Monthly Archives: April 2010

Kindergarten Registration Fail

I’m one of those people who likes controlled spontaneity. However, when it comes to my children, I like to have a concrete course of action regarding their rearing. This is why I called the GA Department of Education last year to find out what elementary school my eldest would be assigned to.

After tapping away at some keys, the man on the phone pulled up our information and said “Northwood Elementary”.

Perfect, I thought. I had looked up their scores, scoured their website and was confident that Nadjah would receive a quality education, even if it was from a public school. That is part of the American dream, isn’t it? Well today, my worst nightmare came true. I became a victim of Fulton county’s school redistricting.

Battling flu symptoms, head and body aches, I trooped down to Northwood to register Nadjah for her first year in kindergarten. A kind faced lady with white hair and a gaudy black and silver necklace took me through the registration process. I tried to seem cordial and professional, even though my nose was dripping and I had no tissue anywhere on my person. I thought about pulling out the baby’s size 4 diaper to clean my face, but I opted for the back of my hand instead. Real classy, I know.

Anyway, after completing the forms and scheduling my biggest baby’s Kindergarten assessment, I drove home, pleased that I had done something meaningful for the day. I thought about Northwood all the way home. The library was impressive and immaculate. When we entered the colorful facility, a staff member was reading to a group of second graders about Hitler and the history of Curious George. She used an LCD projector to demonstrate aspects of the book. When she was done, the children politely raised their hands to answer and ask questions. Everything was so orderly and well…perfect! She was going to love it there. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the ring of my cell phone. An unknown number popped up on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Hello. Mrs Grant?”

“Yes?”

“You were just here to register your daughter for kindergarten?”

“Uh huh!” I was smiling.

“I’m sorry, but someone took a look at your address, and it seems you are supposed to be going to Mimosa, not Northwood.”

My smile immediately faded.

“I see…”

“If you could come down and get your paperwork we’d appreciate it.”

“Ok. I’ll be right there.”

By this time, I had already pulled into my driveway and had to turn back around. My first thought was that they didn’t want any Negros sullying their perfect grounds, so I called the DOE again to confirm that I was not supposed to be at that school. Turns out we had indeed been redistricted to go to Mimosa some time last year. It wasn’t racial after all. I strode into the building, collected my paperwork, and assured the very apologetic old ladies that it was all right.

“Thanks for being so understanding.”

What did they think I was going to do? Pull out my chicken head card and cuss them all out? It was ok. I would just re-register Nadjah at…Wait. Mimosa??

Uh. Mimosa.

Mimosa Elementary is the quintessential poster child for the movie “Lean on Me”. It’s a school that used to be pretty darn good until a group of undesirables moved into the neighborhood, took over the school and took test score waaaay down. Mimosa ranks 799th out of 1079 schools in Georgia. Northwood ranks 114th. I’m only mildly racist, but if I wanted my children educated in the barrio and/or the ghetto, I’d move down to South Central LA!  Check out this link: http://www.schooldigger.com/go/GA/schoolrank.aspx?level=1&findschool=0228001025. It ranks all the schools in Georgia and gives their CRCT scores year over year. Does the State/County really think I have time to sit around to wait for Joe Clark to come in and turn this school around?!?!

At this point, I have 2 choices: Send my child to school where the state tells me to, or fork over a kidney to fund her education at a decent private school, since my Black behind does not pay enough in property taxes to allow her go to a quality public school like Northwood. School vouchers anyone?

That’s Right. Call Your Daddy.

Virtually every first time mom I know has the same complaint when it comes to their baby’s first word. From Accra to Amsterdam, the first word a baby invariably utters is “daddy” in some shape or form.

My Indian friend’s children said “baba” first.

My friend in Germany’s daughter broke her vocabulary cherry with “papa” just last month.

Here I sit in Atlanta, and my son of 10 months can say two words. “E’ (as in the letter ‘e’) and “Daaadeee”.

Why is this so disconcerting to a first time mother? Well, it’s very simple. You spend nine months battling morning sickness, constipation, diarrhea, consti-di, food cravings, food revulsion, stretch marks, sleepless nights, hair loss, weight gain and swollen feet for that little sucker to come out and show his/her appreciation for all that you suffered by uttering “Daddy” at the first chance they get? To add insult to injury, the baby addresses you as “Daddy” as well. How is that fair??

I’m here to tell you first time mom’s, it’s completely fair. In fact, it’s right…And it’s the way things were meant to be.

