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…

Persona of the World’s Paranoid Manifestations: When Africans Cease to be People

Imagine with me.

Imagine you’ve invited your favorite person to lunch – your dad or you mom, perhaps – and you’ve invested a lot time into executing the endeavor. The reservations at the restaurant your mother has always dreamed of going to have been booked. You go to pick her up from her door and she takes your breath away. She’s standing there in a demure floral frock, a hint of color on her lips and the most beautiful smile on her face. Your mind transports you back to those sun filled afternoons when she would take you to the park or for ice-cream and you realize she’s still the center of your world.

You arrive at the restaurant and are seated by the maître d’. She’d like to start with some hot tea. He pours it and walks away. Suddenly, you realize there is no sugar on the table, so you ask the gentleman at the table next to yours if you could borrow his. He studies the pair of you briefly.

“Is this your mother?” he asks.

“Yes,” you reply, beaming with pride.

Without another word the man strides over to your table, clenches his fist, and punches your mom dead in her face.

There. You see that face you just made? That’s how I feel when I’m engaging certain people on the topic of Ebola. These people tend to be American – whom the world ridicules to scorn for their general ignorance – but Africans can’t escape this one either. Some of you are just as guilty.

Sangi_EV

My friend Sangima posted this meme on Facebook about a week ago and gave permission for me to share it with the MOM Squad. I’m sure you have seen other similar images on social media. The first one I saw was of a very statuesque woman draped in black. She was holding a sign that said “I am a Liberian, not a virus.” It is poetic and melancholy that Sangima and so many people feel compelled to make such a prosaic statement. Of course you’re “not a virus”. We can plainly see that you are bipedal and warm blooded like the rest of us…but are you like the rest of us?

The unique thing about the African experience on this earth is that it is indeed unique. As diverse as the continent is, with thousands of languages and innumerable ways of living, we somehow all get lumped as “African” once one travels/resides outside of the continent. In the best of times, like during the World Cup for example, we gleefully participate in this charade. The World Cup is the only time we are “One Africa”. Calamity compels us to do the same in the worst of times as well. Ebola, like HIV/AIDS did in the 80s, makes it necessary for us to force the world to see us as human; not a cause, not a disease…just human.

When you consider that all the most effective western fundraising campaigns of the last century or more have used some image of “Africa” to promote their causes, it’s not difficult to understand why an American slurping their spaghetti over dinner would fail to identify with an African’s humanity.

Pick a global campaign and compare the images you find online. Nearly 100% of the time, the face of hunger is Black. The face of abject poverty is Black. The face of disease is also Black, all set against a backdrop of dust, flies and rubbish. No many how many glossy images we put of a Rising Africa out there is going to change that for far too many people, which is how and why I found myself embroiled in two very unique conversations surrounding Ebola in the last seven days.

The first involved Douche Bag, who can always be counted on to say something completely imbecilic.

Nadjah came home from her weekend visitation and flounced on my bed. She had a very concerned look on her face.

“Mommy? Douche Bag says that if we move to South Africa, I’m going to catch a disease.”

I put down my magazine and inspected her more closely. There was no melodrama, only sincere alarm.

“What disease did he say?”

“I don’t know. E—e—“

“Ebola?” I finished.

She nodded and I blew out a breath. Marshall was in bed with me and rolled his eyes. Enraged, I explained that her father was an idiot. (I shouldn’t have said that, but the words tumbled out.) I then set out to draw a picture of the world, demonstrating the distance between the countries where the Ebola scourge is most rampant to South Africa and their distance to America.

“You would have to travel 7-8 hours at a speed of 500-600/mph to catch Ebola,” I explained. “And if he brings up the topic again, let him know that he has a better chance of catching Ebola down there in Dekalb County and so close to the CDC and Emory Hospital. At a speed of 60/mph and a time of 30 minutes, he could be exposed to the virus!”

I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. Of all the preposterous things to say to a child!

In the midst of this, the scientists at Fox News and some other choice outlets had been proposing that we stop all flights out of that country until the “virus was contained”. How do you stop a virus that is transmitted from animals to humans by stopping flights? There are 104 things wrong with that suggestion, but I was content to chalk it up to the drivel of well-paid talking heads until a GOOD friend of my proposed the same.

