Posts Tagged ‘The Moors’


Season 21-dwts-premiere

DWTS Season 21 Premier/ABC

 “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow … I hear my being dance from ear to ear … I learn by going where I have to go.”   ~from The Waking by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) is an American version of the British television series, Strictly Come Dancing that first aired in 2005 on ABC.  A natural lover of the arts with dance being my favorite art form, I have become a fan of DWTS despite its historic biases.

Overall, the show’s energy is joyful, the production numbers are classic, and the sets are spectacular.  Now, if only the show’s producers would present all American cultures with the same deference it affords Eurocentric cultures (“the West”).  DWTS would then be a perfect vehicle toward world peace and unity.

A Little History Lesson

Sadly, most of us don’t realize the extent of our biases, or how hurtful such can be.  Moreover, believing that we are right, rarely do we consider the origin of our thoughts or the fact that we can actually change our minds at will.  Yet, herein lies the root cause of our destructive biases longing to be transformed.

In January 1492, Granada Spain is retaken.  Thus falls the last bastion of Moorish civilization that had conquered parts of Europe during the 8th Century. The Moors (“the Blacks”) were mainly Black Africans of the Islamic faith.  Now ruled by White Christians of the Catholic faith, Islamic books are burned and historic records allegedly hidden.

Concurrently, Christopher Columbus and his long awaited voyages of discovery are financed by the victorious Catholic monarchs. The Americas are discovered, and the sad conquest of land and human slavery is repeated.  Around 1600 AD, the Moors are expelled from Spain.  Europe’s Transatlantic Slave Trade emerges destined to divide civilization, but not forever!

With the enslavement of some Black folks and other people of color, White folks of all stripes are erroneously socialized into believing that their civilization is superior to all other Races on the planet, and “race-mixing” is deemed a civil wrong with grave consequences.

Today, racism is slowly dying in the West.  Yet, the root of racism remains, but not forever!

How DWTS’ Historic Bias Spoils the Fun

Mahatma Gandhi, who freed India of colonialism by use of Spiritual Force, which he called “the Force of Truth,” once declared: “We must become the change we want to see.”  Yet, in order to see that change, we must transform our flawed biases.

In my opinion, DWTS have literally taken the fun out of Latin dance.  Clearly a major point of contention for me from the beginning, as authentic Latin music is rarely played.  Still, I’ve learned to overlook such Western biases and enjoy the rest of the show.

That is, until it became obvious that Season 21 judges (Carrie Ann, Bruno, and Julianne whom I like and God loves) were clueless about Latin dance techniques, thus were unwittingly sending the wrong message.  Did they ever study Latin Dance with its actual creators?

After his Western Cha-cha dance on 9-22, the judges unduly criticize actor-singer Carlos PenaVega whose talent and Hispanic heritage is undeniable.  All deem his dance form “too squatty,” like he was “sitting on a horse,” adds Bruno.  Cary Ann abruptly said she was “not impressed.”  Julianne wrongly advises him to keep the legs straight, which is contrary to certain dance steps.

Actually, Carlos’ Cha-Cha was ideal.  His study of musical theater at the Boston Conservatory showed well.  Set to “Hound Dog” an old R&B song first recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1952, Carlos and Witney delivered a great story. Bravo!

Being human, such biases likely hurt.  Yet, Carlos remained polite and brought it to the dance floor with style and vigor.  He would finish in fourth place.

Next, Hispanic jockey Victor Espinoza, a recent winner of the legendary Triple Crown who uses his good fortune to help others, could not escape the judges’ historic biases either.

After Karina and Victor’s Jive Dance on 9-21, Bruno seemingly refers to Victor’s variation on a theme of La Bamba, a beloved Mexican folk song and courtship dance from Veracruz, as a chaotic “jumping bean”, while Carrie Ann seemed fixated on his diminutive height.  Likely meant as a cultural gift, Victor’s handsome face radiated his humanity and good-humor despite the judges’ very bad manners.

In sharp contrast, seems the judges unfairly favored young Bindi Irwin, a perky teen of European heritage. Much to the exclusion of her rivals, she was often called special, a star, a diva and such; which, of course, ultimately became very influential.

Exceeding his usual dramatics, after Bindi & Derek’s “Freestyle” Dance in Week 11, Bruno tells Bindi: “You showed us the power of dance at its most pure and effective form…” clearly an overstatement that was not amusing this time.

While Carrie Ann’s remarks to Bindi really got mushy, thus tearfully saying: “Thanks to your mom and dad for creating you.  I am so grateful for you…”  Like, way over the top perhaps?

Bindi Irwin would win the grand prize.  Given all the unfair sentiment the judges unabashedly heaped upon her throughout the season, how could she not!