My dad likes to quote the Bible and remix the versus to suit his needs. In a recent conversation, he told me that “the foolishness of God confounds the wisdom of men.” (I looked it up, and it’s actually in the Bible. Go Dad.) God, creator of heaven and earth in all His foolishness knew precisely what He was doing when He commanded babies’ first word to summon/acknowledge their fathers. It’s taken me 4 pregnancies to figure it out, but here’s why:

You and your hubby/partner/shag buddy are asleep in bed. It’s been a long day for both of you. At 5 am, 2 hours before you’re even ready to crack your eyelids, your precious baby calls from his crib in the other room.

“Eee…Eeee..Daaaadeeee!!”

At this point, a novice mother would leap dutifully from her restful slumber to attend to the needs of her offspring. His father snores on.

Not the woman who has had 3 other children. She ignores the cry altogether.

The child raises his voice, more insistant this time.

Daadeee!! Dadeeeeee!!!!”

“Baby’s calling you, ” says Master Mom.

“Mmmm…?” says Confused Dad sleepily.

“Baby’s calling you,” she repeats. ” I know he means “mommy”, but he said “daddy”… so get up and see what he wants.”

Realizing that this is not a battle he’s going to win at this hour, the previously proud papa pads into his son’s room to figure out how he can get the boy back to sleep. Pleased that his calls have summoned one adult (even if it’s not the one he intended) the baby squeals with delight and bounces up and down. He signals that he’s ready for milk and to start the day. His father sighs and takes his son downstairs. In the next room, the veteran mother closes her eyes tightly, burrows deeper into the covers and continues sleeping.

THAT is why a baby’s first word is “daddy”, “baba”, whatever. Because for the next 30+ years, the only name that is going to come out of your heathen child’s mouth is “Momma”. So take heart you new moms, use this God-given tool wisely and enjoy the respite while you can!

Happy Mother’s Day, Punk!

I spent Mother’s day 2009 much the same way I’ll probably spend this one: Pregnant, fat and exhausted. What I’m hoping, however, is that my children will spare me the antics of last year’s holiday for the 2010 version.

As I lay in my bed on May 10, 2009, weary from the grueling ritual that was taking care of two toddlers, I tiredly asked my children to just sit and play in my room while I laid down for a moment. Nadjah was 4 at the time. Aya was 2 and a half. I only had 2 weeks left to deliver what I assumed at the time was my last child.

“Mommeee, can we watch TeeeVeee?” Nadjah asked in her shrill, sing-song voice.

“No.”

“Can we build a castle?” she asked again.

“No.” I was bone tired and irritated. “Just get some toys and play on the floor.”

“Okay!”

The sound of my two children’s chatter filled the room, and I sunk my head deeper into my pillow ignoring the roundhouse kicks that my son was delivering to my abdomen. Nadjah and Aya cackled and guffawed, delighting one another with the playful gibberish only understandable to two sisters so close in age. 10 minutes into my slumber, I felt a gust of wind come through the window and hit my back.

“It’s chilly and windy all of a sudden,” I thought.

Then I heard thumping against  aluminum. Next, a tiny voice said “My turn!!!”

My turn? My turn for what?

I rolled my pregnant, obese body over and to my surprise and horror, my children had pushed the sliding glass window up, removed the screen and were running full kilter across the top of my carport. A 15 foot drop onto unforgiving asphalt awaited them below if they slipped. Nadjah was closest to the window, and Aya was gingerly walking towards the edge, giggling the whole way. In the calmest voice I could muster, I commanded them back into the house.

“Git yer Black butts back in here NOW!!!!”

Stunned, Aya stopped in her tracks. Nadjah climbed back in and her sister followed. I surveyed the room around me. My screen lay on the floor, two screws lifelessly on either side. A collection of leaves and pine cones was on the floor. My children stood looking sheepishly at me.

“What the—??! How the—?!?! You—?!?!?!”

My inability to form complete sentences was disconcerting to my youngest and she began to cry. I reached for a wooden spoon and prepared to deliver the World’s Greatest Butt Whoopin’, but I thought the better of it. I was too angry and I might hurt them too much. Visions of a home visit from child services darted through my head. I called my husband who was sitting in an elder’s meeting at church.

Marshall. You get home right now and you whoop these kids right now, you hear me?!”

“Why? What’s wrong?” he was laughing.

I quickly gave him the short version.

“I’ll be home in 15 minutes.”

When my husband walked in the door, I had already put both kids in bed where they would be safe from my wrath. He called them out of bed, explained why what they did was wrong (“and dangerous!” I screeched) and smacked them both on their bottoms. Thoroughly chastised, they went sobbing back to bed.

