Category Archives: Madness

There is only one person who brings drama and madness into my life, and that is my douche bag baby daddy from a previous relationship, whom I am tasked to deal with, courtesy of the Georgia Judicial system. I hope he DOESN’T get hit by a bus this week…

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

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

batman

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Except for the DC Sniper,” I added.

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

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

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

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

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

 

So yeah…discuss. ↓

Why my Vietnamese Beautician is Decked in Diamonds and I have Only Sold One Book this Month

I have no one else to blame for the level of “success” I am enduring now. No, I am not “enjoying” life as a successful author, I am enduring life as a virtually unknown author and I have no one to blame for that but myself. The beautician at my neighborhood wax, nail and hair shop demonstrated why I am so lacking in any sort of real accomplishment as an author. The stunt she pulled is something I would NEVER have the balls to attempt, even if it meant exponential book sales.

I’ve told you all before that ever since I carried and gave birth to Stone, I have had an increase in testosterone production. My OB/GYN told me that this was a perfectly normal phenomenon and that once I delivered my baby boy, the testosterone levels in my body would decrease and the small, black beard that I had steadily been growing would disappear. That was a lie. 5 years later, I still have to was my chin every two weeks. This vicious cycle of growth and waxing, growth and waxing again costs me $40 a month. That’s $480 a year or $2,400 over the last 5 years. That’s a lot of money that could have been put towards other more important things, like a college savings plan!

Still, what am I to do? Just let my face grow hair and risk public ridicule? For two months I tried either tackling my offending chin hairs myself with a pair of tweezers, but tweezing is nowhere near as effective as waxing or threading. Plucking each hair individually is utter torcher, and the process had to be repeated every few days because chin hair grows in daily cycles.

Last week I’d had enough. Enough, I say! I drove up to Smart Hair in Roswell, signed in, and waited to be attended to. An older beautician with bronzed skin and auburn whom I had never seen before met me at the desk. How old was this woman? Asians, like Blacks, are hard to date. She could have been 40, she could have been 60, I didn’t know. All I know is that she was what I call a “clicking lady”. Her heels clicked when she walked, her expensive, structured hand bag closed with a click and her tasteful, carefully chosen jewelry clicked ever-so-gently with a series of clicks with every move she made.

“You wan’ eye-bwow wakh?” she asked loudly, but pleasantly. The other guests in chairs looked up to see who was coming to get served. They looked back into the mirror after her inquiry was made.

“No,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. “I want to get my chin waxed.”

She looked disappointed. “Oh. I thought you do eye-bwow wakh.”

I informed her that I no longer got my brows waxed and that I only exclusively threaded them now.

“Someone in this shop burned me three times, and I don’t wax by brows anymore. Only my chin.”

She led me to a seat at the front of the store and commanded me to sit.

“Who burn you?” she demanded.

“I don’t know her name,” I admitted. “She was younger. I think her name was Susan, but I can’t really remember.”

“Ahhh…but I not burn you! You let me wakh bwows for you!”

“No.”

“But you have to give me chance, show you I not burn you,” she said aggressively. “I professional skin care.”

“No.”

“I do for you today!” she carried on as though I had never spoken. “You see, I not burn you!”

“No!”

She had been applying wax briskly to my chin as she was talking, pressing and ripping as she negotiated in what manner and locations she was going to liberate my face of hair. She then brought attention to my lip hair or the “Fu Man Chu” as my husband calls it. She wanted to wax that too.

“I usually just pluck that myself. It’s just a few hairs,” I said with what I THOUGHT was finality. The beautician scoffed at me.

“You see? See AAAALLL this hair. I show you!”

As I protested, she slathered wax on my lip and thrust a mirror in my face to reveal the presence of baby hairs on my lip. I explained that the more they were waxed, the more they would grow! She sneered her disregard.

“I told you I didn’t want my lip waxed. You can’t charge me for it!” I laughed nervously.

This was like no other encounter I’d ever had, outside of Accra. In Accra, business women are pushy and aggressive. You out on your armor when you go shopping. In America, sales and business transactions are more cloak and dagger and requires wit and guile of a different sort. I wasn’t ready for this behavior in America!

By this time, the beautician had her hand on my shoulder and was restraining me in my seat. I was powerless…utterly powerless and slightly annoyed at being manhandled in this way. I couldn’t leave because she still had wax remnant on my chin and had yet to clean me up. Her protestations and ministrations had drawn the interest of another patron who came to watch her work on me. With her hand resting gently, but firmly on my shoulder, she ran her hand along my cheek and said:

“I also do you facial. I take away AAAALL bump. Only sixty dollah.”

I’m sensitive about my acne, and thankfully, before I had a chance to respond, the other Asian customer who had come to watch me get waxed (who again could have been 60 years old or 100, I couldn’t say) inquired about said facial. They discussed pricing in broken English as I lay there like a dead black weight.

“And now, I do you eye-bwow,” the woman concluded. “I do whole face for you, fifteen dollah. I show you I not burn you.”

I stopped squirming. That wasn’t a great deal, but it was still a deal.

“Okay,” I agreed.

“That not mean every time you come here I do for fifteen dollah for you!” she warned.

My eyes were trained on her diamond encrusted Channel charm laying against her neck. I was transfixed by its glitter. This was both a tragedy and a comedy! I told her I understood and closed my eyes, waiting for it to be over. She slathered wax, pressed her paper and ripped. There was no burning, but there was a sense of shame when I left Smart Hair that afternoon. Her will had usurped my own, and despite my intent to spend only $7 on a chin wax that day, I had been expertly parted from $15, plus tip. She smiled and waved me good bye, saying she would see me next time.

And that, folks, is why this Vietnamese beautician and others like her all around America are driving new Acuras and own property and putting their kids through college with CASH. Because they refuse to take no for an answer. Because they don’t give a crap about your past experiences, or your fears, or your likes or dislikes. They have one goal, and that is to get the money that’s in your pocket into theirs.

If I had such a mercenary spirit, I’d be far more successful in my sales as an author… but I want people to “like” me. No one likes pushy people, do they? Pushy people have a funny way of getting over that though, don’t they? Rolling up to the home/successful business you own (not rent) bearing your name on the mortgage/marques has a way of inoculating any sense of guilt.

