Author Archives: Malaka

How We’re Rapidly Evolving Into a Mad Max-ish World

Do you remember watching Mad Max when you were a kid (or young adult, if my dad is reading today) and thinking to yourself “Ah, ah. Is this Earth? Why are these people so cruel, selfish and reckless? More importantly, why are they dressed like this?” Everyone was attired as if scurvy had switched its desires for human flesh and for an appetite for rough cotton instead. Everyone except Tina Turner, of course. Even in the Thunderdome – which essentially represented Hell’s putrid navel – she managed to appear angelic and regal. That she was heartless and merciless and incapable of conjuring pity could be completely forgiven. Because beauty. And also because reasons.


But back to the point: Do you ever feel like we are living in the days of the Thunderdome…or at least exhibiting behavior that’s going to lead us there? I know I do. The evidence is all around us.

This is the point where the Rainbow Glitter Squad whose magical powers consist of an innate ability to solely see the world through rose-colored glasses shouts “Well, Malaka…if you see so much evil in the world, it’s because there is evil in your heart!” That’s bunkum. I see Lexus trucks and other luxury cars whizz by me on a near hourly basis and they no closer to parking themselves in my garage. Just because I witness something doesn’t mean I possess it. No, no, no… we have to observe and analyze what’s going on in our surroundings objectively; and once we do, you’ll see the kerosene explosion on the horizon. As always, I am happy to furnish you with examples from my own life to promote further understanding.

The world of Mad Max was marked by violence. It was rabid and explosive, peppered with the presence of humans beings constantly baying for blood. Our present day world is very much the same – with the exception of HONY, where every subject is a member of the Rainbow Glitter Squad. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned from this cabal and that’s this: The problem with our world today isn’t that there is an abundance of violence, but a dearth of kindness. Violence is just a symptom of a deficiency in benevolence and courtesy. Once we begin to address the slow bleeding of kindness in our society, perhaps we can delay our eventual relocation to an address on Fury Road.

As usual, the examples are in the small things. When I wrote this post about dating in 2015  examining what many men (at least of the internet variety) expect in return for a dinner date, I don’t believe I devoted enough time to explaining exactly how vile this line of thinking is. Treating another person to dinner or with gifts does not amount to a transactional process if you possess a modicum of dignity. The caterwauling of the person whom the article was based on included a grievance with women who expected to have doors opened for them or seats pulled out for them…all acts of person who possesses and exhibits basic kindness. He wanted to know what expectations a woman ‘had for herself’. My assertion remains that a woman need only BE herself in a dating situation.

Did you ever see the movie A Bronx Tale? When Colagero was about to take Jane out on a date, he asked his father, Lorenzo, for advice on how to vet her as a lady. Lorenzo’s advice went something like:

“When you get in the car, unlock the passenger side and let her in. Then go to the back of the car and see what she does next. If she reaches over and unlocks the driver’s side for you, then you know you got a good woman who’s thinking about you. If she just sits there and waits, she’s a selfish broad who (insert choice words here).”

Spoiler alert: Much to his delight, Jane unlocked the door for Colagero, and that should have resulted in a happily ever after…but Jane was Black and Colagera Italian, so there was a race war instead.


Selfishness and the inability to accept that some others perform acts of kindness for the sake of the act itself have colored almost every aspect of our daily interactions. I am guilty of being tainted too, as I find it difficult to accept help/gifts from others because I don’t want to find myself unexpectedly in their debt. (There’s a story behind that.) This weekend I decided to take my kids to see Pan. Carmen from ‘Cross the Street was at our house, and I told Aya to ask if she’d like to invite her to join us. Her mother said she could come…but she wanted to know how much money to send with Carmen.

“Go back and tell her I got it,” I told the girls.

5 minutes later, they came pounding back up the steps.

“Carmen’s mom wants to know if you can tell her how much the ticket is so she can pay you back.”

I felt a headache coming on. “Tell Carmen’s mom that she is our guest and that I will be buying everyone popcorn and a drink. But if she wants to send money with Carmen to buy something extra for herself, she certainly can.”

