Category Archives: Thoughts raging in my head

Year End Review – My last post for 2014

The woman who threads my eyebrows is from Iran. Last year, she told me that 2013 was going to be a “very bad year”. Numerology dictated that it would. She didn’t offer any predictions for 2014 and I’m not due to get a threading until next Friday, so I’ll have to ask her then what her take on 2014 was. Did the numbers lie? Was 2014 supposed to set everything to right that 2013 set out of balance? Questions!

Let’s review the year together, shall we? We’ll take it in the bits: The good, the bad, the WTF?!?

The Good

I started the year off in heaps of debt comprised of medical bills and student loans. By June of this year Marshall and I had all of our debts paid off. I also published 2 books this year, which made me pretty darn happy, and then I joined the Kpakpakpa Movement, which guarantees me success in all my endeavors.

****Confetti!!!****

Lupita-Nyongo-Light-Blue-Prada-Dress-Oscars-2014The world got to see a spectacular super moon, which was pretty cool, and Malala No Last Name Needed Because She’s so Dope won the Nobel Peace Prize. Lupita Nyong’o slayed the world of fashion and drama with her ebony beauty and grace. Gas prices are currently down below $3 a gallon (in the US at least) all thanks to President Obama’s leadership. I don’t know who he had to bomb or snipe to get us there, but it spells out a very merry Christmas for the Murrikans. The rest of the world is on its own.

Also in not so much world related news, God is still awesome and He is proving it through Eddie James Ministries (www.ejworship.org) which mentors, feeds, houses and rehabilitates the homeless and hopeless through worship. Like hardcore, you cain’t deny its power, behind the veil worship. I’m only sad I just discovered this ministry this year.

The Bad

In other God related news, “Men of God” in Ghana and across Africa are ruining the continent with their occultism, foolishness or a mix of both. The people include Duncan Williams, Dag Heward Mills, Bleach-faced/ Pregnant Belly Kicking Bishop Obinim (no really, he kicked an expecting mother in the belly to ‘heal her’) and Lesego Danie,l that dude down in South Africa making his congregation drink gasoline to prove their faith. People who believe these are actually men who hear from God are better off worshipping rocks.

A respiratory virus known as Enterovirus D68 swept through the Mid-West and Western regions of the US and sickened hundreds of kids. Children in Pre-K to third grade were particularly susceptible and a few lost their lives. This virus terrified American parents, prompting some to keep their kids out of school until it had peaked and was on the decline. But Enterovirus D68 had NOTHING on Ebola. Ebola scared the sense out of every living American. I have never seen such unfounded hysteria in my life.

Wait. That’s not true. Americans treated AIDS and obesity the same way a few decades ago. I’m talking “You’ll catch AIDS if you hug this person” and “I don’t walk in the shadow of fat people because I may catch some of their weight”. Ahhh, Murrika.

The WTF?!?!

As for the WTF dierrr, it was plenty. For a complete listing of WTF global events, go to Twitter and dig out a list of the following hashtags:

  • #BringBackOurGirls
  • #ICantBreathe
  • The blue eyed felonious criminal model dude
  • #ISIS
  • #MyDressMyChoice
  • #Ferguson
  • #Jollofgate
  • #CrimingWhileWhite
  • #ElizabethLauten
  • #AliveWhileBlack
  • The Unhinged Ugandan Maid (I don’t think she got her own HT)

2014 was a HORRIBLE year for human rights, and for humanity as a whole. I think human beings showed their collective asses in 2014. Look at the ghastly things we’ve done to the children in Syria and Palestine. Consider how we’ve failed girls in India who can’t even go to the bathroom without risking rape. From Nelson Baani to Oscar Pistorius, and now to Shrien Dewani, we see that men have been given the liberty to both promote and carry out the execution of women with little fear of reprimand or true consequences. 2014 was an awful time to be a woman – white, black or Indian – in Africa. In Kenya, men were stripping and abusing women in the streets in broad daylight. In Ghana, there were several cases of women being attacked by rapists as they went to the toilet. The stories covering violence against women and girls seemed to be endless, and the shame and heartbreak only piqued by governments and police forces who were too lazy or too unwilling to bring justice for fear of the loss of the benefits of patriarchy.

But as deadly as it was to be a woman in the developing world in 2014, it might have been even more so to be Black in America. Sweet heavenly Jesus doused in frankincense. How many street executions have to take place before America wakes up to the scourge that is blatant racism and selective police brutality? Gawker recently released a list of names of unarmed (Black) civilians who were killed by the police while doing some of the following activities:

  • Looking for help after a car crash
  • Walking up a stairwell in the victim’s apartment building
  • Playing with toys in the park
  • Standing on the street corner selling loosies

And because America’s justice system is unrighteous, unholy and clearly given to bias, each of these predators have (or will) go free, never to be prosecuted for their crimes. White supremacy still profits off of the bodies of Black men and women – from book deals to ABC interviews – supremacists still find a way to make a buck off of the blood of our children, sisters, husbands and mothers; and in 2014 the profit mill was in overdrive. It’s disgusting. But as tragic as these events have been the reaction to this sort of violence from a particular cadre of Black folk has been even more alarming.

I am trying to decide if I can (or will) associate with the purveyors of respectability politics in 2015. Honestly, I don’t think I can stomach it. Oh, you know these people. You may even be one of them yourself. Those naïve folks who think that as long as you have your pants pulled up, wear neutral colors, pronounce your R’s and don’t drop your –ings, you’re somehow immune to a police officer’s bullet or chokehold, or more likely to get a job. Niggro, please. There are at least 3 studies that have shown that a drop-out white male with a felony background is twice as likely to get a job than a Black male with no criminal record and a high school degree. And none of these Respectability Niggros has yet been able to explain why Henry Louis Gates Jr was cuffed and arrested while wearing a blazer and an argyle vest on suspicion of breaking and entering his own house. The man was coming through the front door with his own key. These are the same people who would confidently tell you that as long as you obey the officer – regardless of whether you know your arrest/detainment is unlawful – you will be safe. You idiots. Yes! Imbeciles! The man in this video was complying with the officer’s orders and STILL got shot.

These Respectability Niggros want Black Americans to give up all their rights for the sake of white harmony. That’s not harmony. That’s Jim Crow. You’re setting the race back 100 years.

Twinsies!

Twinsies!

In conclusion, 2014 wasn’t a great year; but even in the midst of all this darkness, there were a few points of brilliant light. Those lights go by the names of John Legend and Jessie Williams. I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with any celebrity as much as I am with this pair. But as fantastic as these two may be, Franchesca Ramsey takes the crown when an exasperated Ms. Ramsey asks former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly what we need to do to “behave like good Negros” and to “please enlighten me on how not to get killed”. Ei. Sistah. We don’t say these things to white people in their faces ooo. We mutter them on BET and at the barbershop. The woman has Nzinga and Yaa Asentewaa blood coursing in her veins!

So, as we settle in for Christmas pie and pudding, let us reflect on what 2014 has wrought and how we can make it better in 2015. Happy New Year to you all, MOM Squad! I appreciate each one of you and wish you and your families nuthin’ but goodness and a joy/strength combo pack in hard times should they come your way.

Repatriation: Is Going Back to Africa the Solution?

GO BACK TO AFRICA!!!!

kenya

This is something red-faced bigots used to scream (now they can conveniently type it on a keypad) whenever a person of color has the audacity to point out/complain about/ponder over America’s dismal race record and erratic application of justice. “Hey darkie! If you don’t like it, you can just go back to Africa.”

But how can you go back to a place you have never been to?

Black/African-Americans are Americans first and only. They speak English. They were born in one of its 50 states. If they were to be issued a passport for travel, it would not bear the seal ‘The Republic of Africa America’ on its shiny black coated cover. There is no ‘going back’.

That’s not to say Black Americans would not be welcome in Africa. Quite the contrary, in fact! Many of us want you to come back home. (Pause: I just realized this blog is going to be hard for me to write because of my hybrid birth status. Using the terms “us” and “you” feels so strange. Nevertheless, let’s carry on!) There is a place for you in Africa if you want it; and after the grand jury’s decision not to indict the killers of Mike Brown and now Eric Garner, many people are seriously considering repatriating to the Motherland and being more vocal about it.

wadeSenegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade has proven that he understands the diaspora’s connection to Africa, how slavery and colonization ripped apart families and the destruction of Black people, globally, has been systematic. When the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, he offered free land to any Haitian who wanted to return “home” in the wake of the devastation. I have no idea how many people took up the offer, because of course, it never became a major news story. The news was dominated by images of rape, hunger, suffering and the incompetence of western powers as they smugly distributed Monsanto grain instead of food rations. Showing Africa in a position of giving would destroy the Western media’s agenda, and could not be (and therefore was not)  tolerated. The story was buried.

I would love to see an exodus of the diaspora back to Africa. A good friend of mine has two canvases that hang in her living room of Black families on either side of the Atlantic. They are clad in white, waving to each other. They each have their arms stretched out, as if trying to reconnect after having been separated. It’s a beautiful image, but every time I gaze upon it I have to ask myself how practical it is? How easy or difficult would it be for Africans in the Diaspora to return to their roots? Is either side ready for that? For example, Don Lemon just discovered that he has roots in Ghana…but does Ghana really want Don Lemon – a self-serving tool who functions under the benefit and banner of white supremacy – operating within our borders? As pretty as his face may be, the answer is no. America can keep Don Lemon.

american-colonization-society-wallpaperSending Blacks in the Americas “back” to Africa as a solution for America’s racial problem is not a novel idea. It is one that is 150 years old, at least, and was championed by President Lincoln, who in today’s terms would be described as a well-meaning liberal, but a racist nevertheless.

For much of his career, Lincoln believed that colonization—or the idea that a majority of the African-American population should leave the United States and settle in Africa or Central America—was the best way to confront the problem of slavery. His two great political heroes, Henry Clay and Thomas Jefferson, had both favored colonization; both were slave owners who took issue with aspects of slavery but saw no way that blacks and whites could live together peaceably. Lincoln first publicly advocated for colonization in 1852, and in 1854 said that his first instinct would be “to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia” (the African state founded by the American Colonization Society in 1821). *

Liberia itself has proven to us what can go wrong when repatriation is executed poorly. When freed Black Americans formed Liberia, they brought with them ideas of racial supremacy and intentionally set about the creation of a divisive, minority ruled government, blocking the natives’ access to privilege and hoarding the spoils of trade with the US to themselves. Firestone tires were made with Liberian rubber, for example. Little of that money was invested outside of the capitol. The result a century later was a war that ripped the country apart. It is still trying to heal today.

It would be a dream-come-true of many a Black nationalist for the Exodus to occur – and soon – but there are some ground rules that need to be laid before anybody goes anywhere.

First we have to recognize that we on the continent have not healed our old divisions before we go about importing new ones. These ethnic divisions/differences are the same ones that Europeans exacerbated and used as tool for our eventual demise. We became suspicious of each other, while the Dutch and English were raping our children and stealing our land. Even today in modern politics, the remnants of those ancient reservations remain. We castigate Ewes for voting NDC, but fully accept Ashantis voting NPP, while nobody can fathom CPP coming to power because the party is essentially “tribeless”. Can you imagine what a mess it would be if we added our  feelings about Black Americans into the mix? Africans have to be honest with themselves and with our cousins abroad. We look down on them because they have borne the trial of slavery, and they feel haughty in our presence because we can’t figure out how to get running water into our homes.

There are only four possible things that can happen if there is a mass return to Africa:

  • Black Americans will try to rule over us
  • Black Africans will try to swindle and frustrate them
  • We will all kill each other (i.e. Liberia)
  • We can sit down together, figure this thing out, and become a continental superpower, flush in resources and intellectual property

Despite all that is going on in the US, with its public lynchings every 28 hours, redlining, underfunding inner city schools and denying water to the inhabitants of an entire city (Detroit), it is important for each individual to examine what “home” means to them. At the end of the day, you should live where you feel at home – i.e. where you feel safe, loved and have the best chance at living a prosperous life. I would never begrudge any Black American for never wanting to live in Africa. There are many Ghanaians, for example, who have left the country because Ghana wasn’t/isn’t equipped to help them become the person they felt destined to be. Misogyny, poor education, high unemployment and rickety infrastructure are very real hurdles to individual and national development, and too few of our politicians seem serious about tackling any of them. This is frustrating for intelligent Ghanaians, many of whom – regardless of their education level – choose to emigrate in search of ‘greener pastures’ despite the racism and social scorn they may face abroad. A green pasture isn’t just earning potential: it’s also the confidence that your government and social institutions are capable… and functioning as such.

