Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween: The One Holiday that Completely Wears Me Out

Most people look forward to this time of the year with giddy anticipation. The coming of fall marks the true beginning of two of our most beloved seasons: football and boot season. It also marks the beginning of the holiday season, which until a few years ago meant Thanksgiving and Christmas exclusively. Somewhere along the line, Halloween crept in and has joined the ranks of our major holidays, to the chagrin of quite a few.

I am among that number. I can’t stand Halloween.

Everyone knows someone who hates at least one holiday on the calendar. My dad refuses to celebrate Christmas. He is adamant that because Christ was born in the Spring (in March, according to his research) there is no earthly reason why any good Christian would celebrate the yuletide in December. Ironically, this has never stopped him from guzzling down a celebratory beer along with a bowl of bronia fufu.

In the same vein, I know a good number of people who violently protest the celebration of Columbus Day. Why should we fete the destruction of a whole race of people, heralded by the landing of some wayward Spaniard who mistook these American shores for those of India? Why does a man get such recognition just for getting lost? After all, if Neal Armstrong had mistakenly landed on Mars instead of the moon, would we honor his heroism as Americans have done for Columbus? I thinketh not.

I object to Halloween because it’s my Christian duty to do so. This would be a good time to point out that it is my Christian duty to object because of the type of Christian I am, for there are as many types of Christians as there are holidays on your calendar. There are some Christians who eagerly await the coming of Halloween, as they see it as a harmless diversion and a chance for their children to solicit strangers for candy. There are others who recognize Halloween’s dark, sinister roots and its dreadful covenant with the occult. There are other’s still who try to straddle the two schools of thought and therefore end up entirely irked by the months leading up to the event. I’m in the lattermost group.

Our church had done a teaching on Halloween a few years back. There were phrases thrown out about this guy called Samhain  and druid priests, and deities of death and destruction and so on. Unfortunately, at the end of the day all I can surmise is that ‘Halloween is bad if you’re a good Christian,’ which is the festive equivalent of ‘good girls don’t have sex if they are Christians.’ There is no explanation or “WHY” in any of this. I am admittedly rusty on why Halloween is supposed to be an affront to my vow to serve Christ, and this has become a frustration.

My interactions with my children has only exasperated those frustrations.

When they were toddlers and more easily controlled, we simply did not participate in any Halloween activities. However as they got older, influences outside of my control abounded and infiltrated the cocoon I had created for them.

“Why can’t I dress up and trick or treat?” the girls would ask.

Their objections became more and more consistent until finally one day Marshall agreed to let them go to the mall and get candy from the different vendors.

“But you can’t wear a costume,” he said authoritatively.

The next year, the girls dressed up as princesses. The year following that, they were fairies. Somehow, our resolve to be “good Christian parents who don’t let their kids participate in the Devil’s birthday” was weakening with every passing of Lucifer’s favorite holiday. Every year, I tried to convince myself that it really wasn’t that bad if they kids wanted to be a Disney character and eat some candy, was it? It was just dress up!

The real test of my convictions comes in the form of the annual Halloween party that my co-worker hosts at her home. Her husband transforms their backyard into a fright-fest for the senses, with caves and tunnels and spider webs blanketing his property. He adorns himself in the most fear-provoking costume he can find and chases little children around, tickled by their shrill shrieks of terror. He LOVES Halloween. This year, thanks to Mr. Stewart and Disney Channel, Nadjah got it into her head that she did not want to be an innocent character: she wanted to be something ghoulish and un-dead. This is where Marshall drew the line.

“But why can’t I be a witch or a mummy for the party?” she whined, tears brimming her eyes.

“I don’t have to let you go at all,” he replied simply, never lifting his eyes from his iPhone. “Besides, Halloween is of the devil and God wouldn’t like you dressing up as a witch.”

“Everything you say is about God!” Nadjah screamed in frustration.

“That’s right.”

As I watched her flounce on the sofa and cross her arms in defiance, I realized that I had done a pretty piss poor job of raising a child who has any understanding of our basic beliefs. Nadjah is an intelligent girl, and I had done her a disservice by not treating her as such. Instead, I had allowed cable TV and Walmart to shape her world view, just by virtue of my silence. I spoke to my sister, who is religiously abstinent, about the incident.

“Halloween IS about ghouls and goblins and zombies,” she said. “It’s about caldrons and potions and casting spells on people. If you’re not going to do it right, you might as well not do it at all.”

 Why indeed? Why just dabble in the occult? Why not just be completely given over to it? At what point does my family decide that enough is enough? 2 Timothy 1:7 says For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  With the advent of Halloween, we willingly take on the spirit of fear…something that is not God approved or God-honoring? I will confess: I gave serious thought to taking Nadjah up to that haunted house on 1-85 to show her Halloween for real for real, but that would be cruel…and contrary to God’s word, wouldn’t it? What kind of mother would that make me?