The kids had been invited to the park by my Somali friend Ameera* (the one I told you jumped in the pool with her hijab and overcoat to save her daughter) and our mutual friend April* had met us there with her daughter. When Ameera got up to walk her toddler around on the other side of the park, April turned to me excitedly. Her eyes were wild.

“So how’s your dad with all this thing – this sickness – that’s going on?”

My dad wasn’t sick. What was she talking about? “What sickness?” I asked.

She was exasperated. “Ugh! Ebola! He’s in Africa ain’t he?”

“Yes,” I laughed, “but he’s in Ghana. Hundreds of miles away from the nearest Ebola case.”

Her mood turned pensive. “What about Ameera? Where did she say she’s from?”

“Somalia…”

“She near Ebola?”

Now I was beginning to get vexed. This woman had a bachelor’s degree and had traveled. That was supposed to mean something. I pointed out that Somalia was even further away than Liberia and Sierra Leon…and irrespective of that, Ameera lives here in Alpharetta like April did.

I could not believe that this woman, my friend, had just equated this woman’s nationality to a disease. I didn’t have much time to ponder it further, because she was still going on about how she didn’t understand why the world couldn’t end flights out of Africa until Ebola was contained. Surely I misheard her.

“Are you saying ALL flights out of ALL African countries should be stopped?”

“Yes,” she confirmed. Ebola should stay in Africa.

Well, yeah. Because Africa is a country.

I explained that unless she was planning on kissing, screwing or swapping fluid waste with anyone in or from Africa, she was in no danger. And then I told her she sounded like a Republican. You would have thought I’d called her sainted mother a whore.

The danger of what happens when the world Africanizes a disease or catastrophe has already been experienced by two boys in the Bronx this past weekend. Two brothers aged 11 and 13 who just returned to America from Sierra Leon were brutally attacked by their classmates as they chanted “Ebola, Ebola” under a hail of punches and kicks. It would not surprise me if the perpetrators were Black themselves, since the only time I or any other African has been called an “African booty scratcher” or other derogatory names stemming from my African heritage has been from Black American children. Because really, what those bullies did to those two little boys with their fists is no different from what April did to Ameera.

Africans don’t do ourselves any favors by feeding into the stigma and fear. According to a recent report my own president, John Mahama refused to shake hands with the heads of state of the three Ebola-stricken nations he visited on Monday September 15, over fear of contracting the deadly Ebola virus.

*Face palm*

How are we going to expect common cordiality from the rest of the world when we treat ourselves in this manner? How can we collectively demand to be treated with dignity when heads of state like Mahama – who are paid to know and do better – behave in this manner?

Discuss! ↓

 

Either the Devil is a Liar, or Archbishop Duncan Williams Is

Before we even get started, please let me say to all my non-bible believing, unchurched, Not Christian friends that I am SORRY. I am sorry there are so many lunatics out here in these streets (or gargantuan cathedrals/auditoriums rather) mis-modeling the kingdom of God, the essence and order of creation, and telling flat out lies. The same hell that these charlatans profess to attempt to deliver you from is the very one they would have you live on earth. When a “man of God” gets in his pulpit and uses his words, his iPad and his limited understanding of the bible, human social interaction and statistics to hurt people, it’s never a good thing. How is this a demonstration of the power of the “loving and living God” these men profess to know?

That being said, today we are talking about the latest batch of nkwasiasem (foolishness) from Duncan Williams and his sect.

Hey, you unlearned zealot! I have already said it for you! Look here:

“Touch not my anointed ones, and do my prophets no harm.” – 1 Chronicles 16:22

You people like to quote this scripture when your spiritual heads say something just completely off the chain crazy, like is an omen or a warning but have you read the rest of the scripture? Hehn? “Touch my anointed” was warning to the people in the land not to interrupt the Ark of the Covenant’s return to Israel. Please. Is your pastor carrying a golden Ark on his shoulders? Then please find a seat.