I should consider hiring that woman as my agent.

 

Have you ever been bamboozled out of money? Better still, have you ever done the bamboozling? How did either experience make you feel? Discuss! ↓

 

 

#Freguson, ‘Murrka, and the Attempt to Make John Legend a Minstrel

He's on Mitt's right knee. I see you squinting.

He’s on Mitt’s right knee. I see you squinting.

Greetings M.O.M. Squad! I won’t keep you long this morning. I just wanted to ask if you’ve been paying attention to reactions to “our” rage. In a sick way, I’m pleased that the definition of “us” and “we” is steadily becoming wider. As more and more Black men sire children with White women, they too have come to understand the worry and fear that accompanies an event as dull as sending your kid to the gas station or walking to Grandma’s house.  Let’s not leave out the kind hearted folks who save our Black sons and daughters from certain doom through the magic of adoption. I wonder if Mitt Romney spends any portion of his nights or weekends wondering if his grandchild will be shot at or shooed away from the country club grounds at age 16? If he’s non-compliant (or doesn’t comply fast enough) little Kieran Romney could find himself in a pool of his own blood. I would advise Mitt to start practicing and strategizing on how to deal with the anguish now.

Radmom thought: Someone really ought to create an app for that. Obviously, there’s a huge market for it…

Denzel JamalNope; not gonna keep you long today because before Michael Brown’s body has had a chance to get good and cold in the ground, I’ve heard tell of another teen shot and killed by South Caroline police. Eye witnesses say they saw an officer order him to the ground with his hands behind his head, after which he was executed in the street. The details are sketchy because police have not been forthcoming with evidence, but they say Denzel Curnell’s death was the result of s suicide. They allege he shot himself on the right side of his head. Trouble is, Denzel Curnell was left handed, according to his family.

This morning I trawling through my Twitter TL, as is my custom, when I came across what can only be described as a very peculiar tweet.

Jlegen

Yes, you read that correctly. Whoever is behind the handle at IBNN News just told John Legend to keep sangin’ and stop opinin’ about what goes on in his country. Now this is where it gets interesting. IBNN News describes itself as:

News and Politics with a focus on outcomes within the Black community by using real investigative reporting and following the money.

It’s just a hunch, but I highly doubt these brothas are doing any “real investigative reporting”. That’s twitter bloviating at its finest. These are a crop of young guys, with little world experience or historical knowledge. What else can explain such a blunder?

Legend’s response was succinct, targeted and was surely devastating to the ego of whomever was handling the twitter account at the time. (We’ve already talked about how one douche bag behind a keyboard can ruin an entire brand’s reputation before it even has a chance to blossom. Here’s another example.) The man has proven – again – that he’s not just a pretty face with the voice of an inebriated angel, but he’s smart and civic minded as well.

Fans and people who can read know that John Legend has spear headed and partnered with several causes to improve outcomes for the nation’s poor and disenfranchised. He initiated the Show Me Campaign  which aims to break the cycle of poverty through education. John also sits on the Boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, and the Harlem Village Academies. He has been lauded for his activism and humanitarian work, and used his celebrity as an accelerant for the success of those efforts. Contrary to what mainstream culture would have you believe, the benefits of Black celebrity do not exclusively manifest themselves in the purchase of exotic vodka or extravagant sea craft.

The reaction to tell a musician to “stay in his lane” when it comes to the plight of minorities is not a new one. I remember my first boss recounting a tale his uncle had told him from years before. I can’t remember what we were talking about. It could have been anything. The office was a mixed bag of races and personalities. We had a conservative Indian, the Irish sales guy addicted to porn, a Mexican IT manager, the drunk Cajun, three ‘regular’ white Americans (two of whom were involved in a sexual relationship. They eventually got married) and me. Anyway, Tom*, our director said this in conversation one day:

“My uncle saw Harry Belafonte on an elevator once.”

“Really?”

“How cool!”

“Oh yeah,” my former boss continued. “He had something he had always wanted to say to him. Couldn’t believe he’d finally had the chance. He goes ‘Sir, I really like your music… but your politics SUCKS!’ and then he walked right off the elevator.”

Portrait

“What did Harry Belafonte say??”

Tom shrugged. “Nothing. My uncle never gave him a chance to respond.”

People of a certain generation will understand exactly what kind of disgust and cynicism – for both parties – was involved in that encounter. Harry Belafonte was big news in the 50’s and 60’s. He was the Calypso King. He was an international sensation. But he was also a vehement civil rights activist, and was very vocal about the tyranny of the majority and the terrorism Black people were suffering under in this country. Essentially, Tom’s uncle was telling Mr. Belafonte to ‘stay in his lane’ and stick to music n’ stop stirrin’ up all that trouble with that equality talk.

Riiiight…

Cue the banjos!

Minstrel

Of course we know that this is an inane idea: that a celebrity should be so narrow minded in their thinking. Celebrities are limited in what they can say publicly of course (because they have to make sales) but there are those times when one is compelled to ignore the glint of gold and speak up for ones convictions, especially when they hit so close to home. The people who live in ‘Fergustan’, and cities just like it, are those who John Legend tries to reach through his activism. Sarah McLachlan has her dogs and John Legend has his people. Should Sarah also be advised to stay in her lane and commit only warbling melancholy tunes and selling them for profit?

sarah_mcLachlan

Like I said, didn’t want to keep you long. Just wanted to see if you had taken note of how folk are policing our reactions…because I have. Now, let’s leave you with a little laugh courtesy of Mr. Legend, shall we? No really, it’s funny. *cackle*

On the Nonconformist, Uppity Negro’s Response to Tragedy and the Establishment’s Problem with It

I love period dramas. After a hard day’s work, there is nothing for satisfying for me than to lock my door, lie in bed with a bar of chocolate and watch Pride & Prejudice or Downton Abbey for the umpteenth time. There’s something about life in the 18th and 19th centuries that appeals to me, even though I know that by virtue of my heritage and race I had a better chance of living out my days as a miserable field hand than a sighing, spoiled debutante waiting for her prince charming to magically appear.

