Author Archives: Malaka

A #FilthCleaningChallenge is Long Overdue

Every culture has to deal with its “thing” – a question or problem that pricks at the conscience of a people – at one point or another. China has Tibet. India has rape. America has racism and hypocrisy. Ghana has filth.

Let’s just face it: Ghana is a pretty nasty country.

We can boast all we want to about our work ethic and that we are “the friendliest country” in Africa. We can even hide behind the hem of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s political suit trousers and thump our collective chests about how we were the first Sub-Saharan nation to gain independence or to build the first motorway in the region. All that is true, but it doesn’t negate the horrific reality that is Agbogbloshie the world’s largest digital dumping ground, or the veritable cesspool that is the Korle Lagoon, or the mucky mess that are now our beaches.

Everywhere you look there is trash all over Ghana. The slopes of my beloved Akuapem mountains are covered white with cellophane, scrap material and paper. You can hardly get to a holiday destination in the country without cruising through a small village or town that has become a dumping ground for metropolitan waste. And good heaven, don’t let it rain! Accra and its suburbs become flash flood zones. An acquaintance of mine drowned when he tried to navigate one of the huge drainage gutters in the city. He was swept away in a rip tide of human waste and sewage.

You wonder where it all this spilth comes from, and before you have a chance to form a theory your father careless tosses a Pure Water sachet out of the driver’s side door or a child drops a Fan Yogo wrapper on a foot path as he scampers off to catch up with his friends. This scenario is repeated all over Ghana millions of times a day. Coupled with the fact that the country does not have the means to dispose of waste responsibly, this mindless and careless attitude toward littering has been a death sentence for our environment. And like anything that makes its way into our earth and water source, trash makes its way up the food chain.

The majority of Ghanaians eat food that is contaminated in some way, every day. I recall the horror I felt when a friend of mine disclosed that the extended silence between us was attributed to her having contracted typhoid fever after eating some locally grown lettuce. As I child, I remember one “farmer” that lived not too far from our neighborhood who would nonchalantly scoop water from a nearby gutter to water his lettuce and cabbages. It was revolting. It is also something small scale farmers do all over the country.

As parts of West Africa deal with an ebola outbreak, Ghanaians have a different plague of our own to contend with: cholera.

Cholera.

Cholera!

“Isn’t cholera something that war torn countries and failed states have to deal with?” someone on Twitter asked.

What’s the appropriate response for that? Do we then have to admit Ghana is a failed state since we have no war to blame this scourge – a calamity of our own doing – on? With the cedi in a free fall and the IMF setting our nation’s agenda, that’s not something I particularly want to contemplate, let alone admit. I’d rather focus on what you and I can change.

As the ALS Ice bucket craze challenge winds down, more people are turning to ways to use the same idea to affect change in their own communities. India’s celebrity core has initiated a Rice Challenge to fight hunger. Potable water is as scarce in India as it is in Ghana. Never mind the fact that our electricity supply is so erratic that it would make little sense to waste your precious cold water by dumping it on your head. It’s hot in Africa. We drink cold water. We don’t waste ice block! The point is, the ice bucket challenge was a gimmick, but it worked… 88.5 million times.

Would something like that work in Ghana? Only you or I could say.

MAksiNow, before I go any further, I want anyone reading who thinks Ghanaians as a collective enjoy living in filth and that there have been no previous efforts to clean up our environment or our attitudes about it to disabuse themselves of that notion right now. In 2011, Joselyn Dumas teamed up with the MAKSI fashion label to launch a campaign aimed at addressing the issue of waste in our environment. Golda Addo and Akua Akyaa Nkrumah have also worked consistently and tirelessly towards promoting a Green Ghana. What these women and other individuals need is our support as a nation. They need us to be educated on the issues that affect our nation’s health and sanitation so that we can help spread the gospel of cleaniless. We don’t need Bono and Bill Gates to save Africa from malaria; we just need to stop creating breeding grounds for mosquitos and harmful bacteria. More importantly, we need to stop accepting the world’s digital trash. What does Bill Gates have to say about the mounds of PC shells and guts cluttering our landscape, I wonder?

Selah.

I’m not certain who coined the hashtag #FilthCleaningChallenge, but it looks like it originated with @Rafurl. And while the challenge is not an official “thing” just yet with official rules and the sort, I have decided to take my own steps to promote a cleaner Ghana. Therefore I have appointed The Green Ghanaian Initiative the “charity” of my choice  and will be donating towards their cause to educate the masses out how waste and filth are making the lives of ALL Ghanaians unnecessarily more difficult. And then I’m going to pick up the beer bottles that my neighbor left on the road and toss it into a nearby dumpster. Should I do a video? Why not!

