained the dynamic and confusion that persist even today. He understood that the primary way to overcome this obstacle was through the proactive development of a congruent self. This means that, in order to create a personality that is organically unified, we have to make sure that our beliefs align with our actions creating an integrated self.
 In conclusion,Though this tense dynamic persists and has the potential to persist, understanding it through the lens of Du Bois’ teachings and his idea of double consciousness can eliminate the fear, thus allowing us to focus our efforts towards building a sound community. Our efforts, during this time, should be focused on the organization and implementation of programs that facilitate awareness, understanding, and support. We can’t afford to point the finger or blame. We must take an inventory of self, our anger, our resentments, and our grief and start the process of healing. By defining double consciousness, understanding the dynamic, and becoming aware of its impact, we can slowly start to can change the paradigm to positive awareness, which will create change in our community.
Citations: Aiston, Chevette. “Double Consciousness and Du Bois: Definition and Concept.” Study.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2016. Bruce, Dickson D. “W. E. B. Du Bois and the Idea of Double Consciousness.” American Literature 64.2 (1992): 299-309. Web. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1993. Print.

Defining Pan-Africanism

Defining Pan-Africanism is a complex task due to the intricate nature of its being, but can best be described as a philosophy which advocates for the fellowship of Africans in culture, politics, and ideology. One of the founders of Pan-Africanism in its modern form is a man named Henry Sylvester-Williams. In 1897 he created what was called then called the African Association while in England in order to promulgate the interests of African people and the horrid injustices they were facing around the globe, and later organized the first Pan-African Conference. While Sylvester-Williams was an originator of Pan-Africanism, possibly its most prominent leader was Kwame Nkrumah, a teacher, politician, and activist who was vital in helping Gold Coast (now Ghana), secure its independence from the British empire. As the country’s Prime Minister, he held up Pan-African values by working to establish cultural and educational opportunities for men and women alike.Pan-Africanism was championed by men like Nkrumah, but the ideology has taken on other forms over time, including Afrocentrism, which in basic terms is an outlook that calls upon people of African heritage to appreciate and acknowledges traditional African values, which were thought to have been pushed to the side or outright ignored in the face of European slavery.Modern Afrocentrism is an intellectual and academic ideology which has its roots in the United States following the end of the Civil War and the new freedoms afforded to slaves, who worked to create their own communities and become educated. American civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois is often credited with coining the phrase, but today, the individual most associated with Afrocentrism is Molefi Kete Asante, professor of African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.One of the often heard criticisms levied at Asante and Afrocentrism in general, is that it is a pseudoscience, which is defined as a system or claim that is supposedly scientific but does not adhere to the scientific method. Critics have said that Afrocentrism shouldn’t be rooted in academia because it promotes historical inaccuracies, vague generalizations, and racism, which are all counterproductive. Instead, the proper methodology should be used in order to understand fully and gain awareness of the history of African people. Despite, Afrocentrism continues to thrive as a sound practice which supports the scientific method,  defined as a formula which develops an hypothesis, experimentation, gathering the data, and then examining it to form a conclusion. Pseudoscience, on the other hand, does none of this, and in fact, can be extremely dangerous. One need only looks at the denial of the link between H.I.V. and AIDS or the refusal of vaccines and medical treatment for children by their parents to see the truly deadly consequences of pseudoscience. These examples are a reminder that failing to maintain a proper academic standard and balanced approach to intellectual literacy has real consequences, even if they are not yet fully apparent. Rejecting pseudoscience and religious “spookism”  will be important in redefining what it means to be conscious in the true legacy of Pan-Africanism and men like Sylvester-Williams and Nkrumah.

Importance of Science & Technology in the African American Community.

