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…

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

Woi, woi, woi.

Chei, chei, chei!

Ajeish!

Asemmm o assssem!

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

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

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

I get this a lot.

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

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

What the…

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

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

Deception

Hello Myne,

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

Chei! Cheicheicheichei!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ei.

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

Do I look weak to you?

Do I look weak to you?

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

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

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

Fadda lawd. Strength. I need strength!

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

Photo credit: Google +

Photo credit: Google +

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

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

“I am please. Can I help you?”

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

Photo credit: Times of Man

Photo credit: Times of Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday, one and all.

The Supposed ‘Indignity’ of Pointing out the Advanced Female Form

Where my old ladies at!!!

My friends – and foes, for that matter – know that I used to be a monster on social media. I was a horrible person who would say horrific things in response to any slight, perceived or real. I was so vicious in my reprisals that I wouldn’t stop until my prey was left with one option: to apologize or block me. Once in a while, I would get my siblings to join me in the verbal assault. We would collectively castrate, eviscerate and utterly destroy any esteem our target possessed. Then we might snip and post the details of the conversation, displaying the scripted carnage like a corpse on a medieval battlefield. It would serve as a warning for anyone who attempted such folly against me and/or my clan in the future.

But that was years ago. I’m older now, so I walk away from online conflict. What’s the point, really? You say mean things to people online and then what? You get a cookie? Only kids want cookies for their efforts, and I am no child. I’m a fully grown woman with grey pubes and all. I call them my ‘racing stripes’; and I’ve earned them. Through fire and hell, I’ve earned each grey that majestically adorns my body.

Do I sound like a woman who has a problem with aging? In case it’s not apparent, let me categorically state that I AM NOT. The only thing that’s wrong with getting older is NOT getting older. If you’re not aging, you’re dead. Why then do men – and a fair share of women – make a big fuss about a woman’s advancement in age?

I’m 36. And when I’m 56 I’ll happily announce it then as well. When I’m 86, I won’t shy away from it. This is for two primary reasons:

  • Black don’t crack    and
  • I don’t give a crap

I got this foolishness in my email. What's cruel about living?

I got this foolishness in my email. What’s ‘cruel’ about experiencing time?

One of the most ridiculous rules in social etiquette is the idea that a woman should never be asked her age. What the hell is that? Actually, I know what the hell it is. There is a pervasive doctrine woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness that tells us as a women gets older, she loses value. As any woman over 40 will tell you, that’s nonsense. As women age, they don’t just get older – they get better. Nevertheless, there is a cadre of individuals who had this preposterous notion – that women should be ashamed to age – lodged into the little grey matter they possess and therefore seek to offer it as insult. I found myself locked in a skirmish (because the child in question does not possess the mental fortitude for me to consider him an intellectual foe) with one such individual this week.

A young man wrote an article condemning the cleanup efforts and present wave of social media campaigns urging citizens to tidy their environment this week. In his view, Ghanaians “love” to live in filth. His contention was that if they didn’t, they would naturally clean up their environment. (Anyone who has taken psych 101 understands the relationship between environment and learned behavior, but this is an ‘area boy’, so I wouldn’t want to tax him with the rigors of a psych course.) He ended the article with the condescending suggestion that instead of expending energy on campaigns that would come to no fruition, these folks should throw a party and invite him. I thought the article was stupid, and I said so. I didn’t comment on his blog. I didn’t seek him out to let him know how limited in his thinking he was. I made the comment on a friend’s wall, and he found it.

He proceeded to (try to) blast me.

My why so angry? Didn’t he know the rule of posting publicly? You put your thoughts out there and it’s free game for anyone to praise or disagree with. I just happened to disagree and restated where I thought he had missed it. THEN I told him his whole article was BS. That’s went he went into a swearing laced tirade and told me to “never read anything he had written ever again!” God he sounded like a toddler. Of course, I couldn’t let him go without a tap on the shoulder to express my displeasure. In turn, I calmly suggested he eat a sack of baby dicks. That’s when he struck with this comeback.

“Look at this old woman too!”

What? Was that it? Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? I chuckled and told him I’d whip his a** with my old lady cane and then rape him with it. The conversation ended with our mutual friend taking down the entire post and our exchange along with it. Apparently I hurt his little boy feelings, because he came to seek me out on twitter spoiling for a fight. I quelled the monster in me told him to stop trolling my timeline. I didn’t want to do what I am very capable of doing to him on such a public forum. To do so would be the essence of Black on Black crime.

I discussed his calling me an “old woman” and expecting that to silence me with a friend. It was very amusing, but she took it quite seriously.

“There is this notion that old women are useless…like a commodity that has a shelf life,” she said. “It’s really bad. You would never dis a man by calling him an “old man” and expect it to strike a chord.”

She had a point. And this isn’t just an ‘African’ notion…just an insipid one. Geraldo Rivera expressed similar sentiments when he said that all that a woman brings to a marriage “is her youth”. (No. Seriously.)

This idea that a woman’s ultimate worth is wrapped up in a tight twenty-something package is one of the weapons the GOP is planning to use against Hilary Clint if/when she runs for president.

“Remember y’all…Hilary’s an old gal and getting’ up there in age,” their attack ads will suggest in 2016.

HillaryClinton_2326613b

Ugh.

Now, if I weren’t as brilliant as I am, I suppose that I being called old would be truly injurious. Thank God and all the elves that I AM brilliant, and am intelligent enough to surround myself with folks who know that the only truly fascinating woman is one who has lived a long and storied life. Have you tried talking to the average 23 year old? I’ve had deeper conversations with an empty gold fish bowl.

You ask ANY woman: there is no substitute for the depth of knowledge you acquire when you cross thirty. The only thing I miss about 26 is my perky breasts and taut abs, but even those can be purchased. The store house of experience and wisdom that age has brought me, however, cannot.

So little boy, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know I can’t come outside and play right now… and don’t bother Miss Malaka with that ageism foolishness in the future. If you ever want to chat, get your mammy over here so I can have a chat with her crack. I read the things you say sometimes and feel like the most intelligent of you ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.

Chil’run. SMH.

 

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.