Category Archives: Say what??

You know how stuff happens in real life and you have to ask yourself “Did that just happen?” This section is dedicated to those moments.

In Support of Cosby: Faizon Love’s Coontastic Display of Unbridled Ignorance

WARNING: This post contains content of the most foul order. Reader discretion is advised.

Like many people around the world – not just Americans – I haven’t know what to make of the Cosby rape allegations. Bill Cosby is not just a folksy American icon: he is (or was until 2 weeks ago) a universal Black treasure. Some of us may have not liked the way he talked down to us in regards to education and fashion preferences, but deep down inside, we knew he was right. Yes, perhaps I should invest my money in books and educational toys instead of these $100+ Jordans for my kid. But did you have to be such a douche about your suggestion, Dr. Cosby?

Those of us in The Community (like Cornel West) who took issue with Bill Cosby’s superior attitude towards Blacks made our grumblings on any new network that would provide space to allow for disagreement with his pronouncements. Those spaces were few and far between. I mean, who is going to disagree with the wholesome and loveable Bill Cosby? Plus, the majority culture LOVES anyone – a person of color in particular – who crusades for the cause of absolving them from the part that they’ve played in creating and facilitating poverty and disenfranchisement among Blacks, Latinos and the ever ignored Po’ White Folk who cluster in the Appalachians. In time, Cosby would become an even bigger hero to them than he was to us. He was their personal Uncle Ruckus.

Then the rape allegations began trickling in. And despite being the guard dog for White innocence, I have YET to see a White man stand up and throw himself on upon the fast becoming corpse that is Bill Cosby’s legacy in his defense. In fact, The Man is strategically dismantling his legacy, pulling his new show, refusing to air his syndicated programs on certain platforms, and inviting him to do interviews as though he were an oddity and not the icon he was just a month ago. I’m glad Maya Angelou is not here to see this sad day!

There are some people who believe that The Community (code for all Black folk) should stand in defense of Dr. Bill Cosby because, well…because we’re Black. One of these persons is Faizon Love. And if you’re asking yourself “Who in the name of good grits is Faizon Love?” that’s part of the point. Mr. Love is a prop used to embody all that is odious and underachieving in Black manhood. He is slovenly, barely educated and singularly gifted in the craft of abusing women. Perhaps more dangerously, he’s been paid an actor’s wage to play the part of the field hand in modern clothing giving his access and exposure to a broad audience. And last night, it seems as if someone gave him a kilo of coke and access to his Twitter account. It was like watching a star go nova. Prepare yourselves for the most coontastic display of niggery I have seen all year!

Read from the bottom up.

faizon 4faizon 3faizon 2faison 1

I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt his tirade as I shared it with you. I know the oscillation in emotion you experienced as you were reading this, for I share them too. Confusion. Anger. Fear (that Faizon’s brand of stupid is catching). Astonishment. Disappointment. These sort of things are best delivered at once rather than spaced out over time, like a beating or a blow to the face. In some of his responses to those twitterers who agree with him (who were thankfully in the minority!) he says that the reason the Black race is failing is because we’re not united. And he ought to be thankful for that, because this sort of yard jockery is not something I want MY Blackness associated with. If the race was indeed united, we would unanimously vote him out.

Furthermore, for someone who talks about unity among the race, he has used the words “nigga”and “bitch” more times than an intoxicated plantation overseer at cotton harvest and breeding season. Again, only the similarly mentally captive would want any association with this sort of underachievement. As one Twitter user pointed out: Even Bill Cosby himself would never invite Faizon Love to his dinner table. Faizon is the embodiment of all that Cosby abhors in the Black race!

To be clear, Faizon Love’s tirade has absolutely nothing to do with his support of Bill Cosby, but rather his delusional view that a woman’s body is for a man’s routine use and pleasure. Faizon Love himself was recently charged with the assault of a woman who rebuffed his sexual advances. Faizon Love is a pimple on the face of America’s pervasive rape culture.

Remember the beloved, boy raping, football coach?

Remember the beloved, boy raping, football coach?

