Asylum Rising (Verse Two): Ujima

The first part of this series is located here.


“Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.”


One thing I must say about the sister Makeda, she’s doesn’t invite you over her house without attempting to also invite someone that can help you reach your higher potential. I was asked to meet Makeda at her house on St. Louis’ West Side. I was running late because I had to obtain a phone, but I was only around six minutes away from her home. When I entered, there was an elderly lady sitting down. I was presented a plate with turkey, salad and bread. I was told to sit down and eat(notice word choice there – I do love my people when I can). After obeying the order and partaking of the lunch time meal, I was formally introduce to the elderly sister. I promptly adjusted my depressed, and turned on my charm.


We discussed homelessness, grants, not-for-profit businesses, and Black inferiority complexes. I was impressed by the elderly woman, who we will call Roselyn. She had a very welcoming, while obviously observative and calculating disposition. Calculating in a cautious sense, not so much an expert conniving sense. I had been wearing the hood of my sweater religiously, not only because it gets fairly cold in St. Loius at night, but also because I am extremely self-conscious, self-aware, of how my hair looks since I haven’t been grooming it. The first thing she ask, and it makes all of the sense in the world, was to remove my hood so she could see me. “Thugs wear hoods to rob and steal from people and not be seen.” Although, my initial reaction was to keep it on my head, I eventually conceded. She asked if I was a student, and I let her know that I was working on getting back into school, a graduate course of either psychology or sociology. She asked me what was my BA in, and I told her. She asked me was I working. “Hard for a Black man to get a job even with a degree, hummm?”


Makeda helped to transition the conversation to the most practical common benefit for the both of us. It would turn out that Roselyn needed to work done around her apartment building. Mainly remodeling type work. From what I have ascertained, she needs a lot of lifting to be done as well as paintine, laying carpet, and wood panals. OF course, there is always the concern for a woman living alone on the West side. I know men that have to be practical about the reality they face. People get an apartment in certain respects, without considering how or if they can provide security. This was actually the second time the notion of me takin up room and board for security reasons had been discussed today. After Rose and I finished eating and exchangin contact information, I went outside and discussed some more masculine, and thus protected, lessons with Makeda’s husband, King Omawali.


Hey, don’t be so sensitive! I’ve got to meet up with them later today for a Kwanzaa discussion in the community. They’ve extended the fullness of their Open Hand towards Owl and thus Asylum. I come from one of those homes where lessons such as not over staying your welcome continue to inform my acts and decicions. As we move Asylum to establish Asylum firmly in the roots of its creator’s more physical reality, more and more a dependence on strong security measure will be necessary. That often means telling people that you enjoy spending time with that they have to sit outside on the picnic benches. I can thoroughly appreciate anyone that knows how to put a fully equipped and highly trained sentinel on their time and the expression of that which is worthy of that sort of protection.


From my experience, it doesn’t matter how Black you are on Friday if you don’t have the sense to protect and secure that Blackness. It won’t be around for the rally and waving of clenched fists in the air on Monday.


Something else that I truly enjoy when visiting these two, beyond their own similar experiences(“I was homeless pregnant with a baby, Owl…”), their since of action and urgency is informing. I don’t like the hours of wasteful intellectualizing without commuting to some sort of development of a business, a product, a workout routine, something that moves us beyond charisma choking one another. Everyone needs their space to imbibe knowledge, in order for that data to ever become something of understanding and wisdom. That being said. Thank West Side Jesus for Black enlightened people who know how to wrap up the show when the last lines have been stated.


“…Jomo Kenyatta adopted “Harambee” as a concept of pulling the country together to build a new nation…”