Raising Enterprising Kids

I used to live in an apartment on Roswell Rd in Sandy Springs that featured one of those huge dumpsters when you first enter the complex. You know the ones I’m referring to: sometimes they’re “tastefully” hidden behind a wooden fence…sometimes not so much. There’s nothing like coming home from a hard day’s working and witnessing a 3 ton bin vomit its contents because some genius thought it would be a good idea to stuff his soiled mattress right at the bin’s opening.

If you haven’t gotten the idea, I used to hate taking out the trash. Fortunately, I lived with 2 other roommates, so we rotated the duty weekly. I suffered this task every third week until there came a knock on my door one Saturday afternoon. An unsmiling boy with brown hair and a red t-shirt was standing on our step.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied.

What did this kid want?

“I’ll take your trash out every week for a dollar,” he said, pointing to his wagon which was sitting at the bottom of the stairs. I nearly dropped my glass. Bless this child!

“Yes. Yes!” I said with the enthusiasm of a woman who’d just been asked to be married. This boy was my knight in shining armor, and his little red wagon was the token of his sincere affection. “When can you start?”

“Today,” he said. He didn’t elaborate.

Ahhh. A man of few words; a man of action! Good lad.

I scampered off to the kitchen, tied up my bag, and handed it to him. Then I rooted around my wallet and fished out a dollar’s worth of change. He took it, unsmiling, and set off towards the dumpster.

“What’s your name?” I called after him.

“Neil,” he replied…. and then he was gone; until the next week when he showed up to collect our trash. Unfortunately, it was not my week to take care of trash duty, and that particular roommate did not want to part with his dollar. Undaunted, Neil returned again until we established a pattern.

He took out my trash for the next two or three months when our lease expired. I never saw him again, and never told him how much I appreciated his service. I’ve always regretted that.

That was about 11 years ago, and Neil must be 18 or 19 by now. I don’t know why he suddenly appeared in my consciousness this morning. Perhaps it’s because I’m staring at this laptop I slaved for hours to procure funds for; a laptop which was once received with so much glee that has been precariously sitting on the edge of the dining room table for hours. Do I move it, or do I let it fall to its doom in order to teach its new owner a lesson? After very little thought, I decided to move it.

Image from Mattel

Image from Mattel

I sometimes wonder if my children would more careful with their belongings if they had to shoulder some of the financial responsibility. Something tells me “yes”. I took the girls to the Girl Scout STEM Expo this weekend where they were selling all kinds of GS paraphernalia, including a limited edition (polarizing) Girl Scout Barbie. No lie, Aya melted into a heap of blubbering, messy tears, so conflicted over whether she should break her $20 bill for a $12.99 doll that I finally told her to forget the entire thing and stop the crying. She had NO concept that the money she had in her wallet that day wouldn’t be the only money she would ever make now or in the future. She had $26 in her purse, the spoils and returns of lost teeth and birthday gifts. Would she have a different attitude towards purchasing that doll if I had given her more opportunities to make more money?

The prevailing school of thought is that it is imperative to give children chores in order to assist in their complete development, but the jury is still out on whether children should be paid for chores done around the house or if they should be expected to do so. I suppose every family needs to make that determination within the confines of their means.

So back to Neil. I don’t know if his parents sent him off that afternoon to go make his own money, or if he decided to do it on his own. No matter what the impetus was, the result was an 8/9 year old boy knocking on doors, trying and succeeding to drum up his own business. And even if it wasn’t a multi-million dollar organization, he was consistent and efficient in his delivery of his service. (Never mind it was never with a smile. We’re talking other people’s trash here!) If he kept/is keeping up the same attitude toward his other endeavors, I hope to see him on a Forbes list one day.

I think it’s important that we give children an opportunity to earn a living using their wits and talents. I recently hired a 13 year old to edit one of my short stories, instructing her to use “the full scope of her editing knowledge learned thus far”. Now, I don’t know what the “full scope” of that knowledge is, but the girl is sharp as a tack and has been on the honor roll since she was in kindergarten. I know I can trust my work in her hands…not because she’s experienced, but because she’s smart.