And because I’ve seen Pride & Prejudice and other novels put-to-screen of its ilk hundreds of times, it can’t be hard for you to imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a show called Copper on Hulu. Copper depicts life in 19th century New York, focusing on the slums of Five Points – a district so renown for violence and crime that novelist Charles Dickens, whose themes often centered around the hardship of the working class, had to come see it for himself.

dr freemanIt is rare to find persons of color in period dramas, unless the story is someway centered around slavery. People often forget that Blacks, Asians and even Persians have lived, studied and created in this country for centuries. This is because the face of education, intelligence and success has been depicted and accepted as Anglo-Saxon for so long. What made Copper such a treat for me is that it provided an unflinching view of the immigrant’s (read: NOT Anglo-Saxon) struggle for acceptance in a country that saw them as ‘invaders’, as well as Black people’s battle to achieve person-hood in a nation that saw them as property. Detective Kevin Corcoran (an Irish immigrant) and Dr. Matthew Freeman (a runaway who became a physician) are two of the main characters who play out these dynamics. In one episode, Dr. Freeman and his wife have been asked to harbor Corcoran’s friend Eva in their farm house outside of the city limits. A guard is posted at their door with strict orders not to move. He has to pee, so he runs to a tree and relieves himself. When he returns, someone has gotten into the house.

Eva fires a shot at the intruder, who turns out to be Matthew. The guard is shaken by the scene.

“Please don’t tell Detective Corcoran!” the young officer pleads, before adding these words to his entreaty: “Be a good nigger about this!”

For that last caveat, he receives a slap from the doctor’s wife who storms into the house.

I was gobsmacked. Be a GOOD nigger about this…

By now you may have heard about the murder of Michael Brown, the unarmed college bound student who was gunned down – shot TEN times – by a police officer as he was on his way to visit his grandmother in Ferguson, MO. I’m not writing this post to discuss the senseless shooting of yet another unarmed Black teen. I have long given up trying to understand White society’s disregard for Black life. It’s as futile as trying to catch wind in a Mason jar and just as tiring. And before any detractors yell “But what about Black on Black crime?!” go deal with your White on White school shootings and then we’ll have a conversation.

No, today, I want to talk about the establishment’s obsession with the manner in which Black people respond to the tragedies and offenses meted out against us. There was a brilliant article written this year on this very topic. (Sadly, I can’t recall the author or the title.) The writer expressed his disgust with the media’s preoccupation with the way Black people handled racism and bigotry. He used footballer Dani Alves’ approach to having a banana thrown at him as an example. Mr. Alves, if you recall, walked over to the offensively tossed fruit, took a bite from it and subsequently took his corner kick. Dani Alves was then hailed for his ‘good humored’ and ‘comedic approach’ to combating racism. He was being a Good Nigger, about it.

Let’s go back a little further in history. I recently encountered the tale of Mary Turner, who was a twenty-one-year-old African-American woman, lynched in Valdosta, Georgia. Eight months pregnant, Turner and her child were murdered after she publicly denounced the extrajudicial killing of her husband by a mob. I urge you to read the details of her demise yourself. In a nutshell, her husband had been implicated in the murder of a local White planter and was himself lynched by a mob that exacted their own brand of justice. Distraught, she declared that she would contact the local authorities and have those who committed this crime brought to justice. For that, she was hunted down, captured, strung up by a tree by her ankles, set ablaze and had her body riddled by bullets. Someone sliced open her abdomen, swollen with unborn life. When her baby dropped to the earth it was stomped to death by the indignant crowd. Had she been a Good Nigger about her husband’s lynching, perhaps opting for dignified silence instead carrying on like an uppity Negress with silly demands for justice… Well, we’ll never know. A bottle of whiskey marked the site where her body and that of her unborn child were destroyed. That was in 1918.

Not much has changed in 100 years. This weekend, 18 year old college-bound student was shot dead in the street by a cop that was drunk off his own power. Nothing else explains why any person would shoot a kid who had his arms raised in surrender 10 times at close range. This was not a dog or a deer: this was a young man making his way to visit his relatives. The police have been largely silent as they gather their “facts” (concoct an acceptable story), and in the meantime, yes – people in the community are angry. They are not being Good Niggers about it. As a direct result of this senseless violence – a kid shot TEN times – they are assembling, they are protesting and yes, they are looting.

See some of the headlines major news organizations in the country lead with in the wake of the shooting:

AP kill police

cnn mike brown

In one, you see no mention at all of what led to the chanting. In the other, there is a deliberate circumventing of the core of the real, horrific events surrounding the ‘fatal shooting’. Renisha McBride, who was killed as she sought help from a stranger, was treated to similar scorn by the Associated Press with this headline following the sentence handed down to her killer.

AP-Renisha1

(Twitter went into a veritable frenzy shortly afterward.)

To say that I am tired of talking about Black people being killed in the streets is an understatement. We’d barely caught our breaths after the public strangulation of Eric Garner when news of John Crawford hit our collective radars. And now this…

Statistically, by the time a hit “publish” another unarmed Black person will be killed by law enforcement in this country. As distressing as that thought may be, it pales in the light of the mainstream establishment asking/demanding that we all have a good attitude about it.

 

 

Open Letter to MX5: How I Almost Let Assumptions Rob Me of a Fabulous Friendship

MX5, whom some of you may know from her occasional appearances as a subject in the Motherhood and comments section, celebrated her 40th birthday this weekend. *Throws confetti* She wanted to be surrounded by her favorite people, and I am proud (and astonished) to say I was one of them. The small assemblage of we select few dined on Olive Garden fare and bite sized Snicker bars while her husband regaled us with sweet and amusing stories about his wife.

The theme of the party was Phenomenal 40, and we were each asked to describe MX5 in one word…a synonym for what makes her phenomenal. It’s too bad that no one was recording the event, because there were some really wonderful things said about her. I said (and I’m quite proud of this) that she was phenomenal for her “snap back” ability. After bearing five children, she has snapped back to her high school physique, and effortlessly so. I will never see my high school proportions again. Ever. In this life. And I’m genuinely happy for any woman who can accomplish this (assuming the figure of her teenaged years were the best of her life).