See? Even among parent interactions, we find it difficult to accept or expect certain levels of kindness. If I have been invited to an event, I certainly don’t expect to pay my way and vice versa! But I understand why people think this way, and it likely stems from being burned in the past. A little over 25 years ago, I found myself in the Thunderdome because my sister mistook a classmate’s gifts as genuine kindness that wouldn’t need to repaid.

Her name was Mary Osei.

We had just moved into our new house in Labone and begun making friends with kids in the area. Mary and her siblings attended our primary school and lived just down the road from us. Naturally, we became friends. Mary took her friendship with A-Dub to a new level by purchasing sweets and toffee for her on a daily basis. I considered her lucky. None of MY new friends ever bought me anything! And then Mary and A-Dub had a falling out. Mary stormed up our driveway and banged on our door, demanding that A-Dub repay her the 90 cedis she had spent on her over the last few weeks. Our weekly break-time allowance was 10 cedis, so it would take the rest of our LIVES to repay 90 cedis. I opened the door and told Mary to leave. That’s when she attacked my sister.

That’s when I snatched her back.

That’s when she wrestled me to the floor and started to strangle me.

That’s when I looked up at my sister and wondered why the hell she wasn’t trying to help me.

That’s when my sister looked down at me and wondered how I was going to get myself out of this mess.

That’s when I lobbed my fist into Mary’s face to break her hold. She scrambled to her feet and A-Dub pushed her out. I locked the door behind her. Mary stood on the veranda insulting our mother and telling us how useless we were: “Common 90 cedis, you can’t pay!”

Reluctant to have another go with her and now knowing that my sister would allow me to perish for her fight, I let Mary stand out there and yell to her heart’s content. The girl had the strength of ten kubolor boys. She was sinewy and stout…probably from years of pounding fufu or assassinating soldiers.

You might be reading this and thinking that being placed in a choke hold ought to be enough to kill the propensity for selflessness in anyone. But I say NO! We must push through the pain of proverbial esophageal compression commit more acts of kindness without expectation of reciprocation. If every does this, reciprocation will be inevitable. It’s the only remedy to keep our world from burning.



*All images sourced from IMDB

I’ve Never Seen a Maxi Pad in a Shoe Box

Something happened to me at work this wee that I thought would be best re-told in rhyme. *Sigh*. Here goes….

I work part time at a retail store

Because I love shoes and things covered in rhinestone

It’s also so that I can get discounts

On several other accessories I hope to later flaunt


And I have never seen a maxi pad in a shoe box


I’ve seen many things while at my post

People of different races stealing things, probably most

Or is it one particular group who delights in leaving items strewn on the floor?

Ugh, those are the days at work I most abhor


Yet I have never seen a maxi pad in a shoe box


I’ve seen grown men spit into our plastic bins in the aisles

I’ve watched pregnant women hurl their bile

I’ve looked on while little Frankie runs roughshod all over the store

While his mother stares at him blankly with eyes that say “I can’t take this anymore!”


Yet I have never seen a maxi pad in a shoe box


I’ve seen shady customers try to purchase items with fake checks

Then storm off when the transaction fails screaming:

“You’re gonna hear from my lawyer, you bet!”

A quivering sales associate stands at the till in fear

Wondering if the threat means that the end of her employment is near


Yet I have never seen a maxi pad in a shoe box

There are days when retail work can tire you to the bone

When your feet are so sore that you cry on the way home

When your back turns to jelly and your knees turn to jam

You want to quit but can’t, because your colleagues have become your fam


And also because you’ve never seen a maxi pad in a shoe box


Until tonight…


What manner of zoo animal came into your store

Who would think it fit to remove a sanitary napkin from her drawers

And place the vaginal scented item in a box of Michael Kors’

When the distance measured to the toilet in feet was no further than four?


Why am I looking at this maxi pad in a shoe box???


Who does this…and why?

Was it for the sole purpose of making me cry?

I swear, I only work here to get by

Not because I have aspirations of becoming a socialite…


Father in Heaven… I mean. It’s a maxi pad. In a shoe box!


Perhaps you’re wondering if it was bloody

Or tinged in a color that made it appear muddy

Your imagination conjures up visions of things nasty

Even the previous owner, for she surely must be trashy


To do something as vile as leave a maxi pad in a shoe box

And so my friends, I must end this little rhyme

And hope when I go to work next, it will be not to speak of a time

When I perchance wandered down the meandering store aisles

And felt my heart quicken at so tawdry a sight

As a maxi pad in a shoe box.





