“The 14th Degree and Beyond, Inc. is dedicated to furthering and nurturing the strength of Original Women and children by sponsoring, facilitating, and educating, through classes, publications, and events, throughout the community…"
(Articles of Incorporation, 2001)
"THERE IS NO BEGINNING OR ENDING..."
Oh where to begin… I’m Eboni Joy Asiatic, one of four members of The 14th Degree and Beyond Inc.’s not-for-profit Board of Directors and magazine’s staff. The staff of the Original Thought Meta-Zine asked us to bond with them in order to elevate the Black woman’s collective consciousness, strengthen our bonds, and destroy the tension. So, this blogspot has been established for you, not just to read, but for us to openly converse with each other on issues affecting us as original women – so-called women of color, sistas of the Afrikan Diaspora, the true Asiatics – for us to share in our ideals on how to be better mothers to our young, better wives/Earths to our men, better at keeping house, more skilled at holistic health practices, more apt to adopt refined diets, build a support system for each other, evolve as community builders, and do all of this by empowering each other through the expression of our own original thoughts – those that are distinctly female oriented! My fellow staffers – SciHonor Devotion, Victorious Lanasia, and Queen Civilized Zag – voted me, to my own chagrin (smile), to be the first to spark a build on this here forum, and I will be moderating the board this week until the 31st of the month, and so… this blog’s for you!
Ideally, you’ve already read our home page about who we – The 14th Degree – are and what we represent as a collective, so I’ll just give a brief introduction of myself before I spark this collective conversation. Since we always feel the need to categorize each other, I’ll say that I have been reppin’ the Nation of Gods and Earths for more than 11 years, however, I don’t confine myself to that school of thought or organization alone. My ideals have been shaped and activism heavily influenced, dating back to childhood, by Islam and the NOI, Black Panthers, Atheism, the MOVE Organization, Pan Afrikanism, Black Nationalism, Socialism, Anarchists, Taoism, Buddhism, Rastafarianism, the FTP Movement and more. I consider myself to be a staunch humanitarian, a minimally productive community activist and organizer, an animal rights activist, and a half-assed vegan. I am without question, an early childhood development specialist, educator, holistic health practitioner, social commentator, poet, rebellious daughter, dedicated auntie, nurturing Godmother, loyal sister, loving Queen, and mother of civilization in more ways than one. While I’m at it, let’s keep it all the way live – I’m that no-holds-barred kinda sista who attracts with my directness and passion, as much as I repel when some confuse those traits with being tactless and overly emotional. So, although I will strive to be on my bestest behavior (lol) – here’s my disclaimer – these words are my own, so find no blame in my fellow staffers. As the intent of us all will never be to offend, degrade, embarrass or hinder. Still, brace yourself, and be as open, honest, forward and direct as I know I’m gonna be… but, as I, do it in love… understanding the intent and purpose is ALWAYS to awaken minds, broaden horizons and bridge gaps!
So, enough about me already… good grief!
These labels we place on each other, these boxes we put each other in, we do it based on our individual perspectives gained through observation and experience. However, we – well, let me speak for self – I find that I don’t always consider how another defines herself. I may condemn a sista for coming in the name of “Earth” when she doesn’t fit into my ideal or standard of what it is to BE an Earth. Heck, even to say that that ideal IS a standard teeters the border of self-centeredness. But, I don’t stop to think that her definition of “Earth” ain’t necessarily like mine. I hear a lot of us, sistas who supposedly look like me – with the natural hairstyles, cosmetic free, vegetarian/vegans, in the colorful floor-length skirts and modest blouses – criticize sistas for how they look – wearing shorts, short skirts, or shirts that flaunt their ta-tas, straightening their hair, wearing make-up, rocking tongue rings. But does how a sista dress, wears her hair, and makes-up her body (be it with cosmetics or ornaments) TRULY define her character, her intellect, her righteousness, her civility, and whether or not she is an active participant in the salvation of the Black family? This question is not rhetorical!
In fact, of these desirables (and please, in your response, don’t hesitate to define them as you see them) – to be of good character, intelligent, righteous, civilized, and a community builder – which, if any, is the most important… which, if any, will bring the most relief to our aid? And in considering the answer to these questions, keep in mind that I said “our”, meaning the collective, the whole of original peoples of the Afrikan Diaspora.
I point this out, that I’m speaking about us as a collective, because our responsibility as women is all too often relegated to our Kingdom/Queendom (our individual homes) and our immediate families. Even for my fellow Earths of the NGE, we call ourselves “Nation Builders” – building for the benefit of those who come in the name of Allah, rather than for the Universal Black Family. When our lesson, the Student Enrollment, states that “the Original Man” is “God of the Universe”. And when we take on the title Earth, we are consciously deciding to reflect the righteous Black man who has knowledge of himself, his origins in this world, and his responsibility to man, woman and child. So, in reflecting him, I always considered my responsibility to be to the Universal Black Family, rather than the mere confines of my/our respective households, the men we lay down with, the brothers and sisters we share parentage with, and the babies we carried in our womb.
So, the question I’ve been leading up to, the conversation I want to REALLY spark is – what is the woman’s role in community activism and organizing, in universal building, in teaching the youth whom we did not birth and getting back to the basics of “it takes a village to raise a child”, in reaching and teaching sisters who may not look like us on the outside but have the same potential as us when it comes to taking action (also, learning from them and welcoming correction as well), in respecting, nurturing and loving our brothas even if they are not our “man”, in breaching the threshold of our adopted nations, organizations or schools of thought in order to reach, teach, uplift, train, organize and move/motivate to action the people in the streets, the folks who do not have “knowledge of self”, the folks who don’t even have any concept of character, intelligence, righteousness, civility, nor community building regardless of their outward appearance, those who are the most endangered of species (Black boys, Black youth), those who are the most in need of the healing powers of The Earth, so that – as one of my favorite poets, Margaret Walker, said – “a race of MEN now rise and take control”???
I look forward to the exchange!