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I will never be free from individual suffering until we are ALL free from suffering.” – Unknown
Thanks so much for stopping by and supporting the site. I am Naje Aditi Badu, formerly known as Kimberly E. Banks. I’d like to welcome you to what I believe to very well be the beginning of our journey of true liberation. We may not make it to the day where suffering for all of mankind has ceased, but together we can make a great contribution. It’s very likely that you may already be on your individual path to living life from the inside out, the way in which you were inherently designed. Yet, there is nothing like the manifestation of possibility that arises out of union with like-minded, like-souled people striving to create positive change in the world. So believe me when I say that your arrival to this site is no accident. Trust that there is something within compelling you to live freely, authentically, and unapologetically; something calling you to live on purpose; something requiring you to rise higher than your current state or circumstance.
Already, many of you, especially those of you who have been following the LGOYB (Let Go Of Your But – the title of my first book) brand over the past few years, are curious about the background behind the creation of this site. I can give you the short answer: it is long overdue in respect to following the true aspiration of using my gifts and talents as a means of contributing to a cause(s) greater than myself.Now, the curiosity of many of you reading or listening to this will not be quelled by what may seem to be an ambiguous response. For that reason, I will do my best to keep my explanation as short as possible. At the end of the day it is my greatest intention to inspire each and every one of you to reach deep within and find a way to contribute to a cause, to the rise for humanity, in whatever capacity you are capable.
First and foremost, please allow me a moment to shed light on the reason for the intentional misspelling of the term Rhyze. I made a point to remove the “i” ( and replaced it with “hy” – taken from the word rhythm) as a reminder that the type of uprising required today’s will certainly require a collective effort. Thus, this is a call to action for us to rise in rhythm, in unison, together, as one living and breathing body, for the sake of social progression. The next thing I will address is the subject of what we are rising above. In one word, I will simply state: oppression. One thing has become clear to me in recent weeks, and that is: underlying each and every being’s effort to live and express themselves wholeheartedly exists the constant struggle of rising above the fear of being judged and condemned without forfeiting what little sense of belonging we can muster in this ever-changing society. With social media taking replacing human connection, and in the same light, playing a significant role in the shaping of attitudes toward varying lifestyles and preferences, we have experienced simultaneous setbacks and progress made toward inclusion and equal rights. While some may be inspired to live courageously and without caution about judgement, others are still opting for the closeted, secluded existence that merely ignites loneliness and seclusion. Why? Because of the subjugation of opinions, beliefs, and practice held by people and groups who deem themselves superior to others; because the promise of love and acceptance that is dangled before us like carrots as long as the pathway set by the carrier is followed.
This leads me to my next point; a point that is heavily intertwined within the subtitle of this site: sparking the revolution from within. What does this mean? It means that it is impossible for the changes we wish to see in this world to transpire until we first begin to cultivate change within each and every one of our individual lives. To me, this is the most compelling message that I would like to emphasize by way of the art, literature, articles, videos, photographs, and interviews displayed on this site. I get it, upon first glimpse, this site may appear to be a platform that advocates the rise of a people, class, or nation that has grown exhausted with living an oppressed state of existence. And it is quite easy to conclude that the content shared on this site would encompass works designed to incite revolution of epic proportions. Well, let’s just say it’s all a matter of perspective, as we will be addressing topics related specifically to the inequality and oppression many of us experience sexually, culturally, financially, and educationally in this society today. Thus, we will also cover topics such as race (namely African depravity), gender (primarily women’s inequality), and sexual preference (discrimination of preferred inclinations). Why these topics? Well, considering I am a writer and an artists, who happens to be African, female, and fluid (or bisexual to keep it simple), I am all too familiar with what it feels like to live a life that is under-fulfilled and under-expressed. The kicker is that not only do I experience oppression in society, but there is a great amount of oppression I experience within my own culture/community (what we know today as colorism) as a result of having fair skin, as well as within my own family (largely because I followed a path that looked nothing like the ones my parents have laid out for me; in other words I made my own choices that had nothing at all to do with them).
This brings me to my next point. There are so many of us who are suffering silently as a result of the oppression we are experiencing internally, some self-imposed, and most of which is perpetuated by the atrocities we witness on a daily basis. We are living in a period where the whole of humanity is at stake. I recently went through a major depression that lasted for a period of four months. I can’t necessarily say for sure I am totally “out of the woods,” but I can say that I am doing much better. Now, I completely understand that four months may not be a long time to some people, especially those who suffer from this condition chronically. If this is you, I send you love and light. However, I will say that to know me is to know I have been a bright light for the greater part of my life, even though hardship and turmoil. I will refrain from getting into the whys, or whats, that triggered my depression, but I can say that it was largely due to living a life a very minimal sense of belonging for well over twenty years. All of this, mind you, resulting from being “different” or following a path that was unlike the environment in which I was raised – sexually, educationally, and relationally. Yes…I am certain there are many of you can relate. And we’d most likely agree that loneliness is a huge and unfair price to pay choosing our own path, and making our own choices. Apparently, life was far less concerned about whether or not I thought being ostracized and disowned by the family in which I was born was a generous exchange for my self-determination. Unfortunately, it took me two decades to learn that life had no intention on stopping and waiting for the fruition my desire for connection and love; especially if the hope was for it to come from individuals who were not equipped, nor capable, of providing me what I needed to thrive. Equally as unfortunate, is the fact that it took me reaching a point where ending my life was the only logical way to bring about the cessation of my suffering. Needless to say, the daily practice of repressing, adapting, and attempting to fulfill societal expectations for the sake of acceptance by my family, and in hopes of silencing the pain of unworthiness, had become detrimental to my existence. The irony is that, even thought this happened to be one of few painful periods in my life, I came out of it with an epiphany as clear as day; that the rise from oppression (which is what ultimately triggered my depression) could only occur from within.
Strangely, there were two taking place as I did my best to navigate through the darkness.