As we were lauding MX5, I had a sudden memory. I was certain that I had shared it with her previously. She looked at me with disbelief when I said these words:

“I didn’t think I could ever be friends with MX5…not ever.”

“Malaka? What?”

“Yeah, girl!” I laughed. “We discussed this, remember?”

She tilted her head and replied, “Uhhh…NO. We have not.”

Oh. My bad. Well, we’ll discuss it now.

****

 

Dear MX5,

Gurrrrrl, I didn’t think I could ever, EVER be friends with you. It’s not because you’re a horrible person or ever HAVE been; quite the contrary. It’s because you are and always have been too good.

Get thee behind me, adversity!

Get thee behind me, adversity!

The perception I had about our friendship that would never be lie in the fact that I had made certain assumptions about you, and in turn had projected those assumptions about how you might feel about me: those being that you would have no interest in being my friend, either. My salvation is still half-baked, and you have always been a Super Christian – the epitome of that Proverbs 31 Woman we are all told to strive to be. In fact, I see you as the Sparta of the Proverbs 31 Woman, capable of just about anything, defeating calamity whenever it crosses your path. I’m more like a Rahab, a whore who let down ropes and ladders to the enemy in order to spare her family from the horrors of the onslaught the armies of Israel would bring to the inhabitants of the city.

The pairing of Rahab and the Proverbs 31 Woman makes no sense on paper, but you and I have proven that it’s a beautiful thing in practice. Yes, I think our friendship is a beautiful thing!

Prior to getting to know you, I had always seen you as someone I could not possibly relate or have anything in common with. Now I look back at all the years wasted and could kick myself for not trying to ingratiate myself with you earlier! I cannot recall when we first became friends, but if I’m correct, the bond was probably centered around the two things we’ve consistently had in common for the last 8 years: pregnancies in tandem and a love of coffee.

It was such a joy to share the company of another woman who knew exactly what I was going through at exactly that moment, and more importantly, share a laugh about it. That was the other thing I had assumed about you years ago – that you were reserved and didn’t like to laugh. Imagine my surprise when I found out how funny you were! It’s always a treat for me to be in the company of comedic people, because I really do love to laugh; and you, my friend, keep me rolling.

Can you imagine how bleak my life would be if it lacked your companionship? How many times have I sent you two-word texts Coffee today? and waited breathlessly for a Yes. One day I’ll take a selfie of my crestfallen face when the reply comes back in the negative. I can FEEL my cheeks succumb to gravity.

Though I know I am not your very bestest friend (only Elder B and FX5 can occupy that space), I would like to believe I am among your good ones. I will endeavor to remain in that space with the same vehemence that kept me from entering into a kinship with you almost 15 years ago. Those who – like me – have made assumptions about your quiet, dignified social demeanor and misread it for haughtiness are missing out…but I’m not going to tell them that. They’ll have to go through the same trial of discovery I did. They too must know the torment of years wasted judging your persona when they could have been basking in the awesomeness that is MX5!

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

A’ight, girl. Text me later.

 

 

 

 

US EmbassyGate…Ghana Edition!

Ho-ho-ho-ho!

Santa? Is that you? Did Christmas come early?

Since this is Ghana politics, let me rephrase:

GAGAGAGAGGAGAAAA! HEIII!!!!

AH-JEISH!

I think that’s more in line with Papa Bronia’s merry chuckle. In time, we will figure out to combine the two for the benefit of all. After all, isn’t that why the US is in Ghana? I couldn’t find an official mission statement their website explaining why the US has an embassy in Ghana, but I’ll hazard a guess and say it has something to do with President Nixon’s agenda when he first visited Ghana during her foray into independence. His goal was to kill Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan African agenda and keep us darkies in check for the benefit of the superior Western World. (Of course, this is a coarse translation of events and ideals that on paper would include charming words and phrases like ‘bilateral cooperation’ and ‘mutual progress’.)

Did you see the US Embassy’s tweet about President Mahama this week? If you haven’t heard about it already, it will certainly be in Monday’s newsreel. It was a fantastically glorious example of hoof in mouth disease. I never would have heard about it at all if not for the BBC’s Akwasi Sarpong retweeting it.

USEmbassy tweet

Now, let me go ahead and say that I am not disagreeing with this tweet. It’s no different from the sentiments that I and many other people in my camp share. The average Ghanaian holds this view. (Save, of course, the diehard NDC sycophant who can’t seem to see the water for the ocean, even though s/he is drowning in it.) It was just odd that such an utterance – so utterly lacking in finesse – would emanate from the Twitter account of the Embassy of the United States of America. So odd, in fact, that most people took it for a joke/hoax/photo shopped prank and moved on.

Until someone apologized for it. Apparently, one of the staff who manages the USE twitter handle tweeted from the wrong account, inadvertently using the Embassy’s account to express their personal views.

Ahhh…so it was true? Now things were getting interesting.

I predicted that the NDC would attempt to use this tweet as fuel for propaganda and deflect from their role in ruining the existence of Ghanaians. Before I even had a chance to prove myself a soothsayer, Ghana’s Sarah Palin – and poster child for attractive, powerful, yet breathtakingly clueless women of influence – Miss Hannah Tetteh herself, lobbied an attack on the Embassy saying:

hannah v america

Now keep in mind, this is the SAME Hannah Tetteh who mocked the very same people who fund her cushy lifestyle with their taxes just a week ago during the #OccupyFlagstaffHouse protests. So derogatory and inflammatory were the tone of her tweets, that many were quick to assume that an intern/assistant had to be responsible for them. Her words were beneath the dignity of her office. However, since her tagline on twitter says “Opinions are my own & retweets are not endorsements”, it’s fair to say that she is personally tweeting in her own capacity. I am thunderstruck therefore that she would come out with such vehemence against the one tweet of the US Embassy when she sent SEVERAL far more offensive tweets.

The woman has the memory of a goldfish.