At the end of the day, we may never really know what transpired between Bill Cosby and the 14 (and counting) women who have come forward with rape allegations. The allegations cannot be brought to trial, because the statute of limitations for prosecuting rape vary so vastly from state to state. In some states a victim has just 3-5 years to report the crime. For anyone asking “Well shouldn’t 5 years be enough for a woman to come forward?” ask yourself why it takes men even longer to gather the strength to report rape. Don’t delude yourself: men ARE raped, and with more frequency that we’re comfortable admitting. The process of dealing with the trauma of having one’s body so utterly violated has no fill by date. This is Jerry Sandusky all over again.

As we await E!’s True Hollywood report Bill Cosby: Behind the Puddin’ Pop , we must each draw our own conclusions about what we THINK happened. As much as I have loved Bill Cosby, I have to side with the victims. People like foul-mouthed Faizon Love are the reason so few rapes and assaults get reported. I am adding my voice to the chorus telling ALL victims that we support and believe you; and though it may be painful, we want you to speak up quickly so that you can get the justice you deserve. Don’t let rape apologists and our laws rob you of that.

The Curious Case of Nelson Baani: How Many Other Murderous MPs Infest Ghana’s Parliament?

One thing I’ve always been proud of as a Ghanaian is our ability to make a joke out of anything, no matter how shocking, grotesque or frightening. When the AIDS epidemic struck in the late 80’s, we made an ampe song in which the disease served as the protagonist. When war broke out in Liberia and our troops were sent to fight, we choreographed a danced called ECOMOG. When the likes of Duncan Williams and Dag Heward Mills feel compelled to flaunt their misogynist views and insult the worth and intelligence of Ghanaian women, they do so in song. And guess what? There are vapid Ghanaian women in their congregations who dance and sing right along with them.

It’s always a circus in Ghana! Nothing is ever serious. Even when people are dying from cholera, starvation and preventable disease, it’s all fun and games, all the time. That’s why even as a woman, and therefore a second class citizen, I have always felt safe in Ghana. No matter what calamity may befall me because of my gender, I knew at some point, we’d have a good laugh about it later. As Swaye Kidd once said “We’re a nation of jokers!”.

That all changed on Friday, November 14th, 2014.

When you’re a woman living in Ghana, there are certain realities that you become accustomed to. Age and gender can either give you access or serve as barriers to certain privileges, and in Ghana, there is no one more barred from basic privileges (like the right to dress her body as she chooses, and not to have that body touched or commented on by perfect strangers) than young women. But as I said before, that reality has never truly mattered because it’s all fun and games in this country run by circus clowns, trapeze artists and magicians whose sole skill is to cause the unexplainable disappearance of millions of dollars in foreign loans and tax-payer funds. Somehow, we manage to smile, cope and keep trudging.

When it comes to basic women’s rights, Africa as a whole has a horrible track record. Too many countries on the continent lead in global maternal mortality, women are still barred from owning property and scores more are discouraged from getting any education beyond the primary level. There are parts of Ghana –particularly in the north – that typify the worst of Africa, and though I am ashamed of many of the attitudes society holds towards Ghanaian women in general, I still have pride in our constitution. It gives me hope. The constitution tells me as a citizen of Ghana, I have a right to an education, protection provided by our armed forces and a rule of law that guarantees my safety and well being. That constitution is upheld by a whole cadre of parliament members who individually swore to reject practices that “dehumanize or are injurious to the mental and physical well-being of a person.”

Of course, as any Ghanaian on the ground can tell you, this is all stuff written on paper and the reality is very different. Accra is Gotham, and it is run by semi-literates, goons, thieves, cowards and philanderers of the lowest order. And because business and politics in the country operate on “trickle down” principles, the entire nation is corrupt from root to tip, starting from its capital. Still! I felt safe…that is again, until November 14th when MP Nelson Abudu Baani took his turn on the floor to debate the Intestate Succession Act (PNDC Law 111). Unsatisfied with provisions in the law which are designed to be more fair to widows (and we’re talking about a country in which right now, a man’s extended family can kick his wife and kids out of their marital home and seize their property if he does leave a will stating the contrary at the time of his death), MP Baani used the opportunity to propose murdering women who have been unfaithful in their marriage by hanging or stoning. He offered Afghanistan as a model to emulate, because “in Afghanistan, day in [and] day out if you go behind your husband they will hang or stone you.” He says that this will ensure that wives remain faithful in their marriages.

Seriously. When since the creation of Hell has anyone woken up on any day of the week and declared “I want my country to be just like Afghanistan!” ? No one but Nelson Boko Haram Baani till last week, that’s who.