I would love to give a background about Duncan Williams and his ministry, but darris God and Google. You have the power to learn more about some of the insane things he and his ministers and bishops have said about women. You may recall Dag Heward-Mills and his demented parable of the apple message. Well this week, his spiritual head took it a new level when he said the following:

“It’s a privilege to be married. It’s a privilege in the time we live in when it’s seven [women] to one man”, he told his congregation Sunday in Accra.

“Sister when you get married, be thankful and stop misbehaving because it’s seven to one. It doesn’t matter how pretty and beautiful and intelligent you are; until a man proposes to you, you are going to stay beautiful, pretty, intelligent, nice and whatever, and rotten”.

“That’s what it is, and somebody needs to tell you because there [are] so many women out there misbehaving. You got to be told the truth. And the reason why a lot of marriages are not working is because everybody is afraid to offend women to tell them: ‘Come on girl, you got a good thing going, hold fast onto it, don’t misbehave and don’t lose it’”.

You can read the rest of the story by clicking here.

DWAh. What is his biblical basis for this? Doesn’t the same bible he reads say when a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing? (Proverbs 18:22) It doesn’t even stretch the imagination therefore that it is the MAN who is privileged to have scored a good wife, not the other way round. And if you take it all the way back to Genesis, God A’mighty Hisself said that it is not good for man to dwell alone, and then he made a woman for the man. Because why? We’ve all discussed this before, so say it with me: to be a helpmeet for him…because dudes need help.

Let’s just go ahead and put the obvious out there. For centuries, women have been the biggest targets for the Man of God Cadre’s scorn. Women have been characterized as the weaker sex, the less intelligent sex, the bringers of destruction and doom if anything goes wrong with the crop or a child gets sick. (Now it’s not so PC in progressive society to blame women for the ills that plague the planet, so we just blame it on gays. Yay for progress!)

Where women are concerned, western preachers have largely moved on from this line of thinking and have even gone on to create massive movements that empower women based on the bible. Proverbs 31 and Luke 8 are usually the scriptural foundation for conferences and conversations around Christian women empowerment. Part of the messaging is while you wait for a mate, improve and better yourself (get an education, take care of your health and finances) for God…not for a man. You are the great prize to be won and are precious because you are created of the Lord. No man has the power to build a woman…so what on earth is Duncan-Williams talking about when he says “women will rot in their beauty and intelligence until a man proposes”?

One can only draw a certain number of conclusions:

  1. Duncan-Williams doesn’t spend enough time in his bible
  2. He’s a misogynist
  3. He’s reading the bible and spinning it to suit his message…which would make him a liar
  4. Someone else inspired this message. That person may be The Devil

When I used to have friends, they occasionally ask me about my faith. How could I reconcile being a Black/African woman with being a Christian? After all, wasn’t the bible used to justify slavery and colonization? The interesting thing about the bible – like the constitution – is that you can use it to justify just about anything if you put your mind to it. Pick a little bit here, paste a little bit there, and voila! You have your own doctrine. And let’s be clear: what Duncan-Williams, Dag Heward-Mills and that guy down in Zambia that has his congregation eating grass are preaching is a doctrine, not the inerrant word of God.

There’s SO much more I want to say, but let’s hear from the Squad. Discuss ↓

 

How to Type Your Way Out of a Blessing

Before we get into that, let me say…

My Dear Mom Squad: You don’t know how much I’ve missed you. I love our relationship. We have had SO many topics to discuss, and yet I’ve had no time! Reinaneh Jabbari, Reeva Steenkamp, The Natural Hair Show, Americans vs Ebola…so many things to yap about and no bandwidth. This saddens me.

And now:

Pastors and other spiritual guides are always waxing on about the power of the tongue. The tongue holds the power of death and life; you can call blessing or prosperity to you by the words that you speak and so forth. This is all true. Your words can and do create your reality – however I think it’s time to retool this message for the digital age. It might help some folk.

