The New Year Blessings

The New Year Blessings

May your New Year be blessed abundantly with wealth, wellness, and grace. May your health be uplifted, and all things healed and made new. May your insight search for a deeper clarity of the how and a deeper clarity of the why. May you be made strong of heart and gentile by nature. May you walk in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit. May you taste the softness of Mary Magdalene and the sweetness of the Black Madonna. May you be free of enslavement and pain.

May you breathe deeply. May you be guided by the natural environmental beauties of our planet. May you be of service to your family and to your community. May you harbor self-pride and dignity. May you be sustainable. May you not be afraid of dying or living. May you just BE.

May you be wanted and loved by yourself first. Never needy and desperate for the love of another. May you never run from responsibility. May you have the ability to stand on your own two feet. May you be self-sufficient and brave. May you develop the ability to love over hate. May you develop the ability to appreciate instead of resenting. May you be able to sit in stillness when needed. May you see the God in you. May you develop the ability to be warm instead of cold. May you be all of you and nothing but you. May you be a person of honor.

May you be present and mindful. May you walk with purpose and the determination to make it happen. May you allow your soul to take flight. May you be your true self never allowing yourself to compare you to another or to feel not good enough. May you speak your truth because nothing but the truth will save you.

May you slowly allow the right kind of people into your life. May you be willing to forgive and let go. May you never break your own heart nor disrespect your own personal boundaries. May you stretch as wide as the earth. May you fly with angels customized just for you.

Hitaji Aziz- M.A., RMT, Reiki Master
Trauma Abolitionist, Speaker, Writer
Poet, Life Coach, Holistic Healer

Testimony of the Righteous, In honor of Larcenia Floyd, Mother of George Floyd

Testimony of the Righteous In honor of Larcenia Floyd, Mother of George Floyd A tribute to the resilience of poor, working class women

A tribute to the resilience of poor, working class women 

Act One 

“I knew George Floyd’s mother even though I never met her face to face. I never shared a meal with her, nor did we gossip about our neighbors while waiting for the arrival of the monthly welfare check or being careful not to miss the Metro because we had houses to clean, standing at the bus stop surrounded by the silence of Latino women going to some of the worst jobs in the city. We never said hello and never had the time to say goodbye. No formal introduction would ever happen but at the same time we were tribal sisters with ancient identical tattoos. 

We wore the tattoos of poverty, Spirit, hard work, generational resilience, laughter, single parents, burritos, gospel music, flying bullets, Black eye peas and cornbread, prayers, dreams deferred and a sacred hope when there was nothing to hope for coupled with periodic despair. We kept our heads above the water but mostly we existed under the water with small pockets of air slowly keeping us alive. I knew George’s mother, but I never met her face to face.” 

She and I were the statistical conclusions of governmental research. We were the charted cycles of the marginalized studied in college classrooms across America while members of our families generationally rotated through the American prison system. We were the “New Deal” failed by deficient school systems, food deserts without food justice, racist red lining, brutalized by traumatized police systems, chronic medical disparities, culturally insensitive gentrification of communities not seen as historically worthy. 

Educated people studied us in sanitized United Way board meetings,  preparing for their next funding cycle. We were “section 8 mothers “, meaning that you might have to be a mom and a dad all at the same time because too many families with fathers touched by incarceration would never be allowed  to live in  government  housing. The Section 8 program is a support system for broken families with no intention of those families becoming financially grounded, mentally thriving, or sustainable enough to envision a positive future. 

We were expected to heal the sick as well as tame the wild alone. We were experts at surviving and morphing into distorted versions of ourselves, bonded to section 8 account numbers,  housing inspectors, caseworkers, and slum landlords. We tried over and over to make things better as we tumbled through welfare systems and poverty programs that could not nourish us as mothers fragmented and broken by the constant shock of not having. I never knew George’s mother, but  I will tell you one thing, I knew her pain. I knew her deep disappointments. I knew her feelings of abandonment. 

We were American women rooted in African ways that would never be remembered. We were grounded by the tribal energy of the diaspora, in places where race and class hypocrisies dance well together. Where poverty has always been a generational problem, hand in hand with the mass killings of Black men. The violence of poverty has never been far from the violence of the Black body. Black people dying by the hands of the prison system, by the  hands of White people killing them and by the hands of other people who looked just like them. The journey of the Black body has always needed intensive care. 

