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! ↓

 

Are you Going to #OccupyFlagStaffHouse?

“Chile, I don’t want you mixed up in all dat revolution, y’hear? They gon’ KILL your scrawny ass!”

This phrase was repeated in various forms in Negro homes all across America in the 50s and 60s. Parents who had lived through Jim Crow and whose own parents and grandparents had come out of slavery and Reconstruction knew what a cagey government and ruling class bent on the destruction of a people was capable of. Asking for change was dangerous. They could (and often would) actually kill you – the fed up, ordinary citizen – to maintain the status quo. The fear of these parents whose children were seeking radical change and ‘revolution’ was real and absolutely warranted. They had often witnessed the fiery destruction that comes with change, and thus became apathetic.

That’s why I know for a fact that if I was in Ghana on July 1st, my father would absolutely forbid me from attending #OccupyFlagStaffHouse. It’s too risky, and that is why he would never permit his grown daughter to attend this event. And you know what? Despite the fact that I am a 36 year old woman with four kids of my own, I would have to acquiesce to his wishes or risk the shame of being branded a ‘disobedient daughter’ in the course of attempting to usher in change through civil disobedience. There are thousands of women and men who will have to make that same choice on July 1st.

For the benefit of full disclosure, allow me to state now that I do not live in any part of Ghana. I live abroad with my family and visit Ghana annually. Regular visitors to this blog know this, but for those who are coming here because of this hashtag, I do not want to give the impression that I am championing this cause from the comfort of my climate controlled home sipping imported coffee because I have the luxury to. I will neither condemn anyone who wants to attend this rally nor those who see no use in it. I understand each position equally. People are afraid, and they have every right to be.

For those of us old enough to witness or remember the stories “Rawlings Chain”, firing squad, people disappearing in the night or having your home razed because you had one too many toilets, #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is akin to courting trouble. Why do all that? Why not wait until 2016 and vote these NDC bums out!

The problem is Ghana’s decay is not an NDC or NPP problem. This is a Ghanaian problem. These “leaders” come from among us. My uncle went to school with JJ Rawlings. One of your uncles or aunties went to school with Kuffour and Co. Some of you went to school with Victoria Hammah. These individuals did not sudden garner a new set of mores when they got into political office and acquire power. For example, if a politician does not build a house for his mother within his first 2 years in office, he is insulted mercilessly. The entire family expects “to chop” some of the benefits that come with his position. The rest of us have to wait your turn to put a son in power! The politician then therefore becomes “hope” in himself, rather than working to create hope for the nation. No wonder these guys think they are demigods.

We have a culture of service and respect, but we keep it relegated to the realm of the traditional. You would never go to Nana’s house and drop your waste in his courtyard. But what do you find outside of the chief’s palace in our streets? You find people dropping Fan Ice and Pure Water wrappers in the road, plastic waste everywhere, and hawkers selling dog chains on barren patches of land with a sign commanding “Do Not Walk on the Grass”.

wasteIt’s all very cyclical. Ghanaians do not have the structures in place to allow them to be a better brand of citizen and so they in turn exhibit behaviors of poor citizenship. Our streets would not be so filthy if we had proper, reliable waste management, and the ONLY body sanctioned to provide that right now is the federal government. Give Ghanaians waste baskets and recycling containers on the streets, educate the masses on the hazards of improper waste, dispose of it properly and we will change our habits! But for Heaven’s sake, please stop this practice of moving our metropolitan garbage into the countryside and polluting their landscapes and water bodies. It’s demonic.

This is but one of the many, many issues that Ghanaians are protesting against on July 1st. People are asking for:

  • A commitment to better governance and transparency
  • An end to wanton, indiscriminate corruption
  • A tangible plan to power and provide the whole of Ghana with basic, necessary utilities like electricity and water
  • Access to better education for ALL Ghana’s children
  • An overhaul of the tax code and revenue accumulation practices
  • Ensure a proper functioning health insurance scheme
  • Scrap all policies which inhibit establishment and growth of business
  • A commitment to stop dicking with our progress as a  people

(Okay, okay! I confess. I added that last line item. It is not on the official list.)

 

What is so “revolutionary” about these requests in 2014?

That is why #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is not a “revolution”, although the idea itself is. It’s a peaceful protest asking and providing ordinary citizens a platform to exercise their right to protest the needlessly harsh conditions under which they find themselves. In a country as where the populace is as apathetic and conditioned to accept scraps as ours is, movements like One Simple Step and Occupy Flag Staff are paramount civil disobedience indeed!