Do you have a green campaign you support? Share them! Is trash a scourge in your part of the world? To get an idea of just how bad Ghana’s waste management problem is, watch this video presented by Araba Koomson.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post from Field Ruwe: Independence: African Lazy Day

By Field Ruwe

I could go to prison just for the title; for dampening the spirit of commemoration, and yet I would gladly go. This is a title that befits the occasion. Google the world and see what I am talking about. We are at the very bottom of the totem pole stuck neck-deep in the primordial mud. We are too languid to use our intellect and figure out how to clamber out of the “dark continent.” The world is saying indolence is our virtue. It has turned us into bloodsuckers. The world is right.

“Yes it is,” quipped a cynic Dole.

I bumped into John Dole at the American independence celebrations at the Esplanade by the Charles River in Boston. I spotted him out of the crowd because of the T-shirt he wore. It bore the map of Zambia with words “Northern Rhodesia Worldwide” running across. He was a six-footer Caucasian with an indelible African sun tan, more like Ian Douglas Smith.

“This looks familiar,” I said, as I approached him.

“Yeah, this is Zambia as I would like to remember it,” he said. “Are you from there?”

“Yes,” I gladly replied.

“I don’t think much of Zambians, I can tell you that,” he said rather discourteously. “That’s why I proudly wear this T-shirt. It is the difference between black and white, you and me.”

“Have you been to Zambia lately?” I calmly asked.

“I just came back,” he replied. “It was a heartbreaking pilgrimage. For years I had wanted to return to my birth place, Chingola. I grew up in Twin Rivers next to Kabundi East. Do you know where that is?”

“Of course,” I replied. “I lived there.”

He continued: “I worked as a Safety Engineer in the mines. Together with other basungus, with the help of blacks, of course, we dug the Nchanga open pit in the 1950s. We toiled day and night like ants and created the second largest open cast mine in the world. We also built what became known as the cleanest town in the country. I mean it was clean, even the black compounds were well kempt with lawns and hedges well maintained and manicured.”

I knew where he was heading, I could tell from the sudden tense hush. When he lowered his voice I readied myself for the assault.

“It makes me upset to talk about Zambia,” he said. “I lived in Zambia up to 1970. When I felt unwanted I went to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and eventually ended up here. For years I yearned to return to my childhood, to Nchanga Mine Hospital where I was born. Friends who had been there warned me, but in January this year I went anyway. When I got there I openly wept, right in the middle of the town center. The town in which I was born was a heap of rubble. You guys have destroyed all our work—buildings, roads, everything white is deplorable—Chingola Primary School, the Vestra Cinema, Tennis Club, Nchanga Swimming Pool, Racquets Club, the cricket fields, rugby, everything. You’ve added nothing new of significance.”

As he spoke, my mind gazed out beyond Boston, across the Atlantic, to my country. I saw not only Chingola, but Chililabombwe, Kitwe, Mufulira, Ndola, Kabwe, Lusaka, Livingstone…I saw them, dilapidated structures; I saw broken windows, stained bathtubs and toilets—I saw broken souls; hungry, diseased—I saw people used to poverty because “that’s what God meant it to be”—I saw graves; I saw my beloved Zambia. With teary eyes I looked at Dole and allowed him to hit me with the words—to whip me; to flog me as hard as he could.

“Nchanga mine is a catastrophe,” he said in a raised voice. “You’ve turned it into a pyramid and allowed treasure thieves to loot and ransack you. What’s going on there is daylight mine-robbing. What is wrong with you people? What planet are you from? Are you all so damn you can’t see ticks are sucking your lifeblood?” He paused and for a second held his breath. “What the heck, it’s a waste of time talking to you. I mean all of you Zambians. Anyway, I had planned to spend a week in Chingola, but I decided to leave that very day. I tell you, another day I would have been arrested for assault because I was as mad as hell.”

He continued: “There was one Zambian who really pissed me off. He gave me the usual bull about white civilization taking hundreds of years. I told him to shut his dirty mouth and keep dozing under the mango tree. You all must do that, keep eating those rotten mangos on the ground and get the diarrhea you deserve.”

He shook his head. “My God you guys are lazy. If we, white people had remained in Chingola, we would have pumped some of the profits from copper into modern infrastructure and build some skyscrapers. Roads would be excellent and Chingola would be adorable. That’s the difference between black and white. Give both of us the Sahara, I’ll turn it into a paradise and you’ll die like a rat.”

