Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.

Juneteenth.com

What is Juneteenth

The War on Drugs

When the government declared a “war on drugs” we learned that this meant a race war on black and brown communities.

Families were separated from each other as many fathers, sons, and brothers were locked away. Harsh and long prison sentences were handed down to black and brown victims, filling public and private prisons with non-violent people. The sentences were not just served by those arrested but also by their children and families who depended on them developmentally and financially. The irreparable damage done to families and communities of color can never truly be measured as prisons are still filled today with non-violent marijuana sellers and consumers. 

drug laws

Who is affected by/ still in prison from War on Drugs

  • People of color experience discrimination at every stage of the criminal legal system and are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced and saddled with a lifelong criminal record. This is particularly the case for drug law violations.
  • Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latino.
  • Research shows that prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for Black people as for white people charged with the same offense. Among people who received a mandatory minimum sentence in 2011, 38% were Latino and 31% were Black.
  • Black people and Native Americans are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than other racial or ethnic groups. They are often stereotyped as being violent or addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Experts believe that stigma and racism may play a major role in police-community interactions.
  • Simple marijuana possession was the fourth most common cause of deportation for any offense in 2013, and the most common cause of deportation for drug law violations. More than 13,000 people were deported in 2012 and 2013 just for marijuana possession.

https://drugpolicy.org/issues/race-and-drug-war

Michael Thompson-

By now many of us are familiar with the unjust case of Michael Thomson, a black man who served 26 years of his life in prison for selling weed. Mr. Thomson was a victim of the war on drugs which has been proven to be a product of systemic racism. Though marijuana is widely mainstream and used by many Americans openly, Michael Thomson was subjected to lose half of his life for selling it. Even after the plant was made legal for medicinal and recreational use, he still sat in prison, a non violent man with a family. Police and government officials in Michigan refused to release him though social justice groups, and community members campaigned for his freedom. Only after recently on January 28th after years of petitioning and social media coverage was Michael Thomson set free. But we can only imagine the physical and psychological damage he must have endured and still faces after spending half of a lifetime behind bars for selling a medicinal herb. The war on drugs was the war on minorities who risked their lives and freedom in what is now a booming industry dominated by whites and tech companies looking to capitalize on the next gold rush. 

https://www.freemichaelthompson.com/



Blacks make up 13% of the US population and are consistently documented by the US government to use drugs at rates similar to those among people of other races. However, Blacks account for nearly one-third of drug arrests and roughly 45% of those incarcerated in state and federal prisons for drug law violations.

https://ireta.org/resources/the-war-on-drugs-has-damaged-black-communities-and-deepened-racial-bias/

 Bloomberg and  Giuliani’s Stop and Frisk policy in NY

The war on drugs also had an equally racist counterpart called “Stop and Frisk” a policy created and supported by NY Mayors and Law enforcement that gave racist police the green light to harass, arrest, and destroy the lives of anyone they saw fit, mainly black and brown people.

Bloomberg stood behind the program, which gave New York police officers sweeping authority to stop and search anyone they suspected of a crime, even after a federal judge ruled in 2013 that it violated the constitutional rights of minorities. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/17/us/politics/michael-bloomberg-speech.html

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that Black and Latinx communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. At the height of stop-and-frisk in 2011 under the Bloomberg administration, over 685,000 people were stopped. Nearly 9 out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent. 

https://www.nyclu.org/en/stop-and-frisk-data

The war on drugs became so financially beneficial for law enforcement that they expanded it into LA highschools.

You’ve probably seen or heard of the movie 21 Jump street, were two undercover cops pose as highschool students, well that really happened! During the war on drugs LA police went undercover at 3 Los Angeles highschool for a drug sting operation. Police would dress like students, gain the trust and friendship of “loners” , “outcasts”, and any child they assumed would be an easy target, then they’d coerce them into either purchasing or selling marijuana or illegal drugs. These organized police entrapments led to more than 30 arrests and convictions of minors, whose criminal records follow them for life.

https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/under-the-radar-why-some-high-schools-are-hiring-undercover-police-officers

A retired LA Deputy Chief of Police who now opposes the Drug War was interviewed in the video explains:

