Author Archives: Malaka

Testimony of a Reformed Child Beater

Note: Emotions and views surrounding corporal punishment are very strong and raw right now… but I’m not here to debate your feelings or coddle your visceral need to be violent towards people who are smaller than you. I’m here to talk about how we’re failing these kids.

Beating. Whuppin’. Whipping. Spanking. Choose whatever verb is most acceptable or familiar to you, it comes down to an adult hitting a child with something. Within the realm of corporal punishment, particularly in America, one may use either one of these words to determine the severity or assuage the guilt of inflicting pain on a child. Charles Barkley recently exemplified this when he make the distinction between a “beating” (which sounds awful – like something a cruel master would do to an insubordinate slave) and a “spanking” or a “whipping” (words which I suppose are supposed to conjure images of love?). Again, it doesn’t matter what you call it, the intent is to inflict pain on a child for some infraction, sometimes even imaginary ones.

Today, I’m going to keep my conversation centered around two groups: Black folk and church folk. If you find yourself in either category and are prone to offense, I’m going to warn you and give you the opportunity to stop reading now. Here’s a hint: my assessment doesn’t end well for you.

Still reading? Ahh, ok.

spankingThe conversation around the subject of beating children in recent days in light of the Adrian Peterson case has been absolutely heartbreaking, and quite frankly, revolting. The depths that Black folk and church folk have gone to to defend the act of taking a switch or belt or branch or extension cord to the tender flesh of their children has been staggering. I’ve seen comments where people say they’d beat the autism out of their kids, beat the gay out of their kids, beat some sense into their kids. These words are often written with the letters ‘lol’ following the statement, but you know the QWERTY Crusader opining on the issue isn’t sitting there laughing out loud. Their reaction at the thought of NOT beating their child for an infraction likely more resembles a smug, sinister grunt. And no one, I mean NO ONE, beats their children as frequently as church folk and Black folk. The numbers bear this out. 8/10 African Americans believe that spanking is an acceptable form of punishment compared to 7/10 whites who were surveyed. Asians numbers were even lower, with 47% of Asian males in favor of corporal punishment compared to 12% of Asian females. In the church, 8/10 born again Christians are in favor of spanking.

I understand these numbers, and before I became a reformed child beater (as of last week), I adhered to the reasons and social drivers that have contributed to these numbers. Blacks in America have carried on a tradition of beating their children into obsequiousness, often in the hope that it would keep them safe. Encountering a “sassy black gal” or “uppity negress” (terms which are still sprinkled over the internet today) would cause white lips to curl and often resulted in horrific rape and/or murder of the offender. In order to keep their children in line with society’s expectations that they be silent, second class citizens, Black parents beat their children at the moment sass, questioning or a challenge reared its head. The idea was – and still is – that if you beat the obstinateness, spunk and even the curiosity out of their children, it will somehow save their lives or set them on the course for future success. And yet, our prisons are filled with Black men and women who have had more than their fair share of beatings, while their absence is noted key decision making arenas across the country. May I humbly suggest that Black success experienced in this country is as a result of beating one’s children is in spite of its application, and not because of it?

The only thing beating your children does -or any living being for that matter – is it teaches them to fear their assailant…in this case YOU. Whipping someone is not an act of love. It is an act of rage. And before you get all “it’s a biblical principle” on me, let’s consider the two biblical principles that church folk are quick to quote in the midst of a good ol’ fashioned child-focused scourging:

  • Spare the rod, and spoil the child.
  • Pr 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
  • Pr 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
  • Pr 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
  • Pr 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
  • Pr 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Notice I have no scriptural reference for the very first quote, because just like oft quoted “God helps those who help themselves” it’s not in the bible.

I went ahead and listed these without context because that’s what people who manipulate the bible for the benefit of their own agenda do. Let’s take Proverbs 29:15 for example, which implies that beating a child will eventually keep his mother from experiencing shame on account of his misdeeds. The same chapter goes on to say in verse 21 that “he who pampers his servant from childhood will have him as a son in the end”. So what are we to do? Pamper children into loving us or scourge them into obedience in lieu of it? Perhaps beating your children is not a biblical requirement. Maybe there are other, less violent ways to bring your children into alignment.