But there is a larger lesson here, and it has everything to do with how we use social media as public and private individuals. Oh! Forget Hannah Tetteh and the US Embassy. Just a week and a half ago this jolly woman was being feted by the Embassy at some event while her constituents were starving. And as for the Embassy? I remember when they were a mere office building in Osu with high gates manned menacing looking watchmen in blue shirts. Now, thanks to decades of denied visa fees at $500 a pop, they have purchased white amounts to entire New York city block of prime real estate, complete with plush housing for their staff.

As contemptible as I have always found the Embassy’s dealings with the Ghanaian public, I hold our ruling government in much lower regard. It is the Americans’ job to shaft us. And now we have to deal with that and the ruling government’s failure not only to protect us, but to fleece us in the process.

But as I was saying: the lesson.

Ghanaians somewhere are jubilating because they got the US Embassy to issue an apology.

usapologyWhat the Embassy actually did was apologize for the TWEET, not the sentiment behind it –which was bloody brilliant. We all know that JD Mahama’s presidency is one big apology. Now some guy called Ras Mubarak, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Youth Authority (talk about a phantom position), wants Hannah Tetteh to call on the US Ambassador to lay prostrate before the good people of Ghana and apologize for the errant tweet. Excuse me while I piss myself in laughter.

One of those groups/persons is Food Sovereignty Ghana, an anti-GMO organization that seeks to keep Monsanto and co out of crop production in Ghana. I was tempted to unlike and unfollow their page on Facebook, but I know one of the organizers, so I know she has better sense than to condone the foolishness that the person behind their twitter account is hell bent on pursuing. Look at this series of tweets:

foodtweetfoodtweet2foodtwwet3

Now, their first mistake was to come for my BFFFL. If anyone is going to come for my BFFFL, it’s gonna be ME…and then I will apologize for it because I never want to hurt my bestie for life.

Their second (and third, and forth) mistake was to keep the feud going, and to make it personal. See the portion where Food Sovereignty Ghana shames her for arrogance for stating that Hannah Tetteh is “making a storm in a tea cup” over the matter. The individual manning the account for today clearly has no savvy. S/he has either forgotten that in tweeting these personal attacks, they are doing so in the FULL CAPACITY of their grassroots organization…or they don’t care. Are we then to surmise that this is how Food Sovereignty Ghana treats all persons who disagree with them? Does the organization routinely seek to shame private individuals in this manner? And if so, are they REALLY an organization we want fronting the anti-GMO movement in Ghana? Isn’t Samia Nkrumah linked to this group as well? Wait a second…I thought she had presidential aspirations? Are THESE the types of folks she is going to have in her cabinet? We already have a crop of Deputy Ministers, MPs and what have you that treat the private citizen with scorn. Why replace moldy rice with spoiled yam? It’s all rotten, isn’t it!

Sadly, as of typing this blog, the person(s) in charge of handling the official twitter account for Food Sovereignty Ghana have not stopped their silly tirades, ironically proving Nana Darkoa’s very point!

*Sigh*

You see this?

photo-2

This is the screen I have to bypass every time I send a tweet. I have two accounts: One for Adventures, and the other is my personal. Can I understand how the kid at the Embassy sent personal views from his/her bosses account? You bet your sweet cheeks I can. I’ve done it. Nana Darkoa has done it. You may have done it. Corporations don’t do social media for themselves; people –with private lives and views – do.

The lesson therefore is to be more cognizant of what you are doing and how you’re doing it, and if you can’t figure your device out, maybe it’s best to keep your work data a separate device altogether.

Me? Unlike some folks who are determined to have angst over America “dissing” Ghana, I’m looking forward to the photo ops of Samia, Hannah and Ambassador Gene Cretz sucking on organic hotdogs and singing Kumbaya in Accra this Labor Day weekend. They are all robbing us and we’re stupidly snarling for crumbs like the peasants and pee-ons they presume us to be.

Alliteration, bitch!

 

 

#OccupyFlagStaffHouse aka Dada ‘B’ Demonstrations!

Definitions for today’s post

Dada ba: A “spoiled” child/ a child who has never known true hardship/ a child who has grown up with greater than average benefits

FUBAR: F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition

Ghana: (For people like Ellen DeGeneres) That country that provides most of your chocolate, provided 30% of America’s slave labor, and that state in Africa President Obama visited not too long ago.

I think we’re ready.

 ******

They came armed with their iPads, digital cameras and a plethora of smart devices. Some came chauffeured by their hired drivers, and others by public transportation. Parents came with their kids and  girls came with their boyfriends. All had a singular goal: To let the ruling government know that they would no longer sit silently as Ghana descended further and further into the FUBAR trajectory that it has been in since Kotoka’s first coup.

Girl

#OccupyFlagStaffHouse is the first time in Ghana’s history that the middle class as a group has taken to the streets to register their displeasure with the ruling government. Ghana, like many countries in Africa, is accustomed to strikes. Our doctors, nurses and trade unions strike regularly. These are professionals and blue collar workers who rely on the government for their salaries- salaries which are in some cases in arrears of a year or more. The protests of these entities have in recent years become little more than white noise. The government merely yawns and placates the suffering with more platitudes and promises.

We’re used to things not working in Ghana, and for any African who lives north of the Limpopo, a lot of our social ills mirror each other, irrespective of the country of our residence or birth. Similarly, we who find ourselves in the ‘middle class’ deal with the ineptitude of our leadership in the same way. We find private solutions to public problems. If the municipal water and sewage does not reach our homes, we dig boreholes and install septic tanks. Public transportation doesn’t come by your house on schedule? No problem! We’ll buy a car. Public schools failing abysmally? No worries! I’ll send my kids to GIS/HGIC/any one of the new dada ba institutions mushrooming in the metropolis in exchange for exorbitant fees.

The middle class (I personally think it is an elite merchant class) has been functioning in a stupor like this for so long that it does not even realize how their selfish action has had such a negative impact on Ghanaian (or insert your country) society at large. In recent months, Ghana’s government has proven that it has the power to sink this ship we call a country entirely, and drown us all with it. This is what made folks who ordinarily are content with shaking their heads and hmmm’ing over a bowl of chilled mangoes at the shame of it all sit up and take notice.