It’s not for me to judge other people and how they live their lives in relation to God and the bible. Every one of us must live their lives according to their conviction and the information they’ve been handed. I’m just saying have to do a better job of equipping my children with information on all fronts, obviously.

Be safe tonight, and remember to check your kids’ candy before you let them eat them! There are physchos in these here subdivisions these days. Poisoning kids and putting needles in Snicker bars and what not. Just crazy and wearing on my last nerve!

*grumble*

*grumble*

*grumble*

RHKOA: Curry Fried Wahala

Although I am no longer a Real Housekeeper, I still have an arsenal of stories left untold. According to @msmartei on Twitter, there is at least one person who wants to hear the scoop on ATLien poop. So this one’s for you, my friend. (And I mean friend as in ‘friend’ and not at all in  Joe Biden’s villainous definition.)

Atlanta’s place in the Civil Right’s struggle is firmly cemented in history. If you asked the average person to conjure three cities that impacted Civil Rights, they’d mention Washington DC, Selma, AL and Atlanta – no mention of state required.

Many people suffered under the oppressive thumb of discrimination in years gone past. Jews, Asians and Negros (as we called ourselves in those days) were subject to various manner of social injustice, depending on their race and ethnicity. However, recognizing injustice anywhere was injustice everywhere, some of our forebearers banded together to demand equal rights, and they got them! All these races learned the incredible power of unity…until there was nothing left to fight for. We each then went our segregated ways and eventually began to look at the other with disdain and suspicion. As a new resident to this city, I have tried to live my life as an Atlanta transplant without a racial chip on my shoulder; but I can only imagine that this history was why Deepthi treated us as she did when we got to her home.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and Samira and I were already spent. We had expended at lot of energy cleaning the house of a woman who declared that her kids “would never remember if they lived in a clean house or not, but they WOULD remember that she was a fun mom who was at all her baseball games.” I found the carcass of a petrified moth stuck to a blanket in her foyer. You can imagine the state of the rest of the house. So needless to say, by the time we arrived at Deepthu Singh’s townhouse in Alpharetta, I was somewhat ‘sensitive.’

As was our custom, Samira and I crossed ourselves and prayed before we entered the Indian woman’s house. Ever since that incident with the woman rolling her eyes back and following another team around while chanting, I was taking no chances. A slender, hawkish woman opened the door. She had an interesting face and jet black hair that was damp with water. The noonday rays danced off the aqua blue kurta that fell just below her knees. I was almost blinded by gold bangles that covered her wrists. We arrived at her door at 11:49 am. The appointment was for 12 noon.

“Yes?” she whispered, blocking the door with her thin frame.

“Hi…we’re with Spic n’ Span Cleaning hands,” I answered. “We just called you from the gate?”

“Yes,” she said breathlessly.

Oh dear.

“May we come in?”

Deepthi stood to the side without another word. This was becoming more awkward with every passing moment. Samira piped up and asked her for a copy of her voucher to determine what service she was getting.

“I don’t have it printed out, but I can show it to you,” Deepthi offered.

We said that would be fine. It said that she could get up to 3,000 square feet cleaned, which included 4 bathrooms and any 6 rooms of her choice. We were to clean for a maximum of 3 hours. Fortunately, Deepthi and her husband only had a 3 bedroom townhouse with 2 ½ baths. With her living room, dining room and kitchen, that made up the entire 6 rooms. She bullied us into mopping her laundry room since we could not clean her back porch, which we decided to do for the sake of customer service. Still, it wouldn’t take us long at all. We went over the terms before we began cleaning.

“Actually, I would like to add a room to the service,” she informed us. “We have my in-laws coming into town and I want my porch cleaned.”

That wasn’t a problem. It’d been done before. The only problem was Deepthi didn’t HAVE a porch. She had a slab of concrete with two chairs nestled on the surface. Her A/C unit hummed noisily in the corner…and it was dripping rusty water onto the concrete. She wanted us to scrub it.

“I’m afraid we don’t have the materials to do that,” I said apologetically.

Actually, I wasn’t sorry at all. This woman was off her rocker if she thought I was going to scrub her back porch! Samira was breathing heavily. I shot her a look, begging her to calm down.

“Oh, I have something you can use to clean it with,” Deepthi said brightly.

She led us to her laundry room and pointed to a soft bristled broom and mop.

“I really need you guys to get those stains up,” she implored like a damsel in distress.

She was nuts…and clearly had never cleaned a day in her life.

“This is concrete,” I said emphatically. “You really can’t get rust stains out of it unless you have an industrial broom and some heavy duty scouring powder.”

We spent another 5 minutes discussing it until she finally admitted to herself that it wasn’t going to work. Next we discussed her hardwood floors.