Take Nelson Baani for example. Here’s a man who went on parliament floor and later on national radio to suggest stoning or hanging women who cheat on their husbands. To the shock and chagrin of all, our government has yet to act and reprimand this mad man properly. He remains unchecked. Yet this is the same government that sends its president around the globe begging for loans and touting Ghana’s pristine human rights record. This is the same Ghana whose current sitting president  said that by the end of his first year of his first term as president load shedding (cutting your power on and off every 24 hours, or getting 6 hours of electricity a day in some cases) would “be a thing of the past”. He’s almost 3 years in and load shedding is at its worst.

You’ll have to pick your poison. Are Africans in the Diaspora ready for this level of incompetence?  If so, Akwaaba! Come on home.

 

*Source: http://www.history.com

Women Who Defend Misogyny. Ewww.

Warning: Rant

I have been advised in the past to carefully consider the things I say and to determine whether they are necessary. I sat on this for three days and have concluded it needed to be said. Let me lead with this: Some of you need your wombs destroyed, so that you cannot further contaminate the earth with your brand of idiocy. You are literally setting humanity on a course to destruction, and enabling the imminent primate take-over with your refusal to elevate your thinking.

There is a pecking order on the Scum of the Earth scale. It’s different for every individual. Some people cannot abide politicians, used car salesmen or snake oil peddlers. For other’s still, I – with my disdain for con artist pastors who misapply/misquote/abuse the verses of the bible to suit their personal views and agendas – may represent the scum of the earth. Everyone has their non-negotiables and un-abidables.

My list consists of the following in this specific order:

  • Child molesters and predators
  • Black white supremacists
  • Women who defend and enable misogyny
  • Cyclists who refuse to move to the right during rush hour traffic

Number three on this list is a recently added item on my scum scale, as I had an inkling that these women existed, but never had any proof. Ever since I wrote that post about the vile utterances from the Archbishop Who Shall Remain Unnamed, this brand of slime for sense came oozing out of the woodwork and pooling into the comments section. I was shocked, dismayed and eventually disgusted. I have never seen a group of women so invested in their own destruction as this lot, and though I am underwhelmed by their logic (or lack thereof), I somewhat comprehend why they exist in this state.

A few months ago, maybe even close to a year, some members of the African feminist cadre were having a chat on Twitter about a woman who was the recipient of a monetary award/loan from a feminist organization to. The money was to be used to burgeon an enterprise she had begun – basket weaving or shea butter processing. I don’t remember. I followed the conversation with keen interest until its conclusion. In the end, the woman ended up giving the money to her son so that he could leave their village and start his own enterprise in the city. I was dumbfounded.

She was a silly woman, said I, and a patriarchy enabler.

The feminists piled on quickly, saying I should not be blaming the victim (the mother) and that I was being unfair in my assessment.

Now, I had no business dipping into their mentions, so I apologized and informed them I’d see my way out. Besides, how could I really make my case in 140 characters? Anything of meaning was bound to get lost in translation.

The point is, this mother in question is part of the problem where women’s rights and perceptions about women are concerned. Her actions, though I’m sure were borne of love, only go further to cement misogyny in our society. First of all, she used the loan dishonestly. The money was meant to increase HER business, not to buy tickets and pay for lodging. Second, she willingly put herself at a disadvantage by remaining stagnant in her business endeavors or possibly even risking setting herself back. Finally, she sent a message to her son and anybody else watching this interaction. That message was “I have more faith that you as a male will execute better business acumen with this money then I will. Remember your mother when you make it big.”

Haram!

Wouldn’t it have been a more powerful message to grow her business, increase her profits, and then set her son on his way with a personal load from her eventual gains? That is what a strong minded woman who believed in herself would do, but the problem is Africa – or in this case Ghana as I am referring to a select group of women I have recently come to encounter – is not populated with strong minded women…and they are willingly giving their power away.

Oprah WinfreyThere is no way I will ever allow any woman or girl in my circle to receive messaging that says that their intelligence untethered to a man will lead them to rot, or that their lives are meaningless as females without marriage. That’s preposterous messaging of the highest order. You mean to tell me that someone like Wiyaala, who has given back to her own community in several ways and is affecting performing arts in Ghana is rotten? Or that Nana Darkoa who has built a house with her own income is decayed? Or how about the empress of all single, childless women: Oprah. You really want to compare her standard to the woman who opted for a convenient marriage just to appease her family/society/church and is living a marginal life and contemplates suicide at least twice a month? But there are women who do, and do it with utter vehemence!