I wasn’t there, but like most Ghanaians who have achieved a middle/upper (or lower middle, in my case) class lifestyle and who live abroad, we followed this protest with keen interest. Many of us know those people who took to the streets personally. Many of us commune in the same circles. We were and are also interested in the outcome of this protest – and others like it to follow – because we invest in our country. In 2011, Ghanaians sent $119m in remittances to loved ones back home who otherwise would be unable to afford school fees, or rent, or the cost a funeral.  When those dollars and pounds are affected by poor government policy, it affects OUR bottom line as well. Suddenly, your family that was able to survive off of supplemental $200 a month needs an additional $800 a month because inflation is so rampant and the government is threatening to impose a 17.5% VAT on banking services as well!

I love her face. "If you like, try me!"

I love her face. “If you like, try me!”

There are several articles that talk about the genesis and the need for #OccupyFlagStaffHouse. They are all very cerebral in their analysis. It is my job to talk about the more amusing aspects, and there is nothing more comical than the government response to the whole affair.

Before the Occupy protest even began (which was amazingly orchestrated in 48 hours!) the unofficial response by some NDC loyalists was to set up a counter protest at Black Star square. They created this blog on June 29th  listing all of the laughable reasons why JD Mahama needs every Ghanaians support. In regards to the recent fuel shortage that wrecked the country, they explain that it is only because of “disagreements” about unpaid monies that led BDCs (bulk oil distribution companies) to cut off our supply. How is this the president’s fault, they wonder aloud?

First of all, if you owe me 1.8 billion cedis (or $597,908,970.00, if you will), I’m cuttin’ off your supply too. And it’s the president’s fault because he hired the guy responsible for paying the bill and he didn’t do his job. Nepotism in Ghana is a helluva drug!

I was all geared up for a “protest-off” à la Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, but the group called off their counter protest amid ‘security concerns’. I see why. The government sent Afro-Robocops and tanks to meet the Occupiers! Is this how you prepare to greet people who simply want you to do your job? You mean who have ALL these resources but you can’t go out and catch the armed robbers terrorizing our country???

Heh. Where did they get the fuel for this tank?

Heh. Where did they get the fuel for this tank?

 

The Dark Robocop Rises

The Dark Robocop Rises

 

Can we talk about Hannah Tetteh for just a second?

This is not our first tango with Honorable Hannah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, here on MOM. Remember when the Chibok girls were kidnapped and we BEGGED for our leadership to show some solidarity with the Nigerian government, just to say “Hey dawg. Boko Haram sucks, and we support you?” She said it was not possible. Protocol did not permit that. 17 hours later president Mahama released a letter that was back dated saying he BEEN sent a letter over to Goodluck n’ dem. The woman has proven that she is either 1) clueless, 2) should not have a social media account or 3) all of the above.

hannah

If you are going to tweet and comment publicly in your capacity as a Minister of Parliament, mocking the people who fund your comfortable lifestyle with their daily hustle is probably not good form. Don’t worry. She was dealt with quite nicely.

hannahWord of advice: If you’re going to throw shade, be prepared to have some smothered all over you as well.

Can we also talk about the boo’ing? *snicker*

A flagbearer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Stephen Asamoah Boateng was booed by the ‘Occupythe Flagstaff House’  when he presumed to address the media on the protestors’ behalf. He slinked away amid shouts of “No politicians!” and “you are all the same!” It was glorious. Hopefully someone will make a GIF of his walk of shame down the sidewalk.

All was well until the unthinkable happened. They arrested Edward Tagoe, a firebrand entrepreneur who is well-known in influential circles. (I still think you’re a misogynist, Edward.) Yei! Come and see panic! One woman living in the country sent me frantic inbox messages talmbout:

“This is why you need to be quiet on social media!”

“These people are just marking themselves for trouble!”

“I’m even crying now. I’ll pray for Eddie!”

How. How can a woman of such stature and education be so afraid of her own government? She is not alone. That’s what kept so many people who know this country is in a perpetual state of FUBAR at home or in some cases, out of the city altogether. They really do believe their government would punish them for exercising their rights! Edward Tagoe was eventually released and seen taking smiling selfies when he rejoined the protest.

As I hear it, the police tried to bully the protestors, but there were far more heartening stories. Secretly, a number of officers confided that they also support the protests. Things are near unbearable in the country. It’s hard, and while Hannah Tetteh & Co sit from their perches taking snapshots of the people they presume to piss on daily, they should remember that we are a people who do not forget.

Ah, it was a glorious day to be a Ghanaian again! To say I was – and am still – so proud is an understatement. Never mind that the news as of today is that government has gone to accept a $156m loan to purchase sanitary pads for girls in rural areas instead of building a sanitary pad factory…*sigh*. Aluta contiua.

Did you join in the protest? Why or why not? What was your favorite part of the day? What hopes do you have for action after this? Or do you think the protests were a waste of time? Is it time for ALL Africans in similar situations to do the same and demand more of their governments? Discuss! ↓

 

Why Can’t Zendaya Play Aaliyah? It All Goes Back to Cotton.

Hey there, Reader! Do you have any idea what this is? No, no. Not the white fluffy stuff. That’s easy. We all know that’s cotton. I’m talking about the big wooden thing it’s sitting in. I’ll give you three attempts before I tell you.

WhitneyCottonGin

That, folks, is Eli Whitney’s cotton gin…or a replica of it, at least. Did you know that just before this invention, slavery was on its way to being phased out in the South because it had become so unprofitable to grow and harvest cotton? The overhead cost of housing and feeding slaves was blowing cotton planter’s margins so abysmally that they nearly gave up on the enterprise! But then came Eli Whitney (and his Black apprentice too) with his witty invention that separated cotton fibers from their seeds and *POOF!*, Black people found themselves in bondage for another hundred years!

Most White folk don’t use cotton gins any more, seeing as there aren’t that many cotton plantations dotting this country’s landscape. The once useful cotton gin – this innovative tool that tied Black folk in bondage – has become a relic of the past. That’s what White people do: they develop tools and discard them when they have no more use.

That’s what they did with colorism.