Her final dance, a so-called Latin dance fusion, finished with a few twists and turns on the balls of her feet.  Hopefully, one day Bindi will learn Latin dance and realize the vibrant spirit of its wonderful people, which is what DWTS must really be about.

Alek Skarlatos, a polite young man who received national honor from President Obama for stopping an attack on a Paris train along with his two childhood friends, was also overly glorified by the judges.  Alek would make it to the finals and finish in third place, though he admits to being a limited dancer.

Honoring World Dance and Music

Given its badly informed emphases on hip thrusts and gyrations, which is a joke, and the unusual twirly-whirly movements, seems DWTS is way out of touch with Latin Dance that is both joyful and timeless, which uplifts the human spirit.

After Bindi & Derek’s Salsa dance on 11-16, I was shocked when Julianne said to Bindi: “For me, I wish I would have seen a more down and dirty because that’s what Salsa is all about.” Being very offensive, this remark drew unexpected boos from the audience.

Actually Salsa, and other dance traditions, is a family affair meant for everybody.  At home or family gatherings, its dancers can range from toddlers to senior citizens.

Besides the lyrical rhythms of the Spanish language, Latin American music is a mix of the Afro-Cuban rhythms created by the African slaves in need of spiritual renewal.  Seems Julianne’s “down and dirty” remark about Salsa dance is so typical of the historic biases we are referring to here, and on so many levels.

Dance traditions differ throughout the world.  Some dance to the ground (African and Spanish Flamenco dance), some barely touch the ground (Native American dance), some nearly sit (Hindu Temple dance), the Dervishes whirl in ecstasy (Sufi-Islamic Sacred dance), while other traditions keep the posture erect (Celtic, Ballet, and Ballroom dance).

In general, art is more fluid than linear.  Yet, there is truth, discipline and passion at its core.  A true artist recognizes the presence of art and honors it well.

As the Reggae troubadour often sings: “Who feels it knows it.”

Being born and raised in the West, it took me a long time to flex my knees enough to properly move through Reggae dance.  But I did!  My formal study of Bharata Natyam, Hindu classical dance, helped a lot.  A big fan of Reggae music, I also hung out in the culture that created it, and quietly studied the movements of the people.

So I really appreciated the veteran dancers on DWTS who actually executed Latin Dance with knowledge and grace, though generally absent its indigenous rhythms.

Dance Can Be Big Fun and Very Healing

Having the soul of a dancer, over the years I’ve learned that the pure joy of dance heals sadness, fatigue, the flu, and even an open wound when naturally open to its spiritual vibrations.

Years ago, I was healed of a small open wound during Latin dance.  The next morning, unlike finding the usual lumpy scab, to my amazement a smooth, seemly days-old tissue had formed. Thus, my band-aid fix was discarded.

Tito Puente/ Photo biography.com

Such healing appeared after dancing all night to the live music of the legendary Tito Puente, also known as “El Rey de los Timbales” (The King of the Timbales).   Wow! I can still see his great smile and feel the joy as he played his famous timbales, now in the Smithsonian Museum.

Though born and raised in New York City, studied at Julliard School of Music on his GI Bill, some thought El Rey was Cuban. In June of 2000, the beloved Tito Puente dies at age 77. The world grieves, while local fans wait in line to bid him goodbye.  Having lost her native son, America weeps.  Yet, Tito Puente’s musical legacy lives on!

Be More Like Water and Change The World

Often attributed to the legendary Bruce Lee, a Chinese-American actor and acclaimed martial artist of the 60s and 70s, the following motto is revered in the Martial Arts community:

“I want to be like water. Water is the softest substance in the world, yet it can penetrate the hardest rock.”

Likely a metaphor for Universal Love, as water flows naturally unless we block it.  Only love can conquer hate and self-indulgence, the source of all wars.  Thus, the classic goal of the artist is to rise above the primitive passions of egotism and elevate the human spirit.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

Chef Joseph of the Nez Perce/ Photo Wikipedia

Outnumbered and facing defeat, in surrendering to the U.S. in October of 1877, the honorable Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe, a Native American leader who fought valiantly for their homeland, states these immortal words:

“I am tired of fighting … From where the sun stands, I will fight no more forever.”

With all the talk of terrorism these days and how to avert it, still the world is advancing towards unity.  Thus, it is best for all of us to be more like water, and seek to penetrate the hardest biases of those bent on hate and segregation.

Universal Love lights the way, which often begins in our families, our churches, and in our arts.

While we can’t change the past, we can change our minds about how we chose to see the world, and how we react to those around us.  And we can do this now.  Herein is a direct path to the peace and transformation we all seek.