I’m overcome even as I sit here writing about that ridiculous day. Lets hope Mother’s Day 2010 is a little less eventful. I’ll take the pancakes and flowers in bed any day over my kids trying to play me like a punk.

Meet me at halfway to Piss OFF!

It’s been a while since I’ve had to bitch about my douche-bag-baby-daddy, Courtney the Platypus; but in true form, he’s back after 3-4 weeks, like a bad case of herpes.

First, let me explain why he is now being referred to as a platypus. My brother, in his infinite wisdom, pointed out that this “man” (and I use the term very, very loosely), has very few redeeming qualities.

“When God created the platypus, it was like it was a big joke to Him,” said my younger sibling. “It was like ‘Hey, I got some left over duck, squirrel, beaver, otter, mammal AND reptilian parts, let me see what happens when I throw them all together’. And voila! We have a platypus. That’s what it was like on the day Courtney was born.”

So what did he do this week? Sit back and grab a Coors Light. This is mildly amusing and greatly annoying.

As I’ve said before, Douche Bag dragged me to court early this spring to fight for his visitation “rights”. After very politely asking him what 2 weeks in the summer he would like to exercise said rights, he has come up with all manner of excuses as to why he cannot keep the child he is 50% genetically responsible for creating for 2 consecutive weeks per the court action he initiated. These have ranged from a planned trip to visit his infant sister’s grave in “Buffalop” during the summer, to alleging that I said it was ok for him to split up the summer, to plans to attend a job training program that’s going to make it ‘difficult’ for him to keep her for 2 weeks in a row. That was a month ago. As of yesterday, this tr3 (ask your local Ghanaian what ‘tr3′ means) tried to use my daughter’s plans to go to summer camp to circumvent his 2 week responsibilities!

A few hours after she was dropped off at school, I get a call from his number. I, of course, ignore it. I don’t speak retarded wildlife. I text him back to ask him what’s wrong.

Nothing! I just want to see what Na’s summer plans are, if she’s going to camp and how much it costs.

-It’s 2 weeks of day camp, $350.

Do you want me to pay for half of it?

-That’s fine.

Can you call me back? I’m driving to Bama right now and don’t want to text and drive.

-Text me when you’re not driving.

We can’t talk?

(Silence)

Ok. What are the dates?

-I told you over a month ago that I need you to confirm the 2 weeks you are keeping her so I can pick the dates.

Look!!! That’s why I’m texting u! Trying to work around ur schedule, but if u gonna be mean about it!!!

*Uh?!!* Did this niggro really just raise his voice at me over e-comm?? I take 30 minutes to regroup and say:

-Fine. She’s not going to camp.

Malaka! I just trying to meet u halfway. We don’t have to be friends. But let’s try to get along for Nadjah.

-No one is trying to be your friend. All I want you to do is follow the rules you put in place.

Ok!


And that was the end of it. I still don’t know if “ok!” means ‘Yes I will finally man up and stop being a little punk whore and keep her for 2 consecutive weeks’ or ‘I be back with more bull to see if I can pull the wool over what I assume are your stupid African eyes’. Ans how is he meeting ME halfway when I clearly need nothing from him? He can meet me half way at a little town called Piss Off is what he can do.

When will this insanity end?!?!? I hope he wrecks and dies on his way back from Alabama.

The end.

The Boys are Back in Town

My little brother Sami recently went to Chicago for a bachelor party/dude’s  night out. Being a first time tourist in the city, he said he had his head tilted backward looking up at the immense downtown from below.

“We ate a lot,” he said. “It was a good time.”

He told me about the club district that he and his friends went to. It was “crazy”, he emphasized.

“But you were there for a bachelor party?” I asked. “Who was getting married?”

“No one you know,” he replied evasively.

“And you went to the club district. What was that like? Was it like ours in Atlanta?”

“Look, Malaka. There are certain things about my weekend that I just can’t tell you.”

He implied that because I was a Christian woman with a family, I would neither understand nor approve and he just would NOT discuss that aspect of his weekend with me.

Oh really, Sami? Is that how it’s gonna go down? Well you don’t have to tell me anything, because I already know!

******** Haze and fade to black please ********

Sami is that Black dude that only hangs out with white guys. He is the anchor that gives a group of White boys some street cred. As such, when he and his buds hit the town, he is afforded the honor of choosing the pick of the litter when it comes to women. That weekend in the club district of Chicago, Sami encountered a woman that he would not soon forget.

