Racing Ahead

Greetings fam! I hope all is well. Today, my youngest daughter and I created a beautiful memory together. We ran a 5K together! Now to bring this into perspective, my daughter is 10 years old and I have not run an entire 5K in 5 years. But nevertheless, we did it and I am filled to the brim with joy. As I sit here tonight, I have a few thoughts that I want to share (of course!)

  1. Mind over matter really works (sometimes)- My daughter has trained for 2 months for this 5K. I kept telling myself that I would train. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am pretty active. I do go to the gym as often as possible and I am a yogi. I also eat pretty healthily. However, I never trained. I knew that I would push myself to be in place for my daughter and that is just what the hell I did!
  2. Our children are truly watching, and they do want our support and approval. My daughter is very headstrong and opinionated (not unlike her mother). I never have considered that she was modeling my behaviors until today. I have always loved to run and be active. Watching her run by my side, in step, and with a look of sheer determination was heartwarming. Once we crossed the finish line, I felt how much she needed my encouragement and how much she appreciated my presence.
  3. Lastly, I got to see #blackgirlmagick in action. The young queens represented themselves so well. They were all so positive, so lovely, so determined. It was inspiring to be a part of the conglomerate. I have a desire to begin to work more with our girls. Today, the fire was stoked!

 

 

Peace,

Ashaki

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Seeking the Past & Looking Towards the Future

Greetings fam! Willing all is well with you all today on this beautiful Sunday. I spent my Saturday with my children. I took The Tribe (my affectionate nickname for my children) first to the Charlotte Museum of History. They were having a free event in which we able to tour the property of the first magistrate of Mecklenburg County. He was also a slave owner and the descendant of the household cook, spoke on her journey of discovering her ancestor.

As we made our way up to the house, I instantly felt the heaviness of the spirits on the grounds. The house was made of stone and we learned that the house was built by the slaves and that the actual stone had to be blasted from the ground and pieces laid to build the house. When we entered the house, the dank smell overtook us and I could “see” how this magistrate and his family lived. He owned many acres of land and the slave quarters have not yet been discovered, yet we know they existed. I could feel the remnants of times past, the extreme weight of oppression, and how many of us continue to carry those burdens from their ancestors.

I strive to show proof to my children of our illustrious past but also the ugliness of all that has been done to us. I need for them to know their history, the roots in which they sprang from, the journey we continue to travel.  Knowing the type of people that you come from is so important because how can you know where you going if you don’t know where you came from.

I began many years ago, researching, digging, and seeking my ancestors. I have found many different characters, discovered some hard truths, and found peace in my discoveries. Some of the history was painful, some triumphant, but all of it helped to create the person that I am today. I stand on the shoulders of those who passed before me. I weep for their struggle and I smile at their tenacity. May peace be upon their spirits.

Visiting historical sites has always been important to me. I enjoy digging into the past and seeing how far we have come but also realizing how much further we must go. May you seek the past with determination as well and find more of yourself.

 

Peace, Love, & Abundant Light,

Ashaki

 

Photo cred: Literary Hub

Rest Well Grandma…

Peace, love, and light everyone. Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the day my grandmother was tragically killed. That day is still as vivid as it was then, though the emotions are not as raw. I miss her so very much. I think of her every single day and am so grateful to have had her as a grandmother.

I almost did not write today but I decided just a few minutes ago to share one of my favorite memories of her. When I was about three years old, she took me to a store with her. I saw a doll that I wanted but then I decided that I wanted ice cream. Grandma Lillie told me that I could only have one or the other , not both. “Be sure of what you really want, “ she said.

I chose the ice cream but after the cone was empty and I had devoured the tasty treat, I wanted the doll. I began to cry and stomp my little feet. My grandma was having none of it. She warmed up my posterior right in the middle of the street! I was so mad or so I remember. She took me home and I went to bed fuming.

Later that night, Grandma came to see me but I was asleep. When I woke up, the doll was in the bed next to me. That was classic Grandma Lillie. She would chastise you and then show you how unconditional her love truly was. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for you if she loved you. When my grandmother sang “My Girl” to me, she meant it. Her love has carried me through a lot of pain, despair, and hard times.