Why Is Yaa Asantewaa The Only Brave Woman in Ghanaian Antiquity?

Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of Ejisu and holder of 157 other titles. If you don’t know her name, you must live in a Hobbit hole devoid of books or access to the internet. She’s part of the Sovereign Women’s Pan African Council; up there with Queen Nzingha and Queen Nandi and Harriet Tubaman n’ dem. And to hear Ghanaians tell it, she is the only woman in the country’s history to ever make a difference or exhibit bravery.

Yaa Asantewaa Statue, Ejisu, Ghana

Yaa Asantewaa Statue, Ejisu, Ghana

Of course, Ghanaians don’t ever say this expressly, but the implications during praiseworthy moments cannot be mistaken. Whenever a woman shows a modicum of valor or persuasively expresses an opinion that counters the pervasive culture, she is referred to as ‘Yaa Asantewaa’.

Yvonne Nelson led the #DumsorMustStop campaign and she was christened Yaa Asantewaa.

In reviewing Poetra Asantewaa’s soon-to-be-released EP, Mutherfuckitude, my best friend and troublemaker Wanlov Kubolor had this to say about her:


At times, the appending of Yaa Asantewaa’s virtue to one’s person is not always meant as a compliment. For example, when the police went on a rabid rampage against peaceful and unarmed marchers during the Let My Vote Count exercise last month, this was one of the many images to go viral. An individual I follow online tweeted contemptuously: Who does she think she is? Yaa Asantewaa?


Interestingly enough, a quick search on Twitter will also find everyone’s least/most loved feminist on Twitter @Obaa_boni likened to this historical figure…and not always in the most flattering of ways.

Excuse me for a moment.

Obaa, did you know this, girl??? Do a search! Folk love to hate you. There’s some life out there that some folks need to get.

Pardon that segue. Anyway, as I was saying, because we have deified Yaa Asantewaa to this extent, it has only succeeded in lulling ourselves into the belief that she alone has and/or will ever embody the strength and fortitude a woman needs to agitate for positive change. Inherently, we know that this is impossible, but this is the narrative we’ve allowed to take root and thrive. This makes Ghanaian history “rich”, but it also renders it incomplete and therefore only partly true. We’ve allowed Yaa Asantewaa to become a messiah, and I don’t think she would be pleased with that.

Of course, she’s not the only firebrand in history we’ve turned into a mythical savior.

Nelson Mandela singlehandedly ended apartheid from the confines of a prison cell on Robben Island.

Kwame Nkrumah delivered Ghana from the clutches of colonialism with naught but a handful of speeches and a kente robe.

Malala Yousafzai was the only Pakistani girl to defy the Taliban in pursuit of her education and be shot for it.

It was Martin Luther King alone who ensured our civil rights.

The list – short as it is – goes on, and I’m sure if we had a contest, you could come up with a couple of messiah figures of your own.

It would serve us all better if we had the opportunity to learn more about who Yaa Asantewaa’s allies were. It would make the tapestry of our history so much richer. She was human. She was taking on the British army…a legion that had managed to do what no other conglomerate had managed to do before: subdue the Asante Kingdom. Who were her generals? Who did she confide in on those nights when she was preparing for battle? Who was her right hand woman? Certainly, there was an equally hot-blooded woman she had in mind when she stood in the council meeting and said:

Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it was in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware I, chiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

Whenever I endeavor on a big venture – and I’ve never done anything as noteworthy as defy the world’s most savage, marauding forces to preserve my freedom – I’ve always had a cadre of women to support me in that. Behind every strong woman is an army of strong women pushing her ahead. So why have we allowed these women’s names to be lost to the point of erasure? The idea that women are catty and can’t cooperate is a fabrication meant to confuse and isolate us, and to keep us from collaborating for progress. Sadly, there are enough women around to perpetuate this stereotype.