As Sami and The Revolution (his band of male misfits) entered a seedy club known as Tantra, he encountered what would be his escort for the evening. A pack of ovulating women walked up to him, but there was one who stood out. She was a toothless Inuit prostitute with a peg leg who had moved from Canada to turn tricks in the Windy City. American dollars are worth far more than Canadian, you see?

Sami was immediately captivated. He shooed the other ‘ladies’ away and turned his attentions exclusively to the Inuit.

“What’s you’re name?” he asked suavely.

She violently grabbed the drink that was in his hand and began to gurgle.

Gurrrrrggglll!!!”

Sami stared blankly at her.

“But you can call me ‘Digit’,” she added.

“Oh. Do they call you Digit because you have a wooden leg?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s because I have a third nipple.”

She lifted her shirt to reveal a cherry color nipple situated just above her belly button. It was pierced with a skull and cross bow and had the word vortex tattooed around it’s circumference.

“Come with me,” she commanded. “I shall show you wonders that you have never seen.”

The Revolution had been intently watching this exchange and wondered what would happen next. Big Blonde Dan sent two of the lesser band members to spy on Capn’ Black’n (as Sami was known by his crew) and come back with a full report. Digit led the Cap’n to a red room, covered with velvet drapes and paisley carpeting. In the corner was a fugly goat with matted goat hair. As soon as Sami stepped in, the goat spoke.

“Dude, Didgit. Not again!” he bleated balefully.

“Yes again!” she snapped back.

The goat began to buck his head and try to escape from his tethers.

“Excuse me one moment.”

“No, no. Take your time,” said Sami.

Digit grabbed the goat by his horns and took him behind a heavy curtain. As she let out a stream of curses, Sami could see their shadows wrestling violently on the ground.

“Uhhh…look. I don’t want any trouble,” he said nervously, while still trying to maintain his cool.

“It’s no…trouble…at all!!!” Digit screeched. The goat continued to bleat sinisterly, defiant in Digit’s attempts to usurp his will. Finally, he succumbed.

“Alright!” he said. “You win.”

When Digit and the goat emerged, she was clad in a sequined dress, reminiscent of old Broadway.  The goat was wearing a feathered boa and had a cane in his mouth. The Inuit instructed my brother to sit in a leather armchair, using her most seductive voice. Suddenly, there was music filtering into the room through hidden speakers in the room’s walls. Digit and the goat broke into a lively rendition of Gene Kelly’s Gotta Dance score from Singin’ in the Rain. They danced gaily around each other, the weary goat struggling to keep time.

At the end of the performance, Sami sat in silence, his mouth agape. Digit’s heavy breath filled the thick air of the room, sweat pouring from her brow. The  goat looked away in shame. As if woken from a trance, Sami began to clap cautiously at first, and then with much enthusiasm. The two cohorts from The Revolution who had watched the performance in horror from the key hole outside clapped wildly as well.

“What do I owe you for this evening’s…pleasure,” my little brother asked.

“No money,” said Digit. “You must only promise me that you will never forget what you have seen here and tell others. The goat and I came to America to seek fame.”

Sami left the velvet room immediately, promising the girl with 3 nipples and a wooden leg that he surely would not forget all that he had seen.

*********Haze and fade to the present*********

It’s ok, Sami. I understand why you didn’t tell me. It’s a story that’s hard to believe! I mean, who ever heard of a toothless Inuit living in Chicago anyway?

A South African Love Affair

Ahhh, South Africa. S.A.

South Africa means different things to many people depending on what era they were born in. For some, it’s the Rainbow Nation. For others, it’s the newest destination for the World Cup. As a more macabre individual, “South Africa” conjures up images of apartheid, rape, murder and injustice for me. If anyone is unfamiliar with this country’s history, let me give you a brief synopsis of how the country was formed:

Let’s say you’re at home in your very cushy house that your family has lived in for hundreds of years. A bedraggled homeless guy stops by and asks for a glass of water. Being a good Samaritan, you offer him not only water, but food as well. The homeless guy leaves, and comes back every few months to abuse your hospitality, demanding  more food, water and clothing. YOUR clothing. One day, when your back is turned, he asks you to pray with him. He wants to bring you the “good news”. When you open your eyes, he’s got your ancestral home and you’re the homeless guy now…only you’ve got a Bible to console you. That’s how the Dutch Boers colonized the nation. They were a bad guest that just never left.