Every drug bust is another notch on the quota wheel. It helps police departments get federal grants, it helps them get equipment, it helps them get SWAT teams built up, it helps them participate in task forces, it pays overtime, it helps them get asset sharing, it brings millions of dollars into their departments, that are basically police-led slush funds. So there are too many financial incentives in the Drug War for them to say anything other than “Gee, we made a big bust at the high school.”

https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/drug-war-out-of-control-police-in-ca-arrested-autistic-special-needs-high-school-students-in-undercover-sting/

Deep Dive Into Black History

His-Story vs. What Really Happened

Chinua Achebe, the prominent Nigerian novelist and essayist said in a 1994 interview with the Paris Review, “There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”t.ly/J4V5

 

What we were taught:

History has always stated black history with the time of slavery. And while this was a truly transformative time that we can not forget, let’s always remember that before we were enslaved, we were Kings and Queens, priests and scholars, Master of Medicine and world renown artist and rich with culture.

What they didn’t tell us:

What were we doing before the colonizers/missionaries came to our land? What were our beliefs? What were our traditions? 

We were not only thriving, but we were the center of the world!

black history

Let’s take it way way back...

As master hunters and farmers, we cultivated the diverse terrain, domesticated wild animals, mastered iron smelting, and became the world’s most sought-after empire, The Kingdom of Kush.

Early Egyptians and Kushites lived in neighboring regions, and shared similar spiritual beliefs and cultural traditions. They used the same hieroglyphic alphabet while speaking separate but similar languages.

“Historic Egypt emerged as a unified country, with its own system of writing, towards the end of the fourth millennium BC. It rapidly became the seat of a brilliant civilization in which flourished philosophy and literature, architecture and art, science and medicine, administration, and social organization. From ancient times, thanks to the country’s situation on the Mediterranean coast, the Egyptians made increasingly numerous contacts with Europe.  The contribution made by Egypt to Western culture enriched civilization as a whole.”

https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000080987

"As master hunters and farmers, we cultivated the diverse terrain, domesticated wild animals, mastered iron smelting, and became the world’s most sought-after empire, The Kingdom of Kush."

African Spirituality

African spiritually was the basis of these cultures and was taught to all. African spirituality was holistic and included the mind, body, and spirit. This meant that everyone was taught by the high priest to know astrology and understand the nature of the world they lived in, they were scholars of mathematics, agriculture, mechanical and material engineers. They were the pioneers of medicine and understood the human body with preventative natural and spiritual healing methods that are still used by mainstream medicine today. They were taught and maintained a close relationship with God and all things divine and shared their knowledge of all their knowledge with every member of their community.

“Priests, priestesses, singers, musicians, and others performed many different rituals at the temple and in the temple complex. One important feature of temples was the institution known as the Per-Ankh (House of Life) which was part library, writing center, scriptorium, conference center, and institute of higher learning. Religious and medical texts were written, copied, studied, and discussed there, and it may have been where young priests and doctors were educated. Besides activities at the Per-Ankh, rituals were performed to honor lesser deities associated with the main god of the temple, to honor deceased kings, queens, or other people of note, and to ensure fertility and health in the land.”

https://www.ancient.eu/article/1026/clergy-priests–priestesses-in-ancient-egypt/

The Kingdom of Kush

The Kingdom of Kush became the center for knowledge and spirituality, many bordering nations traveled to this empire seeking holistic knowledge and understanding including the ancient Romans, Greeks and more. These European nations studied with the African priest and took their acquired learning back with them to their people. 

 

Kingdom of Kush

“The Greek presence in Egypt made itself felt in the early seventh century BC through mercenaries serving in the Egyptian armies and merchants who setup trading posts in various towns of the Delta. Greek philosophers, historians and geographers followed them, dazzled by Egyptian civilization with its gigantic monuments, its beliefs and its wealth of knowledge. The Greek astronomer, philosopher and mathematician, Thaïes of Miletus, is said to have brought back the 365-day solar calendar from Egypt at the end of the seventh century BC. The Athenian statesman Solon (c.640-560BC) visited Egypt at the time when, according to Herodotus, the Sixteenth-Dynasty king Amasis II promulgated a law under which each Egyptian was obliged to make an annual declaration of income and return it to the governor of the province. Any person guilty of illicit gains was condemned to death. Solon had an identical law adopted in Athens. Another Greek historian, Diodorus of Sicily, recounts that Lycurgus( legendary king of Sparta) drew inspiration from Egyptian legislation,as did Plato.

