By H.A. Jabar OdoKhan-El
In November of 2018 as the Director of the West Dayton Youth Task Force, our youth organizer and I attended a youth organizing conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico called “From Rooted Resilience to Rising Power”. At the time, our organization was in the middle of its second year campaign to promote culturally relevant curriculum and culturally responsive schools.
During the trip, I was awed by the cultural experience that I was a part of, the mountainous landscape of Albuquerque, and the richness of its people and culture. The spiritual feeling of grace and serenity reminded me of my college experience in Phoenix, Arizona. The distant surrounding visual was filled with mountain ranges and there were few to no tall buildings to interfere with the view.
As a part of the conference, we visited the Native American Community Academy School (NACA), met with students and administration, visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, witnessed native performances, listened to panels of Native America youth, and even rode a zip wire car to the top of a mountain.
Much of the culture that I experienced was clearly (to me) African influenced. From the native drumming, to the art work and interior design of the hotel, to the architecture of the buildings; I saw images and symbols that were very reminiscent to those I have studied about in different parts Africa. The knowledge of Africans leaving the shores of west Africa and arriving in South America stayed in the back of my mind as I took in visualizations that stimulated my very being.
I was deeply impressed and inspired by the cultural resilience of the Native Americans (young to old) that were in an intentional spiritual fight to overcome their colonized mind and ways and were fervent in restoring the customs and traditions of their own people. I listened to youth talk and marveled at how they would recite their family lineage back many generations, and would do so in their native language (the same language that European invaders tried to eradicate). I was impressed by their pride in their heritage and what their ancestors went through, overcame, and accomplished.
As we left I knew that I wanted others Black youth to experience what I did. My cultural journey has me asking myself numerous questions. One I continue to ask is, “how much further along I would be in life if I had this information at 21 as opposed to 39”. Too much knowledge and information has been hidden from us and it is the duty of the adults to teach the children. It is in this vain that I desire to organize Black youth and Black Parents to attend the cultural gathering (Pow-Wow)- Gathering of Nations 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.