Yup. I definitely see a wagon in two little Grants’ very near futures.

Do you put your kids to work? What are your thoughts on paying children for chores? Have you recently encouraged a child in some enterprise? I’m sure we’d all like to know!

How Did my Face Become the Poster Image For Lovesick, African-American Cluelessness?

Woi, woi, woi.

Chei, chei, chei!

Ajeish!

Asemmm o assssem!

I’m grieved! I’m injured! I’m damaged! God;I don’t know what to do! You people…you people wait for me, eh? I’m coming. I’ll explain just now.

This afternoon I was happily plugging along, carrying out my recruiting duties when I got an alert on my phone from a friend. The conversation has been paraphrased for your benefit.

She: Ei. I was doing my ratchet Friday reading when I came across this blog. The model looks JUST like you!

I get this a lot.

Oh, you look like Coco from SWV. Oh! You look like Queen Latifah in her younger years!

I was going to ignore the comment since I was in the throes of online sourcing, but decided to humor my friend since she said it was for the cause of “ratchet reading”.

What the…

Me: That’s because it IS me! What the %$@# is this?!?!

I scanned the contents of the blog. It was an open letter on the blogger’s advice column on relationships. I read the first line and felt fury, rage, disgust, horror, confusion…so many emotions bubble up within me!

Deception

Hello Myne,

I have been following your blog for a short time and I found you because I am dating a Nigerian Igbo man and was curious about his culture.  I would like to post a question on your blog for some responses. Here is my story:

Chei! Cheicheicheichei!

What was this? What lie was this? I have never heard of this blogger, let alone her site, but there was my face…a full color representation of a woman in love with a possibly swindling Igbo man who had no idea if he wanted to marry her for papers or was actually genuine in his feelings.

How? How was this possible? What is it about MY face, me my fine Abena Owusua Malaka Gyekye face, that screamed romantic agony and confusion, so much so that the author felt the need to attribute an obviously fabricated “agony aunt” tome to it? I just wanted to die. Strong me. Survivor me. And you use ME for this nonsense?

Jesus be a sword and a shield; a force field and a cattle prod.

I remember when I took this picture. It was about 4 years ago. Bessie Akuba was my photographer. I needed so beauty shots and she needed a test subject for a course she was taking. I don’t recall EVER posting that picture online. I don’t associate that picture with anything besides a sunny day spent with two good friends and some pretty decent photos. But NOW? Now my face was being used to represent a woman who couldn’t tell her head from her ass? Your Igbo beau won’t introduce you to his mother and so what? Now you want to cry? Leave him la!

I say, I’m grieved MOM Squad…so grieved. But guess what? I’m not alone. You could be a victim too.

A few years back there was an American/Canadian family who had traveled abroad and taken a picture at a tourist location. Almost a year later, an acquaintance contacted the parents to inform them that their picture was being used to sell soap or toothpaste, I can’t remember. I have no idea how the issue was resolved, because I didn’t read past the first paragraph. Your face is being used to sell soap and so what? Go and ‘tack the advertiser for your cut!

Now, I find myself the victim of the same folly. Who am I to attack and seek redress from? The blogger? After I contacted her to request she remove my image asap and find out where she found my face, she says she got the picture from Google images, and honestly couldn’t remember where she found it because it was “so long ago”.

Ei.

How long ago? Years? Months? Has she been holding my picture in her photography stockpile just waiting for the right moment to disgrace me? Where did she find it? Pintrest? Instagram? Tumbl’r? Why gawd??? What have I done to deserve this? So many questions!

Do I look weak to you?

Do I look weak to you?

Look, I get it. On some level, I do understand. It’s hard out here for writers. We’re each trying to make a name for ourselves in whatever niche we’ve chosen. Social commentary laced with humor; this is my realm. Myne’s (the blogger in question) is romance…Nigerian romance, specifically. Powerful images, coupled with our writing craft, help us break into an already crowded playing field. Still, as bloggers seeking a bourgeoning social media presence, we each have a responsibility to use images responsibly and professionally, and that includes attributing sources. I will be the first to admit that I don’t ALWAYS do this. I have lapses, which is why as much as possible, I only use original images or seek permission from the photograph’s owner before posting. On Adventures, this is one of the reasons you see the same 30 or so images recycled again and again. We don’t want wahala.