Now, they naysayers who say there is no need or benefit in protesting want a “wait and see” approach. They say Ghanaians are lazy and that that they need to “innovate”, rather than demonstrate. But really, who is more innovative than the kindergarten boy who has to make his own toys out of milk tins and flip flops because his dad cannot find a job in Ghana’s abysmal economy? And every day, whether they are seamstresses or event planners, men and women have to get up and go to work doing the same thing: building their enterprises out of milk tins and chale wote. We cannot “innovate” our way to progress when there is only one functioning imaging machine at the harbor and your imported food items for your cold store go rotting in the container for an eternity while the officials scan other boxes that have been sitting there for months. A Ghanaian entrepreneur cannot “innovate” his way to success when he suddenly lands a long awaited deal and upon discovering he needs to renew his passport in order to travel and close said deal, is told that he will have to wait 3-6 months to get it because the passport making machine is broken!

Ah ah!

I get it. I understand people are afraid. They don’t want these Occupiers rocking the boat. Some say Ghanaians are not ‘fearful’ but rather apathetic to their plight. An apathetic population is the biggest gift you could give to a corrupt, inept government, because they no longer have to use bully tactics like firing squad and search and seizure to keep you in check: you’ll keep yourself in check. It’s easier to just shrug, suffer, sleep and repeat.

I think Edward Tagoe summed up the necessity of #OccupyFlagStaffHouse quite nicely:

edward

It’s a fascinating idea, isn’t it? That the Black African who all have said can only be ruled by force and the gun can use his/her wits and civility to change their circumstances? Isn’t that how we got our independence in the first place? And for all those asking “Ehhh…you’ve gone to sit in the sun on the grass and then now what?”

Well, that really depends on the Mahama Administration, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

Are American Parents Under A Systematic Societal Attack?

Becoming a parent should be a joyous event in everyone’s life; however circumstances surrounding a birth are not always ideal. Some of us are products of rape or incest. Some of us were born into poverty or dysfunctional families. No matter what our circumstances, if you’re reading this blog today, it’s safe to assume you’re alive. You’re here. You exist, and you matter. For that, you have a parent or guardian to thank.

Being a parent is hard work, but it has been my experience that being a parent in America is 400 times harder than anything I ever imagined. Everyone is so insular. Community support is virtually non-existent. The government is perpetually in your family’s business, gathering the most minute details of your existence in order to build a profile around you, and everyone – and I do mean everyone – has an opinion (but rarely offers tangible support) about how you raise your child(ren) or conduct your daily affairs.

Despite all the social structures, amenities and checks and balances we have in this country, parenting is a hard task. Perhaps it is because of all those so-called checks and balances that raising a family is so difficult in America. It gives a false sense that life is foolproof and that absolutely nothing can ever go wrong at any time under any circumstances. This is nonsense, of course. America is not Heaven and it is inhabited by humans. It’s not perfect. However I truly believe that a large swath of Americans have deluded themselves into thinking this is the case: individually, they think they are perfect and that therefore everyone else is perfect. These are the folks who wantonly use the terms “always” and “never” in the comments section of the news and on radio.

They aren’t very bright, but they can’t be ignored because they exist in such large numbers.

Four years ago I wrote a blog entitled Judging Shaquan Duley  which was about the young mother who smothered her toddler children before driving their lifeless bodies into a lake. In this post I talked about the gloomy side of motherhood – the side that doesn’t make it onto pastel-prismed television commercials or glassy magazine ads. Poor, Black, single motherhood is hard, and it requires a level of mental fortitude that not all women possess. Ms. Duley’s children paid the ultimate price for her frailty. Reactions were swift, condemning and predictable, calling Duley a monster who should be “hung from the nearest tree”, all of which I documented in the blog.

Recently, a mother stopped at a gas station in Houston and left her 8 month old baby in the car while she went inside to pay for gas. As I understand, it was pretty late at night, and the baby was sleeping. As she waited to be attended to, a male suspect took her car (which was still running with the keys in the ignition) and drove off with her baby which he later abandoned in the woods. Again, social reaction was quick and condemning. “No one” could understand why “anyone” would leave their child in the car! Some wanted the mother charged for negligence. Again, some suggested killing the mother for retribution for what she had done. I read with disbelief, although I shouldn’t have been shocked. Why was none of this ire reserved for the criminal who stole the car? The mother and her child were the victims here. I can completely understand why she left the car running: it was Texas. It was probably hot as hell, and she didn’t want to leave her child in a hot car while she went inside to pay for gas! But you know, Americans are ‘perfect’ and when things are not done the way in which they approve of…

Speaking of hot cars, I want to return to Justin Harris’ case. A friend of mine copied me on a CNN report showing breaking news on the developments within the case. I am here to state unequivocally that I support Justin Harris and that I believe in his innocence. I have never met Mr. Harris, but I know him. I’ve met people like him in various forms in my life.