He looked me in the eye. “Let me tell you something, as I boarded the plane back home the following day, I felt proud to be white. When I got here, I had this T-shirt made, and I wear it without shame.”

Suddenly fireworks rang in my ears. The sky lit up to the brilliant marriage of thunder and music by the Boston Pops Orchestra. John watched with gratification. He wanted me to see him celebrate the achievements of his race. I, on the other hand was battered; deflated. What I had thought would be a night of fun, turned out to be a disaster. I was trying very hard to bear humiliation without losing heart, but couldn’t, the celebration was overwhelming. The colors in the sky—aquas, lemons, chartreuse, orange, pink were captivating. They left me with failure as my undertaker. When the last cracker went off there was an afterglow of satisfaction in John’s eyes and those of many.

“That’s how you celebrate independence,” he said, beaming. “The people here are not only remembering their founding fathers, but are proud of their sacrifices and achievements. They are proud they have not let their ancestors down.”

I had about enough. I extended my hand to say bye because it was futile to be in Dole’s company—too painful. I did not have any defense mechanism. There was nothing to cling on to—not a state-of-the art hospital; not a research or technical university; not a car, bus, tractor, plough, television set, computer; not even a razor; none of my inventiveness.

“It was a pleasure meeting you,” I said.

As I walked away, I was thinking John Dole was lucky I was not King Cobra. He would have spat in his face: “You bulali (bloody) fool, you empty my pockets then you start saying fyo, fyo, fyo. How do you expect me to build with no money, eh? You imperialist, get out. Leave us alone to remember how we defeated you white people on October 24, 1964.”

Yes, it is on October 24 that freedom was attained, and laziness came naturally. No martyrs of sacrifice showed up; no daredevils or geniuses that could illuminate our country like Thomas Edison, and reveal its endless talent. Like poison ivy laziness warped our minds and condemned us to third-rate life. Yes, we sat under the Mango tree and let aliens pick our best fruit.

For all I care we might as well call October 24 the “National Lazy Day,” a day we take a rest from being lazy. What I am saying is that we do not deserve the Golden Jubilee; we have not earned it. Without achievement the world sees our Golden Jubilee as hailing laziness. On October 24, 2014, we shall be celebrating fifty years of free of responsibility and void of creativity. In other words, we shall be reveling irresponsibility and laziness.

Admittedly, freedom was hard work, but it is our accomplishments over time that we should be celebrating. The efforts of Kaunda, Nkumbula, Kapwepwe, and other freedom fighters should climax with contemporary achievements. That is what independence is all about. It is not only self-governance, but also self-sufficiency, and self-reliance.

To all energetic, gifted, intelligent, learned youthful Zambians reading this article, please hear me. Zambia with its abundant natural resources; with all its minerals, flowing rivers, fertile soil, and tourism potential has just been declared the poorest nation on earth with 86% of the population in poverty. If this does not hurt then there is something wrong with you.

Wherever you are, whatever you have achieved, whatever your ideology, pause for a moment and think about how you can salvage our country from shame. Start by taking this beautiful country away from old politicians. For fifty years they have suffered from chronic and contagious laziness and have been riding on other people’s backs like parasites. They are not in it for you, but for themselves. Many are thieves. Please take this country away from them and lead us on a Third World-to-first path.

I know I am flogging a dead horse, but it is worth trying. A few more strokes might just trigger a pulse at this very critical moment in our existence. Remember, it is in the next fifty years that you shall become extinct if you don’t get up and do something about it. Remove the wax in your ears and listen to your heart. Tap into your innate intelligence, the ingenuity that we all possess, and create an over-arching strategy that will save your relatives from dying of hunger and disease.

Reach out to your friends and peers in the country and form one body and one heart. Create a mosaic of talents and dare mighty things so you can taste and celebrate triumph every October 24. By doing so, you will be giving the color of your skin some glitter and respect.

You should have seen the sparkle in the eyes of the Americans as they the sung “God Bless America,” as a symbolic conclusion to their independence celebrations. They deserve it. It is in creative toiling that they have found the joy of achievement. Why not us? What have we done wrong? Why can’t we endure and enjoy hard work? God why? I can’t write any further, I just can’t…I can’t…

 

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, author, and a doctoral candidate. Learn more about him on his website www.aruwebooks.com. On it you shall access his autobiography, articles, and books. Contact him, blog, or join in the debate. ©Ruwe2012.

