Why I Grossly Dislike Tithes and Offering Messages

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. – Malachi 3:8

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

If you’ve been to church – pick a church; ANY church – you’ve heard these two scriptures read, quoted or paraphrased at the all critical offering segment of the church service. It is the most wearisome portion of church to me.

Do you know what I just realized? In all my days, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any pastor recite the first portion of II Corinthians “You must each decide in your heart how much to give”. Typically, they encourage you to give more! Give abundantly! Give according to the blessing you want God to bless you with! I can’t tell you how many Sunday’s I’ve had to check the bile swelling up in my throat to prevent myself from puking all over a church pew.

I don’t want to sound like a disgruntled Christian. I am not, I assure you. I actually look forward to giving my tithes and offerings in church. I look forward to showing the Lord my gratitude with my gift. My little white envelope and check is my way of saying “You know what God? You got me up every morning, kept me employed, kept me healthy, and saw that all my needs were supplied. I can’t repay you (after all, what price can you put on good health?), but I can bring you this gift to say ‘thanks’!” I come to church READY to give, and I think that any serious Christian should as well. After all, you go to work ready to do your job, don’t you? Does your boss have to come by your desk every morning to give you a 30 minute exhortation about all the wonderful things that will happen if you put your 40 hours in? Then why in Christ’s holy name do we have to suffer through an offering message about how God will “Open up the windows of heaven” if we give?!?

I sincerely believe offering messages are for new converts/believers. We are trained in Western society to get all we can and keep as much of it as possible. This thinking has seeped its way into the church, and because the church was instrumental in the (neo)colonization of Africa, this stingy mentality festers in African congregations as well. That’s why you can have a church where the members are dirt poor and the pastor honks for them to clear the road in his air-conditioned Benz on his way to Sunday brunch. Ekene Onu calls them “church-preneurs”. (But that’s another topic for another day.)

As I was saying, it is the duty of a Christian to give his/her tithes and offerings. It is the least of your reasonable service. How are you going to call yourself Christ representative in the earth if you can’t give money? Common money o! Can you really be expected to give of your time, talent and love – nontangibles which are far more valuable – if you have to be goaded and coerced into your reasonable service? Explaining things at this level are for folks who are babies in the things of God. If you’ve been a Christian for 15+ years and are still struggling with giving, you might need to do a spiritual check-up.

The other thing that absolutely makes me violently ill where offering messages are concerned is that I sometimes feel like I’m being sold a bottle of snake oil. This typically happens at big conferences and retreats, which is why I no longer attend big conferences and retreats. Offering messages in these arena sare typically manipulative.

cheerful-givingI remember when I was in college and just newly born again. A big named Prophetess who was very popular at that time had come into town. My friends and I were giddy with excitement because we’d watched her on VHS in our dorm, and by virtue of the power of her words and worship ON TAPE, found ourselves prostrate on the ground in prayer. Her arrival in town heralded the first conference I would ever attend. Before she came on stage, there was the typical business of praise and worship (four fast songs and two slow ones), some introductions of some other leaders who were profiling on the arena stage, and then the offering message which was, without exaggeration, 40 minutes long. By time he was done, he had convinced me that God would double (or even triple!) my blessing “but only if I gave big”. God would perform a miracle! He had a $50 line, a $100 line and a $1000 line going. I was working at Walmart on minimum wage at that time, and had a little less than $19 in my account. I knew this. But the man had spoken with such urgency, and I didn’t want to miss out on the blessing that the anointing THIS prophetess would bring, and despite the niggling voice in the back of my head wrote a $50 check…which then proceeded to bounce, and bounce and bounce like a jilted lover. I made the same mistake two more times in my life before Bank of America taught me the lesson that Darwinism could not.

This scenario repeats itself all over churches across this country, every Sunday and sometimes on Wednesdays during Bible study. If you are reading this and find yourself pressured into giving something you don’t have (be it time or money), STOP. Don’t do it. It’s only going to create bitterness in you. That is why I believe there is a special part in Hell for all these preachers and pastors who have had a role in creating hard-hearted, bitter Christians.

Instead of offering messages, many churches (particularly Black churches) would do well to have a financial literacy class. This is the other reason I despise offering messages. They keep people at a need-based, subsistence level. Let’s say I and everyone in the congregation in already walking in financial freedom: we have no debt and no lack. What would the “blessings of God” look like in that case? Why can’t we then begin to think and operate in THOSE terms, rather than “Gawd gonna pay yo’ bills if you open up yo’ heart and yo’ purse my sistah!!”. Is God a pimp? No really.

Is.

God.

A.

Pimp?

No one should be goaded into giving; and besides, no one wants to receive a ‘gift’ reluctantly given. If it’s not of your free will, it’s ransom money…and last I checked, the Lord wasn’t holding any of us hostage. We all have free will.