No one stopped him y’all. NO ONE. The Speaker of Parliament didn’t halt him. The female parliamentarians didn’t walk out in protest. Even ECG didn’t turn the lights and air-conditioning off and shut down on his crazy behind. In fact, he was asked to speak louder, and after his conclusion the Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak also chimed in, saying the promulgation of the Bill will encourage “cohabitation, which adverse effect will be the creation of more problems for families.” (Never mind that more and more people can’t afford to date, let alone get married in Ghana due to the ridiculous cost of existing.)

In the days that have followed, Nelson Baani has not backed down from his position, going as far to say he would happily see his wife stoned if she were to commit adultery. Really? What about all his male colleagues in Parliament, many of whom have are currently having illicit affairs with university girls, other married women and the occasional cross-dressing prostitute? Would he happily see them stoned as well? It might do the country some good actually, and save us all time and money…but of course because patriarchy utterly blinds those who it benefits, MP Baani does not see the hypocrisy in his words.

A petition has been generated and directed at Speaker Adjaho asking him to compel Nelson Baani to retract and apologize for his statements. It pained me to even have to start this petition. I would have thought the NDC – which dealt so swiftly with Victoria Hammah after audio of her declaring she would never leave office until she had made $1 million was leaked – would have come out with a statement condemning Nelson Baani’s utterances or at least distancing themselves from them. But again, Victoria Hammah is a woman, and Nelson Baani is man who only suggesting the wholesale slaughter of adulterous women (and not ALL adulterers).

What it looks like to die by stoning.

What it looks like to die by stoning.

Reaction from the general public has been to express disgust, and for good reason. If Nelson Baani was sitting at a bar having a beer expressing these views, it would merely troubling. He has a right to his opinions, after all. However to speak these views while operating in his full capacity as a Member of Parliament is inexcusable, is a violation of the constitution and must be repudiated in the strongest terms possible! If Ghana were not Gotham, he we would be made to resign immediately for failure to comprehend and uphold the constitution. But because each of these MPs runs their regions and districts like a personal fiefdom, this is the rot we get.

Ghanaians have very serious questions for our leaders, especially women who fought so hard to get into these positions via struggles like the 31st December Women’s Movement. As one user wrote:

Where are the women in parliament? Why did you sit and watch silently as Nelson Abudu Baani was making such barbaric and inhumane proposals for the punishment of your fellow Ghanaian women? Are you in support of hanging or stoning women who are suspected to be unfaithful to their husbands? I have been struggling to maintain respect for parliament and parliamentarians in light of recent events such as the irresponsible decision to buy furniture from China and your deafening silence on issues that bother the Ghanaians you claim to represent. Do something. Take a stand for the women of Ghana. Ask your colleague Nelson Baani to retract his statement and render a full and unqualified apology. Your grandchildren and their grandchildren will read about you in the future. What sort of legacy do you want to leave?

Best wishes,

Kuukuwa

Others haven’t been so generous, writing:

Dear Abudu Baani,

Growing up, my grandfather used to say that if ex-president Rawlings did not do much for Ghana, he will always commend him for passing the PNDC law 111. And that is a man I consider to be the first ever misogynistic male in my life yet even he, recognized the importance of the law and always praises it.

But you, kind sir, greatly surprised me with your statement that a woman who commits adultery should be stoned. What, you want the Sharia law frowned upon worldwide to be enforced in Ghana to give you further reason to subdue women? If you can further elaborate your point, I will be very grateful because I cannot seem to get my mind around it. I am as baffled as the next Ghanaian woman.

No, we do not and will not agree to this. It is the most absurd suggestion of a law I have ever heard out of the confines of the Ghanaian parliament house and trust me, you lot do come up with some amusing ones but this is just unacceptable and we are not having it. Perhaps a law on the reasoning capabilities of MP’s or that men who commit adultery should be castrated and fed their balls (so both sides are favored, right?)

Kind regards

Abena

 

It’s not fun and games anymore; not when our lawmakers feel at liberty to advocate murder on the hallowed halls of our government. Ghanaians deserve better. Nelson Abudu Baani should be sacked from his position and barred from ever entering Ghanaian politics again! We must discover how many other MPs hold these and similar views, gut them out and ensure that they do not lead our nation down the path of anarchy.