 

Nkrumah and Ali: Daughters of the Pan African Movement

I wonder if the world knows what a debt it owes to African Americans. Every modern liberation movement has been based on the tactics employed by those in endeavor for Civil Rights in America. And while MLK’s non-violent methods were borrowed from Ghandi, we did what we always do when we get a hold of something. To borrow a term from Nuongg Faalong, we “swagged it up”. The only reason modern Americans enjoy every bite of peanut butter brittle, a plate of greens or a bowl of grits is because some West African stowed away, was stolen or sold into this country and “swagged up” the American food source. African Americans also gave this country its first indigenous art form: jazz. Born from ragtime, the architects and masters of jazz soothed America and the world’s soul during wartime and beyond, and kept heat on dance floors in its Swing Era.

The African’s experience, survival and (relative) success in America can be attributed to many factors, but in my opinion, one in particular – improvisation. From seasoning boiled pig entrails to using brown paper bags to wall paper our country homes, Black Americans have had to improvise with little resources in order to thrive in this country. Where did this sense of innovation come from? The consensus is that it has been inherited. “You can take the African out of Africa…” and all that.

Someone shared this picture of Muhammad Ali and Kwame Nkrumah a few days ago. I had never seen it before and was immediately captivated. The pair of them looked so young, happy and hopeful. Ali’s visit to Ghana in 1964 had somehow escaped my radar and in turn left me with many questions, chief among these “What was he doing there?”

Ali and Nkrumah

Google proved to be of little help. Ali’s visit to Ghana was well documented in pictures, and for all accounts it looked like he was there to have some fun in what he called the “Fatherland”. It looked like the man formerly known as Cassius Clay just wanted to come home. It’s documented that he wore kente cloth everywhere (ev-ery-where) he went and sampled local food with gusto. He, like thousands of other African Americans, felt a connection with Africa and was seeking a sense of belonging. Of course we know that not every Black American feels this need to be anchored to Africa as George Foreman illustrated with his sentiments. Even some (self-loathing) Africans wish they weren’t born to and of the continent. They think there is neither beauty nor potential in Africa. We can talk about how this cadre of saboteurs are the enemies of Africa’s progress some other time.

I never got an answer as to WHY Ali was in Ghana, but Malcolm X may have provided an answer through his speech at the University of Ghana in 1964. He spoke about what it meant to be from America, but not be an American. American citizenship at that time was reserved for white people. Within weeks of his arrival, a white European could come to America, anglicize his name and live in any neighborhood of his choice, shop in any establishment of his heart’s desire and vote; whereas the black man whose family had lived and toiled in America for generations was barred from these same advantages. He was not an American – he was still an African in America, according to the law and by virtue of social engineering. After hundreds of years of living in the land, the African in America was still a foreigner.

Suddenly, I got it. Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, my own mother…suddenly it all made sense. My mother was born Sharon Davis but changed her name in the 60’s to a smattering of Kenyan, Nigerian and Ghanaian names. As a teen, whenever the subject of my mother’s name came up in conversation, I used to roll my eyes so hard I could see what the ancestors had for dinner. I never understood my mother’s need to be so different. She was an American…why couldn’t she just own and be that? Little did I know, she didn’t become an American until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed. My mother was born in 1945 and didn’t become a full citizen of the country of her birth until she was nearly 20 years old. Suddenly, her hostility towards Christianity, the white establishment and American life in general made total sense to me. The contempt America held for her and her race had resonated with her and in return she held America in equal contempt. She was searching for home.

I stared at the picture of Ali and Nkrumah for a long while. What things would they have discussed? Did they ever form a friendship? Was this image just a photo-op or was there a real kinship between the two? In my search for answers, I discovered that while Nkrumah was studying at Lincoln University, he became inspired by the Black American’s struggle for independence in America and borrowed strategies from the movement to usher in Ghana’s independence. He joined the United Gold Coast Convention, later formed his own party – the CPP- and began planting the idea of a free Gold Coast (Ghana’s name prior to independence). For his efforts, he and other heroes of the independence movement –men and women – were harassed, interrogated and jailed by the British colonists. But even with the confinement of the leaders of the CPP the idea of a free Ghana had caught on like wild fire and civil disobedience had become the order of the day. What were the British to do? They ‘gave us free’ in 1957 and the rest is history.

At Black Star Square, Nkrumah boldly proclaimed that Ghana’s independence was meaningless without the total liberation of Africa. He had a vision for a United Africa and went on to craft a Pan African manifesto. Richard Nixon was also in the country to witness the first sub-Saharan country gain its independence. It’s reported that walked up to a group of blacks chatting amongst themselves at a function and asked them what it felt like to be free?