If you live long enough, you will encounter all kinds of people. You’ll meet folks who are introverts, overachievers, slackers, simpletons, douchebags, saints, opportunists, narcissists and prodigies. You will also meet people who are just plain forgetful, and I truly believe Justin Harris is the lattermost. First of all, he’s a man – and it is the nature of men to forget. I am by no means knocking men, but if you’ve ever dated or raised a man, you know that they do forget things rather easily: dates, anniversaries, socks in the trunk of the car or to pick up dinner on the way home. Forgetting any of these things is annoying at worst; no one ever got hurt because dad forgot to pick up the Hamburger Helper on the way home. But when dad is absent minded or easily distracted by nature, we see in baby Cooper’s untimely and sad death how the results can fatal.

Why do I believe Justin Harris is the victim of a witch hunt in a self-absorbed society? In the CNN report I mentioned, the reporter(s) states that Mr. Harris did a search on how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car “before leaving his son to die in his hot vehicle” (the article has since been edited). What the report failed to indicate was when this search was done, and if CNN or its staff had an ounce of integrity, they would admit that this search was done in 2013 in relation to a police officer from a Georgia K-9 unit who had left his dog to die in a hot car! But no, that would not be sensational enough to satisfy a blood thirsty American populace looking for a modern-day lynching. The obvious intent in printing this sentence was to lead public opinion, not to report accurately.

I guess at the heart of it, this is what’s pissing me off about the way this whole story is being handled. It’s a story being built on half-truths and whole lies, and that charge is being led by the media. Journalism was to be my profession had I not chosen PR, and to know that the likes of Victor Blackwell, Devon M. Sayers, MaryLynn Ryan and Joe Sterling over at CNN – as well as hundreds of other crap reporters working for lesser known organizations who are sullying the foundation of journalism – could be named as my colleagues makes me grateful that I am not included in that number. It’s DISGUSTING. It pains me to see this power being abused this way. At the end of every headline, paragraph and comma, a man’s life hangs in the balance…but you can’t report the story without a slant for the sake of sensationalism and ratings? If I could come by your office and take a dump on all your desks I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. You deserve nothing but scorn.

sherrifWhat’s even more stomach churning is the behavior of the police in this matter… as though they as a unit or as individuals are above error or reproach. Did you know that in Douglas County, within days of Justin Harris forgetting his son in the car on that fateful day, an entire DIVISION of the police left two teens in a holding cell for nearly three days because someone “forgot” they were there? Left them with nothing but a toilet and a sink over the weekend. (Douglas County is 28 minutes away from Cobb county where Justin was arrested, by the way.) So you see, even the police can forget. Although in this case, they have the luxury of calling it an “oversight” because thankfully neither of the kids was hurt.

I am frightened MOM Squad. We live in a world where people think they are entitled to every bit of minutiae in your life in order to sit in judgment of and eventually try to crucify you with it. We live in a society that allows no room for human error. What’s even more unsettling is that so many of these people demanding perfection themselves lack critical thinking skills, the power of deduction and more importantly, compassion – and these are the folks who are fueling and steering the engine of our society!

This is what scares me as a parent living in the Land of the Free. One wrong Google search, one unexplainable scrape on my child, one moment spent doing something in haste and I too could find myself accused unspeakable, unfathomable things.

I will continue to keep the Harris family and all families in this country in my prayers.

Are you a parent? Do you feel supported by your community? Have you had the opportunity to raise children in different parts of the country/world? How does it compare? Discuss!

Why Can’t Zendaya Play Aaliyah? It All Goes Back to Cotton.

Hey there, Reader! Do you have any idea what this is? No, no. Not the white fluffy stuff. That’s easy. We all know that’s cotton. I’m talking about the big wooden thing it’s sitting in. I’ll give you three attempts before I tell you.

WhitneyCottonGin

That, folks, is Eli Whitney’s cotton gin…or a replica of it, at least. Did you know that just before this invention, slavery was on its way to being phased out in the South because it had become so unprofitable to grow and harvest cotton? The overhead cost of housing and feeding slaves was blowing cotton planter’s margins so abysmally that they nearly gave up on the enterprise! But then came Eli Whitney (and his Black apprentice too) with his witty invention that separated cotton fibers from their seeds and *POOF!*, Black people found themselves in bondage for another hundred years!