I’m asking all right thinking people, Ghanaian or not, to sign this petition send a message to Nelson Baani and our Parliament at large that this foolishness will not be tolerated. This is the moment we prevent the next humanitarian disaster in Africa. This moment, right now!

 

 

Susu in the Time of Ebola

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

 

Brothers and Sisters:

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

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

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

“Never let a crisis go to waste.”

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

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

Chimerix (USA)

Tekmera (Canada)

Icon Genetics (German)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola Money

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

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

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

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

 

I Racially Profiled a White Man…And He Didn’t Seem to Like It

We all don’t use social media the same way. We can agree on that, right? Some people create accounts which are simply used to follow/stalk certain users. Some people are actually interested in contributing to the discourse on a particular subject. Some people never comment on anything; ever. Others still don the cape of the QWERTY Crusader and believe it is imperative that they comment on every tweet, like or status on the Interwebs.

A decade ago, I myself was a QWERTY Crusader, on my way to becoming a keyboard thug. A few encounters with some people who had no conscience, no line, broke me of that. These days, when it comes to other people’s conversations, I keep my comments light and happy unless specifically asked. This has become the norm on social media these days. Nobody really just butts in on someone else’s conversation…unless they are a troll. That is why I was so surprised to find this guy in my mentions today.

I’ve already told you all I’m not doing Ferguson. I did Trayvon Martin and that took too much out of me. And it hurt. I cannot spare the emotional currency that is going to be required of every person in this nation who sees Mike Brown’s killing for what it is – murder – when the end comes and the officer in question is exonerated and escapes all of this unscathed and nothing changes for another 100 years. So no, I’m not doing Ferguson. I’m burying my head in the sand on this one.

And yet…and YET!…Ferguson seems to find me. No matter how deep I plant my head in the mud, Ferguson always finds a way to locate me!

As the list of Black White Supremacists grows ever longer with that über bootlicking porch monkey Larry Elder leading the charge, I was horrified to find Juan Williams in their company. As a rule, I respect Mr. Williams. I think he’s a great journalist and very center when it comes to his opinion. Except, that is, when it comes to Black American affairs. Larry Elder may be a porch monkey for the establishment, but Juan Williams is right behind him, grinning, slapping his knees and “ham boning” in time as my kids call it.

He made some remarks today about Black people acting like thugs and not being disparaged against if they didn’t act like thugs, etc. This from a man whose son Raffi was described by a former fellow student while at Haverford as a “disrespectful, loitering, drunk, rude ass”. Fortunately, since Daddy sat on the board of this college, young Raffi went on to boast with glee that he could “slack off, because he would get in no matter what.”

But, you know, Raffi is an RNC staffer, so that’s not “thuggish” behavior. That’s just a college kid enjoying his daddy’s influences and his personal privilege. Funny how the same behavior on Crenshaw can get you shot. Funny…

Anyway, I expressed my displeasure with Mr. Williams’ opinion by calling him a Black White Supremacist, as he is indeed pushing the agenda of the KKK and all the baby terror groups and policy that are offshoots of the Klan’s ideology. A few hours later, this dude shows up in my mentions.

race guy

Just read it. It’s funny. Go on!

Now, anyone who knows me – and truly knows me – is aware that I am a habitual line stepper. Was it wrong for me to say the man looked like he raped babies in his spare time? Perhaps. But that’s why you don’t talk to strangers. I am a STRANGER to J Michael Coleman. I’m liable to say anything. So is anyone else on Twitter, which is why I only follow a handful of people. But this isn’t about social media etiquette; this is about Mr. Coleman’s intense reaction to being racially profiled. From what I can tell, he didn’t like it one iota. Nope, not one bit.

You all know I work at a shoe store. Guess what group causes the most shrink – the most loss due to theft – in our store? Hmmm? No, you’re wrong. It’s White women over the age of 40. They will steal anything: the umbrellas from a London Fog twin set, change purses, those god-awful Grasshopper shoes, Kenneth Cole sling backs and anything Tahari. So while my manager is mobilizing her team to chase after a gaggle of “thugs” in the athletic department, Mildred and her pet dog will be walking out of the store with a pair of Ralph Lauren boots this autumn.