Waiting patiently with patriotic foolishness. We were women of color trapped in a romanticized matrix of dreamlike American visions never meant for melanated women who surrender  to life  in marginalized ways. We are the mothers waiting for the next funeral; the next open graves waiting, the next balloon released into blue skies. 

We were colonized  and constantly surrounded by the stress and the fear of whiteness. Each day we bore witness to the systemic manipulation of poor Whites rooted in  Eurocentric brutality based in distorted stories of indentured servitude and racialized traumas used to divide, control, and concur. We noticed the deadly residues of White supremacy through the actions of young White people acting out White family system-trauma- nightmares in bold and dangerous ways. I never met George’s mother, but  I do know that we hungered for reparations and a home, waited for those forty acres of work well done with mule in hand and a place of safety that we can call our own. 

With intention, we will carry the ancestral heartbeats and the resistance of those who came before us, always resisting and fighting to reclaim the humanity of a people. Even when shot in the back with cuffed hands we resisted. We resisted and died while jogging on a sunny day. We resisted by suicide, heart attacks and nervous breakdowns. We  sold cigarettes on corners until we stopped breathing. 

We were magical women resisting, hiding under the sun, birthing new people, disappearing, murdered while sleeping or simply coming from a store eating skittles. We were often accused of resisting while  being suffocated with knees on the neck, quietly whispering,”I can’t breathe. Quietly whispering, you are killing me while echoing the sacred  childlike words of Mama…… Mama…. 

Hitaji Aziz- M.A., RMT, Reiki Master
Trauma Abolitionist, Speaker, Writer
Poet, Life Coach, Holistic Healer

The Old White Polish Woman

The Old White Polish Woman

One late night in the middle of a dream an old White Polish woman told me that this was my world. Yes, she did. She was just there knitting and sitting in a silver rocking chair on the side of my bed covered with the letter X. She wore a red scarf tied under her chin and those orthopedic stockings that old women used to wear. She had on a white dress covered with smaller Xs and a warm matching shawl hanging delicately over her shoulders. She smelled of jasmine and lemon grass. She sat there like she was always there.

She told me that I was the keeper of every valley, every tree, and every butterfly. She told that me I was the keeper and part of every seed that sprouted and every wave that moved across the ocean. And then for a second, she would pause to knit another stitch. She told me that this was my world and that all the people were relatives of this great earth. In the book titled Seven Secrets of Success, Dada Madhuvidyananda , “We then think, feel and act for the welfare of all beings”(p.29). He explains that for one to have balance and success they must act with a kindness to all. She told me that the more that we loved and respected one another the more we would remember who we really were and why we were here on earth. The old White Polish woman told me that love had to start with self-first or it would not be effective.

She told me that we all had signed a contract to come to this great land and that we knew each other before we arrived but had forgotten all that we came with when entering this dominion. We were spirits having a human experience. She rocked in silence again, knitting unknown colors, and then she began to tell me that I had everything that I needed to fulfill my end of the deal. She told me that if I remained willing, I would remember all of who I was before, because this was a part of the great mystery of life on earth.

She went back into her silence rocking and knitting as if she were listening to instructions from some other place that I did not know about. Suddenly, she would slowly open her eyes and begin to instruct me on the beginner’s guide to “How to Save the Earth in Your Lifetime.” She said that all this could really be done if all of us were willing to walk past fear, past false mythology. She said that we had to be willing to critically think and diligently question all situations with faith as the foundation. She said the key for us would be to follow the still small voice inside.

She rocked back into her silence as I waited patiently for her to continue to tell me what I was to do while being a keeper of the earth. She said that all people no matter what their difference were leaders of the earth. She said that the act of remembering would sometimes feel painful for most of us because it would call forth a level of honesty that would radically change our lives. She said that it would feel like a birthing and that a lot of us would resist and die without ever knowing who we really were. She continued to rock like she had always been there.

This story is dedicated to Ms. Anne who was my grandmother’s Polish friend. She was an immigrant with memories of Hitler, struggle, and demanding work. She owned a Polish bar not far from our house. She would share a shot with my grandmother as she poured ginger ale for the little colored girl sitting on the bar stool.

This is for you Ms. Anne and all the hard-working Polish women that I grew up around in McKees Rocks and Pittsburgh, Pa. I honor your spirit and kindness. A deep bow to you and your kind.

