The Gatekeeper's Collective (TGC)


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Topic For Friday, January 3rd, 2014:


If it is true that we are unlikely to take political action on behalf of ourselves and our community until we are unafraid of being who we really are, then…
Of what are we afraid?

- Are we afraid that the myths we learned about ourselves are true?

- Are we afraid of the responsibility that comes with acknowledging the truth about how powerful we really are?

- What is fear, really?

If you will, write and let us know what questions you think we should ask to facilitate ourselves through and beyond fear and into our most powerful Gatekeeping selves.

In the meantime, we recommend you seek out: “THE SPIRIT OF INTIMACY: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships” by Sobonfu Somé

If You Live In Or Visit New York City
You Can Purchase The Book From
The Black-Owned Establishment

Sister's Uptown Bookstore
1942 Amsterdam Avenue (@ 156th Street) 
Harlem, New York City 10032
(212) 862-3680

Sister's Uptown Bookstore GOOGLE+ Page

The Gatekeeper's Collective
Community Kwanzaa will be conducted on
Saturday, December 28th, 2013
at JMG's Safe Space
730 Riverside Drive
(Entrance on 150th Street)
Suite 9E
Harlem, New York City
Participants Are Encouraged To Bring A Dish Or Beverage To Share

"Please Come Join Us As We Celebrate Such Fruits
As We Have Harvested This Year.
John-Martin Green

An SGL Black Sheroes & Heroes Monthly Series
December's Focus:
Claude McKay (1889-1948)

Claude McKay was born in Sunny Ville, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, on September 15, 1890. McKay moved to Harlem, New York, after publishing his first books of poetry, and established himself as a literary voice for social justice during the Harlem Renaissance. He is known for his novels, essays and poems, including "If We Must Die" and "Harlem Shadows." He died on May 22, 1948, in Chicago, Illinois.

"Idealism is like a castle in the air if it is not based on a solid foundation of social and political realism."
– Claude McKay

Early Life
Festus Claudius McKay was born in Sunny Ville, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, on September 15, 1890. His mother and father spoke proudly of their respective Malagasy and Ashanti heritage. McKay blended his African pride with his love of British poetry. He studied poetry and philosophy with Englishman Walter Jekyll, who encouraged the young man to begin producing poetry in his own Jamaican dialect.

Literary Career
A London publishing house produced McKay's first books of verse, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads, in 1912. McKay used award money that he received from the Jamaican Institute of Arts and Sciences to move to the United States. He studied at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and Kansas State College for a total of two years. In 1914, he moved to New York City, settling in Harlem.

McKay published his next poems in 1917 under the pseudonym Eli Edwards. More poems appeared in Pearson's Magazine and the radical magazine Liberator. The Liberator poems included "If We Must Die," which threatened retaliation for racial prejudice and abuse; this quickly became McKay's best-known piece of work. McKay then left the United States for two years of European travel. In 1920, he published a new collection of poems, Spring in New Hampshire, containing "Harlem Shadows."

McKay returned to the United States in 1921 and involved himself in various social and political causes. He worked with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and continued to explore Communism—even traveling to the Soviet Union to attend the Communist Party's Fourth Congress. After spending some time in the United States, McKay again left the country, spending what would prove to be 11 extremely productive years in Europe and North Africa; he wrote three novels—Home to Harlem, Banjo and Banana Bottom—and a short story collection during this period. Home to Harlem was the most popular of the three, though all were well received by critics.

Returning to Harlem, McKay began work on an autobiography entitled A Long Way from Home, which focuses on his experiences as an oppressed minority and agitates for a broad movement against colonialism and segregation. The book has been criticized for its less-than-candid treatment of some of McKay's more controversial interests and beliefs. His consistent denial of having joined the Communist Party, despite multiple trips to the Soviet Union, is a point of particular contention.

Later Life
McKay went through several changes toward the end of his life.  He embraced Catholicism, retreating from Communism entirely, and officially became an American citizen in 1940. His experiences working with Catholic relief organizations in New York inspired a new essay collection, Harlem: Negro Metropolis, which offers observations and analysis of the African-American community in Harlem at the time. McKay died of a heart attack in Chicago, Illinois, on May 22, 1948.

In 2012, a researcher discovered an unpublished Claude McKay novel, Amiable with Big Teeth in the Columbia University archives.

Last Friday night (December 6th, 2013) The Gatekeeper’s Collective (TGC) convened to take up consideration of Kwanzaa’s Kawaida philosophy and the Nguzo Saba as elements of a template for aligning same gender loving (SGL) Black men with our Gatekeeping selves.