Mais, quelle horreur, let’s all gasp at the idea that I or anyone else on the team should shadow an old White lady around the store like she was going to steal something. The crazy thing is, she IS. She’s going to steal something…tonight!

“The boogie man wears khakis.” That’s what Akuba Sheen and I used to say. It’s not the guy in the hoodie and baggy pants you need to be afraid of: it’s the dude in the boat shoes (with no socks) and Dockers you need to fear. These are the men who steal millions of dollars from corporations, destroy families, and shoot up movie theaters. But no, let’s everyone panic when a corn-fed Black kid is walking through a new neighborhood with an iced-tea in his sweatshirt pocket.

I wondered if J Michael Coleman knew what that felt like. You know: to be looked at with suspicion before you had a chance to say three words? Because bath time with kids was done and my blood sugar was relatively stable, I had both the time and the energy to give him a glimpse into my Black world of perpetual assumption and bias .

race guy2

Gosh, he seemed not to like being judged so severely by appearances, or to have someone assume the worst of you because of one attribute or another. Now why would that be?

Hunting for Happy Twitter

Good Lord. I’m suddenly struck by the First World Problem-i-ness of this title. They are shelling babies in Gaza. Some people are hunting for food and shelter, but I’m hunting for “happy Twitter”? Like that’s a real thing?? Moving right along…

Fans of Dave Chappelle might remember a skit he did back in ’09 about what the internet might look like if it was a real place. For those of you who don’t remember or (gasp!) have never known, click here: http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/2p5u

All manner of bizarre things happen in Chappelle’s virtual search engine world – from questionable encounters with goats and negroid fawns that spontaneously break out in song. At that time, Twitter was pretty much in its infancy, and Facebook was approaching the height of its popularity. It was hard to imagine that the internet could be a real, actual place that one could visit. But like the emergence of Super Gonorrhea and no bake cheesecake, if you give time enough time, your worst/best dreams can come true.

As we hit the apex of 2014, we now have a new macrocosm known as the Twitterverse. The Twitterverse exists within a celestial body known as the Innanets (or the Interwebz, to some), and has numerous distinct fields of thought and realities. No, I’m being dead serious.

I have visited or heard of these different social media colonies. I’m an active member of African Twitter. I seldom visit Black Twitter, but will only of drawn in. A friend of mine resides on Russian Twitter. A good number of my friends live on White Reddit. Old people and religious groups dwell within the barren land of Facebook. And of course, there is Chinese Twitter…which is actually made in China and known as Weibo. (Those dern Chineses can’t stand to be like the rest of us. Gotto go and have their own ‘made in China’ Twitter n’ such.)

A friend of mine attended a conference a few months back about communications in the 21st century or something like that. Part of the meeting was to discuss what a feminist internet might look like. Not just a community within the Twitterverse ooo…they mean a whole new Feminist Innanets! I wondered what that might look like as well, and decided that it’s not a place I’d like to remain permanently. The feminists that I encounter on Black Twitter aren’t particularly nice or happy people. But then neither are the Africans on African Twitter and so forth.

Imagine if Happy Twitter looked like this...

Imagine if Happy Twitter looked like this…

Is there a Happy Twitter? If so, I want to find it.

When I first opened my Twitter account, I was completely baffled by how it worked. I took some advice from Kobby Graham who said (and I’m paraphrasing) “Your time line is like a garden: you have to cultivate it”.) I took that to mean that you can’t just let anyone and anything into your precious space. You have to be selective. So that’s the rule I’ve followed… And I have tried very hard over the last few years to be attentive to who/what I allow my eyes to see on my TL. Despite my best efforts, my TL isn’t the most inspiring place. It’s usually full of rage/outrage/disappointment and recently booty cheeks. I follow this one guy who is ALWAYS posting nude pics of girls. Ugh.

If you spend as much time on social media as I do, you run into all sorts of people. I think we all like to think we’re “good”, but those 84 keys on our laptop/PC brings out a brand of boldness in us, and that brand isn’t always particularly HAPPY, you know?