Myne has taken down my face from her blog, but there is nothing to say that someone else isn’t out there clandestinely using it for a more sinister purpose. What if they are using my pink lips to draw some man into a 419 banking scheme or -*gasp!*- for a magazine cover selling alcohol-based hair moisturizer? Do you know the damage alcohol does to Black hair?

They -the interwebs – have hijacked my face. Please. #BrrringBackMyFace

Fadda lawd. Strength. I need strength!

Untitled: A Story from Anita Erskine’s Facebook Wall.

Photo credit: Google +

Photo credit: Google +

After dropping my kids off at school, I was driving away when I saw a young man in my rear view mirror. He was running toward the car and aggressively indicating with his hands that I stop. He eventually got to my window and politely apologized. I thought that was decent. So I became patient – allowing him to catch his breathe. He was carrying a stack of dailies, which he shifted uncomfortably from his right to left arm, so he could tap his right palm to his forehead in salutation to me. Raising my sunglasses from my eyes to my head, I wanted to be able to eyeball this stranger. He looked not more than 22 or 23. Tall. Lean. In a branded t-shirt. Then he said, “Please are you Madam Anita?”

I don’t like being called Madam but I let it go!

“I am please. Can I help you?”

It appears my ‘please’ touched a nerve. Soothing it and calming him down instantly.

Photo credit: Times of Man

Photo credit: Times of Man

“Madam please I have been seeing you every morning near this traffic light. Please I finished uni in June. I have been trying to get work. I have dropped over 100 CVs at numerous offices. Everywhere. Every time the secretary will say they don’t have any jobs. But I’ll still leave it. Last week, I got a call from a certain company in Dansoman. They deal in IT. I went for the interview but they said they are looking for a full time cleaner who will also be helping the secretary. But Madam I remember you sometime in April. When you were campaigning for the Vlisco program. And I remember you came to our hall and told us that we should be humble and smart when we finish school. So that we can get more chances. So I wanted to ask if you think this job offer is a good thing.”

By now I was smiling from ear to ear! Poor guy didn’t even know why. I must have seemed crazy! But truly THIS is what life is about!!!

“What did you study in school?” I asked.

“Madam please I studied Political Science,” he answered.

I paused for what may have been about 15 seconds. Looking at the steering wheel and hoping my response would somehow help this guy. And then I responded, “My first corporate job was as a Receptionist. It was the best I could get at the time. I had no work experience. But I knew the corporate world and getting into it was a vicious cycle. I told myself that if I could get in, I would be the very BEST I could be and leave the rest to fate I guess. I loved my work. Yes even with a university degree and graduating on the Dean’s Honor Roll. But I decided nothing would be below me. Funny enough I was such a great receptionist that people just called the office just to hear my voice! Long story short, I gave it my all. When it came time for the company to hire a Coordinator who would work directly for the CEO, guess where the H.R manager came to?”

I didn’t have to continue my story. He got the picture.

“Madam; I will take the job. And I will soon let you know how it is going. If you don’t mind, give me your email address. Maybe big people like you don’t like giving your phone numbers”

…Hahaha! I scribbled my email address on a piece of paper and handed it to him. He left the car and wandered off to continue selling his newspapers. I sincerely hope today is his last day at the traffic light!

*****

I absolutely love this story, and felt it was imperative to share it. I have never known much about Anita Erskine, even though she and I went to school together and were only one grade apart, but had I known she had this much compassion and wisdom, I would have made a better effort to get to know her better. Then again, I was a too-known teenager, so hubris most likely would have prevented me from befriending her.