The average American Christian’s relationship with children (not just their own) is a reflection of their relationship with God, and usually it’s a screwed up relationship. Too many are locked in a cycle of breach of law, expecting severe chastisement from God, pleading for forgiveness and reoffending. They then impose this dysfunctional relationship on their children.

beatingI had a neighbor who had taken on the care of her 6 year old grandson named Shiloh. At 6, he was still wetting the bed. Her response was to whip his behind. At least 3 times a week, Shiloh would get a whipping for peeing in the bed because “he was too big for that”. She would often tell me with pride how she “beat his ass” every time he wet the bed. And yet, the more she beat him, the more he peed, which she then read as willful defiance. Eventually it was discovered that his incontinence was as a result of some pretty f*cked up potty training tactics he was subjected to when he was a toddler. How much pain and effort could both have them been spared if she had opted to investigate his background first and rely on archaic Negro/Christian ideas about how disciplining the child made her a good grandma last?

If we think about the rod in Psalms 23, where David says the Lord’s “rod and staff” are a comfort, can we really (and logically) assume that God beating him in the Valley of the Shadow of Death give him the warm and fuzzies? Shepherd do not use rods to beat their sheep: they use it to change or keep them on course and out of harm.

I have been accused of thinking I am better than other parents because I no longer opt to spank my kids. I know that people making these assertions are doing so out of their own sense of guilt and reluctance to do the hard work of thoughtful childrearing. I don’t combat their allegations. After all, from the beginning of my life as a parent, I relied on spanking because it was the right thing to do. Spanking has been handed down for generations and I and many people inherited it. Women I respect have advised me on what instruments to beat my children with (wooden spoons, fly swatters and paint stirrers) in the quest to quell ‘foolishness’. However, after much reflection, I have discovered that there is a difference between foolishness and childishness. Childish behavior has everything to do experience and the lack thereof. Foolishness is generally the province of adults who have had the benefit of wider experience, and in my estimation, makes grown-ups better candidates for a good spanking. Too many parents are bullying and punishing children merely for being children.

My younger sister is my model for many things, and though I gave birth first, she has surpassed me in terms of being an exemplary mother. She recounted an exchange she had with her four year old son with me.

“Mommy, can I climb on shelf?” he asked.

“No,” she said firmly.

“But why not?”

As you can imagine, they have had this conversation numerous times before. She looked up from her whatever she was reading and looked him in the eye.

“You tell me ‘why not’.”

My nephew thought about it for a moment and replied, “Because I’ll fall down?”

“And then what will happen.”

“And then I’ll get hurt?”

“Do you want to get hurt?”

“No.”

“Are you going to climb the shelf?”

“No…”

“Okay then.”

And away he went.

Children are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, and they learn by repetition. As a culture, I think we would do better and go farther if we relied on our words more and our fists less.

Sun & Moon: Wiyaala’s Lesson on Tolerance

One of the hallmarks of what makes an artist great is the subject matter they choose to address through their craft. Indeed, the idea and the messages that an artist adopts as their core mission will determine whether he or she will be remembered and revered in the annals of music history, or will fade from memory like a dying star. This is why Bob Marley is an icon, and Buju Banton’s music was something we boggled to for a few years in the 90’s and haven’t brought up since. Marley’s music had – and still has – a timeless, relevant message about poverty, love and pride; and since “boom bye-bye in a batty boy head” is considered hate speech… well, you get the picture.

Consumer appetite for music is ever changing. There was a time when “message music” was the order of the day until record executives decided that people no longer wanted to be preached to. Somewhere between the late 70’s and early 80’s, you begin to see a shift in themes covered in popular Top 40 songs, most centering around partying, every so often around romance, and eventually exclusively around sex.

I don’t know if we’re better off for it, but that’s the state of things.