What about you, Reader? You might not be a Christian, or have any religious tendencies at all, but if you’re human, you probably have some method of organized giving. How do you feel about “offering messages”? Do they bother you? Motivate you? Or not really matter at all? Discuss! ↓

 

 

Fame

fame-298x300

(Fame) I’m gonna live forever

I’m gonna learn how to fly (High!!!)

I feel it coming together People will see me and cry (Fame)

I’m gonna make it to heaven

Light up the sky like a flame (Fame!)

I’m gonna live forever

Baby remember my name (Remember, remember!!! x 10,000,000)

Do you remember that show from the 80’s? I believe they made a remake of it a few years ago. It’s not nearly as popular as the original, of course. It was folly to remake Fame, just as it was foolish to remake the Karate Kid. Why ruin perfection?

Anyhow, I have been giving quite a bit of thought to the concept of fame – or rather how much importance society has put on it – for the last few weeks. It’s as if there is a gnawing, growing hunger and thirst that cannot be satiated with each passing generation. It’s like a virus or a famine, devouring everything in its. We haven’t escaped it our house, what with my oldest daughter stating repeatedly that her only quest in life is to be “famous”.

Like thousands of other children across America with the same goal, the girl has some talent, but not enough to compete with the likes of Quvenzhane Wallis or one of the Smith babies. We just can’t afford to divert the resources to get her to that level just yet…and that is what has me concerned about this Plague of Fame sweeping the country.

I visited with my sister-in-law a few days ago. She asked me how things were going with my book. I told her sales were slow, but that was because I hadn’t devoted a lot of time to marketing. Marketing, speaking, and all the accoutrements that go hand-in-glove with becoming a “famous author” are the things that many writers hate doing. I don’t want to market my books: I just want to write something people will enjoy and repeat that process 35 or more times over. This is why I will probably not become a “famous author”, at least in my lifetime. There is a possibility for fame after death, but we’ll come back to that.

As I was saying, I was chatting with my sister, and I asked her what was going on in her life in turn. She told me about a kid in her neighborhood who had done the unthinkable.

“He was a really sweet kid,” she said half way through our conversation. “He was a straight A student, had a ton of friends in his high school, and was well-liked in our neighborhood. He never did anything, except study, go to his after school clubs, and came home.”

“What do you think drove him to it?” I asked. My mouth was dry and my heart was heavy with sadness.

“Well,” she said slowly, “I think it was because when he went off to college, he wasn’t the biggest fish in the pond anymore. He was just another guppy in a huge lake.”

“He became a number…”I murmured.

“Exactly. And because everything had come so easy to him at home for so long, in his classwork…he had a set method of success that wasn’t working in this new environment…he couldn’t handle it. He wasn’t doing well in his studies. No one knew him. So he came home during Spring Break…”

And shot himself in his bedroom with a rifle, from lungs to neck. He didn’t survive. His life was cut short so soon, mostly because he didn’t have faith in the person he might have become.

This is one of the more extreme examples of the lengths young people will go to in order to reconcile the sense of failure they feel with “fame” or “renown” eludes them. I imagine there is no small amount of depression that precedes or accompanies these feeling as well. I distinctly recall scoffing when I read the story about Danny Bowman, a young teen in England who became suicidal after repeatedly failing to take the perfect selfie. It seemed silly – asinine, really – at first, but then you realize that this need to capture the perfect image of one’s self has less to do with self-obsession and more to do with how you think the world views you. (Please feel free to disagree with me on this point in the comments section.)

I think many of us Generation Xers who suffer from our own brand of Peter Pan Syndrome have done a piss poor job of preparing our kids for disappointment. In a way, I understand why. We still think we’re invincible: we rode bikes without helmets, lived in homes swathed in asbestos and lived to tell the tale, so why shouldn’t our children be just as unbreakable? Because our kids don’t/will never have the benefit of having the strength and intelligence of our Baby Boomer parents. We have cushioned our kids from any semblance of dissatisfaction, minimized almost every opportunity for them to experience delayed gratification, and set them up expect success with minimal effort on their part. One has only to go to Chuck E Cheese and watch an eight year old fall to pieces because he can’t get his balls in the skee-ball hole and retrieve his tickets!

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be famous or to be exceptional and what you do. I wish more people would pursue exceptionalism, rather than mediocrity. (Maybe we would have evolved to grow wings by now, who knows.) My concern is how we have been conditioned to experience fame; i.e. when it supposed to be valuable to us.

zora-neale-hurston_sSome of the most famous people in popular culture today only became so because they died. John Keats died a penniless, depressed dope head and gave us some of the most amazing poetry in English lit today. Johann Sebastian Bach might have fallen into antiquity and forgotten memory if not for Amadeus Mozart, who was an ardent follower and admirer of Bach and popularized him as a composer. Similarly, Alice Walker revived the work of Zora Neal Hurston when Walker reintroduced the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God to a new generation who had no idea about of Ms. Hurston. The examples are endless. Could any of these people have imagined in the depths of their drudgery, when all their work seemed as though it were in vain, when they received little or no recognition for their brilliance that 200, 100, 15 years thence they would be celebrated for their work?