I have a ritual every morning: I wake up, check the time on my phone, enter in my passcode, check my email (which is a deathscape of spam), check my Facebook (which is a deathscape for ads promoted by Facebook) and then finally I check my Twitter account for some real, authentic human interaction. It’s always so…depressing! Kola Boof has dedicated the last 8 hours to talking about how women in Arab nations have to sip a man’s pee to demonstrate their subservience, YNaija often has stories about raped toddlers or rappers who are breaking women’s hearts, and everybody else is RT’ing the very most shocking news of the day. And then I jump in and contribute my portion to this mess. Once in a while there is a skirmish with some random stranger who has taken offence to a stand or statement I’ve made or retweeted and then my mentions become a battlefield. Was I alone? I asked an e-buddy of mine.

sad twitter

Ah-ah! Things can’t go on this way. If I am to exist in this Twitterverse within this here Innanets, there has to be a happy place I can retreat to…like the Bora Bora of the Twitterverse, if you will. That’s why I created an @LaikaHappy account last night and asked for suggestions on who to follow. The criteria was simple: I wanted all my currently followers to send me the handle of any particular person or group who was perpetually positive and happy with their tweets so I could follow them back. So far, the response has been abysmal. I only got 5 recommendations. Could it be that most people on Twitter are just unhappy? Again, my e-friend confirmed my suspicions.

happy tweets

So here’s my question to you:

Are the people you interact with on social media primarily negative? Are you comfortable with that? Is happiness in the e-universe an important pursuit, particularly in the face of Ebola, rigged elections and all the other ills that are plaguing our planet and taking up so much of our attention? Are we as a race more devoted to outrage than to the pursuit of joy? Discuss! ↓

 

Oh, and if you are a happy tweeter, holler at me so I can follow you! :)

happy laika

 

#YouOKSis, Black Men, and Their Fragile Egos

*Note: I know this will open me up to a great deal of scorn from SOME Black men, but the majority of those are not my regular Random Readers or in the MOM Squad, so…. Yeah. Kick rocks.*

Hashtag activism is like the ocean tide: raging one moment, a ripple the next. Sometimes our “hashtag issues” are so far from shore that you wonder if they have any significance of them at all – and then BOOM! – dawn breaks and you are enveloped and swallowed by the concerns that once seemed so distant to you.

I am not one of those people who believe that a hashtag is really going to change anything. I do however believe that hashtag activism is a precursor to change. I believed strongly in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign because:

1)      It was a mandate for the Nigerian government to GO and BRING back our girls, rather than an onus on Boko Haram graciously returning them, and more importantly

2)      Because it put pressure on the Nigerian government to do something more than spin lies and propaganda to keep their citizens quiet. (Remember how they told us 3 days after the attack that all the girls had been rescued? Swine.) Now suddenly, the world was watching and making them accountable for their action and inaction.

A little over a week ago, #YouOKSis started making the rounds on my twitter time line. I didn’t know what it was, and honestly didn’t care to investigate until a Black male e-friend of mine DM’d me asking to explain. I was at a loss. A quick search informed me that it was about street harassment that women, in general, and Black women – in particular – face. We both concluded that if Black men stop the catcalls, and Black women learn not to be offended by every sort of Black male attention, we might begin to take some mutual steps in learning to respect each other.

And then I found this article by Rebecca Carroll which told me why I was both right and wrong in my assessment on how casual interaction among the sexes might work, particularly in the Black community.

I tweeted it with the accompanying #YouOKSis hashtag.

A few hours later, I got this in my mentions.

Nigger wench

I was shocked. Me? The paragon of Black female ‘respectability’? (Don’t laugh.) That was like calling the Queen a stable boy! Of course, I blocked this fool without response. There is no dialoguing with a person of limited mental faculties. I’ve held more intelligent conversations with a cactus.

His tweet reminded me of those afternoons I spent walking home from school, dreading the portion where I had to stroll by a group of men/boys that routinely sat on a certain wall cat-calling and harassing my friends and I. After a stressful day of classes, this only compounded my distress.

In calling me a “bed wench”, he managed to do the miraculous:

  • He proved that he cannot/did not read the article.
  • Dismisses the very real tension that all women feel when they are harassed, sexually and otherwise.
  • He proved that rape culture is very alive and well.
  • Lost the opportunity to engage with a very witty woman. (And yes, I mean me!)

The term “bed wench” as it applies to Black women is about as low as you can take a woman. Bitch, whore, c*nt…none of these can hold a candle to the shame and torture implicit in that word. As the MOM Squad knows, I love to read/watch/hear about anything that has to do with slavery and the colonial era. It informs me on how I live my life today and how I instruct my children.