We all know colorism was a tool used on the plantations to create social hierarchies that would pre-determine what benefits every person of color would receive. At one point in time, there were about 285 designations of Black color based on pigmentation, hair type and features, as well as accompanying tests to determine where an individual fit in the spectrum. Some of the more famous ones are the “brown paper bag” and the “pencil” tests. Colorism, just like Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, was yet another effective tool that the white ruling class used to keep Black people in bondage. But they don’t need it anymore so guess what? It became too became a relic.

Oh, please. Make no mistake. To the average Caucasian of a certain age Black is Black is Black. I work with a particular (white) gentleman named Will* who routinely calls my other (black) co-workers by wrong names. He is always quick to apologize.

“I’m sorry so!” he said with a chuckle once during a break. “It’s just that Mark and Kevin look so much alike!”

I snorted in contempt, replying “What are you talking about Will? Mark is four shades darker than Kevin, and Kevin was a bodybuilder. Even their frames are completely different!”

“Well,” he went on the explain, “to the average white man like me, they look pretty much the same…”

And THAT folks is how Mark could do the crime and Kevin could end up doing the crime. The idiotic nature of his view aside, Will unwittingly revealed something about how people who are not black see blackness: and that is that it is universal. It’s just “Black”. And why should it not be? After all, whiteness comes in peaches n’ cream, chalk and olive, but it still has the ‘benefit’ of being just plain ol’ white skin. There is no more stigma to having a creamy complexion than there is to having a copper colored one. This dynamic does not exist in the Black community, and I’m here to say it needs to!

zendaya-instagram-musicMy Twitter timeline has been alight for the last few days about a little girl named Zendaya. Zendaya Coleman is a Disney star: she sings, acts dances – you get the picture. Zendaya has also been tapped to play Aaliyah in an upcoming Lifetime biopic. This has certain Black folk – who are still stuck with a plantation mentality – very angry indeed. They say Zendaya is “too light” or “not black enough” to play Aaliyah.

zen and dadThis is where it gets complicated and really political. This is Zendaya’s dad. He’s about as dark as my dad, which is pretty darn dark. Zendaya is biracial – her mom is white. It is no fault of Zendaya’s that she was not born darker. She’s half black, and according to what society has been telling us for years, that makes her “all” black. However, because she is not an “acceptable” shade of black, she is unfit to play Aaliyah (God rest her soul). Looking at these two pictures of the pair side-by-side, I’d say she’s an afternoon in the sun away from matching Aaliyah’s complexion.

Zen aaliyah

But who cares? Seriously! Is this something to be miffed about? Zendaya has the talent to play the role, so why are some factions so eager to keep her from an opportunity based on the circumstances of her birth? Isn’t that what the whole Civil Rights/Lunch Counter/Bloody Sunday thing supposed to be about? So that mainstream society would judge us based on our abilities and not on the color of our skin? Why are we still holding on to relics from the past that our former oppressors themselves not only no longer use, but don’t even recognize?

On a certain level, I get it. Hollywood has long used lighter skinned Black people as the standard of “good enough” in marketing and film-making. I had a lengthy discussion with a friend about this last night, who is herself very light skinned. She was incensed. She talked about how hard it is for black women beyond “this” shade of brown to get any major roles, and that light skin is the only Black face white Americans feel comfortable seeing on screen and in print.

“That may all well be true, but we’re the ones with the power to change that, and we haven’t,” I pointed out.

Any one of our top producers and directors could have chosen to make an Aaliyah biopic and cast Keke Palmer (which would be absurd) or Raven Symone (even more preposterous) who both have the benefit of being born to two black parents to satisfy this ridiculous self-hatred that pervades our culture.

So there you have it: Zendaya can’t play Aaliyah because deep down inside, despite all of our progress, some Black people would still really rather be picking cotton.

 

Be honest: does Zendaya’s mized race heritage make her unsuitable to play the tragically departed singer? Halle Berry is biracial, but her skin is darker than Zendaya’s. If Ms. Coleman had been born “darker” would it make casting her in this role “better”? Are there larger political implications of a mixed race girl playing a Black girl that I’m ignoring? Just raise your hand if you think the whole thing is just asinine. Discuss ↓

Appropriation: My Problem with Pharrell’s Feathers

I’m not going to keep you long, saints. I just have a minute or ten to ramble on an issue that has been nagging at me for the last few days since I saw this image:

pharrell-williams-angers-fans-after-sporting-indian-headgear-on-magazine-cover

My first thought was “What the heck! Where’s his hat?” Then I wondered what kind of statement he was trying to make. Then I moved on.

Oh, no. Contrary to what my title may suggest, I actually don’t have a problem with Pharrell in Native American headdress. Pharrell is an “African American”, which means we really can’t be sure of what Pharrell really is.

Earlier this year I wrote a weekl-ong series entitled Is Bi-racial Still Black?  in which I explored the concept of color and how we view and experience blackness in our society. In that time, I discovered that one of my in-laws who goes by the nickname ‘Snipper’, was a quarter Native American. His father, born in Chillicothe, Ohio to Native American and Irish parents, was not permitted to marry a White woman because he was not fully White. By virtue of the law, he had to marry outside of the White race.

When you look at Snipper today, you can tell he has “something” in him, but he identifies as Black…end of discussion. And when you look at Pharrell, you can definitely tell he’s got a lot of mix going on in there, but we lazily define him as Black for the sake of our neat little boxes. Could it be that Pharrell, who hails from the Tidewater Area in Virginia where for eons there was a large Native American presence, could also have a significant amount of Native American DNA floating around in his cellular structure?

I think it’s very plausible.

One of the big words in our culture today is “appropriation”. People, both in academia and semi-intelligent circles, like to throw it out when they feel that art or intellectual property has been used in a way that doesn’t benefit or recognize them directly.

Webster defines appropriation as:

 To take (something) for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission. “His images have been appropriated by advertisers”

Synonyms: seize, commandeer, expropriate, annex, arrogate, sequestrate, sequester, take over, hijack, steal, take, plagiarize, copy.