I’ve never had the fortune of traveling to South Africa, but my husband did 2 years before we got married. In the 2 weeks that he was there for a mission trip, he fell in love with this country, townships, Afrikaans, social injustices and all. He loved the people. He loved the land. He could completely understand why those Europeans never left 300+ years ago.

A mutual friend of ours runs a school in one of the townships.She’s back in Atlanta this week to visit her family. She and Marshall chatted briefly after church this past Sunday.

“Why don’t you just pack up the family and move down there?” she asked him.

“Believe me, Nicole…I would,” he replied wistfully.

Later on that night, he told me about Nicole’s challenge to move. As we lay in bed twirling each others chest hairs, I asked him why not? Why not pack up and move to South Africa?

“Are you serious?” he asked. “What about Ghana?”

“Ghana will always be there,” I said. “Besides, my dad can come and visit us anywhere on the continent. He doesn’t need a visa like your silly American government refuses him.”

My husband’s breath quickened. He began to recount all the things he had seen and done in the country seven years ago. As he talked about the crags and panoramic mountain scenes, his voice got an octave deeper and he had a far away, misty look in his eye. It was as though he was talking about some hot ex-girlfriend that time and circumstance had separated him from much too soon. His amour for this country has me willing to give her another look. Perhaps she is not the evil whore I’ve presumed her to be.

It’s been refreshing to see him so excited about something these last few days. Who knows? If the winds blow right and with good fortune, I may be blogging from our new home in Port Elizabeth in 2011.

Chris’ Wedding Speech

It was the day he had been waiting for since they broke up in 2005. Adj was finally getting married, and he was free to release all the woe and regret that had been building up and twisting in his heart for these last few years. Some people had never forgiven him for dumping her; namely his mother and Adj’s elder sister, Malaka. Adj was a young woman full of promise and on a trajectory for an amazing career in physics. His mother hoped to show her off as a prize catch. Malaka wanted Chris and his trollish ways incorporated into their already insane family. The two women were devastated by the news of the break up, and time had yet to heal their wounds.

But today, when Adj celebrated her nuptials and wed another man, Chris would be there to lend his support and congratulations. It was the least he could do. Chris and Adj had maintained a friendship over the years, so his presence at her wedding would not be odd at all. He didn’t know much about the groom. Was it a coincidence that his name was ‘Chris’ as well? Who knew. Adj went through Chrises like syphilis went through a Chinese whore house. This Chris  was the fourth she’d dated since him.

One final look in the mirror to pat down his afro and adjust his cravat and he was ready.

“It’s show time,” he said, breathing deeply. Today, he would show everyone that had doubted his decision to break up with her that it was best for all involved.  She was happy and he was happy for her.

The wedding was nice…typical. Adj and her new husband were agnostics, so their vows were pretty general. They had written them themselves and vowed to stay together so long as the one didn’t piss the other off too badly. They released crows when they walked out of the church. One of them took a squishy dump on Chris’ rented tux. No matter. It was rented after all. The reception was even more entertaining. As promised, Adj’s brother sang “She’s your Queen to be” as Adj walked into the reception hall. 3 very black, burly Ghanaian boys threw cassava shavings and hibiscus petals at her feet as she made her way to the high table. After all the guests had eaten and drank to their fill, the MC opened the mic for well wishers. Chris, who had been sipping on vodka tonics all night seized the chance to wish his could-have been bride all the happiness in the world. He staggered onto the dance floor and grabbed the cordless mic.

“You know folks, this is a very happy occasion here tonight, ” he slurred. “I used to date Adj too, like 6 or 7 other men in here did. When we would do it, I used to hit it from the back because that was the only way I could get to her ‘love spot’. My belly is quite rotund, you see?”

He shook his feed sack for dramatic effect. The MC moved closer to try and take the mic from him.

“No, no man!” Chris yelled. “I got this under….control. Anyway, the first time me and Adj did it, I thought my penis was broken. I called the nurse help line because her vaginal walls were so tight.”

The reception guests gasped. Some of them shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Oddly encouraged by this response, Chris continued.

“Oh yeah! It was something else. I recall some of our more amusing times…getting a puppy together (and me drowning that puppy), making her push the car down the road when it ran out of gas. She was such a good African girl. She never complained about the manual labor I expected of her…including shaving my back and ass crack. She’s a good woman, that one.”

He raised his fist and shook at Adj’s new groom, Chris.

“You…you take good care of her, hear?”

Suddenly, as if on cue, Ying Yang Twins’ Get Low blared over the speakers at the fin of his fine speech, and Chris stepped off the dance floor like a jolly, drunken gnome. He threw up an obscure gang sign.