Hitaji Aziz “Angels speak to me and through me every day”

My Father’s Silence – A Personal Account of Trauma and its Origins, By Hitaji Aziz

My Father’s Silence – A Personal Account of Trauma and its Origins
Family Constellation therapist Mark Wolynn once said: “Just as we inherit our eye color and blood type, we also inherit the residue from traumatic events that have taken place in our family. Illness, depression, anxiety, unhappy relationships and financial challenges can all be forms of this unconscious inheritance.” The same analysis can be utilized in reference to the history of chattel slavery, trauma and systemic racism in America. It was an inhumane system whose historical attributes can be still found in the American prison systems of today. This history has left hurtful and paralyzing residues of trauma, passed from one generation to the next within African American communities.

There has been long-term collateral damage and an ongoing psychic wound which deserves to be healed with Radical Self-Care and by providing the emotional resources for the personal as well as the collective well-being of African American communities. Mark Wolyn teaches that “traumatic memories are transmitted through chemical changes in DNA”. There is a need to understand the conscious and unconscious inheritance of terror and systemic racism long-term.

Writing “My Father’s Silence” is the short story  about story about my family system. It reflects the epigenetics of a family and the humanity of all families.

My Father’s Silence by Hitaji Aziz

I grew up right outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a town called McKee’s Rocks in the 1950s. McKee’s Rocks was a large Italian community with smaller pockets of old world European immigrants. We also had Gypsies, Jews, one Chinese family and even smaller pockets of Blacks that had migrated from the south and its terrors.

I was born out of one of those Black families that migrated from the same place where they were owned. Their plantation was based in Evergreen, Alabama. The journey was headed by my great grandmother Sally and her husband William Liddell who died just before they reached Pittsburgh in the late 1920s. They were part of the great migration of ex-slaves and Blacks looking for more freedom and less terror. They were running; running hard for their lives, leaving all their possessions, except what they could pack and what they wore on their backs. My father’s family got to there on the same emotional journey, migrating from Atlanta, Georgia; running for a dream called Pittsburgh.

My father, Jack Kirkland, was one the first African American men to be hired in the steel mill near our government owned low-income housing in those days. We called them the “projects” and it was the first time we had an indoor toilet. We lived by the sounds of the steel mills. The sirens of the steel mills were always in the background of our lives. We always knew when the work shift started and when it ended. Being hired in the mill was a big thing for a Black man in those days of the 50s and 60s.

My dad was a chronic alcoholic and wounded so deeply that he had lost all of his social compassions by the time I was born in 1953. He rarely ever smiled and when he did he was usually drunk. If he did smile it was a smile of shame, rage, terror, pain and he would never be able to understand the complexity of trauma and depression that co-created his pain and his living. Today he would be classified as depressed but no one talked about trauma and depression in those days and no one talked about a man being deeply sad, especially a Black man. He was naturally traumatized just by growing up in Georgia in the 20s, 30s and 40s where lynching and terrorist attacks were as common as the air he breathed.

Every working day right after he clocked out you could see him rigidly walking with lunch pail in hand to his mother’s house to start the daily after-work-drinking-binge that would last for hours. His mother, Grandma Vasey ran a “Speakeasy” out of her apartment to make ends meet which was a common activity in our community. He was a man who was bonded to his suffering and chronic depression; sexually addicted and a classic workaholic.

One day he accidentally cut his finger off at the mill and his boss had to force him to leave. Terrified that he would not be able to return, my father was convinced that he could still work with the loss of his finger and needed no medical attention. He was known to be a hard worker, always on time and never late for work yet always late in being a father. On pay day my mother would send me to grandma Vasey’s house to ask him for money. The eighteen dollars taken out of his check was never enough to make ends meet on her disability check she received for having a stroke. My dad always had money for drinking, gambling, women and nothing for a daughter in need. I remember sitting there for hours in a room filled with drunken Black men; silently overwhelmed waiting for him to just notice that I was there while literally watching dollar bills fall out of his pockets. There were no words for “children of alcoholics” back in those days.

My dad lived by a different definition of manhood than the general White population of poor white men; both groups have been historically silent about depression. He had to carry an extra layer of shame by being the grandson of slaves. It was not popular to be a Black man and it was never safe. You could be killed any time and for any reason. Like I said, he grew up poor in Georgia and impending death or the possibility of dying based on race was a norm for Black men.