In months when I haven’t sold a single unit of my book, it’s hard to imagine. For the kid who can’t figure out how to make his app work or get that technical dance move just right, it might feel the same way. This is when it becomes oh-so important that you – as an individual – recognize your worth and your brilliance and your beauty first. Don’t wait for the world to validate you. The world is fickle: they will sing your praises one day and call for your head the next.

Just ask President Obama.

What do you think, Reader? Do you think the timing of fame is more important than its achievement? Would you rather be a celebrity in your lifetime or have a legacy that outlived you? Do the spoils of your toil matter if you are not there to witness or enjoy them? Discuss! ↓

 

Red Friday Installments: Apathy Doesn’t Count

Malaka:

I would add something, but I think she’s said it all. *Stretches*

Originally posted on My Nostalgia for the Future:

“So are you going to the protest?”

“Nah… I have meetings”

-_____________-  “But you work for yourself… like, you set your own schedule and it will all be done by like, noon.”

“Meeehhhhhh… I just feel like, there is no point really. I mean, they know the issues, they just don’t care. And if they cared, we wouldn’t need to protest! I don”t see what marching and standing around is gonna do anyway”

“But for every single person that says that, we lose that much momentum and brute force for agitation…. and… well— nevermind, you suck. And I hope all of your meetings fail tomorrow”

“Wow… I suck? really Amma?”

“Yes.”

“So are you ordering fish or chicken at Chez?”

“Fish, girl!”

photo (4)

This is essentially an amalgamation of conversations I had with friends on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Conversations about protests, civil unrest, complaining, civil rights, agitation.

Conversations

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US EmbassyGate…Ghana Edition!

Ho-ho-ho-ho!

Santa? Is that you? Did Christmas come early?

Since this is Ghana politics, let me rephrase:

GAGAGAGAGGAGAAAA! HEIII!!!!

AH-JEISH!

I think that’s more in line with Papa Bronia’s merry chuckle. In time, we will figure out to combine the two for the benefit of all. After all, isn’t that why the US is in Ghana? I couldn’t find an official mission statement their website explaining why the US has an embassy in Ghana, but I’ll hazard a guess and say it has something to do with President Nixon’s agenda when he first visited Ghana during her foray into independence. His goal was to kill Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan African agenda and keep us darkies in check for the benefit of the superior Western World. (Of course, this is a coarse translation of events and ideals that on paper would include charming words and phrases like ‘bilateral cooperation’ and ‘mutual progress’.)

Did you see the US Embassy’s tweet about President Mahama this week? If you haven’t heard about it already, it will certainly be in Monday’s newsreel. It was a fantastically glorious example of hoof in mouth disease. I never would have heard about it at all if not for the BBC’s Akwasi Sarpong retweeting it.

USEmbassy tweet

Now, let me go ahead and say that I am not disagreeing with this tweet. It’s no different from the sentiments that I and many other people in my camp share. The average Ghanaian holds this view. (Save, of course, the diehard NDC sycophant who can’t seem to see the water for the ocean, even though s/he is drowning in it.) It was just odd that such an utterance – so utterly lacking in finesse – would emanate from the Twitter account of the Embassy of the United States of America. So odd, in fact, that most people took it for a joke/hoax/photo shopped prank and moved on.

Until someone apologized for it. Apparently, one of the staff who manages the USE twitter handle tweeted from the wrong account, inadvertently using the Embassy’s account to express their personal views.

Ahhh…so it was true? Now things were getting interesting.

I predicted that the NDC would attempt to use this tweet as fuel for propaganda and deflect from their role in ruining the existence of Ghanaians. Before I even had a chance to prove myself a soothsayer, Ghana’s Sarah Palin – and poster child for attractive, powerful, yet breathtakingly clueless women of influence – Miss Hannah Tetteh herself, lobbied an attack on the Embassy saying:

hannah v america

Now keep in mind, this is the SAME Hannah Tetteh who mocked the very same people who fund her cushy lifestyle with their taxes just a week ago during the #OccupyFlagstaffHouse protests. So derogatory and inflammatory were the tone of her tweets, that many were quick to assume that an intern/assistant had to be responsible for them. Her words were beneath the dignity of her office. However, since her tagline on twitter says “Opinions are my own & retweets are not endorsements”, it’s fair to say that she is personally tweeting in her own capacity. I am thunderstruck therefore that she would come out with such vehemence against the one tweet of the US Embassy when she sent SEVERAL far more offensive tweets.

The woman has the memory of a goldfish.

But there is a larger lesson here, and it has everything to do with how we use social media as public and private individuals. Oh! Forget Hannah Tetteh and the US Embassy. Just a week and a half ago this jolly woman was being feted by the Embassy at some event while her constituents were starving. And as for the Embassy? I remember when they were a mere office building in Osu with high gates manned menacing looking watchmen in blue shirts. Now, thanks to decades of denied visa fees at $500 a pop, they have purchased white amounts to entire New York city block of prime real estate, complete with plush housing for their staff.

