Instead of drowning in our failures, errors, and struggles, we are excited about being able to use the new year to symbolize our opportunity to work to correct all of those issues. And, since a significant aspect of African culture is our collective and humanistic tradition, we have to approach anything we do with strong recognition for all those who paved the way for us to get here. So, I'm thinking tonight about the Cuban Revolution which celebrates its 58th birthday on January 1st. Since so many people, especially in the U.S., know absolutely nothing about Cuba, but think they know everything, the 58th birthday should serve as a clue to everyone that a revolution is not an event, but a process. A work in progress. In other words, Cuba has spent the last 58 years working through the problem legacies of hundreds of years of oppression. And, despite so many haters who wish to pin their revolution back to what they did in the 60s, 70s, etc., their victories and progressions are clear proof that they are moving forward. So, I'm thanking Fidel, Che, Vilma, Celia, Camilo, Juan, Frank, Raul, etc., for all their work and sacrifices. You have always been my inspiration and you will continue to be. Thank you for teaching us not to pay the slightest attention to what people think about our struggles because those critciques will do absolutely nothing to help advance our just causes.
I'm thinking about all those Africans who struggled for our liberation. My ideological father - El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, or Malcolm X. His light continues to shine down on me 40 years after I came to know who he was. I'm eternally grateful for his example. I'm grateful for Ahmed Sekou Ture and Kwame Nkrumah. Both of these African ideologues have given me more to think about than anyone else and they have provided a clear blueprint for us to build upon to achieve Africa's salvation - the key to all African people's salvation. You may need further convincing, but my mind is clear on this question. There are obviously so many others. Lumumba, Cabral, Sankara, Peirera, Camara, Shakur, Newton, Ji Jaga, Garvey, Garvey, DuBois, Dubois, Briggs, etc. They breathe life into me every day and I love them for their inspiration and sacrifices.
I'm thinking about Marilyn Buck who I came to know quite closely when she lived. I'm thankful for her guidance and love and I trust that people dig deep to discover her character and commitment.
And finally, I'm thankful to Boahinmaa Omawale. You more than likely don't know who she is because she's not a real person. She's the central charactor in the series of novels I've written and are writing. I'm thankful to her because creating her has taught me an extremely valuable lesson in life. I have experienced so much criticism for creating her - a European woman - and of course, pretty much all of that has come from African people. The lesson is not one of those persons who has waged criticism - none of which ever comes directly to me (it's always over the internet or through other cowardly people) has read either of my books. They are always basing their criticisms on their perceptions of my motivations. Everyone, and that means literally dozens of people, who have read my books have never criticized my creation of Boahinmaa because since they are actually reading the story, they understand the context that she represents. And, this includes African women who have read my books, including my own daughter who helped me edit them. They realize the story isn't necessarily about Boahinmaa as much as it is about all of us. And I know they get that because they communicate that to me, often, and in very personal and heartfelt ways. I love each of these people for their feedback and the lesson I've learned from this is I have to follow my mission in life, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. So, I'm thankful to Boahinmaa because everytime I sit to put a pen to more activities for her, which is practically everyday as I work on my third book in this series, I'm reminded of this important lesson.
The common theme for all of this is 2017 is going to be a life changing year for me. I can assure you of that because its time for me to have that type of year in my life and consequently, I'm determined to make that happen. I've had all the signs to illustrate to me that I need to focus all my energies into making this happen. And, anyone who knows me knows that if I say I'm going to do it, you can take that to the bank. So, they can elect Godzilla if they want. They can throw truckloads of criticisms at my writing. They can slander and verbally assault Fidel Castro all they want. They can distort Malcolm's influence and work. None of that matters one bit because I'm claiming 2017 for me, my people, and humanity. So when you see us coming, if you aren't with us, protect yourself. Get the hell out of our way because we are coming to claim what rightfully belongs to us.