‘Aaahhh skeet skeet skeet!’

Seconds later he passed out face first into a bowl of groudnut soup; falling into sleepy oblivion and adding more plumage to his already colorful cap of shame.

In the Shadows of Black Molestation

When it comes to certain “unpleasant” topics, Black people willingly choose denial. As a people, we tend to categorize problems by race. “Only White people have Downs Syndrome” or “Only White fathers rape their daughters”. 20 years ago “only White guys were gay”. Sadly, we have no choice but to own robbery and gang violence as “Black problems”.

Conversely, we also have a need to perpetuate the myth of “the strong Black family” or “a strong Black race”. Are there strong Black families and are we strong as a race? Sure; but like any other people, we have severe evils that plague us and it’s to our detriment that we deny or ignore these. As a race, we rail against those who would dare to “air our dirty laundry”. When Bill Cosby called out urban parents on their poor parenting and lack of involvement, he was demonized by both our so-called civil rights leaders and the black proletariat. When he thought he was off camera, Jesse Jackson maliciously whispered that he wanted to “cut Barack Obama’s nuts off for talking down to Black people.” You know what happens when you don’t air your dirty laundry? It stinks. Roaches make their home in the folds or your linen, and you have an infestation problem. We as a race like to believe we’re so solid, despite our numerous challenges, but a closer inspection of our foundation will reveal several cracks that we are far too willing to gloss over. We need to demolish and rebuild structures.

What has me on such a tare against my people? I’m glad you asked.

I watched Oprah yesterday. Her guest was Gerald Imes, Mo’Nique’s eldest brother, who as it turns out, was also her sexual abuser from age 7-11. I watched the show with several emotions coursing through me: disbelief, disgust, grief and disappointment. Disappointment was chief amongst these. As Gerald gave an account of events, and attempted to explain that his reason for molesting his little sister was because he was also molested by several family members, I was struck by my lack of compassion for him. He said that the abuse he suffered drove him to drugs and alcohol. He said it turned him into an abuser himself. Well Gerald, you and every other pedophile out there can cry me a bleeding river. It’s time for people to begin taking responsibility and stop the cycle of violence. Not every person who has suffered sexual abuse becomes an abuser. Just like not every person who grew up with negligent parents becomes a poor parent themselves. Not everyone who grew up with godly parents grows up with compassion and a love for God either. Not every person who has been hurt hurts other people. Not everyone who has received good will return that good to others. We all make choices. STOP THE EXCUSES.

The fact that Mo’Nique’s brother was the one who touched her inappropriately was shocking enough, but it was her family’s reaction that caused my brow to furrow. They simply could not understand why she had chosen to go public with the story.

“We have always been a close-knit family,” her mother proclaimed. “I just feel like she should have given us an opportunity to work this out as a family first, and then go public if she wanted.”

I got news for you Mrs. Imes, it’s her tragedy to tell. If she wanted to make a Shakespearean play of it, it’s certainly her prerogative. As Oprah conversed further, she noticed Mo’Nique’s other brother Steven smiling and shaking his head. She asked him what provoked his reaction.

“We are not the family in turmoil you’re portraying us to be.” He smiled patronizingly at Oprah. “I just think this whole thing has been blown put of proportion.”

“Everything was going fine in the family,” Mr. Imes added. “If Mo’ had a problem, her big brother was the first one she called.” He intimated that there were no signs that she was troubled.

These people were genuinely shocked that Mo’Nique is coming out with this story and expressing a deep sense of pain. I sat watching the TV and asked myself “Are Black people that clueless when it comes to molestation??”

The answer is yes, yes they are. And we choose to be.

It’s estimated that 1 in 4 girls in America have either been molested or inappropriately touched. 90% of those children are molested by friends and/or family members. I can’t fathom what those numbers might be in the Black American community, or say in Africa, where we have a culture of sweeping things under the rug and expecting the best. My disappointment in Mo’Nique’s family may stem from the disappointment I felt when I revealed my own experience with an uncle. I still don’t know if that was “molestation” or not. All I know is when I was 8 my father’s brother asked me for a kiss, stuck his tongue down my throat and looked at me with longing afterward. I never told my father until 2009. I’m 32 now. As a child, when my uncle would come by the house, I was expected to serve him water and afford him the respect he was due as an elder. Any behavior to the contrary would have surely resulted in my punishment. For his part, he played the loving, friendly uncle who had come to visit from Asylum Down. When I finally mustered the courage to tell my dad last year, he was silent for a moment and said “Don’t mind him. Some uncles are like that.”