In closing his Noble Peace Prize Lecture, Dec 2002, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr., 39th U.S. President and Global Peacemaker awarded for his work with the Carter Center, states:

“The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us a capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes ̶ ̶ and we must.”

So let us resolve to make the world a better place.  Let us awaken to a new day, relax our biases, lovingly embrace the world’s cultures, and gladly learn by going where we have to go.  Thus, the world is changed one step at a time, as only the true artist can do.

Happy New Year.  Free the mind!

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© Delores L. Adams and The Aunt Jemimah Post 2016. All rights reserved.


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Quo Vadis Domine: Lord, Where Goest Thou?  ~John 13:36 

It has been said that life only moves in two directions and that only love is real. Thus, either we are going in truth and love or going in fear and hate-born illusions. The choice is ours.

Today, I still remember seeing the 1952 multi-Oscar winning film “Quo Vadis” for the first time. Set around 65 AD at the dawn of Christianity depicting the horrendous sufferings of its founders and the depraved madness of its political adversaries, this epic film made a lasting impression on me. Most memorable were visions of Simon Peter walking along a tree-lined road as echoes of soft voices, seemingly from out of nowhere, chanted “quo vadis Lord”.

That Monday, I rushed to my High School History teacher and asked him the meaning of quo vadis, who simply said it means: “Which way am I going in life.” Why him instead of asking others around me, is unclear. In retrospect, this was quite a philosophical response, yet not typical of my Southern Baptist world, tending more devotional instead.

Of course, thought and devotion (mind and heart) ultimately intersects for all truthseekers, whether long-term or temporary.

Given their great philosophic approach to religion, hmm…I wonder if Mr. Newman was Jewish. Nonetheless, he obviously was a gifted and caring teacher. One day he brought his record collection to class and played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for us. This brought me to tears, and still remains one of my favorite piano compositions.

Years later, I would realize the full meaning of “quo vadis Lord” thanks to Mr. Newman’s prudent answer that day. Meanwhile, I intuitively learned not to take one’s religion too seriously; for this I am also grateful.

The Absurdity of Taking Our Religions Too Seriously

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ~Anne Lamott, American writer and political activist

For some, the thought of a religious debate is way too heavy to ponder; while for others, it can be quite scary if raised in a strict, fundamentalist environment. Yet, somewhere between religious indifference and the inbred fear of religion, are those individuals who have sought refuge in the ancient teachings of well-established religions and have found it!

In general, there we find the real student-teachers of God. Though varied, depending upon their acquired insights and style, they usually don’t take religion so seriously as to be stuffy and hypercritical of others, and generally have a good sense of humor about it. Hence, the above witty quote from Anne Lamott that gently reflects back to us, the absurdity of taking ourselves and our religions way too seriously.

Yet, ‘There Is Something More’

Once, while talking to a friend about “A Course in Miracles,”[1] one of my favorite spiritual studies, she mentions her beloved grandmother who never insisted that she believe in God, or any particular religion. During their philosophic discussions, she would ultimately say:

“Peggy, there is something more.”

Wow! I thought, this is the most profound statement I’ve ever heard relative to religious differences and the existence of God or not, and told Peggy that I would always remember her grandmothers’ wise response and pass it on.

‘A Religious War’ or Not?

Today the religious debate has reached a curious level, mostly pertaining to the outrageous terrorists that appear to be raging war globally in the name of religion! So naturally those in our government are very concerned, as they should be.

In January, shortly after the tragic Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Sen. Lindsey Graham, our esteemed U.S. senator from South Carolina, observed, in essence, that: “We’re in a religious war” with “radical Islamists” whose religious teachings, or the misuse of it, seemly requires them to kill, enslave, or convert so-called dissidents.

In a Feb 1st CNN article titled, “Why Obama Won’t Call Terror Fight a War on Radical Islam,” Sen. Graham is said to have mentioned on Fox News earlier this month that: “When I hear the President of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me.”

Of course, Lindsey Graham is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a former Staff Judge Advocate (military lawyer) and a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, currently assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School. Naturally we hear from Sen. Graham quite often, particularly when outrageous acts of terrorism hit the news, and thus appreciate his active concern and patriotism.

Yet, Barrack Obama, being the first African-American U.S. President, a former U.S. Senator from Illinois, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former community organizer and civil rights attorney who taught Constitutional Law for many years at the University of Chicago, is also appreciated for his great works and, his apparent love of our country and humanity.

In the same above CNN article, it basically states President Obama emphasized the importance of the U.S. keeping its response to groups of terrorism “surgical” so as to avoid alienating the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, and naturally reject those who “have embraced a nihilistic, violent, [and] almost medieval interpretation of Islam.”