As contemptible as I have always found the Embassy’s dealings with the Ghanaian public, I hold our ruling government in much lower regard. It is the Americans’ job to shaft us. And now we have to deal with that and the ruling government’s failure not only to protect us, but to fleece us in the process.

But as I was saying: the lesson.

Ghanaians somewhere are jubilating because they got the US Embassy to issue an apology.

usapologyWhat the Embassy actually did was apologize for the TWEET, not the sentiment behind it –which was bloody brilliant. We all know that JD Mahama’s presidency is one big apology. Now some guy called Ras Mubarak, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Youth Authority (talk about a phantom position), wants Hannah Tetteh to call on the US Ambassador to lay prostrate before the good people of Ghana and apologize for the errant tweet. Excuse me while I piss myself in laughter.

One of those groups/persons is Food Sovereignty Ghana, an anti-GMO organization that seeks to keep Monsanto and co out of crop production in Ghana. I was tempted to unlike and unfollow their page on Facebook, but I know one of the organizers, so I know she has better sense than to condone the foolishness that the person behind their twitter account is hell bent on pursuing. Look at this series of tweets:

foodtweetfoodtweet2foodtwwet3

Now, their first mistake was to come for my BFFFL. If anyone is going to come for my BFFFL, it’s gonna be ME…and then I will apologize for it because I never want to hurt my bestie for life.

Their second (and third, and forth) mistake was to keep the feud going, and to make it personal. See the portion where Food Sovereignty Ghana shames her for arrogance for stating that Hannah Tetteh is “making a storm in a tea cup” over the matter. The individual manning the account for today clearly has no savvy. S/he has either forgotten that in tweeting these personal attacks, they are doing so in the FULL CAPACITY of their grassroots organization…or they don’t care. Are we then to surmise that this is how Food Sovereignty Ghana treats all persons who disagree with them? Does the organization routinely seek to shame private individuals in this manner? And if so, are they REALLY an organization we want fronting the anti-GMO movement in Ghana? Isn’t Samia Nkrumah linked to this group as well? Wait a second…I thought she had presidential aspirations? Are THESE the types of folks she is going to have in her cabinet? We already have a crop of Deputy Ministers, MPs and what have you that treat the private citizen with scorn. Why replace moldy rice with spoiled yam? It’s all rotten, isn’t it!

Sadly, as of typing this blog, the person(s) in charge of handling the official twitter account for Food Sovereignty Ghana have not stopped their silly tirades, ironically proving Nana Darkoa’s very point!

*Sigh*

You see this?

photo-2

This is the screen I have to bypass every time I send a tweet. I have two accounts: One for Adventures, and the other is my personal. Can I understand how the kid at the Embassy sent personal views from his/her bosses account? You bet your sweet cheeks I can. I’ve done it. Nana Darkoa has done it. You may have done it. Corporations don’t do social media for themselves; people –with private lives and views – do.

The lesson therefore is to be more cognizant of what you are doing and how you’re doing it, and if you can’t figure your device out, maybe it’s best to keep your work data a separate device altogether.

Me? Unlike some folks who are determined to have angst over America “dissing” Ghana, I’m looking forward to the photo ops of Samia, Hannah and Ambassador Gene Cretz sucking on organic hotdogs and singing Kumbaya in Accra this Labor Day weekend. They are all robbing us and we’re stupidly snarling for crumbs like the peasants and pee-ons they presume us to be.

Alliteration, bitch!

 

 

#YouOKSis, Black Men, and Their Fragile Egos

*Note: I know this will open me up to a great deal of scorn from SOME Black men, but the majority of those are not my regular Random Readers or in the MOM Squad, so…. Yeah. Kick rocks.*

Hashtag activism is like the ocean tide: raging one moment, a ripple the next. Sometimes our “hashtag issues” are so far from shore that you wonder if they have any significance of them at all – and then BOOM! – dawn breaks and you are enveloped and swallowed by the concerns that once seemed so distant to you.

I am not one of those people who believe that a hashtag is really going to change anything. I do however believe that hashtag activism is a precursor to change. I believed strongly in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign because:

1)      It was a mandate for the Nigerian government to GO and BRING back our girls, rather than an onus on Boko Haram graciously returning them, and more importantly

2)      Because it put pressure on the Nigerian government to do something more than spin lies and propaganda to keep their citizens quiet. (Remember how they told us 3 days after the attack that all the girls had been rescued? Swine.) Now suddenly, the world was watching and making them accountable for their action and inaction.