There are times when I think about Yaa Asantewaa as she’s preparing for battle. She would have been surrounded by people helping her get dressed in battle regalia. She would have been receiving reports from spies and military tacticians. Someone took the time to prepare her a power-packed meal before riding (or running…did she have a horse back then?) off into battle to face the British. She would only be able to ride into the storm with the confidence that she was flanked by women (and men) of equal determination. Who did she cast her eyes over to and say:

“You ready, girl?”

“Yeah. I’m ready,” would be the rumbling reply.

“Then let’s do this.”


I’d love to know their names.



Why Aren’t Black Women Considered Funny?

Greetings, saints. I won’t be keeping you long today because I actually have to work on a book of short stories exclusively written for a certain sister of mine, so brevity will have to be the order of the day.

Do you consider Black women to be funny? No, seriously…think about it. Can/are Black women considered comedic “geniuses”, and why/why not? I ask because of several events I’ve witnessed unfold on social media.

Between 2008-2010, I used to run a blog called It was a breaking news website, wholly devoted to satire. My cousin Ms. Naa used to read some of the stories on her radio program to rave reviews. By chance, she revealed to a certain mutual acquaintance in the entertainment industry that I was the sole entity behind all of the writing on the blog. (I had one guest post during its entire run.) His reply?

“What? I know guys have humor like this…but a chick? Nah!”

I was young(er) in those days, and foolishly took his surprise that someone of my gender could be capable of such a feat as a compliment. Much like when white people mark with (pleasant) surprise that Africans can grow their own crops or know what a rolling pin is. Nevertheless, his remark troubled me: Why wouldn’t I be considered funny because I am a woman? Why would anyone not expect me to be?

Black women the world over are expected to conform to a specific set of stereotypes, and even when we refuse to, that roguishness must not extend beyond a certain margin. In Ghana just this week, Nana Aba Anamoah discovered the hard way what the repercussions are for evoking humor in a society that:

  • Doesn’t understand a particular genre or brand of humor
  • Doesn’t anticipate women being capable of that brand of humor

AnneBeing an African comedienne in this day and age is much like being a Vaudeville performer thrust into the 21 Century. Women who are deemed “funny” are expected to perform tropes that depict them as clueless, humble, struggling to navigate even the simplest of tasks. Ugandan actress and comedienne, Anne Kansiime, is one of the few women who has been able to break the dependence on these tired tropes for laughs to great success. And then, there’s Luvvie No-Last-Name-Needed-Nuff-Said-Ajayi.

In Nana Aba’s case, she shared a picture of a football match and implied that she was present in an attempt to prank her followers. Only she and her followers know what kind of rapport they share, so it was for them to get the joke. If I photoshopped an image of myself perched on the edge of Prince’s guitar for instance, with the caption “Haters will say I was never here” every faithful reader of MOM would understand what was implied. The rest of the clueless world would not, and then accuse me of madness. (But you know… actually mean it. Not in that “ha ha, Malaka, you so crazy kinda way.) Image manipulation is a tool widely used in the realm of humor in this age of technology. Some have suggested she not venture into the realm of comedy again. (A woman actually said this to me.) Why the hindrances and false outrage that eventually cost her her job?

Someone shared this video with me earlier today and instructed me to “listen to this buffoonery” that better be a joke.

OF. COURSE. IT. WAS. A. JOKE. How could anyone take this seriously?

Like fart jokes or geek humor, this type of humor isn’t for everyone. It’s a parody of real life events that are a result of the global phenomenon “Netflix and chill”. It’s commonly accepted that if a guy invites a girl over for “Netflix and chill”, he really is gunning for sex in the long run. And it is also a rebuke to Netflix to update their title selection – which does, save for a few exceptions – is really antiquated and does suck. Even as I type, I’m watching ‘Murder She Wrote’ because it is one of Netflix’s better offerings. Also, note her interjections during her speech. This was my favorite:

“I’m sorry… I’m 16 and I have heartburn from this Netflix baby and the lemon pepper wings.”

WHAT?!? #Dead

But of course, because Black women are ONLY perceived as ratchet, unaware, bumbling hood rats with no common sense, it would be impossible to see this as one of our own poking fun at herself or the stereotype she’s been made to bear.

Bassey Ikpi, whom I think is one of the funniest African women breathing life, often makes references to her imaginary relationship with Chiwetel Ejiofor…and has gotten a lot of us to buy into it. I have appointed myself as the plantain prefect for their wedding. (Bassey doesn’t know yet. It’s my wedding gift.) And STILL, there are enough clowns (not of the delightful sort)that jump into her newsfeed to ask – without irony and no shame – if she should seek professional mental assistance.

Again. IT’S A JOKE.

Ms. Ikpi has quite a firm grasp on reality, people.

So what’s the deal? Why aren’t Black women expected or allowed to explore these facets of their personhood? Why must we be constantly reduced to raging, furious caricatures of who we actually are? Anyone?


NB: If you’re trying to Google MaizeBreak and coming up empty, it’s because I stopped paying on the domain. I could have told you that in the middle of this post, but I wanted to watch you run in circles.

NB: And before you mental Oompa Loompas swoop into my comments about Nana Aba, I am aware she was fired for  “copyright infringement”, not for a joke. She denies this claim, and until it’s proven otherwise, I believe her.

Until the lion learns to write, the tale of the hunt will glorify the hunter.

Note: The article that spawned this rejoinder originally appeared in the Independent, a British online publication. I was content to give the content a pass and chalk it up to White People Whiting. After all, the piece was written right on schedule. Every quarter, we Africans are subjected to a written work that describes us in the least flattering of terms. This time, Victoria Stewart repeated (and printed!) claims that Ghanaians don’t know what rolling pins are.

Well, my e-friend Kuorkor said she was having none of it. She teamed up with a colleague and friend to craft this response; and per her request, I’m sharing it. Feel free to share it on your blog as well. Take back your news, dear brothers and sisters. Take back your news!


By Kofi Amoo-Gottfried

The stories we tell about ourselves are who we are. Storytelling shapes our past, present and future – and in this way, stories are an incredibly powerful medium. With great power comes great responsibility. A responsibility that’s not always respected when non-Africans tell stories about Africa.

This article is a case in point:


There’s so much wrong with this article, it’s hard to know where to start. There are two intertwined notions at the heart of the author’s point of view – the first is that Ghanaians don’t appreciate Art, and the second is that Expats are driving an elevation in art culture, a renaissance in art appreciation, and showing Ghanaians “how its done”. Both notions are deeply flawed at best; and paternalistic, offensive and racist at worst.

Let’s take them in turn, shall we?

Ghanaians don’t appreciate art

I suppose it depends how you define “Art”, but in Ghana, where art is culture, this notion is plain wrong. Art is, and has always been, part of the fabric of Ghanaian life and culture. All you have to do is explore.

Explore the masterpieces created by the Kente weavers; bright and bursting with color – each pattern holding a deeper meaning.

Lose yourself in the beauty, depth, and complexity of Adinkra iconography and mythology – an art form that dates back to 1817 and which was designed to support “the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief” in pre-literate times.
Art was, and is, literally language.
Art was, and is, literally culture.

Marvel at the intricacy, infinite styles, cuts, and colors in Ghanaian wax prints – and at the thriving fashion industry and globally renowned fashion designers (Tetteh Plahar, Kwadwo Bediako, Kofi Ansah, Christie Brown etc.) these prints and designs have inspired.

Listen to the original masters who created hi-life music – the art form which turned an obscure Ghanaian band named Osibisa into a global icon. Then listen to the new masters, who remixed that art form and gave us hip-life and Afrobeats – Reggie Rockstone, Obrafuor, Sarkodie, M.anifest and so many more.

Even in death, we have art. Marvelous fantasy coffins, designed to bring the deceased into the afterlife with pomp and circumstance – designed by artisans like Seth Kane Kwei, his grandson Eric Adjetey-Anang, and many others.

Our relationship with art goes beyond mere “appreciation”.
Art defines us.

Expats are driving an Art Renaissance

Oh, hello there, “white savior complex”… I was wondering where you’d gone.

Beyond the obvious problems with someone turning up in your country to tell you what “Art” is, and that you’ve been doing it wrong, let’s give credit where credit is due. Today’s vibrant indigenous art scene is simply the latest manifestation of a proud culture of creativity, and its being driven by people like:

Mantse Aryeequaye and Sionne Neely; who helped create and launch the Chale Wote Street Art Festival. Now in its fifth year, Chale Wote is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets. Chale Wote is a smash hit, attracting over 20,000 attendees this year, and the festival has been extensively covered by local and international media. Google it.

Bibie Brew; who created New Morning Creative Arts Café as a space for artists to interact and collaborate. Over the years, the Café has become the defacto grooming space for young vocal and theatrical artists – ask any legitimate performance artist; and they’ll tell you they’ve participated in an event at the Café.

Attukwei Clottey; whose Afrogallonism art – using recycled oil jerry cans to create pieces and installations that comment on society – creates employment for people in his local community of La. His local performance collective Golokal are also making a name for themselves by working on a number of film projects in Accra.

Nana Kofi Acquah, an internationally published and sought-after photographer, who by beautifully chronicling Ghanaian life and blending it with powerful social commentary has demonstrated how photography can be a career choice, and has inspired a new generation of photographers.

Creo Art, a team of designers and animators, and The Black Narrator, a satirical cartoonist, have huge followings and use the power of social media, illustration and animation to comment on, celebrate, and critique the Ghanaian condition.

These are just a sampling of the new generation of Ghanaian artists continuing a proud tradition – I could go on and on, but why belabor the point? This generation creates in their own mold, on their own terms. Their art is not meant to be inscrutable, but rather a public engagement which involves their communities, and often the participation and support of their peers. This is art for our people – not about a foreign audience or foreign acceptance, but for local utility and local relevance.

Someone once said, “Until lions learn to write, the tale of the hunt will be always glorify the hunter”. Which is how what should have been a perfectly routine story about stylish new Western-style restaurants, spaces and events catering to tourists, expats, and upper-crust Ghanaians turned into a commentary on the state of art in Ghana and what expats are doing to save it.

And oh, by the way, that “grilled fermented corn wrapped up in corn leaves”? It’s actually boiled, and it’s called “kenkey”, not “keku”.

If you’re going to tell our story, tell it right.

Why Don’t Churches Spend More Time Teaching Men to Respect and Protect Women?

It’s always a low point on my Sunday when a pastor or Bishop or Archbishop goes into a tirade about hemlines at some point in his message. This happens week after week at Any Church, globally. My own house of worship is not immune to this scourge. Nevertheless, as a “devoted” member of my congregation, I manage to stoically sit through the man of God’s admonishment of women’s fashion choices which include – but is not limited to – shorts, jeggings, heels, or certain types of deodorant. Can you imagine my horror when I discovered that these sessions that I had relegated to white noise had taken root in my mind and managed to cloud my perception?


There is a woman in my church who is 15 years my senior. She is gorgeous. She has a beautiful family. Her three daughters are intelligent and are as unique in their personalities as they are in their outward attractiveness. The eldest is boho chic, the second born always looks like she stepped out of a Marie Claire photo shoot, and the youngest has adopted an urban fashion vibe for her look. Each, as I said before, is stunning in her own way. I’ve watched them grow and was dismayed to discover that they drive, go to the mall, and engage in all of the mundane pursuits (like working and looking for their first apartment) that women of ages 18-22 should engage in. Their advancement in age is an indicator of my own.

Marveling at how focused and accomplished her children were, I told my friend what a great job she had done in raising her girls. However her second born, Denise*, outshines her sisters in wit and beauty. She’s always been my favorite.

“You’re going to have to put a decoy ring on Denise for when she goes out,” I joked. “I used to wear one when I started riding MARTA.”

My friend snickered. “Yeah. I know what you mean,” she said wryly. “Rachel has to wear one every time she heads out to the grocery store with her little brother. I’m thinking of getting her a fake wedding band.”

I looked at Rachel’s hand and she was indeed wearing a tiny cubic zirconia “engagement ring”. Rachel nodded with upturned lips as her mother described the onslaught of men who approached her daughter at the oddest and most inconvenient times.

“They look at them as see prey,” she concluded. “Even the engagement ring and the sight of her baby brother whom they assume is her child isn’t enough to keep these rascals away. They have no respect. None.”

Her three girls were silent, possibly because each was recalling a time they had been “holla’d at” by some dude and had to find a polite/aggressive/passive way to rebuff unwanted overtures. Their plight, and that of millions of women globally, is why I have very little patience for preachers whose sole focus on morality begins and ends with the conduct of women or the ways in which they dress. God’s anointed generally – and wrongly – assume that dressing like a harlot attracts a certain type of attention, or even that these women are hunting for the attentions of men. I have never put on a whore’s uniform, but I can tell you with certainty that I have been requested to share my phone number after coming out of the gym, in the meat aisle at Publix after leaving church, or while waiting for my train in the dead of winter while being completely covered in a wool coat and boots. Do I think that any of these men wanted my number so that they could pray with me? No. The request for my number and my personal information was in the pursuit of sex.

Ahhh. But no one ever talks about the lusts of men in church.

I came across Candice Benbow’s status on Facebook recently. Her query encapsulates the precarious situations that many women have to navigate just to get through the day  and conduct normal business.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.32.17 AMShe wants to know where women can go and be safe. I would add to that question: Why doesn’t the Church make it a priority for women to feel safe? Why are so few messages aimed at the conduct of men? Your pastor and Any Church probably doesn’t fashion himself a chauvinist, but I divine that either 1) He hasn’t devoted much time to thinking about the pervasive lusts of men or 2) He doesn’t see anything wrong with it.

It’s easier to tell women not to wear high heels or tight skirts and all will be right with the world, you see?

Even the Bible illustrates a ubiquitous rape culture that we have not managed to suppress since humanity began keeping written records. The story of Ruth is one that pastors and pastors’ wives love to use to exhort (older, unmarried) women who have not yet found their Boaz to come rescue them. But even as Boaz rode in to save the day (literally on a horse in this chapter), he revealed something about the nature of men in his locality.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.59.32 AMFor Boaz to have to have issue a decree telling the young men NOT to touch Ruth means that these dudes had made it a habit of taking liberties with women’s bodies…liberties that Boaz knew Ruth would not appreciate. He was protecting her. Where is the theology that teaches men to protect and honor women’s bodies?

This is where many people who devalue women get stuck. It would be argued by these unexceptional minds that Ruth deserved Boaz’s protection because she was a good woman, not a ho like these female outchea today. Really? And did you know that Jesus was descended from a prostitute  and that it was a ho who washed the Son of God’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair while in full on whore regalia? The value of a woman is not in the way she dresses or even how she has to feed herself or her family.

Many of the struggles that the Church has devoted much prayer and head shaking to can be overcome through changing the hearts of men, and particularly changing their attitudes towards women.

You want to stem the tide of abortion? Exhort men to be more holy. After all, there can be no unwanted pregnancy without a penis. If men spent more time honoring their own bodies than trying to break into somebody else’s the abortion center at Planned Parenthood would go out of business.

You want to lift families out of poverty? Encourage men to save and stop wasting money or foolish pursuits like new kicks or cars they can’t afford to fuel.

You want women to be “submissive”? Well then give women something to worthy submit to! I will never council a woman to make herself appear less capable or intelligent than she is just to be a poultice to a man’s ego.

The list is endless. And the work is plenty. Go and talk to your men so that my young friends can browse at the mall in peace. Christ be with you!


Do you attend a progressive church? Does the gospel of morality seem to have more to do with how feminine attire and behavior than anything else? Have you ever had to wear decoy ring? Discuss!



Viola’s Emmy Win and a System of Salt and Shade

 It’s Monday morning and two days before the official beginning of Fall. I won’t be keeping you for very long, MOM Squad. Like you, I have coffee to procure and a wardrobe that needs rotating. Before I begin, I want to send hugging and high five vibrations to Viola Davis for being the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in the award’s 67-year history! That moment, her speech, that dress and THAT HAIR were historic. *Shakes under the weight of the presence of God’s glorious handiwork*


Let me ask you a question since we only have a few minutes. Have you ever sat back, looked around you and marveled at how unrelated events or the experiences of strangers seem to mirror your reality?


Take this post from HONY, for example:


Now, this was the follow up post in this nameless man’s saga. In the previous one, he spoke about how he found himself homeless after a he failed to make consecutive sales in his real estate business. Cue the “awwws” and broken heart emojis from the HONY community. Of course there were the offers for a solution to his dilemma, which is one of the reasons I follow HONY: to watch out for those members of the community who ARE problem solvers. They give me hope. I don’t know what question Brandon asked the Nameless Man to prompt him to respond in the manner in which he did…all I know is that it got a lot of folk of a certain persuasion pretty riled up. Folk who probably think of themselves as “good people”. After all, only good people follow HONY, don’t they?


I wish I had a gentler way to put this: There is a psychosis that Good White People have to grapple with, but they can’t do this until they recognize their ailment first. The Nameless Man was not incorrect in his assessment of his interaction with Whiteness as a man with dark skin when he said “…when he’s crushed down one thousand times, and when he absolutely needs it, he will play that card to save his self-esteem vis-à-vis me. I’m not saying it’s a choice. It’s not a moral thing. I’m saying it’s a feature of his soul that he doesn’t know is there.”

Those of us who have ever spent time working in a professional setting know exactly what the Nameless Man is talking about. If you’ve ever had a White woman claim credit for the execution of a marketing campaign (as I have), or had a white male boss posture himself as the originator of a theoretical approach to a scientific or mathematical problem that was brilliant (as my sister, my former room mate, several people on this very blog have revealed to have suffered the same thing), or watched in horror as folk still insist that Elvis was the originator of Rock n Roll, then you have a sense of what the Nameless Man is talking about. History bears out this ugly trend as far back as “Eli Whitney’s” Cotton gin (whose design he reportedly bought from a slave for a nickel) if not before. And if this blatant robbery were not bad enough, the victim is accused of racism for pointing out that the overwhelming perpetrators of these thefts is in fact, white. But Good White People don’t see it this way.

What does any of this have to do with Viola’s win last night? Oh, everything. A soul on Twitter hopped onto the social network to illustrate the complications in the relationship between the races, the Nameless Man spoke of, as though Providence herself lent a hand in this unmasking.

In the opening remarks of her brilliant acceptance speech, she quotes Harriet Tubman:

In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line.

The largely white audience, filled with Good White People claps politely…or in some cases, not at all. They don’t get the significance of what she’s talking about. In fact, Nancy Lee Grahn took to Twitter to express umbrage with Viola’s choice of words and ultimately claiming that this should have been an “All Women” moment.

She even went so far as to opine that the Julliard graduate should have let Shonda Rhimes write her speech for her!

As always and never to disappoint, Twitter showed up in the full magnitude of its dragging glory and returned fire with this magnificent response:

In one of her tweets, Nancy Grahn goes on to intimate that Viola has never been the “victim of discrimination”, making her use of Araminta Ross’ address in her acceptance speech insincere.

As you can imagine, it only gets worse from there. I don’t think I’ve seen a Good White Woman flaunt this much cluelessness since Justine Sanco’s tweet about landing in Africa and not being able to catch AIDS because she’s white. Of course Mizz Nancy is all contrition and remorse now, and has duly apologized for any “offense she may have caused” and we are expected to shuffle along like good Negroes…until this happens again at a Kroger check out lane or water cooler near you.

It’s maddening that Good White People can’t see how damaging this behavior is. These are the moments when I wish Wal-Mart sold a tote-along, press my belly Flava Flav doll that sang “You can’t see what I can see!” to emphasis the depth of their willful blindness to the fact that many things are not equal and that every occasion can’t be an All Lives/All Women/All Rainforests time to shine. But none of that matters because this entire discourse was about “me” anyway.


I want to conclude by thanking Viola for using that moment to show the world a different side to Black womanhood. The side that CBS news and Maury and VH-1 and the hoard of other networks make it a point to bury. The side of Black womanhood that is graceful and gracious. That shares her shine with her sisters. That honors the memory of those sisters who have gone before us. And for reminding me of the importance of my craft when she said:

“…the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

This speech should be dissected and taught in class for its power despite its brevity. I have been tempted many times to stop writing because I didn’t see the point. But if I give up on my craft, I can’t get mad because they keep casting us as maids, or whores, or illiterate junkies…compelling as those stories may be. It’s my duty to write about the many Black women who are lawyers, or homemakers, or secret taekwondo assassins to bring balance to our story. I thank Viola for subtly reminding me of that.