Most White folk don’t use cotton gins any more, seeing as there aren’t that many cotton plantations dotting this country’s landscape. The once useful cotton gin – this innovative tool that tied Black folk in bondage – has become a relic of the past. That’s what White people do: they develop tools and discard them when they have no more use.

That’s what they did with colorism.

We all know colorism was a tool used on the plantations to create social hierarchies that would pre-determine what benefits every person of color would receive. At one point in time, there were about 285 designations of Black color based on pigmentation, hair type and features, as well as accompanying tests to determine where an individual fit in the spectrum. Some of the more famous ones are the “brown paper bag” and the “pencil” tests. Colorism, just like Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, was yet another effective tool that the white ruling class used to keep Black people in bondage. But they don’t need it anymore so guess what? It became too became a relic.

Oh, please. Make no mistake. To the average Caucasian of a certain age Black is Black is Black. I work with a particular (white) gentleman named Will* who routinely calls my other (black) co-workers by wrong names. He is always quick to apologize.

“I’m sorry so!” he said with a chuckle once during a break. “It’s just that Mark and Kevin look so much alike!”

I snorted in contempt, replying “What are you talking about Will? Mark is four shades darker than Kevin, and Kevin was a bodybuilder. Even their frames are completely different!”

“Well,” he went on the explain, “to the average white man like me, they look pretty much the same…”

And THAT folks is how Mark could do the crime and Kevin could end up doing the crime. The idiotic nature of his view aside, Will unwittingly revealed something about how people who are not black see blackness: and that is that it is universal. It’s just “Black”. And why should it not be? After all, whiteness comes in peaches n’ cream, chalk and olive, but it still has the ‘benefit’ of being just plain ol’ white skin. There is no more stigma to having a creamy complexion than there is to having a copper colored one. This dynamic does not exist in the Black community, and I’m here to say it needs to!

zendaya-instagram-musicMy Twitter timeline has been alight for the last few days about a little girl named Zendaya. Zendaya Coleman is a Disney star: she sings, acts dances – you get the picture. Zendaya has also been tapped to play Aaliyah in an upcoming Lifetime biopic. This has certain Black folk – who are still stuck with a plantation mentality – very angry indeed. They say Zendaya is “too light” or “not black enough” to play Aaliyah.

zen and dadThis is where it gets complicated and really political. This is Zendaya’s dad. He’s about as dark as my dad, which is pretty darn dark. Zendaya is biracial – her mom is white. It is no fault of Zendaya’s that she was not born darker. She’s half black, and according to what society has been telling us for years, that makes her “all” black. However, because she is not an “acceptable” shade of black, she is unfit to play Aaliyah (God rest her soul). Looking at these two pictures of the pair side-by-side, I’d say she’s an afternoon in the sun away from matching Aaliyah’s complexion.

Zen aaliyah

But who cares? Seriously! Is this something to be miffed about? Zendaya has the talent to play the role, so why are some factions so eager to keep her from an opportunity based on the circumstances of her birth? Isn’t that what the whole Civil Rights/Lunch Counter/Bloody Sunday thing supposed to be about? So that mainstream society would judge us based on our abilities and not on the color of our skin? Why are we still holding on to relics from the past that our former oppressors themselves not only no longer use, but don’t even recognize?

On a certain level, I get it. Hollywood has long used lighter skinned Black people as the standard of “good enough” in marketing and film-making. I had a lengthy discussion with a friend about this last night, who is herself very light skinned. She was incensed. She talked about how hard it is for black women beyond “this” shade of brown to get any major roles, and that light skin is the only Black face white Americans feel comfortable seeing on screen and in print.

“That may all well be true, but we’re the ones with the power to change that, and we haven’t,” I pointed out.

Any one of our top producers and directors could have chosen to make an Aaliyah biopic and cast Keke Palmer (which would be absurd) or Raven Symone (even more preposterous) who both have the benefit of being born to two black parents to satisfy this ridiculous self-hatred that pervades our culture.

So there you have it: Zendaya can’t play Aaliyah because deep down inside, despite all of our progress, some Black people would still really rather be picking cotton.

 

Be honest: does Zendaya’s mized race heritage make her unsuitable to play the tragically departed singer? Halle Berry is biracial, but her skin is darker than Zendaya’s. If Ms. Coleman had been born “darker” would it make casting her in this role “better”? Are there larger political implications of a mixed race girl playing a Black girl that I’m ignoring? Just raise your hand if you think the whole thing is just asinine. Discuss ↓