Thus, refraining from viewing the war against international terrorism as ‘a religious war’ is a wise step in the right direction…here is why.

The Moors Occupy Parts of Europe

Actually, many here in the West, though not all, are missing the point entirely when they choose to see today’s radical wars in the name of Islam as a religious war, which is a big distraction. As it keeps us from recognizing the deeper truth behind this horrendous warfare, as are all wars. And so we must return to a certain point in Western history to truly understand.

In 711 AD, the Moors invade Spain. Their historic name is likely a Spanish language derivative that simply means the Blacks, as radical racism was then nonexistent. Mainly of the Black race of African origin, for centuries the Moors ruled most of Spain, Portugal and parts of Southern France and Italy that greatly influenced European societies for over seven centuries.

The Moors, who were of the Islamic faith, were more advanced than most European cultures at the time. They intermarried, established great centers of learning, hospitals, housing with street lights, running water and were mathematical adepts.

Declared a national monument in 1870 after years of tedious restoration by Spanish architects, the exquisite Alhambra Castle, built by the Moors in Granada Spain, is one of the few wonders of Moorish design and artistic sensibility that miraculously survived the Spanish Reconquista and Napoleon’s army centuries later. Yet, things are subject to Karmic change!

The Spanish Reconquista

In reality, there is no beginning or an end. But there is an ebb and flow to creation. Such is the Law of Karma (cause and effect). Hence, the Crusades and Spanish Reconquista, Christianity’s protracted attempts to oust Moorish rule, finally succeeds with the fall of Granada in 1492 led by Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Soon after the fall of Granada, Christopher Columbus is called to the Spanish court of the victorious monarchs. Queen Isabella finally approves his lingering request for funds. Destined to explore the world, the successful transatlantic voyages of Christopher Columbus would initiate European explorations and colonization of the Americas.

Eventually, the Islamic Moors and the Jews are expelled from Spain. With the burning of their books and such, evidence of Moorish presence is virtually expunged from national memory, or degraded, and systemically replaced with Christian thought and symbolism.

The Beginning of Radical Racism

Today, there is a major voice crying to be recognized as we, of the civilized world, grapple with the towering issue of global terrorism in the name of religion. Symbolically called the elephant in the room, global racism or, more to the point, radical racism is its name.

Historically, slavery or some form of servitude was permitted in most medieval societies, though race was not a definitive factor. Yet, slavery was, and still is, a radical departure from human evolution with Karmic consequences. Sadly, slavery would reach a new low and become even more radicalized in Early America.

In 1619, the first Africans arrive on American shores generally considered equal to European indentured servants, as racism and endless servitude was nonexistent. Yet, all of that would radically change. Later in the 1600s, the Maryland and Virginia colonies are among the first to legally declare all African slaves to be slaves-for-life.  Tragically, this marks the beginning of radical racism.

Since empathy is an intrinsic human quality, we must be taught to hate as hate is a by-product of intense fear.

With the early Africans being legally consigned to slavery for life and their owners still left in perpetual fear of losing their livelihood, seems most whites were socialized to hate black folks! Lest they inadvertently collaborate with a slave’s natural attempt to escape the inhumanity of slavery at the earliest opportunity.

Even keeping low-income white folks in check was not a problem; as any friendly contact with a black person was deemed a social taboo with dire consequences. Hence, hateful terms such as “niggerlover” soon became a major psychological weapon used to destroy White empathy for Blacks back then, which worked.

Radical Racism or A World Without Hate, Which Way

 “I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt.” ~William Lloyd Garrison, American Abolitionist[2]

In 1865, slavery in America is finally abolished! Declining praise for his wonderful part in ending slavery, President Abraham Lincoln ostensibly states he had been only an instrument, as the logic and moral power of William Lloyd Garrison, the country’s anti-slavery people, and the Union Army did it all! Sadly, radical racism would continue.

While radical racism, slavery’s offspring, continues to haunt American society and the world, still much can be done today to eradicate the historic effects of radical racism worldwide.

Having found the United Nations, the means for supporting a world without hate are already here. Yet, together, humanity must first resolve that owing to global evolution, the primal need to triumph and subjugate nations is no longer practical in today’s high-tech world.

With much more to gain than lose, one day the world will unite in heart and mind despite the looming specter of racial disparity, political discord and religious differences, and thus make the United Nations a greater power broker for us all. Why not today? The choice is ours!

© Delores L. Adams and The Aunt Jemimah Post 2012-2015. All rights reserved.


[1] A Course In Miracles. California: Foundation For Inner Peace, First Edition—June 1976

[2] Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, p.568.





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