A little over a week ago, #YouOKSis started making the rounds on my twitter time line. I didn’t know what it was, and honestly didn’t care to investigate until a Black male e-friend of mine DM’d me asking to explain. I was at a loss. A quick search informed me that it was about street harassment that women, in general, and Black women – in particular – face. We both concluded that if Black men stop the catcalls, and Black women learn not to be offended by every sort of Black male attention, we might begin to take some mutual steps in learning to respect each other.

And then I found this article by Rebecca Carroll which told me why I was both right and wrong in my assessment on how casual interaction among the sexes might work, particularly in the Black community.

I tweeted it with the accompanying #YouOKSis hashtag.

A few hours later, I got this in my mentions.

Nigger wench

I was shocked. Me? The paragon of Black female ‘respectability’? (Don’t laugh.) That was like calling the Queen a stable boy! Of course, I blocked this fool without response. There is no dialoguing with a person of limited mental faculties. I’ve held more intelligent conversations with a cactus.

His tweet reminded me of those afternoons I spent walking home from school, dreading the portion where I had to stroll by a group of men/boys that routinely sat on a certain wall cat-calling and harassing my friends and I. After a stressful day of classes, this only compounded my distress.

In calling me a “bed wench”, he managed to do the miraculous:

  • He proved that he cannot/did not read the article.
  • Dismisses the very real tension that all women feel when they are harassed, sexually and otherwise.
  • He proved that rape culture is very alive and well.
  • Lost the opportunity to engage with a very witty woman. (And yes, I mean me!)

The term “bed wench” as it applies to Black women is about as low as you can take a woman. Bitch, whore, c*nt…none of these can hold a candle to the shame and torture implicit in that word. As the MOM Squad knows, I love to read/watch/hear about anything that has to do with slavery and the colonial era. It informs me on how I live my life today and how I instruct my children.

I once read a slave narrative about a runaway woman, who had her breasts torn from her flesh by the hounds after they had prevailed upon her. Among other things, she was being forced to breed with one of the male slaves on the plantation. When she refused, she was whipped and made to breed with (read raped by) this particular buck all the same.

Don’t forget: Black men were called “bucks” in those days. Women were wenches.

Rape was not just something that White men meted out on our women. Black men were also forced to rape us as well. My best friend did a search on her family’s lineage, and discovered that two of her male ancestors were used as breeding stock and fathered 100 children between the two of them.

100 kids.

Sold, and probably re-sold, and never knowing their Daddy because he was used as an instrument of rape.

And this guy has the nerve to go ahead and harass and call me a bed wench because I have the gall to point out the very thing he and his ilk are – ironically – guilty of? I have no time to nurse your delicate ego!

I really wanted to use this example for a post I was planning to do on America’s pervasive rape culture, but I guess it applies now.

I didn’t touch #YouOKSis initially because I didn’t think I needed to. I didn’t think it applied to me. I live in white bread Roswell. I am familiar with the majority of the Black folks I regularly interact with. Most of us moved up here because we want no parts of the very ugliness that #YouOKSis has brought out in Black men and women alike. We have not dealt with the issues of our ancient and recent past, and it’s showing. However, as I just said two seconds ago, NO ONE has time to nurse a Black man’s ego because he got shut down after asking “when he can hit dat” or hollering “ ‘ey, shawty, ‘ey ‘ey ‘ey!” while he begs for change to get on the MARTA.

In that regard, I suppose I should thank Mr. Bed Wench Intimidator (as he calls himself), because he has shown that this is not an issue I can insulate myself of my children from. We are not immune. His actions prove that there is still so much work needed to be done in raising a better caliber of Black male. One who is intelligent and informed about his culture’s past. One who does not stoop to insulting and harassing women whom he has no kinship to or relationship with…and even if he did, would have enough self-respect not to do so anyway. I really thought we had come a little farther than that; like certain things were a given – i.e. don’t chew gum during a job interview, and don’t call Black women bed wenches (unless she’s willfully and gainfully employed as one).

Feminista Jones, the originator of hashtag, was kind enough to check in on me.

femjones Yes. I am fine. A little stunned, but just fine.

 

 

 

The Public Shaming of Justin Ross Harris

“Black folk don’t get lice. That’s something nasty white folk who don’t wash and live in trailers get.” – Some African American woman I met once when I was a kid living in Labone.

And yet there I was: a Black child, in Africa, with lice. I had caught lice from a cousin who’d gone away to boarding school and spread it to us at home. If not for her, I would never had experienced lice, and would be inclined to agree with the large, sweating Afro-American visiting my house.

This is one of the earliest conversations I can recollect around the theme of judgment. I don’t even know if it’s fair to call this course of thinking “judgment”. If there is a singular word for ‘a lack of empathy that displays itself through and makes utterances predicated on presumed superiority’, then that’s what behavior is. I find that when tragedy strikes, many American’s aren’t ‘judgmental’ per se, they do whatever this unnamed rhyme and dance is.

I have already stated my unwavering support for Justin Harris, and until a prosecutor can prove beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to murder his child, that is not going to change. Did Justin’s actions lead to the death of his child? Yes. No one can dispute that. The question that is before us now is did he purposefully do so.

