By: J.C. Riley #288310
This Black History Month I would like to direct our attention to two people whose work helped mold my perception of myself and where I fit in the world around me. These two wonderful Black Authors are Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannon, lovingly called Doc Ben, and the beautifully expressive spirit, Octavia E. Butler.
Both of these brilliant Black Writers were masters of their craft and unafraid to step outside of the box of societal norms to show people a world other writer’s in their field couldn’t see. One writer, a Historical Genius who exposed the true depth of Black World Power that gave birth to the Classical Civilizations taught of today. The other writer, a Divine Seer, who wrote of a future for Black People that put our Destiny in the Stars, while most writers couldn’t imagine a Black Person being the next President.
When you think of Black Historical Writers many names come up. Many of them hold a dear place in my heart, but of them all Doc Ben holds a particular place above them all. He was the one who detailed the lives of our distant fathers and their place in the world, and gave me an image of who I actually am at the core of my being.
One year during Black History Month, I posed a question to my peers: Name 5 Black Leaders who lived Before Slavery in America. I dread to say there weren’t many who were successful in naming any. This is because Black People aren’t taught that we led the Nations, gave birth to Cultures, and created the World’s Religions. Instead, we’re taught about the first “Black Sky Diver” or the first “Black Burger Flipper” today.
Before I read the tremendously detailed works of Doc Ben I could have never told you about Black Civilization Builders such as King Narmer, Queen Hapshepsut, Imhoptep the Visor, Queen N’Zinga of Matamba (Angola), or the Great General Hannibal Barca of Carthage. Thanks to Doc Ben we know the debt that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam owes to its African Origins, something we aren’t taught openly.
As a young Black Male, incarcerated, with no vision of a future, it was the work of female Science Fiction writer, Octivia E. Butler that opened the eyes of my mind. This dynamic inspirational woman, through works like Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Reaper, stretched my mind to understand that the world never looks the same from day to day. That tomorrow is always an opportunity to give birth to a newer, and better version of yourself… if you harness the force of Change.
It was Ms. Butler who took my mind out of the ‘hood and away from the small concept of Nationalism. Ms. Butler said we are all Earthseed, and our Destiny is in the Stars. She brilliantly expressed that mastery of the World is only our launching pad, and the Universe is our destination.
Thanks to these two great writers, my love for studying and writing about my culture has a rock solid foundation. Doc Ben gave me roots that reach deep into my distant past as a Creator and Nurturer of Nations. Octavia E. Butler provided me with the courage and foresight to write about a glorious future, and see myself in it. I believe we all owe a debt of gratitude to both of these two great Ancestors, and I offer them to anyone who reads these words as pinnacles of Black Excellence, and a source of Inspiration for us all.