Referencing a proposal of Reverend Jett’s, facilitator, John-Martin Green told participants, “Being anything as powerfully as we can is predicated on knowing who we are.  It is important that we be aware that there are impediments to our knowing who we really are, and to our being who we really are.  This which we’ve come together to do [under the rubric of The Gatekeeper’s Collective] is about much more than sitting around having conversations.  The power of the 21st Century Gatekeeper is in knowing self.  We have said that being a Gatekeeper involves crisis intervention – that is, restoring balance and harmony to the community when there is conflict.  But, how does that strike you, really?  For some of us, crisis management might not seem like the most fun or rewarding life path.  Some of us might perceive ourselves as having distinctly different callings and life purposes.  Others of us may operate from a ‘live and let live’ outlook – ‘I’m not trying to be all up in other people’s business like that.’ ‘If they got beef, they need to work that out.  I ain’t in it.’  So, for whom among us does gatekeeping have powerful resonance?  For me, being a Gatekeeper means being a change agent.  What does it mean for you?”

“Gatekeeping…I go back to Garvey and, “Up you mighty race”…Though we’re out of the closet, we’re still in the closet…[acting as if] we’re not our brother’s keeper…Where are we going?...What are we doing?...I give a man who’s a Brother first preference…I want to see you get where you need to go…That’s how I’m a Gatekeeper…We’ve lost that feeling…We get so caught up in the rush, we don’t even say hello to each other…”

“I’m just being…When I hear Gatekeeping, it kind of scares me…I heard about Michael Richards coming back to TV and, me and a couple of guys decided to start a petition [against his racism,] but didn’t know who to get it to…Buju Banton was at Madison Square Garden talking about Boom Boom Bye Bye [the anti-homosexual anthem]…I started a petition which fell flat…I do stuff…I was in an airport this afternoon and I saw this woman in severe distress, and I got them [airport staff] to come to her aid…”

“I too am afraid of the sense of failure…or, if I say it [I am a Gatekeeper], it means I have to carry this load…I oftentimes feel so timid…shy and [keep] to myself…[I’m not one to] take on leadership role(s)…I never like to speak out…Gatekeeping is more than just being nice to people…It requires some special [sacrifice]…”

“[Gatekeepers] openly demonstrate love and caring…[they] always acknowledge me…[It] gives me power…One of my old neighbors was a Tuskegee Airman, but he wasn’t a pilot, he was a ground man…Had he not done what he did, the airmen could not have gotten off the ground…”

“My brother’s a bouncer cause he’s a big black [MF]…We all have our [different] styles…I. myself was always the one in the family to go to [bat for other people]…I understand the responsibility [involved in gatekeeping]…Sometimes you open the gate and drop the keys and negative stuff get’s through…that’s why it’s important to have a support system…[Being a Gatekeeper] caused a rebellion in me as a young man because I didn’t want that responsibility…But, since then, I’ve come to terms with it…But, you need a support system like this…”

“I always find myself taking on other people’s [trails]…Sitting in the hospital [with sick community members], picking up people’s groceries…”

“I think it depends on the attention or focus…the keeping of the gate is as strong or as powerful as what the gate is holding…We have served so much for very little [return]…It is important that we understand that, if there isn’t a clarity about why we do it [there is a danger]…[We need to be clear about] What’s in it for us?…This thing that you do, whether you call it [one organization name or another] is almost magical…that thing which you do…in the eye [of which] has made me become powerful in your presence…It is not to take away kindness [but, the ones] who are the damage control soldiers…have to be very careful because, when [keeping the gates] becomes self-depleting, you aren’t keeping any gate..”

“I disagree…I’m taking care of my eighty-three-year-old mother…None of my brothers and sisters stepped up…I have to take care of myself…Before I fix my mother’s food, I fix my plate…She fixed our plates first…I saw somebody get mugged on my way here and I helped him…I waited until the police got there…I didn’t get in the squad car…I know my limitations…Part of being a Gatekeeper is understanding that the strength is in you being what you are…”

“The most powerful Gatekeeper that ever lived was Jesus…He expended himself to his death…Some might say, he was spent [so, what’s the point of martyrdom?]…But, he set in motion a work that has continued and inspired others for centuries later…”

In the film, Mandela, during his imprisonment, they made him wear short pants to deprive him of his manhood…[His attitude was] I don’t want to go to jail, but I want to do what I do [to free my people]…We have to claim it…I don’t know what my Gatekeeping role is yet, but, I’m claiming it…It is a particular role…”

Facilitator asks, “Then, might the three Kawaida questions be useful in finding our bearings as Gatekeepers?”  [There is consensus.] ‘Who am I as a Gatekeeper?  Am I really who I say I am as a Gatekeeper?  Am I all that I ought to be as a Gatekeeper?”

