America’s Black First Family symbolizes rise of African culture

Hotep (Be at peace, be at rest, be free)

In this the second in a three-part series, I want to share another core idea: “SIA” an ancient African teaching that I have had the great honor of having verified in travels to the elders in Africa and in the 20 years of study in the International Khepran Institute. In both classrooms, I was able to verify that this idea is preserved through the trials and the awful terror of our existence in this country.

The “SIA” refers to the intelligence of the heart. Cerebral intelligence depends upon the senses, the recordings of observed facts, and the comparison of these facts and ideas of the mind. The first four senses — touch, taste, smell and sight — pass through the brain; the fifth sense, hearing, passes through the heart without speaking directly to the brain.

Hearing is the spiritual sense, the door to the intelligence of the heart. The intelligence of the heart is purely a function of experienced innate consciousness. It is through the mother that this emotional structure is developed and passed on to the child.

In the sacred literature of ancient Kemet, this is spelled out clearly in the great refrain, “My Heart My Mother.” My Heart My Mother “May not stand up to oppose me as I stand before the sovereign prince,” the creator of us all. I return us to this teaching now because we have to adjust our understanding and intentionality of the experiences that we create for ourselves internally or the experiences that we participate in externally.


Through their interactions and behaviors, Michelle and Barack [Obama] practice an understanding of gender roles that is consistent with African heritage.


With each heartbeat, a recording is being made of the experience we are having at the moment. The recording is replayed constantly, giving us instructions to live by.

The on and off button is not in our hands as a physical button but is triggered through the memory systems that respond to real or imagined events. Before you reject all that I am saying, look with me at the recent collective experience that we had with returning the first Black family to the White House.

After the presidential election last week, I became aware of just how anxious I was about the possibility of defeat for President Obama. During the weeks leading up to the election, I experienced a severe sense of anxiety, which intensified as Election Day drew nearer. I began to have dreams that replayed the level of fear and despair among Black people, which I saw and experienced 50 years ago before leaving the Mississippi Delta.

I spoke to community members who stated that listening to the Republican message being replayed throughout the media triggered a collective memory within the community about the days of Jim Crow. As such, today is a day for giving deep thanks for the reelection of President Obama and for the continued presence of his family in the White House.

This family, the First Family, is a symbol of belonging, intelligence, beauty, and the spiritual endurance of Black people. Most of all, it is a symbol of the rising Black man and woman into our rightful place as guides in the conscious move toward a world of peace and wholeness for all mankind.

First Lady Michelle and President Barack Obama exemplify Black culture in profound ways — culture defined as the symbols and practices that people create to give themselves continuity and cohesion across generations. In this couple’s way of being together, their capacity to touch each other with grace and honor is shown to all who they come in contact with. This is a profound expression of a resurgence of African traditions and culture.

The capacity to touch with honor is a practice of deep commitment to a force greater than us. Through their interactions and behaviors, Michelle and Barack practice an understanding of gender roles that is consistent with African heritage.

First Lady Michelle, with all of her knowledge and education, has publicly made it clear that she is a mother, a wife and a daughter first and foremost. Her way of functioning, speaking, dressing, sharing herself and relying on her mother (as First Grandmother) for guidance can be traced to the African ways of the women carrying the culture.

The woman in African heritage and scholarship is the carrier of the culture. Again, culture is the symbols and the practices that a people create to give themselves continuity and cohesion over generations.

In the community, we are celebrating this as an epic event. This timing of a decisive choice for America’s First Family is converging with the resetting of the African’s image of self inside as well as outside of the community.



Elder Atum Azzahir is executive director and elder consultant in African ways of knowing of the Cultural Wellness Center. She welcomes reader responses to




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *