Author Archives: Malaka

Of Course Iggy Azalea Became a Rapper; She’s Australian

Let me start by saying: I love you, White People. I’m going to say some things that make it seem like I don’t…but I do. I love you.

But let’s be honest. Y’all are the most thievingest people on the PLANET. Oh sure! Black people steal. Of course we do. We steal things like cigars and name brand clothing. Y’all, on the other hand, steal whole continents. You went to India and stole all their sapphires. You went to Asia and stole all its silk. You went to Africa and stole all its people. Is it any surprise that you would therefore go on to steal rap (and jazz, and blues, and crumping, and twerking, and collard greens)? I would compare you to the Borg, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. The Borg assimilates cultures for the good of the Collective. You lot merely appropriate culture for the benefit of your legacy. And that brings us to today’s topic – Iggy Azalea, a child I had never even heard of until Snoop started some sort of social media spat with.

Iggy Azalea, for those who like me did/do not know, is a white female rapper from Australia.

Selah.

IggyAzalea-2014Hip-hop purists have been dismissive of Iggy for a litany of reasons, but primarily because she is in the same vanguard of entertainer as your Nicki Minaj and company. She is the latest flavor of the auto-tuned, pop tart Top 40 stew which has gobbled up every genre you can think of, making each almost indistinguishable from the other. Think of Iggy Azalea as the $0.99 box of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese trying to pass for your Big Momma’s mac: her music is commercial, accessible and heavily marketed, but it doesn’t mean it’s good. There. I believe you have the idea.

Iggy Azalea has been in the headlines for the last few weeks, first for getting into it with Rah Digga (another female rapper of historical note) and now for her conflict with Snoop. Of course, all the media attention surrounding these run-ins has been engineered, for what better way for a rapper to earn her “street cred” than to have a battle with some of hip-hop’s greatest names? Nonetheless, Black people aren’t really checking for Iggy Azalea. Her music is rarely (if ever) played on urban radio. Her support comes from the bubble gum Bieber-Believer crowd, which is the only reason she has grossed as much wealth as she has to date. And good for her! She is following in the tradition of a proper White Australian.

You historians may recall that before Australia – that country/continent sitting on the edge of the Earth – became the tourist destination that it is today, it was inhabited by some people now known as the Aborigines. They did some pretty cool things, those aboriginal folk, like making boomerangs, pipes and those long flute things that create a haunting sound. And then one day, a boat full of English people showed up on their shores and the rest was history. Literally. The aboriginal race was nearly wiped off the map in a near genocide. Australia was to be a penal colony, to be re-populated with crooks, thieves, sinners and debtors. And now, almost 250 years later, you all think the boomerang is some Western invention, possibly created in the Nerf Labs. That is appropriation…and it is from this stock that Iggy Azalea hails.

Some of the most famous “American” entertainers are actually Australian. This list includes, but is by no means limited to, Mel Gibson, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger (RIP!) Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and of course, Iggy Azalea. These people had to co-opt American culture in some form in order to gain any sort of international success. Let’s take Keith Urban for example. The dude is a country singer…from Australia. Fundamentally, there should be something wrong with that. Country’s roots are in the Appalachian foothills, a cross between Scottish melody and African instrumentation. (From the banjo.) The fact that Keith Urban – a man with NO ties to this art form’s roots – is country’s biggest artist is a head scratcher. I went online to find out how country music fans feel about a non-American leading the pack on this genre, and the response I found was that it “didn’t matter”. Keith Urban makes good music, even if it does swing towards pop. Of course, there is the possibility that this nonchalance towards an “outsider” taking over country music may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Urban looks and sounds a lot like his fan base and the majority adopters of his chosen genre.

Iggy Azalea don’t look nothing like original hip-hop. Could it be that the hostility towards her has something to do with her race? Or does the upward turning of the hip-hop community’s nose have everything to do with the fact that she’s a crap rapper? The answer to that will have to wait another 20 years, the test of truly good music’s staying power.

Selah.

I’m surprised we haven’t seen a White female of Iggy’s notoriety rapper before now. By this time in the rap game – when the genre had really exploded – Vanilla Ice had jumped on the scene and stolen (literally stolen!) MC Hammer’s entire act, right down to his baggy pants. Then of course there was Eminem who “saved” rap and now we have the faux depth of Macklemore. The last group of truly great female rappers was around the Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lil Kim/Lauryn Hill era, which was about 20 years ago. And no, I don’t consider Nicki Minaj a great rapper. She’s good for a summer anthem or two, but like Iggy, she’s using a lot of words without saying much. I’m shocked that it’s taken a white woman this long to capitalize on this area of Black innovation. Shame on Iggy. She’s almost 30 years too late!

I can’t be mad at Iggy Azalea for her success, and I wish her more of it. She is just doing what an Australian was meant to do: steal from others. Quick! What original Australian music form can you think of? None. The only original Australian musician on the planet is worship singer Darlene Zschech, and her music isn’t ‘Australian’. It comes from

GOD

I am truly mystified by Iggy Azalea’s success, and I think more Black people should emulate her methods. We must seek out European art forms and hijack them. Perhaps we might look into river dance or the bagpipes? Ahh, now that would be something to see: A kente cloth wearing bagpipe player. You lot go and pay big bucks to see the White girl rap, and I’ll spend my wages to see Kofi get down with Celtic Thunder.

celtic

 

Susu in the Time of Ebola

Susu: Cooperative economics/ A method of wealth/resource collection and distribution in which three or more members agree to contribute a predetermined amount of currency over a specified length of time to be used by the contributors as their individual needs dictate/ It’s something West Africans and Caribbean people do.

 

Brothers and Sisters:

I greet you with the warmth of hot kenkey and with the adoration of freshly smoked fish.

Yesterday, #Ebola was the number two trending topic in the USA. I’m sure it was among the top five topics trending globally. CNN has replaced 24/7 coverage of Ferguson with relentless coverage of ebola. Family, the time to strike is NOW! We have already let too much time pass.

Our dear (fictional) brother and mentor Cyrus Beene has already instructed us on what to do in this time of Ebola Hysteria. If you had been paying better attention to the words of the Dark One, you would have already made your move by now. He said, and I quote:

“Never let a crisis go to waste.”

I don’t recall the circumstances that inspired this utterance – there are so many crises on ‘Scandal’ – but his words resonated in me brothers and sisters! There is always a way to profit, be it professionally, personally or financially, from a crisis.

A few days ago I was horsing around on Twitter, saying that we all need to invest in ebola. There is money to be made there! Imagine my surprise when I got a DM from a friend who works in pharmaceutical production. She told me that vaccine makers all around the world are ramping up their Ebola vaccine production and rattled off a few names that I might be interested in:

Chimerix (USA)

Tekmera (Canada)

Icon Genetics (German)

A quick check informed me that the value of Chimerix stock has increased by 15% within the last few days and has been steadily trending upwards. Yei! Someone is making money off of Black flesh and despair. Why not you and me?

I know, I know! It sounds, horrible…but no matter how distasteful the notion may seem SOMEONE out there is already making money off the thousands of dead and infected West African bodies that (don’t) dominate the headlines. I am telling you, the time to strike is now – right now! Particularly now that a cute Asian nurse has been infected with Ebola here on US soil? Oh, the stocks are going to explode!

By now you may be thinking to yourself: Oh, that crazy Malaka, with her crazy conspiracy theories. This is 2014 and people are better than that. They are more compassionate and recognize the humanity of their fellow man. No is trying to profit off of the suffering of West Africans who have been shafted by their respective governments! This is not the era of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade! In fact, Angelina Jolie is planning a telethon to help the Ebola Orphans right now!

Is that a rope/chain on that baby's leg?!?

Is that a rope/chain on that baby’s leg?!?

Humph. You dey there. Let me show you something.

My husband has been attending some trading seminars. Now that we have a little extra money in our pockets, he uses his “play money” to buy “play stocks”. Look at the text he received on his phone recently:

Ebola Money

Yes! You read that right! Don’t wait for the Jolie/Oprah/Pit Bull telethon. By then it will be too late and the stock will be too expensive! We won’t be able to buy it because Warren Buffet and Donald Trump will have gobbled up all the shares!

The truth is more Americans will die from texting and driving this week or at the hands of the police than they will from Ebola. However, it is tres gauche to propose that anyone try to profit from White teen death or police brutality. There’s nothing mystical or sexy about about. Ebola is both mystical AND sexy, particularly now that Halloween is upon us. Besides it rolls off the tongue better. Whenever anyone asks what you put your investment in, you can glibly reply “bio technology”. There is no sugar coated way to imply that one invested in gun violence. I guess you could say “defense”, but since the majority of kids killed in the street and in classrooms have been unarmed…

Now, brothers and sisters…I beseech you once more to consider what we should do about this. At least if we all make money from Ebola, it will end up back on the continent in the form of remittances. Any profits we make will surely be sent home to pay for Kofi’s school fees or Ama’s apprenticeship. If we don’t, Becky & Co will spend the money made from Ebola profits on blood diamonds and slavery cocoa and no one is helped outside of Babylon’s establishment.

I propose that we all band together and form susu centers if we cannot individually afford to buy stock in each of the companies I’ve named or others like them. Let’s all profit from Ebola. This is Africa Rising!

 

Ebola Earth: Dawn of the Apes…and Other Animals Eaten as Bush Meat

CNN – who is looking more like a better-funded version of The Onion where African is concerned – posed a question about Ebola recently. We mocked them and called them all sorts of ghastly names for their query; names that rhymed with “idiots”. (Idiots rhymes with idiots, doesn’t it?) But since they say the only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked, the prompter guys at CNN went balls to the wall and lead with this static query on their screens:

Ebola CNN

You read that right. Ebola: “The ISIS of Biological Agents?”

smallpoxindiansTo be fair to CNN, human bodies who have contracted diseases have been used as biological agents, so their concerns aren’t completely invalid. It’s been done before. Early white American settlers donated blankets to Native Americans riddled with small pox in an effort (a successful one!) to eradicate them. I was half watching the History channel the other night and I saw where Genghis Khan threw some bodies infected with the bubonic plague over a wall of a town he was trying to conquer and sickened all the inhabitants. When he finally broke through, women scurried up to the top of the wall and flung themselves off it. Rather than choosing between Genghis rape and the plague, they opted for a horrible, agonizing squishy death.

So yeah, Ebola COULD be the ISIS of bio-agents.

But if it is, who’s behind it all? What country is responsible for this? Surely not the Africans. They are all so poor and have no running water or shoes. All the same, members of the media have called for all flights from Africa International Airport to be halted in hopes of curbing Ebola’s spread into America. Could it be the Germans? Noooo…We’re friends now! Never mind that whole recent tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone fiasco. And never mind that she used to be a research scientist before she became Chancellor of one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth…

Nawl! Angie wouldn’t do that to us.

I put it to you friends, that we are overlooking the real culprits here. We’re overlooking them because we have no reason to suspect them! Oh, they look innocent enough, but they’ll rip out your guts from neck to navel if you get too close. I’m talking about the apes…and the crocodiles, and snakes, and deer, and all the other animals we humans consume as “bush meat”. Basically, any animal not living in a lab or a farm deserves our mistrust. The animals are taking over! We have just refused to see the signs!

Have you ever seen or heard of a chimp or an ape dying of Ebola? NO. No you have not. But you HAVE heard of humans (unless they are white American missionaries and doctors) dying from the virus. This is what was missing from the plot of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. THIS is why the whole thing makes sense! Oh, you think I’m cracked, do you? Humph. It is because you are willfully deaf and blind to all that is around you.

Humans have had their time ruling the Earth. Now, it’s the four-or-more legged creatures turn. No one really knows how the apes took over, how they got all that fancy knowledge and space-aged gear; except we DO know! The bats, alligators and primates all got together, went through some weird evolutionary mutation thing, and gave us all Ebola.

The rats did it in Europe too.

The bible says the meek shall inherit the earth. That is the gospel. Who is more meek than a mouse? You think Disney has been making talking mice and ducks for 60 years merely because it’s cute? No! It’s because the franchise has been preparing us for a new world order, and order run by Mickey n’ Dumbo n’ King Luis n’ dem.

Gasp!!!! King Luis! Remember from Jungle Book? He was so treacherous. I bet King Luis had Ebola too. The only reason he didn’t give it to Mowgli is because the lad was a vegetarian.

So there you have it. The vegetarians and the animals will rule the Earth.

Look for Ebola: Rise of the Planet of the Quadrupeds in a Kumawood theater near you. There will be parts 1 &2.

Do You Guys Want to Talk about Raven-Symone?

“Oh, girl. Don’t set up Twitter on fire. Oh, my lord. What did you just say?”

Did you see Oprah’s face as she muttered those words and readjusted herself in her seat? Classic. Classic, I say! Her reaction was spawned from Raven-Symone’s musing that she was tired of being labelled “African-American”, because she is an American: full stop.

Photo: ABC news

Photo: ABC news

I didn’t monitor Black Twitter for its response to Raven’s exclamations. There is nothing revolutionary about what she said. Frederick Douglass himself said something similar some 200 years ago when he looked into the future and proclaimed that through the magic of miscegenation, Americans would neither be primarily Black nor White, but would look more “like the Phoenicians”. (Who I gather from his description were bronzy, mixed race folk. You know, kinda like Raven.)

Of course we know 200 years on he was wrong. There are still very sharp class and color divisions in this country, but I doubt that Mr. Douglass could have foreseen and accounted for the hundreds of thousands of Africans who willingly migrate to these shores in the last 60 years and bolster the black count, thereby holding his fantasy “colorless society” at bay.

It’s not that Raven-Symone is wrong about how she identifies (or doesn’t identify) herself…it’s just that she isn’t right. More precisely, her views are not right for this time. This is America, circa 2014. Our census forms do not simply ask “if you’re an American”. They require you to tick one or more boxes to identify a race. They ask you to divulge how much money you earn per annum. They ask you your zip code. All these things are meant to categorize a human being in order to determine what type of American one is, and in Raven-Symone’s case, that would be a wealthy octoroon female. The only place an American’s race doesn’t matter is outside of America.

I’m sure I’ve told you all this story before. Last year when I was travelling to Ghana, I met a man while I was in transit in Frankfurt. He was from Detroit and we spent 4 hours of our layover chatting and roaming through the airport. We found ourselves in front of a stall that sold pastries and juice, people watching and commenting on what we saw. A white woman approached us with a mixture of perplexity and relief on her face.

Interrupting our conversation, she gushed “It’s SO good to hear American!”

We stood there looking at her – my Black male companion and I – waiting for her to expound on her statement, but she nodded, smiled and pranced off. Would she have approached us in Piedmont Park and told us how good it was to “hear American?” Doubtful. But we were obviously acceptable Negros who could afford airfare to a foreign country, which made us just Americans. The dynamics and interactions change when one is no longer on US soil, and that’s just the gospel.

Raven-Symone is not like the rest of us. Raven-Symone is famous and has made more money in her short life than 89% of the population. She can afford to be eccentric and define herself as “colorless”. Access to wealth and privilege allows her to navigate life in America in a way that many people of color can and do not. Poor and marginalized folk cannot afford such esotericism. That sort of independent thinking doesn’t translate well in our shift work, minimum wage paying society…the worker ant foundations of which allow people like Raven-Symone identify as just a (colorless) human being who loves (female) human beings.

My husband thinks that Raven-Symone is actually right: she should be able to identify as just human. However where her sexuality/love life is involved, he sees her definition as problematic.

“You just can’t say you’re a human being who loves other humans,” he said. “That opens the door for all kinds of other things.”

“Like saying you love your dad because he’s a strong male who provides?”

Eww. Let me not even finish that thought! You know where I’m heading. Basically, there need to be some better parameters around the category of human being we’re loving. Unfettered free love can lead to unruly chromosomes.

Selah.

Self-identification is a huge deal, because the world is changing. Humanity is going through yet another shift. How we approach it could lead us to utopia or through another turn through the Dark Ages. Is there any such thing as a “colorless” human being? Should there be?”

The Day the Gift of Black Magic Deserted Me

The Magical Negro: The Magical Negro is a supporting stock character in American cinema who is portrayed as coming to the aid of a film’s white protagonists. These characters, who often possess special insight or mystical powers, have been a long tradition in American fiction.

Yesterday I was invited to be a guest at a local book club meeting. The ladies had selected my book Daughters of Swallows (the one you see in the toolbar over to the left) as their book of the month. They had nothing but praise and told me it was the first book they had universally liked. Of course I was thrilled – surprised, because these were all Southern white women – but thrilled nonetheless. I confessed that I was unsure how audiences outside of the African continent and diaspora would relate to it, or if they would relate to it at all. A woman named Allyssa* told me that she truly identified with Afosua, my main protagonist, and after a while she had forgotten that these were Ghanaian characters and that the setting was in Accra. This made me happy. If you’ve ever spent a day in African skin, all you really want is for the world to see you as a human being, and not some charity case or mythical creature from a far off land imbued with divine powers.

No, seriously. There are people who think all Asians can do Kung Fu and all Africans know how to work juju. Because of the portrayal of our race and  continent in film, there have been  times when even I thought I had Special Negro Powers accorded to me,  simply by virtue of my skin. I’m a lot older and a little smarter now, so I know this is not true. Ohhh, but yesterday I desperately wished it was!

There is an enduring persona  in American folklore and entertainment called the Magical Negro. Dave Chappelle spoofed this sorcerous being on his show in a skit called Migger, the Magical N*gger. This character usually materializes at the exact moment that the lead in a film or book needs their wit, encouragement or advice to set them on their destined course. It should be noted that ‘Negro Magic’ only works when the interaction is between him/her and a white protagonist. Negros are never magical towards one another. In American cinema, we only shoot each other.

Some of the most famous Magical Negros are Will Smith as Bagger Vance, Michael Clark Duncan as the dude in The Green Mile, Roc Dutton in Rudy, and Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan. The Magical Negro does not only manifest in human form, mind you. They often also take the form of jocular critters, such as Rafiki and Sebastian in The Lion King and The Little Mermaid respectively. These beloved characters are just as important as the lead in any story: They make our hero possible.

Rafiki

But what does any of this have to do with this book club meeting? Just hold your horses and I’ll tell you!

There are certain topics that I do not discuss (in depth) outside of my very closest and most private circles. These include – in no particular order – the following:

  • Black people in the GOP
  • Anything to do with gay anything
  • Feminism
  • Fraternities and sororities

These are hot button issues and usually cannot be discussed dispassionately or objectively in the public arena. Imagine my surprise therefore, when this group of women brought up three of these four items as topics of discussion! I didn’t know the group well, so I sat back and observed mostly, or asked for clarification only when I needed to get a sense of what they were really trying to say. By the time they got to sororities, a petite blonde named Bethany* was beet red and her nostrils were as tight as a local school board’s budget.

The other women were deriding sororities, calling them controlling institutions that demanded unrequited fealty from their members. Having gone to an HBCU, I know the hold that sororities and fraternities have on their members. There are AKA’s that would sooner shank you than allow you to speak with anything less than awe and respect about their organization.

I have always believed that this grip – this fierce, relentless devotion – to one’s fraternity or sorority was a Black thing. You don’t often see successful, middle aged white women decked in their sorority colors on a random Friday or with a sorority decal screwed to the back of their car. As one of the members pointed out “White people do sororities in college, Black people do it until the grave.” (This comment came from Erica, who was African American and had come to the meeting later on.)

Not so fast! Bethany had something to say about that.

“I have to say I’m deeply offended by all the negative things that are being said about sororities here,” she said. Her vocal chords were straining for control.

Was she serious? Heck yes, she was.

She went on to point out that she was a member of Alpha Omicron Chi (or something), that she was a member of the Pan Hellenic council, that she also worked 40 hours a week and that her sorority made her the success she is today! The table was silent as she went on her tirade…well, except for Fran* who is approaching 69 and has allowed herself the right to say anything she pleases, however she pleases. Fran was talking, but only adding more gasoline to the fire.

This was it. This was my moment! As one of the two Black women at the table, it was time to come to Bethany’s aid and say something Negroid and Magical! I looked at Erica who was silently observing the entire scene behind her wide-rimmed sunglasses and Falcon’s pageboy cap. She was having no part in this. As the uncomfortable silence continued to weigh heavily on our table, I twisted my brow and pinched my lips, attempting to force an enchantment from my loins. What would Guinan say in this case??