The encounter Anita had with this young man is special in so many ways. So far it’s received 225 likes on her wall and numerous shares. The dynamics of this interaction are remarkable because they rarely happen in Ghana or in Africa at large. Celebrities (and a fair share of pseudo-celebs) generally seek to disassociate with the plebian population…not engage with it unless there is some transaction that is going to benefit the individual who occupies space in the higher caste. That Anita stopped her progress to engage in an in-depth conversation with a young man selling a newspaper is noteworthy, because few people are ignored with more vehemence than the guy selling the newspaper on any busy Accra thoroughfare. It’s hard, sweaty work with little return for all that effort. In addition to that, the general assumption is that the newspaper seller – like the chewing gum seller – is barely educated. But here we have a university graduate doing a menial task, despite his letters!

And that’s the other aspect I love about this story. Thousands of university graduates – and not just in Ghana – are sitting around waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone to CALL THEM or GIVE them a job, rather than taking an opportunity, no matter how miniscule it may appear. When Marshall asked me to marry him, he was making $25K doing IT at a health billing facility. We shouldered the financial responsibility of our wedding (because neither of our parents contributed). I out-earned him by $10K, but rather than putting me in the position of paying for the majority of our wedding costs, he sold newspapers with the AJC for 6 months 3-4 days a week in addition to his regular job! Now he’s a sought after web designer for a Fortune 100 company.

I’m so grateful that Anita took the time to speak to this young man and to encourage him with her own experience. If you’re among the very privileged, you may find yourself airlifted to the top of the mountain of success; but the majority of us have to climb it from the bottom. The key to making it to the top is getting a foothold on the parts of that incline that are sure and secure, trusting in your endurance, seizing all opportunities to advance, no matter how small, and never losing faith. (It took me 4 hours to climb Table Mountain. This analogy means a lot to me!)

I too hope that this was this young man’s last day selling papers!

Happy Friday, one and all.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Part of my hybrid upbringing was learning the “Black National Anthem”. As a child, I hated this separatist idea – that there were two Americas – that I was being indoctrinated with, but I dutifully learned the first stanza of the song as required and could sing it on demand.

The anthem is a song written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1900. It is a staple in every HBCU choir. With the events in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, California and New York, the verses are still as relevant today as they were when they were written 115 years ago. The fact is, there are indeed two Americas, and depending on what shade of brown you happen to find yourself on or what zip code you find your residence in, your America will look very different from someone else’s.

The song talks about hope that dies before its even born. For many people born to poverty and disadvantage – who by virtue of the circumstances of their birth find themselves trapped in the classroom to prison pipeline – this is a bitter reality. Nevertheless, this is their America. Hope dying before it is born plays out in different scenarios all over this country.

The song also talks about faith and how it will carry you through the dark times.

Some of you have never heard of the emotional roller coaster that is African American National Anthem. That’s okay! I am here for you.

 

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

 

Thoughts? Reactions?

Are You Ready to #TalkDirtyToMe?

You read the title. Look at where you mind went. Just because I write for a sex blog and had one, maybe twelve explicit scenes in a novel I wrote, you automatically assume this is going to be a naughty conversation. See your life! Ask the deity of your choice to forgive you for your rush to judgment!

naturemill-plus-automatic-kitchen-composter-1There are a couple of important things happening this week. The most pressing of those is that after a year of lusting, I will finally get to purchase a NatureMill kitchen composter. This is huge for a number of reasons:

  • I hate looking at decomposing food in the kitchen, even if it’s locked up in a steel bin
  • The smell of decomposing food makes me sick, right down to my toes
  • Hubby doesn’t always remember to take out the kitchen trash, which means I have occasion to come in contact with old spaghetti and egg remains. Composting means I only have to empty a bin of “dirt” in that event.
  • Composting is good for the Earth

I recognize that my last reason should have been number 1 on the list. Perhaps I’m not that altruistic. Jesus is still working on me.

The other thing that is happening today is a super cool conversation I’m having with Golda Addo – a woman I very much admire for her work in green innovation and social activism. Because I’m letting the Lord work on me, He has chosen this vessel (Ms. Addo), to Talking Dirty To Me and help me –and you, if you’ll be watching – understand the numerous ways we can positively impact our environment through a series of simple steps.