“We wouldn’t know, sir,” was the reply. “We’re from Alabama.”

Eventually Nixon and CIA orchestrated Nkrumah’s overthrow and Ghana has been in decline ever since. Thanks, Dick.

Photos courtesy of Facebook

Photos courtesy of Facebook

I looked at that picture and wondered what the dreams of those Pan African minded men who would eventually go on to become fathers and legends. Have their hopes been fulfilled in and through their children? I can’t help but think of Laila Ali and Samia Nkrumah and how these daughters of legends have carried on their father’s legacies in athletics and politics. Both have earned my eternal respect, Ali for her prowess in the ring and her business savvy, and Nkrumah for her push to keep GMOs from dominating the Ghanaian food market. While a certain party is blindly groping to define what their better Ghana agenda actually is, Samia Nkrumah is working to make sure our country is not recolonized by Monsanto and other agro-conglomerates. If you control the food supply, you control the people…and my hope is that Ghanaians will understand and embrace her and her party’s message soon, before it’s too late. Contrary to what we’ve all ben lead to believe, if Africa stops trading with the world, the rest of the globe will be at peril – not the other way round.

Seeing the younger Nkrumah and Ali side by side prompts more questions within me. For instance, is it time for old alliances to re-forged? Is there anything Black Americans and Africans can offer each other? Given the history their fathers lived through and shared, does it inspire any curiosity in you? Let’s talk!

 

 

Does Lauryn Hill Know How Much She’s Needed?

I woke up with this burden for Lauryn Hill this morning.

There are many reasons we need Lauryn Hill, the most pressing of which is because people are still surprised when I open my mouth and speak both eloquently and intelligently.

sweet brownHow can I blame them when the pervasive images of Black womanhood are Nicki Minaj, her bubble butt and her Bubble Yum pink G-string or Sweet Brown? Sure! You could counter that with “But Malaka, what about Oprah?” Uh-uh. Oprah is not a “black woman”…she’s Oprah. Oprah is a brand to the mainstream culture; not a person.

I really wanted to write something thought provoking and DEEP about Ms. Hill, but I find myself at a loss for adequate words. I just want to find Lauryn and hug her and shake her and pour my emotion into her. My need for her to understand how much the world needs her and craft and her brilliance is visceral.

Lauryn Hill introduced me to the word “reciprocity” and its proper use. For that alone she earns my eternal thanks. Then she penned and performed a song for her son Zion and spoke not about the fear of raising a Black son, but the joy of it. For a while she fell off the map and went a little “crazy”, but she reemerged and showed us that you can indeed rise from the depths of your despair and grief, and go through fire and eventually shake the ashes and soot from your body.

Does Lauryn Hill KNOW how much she’s needed?!?

There are not many musicians who understand the importance and value of their craft. Music is POWERFUL.

Bible scholars will tell you that before Lucifer’s fall, he was the angel over music…that when the wind blew through his body there was a melody on the other end. God takes delight in music. Melody and verse have been used as instruments of peace and tools to declare war. Music has the power to evoke emotion. Music has the power to heal, as well as destroy. And we live in a time when much of the music we hear is destroying the ONE thing that ensures Black survival on this planet: our intelligence. Everyone – men, women AND children – are getting dumber by the minute, and I believe it’s because Lauryn Hill doesn’t understand just how important she really is! She is one of the few educated voices in music that uses her gift to e-du-cate. I mean, have you heard Black Rage?

We need Lauryn Hill. She is our Nina Simone, our Pied Piper, our Oracle, our link to our glorious future and past.

In 2009, Talib Kweli wrote a song simply entitled ‘Ms. Hill’ to encourage Lauryn to continue in her craft, as well as to let her know how much he admires, loves, and supports her. I hope she heard it and took it to heart. It pained me that her re-entry into the public forum was forced by the need to pay back taxes to the sum of $1.5 million. It pained me even more that she paid the majority of the amount – just shy of a few thousand dollars – and a judge still saw fit to jail her, while in the same year Nicholas Cage was guilty of the same offense and never saw the front steps of a confinement institution. But hey, ain’t that America.

Nevertheless, Lauryn is back and she’s touring and reportedly doing it because she loves it. For people who think that Lauryn Hill exists solely to entertain them, this can be a hard concept to grasp. Cherae Robinson wrote an absolutely shallow (horrible, unserious, ridiculous, foolish, retarded… Jesus be a thesaurus…there aren’t even enough adjectives) article on Face 2 Face Africa about Lauryn Hill’s impending arrival and performance in Ghana this December.  She writes:

When Ms. Hill comes to Ghana, she should be prepared to make a big impression, because last time she performed in Africa, she was boo’ed by fans at the Capetown International Jazz Festival.