At this time, we were still using the horrendous bottle of blue Pledge, although we had no idea that it was leaving streaks. She said it would be fine: she was not too particular about her floors…although she WOULD like to see it tested in a corner before we mopped the whole thing.

Sigh.

Of course, we obliged.

Finally she led us to the steps leading up to the second landing. I noticed that she took off her slippers and asked if she needed us to remover our shoes as well.

“Yes, please,” she said vehemently. “My husband is very particular about the carpet. Me, not so much, but he is.”

Samira and I smiled knowingly. Those dastardly husbands and their affinity for clean carpets! As it turned out, the carpet should have been the very least of his concerns; that repulsive bathroom should.

As Deepthi led us into the brown tiled room I felt a shiver run up the length of my calf to the nape of my neck. The floor was sopping wet and there was hair, mold, toothpaste and soap scum everywhere.

“I’ll move my perfumes and other bottles before you start cleaning,” Deepthi offered.

I forced a smile. Samira looked like she wanted to throw something. I couldn’t blame her.

Deepthi went to her laptop and then stood at the door as is remembering something.

“Oh! I also want you guys to clean my fridge before you go,” she said in that whispering voice I had so quickly come to despise.

“Cleaning your fridge is not part of the service you purchased,” I warned her. “It will cost an extra $25 to add on a service.”

She seemed heartbroken. A whole $25!

“But it’s not that dirty,” she gasped desperately. “All you have to do is wipe it out. My husband and I cleaned it just last week!”

I understood that. But it was still going to be $25. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity spent haggling over the issue, I made her an offer. She could substitute one of the other rooms in the house in exchange for the fridge. She looked at the spare bedroom which was overflowing with her husband’s trousers and suitcases. It was not a high priority. She only wanted it vacuumed, but she wasn’t sure. She said she would get back to us when she’d made a decision. I looked at her suspiciously. Being from Africa, I’ve seen this trick many times. She was going to get “busy” doing something else while we cleaned all the rooms and say she “forgot” to get back to us about the fridge and ask us to do the fridge anyway. You wait and see!

In the meantime, Samira had gone downstairs to retrieve our shoes.

“Ain’t no way I’m standing in this here shower barefoot,” she growled.

I looked down and almost crapped my pants. The shower floor was a mashed mix of pitch black and dirt brown. An avalanche of shampoo bottles came tumbling down when Samira tried to clear the shelf surface. I turned my attention to the tub, which was besotted with hair and slimy soap. I won’t even go into what I encountered in the toilet.

Deepthi didn’t keep her promise to remove any of her precious bottles. I spent a great deal of time deciphering what was to be kept and what was to be thrown away. A pair of old contacts lined with dust. Long used samples of lotion squeezed till the packet was unrecognizable. Dull, rusty razor blades stuffed with facial and/or pubic hair. Junk, junk, junk! I was not going to be accused of throwing anything precious away. I scrubbed the counters and dutifully placed everything back.

Samira was still working on the malodorous shower when I left to tackle the other bathroom. All the drains were clogged with hair. I was miserable – absolutely miserable. Meanwhile, Deepthi sat in her room on an “important call”…that is until I entered the domain where her in-laws would be staying. She instantly materialized.

“I need special care in this room,” she cautioned. “Everything must be perfect.”

I understood completely. No one wants to be berated by their in-laws. I made sure the blinds were properly dusted and the furniture well-polished. I wasn’t ready for what Deepthi asked me to do next.

“Hey! Can you hang these lamps?”

“What?”

“Oh it’s very easy!” she said quickly. “Just move the bed and plug it in from the back.”

I sighed and obliged. Then I noticed she was quizzically looking at the headboard.

“Hey! Did you polish this?”

(For the record, I don’t like being referred to as ‘hey’.)

“Yes, I did,” I shot back, my patience wearing thin. “But you have some sort of wax on there they I can’t dig out.”

“Keep trying,” she instructed. “Please.”

I was gobsmacked. When she left I grabbed some Windex and sprayed the surface angrily, not caring one iota if it stripped her varnish. It got the wax (or whatever it was) out though!

Finally it was time to move downstairs where Samira had already done the half bath and laundry room. I moved into the kitchen and looked around. My wits abandoned me. There was curry everywhere. In the sink, on the granite counters, fused into every crevice of the stove! I sprayed Easy Off cleaner on the stove and tackled the sink. 10 laborious minutes later and it was gleaming. The stove was not to be conquered so easily. I ended up removing a layer of coating just get it clean.

Deepthi had followed us downstairs, just to make sure we weren’t stealing, I was sure. There was nothing I wanted out of her house. Even the air had become despicable to me. I had long cleaned the spare room upstairs, and she knew that. I waited to see if my suspicions about her cheap a** were right.

“Hey, do you think you can do the fridge now?”

