by Eric Hunter
The experience of fatherhood can be very frustrating but it can also be very fun sometimes. I have the opportunity to relive some of my childhood and teach my seed things that I didn’t get a chance to learn when I was a child. The foundation of a nation is the family and the community. The youth are the future. What we do today is what will manifest tomorrow, whether that be fortune or failure. It’s all based on what we teach the youth and what examples we set for them. Teaching the children practical skills that activate their creativity is vital to transform society and construct new communities from the ground up.
In Hip-Hop terminology we use the word “build” (rooted in the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths philosophy) to describe the nature of sharing ideas in conversation cyphers-circles. We can evolve this concept of building to include activities that equip the youth with actual tools of knowledge to physically build things. My son has picked up the hobby of playing with Legos and building unique structures with them and I encourage this activity to the fullest.
I recently took my son and nephews to Brick Fest 2023 in Pasadena, California. It’s a Lego convention full of a bunch of creative structures built out of Lego blocks. There were many themes ranging from Ancient Egyptian, Japanese Samurai, Star Wars, Super Mario Bros and so much more. It was a packed event. It was definitely a showcase of skill but it wasn’t necessarily a competition. It took a lot of time and energy to create these things and there was mutual respect among those who built the structures.
When we first entered the building we saw lifesize models of cartoon characters made out of Legos in different rows and sections. They had a Pixar Disney section. They had a Marvel comics section. There was an ancient warriors section with background posters for the photographic, cinematic vibe. There were building stations and hands-on activities for the kids to participate in. The kids loved the activities that were available for them to participate in. They got to build these models of characters from the Minecraft video game series. The Minecraft characters are two dimensional images but the way the kids built them made it appear three dimensional. Collectively, they made the blueprint and executed the task of building the structure like young mastermind architects. I was amazed by how invested and focused they were, but they were still having so much fun at the same time.
There was a section called the “Glow Zone” where they built glow-in-the-dark lego blocks. They had a lego graffiti wall where you can tag your name on. We put together some pieces for this giant floor mural of DC comic superheroes. It was pretty dope. We saw lego structures with various themes. Someone created a Jungle. We saw structures with big city settings. We saw an amusement park built out of Lego blocks. Someone made a chess board with soldier pieces. They made a civil war reenactment puzzle. We saw a lego model railtrack. There was a Star wars versus Star Trek theme lego structure. There was an island structure with a pirate ship and all kinds of neat creative works of art.
I would say the highlight of this event for us was the lego derby race. There were these 35-foot-long race track slopes set up. We built our own lego race cars. We placed them carefully on the race track and let them roll down the slope. My son said his strategy was to build an aerodynamic car that was heavy in the back and light in the front. None of us won the race, but the facilitators said that my son and nephews built the best looking cars that caught everyone’s attention. This activity sparked a lot of conversation. We met some new people and made some friends. Can’t go wrong with that.
While we participate in these types of activities, I stress the importance of making sure these beautiful Black babies understand that they come from a legacy of master builders, architects and engineers. Our ancestors built the world’s greatest structures like the Pyramids in Egypt and Nubia, the great walls of Benin in West Africa; and The African Renaissance Monument In Senegal. Benin city’s walls were at one point four times longer than the Great Wall of China. The African Renaissance statue in Senegal is taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York.
When they realize that they are cut from the cloth of Imhotep who created the blueprint of Djoser’s step pyramid in Egypt, or Benjamin Banneker who designed the blueprints for the White House in Washington D.C; they will be inspired to perform phenomenal feats in the future that will shake and shape the world.
Brick Fest will be coming to Sacramento, CA on September 16- 17 right by the State Capital at 1401 K St, Sacramento, CA 95814. I recommend everyone to take their child to this event, explore and examine the surrounding architecture of buildings in the capital district and spark the inspiration of their imagination to where they can see themselves being capable of possibly building structures like this in the future. This will be a very fun and educational experience I guarantee.
Journalist Eric Hunter (E Da Ref), an Oakland native, is Minister of Public Relations for the Black Riders Liberation Party and Co-Editor of African Intercommunal News Service. He writes for Black New World Media and the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau headed by JR Valrey. Hunter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.