First of all, let me say that I am not naïve about what the likely outcome of this case will be. The Cobb County judge will likely find him guilty, because he doesn’t want to be seen as soft or wants to avoid the same criticism the judge in the Casey Anthony case did. It’s just easier this way: to lock Justin up for 20 years and forget him like a bad memory. However, we will all find in the end that doing this will not be that simple. This case interests me as I’ve said before because:

1)      I’m a parent

2)      I’m married and

3)      I’m educated

Just like the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the outcome of this case has implications for us all. Now that’s they’ve ruled that Hobby Lobby does not have to cover certain medical expenses because of religious beliefs, what is the ricochet effect of that? What else can a company decide not to cover because of their beliefs or mores? Your answer may be: “Well, just don’t go work at a Christian company.” Life, as we know, is never that simple. I know many a church girl who has ended up on the pole because she needed to make ends meet.

I’m going to discuss a few areas that are particularly troubling to me as regards to this case, starting with

The Media

Media treatment of this tragedy has been absolutely and shockingly shameful. From the beginning, they have sought to find Just Harris guilty in the court of public opinion before he’s properly been to trial. The two areas they have focused on are his search history and now his alleged sexting. Reports have indicated that he was sexting during the hours his son lay dying in the car. They have also said he and his wife searched on how long it takes an animal and/or a child to die in a hot car. What they have released is WHEN these searches took place. Was while his wife was pregnant? Was it the day the baby was born? Was it a few hours before he left his child in the car? Why can’t they say when? So you know when he was sexting, but can’t say when these searches took place? Sounds fishy to me…

Internet Searches

Critics of the Harris couple have proposed that they are both guilty of killing their son because they both did a search on kids in hot cars (at some point, again we don’t know when), and have sought to implicate his wife in this tragedy. Now, as someone who is married – and is married to a web developer – this could be troublesome should any tragedy befall us in our home. Again, let me tell on myself.

We have 3 tablets, 3 laptops, 3 smartphones and 2 desktop computers in our home. Once in a while my husband and I tweet or Facebook each other while we are in bed. Together. There have been numerous occasions where I have said “Hey babe! When you get a chance, Google xyz on your laptop.” And you know what? We’re not the only crazy couple in America who does this. Yes, yes…I know all you perfect couples gather ‘round the fire at night and commune in order to share the chronicles of your day while sipping hot cider, but we don’t. We share links and text each other.

Under what circumstances did this married couple search the same topic? How does that implicate intent to murder a child? Furthermore, what OTHER topics (like schools, vacation spots, poison control, etc) have they collectively searched? Do they have a pattern of doing so?

Note to MX5: Don’t send me anymore links to anymore crazy stories and then ask me to research them for our coffee chats. Just looking up information could implicate our guilt a tragedy!

 

Justin uses ‘Big Words’, therefore he’s Guilty

A police officer testified that when Justin Harris was informed that he was being charged with murdering his son, his objected incredulously by saying “But there was no malicious intent!”

That had people fuming.

“Who says that?” one internet user spat. “Who says ‘malicious intent’? You don’t say that if you’re innocent…you start crying!

Really lady? You sound really stupid. Whether he said “But I didn’t mean it!” or “But it wasn’t intentional!” or “But Gawd knowed it weren’t my desire to do dis to muh baby!”, there is something about the word “murder” that triggered the use of the verbiage “malicious intent”.

Part of that has to do with your exposure and your educational standard. Not every blokes response to duress is to cry. I’m sorry, but I have to throw out the Dumbass Card on that one.

The Rear Facing Car Seat

Out of ALL the nonsensical reasons I’ve heard people say points to evidence that Justin Ross intended to murder his child is the recent purchase of the rear facing car seat for his toddler son, Cooper.

Jesus be a leather glove so I can slap somebody.

When Aya was around 18-20 months, we had a scheduled pediatric visit for what seemed like quarterly shots. They went down a checklist of items we have in our home.

Do you have any fire arms?

Do you use tobacco products?

Is her car seat rear or forward facing.

I remember I was especially excited that her seat was forward facing, because now I could see her face and pass her crackers and milk with more ease.

“Is it a 3-point harness or 5-point harness?” Aya’s doctor asked.

I replied it was a 3-point harness. Why did she want to know?

“Because federal guidelines state that it has to be a 5-point harness,” she in replied. When I objected, saying I had JUST bought the 3-point harness car seat and whined about how much it was going to cost to get a new one, she said she understood, but I still needed to get it.

And being that parent, the one who wants to do everything right for her kids, I decimated my entire shoe fund and went out and spent it all on a new car seat to replace the new car seat.

So I ask: Why did the Harris’ buy a new car seat? And could it be that the reasons aren’t as sinister as the conspiracy theorists and pseudo-Sherlocks would have us all think?