Eminem, Justin Bieber, Lorde and now most recently, Pharrell, have all be accused of appropriating a culture that does not belong to them. But if we go by the truest definition of this term, I believe this is an unfair accusation. Eminem grew up poor and in the ghetto with a bunch of Black guys. That’s the only culture and existence he knew. Biebs didn’t “steal” anything – he was given full permission AND developed by Usher (another Black guy) to sing and perform in the manner in which he does. Lorde is Australian, so she doesn’t really have a culture of her own. She’s a bad example. And with Pharrell, we just don’t know what he is without a conclusive DNA test so at best we can only assume he’s “guilty of appropriation”… and assumptions do not facts make.

vic sec featherSo that’s my big question: who gets to be what in our world today? People for the large part like to color other people inside the lines and keep them in the confines of what they understand, which is in itself a very tedious exercise. All that judging and categorization has to take a toll on you. In regards to Pharrell and his feathery headdress, I’m more compelled to wonder what kind of statement was he trying to make with that adornment? Unlike the Victoria’s Secret debacle in which a model went stomping down the runway in full Native American head gear, leopard skin panties and a diamond cuff (none of which has any cultural cohesion), Pharrell may have had a more thoughtful (and less offensive) reason for wearing the headdress. After all, if the war bonnet is regalia used to honor chiefs who have done great battle and vanquished their enemies, does Pharrell’s status in pop culture not apply? Has he not vanquished many a sad day with his song Happy? Has he not overcome the inferior circumstances of his birth through his talent? Is he worthy of wearing the Native American war bonnet?

I wish he’d hurry and publish the results of his DNA so we could put this to rest! And Pharrell, if you’re reading this, I’m in your corner. I don’t feel that you have anything to apologize for. Nothing you will ever do can be as offensive as this.

beyonce-blackface

 

 

I Finally Know What Juneteenth Felt Like!

Have you ever been in bondage? Not that type of bondage, you sexual freaks! I’m talking about the grips of something or someone who possesses a strength so terrifying that you know in your heart you may never break free? Those of who have held student loan debt are very well acquainted with this sensation.

Ah, Malaka. What do you mean “have held”. Why do you speak of student loans in the past tense?

Because, my brothers and sisters! I have finally been made free! I am free from the shackles of Sallie Mae (that repugnant whore), Freddie Mac (that crooked swindler) and Mohela (their little mutt that has terrorized the populace)!

Notice I said I have been “made” free, not “set” free. I and hundreds of thousands of graduates like me are not eligible for this new-fangled student loan forgiveness the government has rolled out. If you graduated before 2010, you’re pretty much out of luck. But no matter! I’m here to testify that there is indeed light at the end of the proverbial tunnel! And fam, once you step into that light, you’ll never want to go back into the dark, dank, darkness. That’s why when people ask me if I would ever consider getting a Master’s Degree I reach for holy anointing oil, fire water and command that demand to return to the hovel from whence it emerged. More debt for why?!?

(Excuse me while I ascend to my soap box. I’m about to preach up in hurrr!)

I love Black history; you all know that. Black history is American history. And for a time in American history, my kinsmen were in bondage -severe, soul breaking bondage! They toiled from sunup to sundown, never taking breaks, always in fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, subject to the massa’s whims and wishes, and always believing in The Day…that one day when they would be free! And you know what? That sweet day finally arrived on June 19th, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. That’s right. For almost three years after they were officially set free, Black slaves toiled in fields, smithies and swamps for no remuneration!

There are accounts of some slave holders appealing to the “better nature” of their once imprisoned hostages, asking them to stay on and work for the “common good”.

“I can’t pay you, but I’ll treat you fair and share what we grow together,” one planter said.

Well, we all now know that’s a lie. Slave holders were compensated for lost “equipment” (that equipment being enslaved Blacks) to the tune of millions of dollars. Ol’ Massa could’ve afforded to give Toby $0.75 a week for his troubles. He just didn’t want to bother.

That’s how I felt when I called Mohela today to find out why they hadn’t taken my money from my bank account.

“Well, Malaka (because they always refer to you by your first name), it shows here that we did receive two payments from you on June 2nd…which brings your account to a $0.00 balance.”

A silly grin spread over my face.

free

“Really?” said I.

“Yes,” he confirmed. “And as a matter of fact, you’re in overpayment. We’ll be sending you a refund of $1.80!”

“You don’t say!” I chortled. Then my tone turned hopeful. “So this means our relationship is over, right?”

The rep laughed and said yes. Then he offered me his congratulations. I think I mumbled my thanks. I can’t recall. I was already dreaming up ways to spend that extra $500 a month we’d been sending them and was lost in my fantasy. He brought me to the present by asking if I wanted to take a short survey after the call.

“It’s not mandatory,” he said casually.

“Uh huh. Okay!”

“And just to let you know, we’ll be sending you a notice verifying you’re in full repayment in 30 days,” he promised.

“Great. Thanks. Have a great day.”

*Click*

How ironic. I was in overpayment for 24 hours and they never bothered to call me to tell me the great news… that they owe ME money. I remember the days when that scenario was reversed; when I was laid off and unemployed, wondering how I was going to make rent and constantly being hounded by the Student Loan office.

Ya 13 minutes late in your payment!

When ya gonna pay? When ya gonna pay?!!?

It was like anticipating a whipping. Thank God for deferment!

Sometimes I wonder what our ancestors did after they were finally set free. There are tales of men and women wandering the country looking for loved ones that had been sold away. Others said they were going to sleep in for the first time in their lives. For those who had been “made free”, i.e. purchased their own freedom, they were finally at liberty to go back and carry their enslaved loved ones to a new and better life.

However you slice it, freedom sure is sweet! It’s surreal. It almost doesn’t seem like it’s my reality yet. I’m dazed…I mean, I’ve been 14 years a slave to the federal government in pursuit of a degree I never used! A degree “they” told me I had to have to get any sort of decent job. Screw “they”. They didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. I got a degree, and the economy crashed leaving millions of people jobless.

No matter. Ise free now, and lawd do it taste delicious! Bye-bye Massa Mohela!

Have you had student loan debt? What’s the biggest bill you’ve ever paid off? How did it feel? Discuss! :)