Ghana’s pollution problem is at near critical mass, as the government, citizenry and private stakeholders have all passed the buck on who is responsible for cleaning up. It’s a vicious cycle of blame and inefficiency that has left the country buried in filth. I have teamed up with Green Ghanaian to host a series of conversations on to explore ways that we can combat this trend and eventually reverse it, and the only way to do that is to dig up and face the filthy truth that Ghana is a dirty country.

Watch the show HERE at 2pm EST/ 6pm GMT

The health challenges that Ghana is facing has become a major concern to many of its citizens. I’m pleased that while I will be hosting this discussion, a team of Ghanaian bloggers, medical experts and sanitation experts will also be meeting in the city to tackle the very same issue. If you’re in the city, you can find the Hub location of follow @BloggingGhana for details on the event.

The Green Gospel is here my brethren! Will you hear the good word? Will you run swiftly to share it?! You can use the hashtag #TrashTalk on twitter to join in the conversation or submit a question/suggestion to my guest today. You will also be able to catch the segment on this link  later if you miss the live broadcast.

Even though the geographic focus of our conversations will be about Ghana, the methods and ideas shared can be replicated anywhere in the world. So don’t be afraid to watch and chime in my New Zealand readers!

Smooches!

Note: I got 3 hours of sleep last night. I’m so delirious right now. I can’t even think of a proper way to end this post… I WILL be looking crazy today.

Lessons on Accepting and Tolerating Domestic Violence Start Early for Little Girls

By now you’ve seen the Ray Rice video where the Ravens running back gets into an elevator with his fiancé, punches her unconscious and then drags her out of the elevator like trash. They have since tied the knot/jumped de broom/ whatever you want to call the fiasco when a woman marries her abuser.

rayIt’s easy to point fingers at Janay Palmer and ask yourself what on earth would possess her to legally bind herself to a man who has proven he is prone to violence and clearly lacks self-control. What further would compel her to join him on stage during a press conference and “admit” that she had some part to play in her own beating? Philosophers like DL Hughley might rationalize that it is because Ms. Palmer is a “thirsty bitch” who doesn’t want to mess up her money. The only person who can provide reasons why she is still with Ray Rice is Janay Palmer, and like many victims of domestic violence, those reasons become murkier with time.

“I don’t know why I stayed,” is the refrain you often hear from women who have escaped violent relationships. This will often be followed with a litany of justifications that include:

Love

Loyalty

The kids

 

As always, I never want to give the illusion that I am sitting in judgment of another woman in circumstances such as these. While I have never been in a physically abusive relationship, I was a willing participant in an emotional (and well documented) one for a year with Douche Bag. I even confessed to the MOM Squad to wanting to marry him at some point. I was enamored with his ‘potential’. If he just applied himself he could really BE something, I thought. But the man is an outright lost case… as his fiancé (with no engagement ring, and now, no wedding date) has come to discover. I wonder how long she’s going to let him live in her expansive house, rent free with access to as much free food and sex as his little heart desires? That will be for her to decide. Every woman has her line and her limits.

But what makes women so tolerant of abuse? The figures on domestic violence are murky, but it’s estimated that between 25-33% of all women will find themselves a victim of domestic abuse in some form. The abuse can take the form of psychosocial or emotional trauma, to routine beating and in some cases death.

It is my contention that people who abuse women –even female ones – seek out certain types of women. They look for women who are sweet, or have moderate-low self-esteem, or fiercely dependent, or confess to undying loyalty. A woman like that is easier to trap and control than your garden variety self-obsessed, highly ambitious gargoyle who would sooner burn their assailant alive than to let him/her touch her in a violent way. That’s not to say a person with an abusive personality wouldn’t try it; but the point of abuse is to establish control and women who are not easily controlled do not make convenient victims.

These ‘feminine’ qualities – the self-sacrificing and nurturing archetypes that women are raised to aspire to – are a hotbed for the virus that is an abusive personality. If not presented with a strong sense of balance, they do more to enable the abuser than to deter his or her behavior. It’s important that we talk about woman on woman abuse when we speak about domestic violence, because the face of lesbian domestic violence is often veiled. I have had two very good friends share with me the horror of having their partner stomp them in a parking lot or assault them at home. Whether it’s a man beating up a woman or same gendered abuse, the goal is the same: to assert dominance and to make your victim feel weak, afraid, and hopefully, too scared to leave.