I read an article a few years back in which the authors explained in detail how we speak fewer words today than we did a mere 30 years ago. We ‘communicate’ more, but we speak less. The authors were referring to the advent of email and increased access to online resources in this country. That article was written before Tumbl’r, Instagram and Twitter really took off. Most of the communication we participate in is digitized in some form. Our relationships are digitized. We have our Facebook Fam, Twitter Husbands/Wives and Lord knows what else on snap chat. And because we live in this 140 character, pixel by pixel reality in which we hastily dash off any number of messages or retweets, it is easy to forget that there is a real world around you when you look up from the soft glow of your iPhone screen. I’m assuming this is what happened to a particular candidate this weekend.

ipad-keayboard

Quick background: You all know I’m back in recruiting for the moment. Part of that job is scheduling interviews between managers and candidates. So that’s what I did. I scheduled an interview between a manager and a job seeker, and the manager didn’t show up for the interview. More precisely, he left the office before the interview took place and didn’t tell me. The candidate was upset – livid, to be honest – and made no bones about letting me know. (Privacy laws prevent me from republishing his email, so I’m paraphrasing.)

This was a complete waste of my afternoon! They told me to come back Monday, but I don’t know if I can make it!

Number one: niggro, youse unemployed. When I called you, you were working in the yard. Yes, you can make it. But I didn’t say that! I said:

Please accept my sincere apologies. I’m so sorry the manager was not available. Give me some time to investigate and I will see about rescheduling the interview. I will be in touch shortly!

Reader, what do you think his response should have been? Silence would have been optimal. Acknowledgment of the email and an expression of anticipation about rescheduling would have been permissible. Firing off an email about how pissed you are, and not wanting to work for a company that doesn’t keep up with its schedule is unacceptable. Oh you guessed it. Mr. Candidate did the lattermost and said:

Hey, (Yes. He addressed me as “hey”)

It’s ok I understand. I’m gonna be honest though. As a *job title* when and if something prevents me from making a on time delivery or missing a delivery no matter the cause I give immediate notification. 

I’m baffled as to why the manager did not notify anyone if he wasn’t going to be there. I know there is another location in Gotham do they have a opening? I’m interested but I don’t think I want someone so unorganized as a route manager or route supervisor. I hope you understand and I hope I’m not stepping on any toes. 

Yes, Mr. Candidate, you did step on toes…many, many toes! You are the CANDIDATE, and I respect your position as such. You want to work for a good company, and my client wants good employees to fulfill their vision in return. But dude, you have to at least get your foot in the door before you go lambasting the manager’s character! I was willing to give him some wriggle room on the matter until I got a third email from him saying he hoped we could “work something out” and that I “understood his concerns”. Keep in mind, this was all before I could investigate what had happened to said manager and where he had gone so I could report back to Mr. Candidate. But he was doing ‘the most’ on his iPhone, and now he’s typed his way out of an interview.

I refuse to reschedule him, and here’s why.

  • He has shown a lack of self-control. If you can’t stop yourself from firing off a series of emails at this stage in the employment process, you probably can’t be trusted to handle client interactions when things don’t go as planned.
  • He has exhibited poor judgment and proven to be very judgmental. No one wants to work with a douchebag who thinks he’s better than everyone else and believes he would never make a mistake.
  • He admitted in his third email that he has always wanted to get on board with my client. Given his desire to work for this company, you would think he would exercise a little more decorum. His behavior in this short term has indicated that he is not interested in the long term success of the company. He immediately suggested that I look for opportunities for him in other branches. That made me chuckle.
  • The manager completely supports the decision not to reschedule based on his erratic and belligerent behavior.

Mr. Candidate is not the only person this week who has or will type themselves out of a relationship/job/blessing. Somewhere on a smart device near you, some doofus is doing the same thing, and the results will be just as devastating or far worse. The McCann Troll (the woman who killed herself after she was outed for trolling the McCann family in Scotland) comes to mind.

Death and life, curses and blessings are in the power of your fingertips my people! Choose life.

 

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

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

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

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

Selah.

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

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

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

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

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

Selah.

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

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

GOD

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

celtic

 

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

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

Ebola CNN

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

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

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

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

Nawl! Angie wouldn’t do that to us.

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

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

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

The rats did it in Europe too.

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

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

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

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

Do You Guys Want to Talk about Raven-Symone?

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

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

Photo: ABC news

Photo: ABC news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selah.

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

The Day the Gift of Black Magic Deserted Me

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

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

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

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

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

Rafiki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was she serious? Heck yes, she was.

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

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

I had nothing.

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

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