As regards religion, the cult of Isis and Osiris(Serapis,in its Ptolemaic form), and of their son Horus-Harpocrates, was widely adopted in the Graeco-Roman world. The legend of Osiris, based on belief in the after life of the soul in a  better world, has strong popular appeal, since it promises salvation to all, a concept lacking in the official worship of the Greek and Roman divinities. To the Greeks, Isis was the incarnation of destiny, since she succeeded in freeing herself from the control of the gods and there by acquired absolute power.”

https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000080987

Women in Ancient African Cultures:

What were women’s roles in African cultures?

If you research the narrative around women in Christianity and compare that to the narrative around women in African spirituality, you’ll see that women have been pushed women into a lesser than and spiritually/mentally weaker than role, whereas African spirituality shines brightly on the strengths and intelligence of its women.

Christianity teaches that Eve (the first woman) disobeyed God and convinced her obedient husband Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, casting all mankind into sin and forever being the reason for all humanities suffering.

Greek mythology teaches that all of mankind’s problems stems from Pandora’s Box

Female fictional figures in western culture are depicted as menacing and dubious. Mermaids are known as deceiving sirens that lure sailors to their death, witches disguised as beautiful temptress’ that cast evil spells.

African culture tells an entire different story of women.

“Throughout Africa and beyond in the diaspora caused by the slave trade, the divine feminine was revered in the forms of goddesses like the ancient Nana Buluku, water spirits like Yemaya, Oshun, and Mami Wata, and the warrior Oya. The power of these goddesses and spirit beings has taken root in the West. New Orleans, for example, is the home of Marie Laveau, who used her magical powers to become the “Voodoo Queen” of New Orleans.”-Orishas-Goddesses-Voodoo-Queens

 

https://g.co/kgs/5WtmDW

Black History

Queen Nzinga: War queen who fought off colonizers looking to enslave her people.

“Queen Nzinga’s lived and reigned in a time of colonial conquest and conflict between indigenous groups. The Portuguese had become preoccupied with the Ndongo Kingdom as a source of slaves and with expanding the colony of Angola. Through her clever manipulations of the Portuguese, the Imbangala and the Dutch, Nzinga was able to dominate Kimbundu politics for 40 years.

Queen Nzinga of Angola is one of the most celebrated African women to resist European colonization. Nzinga Mbande led four decades (1620s to 1660s) of warfare against the Portuguese in Angola.” 

http://www.africanfeministforum.com/queen-nzinga-angola/

African Culture

Ashanti Queen Abla Pokou

Black History Matters

 

“During the expansion of the Ashanti, many subgroups were forced to recognise themselves and submit to the Ashanti Empire fully. Princess Pokou found it unnecessary that the Empire wanted more power and control. The dispute led to war, and Princess Pokou decided to migrate with her priest, her son and a group of willing Ashantis to new territory.

 Vowing never to return home, she moved with her people Westward from the Ashanti Kingdom towards the Komoé river. The small group successfully reached the Komoé river but were unable to cross knowing that it had crocodiles in it. This is where the legend starts:

The Queen looked at her priest and asked what sacrifice could be made to the genie of the river in order to open a way. The priest replied that only an offering of what was most dear to them would convince the genie to create a route. Having heard that, the women of the court, including the queen, started to take off all their jewelry for offering while the men, gave the livestock. There, the priest stopped them and insisted that what was most dear to them was their sons.

At that moment, the queen untied her son from her back and said; “Kouakou, my only child, forgive me, but I have understood that I need to offer you to the river for the survival of our people. More than a woman or mother, a queen is first a queen!” and then, without shedding a tear, offered him as a sacrifice to the River.

 Once the offering was made, a path appeared, allowing the queen and her people to cross. Some historians claim that a big tree bent over to let the Queen and her people cross, while other versions state that a group of hippopotamuses lined up a path across the river.

 Once the river was crossed, the queen said, “BA OULI!” meaning “the child is dead.” This will become the name of the people “Baoulé”.

https://www.thekraal.co/history/queenablapokou

CannaArt

A space where cannabis and art come together

For many artists, cannabis has served as a way to enhance creativity. It can open up portals, tap you into deeper senses, help invoke higher states of consciousness and for some, just allow you to chill out and tune in. Not all artists use cannabis, but cannabis has always been an art form.  

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