I understand them though. These are girls who have grown up believing they are not smart, that they are not capable, and more importantly, are not complete on their own. These women are godless servants of Lucifer. They have a form of holiness and no power therein. How dare you insult the work of the living God? You were fearfully and wonderfully made, and now you have relegated yourself to the status of a man’s trinket. House, car, wife…that’s where you fall on his list. Swine.

You know these women, Reader! These are the women who look you in the mouth and ask another woman “But what did you do to provoke him” after their battered friend has come for solace. These are the women who pay for their sons to go to football camp and withhold money or supplies for their daughter’s class projects. These are the women who clap in church when the pastor says a woman’s place is not to think, but to allow her husband to make decisions for her. The bible says the man is the head, and the brain dwells in the head, not in the body.

These women seem harmless enough, but they are a cancer. They are a disease being spread to the next generation, and they must be rooted out and neutralized!

A key part missing in the conversation about women’s issues is the issue of the mind. Misogynist messages and patriarchal patterns dominate global culture, and I am of the opinion that it is only because too many women have allowed it to be so. Women’s organizations have thrown money and resources at the issues plaguing the female populace, but how much time has been invested in changing women’s thinking? This is the only way to win this war against women, and that’s by destroying any notion that a man is altogether better than a woman, simply because she lacks possession of a penis.

Please. If you know you are one of these women who sees yourself as inferior and seeks to promote your inferiority complex and all its accompanying issues, be prepared to lock horns with folks like me. I’ll be damned if my daughters are dealing with this same brand of crap in 20 years because of you’ve got cum for brains.

Rant/

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Part of my hybrid upbringing was learning the “Black National Anthem”. As a child, I hated this separatist idea – that there were two Americas – that I was being indoctrinated with, but I dutifully learned the first stanza of the song as required and could sing it on demand.

The anthem is a song written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1900. It is a staple in every HBCU choir. With the events in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, California and New York, the verses are still as relevant today as they were when they were written 115 years ago. The fact is, there are indeed two Americas, and depending on what shade of brown you happen to find yourself on or what zip code you find your residence in, your America will look very different from someone else’s.

The song talks about hope that dies before its even born. For many people born to poverty and disadvantage – who by virtue of the circumstances of their birth find themselves trapped in the classroom to prison pipeline – this is a bitter reality. Nevertheless, this is their America. Hope dying before it is born plays out in different scenarios all over this country.

The song also talks about faith and how it will carry you through the dark times.

Some of you have never heard of the emotional roller coaster that is African American National Anthem. That’s okay! I am here for you.

 

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

 

Thoughts? Reactions?

Nkrumah and Ali: Daughters of the Pan African Movement

I wonder if the world knows what a debt it owes to African Americans. Every modern liberation movement has been based on the tactics employed by those in endeavor for Civil Rights in America. And while MLK’s non-violent methods were borrowed from Ghandi, we did what we always do when we get a hold of something. To borrow a term from Nuongg Faalong, we “swagged it up”. The only reason modern Americans enjoy every bite of peanut butter brittle, a plate of greens or a bowl of grits is because some West African stowed away, was stolen or sold into this country and “swagged up” the American food source. African Americans also gave this country its first indigenous art form: jazz. Born from ragtime, the architects and masters of jazz soothed America and the world’s soul during wartime and beyond, and kept heat on dance floors in its Swing Era.

The African’s experience, survival and (relative) success in America can be attributed to many factors, but in my opinion, one in particular – improvisation. From seasoning boiled pig entrails to using brown paper bags to wall paper our country homes, Black Americans have had to improvise with little resources in order to thrive in this country. Where did this sense of innovation come from? The consensus is that it has been inherited. “You can take the African out of Africa…” and all that.

Someone shared this picture of Muhammad Ali and Kwame Nkrumah a few days ago. I had never seen it before and was immediately captivated. The pair of them looked so young, happy and hopeful. Ali’s visit to Ghana in 1964 had somehow escaped my radar and in turn left me with many questions, chief among these “What was he doing there?”

Ali and Nkrumah

Google proved to be of little help. Ali’s visit to Ghana was well documented in pictures, and for all accounts it looked like he was there to have some fun in what he called the “Fatherland”. It looked like the man formerly known as Cassius Clay just wanted to come home. It’s documented that he wore kente cloth everywhere (ev-ery-where) he went and sampled local food with gusto. He, like thousands of other African Americans, felt a connection with Africa and was seeking a sense of belonging. Of course we know that not every Black American feels this need to be anchored to Africa as George Foreman illustrated with his sentiments. Even some (self-loathing) Africans wish they weren’t born to and of the continent. They think there is neither beauty nor potential in Africa. We can talk about how this cadre of saboteurs are the enemies of Africa’s progress some other time.