These are emotions I will never tolerate as they relate to my girls.

My parents never talked to me about the intricacies of domestic violence. We never talked about the mechanics or the intention behind it. There was always a sense that they would “take care” of anybody that hurt us, but even in that messaging I found myself feeling more afraid and compassionate for the potential recipient of my parent’s wrath than I did for myself. I did and could not fathom that anyone would hurt me so severely that it would warrant such intense retaliation!

There are many conversations I will have to have with my girls including dating, choosing colleges, which market to buy their first home, why they should never accidentally put diesel in their engine that only takes unleaded…but I confess I never put domestic violence on the list. It’s scary to imagine, let alone discuss. Fortunately, a cartoon gave me the perfect segue to the topic.

jemI recently introduced the girls to JEM and they have been devouring the episodes like a pair of piranha. Like many other American girls, I loved the cartoon in the 80’s, memorized the theme song and wished I could be a star, just like Jem and the Holograms. I vaguely remember her having a boyfriend named Rio, but now that I am watching the cartoon as an adult, I am horrified! Rio as I have rediscovered, is in a 3-way relationship with Jem and Jerrica Benton (who are the same person). In one episode we all watched, Jerrica was on the verge of revealing to Rio that Jem was her secret identity. The burden was too much for her to bear, and Rio was screwing with her head, confessing to loving Jem AND Jerrica on separate occasions. Before she could confess, there was an altercation with some other people in the house and she changes her mind.

Furious because she won’t be forthcoming with him, Rio then storms off screaming at Jerrica and then KICKIN OVER HER FICUS before essentially telling her to screw herself. The girl just stood there and cried. I was beside myself with rage, because one day the dude is kicking down your plants, the next he’s kicking in your teeth…

“Girls!” I squawked. “Don’t you EVER let some dude come over to your house and kick your plants over. You hear me? That ain’t his house. That’s YOUR house. And you better not let me hear about you crying over it neither!”

This was followed by a chorus of “Yes, Mommy” accompanied with neck rolls and declarations of woe to befall any boy foolish enough to pull such a stunt. It was a start.

But now I know I have to have more meaningful discussions with my girls about relationships and abuse. With our children being sexualized through all forms of print and electronic media, I know it’s my duty as a mother to control or contribute as much as I can to that messaging. Not doing so would be irresponsible – like letting their little hands go and allowing them to wonder on that dark path I’ve traveled on myself, or to unconsciousness on an elevator floor.

The Supposed ‘Indignity’ of Pointing out the Advanced Female Form

Where my old ladies at!!!

My friends – and foes, for that matter – know that I used to be a monster on social media. I was a horrible person who would say horrific things in response to any slight, perceived or real. I was so vicious in my reprisals that I wouldn’t stop until my prey was left with one option: to apologize or block me. Once in a while, I would get my siblings to join me in the verbal assault. We would collectively castrate, eviscerate and utterly destroy any esteem our target possessed. Then we might snip and post the details of the conversation, displaying the scripted carnage like a corpse on a medieval battlefield. It would serve as a warning for anyone who attempted such folly against me and/or my clan in the future.

But that was years ago. I’m older now, so I walk away from online conflict. What’s the point, really? You say mean things to people online and then what? You get a cookie? Only kids want cookies for their efforts, and I am no child. I’m a fully grown woman with grey pubes and all. I call them my ‘racing stripes’; and I’ve earned them. Through fire and hell, I’ve earned each grey that majestically adorns my body.

Do I sound like a woman who has a problem with aging? In case it’s not apparent, let me categorically state that I AM NOT. The only thing that’s wrong with getting older is NOT getting older. If you’re not aging, you’re dead. Why then do men – and a fair share of women – make a big fuss about a woman’s advancement in age?

I’m 36. And when I’m 56 I’ll happily announce it then as well. When I’m 86, I won’t shy away from it. This is for two primary reasons:

  • Black don’t crack    and
  • I don’t give a crap

I got this foolishness in my email. What's cruel about living?

