Habari Gani! The rain is falling in South Jersey as I write on my phone next to my sleeping family. I'm cared to look at the kitchen at the carcasses of the dishes we devoured on our first night of Kwanzaa, but excited to walk through the echoes of songs, poems and stories shared, kisses, hugs and praises. I'm reflecting on the second principle of Kwanzaa on this second day, Kujichagulia, which means self-determination.
I've heard it said that people will become what we define them as. If someone is defined as a kind and smart person by others than that is what they will become, if someone is defined as a monster then that is what they will become. Well, in my life I've been defined in many ways. What most comes to mind of course is the negative. When I was younger, a lot of my Black peers didn't like how I talked or acted. They would say I was an Oreo, Black on the outside but white in the middle. While it hurt, it mostly was confusing, because even if I didn't talk like them, I still effected by the acts of racism which was New Jersey in the '90's. I still looked for truth in hip hop. I still locked up my hair and I was still Black.
Interestingly, recently I was told that someone had called me an Uncle Tom, all because I don't yell on FaceBook at business owners in the town I live in who haven't written a letter of solidarity to the local chapter of Black Lives Matter. First off, anyone who knows me knows that yelling at people is not really in my spirit. The hearing of this news hit me in a strange way, the 5 year old Tai Amri was probably still hurt by the news, but 36 year old Tai Amri's basic self was mad and wanting to fight. Like, say that to my face and watch what happens, I'll show you Uncle Tom. 36 year old Tai Amri's Highest Self however thought, "Who cares, just keep being your Highest Self."
Now maybe if I didn't have the Highest Self voice, I would revert to my basic self and to find the person show them how loud I can yell. Or if I didn't have the basic knowledge of self I could take those words as my definition, say to myself that I don't belong in the Black world, it won't accept me and I should stop trying. And then I wouldn't be calling people together to meditate on the principles of Kwanzaa, I wouldn't be helping to build African altars, calling to remember Black ancestors, reciting poems of love to the Black Lives that I love around the country, reminding people on who's backs we stand on and to helping people to understand the African deities of the Yoruba people and the teachings of African priest Malidoma Somé. But no see, I know who I am and I know I get to define myself, and I am a Black freedom fighter and my ONLY weapon is love.
And when people try and tell me that the Black Lives Matter Movement is a misguided movement, filled with negativity and misguided anger, I will tell them no, I AM Black Lives Matter, and I am filled with the love and pain of my ancestors. We are the Actors and Co-Creators of our reality, nothing comes into being without us. Don't let anyone else decide what you are, throughout every fiber of my bones my ancestors tell and remind me of my Ashe, which is, my Power To Be. Ashe.