I never got an answer as to WHY Ali was in Ghana, but Malcolm X may have provided an answer through his speech at the University of Ghana in 1964. He spoke about what it meant to be from America, but not be an American. American citizenship at that time was reserved for white people. Within weeks of his arrival, a white European could come to America, anglicize his name and live in any neighborhood of his choice, shop in any establishment of his heart’s desire and vote; whereas the black man whose family had lived and toiled in America for generations was barred from these same advantages. He was not an American – he was still an African in America, according to the law and by virtue of social engineering. After hundreds of years of living in the land, the African in America was still a foreigner.

Suddenly, I got it. Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, my own mother…suddenly it all made sense. My mother was born Sharon Davis but changed her name in the 60’s to a smattering of Kenyan, Nigerian and Ghanaian names. As a teen, whenever the subject of my mother’s name came up in conversation, I used to roll my eyes so hard I could see what the ancestors had for dinner. I never understood my mother’s need to be so different. She was an American…why couldn’t she just own and be that? Little did I know, she didn’t become an American until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed. My mother was born in 1945 and didn’t become a full citizen of the country of her birth until she was nearly 20 years old. Suddenly, her hostility towards Christianity, the white establishment and American life in general made total sense to me. The contempt America held for her and her race had resonated with her and in return she held America in equal contempt. She was searching for home.

I stared at the picture of Ali and Nkrumah for a long while. What things would they have discussed? Did they ever form a friendship? Was this image just a photo-op or was there a real kinship between the two? In my search for answers, I discovered that while Nkrumah was studying at Lincoln University, he became inspired by the Black American’s struggle for independence in America and borrowed strategies from the movement to usher in Ghana’s independence. He joined the United Gold Coast Convention, later formed his own party – the CPP- and began planting the idea of a free Gold Coast (Ghana’s name prior to independence). For his efforts, he and other heroes of the independence movement –men and women – were harassed, interrogated and jailed by the British colonists. But even with the confinement of the leaders of the CPP the idea of a free Ghana had caught on like wild fire and civil disobedience had become the order of the day. What were the British to do? They ‘gave us free’ in 1957 and the rest is history.

At Black Star Square, Nkrumah boldly proclaimed that Ghana’s independence was meaningless without the total liberation of Africa. He had a vision for a United Africa and went on to craft a Pan African manifesto. Richard Nixon was also in the country to witness the first sub-Saharan country gain its independence. It’s reported that walked up to a group of blacks chatting amongst themselves at a function and asked them what it felt like to be free?

“We wouldn’t know, sir,” was the reply. “We’re from Alabama.”

Eventually Nixon and CIA orchestrated Nkrumah’s overthrow and Ghana has been in decline ever since. Thanks, Dick.

Photos courtesy of Facebook

Photos courtesy of Facebook

I looked at that picture and wondered what the dreams of those Pan African minded men who would eventually go on to become fathers and legends. Have their hopes been fulfilled in and through their children? I can’t help but think of Laila Ali and Samia Nkrumah and how these daughters of legends have carried on their father’s legacies in athletics and politics. Both have earned my eternal respect, Ali for her prowess in the ring and her business savvy, and Nkrumah for her push to keep GMOs from dominating the Ghanaian food market. While a certain party is blindly groping to define what their better Ghana agenda actually is, Samia Nkrumah is working to make sure our country is not recolonized by Monsanto and other agro-conglomerates. If you control the food supply, you control the people…and my hope is that Ghanaians will understand and embrace her and her party’s message soon, before it’s too late. Contrary to what we’ve all ben lead to believe, if Africa stops trading with the world, the rest of the globe will be at peril – not the other way round.

Seeing the younger Nkrumah and Ali side by side prompts more questions within me. For instance, is it time for old alliances to re-forged? Is there anything Black Americans and Africans can offer each other? Given the history their fathers lived through and shared, does it inspire any curiosity in you? Let’s talk!

 

 

Does Lauryn Hill Know How Much She’s Needed?

I woke up with this burden for Lauryn Hill this morning.