Wow.

People generally ask those who have suffered abuse a children why they never told. Why did they wait so long to come out with it? The answer is always fear. Every little girl’s fear is different. Mine was that my dad would kill his brother and wind up in jail, and then I would grow up with no dad. For all his sweetness, my dad had a violent temper when it came to his children. My childhood best friend just told me that had also been molested when she was no older that 7. She never told her mom that her abuser was the man she was in a relationship with because she “was finally happy.”

In Ghana, when a girl is raped or molested, the family generally tries to settle out of court with a local chief or elder. The abuser is generally required to pay the family some sort of compensation (usually no more than $100-300), the matter is considered settled, and he is free to ruin some other little girl somewhere else. She gets no counseling, no therapy, and is expected to carry on as if it never happened. It is the rare, but happy occasion when child rapists are reported to the police. Every day, little kids silently carry the weight of the world on their shoulders when those shoulders are not equipped for such a burden.

So if Mo’Nique is just now dealing with the pain of being fondled by her monstrous brother, and I mean really dealing, her family cannot seriously behave befuddled, bewildered and baffled because she has cut off ties with them. She may have been putting on the front of a happy and comical child, but deep inside their is a resentment that always lingers with a victim of abuse. Imagine how much worse that it must have been for her living in the same house? Yes, she could have taken the punk way out like Gerald and turned to drugs (and later abused another family member), but she instead turned that negative energy into a stunning career.

At the end of the show, Gerald pleaded for Mo’Nique to accept his apology and move on with him as siblings. It was all so simple to him. He did it, and after years of denial, because he had come to terms with his vile act, she was supposed to welcome him with open arms and be his sister again. Her family nodded in agreement. Now, if she chooses to, that is certainly her right…But if I saw my nasty abusive uncle laying aflame in a pool of gasoline today, I wouldn’t piss on him to relieve his pain.

With all the problems we have in our community: AIDS, gangs, abortion, murder, child rape…we can’t sit idly by and turn a blind eye to these very real problems. The only life form that thrives in dark and shadowed crevices is mold, and we can ill afford the mold of molestation to continue to spread throughout our families and community. Open the windows folks.

There Are No Bad Kids

I read somewhere that there are no bad employees, only bad managers. If someone takes the time to fill out an application, get dressed for an interview and show up for work every day (or most days), then they obviously want/need to work. When their performance becomes an issue, it’s up to the manager to correct and solve that performance problem. A good manager is paid good money to do just that: Manage. A manager is not a baby sitter. A baby sitter gets to just watch things happen with minimal interaction and little consequence. A manager must be a psychologist, psychiatrist, adviser and veritable demi-god. Yes, a manager must be all things at all times, much like a parent. If a company fails, it’s not the employees fault – it’s because of poor management. And if my kids fail in life, it’s because I have failed as a parent.

All that is to say that I have taken an inward look and discovered that I do not in fact have bad kids. I have been a bad parent. I have failed to manage. Since I left the workforce 2 years ago, I have been a stay at home baby sitter. How did I discover this? Through Nadjah and my recent battles over online games; specifically, PBS Kids. Everyday our script goes something like this:

3:15 –  Nadjah walks in the door, throws her shoes and book bag in the middle of the floor and makes her first requests.

“Mommy, can I have some juice? Can I play PBS Kids?”

I’ve been running around all day, and am generally pissed with the news that her counterparts in Ghana are reading newspapers at age 6.

“No!” I scream. “Why don’t you sit down and read a book? Try to figure out what sounds the letters make?!?”

3:20 – She forlornly sits on the couch next to her sister to watch cartoons.

4:10 - “Mommy, can I play PBS Kids now?” She proudly shows me a piece of paper. She has scribbled:

ADTRLL

“Guess what that says, Mommy.”

“I don’t know what that says.” I’m irritated. “It’s just a bunch of letters.”

“No it isn’t,” she insists. “It says ‘I Wish…'”

“That doesn’t say ‘wish’, Nadjah. What letter/sound does ‘wish’ start with??”

She stares blankly at me.

“W!” I scream. “Wish starts with ‘W’!!!”

4:20-6:45 - Preschooler and toddler drama continues, I wait for my husband to come home so I can get off duty, and I go to bed grumbling over what an illiterate the GA Pre-K program has made my child.

SCREEEEECCHHH!!!!!