In the present information, age economies are no longer based on industrial manufacturing, but on the creation and distribution of information. This shift in the economy is the reason why it is important for our community to study science and technology in order to become active participants in our growth as a people. Businesses, banking, marketing, communication are all shifting to the online platform and unless people are adept at these technologies they will likely left behind. Today science and technology have become a part of our daily lives, so it’s important that we empower ourselves with the information that will allow us to engineer our destiny. If our goal is truly African Black Power, we have shifted our perspectives and make science and technology an important part of our social process.  According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau ACS study 27% of all African-American men, women and children live below the poverty level compared to just 11% of all Americans. So if do not wake up to the importance of studying science and technology, the percentages will only increase. Over the past three decades, there has been a lot of interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering mathematics). When any economy becomes knowledge based, it becomes important to have equal representation at the table in order to influence the workforce of the future. If there are fewer African American students in STEM, there will likely be fewer opportunities in high-ranking positions, and we will continue to be underrepresented in these influential positions. According to a 2003 study, faculty in science and engineering has only 3.7% African Americans as compared to other Americans which stands at 79% of all science and engineering faculty. Also, a Pew Research Center report released in 2015 shows the significant gap in science-based knowledge among various ethnic groups in the United States. In the survey they asked science-based questions, the average number of whites that answered the questions correctly was 8.5, Hispanics 7.1 and African-Americans scored lower than both these groups at 5.9. According to the National Science Board fewer blacks are opting for science and engineering degrees. In 2011 students that were awarded a bachelor’s degree in these subjects was whites 63% Hispanics 11% and only 9% blacks. Another report, suggests that African-American were less likely than whites or Asians to take advanced science courses. If this gap persists, then the gap in employment and knowledge of these subjects will also continue to rise. We must dispel the notion that it is not in our destiny and the “white science” myth. It is unfair and unjust to teach our children that science is white and have them miss the opportunity to compete in a society where some of the highest paid salaries are in science and technology.  Knowledge of science is not only an intellectual process but also a social and political process. Excluding our children from access to science and technological means we are creating barriers to our progress. In order to be equal partners in a social and political progress, it is important to have equal opportunity in science and technology and become self-reliant in building our community, teaching our children, and creating future opportunities for our youth. There is no doubt that Our community face obstacles that hinder our economic aspirations however, we have to reconsider how science and technology could help us to overcome these barriers. In order to be agents of change, a fundamental change needs to take place on how we view science socially, economically, and culturally. We must prepare our children for the future and value the importance of science and technology as a tool to overcoming systematic racism.
Voices of Fire Nyah

The Dangers of Pseudoscience!

Pseudoscience is a burden on society that causes misinformation and hinders growth. In the pan-African community, we strive to shed light on the misled and disarm pseudoscience. The word pseudo is defined as “not genuine; a sham.” From just the name it’s easy to work out that pseudoscience is a fake science however different types of pseudo-sciences manage to brainwash people every day into trusting in potentially harmful myths.One of the worst myths affecting the pan-African community today comes from Nicholas Wade. Wade published “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History” in 2014. In this book, Wade discusses how different races are genetically superior to be more gifted in certain areas and also have specific personality traits.  For example, Wade believes that Europeans are forward thinking and successful while Africans are impulsive and quick to consume everything they have. By spreading misinformation to the masses, Wade stunts the growth of our communities by making them ignorant. You need to be able to think critically to develop, and pseudoscience thrives on black and white thinking.When creators of pseudo-sciences trick their followers into blindly following unsupported claims, the supporters begin to think about things in black and white. This concrete thinking style is closed off and prevents people from being open to change. By spreading black and white thinking amongst its followers, it severely dampens their potential to be innovative as they aren’t able to look outside their set beliefs. By striping people of some of their creative potential we rob society of potential innovations. Pseudoscience can often act like a cult; creators focus on trying to convince you that only they know the truth and anyone that doesn’t share their beliefs are dangerously ignorant. Creators of these false sciences want support for their beliefs. They want you to blindly follow them as they lack the proof to back their claims. This leads to a massive separation from a community as a wedge is split between them and pseudoscience followers to prevent their beliefs being challenged.Wade’s work is nothing short of scientific racism; it not only spreads ignorance but also promotes racial inequality. By promoting the idea that certain races are superior to others, he deprives people of opportunities. Once the belief of racial superiority begins to take root in people’s minds then discrimination rears its ugly head. Suddenly the color of your skin might give you a disadvantage at a job interview or from getting into the school you want. Even though pseudoscience can seem innocuous due to its ridiculous sounding beliefs and lack of scientific evidence, it is a dangerous threat lurking in the shadows. The lies and prejudices manage to worm their way into people’s heads through repetition and peer pressure come out subliminally through discriminative thoughts and actions. Don’t take my word for it, though, go out and research it; By questioning and researching everything and always keeping an open mind you can help fight pseudoscience.

Nyah Amara

The Voices of Fire purpose is to educate, inform, and the persuade the reader towards adopting a more sound approach to our history/information with the overall goal of redefining what it means to be conscious.