“I already vacuumed and dusted the other room upstairs,” I said tersely. “You never said which you wanted done.”

“Oh, oh! I forgot,” she said, feigning absent mindedness.

Right.

“But can you still clean it?”

I reminded her it was going to cost her $25. When she started prattling on about whatever nonsense she was talking, I stopped her and said I would give it a quick wipe down. But I was NOT cleaning it.

Samira quickly finished dusting and began mopping the floors. She was irritated and I was flat out angry. This woman was trying to take advantage of us in any way she could and it was making me feel cheap. Like slavery cheap. Then, she dealt us the final, tawdry blow.

“You guys say that you are finished cleaning, but it has not been 3 hours.”

“Excuse me?” I was confounded. “It’s 2:50. We’ve been here longer than 3 hours!”

“No, no,” she asserted. “You began at 12:00. I still have 10 more minutes.”

I didn’t curse her out. I didn’t say anything at all. I began grabbing cleaning items, and Samira mopped the same spot for another 10 minutes.

Think Deepthi left a tip? I’ll spit on your shoes if you say yes.

I’m not Black

Black death.

Black plague.

Black Wednesday.

Black market.

Black Sabbath.

Black listed.

Black hole.

Black Monday.

Black souls.

Black sheep.

Black mark.

Black balled.

…and little white lies.

Oh dear. Anything “Black” looks mighty bad doesn’t it?

Fortunately I’m not a Black woman. I’m Ghanaian-American.

What are you?

Area Boys on Display: Campaign 2012

Area boys are loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers, composed mostly of males, who roam the streets of urban West African cities They extort money from passers-by, sell illegal drugs, act as informal security guards, and perform other “odd jobs” in return for compensation.

 

Well, it’s all over now. No more knife fights. No more direct blows to the gut. No more memes, splendid or otherwise for another four long years. The debates are over.

My husband doesn’t share my sorrow. He’s so fed up with this political hooliganism that he refused to watch last night’s US Presidential debate on foreign policy or as I call it: Another chance for Obama and Romney to bicker about the economy, sprinkled with some international “stuff”. (“Stuff” as Joe Biden defines it.)

I don’t know about you, but these debates have been an eye-opener into the world of American politics. Most of us who are honest will admit that all politicians lie – yes, even your precious Barack Obama has overstated the truth – but it’s rare that we get to see them behave in primeval form. That is what set these debates so far apart from those in years past.

American politicians in years gone by usually set out to portray themselves as pragmatic statesmen.  They wanted to appear congenial, but tough; thoughtful, but decisive. Though he might disagree with his opponent, a statesman would never interrupt another gentleman in the middle of a monologue. He knew that if he kept the other guy talking, he would eventually hang himself with his own words. During these debates, we saw constant interruption, heckling and bullying on the cameras, and that’s alright – because Obama and Romney are not statesmen.

They are kubolor boys, and that’s just the way we like them.

In my grandmother’s generation Americans wanted one thing when it came to foreign policy: to be feared and respected abroad. A lot of this mindset had to do with Pearl Harbor, and America had to show that it was the biggest, baddest kid on the block. The idea of ever attacking America should make a foreign power piss in its boots. So we pursued a policy of aggression, a show of military might whenever possible, and economic sanctions and bullying. However at home, we wanted peace, prosperity and equality for all. However my grandmother lived through the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era, and saw worse atrocities meted out on American citizens than Americans enemies abroad. It wasn’t right, but those were the policies of her elected officials of her day. Human beings are hardly capable of being more than what they are, and that is all that a politician is: a guy in a suit with a mic and a set of mores that he wishes to impose on a group of people.

(Luckily, America did some image and policy changing and apart from that whole 9/11 thing, everything has gone pretty smoothly for us)

That’s why it’s so essential to vote. These are the people who set the agenda for the country. Gone are the days when the agenda was set by “We the People”. America’s plans are now dictated by “We the Democrats” or “We the Republicans”, depending on who occupies the Oval Office every four years.

But back to my point about our area boy candidates. Every news outlet has come to similar conclusions about these debates. There was little difference in substance between the two candidates. Voters will make their decisions based on firmly established allegiances and style. From the first debate to the last Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agreed with each other on many policy points. From drilling to auto bail outs, they read from the same manuscript. The only differences were in inflection or a pause or two. I will concede this: Obama is the better orator, and that will probably win him the election.

The American public is largely ignorant when it comes to foreign policy…or foreign anything when it comes down to it. Mitt Romney mentioned Mali last night and twitter was virtually silent. Ask a passerby today where Mali is, and I get you $10 they will say it is in China! Yet he called America the hope of the earth. How can you bring hope to the earth when you can’t even pinpoint key geographic locations on a globe? However, Barack Obama said “I kill people who hurt Americans and our interests” and twitter almost exploded. He then looked at Romney like he was eyeing a tasty MittMuffin.