I once read a slave narrative about a runaway woman, who had her breasts torn from her flesh by the hounds after they had prevailed upon her. Among other things, she was being forced to breed with one of the male slaves on the plantation. When she refused, she was whipped and made to breed with (read raped by) this particular buck all the same.

Don’t forget: Black men were called “bucks” in those days. Women were wenches.

Rape was not just something that White men meted out on our women. Black men were also forced to rape us as well. My best friend did a search on her family’s lineage, and discovered that two of her male ancestors were used as breeding stock and fathered 100 children between the two of them.

100 kids.

Sold, and probably re-sold, and never knowing their Daddy because he was used as an instrument of rape.

And this guy has the nerve to go ahead and harass and call me a bed wench because I have the gall to point out the very thing he and his ilk are – ironically – guilty of? I have no time to nurse your delicate ego!

I really wanted to use this example for a post I was planning to do on America’s pervasive rape culture, but I guess it applies now.

I didn’t touch #YouOKSis initially because I didn’t think I needed to. I didn’t think it applied to me. I live in white bread Roswell. I am familiar with the majority of the Black folks I regularly interact with. Most of us moved up here because we want no parts of the very ugliness that #YouOKSis has brought out in Black men and women alike. We have not dealt with the issues of our ancient and recent past, and it’s showing. However, as I just said two seconds ago, NO ONE has time to nurse a Black man’s ego because he got shut down after asking “when he can hit dat” or hollering “ ‘ey, shawty, ‘ey ‘ey ‘ey!” while he begs for change to get on the MARTA.

In that regard, I suppose I should thank Mr. Bed Wench Intimidator (as he calls himself), because he has shown that this is not an issue I can insulate myself of my children from. We are not immune. His actions prove that there is still so much work needed to be done in raising a better caliber of Black male. One who is intelligent and informed about his culture’s past. One who does not stoop to insulting and harassing women whom he has no kinship to or relationship with…and even if he did, would have enough self-respect not to do so anyway. I really thought we had come a little farther than that; like certain things were a given – i.e. don’t chew gum during a job interview, and don’t call Black women bed wenches (unless she’s willfully and gainfully employed as one).

Feminista Jones, the originator of hashtag, was kind enough to check in on me.

femjones Yes. I am fine. A little stunned, but just fine.

 

 

 

Are you Going to #OccupyFlagStaffHouse?

“Chile, I don’t want you mixed up in all dat revolution, y’hear? They gon’ KILL your scrawny ass!”

This phrase was repeated in various forms in Negro homes all across America in the 50s and 60s. Parents who had lived through Jim Crow and whose own parents and grandparents had come out of slavery and Reconstruction knew what a cagey government and ruling class bent on the destruction of a people was capable of. Asking for change was dangerous. They could (and often would) actually kill you – the fed up, ordinary citizen – to maintain the status quo. The fear of these parents whose children were seeking radical change and ‘revolution’ was real and absolutely warranted. They had often witnessed the fiery destruction that comes with change, and thus became apathetic.

That’s why I know for a fact that if I was in Ghana on July 1st, my father would absolutely forbid me from attending #OccupyFlagStaffHouse. It’s too risky, and that is why he would never permit his grown daughter to attend this event. And you know what? Despite the fact that I am a 36 year old woman with four kids of my own, I would have to acquiesce to his wishes or risk the shame of being branded a ‘disobedient daughter’ in the course of attempting to usher in change through civil disobedience. There are thousands of women and men who will have to make that same choice on July 1st.

For the benefit of full disclosure, allow me to state now that I do not live in any part of Ghana. I live abroad with my family and visit Ghana annually. Regular visitors to this blog know this, but for those who are coming here because of this hashtag, I do not want to give the impression that I am championing this cause from the comfort of my climate controlled home sipping imported coffee because I have the luxury to. I will neither condemn anyone who wants to attend this rally nor those who see no use in it. I understand each position equally. People are afraid, and they have every right to be.

For those of us old enough to witness or remember the stories “Rawlings Chain”, firing squad, people disappearing in the night or having your home razed because you had one too many toilets, #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is akin to courting trouble. Why do all that? Why not wait until 2016 and vote these NDC bums out!