Sexting as Evidence of Guilt

sexting-nation-fiDo you know how much Americans spent on porn last year? TEN BILLION DOLLARS. That’s more than the NBA, NFL and NHL combined. And so while everyone is ‘shocked’ that Justin Harris was sexting while he left his child in his car, they should not be. You don’t build a $10 billion industry because no one is consuming that product/service.

I used to work with this guy at a recruiting firm years ago that was heavy into internet porn. He was our only sales guy, but he never made any calls. He would just sit in his office and watch porn all day long. I never had much dealing with him, but the other recruiters said it was like he was in a trance when he was back there alone. He just couldn’t break free of it! I walked into his office to deliver something (I was the office admin, fresh out of college) and stood there for an eternity before he even realized I was there…and that was only after I clapped my hands and said:

“Hey. Chris! These came for you!”

Chris was married to a *good* woman named Alexis. She came into the office every so often. Alexis was super sweet, very educated, and probably made a good home for she and Chris (they didn’t have kids). But she was absolutely not a freak, and her husband –like millions of other men in America – had acquired freakish appetites that happened to include internet porn. Justin Harris had acquired a taste for sexting and was doing so while he was on his way into work – and if his attention span is anything like my old co-worker Chris’ – I can completely see how he walked away and forgot his son in his car. Porn and sex demand your complete and total attention.

There are not many Americans who have the moral right to judge Justin Harris as an intentional murderer because of this consumption of sexual fare. Shoot, I write for Adventures From the Bedrooms of African Women. All we talk about is sex. If (heaven forbid!) a tragedy befalls my kids, are the headlines going to scream “Sex blogger murders child while she creates sexually explicit content in her home!!!”

Possibly, and that’s why this Justin Harris’ case is troubling to me. Because now, according to public opinion and the banana court of law, I could be Justin Harris in a split second. Nothing about my life is perfect. I don’t always cry when loved ones die. I use language in certain situations that typical 8th grade leavers do not. I research a lot on the internet. Add the fact that my home is constantly in a state of disarray and we’re packed in like sardines, I am the perfect candidate for the negligent Black mother if ANYTHING should befall my kids!

So again, I do not believe Justin Harris intentionally murdered his son. I believe he was negligent and he slipped in the moment. He might be what I call a Gomer Pyle Personality, and have a history of slips, but none with results as tragic and fatal as this… and I’m sure with the public eye trained on him so severely, we’ll eventually find out everything. Why? Because people in society today lust information and relish at the thought of ‘judging’ someone else in order to make themselves feel more superior.

Don’t forget…Black people never get lice.

 

#OccupyFlagStaffHouse aka Dada ‘B’ Demonstrations!

Definitions for today’s post

Dada ba: A “spoiled” child/ a child who has never known true hardship/ a child who has grown up with greater than average benefits

FUBAR: F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition

Ghana: (For people like Ellen DeGeneres) That country that provides most of your chocolate, provided 30% of America’s slave labor, and that state in Africa President Obama visited not too long ago.

I think we’re ready.

 ******

They came armed with their iPads, digital cameras and a plethora of smart devices. Some came chauffeured by their hired drivers, and others by public transportation. Parents came with their kids and  girls came with their boyfriends. All had a singular goal: To let the ruling government know that they would no longer sit silently as Ghana descended further and further into the FUBAR trajectory that it has been in since Kotoka’s first coup.

Girl

#OccupyFlagStaffHouse is the first time in Ghana’s history that the middle class as a group has taken to the streets to register their displeasure with the ruling government. Ghana, like many countries in Africa, is accustomed to strikes. Our doctors, nurses and trade unions strike regularly. These are professionals and blue collar workers who rely on the government for their salaries- salaries which are in some cases in arrears of a year or more. The protests of these entities have in recent years become little more than white noise. The government merely yawns and placates the suffering with more platitudes and promises.

We’re used to things not working in Ghana, and for any African who lives north of the Limpopo, a lot of our social ills mirror each other, irrespective of the country of our residence or birth. Similarly, we who find ourselves in the ‘middle class’ deal with the ineptitude of our leadership in the same way. We find private solutions to public problems. If the municipal water and sewage does not reach our homes, we dig boreholes and install septic tanks. Public transportation doesn’t come by your house on schedule? No problem! We’ll buy a car. Public schools failing abysmally? No worries! I’ll send my kids to GIS/HGIC/any one of the new dada ba institutions mushrooming in the metropolis in exchange for exorbitant fees.

The middle class (I personally think it is an elite merchant class) has been functioning in a stupor like this for so long that it does not even realize how their selfish action has had such a negative impact on Ghanaian (or insert your country) society at large. In recent months, Ghana’s government has proven that it has the power to sink this ship we call a country entirely, and drown us all with it. This is what made folks who ordinarily are content with shaking their heads and hmmm’ing over a bowl of chilled mangoes at the shame of it all sit up and take notice.