Yeah POTUS! Yeaaahhhh!!!

We like our politicians to be area boys! We like them to say things that are familiar to us, not expedient.  We don’t want them to tell us how good their plans are for fixing our problems; just how bad the other guy’s plans suck.

I have to admit, with all the economic upheaval the world has suffered these last 10 years (this was a global economic crisis, not just an American one remember) it was good to see two politicians bloody each other on stage. We the people are Pompeii, and RMoney and Obama bin Laden are our great gladiator warriors.

So who won last night’s debate in America’s mind? The guy with flesh, bone and blood clogged in his teeth, that’s who. That’s how America gauges political success: by eating the other opponent alive.

Say goodbye to political sobriety y’all. It sang its swan song last night.

 

The Unfortunate Consequences of Interracial Adoption

*Chants*

Oh Heavenly Father on the Throne, please imbue Black people with a spirit of adoption or at least wealth oh Father, so that we might properly educate people of other races who wish to adopt our babies. Aaaaamen!

I hardly know where to begin. What would you do in this situation?

Today my kid’s school hosted their annual International Festival. It drew an impressive crowd, with at least 30 nationalities represented. We have families from all over the globe that attend the school: Lebanese, Bahamians, Jamaicans, Somalians – you get the picture. And this being the South, we have a number of interracial couples and bi-racial children. It’s wonderful to see so many cultures converge on one place to show case what makes them beautiful and special; beautiful that is, until ignorance supersedes goodwill in an expression so vile that it leaves you breathless.

And MOM Squad, I nearly stopped breathing today.

In the carnival portion of the festival, I saw a beautiful mahogany skinned child running wantonly around the bouncy castle and various games. She barely filled out the tiny gold and burgundy FSU cheerleader outfit she was sporting. She had wide brown eyes that shone with wonder, rimmed with curly eyelashes. She was nearly perfect. But she was marred…completely destroyed from her temples to the nape of her neck.

Who let this child out of the house with her hair looking like this?

No one is more condemning of Black hair than Black women. Lest you confuse my intentions, this is not one of those blogs that disparages a parent for choosing to let their child’s hair grow in its natural state. Children have no business getting perms until they are well past puberty anyway. No, no. This is a blog about neglect.

I looked around for the little girl’s parents and saw no one. Oh great. Now they were just letting her roam unattended as well. I wouldn’t have to go far to call the police. With such a high concentration of Arabs in one spot, there was a visible police force guarding us. (You might remember that whole contentious affair our school had late last year when the city of Alpharetta didn’t want us any closer to their suburbs than we needed to be.) I scanned the crowd and finally pinpointed her parents. She skipped over to a silver haired Caucasian man who offered her a sip of water and a nibble of the blue cotton candy he was holding. He pointed her to the back of the line to get back into the bouncy castle and smiled fondly. Aside from the fact that her skin was ashy and her hair beyond redemption, she appeared to be a happy child…as did her brother who was also sporting a mass of buckshots all over his scalp. I was utterly distraught. I had to say something. But what?

I looked around the crowd for an ally and finally spotted a woman whom I thought might share my anxiety. I approached her gingerly.

“Hi,” I said with my hand outstretched. “My name is Malaka. What’s your name?”

“Latoya,” she said with a half-smile.

“Nice to meet you,” I whispered. “Look. I need your help with something that only another Black woman would understand and appreciate. There is a little girl over there. Her hair is JACKED. I feel compelled to do something about it. Like today.”

Latoya looked in the direction I was surreptitiously nodding in. She had the same look on her face that you probably have on yours right now, Reader. She thought I was being nosey and over-exaggerating. When the full scope of what we were dealing with hit her, she gasped.

“Oh my!”

Are you from Africa? Have you seen those mad women walking around? Ahaaa. Then you know what I speak of. The child’s hair looked like it had not been combed in MONTHS. It was matted on all sides, save for the front where someone idly pulled it upwards.  The tips of her hair had gone light brown and red, as though they had been exposed to too much chlorine and not enough oil, or any oil for that matter. In short, the only way to fix this girls hair would be to apply veritable bottles and bottles and bottles of conditioner in it, and that would be just to part it, let alone comb it. If that failed, shaving it off would be the only remedy. It was that severe. I hope I have conveyed the severity of it.

I asked Latoya, who now shared the same spirit of concern what I should do and say. Should I just leave it alone?

“No, no!” she cried. “You can’t leave this alone. You should lead in with ‘I hope this doesn’t offend you, but…’ and then go from there.

“Yeah, but if I say ‘I hope this doesn’t offend you’, they are automatically going to be offended.”

She nodded in agreement.

“And what’s all this ‘you’ stuff,” I continued. “Girl I need you to come with me!”

She laughed and agreed to act as back up. We formulated a plan.