Image from BET.com

Image from BET.com

No, young blood. When Ghanaians attend Ms. Hill’s concert, they should prepare themselves to receive illumination and to share in the experience. Lauryn Hill isn’t some cut rate new artist, chasing your shiny nickels and dimes so she can build herself a faux throne financed by selling her soul. She is a priestess. She is a queen. She is an originator. You don’t go to a Lauryn Hill concert to merely be entertained; you go to be enlightened. And THAT is why Lauryn Hill is so desperately needed in the culture.

Does she know?

 

 

I Racially Profiled a White Man…And He Didn’t Seem to Like It

We all don’t use social media the same way. We can agree on that, right? Some people create accounts which are simply used to follow/stalk certain users. Some people are actually interested in contributing to the discourse on a particular subject. Some people never comment on anything; ever. Others still don the cape of the QWERTY Crusader and believe it is imperative that they comment on every tweet, like or status on the Interwebs.

A decade ago, I myself was a QWERTY Crusader, on my way to becoming a keyboard thug. A few encounters with some people who had no conscience, no line, broke me of that. These days, when it comes to other people’s conversations, I keep my comments light and happy unless specifically asked. This has become the norm on social media these days. Nobody really just butts in on someone else’s conversation…unless they are a troll. That is why I was so surprised to find this guy in my mentions today.

I’ve already told you all I’m not doing Ferguson. I did Trayvon Martin and that took too much out of me. And it hurt. I cannot spare the emotional currency that is going to be required of every person in this nation who sees Mike Brown’s killing for what it is – murder – when the end comes and the officer in question is exonerated and escapes all of this unscathed and nothing changes for another 100 years. So no, I’m not doing Ferguson. I’m burying my head in the sand on this one.

And yet…and YET!…Ferguson seems to find me. No matter how deep I plant my head in the mud, Ferguson always finds a way to locate me!

As the list of Black White Supremacists grows ever longer with that über bootlicking porch monkey Larry Elder leading the charge, I was horrified to find Juan Williams in their company. As a rule, I respect Mr. Williams. I think he’s a great journalist and very center when it comes to his opinion. Except, that is, when it comes to Black American affairs. Larry Elder may be a porch monkey for the establishment, but Juan Williams is right behind him, grinning, slapping his knees and “ham boning” in time as my kids call it.

He made some remarks today about Black people acting like thugs and not being disparaged against if they didn’t act like thugs, etc. This from a man whose son Raffi was described by a former fellow student while at Haverford as a “disrespectful, loitering, drunk, rude ass”. Fortunately, since Daddy sat on the board of this college, young Raffi went on to boast with glee that he could “slack off, because he would get in no matter what.”

But, you know, Raffi is an RNC staffer, so that’s not “thuggish” behavior. That’s just a college kid enjoying his daddy’s influences and his personal privilege. Funny how the same behavior on Crenshaw can get you shot. Funny…

Anyway, I expressed my displeasure with Mr. Williams’ opinion by calling him a Black White Supremacist, as he is indeed pushing the agenda of the KKK and all the baby terror groups and policy that are offshoots of the Klan’s ideology. A few hours later, this dude shows up in my mentions.

race guy

Just read it. It’s funny. Go on!

Now, anyone who knows me – and truly knows me – is aware that I am a habitual line stepper. Was it wrong for me to say the man looked like he raped babies in his spare time? Perhaps. But that’s why you don’t talk to strangers. I am a STRANGER to J Michael Coleman. I’m liable to say anything. So is anyone else on Twitter, which is why I only follow a handful of people. But this isn’t about social media etiquette; this is about Mr. Coleman’s intense reaction to being racially profiled. From what I can tell, he didn’t like it one iota. Nope, not one bit.

You all know I work at a shoe store. Guess what group causes the most shrink – the most loss due to theft – in our store? Hmmm? No, you’re wrong. It’s White women over the age of 40. They will steal anything: the umbrellas from a London Fog twin set, change purses, those god-awful Grasshopper shoes, Kenneth Cole sling backs and anything Tahari. So while my manager is mobilizing her team to chase after a gaggle of “thugs” in the athletic department, Mildred and her pet dog will be walking out of the store with a pair of Ralph Lauren boots this autumn.

Mais, quelle horreur, let’s all gasp at the idea that I or anyone else on the team should shadow an old White lady around the store like she was going to steal something. The crazy thing is, she IS. She’s going to steal something…tonight!