But then that’s they crux of the matter, isn’t it? That’s my child. I can teach her whatever I want! I can mold her into whatever I want her to be. Shoot, White supremacists are dedicated in teaching their kids to hate anyone darker than a clear plastic WalMart bag…I could teach my child intelligence, grace and hopefully, some common-freakin’-sense. It was time to put on my manager’s hat.  She is 5 after all…She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, and how is she to know these things unless I teach her? Now our days go like this:

3:15 – Bookbag and shoes in the middle of the floor.

“Na, put your shoes on the stair and your book bag in the corner.”

The child obliges.

“Mommy, can I play PBS Kids please?”

“You have to learn how to spell a word first. This is how you spell ‘Wish’. W-I-S-H. Repeat it.”

She does.

“Repeat it 5 times without looking and you can play PBS Kids.”

She giggles coyly, stumbles a few times on purpose, and recognizes that I am neither smiling nor getting up from the desk chair to let her play until she spells ‘wish’ five times perfectly. The task is complete and she can play for half an hour.

4:20 -

“Nadjah, spell ‘wish'”

“W-I-S-H!”

“Very good.”

Two days later at 6:45 - Hubby gets home to relieve me of duty. Before I go upstairs to collapse from delirium (because I still have a crazy 3 year old and needy infant son)  Nadjah shows him that she can now spell ‘wish’, ‘stop’, ‘hat’ and ‘car’. I am well pleased and proud.

She’s not reading Homer’s Iliad, but it’s a start!

Ode to my BFFFL

*OK, so this isn’t really an “ode”. Who has time to formulate rhyme, stanzas and onomatopoeia in 2010?

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is my BFFFL. My Best Friend for Freakin’ LIFE…ya heard?

It’s funny, but when you first meet someone, you never know what kind of impact they’ll have on your life. When I first met Nana, aka Sisi, it was 1994 and we were both new students at SOS HGIC. She didn’t make much of an impression on me at first, unlike some of the other girls in our class. The average age of our class was 16, so of course, everyone felt “cool” and had something to prove. The only thing I remember about her from our first weeks was this t-shirt she used to wear during prep that was emblazoned with HUGE lettering. It read: Love me, hate me…I’m still Sisi.

“Whatever!” I thought.

Sisi is one of the most unassuming people you’ll ever meet, but underneath that cool exterior is an out and out gangsta. There are very few women you will meet in life who can say they have, are and will always do things “my way”, and she’s in that elite group. Sisi and I became fast friends during our Higher Level History class. I did my extended essay in English. She did her hers on cultural symbols and their affect on Ghana’s relationship with invading Europeans and colonization. I thought my essay was brilliant, but mine didn’t get recognition from the IB board in Geneva and go into publication, did it? Her’s did.

Here’s the truth. I’m crazy, but Sisi has stumped me with several WTF moments during our friendship. In 2002, she told me she was going to get her Masters in feminism studies (or something). WTF was she going to do with a MA in feminism? Turns out they have jobs that pay you for that, she now she’s sitting cush behind some desk in East Legon.

She married her childhood friend shortly after that and 2 years later they were divorced.

“Why are you guys splitting up?” I asked. I thought they were made for each other. I was at their wedding. I had fish.

She said something about her spouse’s  lack of ambition and her loss of interest. WTF??? You mean he wasn’t beating you or stealing all your money? Who gets divorced over something like that? Nana Darkoa, that’s who. And she’s all the happier for it.

She’s also a big time blogger on out joint venture Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, and is often sought after by radio stations to give her advice on sex and sexuality. A few weeks ago, she got on air to discuss the mythical and elusive ‘G-spot’ and told Ghanaian women to touch themselves to find out what gives them pleasure. How did she say it? None to delicately. “Touch yourself,” she commanded. Touch yourself?? Ghanaian women don’t (whispering) masturbate; and we’d sooner throw acid in our eyes than admit to it! W-T-F.

And now? Now she’s launched a clothing line in Accra; MAKSI clothing. The name sounded queer at first, but now it’s ALL OVER the streets. Who launches a clothing line in Ghana anyway? Everyone wants to wear fashion from “abrochi”, not made in Ghana stuff. Well they did, until Sisi and her ilk came along with fashion so hot, it made me want to jump on a plane to restock my closet. I read on some news-wire that MAKSI clothing was part of the Ghanaian ‘new cool’. Dang! Stumped again.

So there you have it folks. There’s my expose on my BFFFL. When she’s on CNBC’s ‘100 Most Influential Women in the World’, you can proudly say you read about her here first. I’d like to say more about her, but her naked, drooling nephew is clawing at my feet and needs some attention. Oh look. Now he’s biting me. Gotta go!