“Who should we approach?” I asked. “The mom or the dad?”

“The mom looks like she’s no nonsense,” she surmised. “I think we should go with the dad.”

He seemed affable enough. I lead the way and caught his attention.

“Hi!” I said, smiling brightly. My voice was a little high from the nervousness I was feeling. “I saw that you have a beautiful little girl over there.”

He smiled and nodded.

“I wanted to know if I – errr, WE – might offer you some assistance with her hair.”

“It’s gotten to the point where you’re going to have to shave it off if you don’t get it combed,” Latoya said, barging right in.

That’s not what we had rehearsed, but she did warn me that she was direct. I smiled and hoped that our offer didn’t sound as crazy as I knew it did.

“Perhaps you might talk it over with your wife and see if she’d like us to do her hair?”

Today, right now! I added inwardly.

The man raised his eyebrows but never lost his smile.

“Sure, I’ll talk to her,” he said in measured tones. “If you leave me your card, we can see about setting up a time.”

A card? What was that supposed to mean? Latoya bristled.

“I don’t do hair for everyone,” she said tightly. “But these are my girls, and these are the types of styles I do for them.”

Her two daughters happed to be walking by at that moment. One had cornrows and twists and the other’s hair tinkled with bright beads. Fearing that he might be intimidated, I pointed out Aya’s hair. She had 12 simple plats. Nothing grandiose, but it was parted and neat. We asked how old she was and he answered that she was 3. We chatted about the ages of our kids and the classes they were in as well in an attempt to appear less troubled. Inside however we were individually chomping at the bit. At that point he seemed to just be enduring the nagging of two Black women and thanked us dismissively. We smiled back and went our separate ways.

“That was a fail,” Latoya whispered.

“Yeah, tell me about it!”

“We should have gone with the mom,” she concluded.

“Yeah. Probably,” I agreed. “The dad just didn’t have a sense of urgency.”

“Well, we can’t go back and try and fix it now. We missed our shot.”

“I know…”

I was heartbroken. That poor, poor beautiful baby.

At that moment his wife walked by. Latoya smiled and waved.

“Hi! Did your husband talk to you?”

“Yes he did,” she smiled broadly. She was such a good actress. Women over 40 always are.

She made a beeline for another older woman with a bob hair cut and khakis. Their demeanor spoke volumes. She was offended. I could imagine their conversation now.

“How dare they! What business and place is it of theirs to question how I raise my child!”

What business indeed? After all, I didn’t go down to Haiti, or the Southside of Chicago, or wherever they collected this pair from and save them from poverty, destitution, prostitution and gang life. But I still care enough about anyone’s child to say something if I know that willful ignorance is going to harm them. And these parents are being willfully ignorant.

Look: here’s the truth. The American media monster is a powerful thing. As often as I tell my girls that they are smart, beautiful and talented, my words are still not powerful enough to combat the messages and images they see every day on TV, magazines and billboards. They still want skin like Beyonce and hair like Rapunzel. Compound that with uncombed, unkempt hair and ashy skin, and you’re just begging for a future of dreadful bullying and thousands of dollars spent in therapy. The American marketing machine is not a Black woman’s friend, and mere lofty utterances of “love yourself no matter what” are not enough to combat it! We have to aid our children by keeping them socially presentable. It’s just the world we live in. It just IS.

So White people I say this to you. I think it’s wonderful that you want to adopt Black children and give them happy homes to live in. But if the torment that Gabby Douglas (keeping in mind that there was actually NOTHING wrong with her hair in this case) went through was any lesson to you, it should have been this: Black women’s needs are very particular and unique.

You can’t wash our hair every day.

You have to wrap it in a silk scarf at night.

You must oil and/or keep it moisturized frequently…daily in some cases.

You can’t use all the stuff you use on YOUR hair on our HAIR.

You can’t use a fine tooth comb on natural hair. Go to the dollar store and get a wide tooth comb. PLEASE.

And please, please hear me. If you are the mother or guardian of a Black child and a Black woman approaches you about their hair, please hear our heart even if our mouths say the words in ways that are not so becoming. We only want the best for that child. We know that dealing with her hair can be nerve racking. We all have Saturday morning horror stories featuring a hot bomb and a jar of Dax. But at the end of the day, a Black girl’s hair is her crowning jewel and it must be tended to with care and love. Find a good hair dresser, invest in some cocoa and/or or shea butter, and spare that child a life of regret and an identity crisis.

 

Has anybody ever said anything to you about your child that you didn’t appreciate? Did you see the value in their concern, or were they over stepping their boundaries? Do strangers have a right to opine where your kids are involved? Was I wrong???