I wasn’t there, but like most Ghanaians who have achieved a middle/upper (or lower middle, in my case) class lifestyle and who live abroad, we followed this protest with keen interest. Many of us know those people who took to the streets personally. Many of us commune in the same circles. We were and are also interested in the outcome of this protest – and others like it to follow – because we invest in our country. In 2011, Ghanaians sent $119m in remittances to loved ones back home who otherwise would be unable to afford school fees, or rent, or the cost a funeral.  When those dollars and pounds are affected by poor government policy, it affects OUR bottom line as well. Suddenly, your family that was able to survive off of supplemental $200 a month needs an additional $800 a month because inflation is so rampant and the government is threatening to impose a 17.5% VAT on banking services as well!

I love her face. "If you like, try me!"

I love her face. “If you like, try me!”

There are several articles that talk about the genesis and the need for #OccupyFlagStaffHouse. They are all very cerebral in their analysis. It is my job to talk about the more amusing aspects, and there is nothing more comical than the government response to the whole affair.

Before the Occupy protest even began (which was amazingly orchestrated in 48 hours!) the unofficial response by some NDC loyalists was to set up a counter protest at Black Star square. They created this blog on June 29th  listing all of the laughable reasons why JD Mahama needs every Ghanaians support. In regards to the recent fuel shortage that wrecked the country, they explain that it is only because of “disagreements” about unpaid monies that led BDCs (bulk oil distribution companies) to cut off our supply. How is this the president’s fault, they wonder aloud?

First of all, if you owe me 1.8 billion cedis (or $597,908,970.00, if you will), I’m cuttin’ off your supply too. And it’s the president’s fault because he hired the guy responsible for paying the bill and he didn’t do his job. Nepotism in Ghana is a helluva drug!

I was all geared up for a “protest-off” à la Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, but the group called off their counter protest amid ‘security concerns’. I see why. The government sent Afro-Robocops and tanks to meet the Occupiers! Is this how you prepare to greet people who simply want you to do your job? You mean who have ALL these resources but you can’t go out and catch the armed robbers terrorizing our country???

Heh. Where did they get the fuel for this tank?

Heh. Where did they get the fuel for this tank?

 

The Dark Robocop Rises

The Dark Robocop Rises

 

Can we talk about Hannah Tetteh for just a second?

This is not our first tango with Honorable Hannah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, here on MOM. Remember when the Chibok girls were kidnapped and we BEGGED for our leadership to show some solidarity with the Nigerian government, just to say “Hey dawg. Boko Haram sucks, and we support you?” She said it was not possible. Protocol did not permit that. 17 hours later president Mahama released a letter that was back dated saying he BEEN sent a letter over to Goodluck n’ dem. The woman has proven that she is either 1) clueless, 2) should not have a social media account or 3) all of the above.

hannah

If you are going to tweet and comment publicly in your capacity as a Minister of Parliament, mocking the people who fund your comfortable lifestyle with their daily hustle is probably not good form. Don’t worry. She was dealt with quite nicely.

hannahWord of advice: If you’re going to throw shade, be prepared to have some smothered all over you as well.

Can we also talk about the boo’ing? *snicker*

A flagbearer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Stephen Asamoah Boateng was booed by the ‘Occupythe Flagstaff House’  when he presumed to address the media on the protestors’ behalf. He slinked away amid shouts of “No politicians!” and “you are all the same!” It was glorious. Hopefully someone will make a GIF of his walk of shame down the sidewalk.

All was well until the unthinkable happened. They arrested Edward Tagoe, a firebrand entrepreneur who is well-known in influential circles. (I still think you’re a misogynist, Edward.) Yei! Come and see panic! One woman living in the country sent me frantic inbox messages talmbout:

“This is why you need to be quiet on social media!”

“These people are just marking themselves for trouble!”

“I’m even crying now. I’ll pray for Eddie!”

How. How can a woman of such stature and education be so afraid of her own government? She is not alone. That’s what kept so many people who know this country is in a perpetual state of FUBAR at home or in some cases, out of the city altogether. They really do believe their government would punish them for exercising their rights! Edward Tagoe was eventually released and seen taking smiling selfies when he rejoined the protest.

As I hear it, the police tried to bully the protestors, but there were far more heartening stories. Secretly, a number of officers confided that they also support the protests. Things are near unbearable in the country. It’s hard, and while Hannah Tetteh & Co sit from their perches taking snapshots of the people they presume to piss on daily, they should remember that we are a people who do not forget.

Ah, it was a glorious day to be a Ghanaian again! To say I was – and am still – so proud is an understatement. Never mind that the news as of today is that government has gone to accept a $156m loan to purchase sanitary pads for girls in rural areas instead of building a sanitary pad factory…*sigh*. Aluta contiua.

Did you join in the protest? Why or why not? What was your favorite part of the day? What hopes do you have for action after this? Or do you think the protests were a waste of time? Is it time for ALL Africans in similar situations to do the same and demand more of their governments? Discuss! ↓