There are many reasons we need Lauryn Hill, the most pressing of which is because people are still surprised when I open my mouth and speak both eloquently and intelligently.

sweet brownHow can I blame them when the pervasive images of Black womanhood are Nicki Minaj, her bubble butt and her Bubble Yum pink G-string or Sweet Brown? Sure! You could counter that with “But Malaka, what about Oprah?” Uh-uh. Oprah is not a “black woman”…she’s Oprah. Oprah is a brand to the mainstream culture; not a person.

I really wanted to write something thought provoking and DEEP about Ms. Hill, but I find myself at a loss for adequate words. I just want to find Lauryn and hug her and shake her and pour my emotion into her. My need for her to understand how much the world needs her and craft and her brilliance is visceral.

Lauryn Hill introduced me to the word “reciprocity” and its proper use. For that alone she earns my eternal thanks. Then she penned and performed a song for her son Zion and spoke not about the fear of raising a Black son, but the joy of it. For a while she fell off the map and went a little “crazy”, but she reemerged and showed us that you can indeed rise from the depths of your despair and grief, and go through fire and eventually shake the ashes and soot from your body.

Does Lauryn Hill KNOW how much she’s needed?!?

There are not many musicians who understand the importance and value of their craft. Music is POWERFUL.

Bible scholars will tell you that before Lucifer’s fall, he was the angel over music…that when the wind blew through his body there was a melody on the other end. God takes delight in music. Melody and verse have been used as instruments of peace and tools to declare war. Music has the power to evoke emotion. Music has the power to heal, as well as destroy. And we live in a time when much of the music we hear is destroying the ONE thing that ensures Black survival on this planet: our intelligence. Everyone – men, women AND children – are getting dumber by the minute, and I believe it’s because Lauryn Hill doesn’t understand just how important she really is! She is one of the few educated voices in music that uses her gift to e-du-cate. I mean, have you heard Black Rage?

We need Lauryn Hill. She is our Nina Simone, our Pied Piper, our Oracle, our link to our glorious future and past.

In 2009, Talib Kweli wrote a song simply entitled ‘Ms. Hill’ to encourage Lauryn to continue in her craft, as well as to let her know how much he admires, loves, and supports her. I hope she heard it and took it to heart. It pained me that her re-entry into the public forum was forced by the need to pay back taxes to the sum of $1.5 million. It pained me even more that she paid the majority of the amount – just shy of a few thousand dollars – and a judge still saw fit to jail her, while in the same year Nicholas Cage was guilty of the same offense and never saw the front steps of a confinement institution. But hey, ain’t that America.

Nevertheless, Lauryn is back and she’s touring and reportedly doing it because she loves it. For people who think that Lauryn Hill exists solely to entertain them, this can be a hard concept to grasp. Cherae Robinson wrote an absolutely shallow (horrible, unserious, ridiculous, foolish, retarded… Jesus be a thesaurus…there aren’t even enough adjectives) article on Face 2 Face Africa about Lauryn Hill’s impending arrival and performance in Ghana this December.  She writes:

When Ms. Hill comes to Ghana, she should be prepared to make a big impression, because last time she performed in Africa, she was boo’ed by fans at the Capetown International Jazz Festival.

Image from BET.com

Image from BET.com

No, young blood. When Ghanaians attend Ms. Hill’s concert, they should prepare themselves to receive illumination and to share in the experience. Lauryn Hill isn’t some cut rate new artist, chasing your shiny nickels and dimes so she can build herself a faux throne financed by selling her soul. She is a priestess. She is a queen. She is an originator. You don’t go to a Lauryn Hill concert to merely be entertained; you go to be enlightened. And THAT is why Lauryn Hill is so desperately needed in the culture.

Does she know?

 

 

Why I Grossly Dislike Tithes and Offering Messages

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. – Malachi 3:8

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

If you’ve been to church – pick a church; ANY church – you’ve heard these two scriptures read, quoted or paraphrased at the all critical offering segment of the church service. It is the most wearisome portion of church to me.

Do you know what I just realized? In all my days, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any pastor recite the first portion of II Corinthians “You must each decide in your heart how much to give”. Typically, they encourage you to give more! Give abundantly! Give according to the blessing you want God to bless you with! I can’t tell you how many Sunday’s I’ve had to check the bile swelling up in my throat to prevent myself from puking all over a church pew.