Sister Deborah is a National Treasure and a Model Citizen

In case you are not one of the half a million viewers who has been sucked into the2 week old phenomenon that is Uncle Obama, you will have the opportunity to do so by clicking here:

Uncle Obama is the type of song that becomes an instant chart topper because it possesses all the qualities of a musical composition that invokes a ‘brain itch’. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, “Put a Ring on It” and “Call me Maybe” are examples of songs that cause a brain itch. They bore into your subconscious and hold your grey matter hostage. One is powerless against their melodious might. You WILL sing along at karaoke and conferences. You just will.

Like all popular musical phenomena, Uncle Obama isn’t without its detractors. There are people who genuinely hate this song, and think that Sister Deborah (or Derrrrbie, as her fans call her) have disgraced the Ghana and Africa as a whole by 1) invoking President Obama as the subject of such a raucous song and 2) making continuous reference to his ‘banana’.

They can all save their pious dismay.

There is absolutely no proof that Derrrrbie has spoofed either president Obama or his banana and groundnuts in particular. That’s just hyperbole and innuendo based on split assumptions. In fact, all Ghanaians should listen to the lyrics of this song and feel a deep sense of pride. Sister Deborah touches on several important social issues that need addressing in our culture. Our youth can learn a lot from this musical ambassador.

She promotes healthy living: In the first few verses of the song, Derrrrbie makes mention that she is bringing a new azonto for us. What better or more enjoyable way is there to lose weight and get fit than through the joy of dance? Secondly, she went to the market to buy fruit so that she could make some juice. Juicing your fruits and vegetables provides a quick way to absorb vital minerals into your blood stream without losing any nutrients through cooking.

She promotes green initiatives: Derrrrrbie made mention that she went to the market with her basket. Baskets are ancient carrying devices that are used all around the world. Sadly, as we become a more modern society, we have eschewed the use of renewable and earth friendly devices such as baskets in favor of plastic bags. Plastic has become a scourge in Africa, with the rubber material choking our water ways and killing our flora and fauna. Sister Deborah makes going green look sexy again.

She tells us to dress according to the weather: One of Ghana’s main problems has been its blind mimicry of Western culture. I will never forget the day I saw a recent SSS graduate sitting at Papaye eating a burger dressed in baggy jeans, Timberland boots, and a fur rimmed leather coat. It was 89* outside at 9 pm. I was hot just looking at him. That was in 1996. My horror was only surpassed when I saw a grandmother lovingly carrying her swaddled newborn grandchild through Chicken Inn at the Accra Mall in 2010. What’s so terrible about that, you ask? Again, it was nearly 99*, at high noon, in ACCRA, and the child was wrapped in a long sleeve woolen onesie, a knitted cap and two wool blankets. I hope he lived to see his first birthday. Sister Deborah’s message in this song was succinct: when the weather is hot, wear something short – preferably made of cotton. Simple! What is all this copying of obroni culture? Do we live in Norway? NO. You live at Nima. Tsseewwww.

International trade is good, but it’s important to buy locally as well: In her introduction, she declared that she likes both local and foreign bananas. This is wonderful! What a true global citizen. By increasing local banana consumption, we could create more jobs for Ghana’s economy. And going back to that green initiative: Whatever happened to wrapping our food in banana leaves? How many hundreds of jobs were lost when we decided to forgo the use of leaves to sell and ferry our food in favor of polythene bags? Perhaps it’s time to renew this lost art. It’s better for our environment. Ghana should lead the way in big banana leaf production.

Derrrrrrrbie promotes safe sex: Fine, fine! If you want to take the song at “face” value and say that it’s about a groundnut seller’s phallus, we can certainly play on that assumption. After this songstress reached Uncle Obama’s house the following next day in search of more loin fruit, he regretfully informed her that he did not have a polythene bag (read: condom) to put it in for her. From what I can ascertain, she offered him a hand job and left. Ah well. To each her own…

Look, I could go on and on about the wonderful qualities and life lessons laden in this tremendous song, but I invite you to do some more critical thinking on your own. Let’s not spit in the face of genius, nor scorn the gifts of our new vanguards. We should celebrate them…and I certainly celebrate Sister Deborah. She is not just a rapper, but a conscious rapper. She’s up there with Common and Talib Kweli. There should be more women walking the streets of Accra in high heels and painted nails frantically in search of big bananas!!! Kornchia, kronchia, my sisters!

Now, coming from a woman who spends her days watching cartoons and yelling angrily at the TV when the characters won’t do as their told (like that little bald bastard Caillou) this whole analysis may not mean very much. Hold on while I go ask my monkey what it thinks.

Better Than Me

Last night I found myself in the midst of a rare crisis. While my husband’s thunderous snores ripped through the quiet night air I lay awake staring that the ceiling, tears streaming down the sides of my cheeks and puddling in my ear drums. I was thinking about my children. That in itself is not the rarity; the nature of my thoughts was.

