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”

Life is Stillmatic

Peace, love,and light to the fam! Hope you all are well. I am feeling quite nostalgic after watching “Time Is Illmatic”, the 2014 Nas documentary. Now, let’s flashback to 1994 when Nas’s first album dropped. I was a 13-year-old struggling with issues of family drug abuse, neglect, and poverty. One day as I sat at the kitchen table doing homework, the video for “The World is Yours” came on. I dropped my pencil and became hypnotized by the words. “Understandable smooth shit that murderers move with, the thief’s theme; play me at night, they won’t act right. The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe…”

Quickly I moved to my dresser drawer to see if I had enough money to buy the tape. To my surprise, I did. I jumped on my bike and headed to the record store, praying along the way that the record was not sold out. No, I was not from Queensbridge, but his tales of life in the hood were all too familiar. “Illmatic” was a pivotal record in my youth. I was coming of age in a time where crack was king. Many children were left to fend for themselves or depend on grandparents to care for them. But the music, the hip hop of 1994 was absolutely historical. The music told the untold stories of ghetto life, from the dirty South to the slums of the city. We all were experiencing similar things in life. Nas tapped into the energy. Nas spoke to my soul. He was more gritty than A Tribe Called Quest, but he still flowed effortlessly and with intelligence. His lyricism was crisp, poetical, and poignant. His presence made a huge difference on the scene of hip hop.

People think that I exaggerate when I say that hip hop saved my life. Yo, it is far from a lie. Many times I considered suicide and illegal capers, but hip hop was salve to my soul. “The World Is Yours” gave me hope. I began to visualize my escape from my condition. I knew that life was much more than living in projects and seeing drugs rip your community apart. I knew life was more than drinking, getting high, and having sex. I knew that I was not destined to be a part of the nonsense. I knew life was good and also what you make it. That record is an anthem for me until this very day.

Another of my favorite Nas lines is “Life is good, no matter what, life is good.” It is my creed. I am a child of hip hop. Much gratitude to Nas for his contribution to the art that is hip hop. He may never know the true impact, but “The World is Yours” had a direct impact on the essence of Ashaki Ali.

 

Peace, Love, and Light,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

 

 

 

 

Photo Cred: http://columbiaspectator.com/arts-and-entertainment/2014/10/02/new-documentary-focuses-inspiration-importance-nas-debut

Peace loved ones. As always, I hope and pray you all are well and experiencing joy and peace and all wonderful emotions. This blog post is not going to be like any of the other posts I have ever made before but I feel it is necessary because the issue is pertinent in our community but is often swept under the rug.

Molestation and other sexual abuses of our youth is an issue within our communities and we desperately need to deal with it. The most recent case that has been showing up in multiple online news sites, YouTube, etc involves Afrika Bambataa. Numerous men have raised accusations against him and it is down right sickening. We all are aware of R Kelly and many others who have seemingly gotten away with this very disturbing crime.

I personally was molested as a child—once by an older childhood friend and on another occasion  by a friend of our family who was like an uncle to me. I was raped at age 20 by a childhood friend. It has taken me years to speak those words or allow myself to acknowledge what really was done. Initially, I denied the feelings of insecurity and ugliness I felt.  I denied those things have even happened. I drank terribly and numbed myself to the buried memories. But, I realize that I needed to deal with it. I needed to cry, scream, to feel. The predators who took away my preciousness and exposed me to their disgusting desires deserve punishment, not protection.

The bravery of all of those who have been through these situations is very encouraging. I realize that their courage has inspired me. But, I also realize that we as a community must confront this issue. We cannot continue to speak out about oppression and liberation if we are not honest and brave enough to deal with the ugliness that lives under our own roof. Many of these predators live in our communities, some in our own homes. They attend the mosque or the church. They are uncles, aunts, cousins, sisters, brothers, fathers. I personally do not care what position they hold, what their reputation is, how popular they are, how much money they have. They need to be exposed and dealt with—point, blank, period. And those that are victimized, should be supported, loved, and never intimidated for their truth. Children are the reward of life as the old African proverb says. We have failed as a community, leaving the blameless emotionally scarred and sometimes they even become abusers themselves. Let us be accountable. For the brothers and sisters who have spoken out, much love and respect to you and to those who protect the predator, remember that Karma will find you. Let’s break this vicious cycle and end this wickedness once and for all!

 

 

Ankh, Udja, Seneb (Life, Health, & Prosperity),

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

The Tru Lioness

 

Photo cred: Michael Ackerman

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia

What is nostalgia? It is the feeling of times past, the memories that we hold dear, the sounds, smells, sights, that evoke emotions and comfort from years gone by. Music is like a time machine, taking you back to the exact moment you made eye contact with your first love, or when your mother told you that your father died, or when you went on your first date. Nostalgia has been a good feeling, like grandma’s blankets keeping you warm on a freezing winter night, like the first time my first love held my hand gently in the living room of my mother’s house, like the warm embrace of my grandfather. These days of my life are filled with hard work, serious decision making, as well as intense pressure. My memories are a soft place to fall, a place of love and peace. I am no fool and I know not to place more value on my past than I do on my future, but when I am going through difficult times, I will time travel and take a vacation from today.

I will be 35 years young this upcoming March. It seems strange because I do not feel like I am that old! However, I am grateful to still be on this physical plane today. So many loved ones and friends have transitioned so I am very grateful for this physical life this time around. The memories of those who have gone on before me hold many keys to lessons I am learning right now so I analyze the lessons and wisdom shared.

Life is very cyclical, as is the universe. Things will come full circle in life and to add to that, lessons will continue to reappear to you if you do not learn the lesson the first time. I also realize that the reason that I am perpetually a joyful person is because I have effectively been able to hold onto the “good” vibrations of my past which permeates my spirit and oozes from my aura. I am able to relate to so many different types of people because I have chosen to be an open spirit, to actually see people as they are authentically, because I do not walk in pretension.

One day I will be gone from this life—physically I will be no more. It is my hope that my spirit evokes periods of nostalgia and lessons for those I am connected to; that vibrations of peace, love, harmony, balance, and joy follows them wherever they are and that they have wisdom to realize that it is divine communication between my spirit and theirs. Peace to the ancestors that communicate with me daily.