The kindness that she showed me and to so many others was a true testament to the beauty that humanity can be. I have spent most of my life trying to understand how a woman who had so little could continually give so much. I will forgive sing praises about the woman who held me when I had night terrors, fed me nourishing food when I was hungry, and encouraged me when I was struggling with life.

Rest well Grandma Lillie. I will never let your memory die.

 

Ashaki

Happy bEarthday Daddy!

Peace and blessings fam! I do hope all is well with everyone. Today is my father’s bEarthday, as well as the great Marcus Mosiah Garvey. I wanted to share a few fond memories as well as lessons that I learned growing up. My father was killed on a worksite at age 47. He left behind a large family and many friends but his legacy continues.

My father, Rev. Alexander Jackson Jr. was a very strong man—strong in his body and his mind as well. I love books, reading, research, and so did he. He believed that reading was essential to life—as essential as air is to breathing. I remember catching him watching me read one summer evening. I asked him what he was looking at and he just smiled and told me to keep reading.

I learned how men should treat their children and wife. He was very loving and affectionate. He made sure that his house was taken care of, that his woman was well cared for and worry free, and that his children’s needs have been met. The love he had for his family was apparent in his eyes and his interactions.

My father’s charitable spirit is what I think about very often, as I strive to give back to my own community. I can remember vividly him repairing poor people’s houses for free. It takes a huge heart to give so freely and I am so proud to have been born to a man who saw people in need and took it upon himself to give of himself.

I could go on and on about my daddy. I could tell you how his eyes change colors when he was angry or how he teased about being a member of the Mandinka tribe. I could reminisce about holidays gone by and how he always told me how I looked just like his mother. But, I won’t. I will end my reminiscings with this…

I love and miss you daddy. You are still the best!

 

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

AKA “Baby Girl”

20 Years As a Mother…..

Peace, love, and light fam! I hope all is well with you all on this Friday. Today is a very special day—this is my eldest Sun’s 20th bEarthday. I can hardly believe he is 20! He is happy, healthy, doing well, and progressing in his life. There is a time when I was unsure of how my life would be at this time in my life. I gave birth to him when I was 16. My sweet sixteen was a very sad day, filled with eye rolling, teeth sucking, and resentment sent towards me.

My sun’s biological father was not involved at all during my pregnancy or after. My mother constantly threatened me with foster homes, group homes, taunting that she would “turn me over to the state”.  I was told by a guy at school that I should “get rid of it”. I was told by a few friends that their parents told them they couldn’t be my friend anymore because I was pregnant. I felt like a complete and utter failure; a pariah. But, my spirit is strong and resilient, so I resolved to be a great mother and make things work for my baby and I—no matter what.

I gave birth on July 21st, 1997 at 2:51 a.m to a 7 pound, 2.9 ounce beautiful, big-eyed boy that I named Shamar Malik DeBerry. He was perfect in my eyes. Being a teenage mom had its challenges, but I persevered.  And there were many bruises and bumps along the way. He almost died from an illness when he was 7 months, I was in an abusive relationship, which put us both in danger at times. I have been homeless and had to send him to live with family for 6 months once. I worked too much and wasn’t present as much as I had liked to have been.. We have literally lost everything and rebuilt many times over the years.

But, I never lost the determination I had that told me every morning “things will get better”. And over the years, they have. I had to grow up before I gave birth to him. My life has been filled with dysfunction, pain, death, and disorder. But, my life has also been filled with love, joy, triumph, life, light, and abundance. This sun is now a man and I am very proud of what he is doing right now. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. But is being a mother to him and my other 5 children worth it? Absolutely yes. I know I am a better individual because of them. They are the light in my life. They are my motivation. And if I could turn back the hands of time, I would still be the mother of the Tribe.

 

Have an awesome weekend!

 

Peace, Love, and Abundant Light,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

The Results Are In!

Peace fam. To say that I am overwhelmingly excited would be an understatement this morning. A few months ago, I submitted my DNA to be tested for my ancestral lineage. I have always wanted to know what countries my bloodlines led to but had never taken the time or resources to do so. As you may or may not know, I am legally changing my name from my birth name. I love my family, no doubt, but my attachment to a name that is not reflective of my lineage, heritage, or lifestyle (among other things) led me to want to choose a name more in line with the life I am building and the legacy I am leaving behind. Thus, you have Ashaki, a West Afrikan name that means beautiful.