My thoughts were honed in on my girls. I was desperate to conjure up ways that I could make sure that they had the best life they could possibly have. I thought about my own failures and decisions and where they had landed me where I am today. My heart began to pound furiously within my chest. I didn’t like what I was thinking, but it had to be said.

Dear God, I begged. Please don’t let my girls grow up to me like me.

While all my kids are incredibly perceptive, Nadjah my first born is especially so. It’s not difficult for her to ascertain when something is awry or altered. From a burnt out bulb in the living room to a frown on her mother’s face, she’s usually the first to notice it. And these days, I’ve been frowning quite a bit.

With 4 kids traipsing through my house and constantly tearing up my belongings, it’s hard to keep a grin plastered on my face. If I’m truly honest, I’m not enjoying my life as it is…I’m just coping. I don’t want that for my girls at all. I want them to enjoy life, not merely endure it.

I only realized the long term effects of my demeanor about a week ago when I was changing Liya’s pull up. She was laying on the floor with her legs spread-eagled, eagerly waiting for me to wipe out the thick, pasty brown gunk she’d discharged from her bowels into her pants. There was pile of ripped construction paper near her head where Stone had carelessly discarded them about an hour before. Toys were all over the place and the TV was blaring. It was little wonder therefore that I was scowling. My temples were pounding.

“Mommy?”

“Yes, Nadjah?” I snapped. She was always asking questions, and while I don’t want to dampen her inquisitive nature, I could’ve done without another barrage of mindless questions.

“You work very hard, don’t you?” she asked gravely.

I pulled Liya’s training pants up and stood her up. She scampered off to get into more mischief.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I guess I do.”

“You don’t seem very happy,” she pressed. “Are you sad that you had so many children?”

The question startled me. Had I given that impression? Did she think that I’d regretted her birth? I ran down a list of things I’d blurted out at my children in my frequent moments of exasperation. Perhaps that day I yelled “you people must want me to die!” had something to do with this new line of questioning. (That’s just a hunch.)

I gave her the obvious answer – the one that was most appropriate in this instance.

“Of course I’m not sad that I had this many kids!” I said a little too adamantly, my voice squeaking. I didn’t want to protest too much. That would belie insincerity and she would be sure to sniff it out.

“I’m only going to have 2 children. Maybe even only one,” she said matter-of-factly. “Four children is too much work.”

“Yes, it is a lot of work,” I agreed absently.

I looked at my daughter really hard for the first time since she had initiated the conversation. Her eyes were downcast, as if in deep thought.

“When I was your age, I wasn’t thinking about how many kids I was going to have,” chuckling quietly and trying to lighten the mood. She’s barely 8 years old!

“Well, maybe you should have spent more time thinking about it,” she countered.

Well what do you say to that? I had no retort, at least not one that wouldn’t damage her self-esteem. I decided to do the dishes instead.

Look, I know that there are women out there who desperately wish that they could be blessed with as many as I have been, but their wombs will/can not accommodate a baby. They might read this post and consider me an ungrateful cow. I should look at my filthy house and endless piles of laundry with fondness and gratitude. I should think of my daily drudgery as a sacrament, not a sacrifice. Well that’s all well and dandy, but this life definitely isn’t the one I’d choose for my daughters. I want them to smell and look pretty all the time. I want them to eat three square meals a day. I want them to finish drink of water uninterrupted and at their leisure! I want their education to mean something. I don’t want their creativity to suffer because of the traditional obligations of marriage and child-rearing that is the mantle of millions of women around the world; many of whom who never get a chance to reach their full potential.

I don’t want them to be like me.

It’s such a weird and painful dichotomy. I know that without the burden of raising my children I could be so much more; but BECAUSE I have given birth to these quirky, funny, beautiful little individuals I AM so much more than I once was.

I suppose the heart of the matter is that I don’t want my girls to grow up with any regrets about any choice they make in their adult lives…but that’s wishful thinking; foolish almost. But if I had one wish, I’d hope that my girls would scribble down a list of society’s expectations for them on an enormous canvas and immediately take a hot, massive dump on them. I think every woman should be able to live by her own rules, as long as they bring her physical and spiritual health.

I’m really conflicted on how to present motherhood to my girls. I don’t want them to dread the prospect of ever having kids, but I don’t want to sell them a story and deceive them into thinking that it’s something that it’s not. It’s not all glitter and gladness. There are days when I am flat out unhappy.
I had an honest conversation with a friend a few weeks ago, and she asked me if I thought that being married and having kids had ruined my life.

“No,” I said, after giving it some thought. “I wouldn’t say it’s ruined my life. It’s just altered it so that it’s barely recognizable.”

That’s my truth.

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Are you raising a daughter? Do you feel like you’re the best example of womanhood to your girl-child? Do you ever feel like your life choices have failed her? What one piece of advice would you give her if you knew it would guarantee her happiness? I’d love to hear.