I had nothing.

Bethany looked stricken. There was no Magical Negro to come to her rescue that day. I felt like a failure. I did the next best thing and signed her book with a note telling her that I thought she was an exemplary human being and gave her a big, bosomy GG-cup sized hug and sent her home to her lakeside home that was being remodeled, still feeling guilty.

Ah, ah. How did this become my burden??? Darn you, Black Magic. Darn you Hollywood!

 

Open Letter to Shatta Wale

 

Shyatta Waaaaaaaaleeeeee!!!!

Dear Shatta Wale,

I love you. There; I said it.

See how e dey look the camera inside!

See how e dey look the camera inside!

Oh please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t love you in that way…like I go born for you or anything like that. I will only born for Prince – and possibly John Dumelo – but I would never born for you. No, no. My love for you is of the quality of the typical area boy/girl order. Like when they see you passing on the road minding your own business and your bottos is shaking and they grab your hand as you are carrying your basket of tin tomatoes that your mother has sent you for and they say “Oh sista! I love you!” And then when you bounce them, the boys tell you to “Komot for der! You think you be some fine gehl, eh?”

Except I am the area boy and you are the fine girl, and your music is the nice bottos.

Oh Shatta, I wish I had known earlier. Let me name drop small, eh?

I came to Ghana last year to do a joint reading of my book with Boakyewaa Glover, author of The Justice. It was a very cerebral affair, as you might imagine. There was wine and Fanta, drinks of the highest quality. One of our guests – a man who is simply known in town as KK – asked if we had any music: Shatta Wale in particular.

“Oh Chaley, you guys no get some Shatta Wale for here?” he asked. He was crestfallen when we told him no.

“Who is Shatta Wale?” someone in the room asked. KK raised his eyebrows in genuine surprise.

“Herh? Herh! Who is Shatte Wale?” KK was sputtering. His anguish was palatable. After he composed himself, he concluded his statement with a secret chuckle. You know the type of laugh your father does when he sees you playing the fool in front of the relatives who have come to visit from Kwadjokrom but he doesn’t talk because he knows he’s going to beat you later?

Hehehehehehhhhh…

That was the manner of KK’s laugh. A twinkle in his eye betrayed his private thoughts. Oh you wait! You gon’ learn one day!

Well, one day has come. I have learned. I have discovered your magnificence for myself. I know the song is old kraa, but Dancehall King is my jam. Ah! Do you know I sourced six qualified resumes  for my client in Amarillo, TX (some bush area bi) whilst listening to that song? It gave me such vim.

Shyaaatta Waaaaaleeeee!!!

shata-waleOh Shatta. I haven’t felt this way about a reggae/ragga/dance hall artist since Shabba. It makes sense though. A Jamaican is nothing more than a Ga far from home. You are the connection between two countries, two cultures and one spirit. I’ll say it again: I love you Shatta! In fact, my appreciation for you is so deep that if my social circumstances would allow, I would emulate you in every manner. I would undergo a nostril widening procedure and stop combing my hair. But you see, I can’t…because marriage and motherhood. I can’t arrive at my PTA meetings looking like Shyaaaaatta Waaaaaaleeeee!!!!

Ok my sweet. I will see you in the future okay? I’m sure our paths will cross. Remember me in your dreams, dreams, dreams, dreams….

Yours sincerely,

Malaka

How American parenting is killing the American marriage

Malaka:

I wonder if this is unique to America, or does it manifest in other spheres of Western culture? As for African parents, they have no problem pointing out the flaws of their children. No problems at all!

Originally posted on Quartz:

Sometime between when we were children and when we had children of our own, parenthood became a religion in America. As with many religions, complete unthinking devotion is required from its practitioners. Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first. We accept this premise so reflexively today that we forget that it was not always so.

In our recently published book, Sacred Cows, we took on our society’s nonsensical but deeply ingrained beliefs surrounding marriage and divorce. We often get asked whether we will next address the sacred cows of modern parenting, at which point we ask the speaker to please lower his voice, and we look nervously over our shoulders to make sure that nobody has overheard the question.

To understand the frightening power of the…

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