I traveled to Cairo, Egypt this summer. But by no means am I a “deep” siSTAR belonging to an Afrikan consciousness group whose members have changed their names to something that reflects their Kemet energy. As a matter of fact, besides the commercialized ankh—which I’ve tattooed thrice on my body; the pyramids—which I throw up to express my sorority affiliation; and Queen Nefertiti—whose 18k gold head I used to rock around my neck in the 90s, I know very little about Egypt. I mean, of course I know (from elementary school lessons) that the Nile & Sahara represent the longest river & largest desert in the world, & I also know that hieroglyphics are a pictorial mode of communication. However, other than that, my Black self—whose father used to tease about being a revolutionary with no cause—knows very little about Egypt. Very. Little. I went on this trip, a pilgrimage, really, simply because my sorority sister was going. As a result, I could safely take a trip to Africa with a friend. That’s it; nothing more, nothing less.
I—along with 16 others—traveled with Yirser Ra Hotep of Yoga Skills through Cairo, Luxor, & Aswan/Nubian Village, where we toured pyramids, tombs, & museums; traveled the Nile River by cruise ship, viewed the Valley of Kings by hot air balloon, caravanned to Abu Simbel through a sand storm, & took a horse & buggy ride in Aswan. Together, we ate plenty of grilled chicken & fish, drank lots of bottled water, walked too many steps to calculate, laughed about everything, learned about more than we laughed at, & grew larger & wider as each day passed.
I grew larger & wider as each day passed, & now I don’t know how to “be” here anymore. Actually, I can’t “be” here anymore.
How does one—a Black one, particularly—travel to Egypt, BE in spiritually, antiquitious spaces filled with monumental structures whose architecture is so perfectly & magnificently built that they are beyond comprehension— go back to business as usual? How does one crawl through divine pyramids & tombs, touch the hieroglyphic carvings that are the world’s first sacred scriptures, see her own image reflected in the images of Egyptian Kings & Queens, go back to business as usual? I am so full that I believe at any moment I will explode into star dust. (‘Cause of course, I really am a siSTAR.) I believe at any moment I will explode, because there’s this spirituality in me that wants to bust loose, & my exploring Egypt has roughly nudged that spirit.
You see, I believe one’s spirituality is expressed through one’s creative genius. I mean, hands down, the ancient Egyptians expressed/manifested their divinity through their architecture, jewelry, ceremonies, & text—which is why all of it is so perfect & incomprehensible. I imagine if they did not live through their spiritual selves—which, alas, is what most of us fail to do—civilization as we know it would not exist. Right? With that idea in mind, I don’t believe I am existing. In other words, I am—I am here. But I am not existing (read: creating) so that when I transcend this Earth, I, too, like my Egyptian ancestors, would have contributed to civilization. I am not living my full potential, which really means I am not expressing the goddess in me.
As a result, I feel like at any moment I will explode into star dust, because I have given into the fear that oppresses my spiritual self. Such oppression looks like restlessness, pessimism, depression, & loneliness. & it sounds like that “back to reality” phrase we tell ourselves after we’ve vacationed & gone “back to business as usual.” Since I’ve been back from Egypt—where, by the way—I befriended a group of people who prove that “we are more alike than we are unalike,” I have wanted to turn myself into mySelf. But I’ve been stuck. In fear. Afraid to lose—(fill this blank w/any meaningless possession).
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I celebrated my 36th birthday about two weeks after my return from Egypt, & I felt restless, pessimistic, depressed, & lonely. I wanted to do only what I’ve been doing since I re-entered “reality,” which was watch Netflix all. day. long. However, my colleague-friend literally drug me out of my bed & required I do something for my birthday. Whatever I wanted to do, she was going to make it happen. I settled on seeing Straight Outta Compton.
Without turning this into a film review, I will say this: F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton may be, for the gangsta rap generation, what Allan Arkush’s 1998 The Temptations TV movie is for generation Motown. It’s out of sight. & what made it so is the Black genius that manifested itself through gangsta rap. Sure, gangsta rap culture is complete with profanity, misogyny, & hyper-masculinity; however, it undoubtedly is an example of what can be created when one liberates spirituality & falls into a consciousness that does not inflict harm upon his/her oppressor—even when that oppressor is the self—but creates an environment (art, dance, music) that contributes to civilization.
Now, I’m clear: Many may find my ideas re: gangsta rap absurd, especially as I claim that N.W.A. exercised a practice in spiritual freedom & reconciliation. However, while their more popular hooks like “fuck tha police” inspirits rebellion, it’s a necessary act of insubordination that allows the oppressed to eliminate his/her rage. Right? “Fuck tha police” is “Power to the people.” & so, these niggas with attitudes responded to the inhumane treatment imposed by law enforcement by totally expressing themSelves; they turned themselves into themSelves (capital S, higher Selves) & more or less embodied Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, law, & justice.
Am I reaching? Shoulder shrug. So what.
After having watched Straight Outta Compton—coupled with my re-memories re: my Egyptian tour—I am waddling, perhaps even suffering, in wanting. Wanting faith like Dr. Dre, commitment like Ice Cube, & courage like Eazy-E. I am left wanting wisdom like Nefertiti, fortitude like Nuit, & agility like each Egyptian who sculpted, carved, & built a civilization. I want to be a member of N.W.A. But not necessarily a nigga with attitude, but a Nubian with audacity. I’m pretty sure my life depends on it.