I don’t want to sound like a disgruntled Christian. I am not, I assure you. I actually look forward to giving my tithes and offerings in church. I look forward to showing the Lord my gratitude with my gift. My little white envelope and check is my way of saying “You know what God? You got me up every morning, kept me employed, kept me healthy, and saw that all my needs were supplied. I can’t repay you (after all, what price can you put on good health?), but I can bring you this gift to say ‘thanks’!” I come to church READY to give, and I think that any serious Christian should as well. After all, you go to work ready to do your job, don’t you? Does your boss have to come by your desk every morning to give you a 30 minute exhortation about all the wonderful things that will happen if you put your 40 hours in? Then why in Christ’s holy name do we have to suffer through an offering message about how God will “Open up the windows of heaven” if we give?!?

I sincerely believe offering messages are for new converts/believers. We are trained in Western society to get all we can and keep as much of it as possible. This thinking has seeped its way into the church, and because the church was instrumental in the (neo)colonization of Africa, this stingy mentality festers in African congregations as well. That’s why you can have a church where the members are dirt poor and the pastor honks for them to clear the road in his air-conditioned Benz on his way to Sunday brunch. Ekene Onu calls them “church-preneurs”. (But that’s another topic for another day.)

As I was saying, it is the duty of a Christian to give his/her tithes and offerings. It is the least of your reasonable service. How are you going to call yourself Christ representative in the earth if you can’t give money? Common money o! Can you really be expected to give of your time, talent and love – nontangibles which are far more valuable – if you have to be goaded and coerced into your reasonable service? Explaining things at this level are for folks who are babies in the things of God. If you’ve been a Christian for 15+ years and are still struggling with giving, you might need to do a spiritual check-up.

The other thing that absolutely makes me violently ill where offering messages are concerned is that I sometimes feel like I’m being sold a bottle of snake oil. This typically happens at big conferences and retreats, which is why I no longer attend big conferences and retreats. Offering messages in these arena sare typically manipulative.

cheerful-givingI remember when I was in college and just newly born again. A big named Prophetess who was very popular at that time had come into town. My friends and I were giddy with excitement because we’d watched her on VHS in our dorm, and by virtue of the power of her words and worship ON TAPE, found ourselves prostrate on the ground in prayer. Her arrival in town heralded the first conference I would ever attend. Before she came on stage, there was the typical business of praise and worship (four fast songs and two slow ones), some introductions of some other leaders who were profiling on the arena stage, and then the offering message which was, without exaggeration, 40 minutes long. By time he was done, he had convinced me that God would double (or even triple!) my blessing “but only if I gave big”. God would perform a miracle! He had a $50 line, a $100 line and a $1000 line going. I was working at Walmart on minimum wage at that time, and had a little less than $19 in my account. I knew this. But the man had spoken with such urgency, and I didn’t want to miss out on the blessing that the anointing THIS prophetess would bring, and despite the niggling voice in the back of my head wrote a $50 check…which then proceeded to bounce, and bounce and bounce like a jilted lover. I made the same mistake two more times in my life before Bank of America taught me the lesson that Darwinism could not.

This scenario repeats itself all over churches across this country, every Sunday and sometimes on Wednesdays during Bible study. If you are reading this and find yourself pressured into giving something you don’t have (be it time or money), STOP. Don’t do it. It’s only going to create bitterness in you. That is why I believe there is a special part in Hell for all these preachers and pastors who have had a role in creating hard-hearted, bitter Christians.

Instead of offering messages, many churches (particularly Black churches) would do well to have a financial literacy class. This is the other reason I despise offering messages. They keep people at a need-based, subsistence level. Let’s say I and everyone in the congregation in already walking in financial freedom: we have no debt and no lack. What would the “blessings of God” look like in that case? Why can’t we then begin to think and operate in THOSE terms, rather than “Gawd gonna pay yo’ bills if you open up yo’ heart and yo’ purse my sistah!!”. Is God a pimp? No really.

Is.

God.

A.

Pimp?

No one should be goaded into giving; and besides, no one wants to receive a ‘gift’ reluctantly given. If it’s not of your free will, it’s ransom money…and last I checked, the Lord wasn’t holding any of us hostage. We all have free will.

What about you, Reader? You might not be a Christian, or have any religious tendencies at all, but if you’re human, you probably have some method of organized giving. How do you feel about “offering messages”? Do they bother you? Motivate you? Or not really matter at all? Discuss! ↓