Well, let me get to it. Drumroll please lol! I received my results last night. My DNA is a combination of Cameroon/Congo, Nigeria, Benin/Toga, and Senegal. I only have 8% European (and a message from Ancestry saying that it is a “low confidence region). Anyway, I am highly honored to be one of the few Afrikans living in Amerikka that actually knows their origins. I am also very happy to have found some family that share DNA with me. I also reviewed the birth records of my paternal grandfather online which showed where he was born in Jamaica, as well as the birth date of my maternal great-great grandfather, who was born in 1886. How amazing this journey of self discovery is!! I was moved to tears looking at the military records of my great grandfather, the census of my maternal great grandfather, as well as other documents.

I am piecing together history for my descendants. They will know where they come from. We are resilient, we are strong, we are Afrikan!! I have been under reconstruction now for months, learning who I am as a woman, finding my weaknesses, my strengths, my shortcomings, my quirks. I have been taking care of self. Now, I am finding out parts of myself that I did not know existed. Thousands of years ago, my ancestors in Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal were living, loving, working, and dreaming. I am my ancestors wildest dreams. I am my ancestors. I am back.

 

Hetepu,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

Celebrating Junior

Peace & blessings fam! Seems like it has been eons since I have written but I write everyday, I just do not always blog it, post it, or even put pen to paper. Anyway, my life has changed so much over the last few months—from losing a brother, deciding to bring some things to a close, turning age (36!!), and beginning a new business. I am learning more and more about myself and it is not always easy to look at yourself and love yourself inside and out. Anyway, tomorrow is a very special day. It is the day my baby brother would have turned 33 years old.

It is hard to believe that my brother transitioned from this life 23 years ago, exactly 6 days before his 11th bEarthday. I sometimes can see glimpses of him in my two youngest sons- from the smirk on my baby’s face that he has worn from almost birth to the need to be outdoors as much as humanly possible that my 7-year-old exhibits. My brother is ever present. Memories of him have not faded and some are more distinct than others.

One of my favorite memories of my brother was from a few weeks before his transition. My mother used to work the late shift so he and I would be home alone a lot even during his sickness. Anyway, he and I would watch movies until bedtime. He began to tell me how he knew he was dying and that he knew we were trying to hide the truth from him. I felt tears well up in my eyes and I thought he couldn’t feel my pain because I was dying inside myself. I had just had to bury my father after he was killed in a work related accident and my brother was nearing his time. There was no joy to be felt during that time. I felt very hopeless. And then, my brother helped ease my heart. He told me that I should not be sad because he was not afraid and he was ready to die. He said that each time he closed his eyes angels were there telling him that he was going to be just fine. He told me that he knew that this was just another beginning and that he would not know pain in his new life. I did not understand then, but I fully understand now and my understanding took years.

So, on March 23rd, 1995, my youngest brother, Donald Lovette Johnson Jr. , left his cancer striken 10 year old body and transcended into his new life. He left all the illness, pain, and heartache here on Earth. His spirit lives on no doubt. My brother loved “18 wheelers” (as he called them), riding his red Huffy bicycle, playing outside, and playing NBA Jams. My brother survived having a stroke at 2, brain surgeries, and multiple seizures to live to the ripe age of 10. My brother once kicked my ass for not letting him watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. My brother, who would try to follow me on his bike as I rode mine to my friends’ house and get mad and yell “I’m telling Mama!!” when I wouldn’t let him come. My brother, who knows my secrets, knows life behind the doors of our home, and who I kept safe from knowing more than I felt he could handle. My brother, who we called Junior, left an indelible mark upon my life. I am braver, stronger, more loving, more forgiving, and more grateful for life because of him. So, happy happy bEarthday Junior. Your sister loves you eternally……. March 29th will forever be your day so get ready for cake, a nice plate of food, and other offerings….most of all my love.

 

Hetepu,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

“Andre’a”