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Tag Archives: self-determination

Octavia E. Butler, And the Power of Determination

In the business world, there is a strategy called the “Self Fulfilling Prophecy”. Ergo, you can’t get that promotion to the executive suite – until you act like you already have it. One of the key steps to that is developing “presence” a self belief in yourself that projects to others. That same “presence” is what defined the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s that a long suffering people had dignity, the right to be treated fairly, and moral clarity.

Octavia E. Butler is best known for her Science Fiction novels, which incorporate aspects of African American spiritualism to create stories woven in deep characters, whose change in response to hardship and rejection chart humanism and the effort to mold the world around us. Her best known work is “Kindred”

Embrace diversity
Unite–
or be divided,
robbed,
ruled,
killed
By those who see you as prey.
Embrace diversity
Or be destroyed.

From “Earthseed: The Books of the Living,”Parable of the Sower.

Octavia E. Butler Wrote The Story Of Her Success Years Before It Happened

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Octavia E. Butler, the Hugo-award winning science fiction writer best known for the novels “Kindred” and “Parable of the Talents.” As an African-American female author in the predominantly white, predominantly male sci-fi landscape, Butler achieved extraordinary success over her decades-spanning career, even winning the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant”.

And now, the release of personal journals from the late novelist has revealed one more extraordinary thing about her success: She wrote it down before it happened.

On Wednesday, the Huntington Library in California published a collection of notes and journal entries written by Butler throughout her lifetime. On one notebook from 1988, pictured below, Butler writes: “I shall be a bestselling writer… each of my books will be on the bestseller lists of LAT, NYT, PW, WP, etc. My novels will go onto above lists whether publishers push them hard or not.”

In addition to writing down affirmations of success, Butler also wrote her plans to “help poor black youngsters go to college” and “help poor black youngsters broaden their horizons.”

Amazingly, Butler would soon find the kind of success she wrote about not long after writing down these affirmations. Many of her novels, including “Clay’s Clark” and “Kindred,” were at the tops of bestseller lists around the world, and earned her honors and accolades including an induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. In 2006, in memory of her death, the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship was founded, providing Clarion Writers’ Workshop scholarships for young writers of color. This year, Butler will be honored in a year-long series of events and exhibitions in Los Angeles celebrating her life and her work. Talk about inspiring.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

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Un-Hyphenate Me! Some Object to African American Label

One of the major changes brought about by Civil Rights was the right of self determination – the ability to decide what to call yourselves.

Some blacks insist: ‘I’m not African-American’

The labels used to describe Americans of African descent mark the movement of a people from the slave house to the White House. Today, many are resisting this progression by holding on to a name from the past: “black.”

For this group — some descended from U.S. slaves, some immigrants with a separate history — “African-American” is not the sign of progress hailed when the term was popularized in the late 1980s. Instead, it’s a misleading connection to a distant culture.

The debate has waxed and waned since African-American went mainstream, and gained new significance after the son of a black Kenyan and a white American moved into the White House. President Barack Obama’s identity has been contested from all sides, renewing questions that have followed millions of darker Americans:

What are you? Where are you from? And how do you fit into this country?

“I prefer to be called black,” said Shawn Smith, an accountant from Houston. “How I really feel is, I’m American.”

“I don’t like African-American. It denotes something else to me than who I am,” said Smith, whose parents are from Mississippi and North Carolina. “I can’t recall any of them telling me anything about Africa. They told me a whole lot about where they grew up in Macomb County and Shelby, N.C.”

Gibre George, an entrepreneur from Miami, started a Facebook page called “Don’t Call Me African-American” on a whim. It now has about 300 “likes.”

“We respect our African heritage, but that term is not really us,” George said. “We’re several generations down the line. If anyone were to ship us back to Africa, we’d be like fish out of water.”

“It just doesn’t sit well with a younger generation of black people,” continued George, who is 38. “Africa was a long time ago. Are we always going to be tethered to Africa? Spiritually I’m American. When the war starts, I’m fighting for America.”

Joan Morgan, a writer born in Jamaica who moved to New York City as a girl, remembers the first time she publicly corrected someone about the term: at a book signing, when she was introduced as African-American and her family members in the front rows were appalled and hurt.

“That act of calling me African-American completely erased their history and the sacrifice and contributions it took to make me an author,” said Morgan, a longtime U.S. citizen who calls herself Black-Caribbean American. (Some insist Black should be capitalized.)

She said people struggle with the fact that black people have multiple ethnicities because it challenges America’s original black-white classifications. In her view, forcing everyone into a name meant for descendants of American slaves distorts the nature of the contributions of immigrants like her black countrymen Marcus Garvey and Claude McKay.

Morgan acknowledges that her homeland of Jamaica is populated by the descendants of African slaves. “But I am not African, and Africans are not African-American,” she said.

In Latin, a forerunner of the English language, the color black is “niger.” In 1619, the first African captives in America were described as “negars,” which became the epithet still used by some today.

The Spanish word “negro” means black. That was the label applied by white Americans for centuries.

The word black also was given many pejorative connotations — a black mood, a blackened reputation, a black heart. “Colored” seemed better, until the civil rights movement insisted on Negro, with a capital N.

Then, in the 1960s, “black” came back — as an expression of pride, a strategy to defy oppression.

“Every time black had been mentioned since slavery, it was bad,” says Mary Frances Berry, a University of Pennsylvania history professor and former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Reclaiming the word “was a grass-roots move, and it was oppositional. It was like, `In your face.'”… (more)

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Black History

 

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