The problem is Ghana’s decay is not an NDC or NPP problem. This is a Ghanaian problem. These “leaders” come from among us. My uncle went to school with JJ Rawlings. One of your uncles or aunties went to school with Kuffour and Co. Some of you went to school with Victoria Hammah. These individuals did not sudden garner a new set of mores when they got into political office and acquire power. For example, if a politician does not build a house for his mother within his first 2 years in office, he is insulted mercilessly. The entire family expects “to chop” some of the benefits that come with his position. The rest of us have to wait your turn to put a son in power! The politician then therefore becomes “hope” in himself, rather than working to create hope for the nation. No wonder these guys think they are demigods.

We have a culture of service and respect, but we keep it relegated to the realm of the traditional. You would never go to Nana’s house and drop your waste in his courtyard. But what do you find outside of the chief’s palace in our streets? You find people dropping Fan Ice and Pure Water wrappers in the road, plastic waste everywhere, and hawkers selling dog chains on barren patches of land with a sign commanding “Do Not Walk on the Grass”.

wasteIt’s all very cyclical. Ghanaians do not have the structures in place to allow them to be a better brand of citizen and so they in turn exhibit behaviors of poor citizenship. Our streets would not be so filthy if we had proper, reliable waste management, and the ONLY body sanctioned to provide that right now is the federal government. Give Ghanaians waste baskets and recycling containers on the streets, educate the masses on the hazards of improper waste, dispose of it properly and we will change our habits! But for Heaven’s sake, please stop this practice of moving our metropolitan garbage into the countryside and polluting their landscapes and water bodies. It’s demonic.

This is but one of the many, many issues that Ghanaians are protesting against on July 1st. People are asking for:

  • A commitment to better governance and transparency
  • An end to wanton, indiscriminate corruption
  • A tangible plan to power and provide the whole of Ghana with basic, necessary utilities like electricity and water
  • Access to better education for ALL Ghana’s children
  • An overhaul of the tax code and revenue accumulation practices
  • Ensure a proper functioning health insurance scheme
  • Scrap all policies which inhibit establishment and growth of business
  • A commitment to stop dicking with our progress as a  people

(Okay, okay! I confess. I added that last line item. It is not on the official list.)

 

What is so “revolutionary” about these requests in 2014?

That is why #OccupyFlagStaffHouse is not a “revolution”, although the idea itself is. It’s a peaceful protest asking and providing ordinary citizens a platform to exercise their right to protest the needlessly harsh conditions under which they find themselves. In a country as where the populace is as apathetic and conditioned to accept scraps as ours is, movements like One Simple Step and Occupy Flag Staff are paramount civil disobedience indeed!

Now, they naysayers who say there is no need or benefit in protesting want a “wait and see” approach. They say Ghanaians are lazy and that that they need to “innovate”, rather than demonstrate. But really, who is more innovative than the kindergarten boy who has to make his own toys out of milk tins and flip flops because his dad cannot find a job in Ghana’s abysmal economy? And every day, whether they are seamstresses or event planners, men and women have to get up and go to work doing the same thing: building their enterprises out of milk tins and chale wote. We cannot “innovate” our way to progress when there is only one functioning imaging machine at the harbor and your imported food items for your cold store go rotting in the container for an eternity while the officials scan other boxes that have been sitting there for months. A Ghanaian entrepreneur cannot “innovate” his way to success when he suddenly lands a long awaited deal and upon discovering he needs to renew his passport in order to travel and close said deal, is told that he will have to wait 3-6 months to get it because the passport making machine is broken!

Ah ah!

I get it. I understand people are afraid. They don’t want these Occupiers rocking the boat. Some say Ghanaians are not ‘fearful’ but rather apathetic to their plight. An apathetic population is the biggest gift you could give to a corrupt, inept government, because they no longer have to use bully tactics like firing squad and search and seizure to keep you in check: you’ll keep yourself in check. It’s easier to just shrug, suffer, sleep and repeat.

I think Edward Tagoe summed up the necessity of #OccupyFlagStaffHouse quite nicely:

edward

It’s a fascinating idea, isn’t it? That the Black African who all have said can only be ruled by force and the gun can use his/her wits and civility to change their circumstances? Isn’t that how we got our independence in the first place? And for all those asking “Ehhh…you’ve gone to sit in the sun on the grass and then now what?”

Well, that really depends on the Mahama Administration, doesn’t it?