Co-Facilitator says, “The gates take care of mind, body and spirit…Because I am not in Burkina Faso, I’m not trained in herbal medicines and all their [technologies and methodologies]…But, I did hear Malidoma Somé say, “While not all Gatekeepers are same gender loving, all same gender loving people are Gatekeepers…We combine masculine and feminine [That is wherefore our power lies]…I see being a Gatekeeper as the light I was born as…I have had to heal from the traumas of being Black and male and same gender loving in this time…And, as I become more the flame and light that I was born [to be]…[I have been moved] to say that I accept the responsibility to help others find healing on their journey…I went to seminary…I study Yoruba…and been initiated [and have invested in] learning more about who I am as a spirit…Part of being a Gatekeeper is just walking this earth as me…”

“Are we gay-keepers?  Are we [going to be] looking after our Brothers fifteen or twenty years from now?”

Co-Facilitator says, “Gay is a political identification…What’s the fear around Gatekeeping?...It’s a certain set of responsibilities…I can’t let anyone else give me a title…Being a Gatekeeper is about doing the internal work…When I learn to love and heal myself, I know where the [self-determining] line is…”

“You are representing something…Part of being a Gatekeeper is saying I commit to being [fully] present…For you to be of use, you have to be useful…If you really want to keep gates…[You must ask the question,] What is my life protective of?...”

“What really makes us Gatekeepers is our motive…going back to Mandela…He was a great leader…Hitler sought self-glorification…It’s good for us to examine who we are…What are our motives?…We live in a world like that today…[where] self-glorification is a [powerful drive]…Hitler was a leader, but, what was his motive?...Martin Luther King and Macolm X [had different motives]…[And,] What about the ordinary [leaders among us?]...There are other leaders, who, because of their motives, no one knows about…Who are we really?...To be really good Gatekeepers our motives must be in tact…Could I have gone for twenty-seven years [of unmitigated brutality] and come out and shook those people’s hands?...”

“Nelson Mandela’s forgiving of the twenty-seven years of vile humiliation was forgiving, but it was also strategic…He knew he had to do a brain drain to get people to focus on what he wanted… to free his people and [save the country from destruction]…Where you get tested by life is in the midst of blood and tears and pain…beauty is being built…Had I not had an ideal, a drive, an intention, that person [that oppressor] could become a problem for me…”

Co-Facilitator say, “How do I mount a political action?…Mandela said, I will die for the freedom of South Africa…For us today as homosexual Black men, how do we wage political action?...”

“The Kawaida can help me clarify my intentions…”

“Gatekeepers seize on opportunities when they present themselves…”

Facilitator says, “Gatekeepers also create opportunities…As ‘O’ has called to our attention, the most powerful Gatekeepers are also strategic…”

“But, there are dangers involved…[The Gatekeepers weren’t able to stop People [who] were being lynched…”

Facilitator says, “That didn’t stop Ida B. Wells from mounting one of the most extraordinary political action campaigns in the history of the press…They trashed her office and chased her out of town…Threatened to lynch her…But, she created the opportunity to rouse people out of their complacency in the face of the brutality that was being perpetrated against her people…”

“Forgiveness is not something you do…It’s not a verb…It is almost the most arrogant thing you can do to think you can forgive someone…”

“Part of what we do [here] is cultural affirmation…[Along those lines,] We may not realize how much of our thinking is guided by Western, Gre[co-Roman] thinking…about individuals and [about] individual men…Was Mandela a great man?...Absolutely…But, the democratization of South Africa was imperative…There [were forces at work]…There was Communism…The ANC got their power [and resources] from Communist [block countries] There was a countervailing power that they could draw on…”

“Mandela was not created in a vacuum…He sat with some of the greatest [revolutionary] minds in the world in that prison…”

“What am I willing to die for?...How am I going to step up?...That’s what I’m going to go home and ask myself tonight…”

“Let’s look at our role models looking forward…films…Bayard Rustin is right here…”

Facilitator says, “Looking at our Gatekeeping role models is an excellent idea.  Even as we talk about discovering what being a Twenty-first Century Diaporan African Gatekeeper means, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Topic For Friday, December 6th, 2013:

As the year draws to a close and we set about defining what Gatekeeping means for us as 21st Century Diasporan Africans, might the Kwanzaa principles serve as a template, or some part of a template for tapping our leadership potential where we meld indigenous and Western 'Best Practices'?

Kwanzaa was founded on the philosophy of the cultural nationalist theory and movement called Kawaida (a Swahili word meaning "tradition" or "reason," pronounced ka-wa-EE-da ) and involves three questions:

Who am I?
Am I really who I say I am?
Am I all that I ought to be?

- What can I do as a Gatekeeper?

- What special talents or skills do I have as a Gatekeeper?

- How, if at all, can the Kawaida help me to tap into my GK self?

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