“The boogie man wears khakis.” That’s what Akuba Sheen and I used to say. It’s not the guy in the hoodie and baggy pants you need to be afraid of: it’s the dude in the boat shoes (with no socks) and Dockers you need to fear. These are the men who steal millions of dollars from corporations, destroy families, and shoot up movie theaters. But no, let’s everyone panic when a corn-fed Black kid is walking through a new neighborhood with an iced-tea in his sweatshirt pocket.

I wondered if J Michael Coleman knew what that felt like. You know: to be looked at with suspicion before you had a chance to say three words? Because bath time with kids was done and my blood sugar was relatively stable, I had both the time and the energy to give him a glimpse into my Black world of perpetual assumption and bias .

race guy2

Gosh, he seemed not to like being judged so severely by appearances, or to have someone assume the worst of you because of one attribute or another. Now why would that be?

Guest Post: This is What Male Privilege Looks Like

I just got this post in from Nana Darkoa who asked me to ‘put this man on blast’. Let her experience be a warning. Read, gasp and hide your kids. The rest of you: behave yourselves in public!

 

The plan was to enjoy an Ethiopian buffet at Hush Lounge in Labone. My friends and I were seated comfortably in a far corner of the dimly lit venue, chit chatting. We were 4 adult women, with a 13-year-old girl in our company. Her brother sat adjacent to us. Close enough to be within earshot, yet far away enough to retain his teenage cool.

I was drinking Smirnoff Ice and chatting with one of my friends when this man came and sat right in the corner where we had ensconced ourselves. I groaned inwardly, why did he have to come and sit right next to us when the venue was practically empty. You could tell he was drunk from the way that he lurched into the seat.

 My friends and I continued chatting.

“Excuse me, excuse” we soon heard him say loudly. Sure enough, Mr. Drunk Man was trying to interrupt our conversation. I looked up briefly, then away, and continued to talk to my friend. One of the women in our party must have said something briefly to him, which I didn’t quite catch before returning to our conversation. I couldn’t help but say to my friend,

“Ah, male privilege can be annoying. Can you imagine ever going to a bar, sitting right next to a group of men and then raising your voice at them to get their attention?” We laughed and went back to our conversation.

Mr. Drunk Man tried to interrupt us one more time with no luck and somehow started a conversation with Mr. Cool Teenage Boy whom he had sat right next door to. While I chatted with his mother, she glanced his way intermittently, concerned about whether or not he was okay. He seemed fine, and walked away after a while.

It was then that Mr. Drunk Man started trying to interrupt our party with something to the effect of, “Oi, I’m talking to you”. We ignored him and tried to carry on our convo. But would Mr. Drunk Man take a hint? Oh no. He just got louder. Eventually I said,

“Excuse me, we are trying to have a conversation. Please leave us alone”.

He started to swear at us. “Shut the fuck up.” “Ugly fat black bitches.” “Fuck off!” and even something to the effect of “You’re just looking for black dicks.” My friend said, “Don’t talk to us like that,” but that made no difference to him and he continued to rant and rave.

Just at that moment a male friend who had told us about the regular Ethiopian buffet at that lounge walked to the corner of the restaurant where we were seated. He tried to calm down the situation. “Good evening, Sir,” he said whilst making direct eye contact with Mr. Drunk Man. But oh no, Mr. Drunk Man couldn’t be talked down into civility. Eventually, security led him away.

 

van-lare-dosooThat night, I did some digging, and found out Mr. Drunk Man was called Lionel, and earlier on had taken to bragging about being a former Chairman of Ecobank (and the fancy school his children attend, and that he used to live in the States and had just come back from Brazil). So off to Google I went, where I searched for ‘Lionel + Chairman + Ecobank.’ Indeed, there is a (former?) chairman of the esteemed bank called Lionel. I did a Google images search with the full name I now had. Yup, it looked like the same man. I sent it to my friend. She was with one of the other women who had been with us at Hush lounge that night. They both confirmed it was the same man. Lionel Van Lare Dosoo, next time you’re drunk go home, don’t harass women in bars.

 

 

 

 

The Concept of Black on Black Crime is the Steam Off of a Pile of Shyte.