For those of us who grew up on and in love with Bob Marley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and others who occupied space in the musical vanguard, there has been an unfillable void in contemporary music in this area. It’s the reason we clutch so dearly to John Legend, Janelle Monae and the High Priestess of Musical Mind-bending – Erykah Badu. Instead of relying on tired, 10 for a dollar, sexually explicit matter like many of their contemporaries, these artists express a range in the themes they cover: sometimes sensual, often political, always relevant.

In my opinion, Noella Wiyaala absolutely belongs in this rank.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting my fair share of Ghanaian artists; some because we shared the same social circles or educational opportunities, and others by happy accident… but I am hard pressed to think of any who is as generous and genuine as Wiyaala.

She recent shared her single Sun & Moon with me, which will be on her album coming out in November (*gleeful shriek!*). I played the song for my children, and we shared similar reactions.

“It’s so peaceful,” my second born remarked with a sigh. “But I don’t understand what she’s saying…”

“It doesn’t matter. It just matters how it makes you feel.”

Wiyaala sings the song in Sissala and it is based around a traditional folk song sung from the villages of the Upper West. The Sissala have earned a reputation for being needlessly aggressive and war-hungry, which makes the story around the song and the song itself reason to pause and consider it more deeply.

The song is about a group of villagers who are sat round discussing life (in the days before TV) and chatting. The elder poses the question:

“Who amongst us doesn’t have issues?”

After much debate, the conclusion was that everyone – no matter their background – has concern and problems. The elder who posed the question then goes on to suggest that everyone in the village pause, reflect on their actions before making rash decisions and exercise patience since “whatever our issues, the sun will give way to the moon and in its turn the moon will give way to the sun.”

 

 

The stars are out

They shine so bright

Sun and Moon 

Anxiously wait their turn

But who can tell what

Judgement day will bring?

 

 

If you happened to catch the Tamale Summit online, you may recall Wiyaala talking about the global marketability of Northern culture and language, and the huge opportunities that are being missed.

Her assertion is that songs/rap from Northern region are just as palatable as hip-life done in Akan/Twi, however many potential artists from other disenfranchised parts of the country are led to believe that their mother-tongue is not marketable. However, the brilliance of King Ayisoba – who hails from the North and is making inroads on the path to international acclaim – dispels this myth. Unfortunately (and shamefully), one is more likely to hear Ayisoba on German radio than to hear him in Accra at drive time. It is another case of Ghanaians not valuing our culture and its purveyors at home.

Image from ghanajist

Image from ghanagist

Wiyaala is the most generous musical artist in Ghana in my estimation because she looks at fame beyond herself and does it so effortlessly and unconsciously. During the Tamale Summit, she mentioned plans to build a stage in her hometown where young men and women can come and practice singing and stage presence. While other musicians’ goal is to “put Ghana on the map” through their personal rise to fame, she seeks to empower others and provide tangible structures to enable them to do so. This is what cements a woman’s honored place in history: to be remembered as someone who lifted and encouraged others to go beyond the heights even she has achieved.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow me to share mp3s on the site, otherwise I’d happily order you to click ‘Play’ and prepare yourself for auditory pleasure. The song is a lesson about tolerance, about preferring others above oneself, and about patience. In the end, everyone gets their turn, as no state of existence is forever, is it? I guess we’ll all have to wait until November when the album drops to have this conversation again!

 

2 hours later:

Oh look what I have for you! Click ‘Play’ :)

 

Raising Enterprising Kids

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

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

“Hi,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied.

What did this kid want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from Mattel

Image from Mattel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woi, woi, woi.

Chei, chei, chei!

Ajeish!

Asemmm o assssem!

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

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

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

I get this a lot.

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

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

What the…

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

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

Deception

Hello Myne,

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

Chei! Cheicheicheichei!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ei.

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

Do I look weak to you?

Do I look weak to you?

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

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

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

Fadda lawd. Strength. I need strength!

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

Photo credit: Google +

Photo credit: Google +

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

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

“I am please. Can I help you?”

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

Photo credit: Times of Man

Photo credit: Times of Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday, one and all.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Thoughts? Reactions?

Are You Ready to #TalkDirtyToMe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smooches!

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