I understand now why my dad was so messed up. He was profoundly disappointed with life. He was always afraid and brokenhearted. His medication was alcohol, work, women and anything he could do to take the edge off of the rage and terror that walked with him every day. I suspect he was an incest survivor by the way he acted out sexually. His whole world reflected this terror and you could see the same terror in the eyes of his drinking buddies.

My father was one of my first sexual perpetrators along with several of those drinking buddies. Sexual abuse within my family is another story to be told. It was not unusual for them to ask or act like I was his “woman” instead of a young girl in elementary school who looked just like her dad. I was called “little Jack”. He would even pee in front on me on the side of the street. When shopping for school clothes he would not hesitate to steal in front of me. One time I even saw him arrested for stealing. Another time when he tried to steal in a store I started to cry and asked him if Jesus would do that and he stopped although he was pissed off. On top of all of this I would usually end up holding his hand to cross both of us across the street because of his drunkenness. I was my dad’s little mother; a parent, a child and a sexual object.

His sadness usually took on the faces of rage, violence, resentment and coldness; mostly coldness and detachment. Sometime when he was growing up he accepted the message that said that men in general are not considered real men if they showed their true feelings and allowed themselves to become vulnerable. Somewhere and some place shame had taught him as a little colored boy that it was too dangerous to be real and human.

My father grew up with a mixed and confusing message. The historical message was that my dad was a descendent of people who were considered only 3/5 human in the early development of this country, so how could he ever be a good-enough-man; there was an energetic ceiling placed on his humanity. The other part was that as a man you were not shown how to own your own devastation as a human other than acting it out in destructive ways. Yet another part was about their sexism and that women were often objectified as a form of medication.

He internalized this message as part of his core self. My father was not raised to see life with passion and dreams to be pursued. His life was more about survival and his future held no real meaning. He lived never knowing when his life would end, based on the color of his skin. He would never be good enough nor did he expect it. Along the road he managed to internalize enough illusion and oppression that he believed the myth and messages of the shame. He was what he thought he was and he manifested those thoughts every day.

The majority of the men in my family were alcoholics and they were depressed, violent and deeply sad like dad. They took out this depression and sadness on their families. They were the first terrorist that I was ever exposed to. When I was a little girl pretending to sleep I would hear them only come to my grandmother Bessie and they would cry in the wee hours of the night about racism, the N -word and they would share with her their fears and the most vulnerable parts of who they were only to rise in the morning detached, cold and smiling that kind of smile that only drunk men can do. Once again, they were men and men had to stay strong by all means.

It all came together when I was a teenager that something was critically wrong with the men in my family and my family in general when my cousin Jean was beaten to death by her husband James. Death-by-beating was never attached to her death and it was said the she “just did not wake up that morning”. We sat there in the church; a church where James was the deacon viewing Jean’s body and still no one could really name what had happened. We knew she had been beaten to death after many bloody beatings. We could never name my cousin James’s depression and mental illness after a thousand times of hearing him cry in the wee hours of the night only to rise early in the morning cold, detached and smiling that smile that drunk men do.

I sometimes wonder how it would be if we had known how to hear them with deeper attention. I wonder what it would have been like if they could have named their depression, their terror, their emotional pain and their addictions. I wonder how things would have been if they had the opportunity to experience a kind and gentle compassion from a society that saw them as invisible and less than. I wonder how their lives would have turned out if they knew how to define their own dreams and passions outside of addiction and violence. I wonder how it would have been if the women in my family would have been empowered not to cosign the insanity.

I miss the father I never had. I miss having a safe father. I still fantasize how it would feel to have a father be proud of you. I forgive my father for the many days that I had to be his mother as a child. I forgive him for the sexual abuse for I am too worthy to carry such a huge resentment. I forgive him for shaming me and for never saying the word love. I forgive him for never hugging me and for never making it safe to be his child. I forgive him for his coldness and the many days of embarrassments. I forgive him for that smile.

I forgive myself for the many men I tried to make be my father. I forgive myself for being attracted to the many men who were just like my father. I forgive myself for the many years of depression and self-abuse; thinking and acting that I was less than human.

In the legacy of my father and the men and women of my family I promise with intent to remember that all little boys and girls are worthy of deep attention, respect and kind compassion for their sacredness and divine spirits.