*Snnnniiiiffffff!!!!* You smell that? The scent of crap is in the air, wafting in from the misguided views of prejudiced people. In reference to the unrest in Ferguson, I recently saw one woman – an African woman – opine that she wished that more people were just as upset about “Black on Black crime”. This image immediately sprang to mind.

batman

I am not here to insult anyone who believes that Black on Black is a thing. Like an actual, legitimate thing. I’m just here to tell you that it’s fallacy… deflective tactic coined and hustled by the majority (and a great number of misguided Blacks) to get your mind off of the real issues and to participate in victim blaming. In short, the idea of Black on Black isn’t a solid enough theory to be a pile of shyte; it is mere the steam drifting away from said pile.

Close your eyes. Do you remember the first time – the VERY first time, mind you – that you heard/read the phrase “black on black crime”? I do. My mom was a faithful subscriber to Ebony magazine and maintained her subscription even when we moved to Ghana, West Africa. She had a pile of magazines that sat behind the wet bar that was featured in the center of our rented home. She didn’t allow liquor in the house, so the bar became a library of sorts. As an early teen, I flipped through one of those magazines, fascinated by images of American blackness that I was only familiar with through rap videos and month-long visits to the States every 3-4 years. The artwork for one particular article struck me as very profound. It was a big black square and within that square were the words:

‘The trouble with black on black crime is that you can’t see it.’

The words ‘black on black’ were themselves written in black so that they were barely visible. It was a powerful message, and coupled with the spate of John Singleton movies I had just been recently acquainted myself with, made an indelible impression on me. And so there I was, a Black girl, in Black Africa, afraid of Black Americans. I was afraid of them before I’d ever encountered them. I was convinced that black Americans, save for a few, were willfully sneaky and thieving and uncontrollably violent. At a young age, I was already convinced that somehow, their violence was just different. Never mind that just a month before one of my neighbors had run down the street screaming Julor! Julor!!! (thief) in Black West Africa in pursuit of what I can confidently say was a Black man/boy. But that wasn’t “black on black” violence. That was just a home invasion. Black on Black violence was only something folks whose used ‘nigga’ like it was their birth name  and wore jehri curls did.

M.O.M Squad, we have all discussed the racializing of crime as it relates to Black folk before.  David S. gave wonderful commentary on the subject. As he said, talking about black on black crime is nothing but a “smoke screen”. MX5 and I discussed this over coffee recently as well. Again, she makes a salient point:

“When Black people commit crimes against other Black people, it’s because of some personal affront. You talked about my momma, you stole my girl, you were standing on my turf selling when we’ve already made it clear that this is my corner and that is yours. We don’t do ‘senseless’ violence. There’s always a reason. We don’t go blowing up buildings or shooting up schools or movie theaters. We only kill/harm people we know.”

“Except for the DC Sniper,” I added.

“Yes. And you remember how shocked we all were when his description came out!”

Then we chuckled and sipped more coffee and I mulled over her words.

Adam-Lanza-and-James-HolmesBlack people only kill/harm people we know; specifically, people we’re in close proximity to. But, doesn’t the same apply to other races and ethnic groups as well? The Triads, whose criminal resume includes contract killing, prostitution, counterfeiting, health care fraud, drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, murder, money laundering, arms trafficking, racketeering operate globally, and within markets where Chinese presence is high. You think a Chinese gang lord is really going to walk up to a group of Black women in an attempt to pimp them out? No. He’s going to find himself a nice down-and-out Chinese family, promise them a better future and sell their daughter’s body. He’s going to operate in the community he knows…where there is some level of kinship and enjoys the convenience of proximity. Same for the Native Americans, same for Eritrean gangs in Ohio, and the same for Adam Lanza who shot up his former elementary school. It is rare for a person of any race to venture too far outside of the confines of his/her community to commit a crime. It’s simply just too inconvenient.

I believe the coining of the term Black on Black crime and those who carelessly toss it out in response to racially motivated tragedy was and is perpetuating White Supremacy…and I’ve met my fair share of Black “White Supremacists”. These are people who think that American Blackness is inherently bad. They believe it is utterly incompetent. If they could, they would eradicate American Blackness altogether. These are the believers that if you “pull your pants up and enunciate you won’t get shot” crowd. As though MLK wasn’t in a buttoned-down collared shirt when he was shot in the face.

Don’t be fooled! Take the blinders off and see the light as I have! The idea of BOBC was created to get your mind off the source of our problems, just like welfare was created to appease an impoverished community when a fair and living wage would have done quietly nicely instead. Welfare was created to take away dignity, not to restore or enhance it. And telling Black people to concern themselves more with Black on Black crime rather than acknowledging that far too many communities in this country live under siege and constant threat by militarized police forces and under the shadow of disdain from American culture at large (unless we’ve got a ball or a mic in our hands!) is asinine.

 

So yeah…discuss. ↓