I got this foolishness in my email. What’s ‘cruel’ about experiencing time?

One of the most ridiculous rules in social etiquette is the idea that a woman should never be asked her age. What the hell is that? Actually, I know what the hell it is. There is a pervasive doctrine woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness that tells us as a women gets older, she loses value. As any woman over 40 will tell you, that’s nonsense. As women age, they don’t just get older – they get better. Nevertheless, there is a cadre of individuals who had this preposterous notion – that women should be ashamed to age – lodged into the little grey matter they possess and therefore seek to offer it as insult. I found myself locked in a skirmish (because the child in question does not possess the mental fortitude for me to consider him an intellectual foe) with one such individual this week.

A young man wrote an article condemning the cleanup efforts and present wave of social media campaigns urging citizens to tidy their environment this week. In his view, Ghanaians “love” to live in filth. His contention was that if they didn’t, they would naturally clean up their environment. (Anyone who has taken psych 101 understands the relationship between environment and learned behavior, but this is an ‘area boy’, so I wouldn’t want to tax him with the rigors of a psych course.) He ended the article with the condescending suggestion that instead of expending energy on campaigns that would come to no fruition, these folks should throw a party and invite him. I thought the article was stupid, and I said so. I didn’t comment on his blog. I didn’t seek him out to let him know how limited in his thinking he was. I made the comment on a friend’s wall, and he found it.

He proceeded to (try to) blast me.

My why so angry? Didn’t he know the rule of posting publicly? You put your thoughts out there and it’s free game for anyone to praise or disagree with. I just happened to disagree and restated where I thought he had missed it. THEN I told him his whole article was BS. That’s went he went into a swearing laced tirade and told me to “never read anything he had written ever again!” God he sounded like a toddler. Of course, I couldn’t let him go without a tap on the shoulder to express my displeasure. In turn, I calmly suggested he eat a sack of baby dicks. That’s when he struck with this comeback.

“Look at this old woman too!”

What? Was that it? Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? I chuckled and told him I’d whip his a** with my old lady cane and then rape him with it. The conversation ended with our mutual friend taking down the entire post and our exchange along with it. Apparently I hurt his little boy feelings, because he came to seek me out on twitter spoiling for a fight. I quelled the monster in me told him to stop trolling my timeline. I didn’t want to do what I am very capable of doing to him on such a public forum. To do so would be the essence of Black on Black crime.

I discussed his calling me an “old woman” and expecting that to silence me with a friend. It was very amusing, but she took it quite seriously.

“There is this notion that old women are useless…like a commodity that has a shelf life,” she said. “It’s really bad. You would never dis a man by calling him an “old man” and expect it to strike a chord.”

She had a point. And this isn’t just an ‘African’ notion…just an insipid one. Geraldo Rivera expressed similar sentiments when he said that all that a woman brings to a marriage “is her youth”. (No. Seriously.)

This idea that a woman’s ultimate worth is wrapped up in a tight twenty-something package is one of the weapons the GOP is planning to use against Hilary Clint if/when she runs for president.

“Remember y’all…Hilary’s an old gal and getting’ up there in age,” their attack ads will suggest in 2016.

HillaryClinton_2326613b

Ugh.

Now, if I weren’t as brilliant as I am, I suppose that I being called old would be truly injurious. Thank God and all the elves that I AM brilliant, and am intelligent enough to surround myself with folks who know that the only truly fascinating woman is one who has lived a long and storied life. Have you tried talking to the average 23 year old? I’ve had deeper conversations with an empty gold fish bowl.

You ask ANY woman: there is no substitute for the depth of knowledge you acquire when you cross thirty. The only thing I miss about 26 is my perky breasts and taut abs, but even those can be purchased. The store house of experience and wisdom that age has brought me, however, cannot.

So little boy, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know I can’t come outside and play right now… and don’t bother Miss Malaka with that ageism foolishness in the future. If you ever want to chat, get your mammy over here so I can have a chat with her crack. I read the things you say sometimes and feel like the most intelligent of you ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.

Chil’run. SMH.