Category Archives: Uncategorized

What If We All Conducted Ourselves Like American Police on Our Jobs?

With the constant bombardment of images and videos depicting police brutality, it certainly feels like it is a trend on the rise. I don’t believe we will ever truly know how many people have died at the hands of the American police, since the force and the judicial system itself has staked their collective souls in shielding the institution from any sort of accountability. On the rare occasions that police officers do find themselves on trial for obvious human right’s abuses, the verdict frequently results in the officer(s) complete exoneration. It’s a never ending cycle.

According to the Code of Conduct for law enforcement officials adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 where the term “law enforcement officials”, includes all officers of the law, whether appointed or elected, who exercise police powers, especially the powers of arrest or detention, these persons are required to adhere (but not limited) to the following:

Article 2:

In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Article 3:

Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

Article 5:

No law enforcement official may inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, nor may any law enforcement official invoke superior orders or exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, a threat to national security, internal political instability or any other public emergency as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

I’ve highlighted these in particular, because they demonstrate the contravening of these international laws by the American police force as modeled through homicides of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd and hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their lives to a bullet, beating or strangling in America.

The now-accepted explanation by those invested in the maintenance of this form of social lawful disorder – as it serves either to their benefit or because it affects their communities by a miniscule extent – is that because police officers interact with criminals and a “hostile public” all day, they themselves are prone to (re)act violently, depending on who they are interacting with. In other words, a series of bad days can lead up to the ultimate bad day for any American citizen, depending on how the boy in blue is feeling that day.

cops

Oh really? Do these people think police officers are the only ones who experience stress when interfacing with the public whom they are PAID to serve? Well, what if ALL the people who work with the public had the liberty to use force when we “deemed necessary” to bring about a speedy resolution to a sticky or unpleasant situation? What if those actions resulted in the same “repercussions” that the police typically face? I’ve talked to a number of people who have fanaticized about it. Come with me. It’s time for…

 

****MOM MODE!****

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon at America’s favorite place to buy shoes. A throng of suburban moms and their caffeinated teens mills through the aisles inspecting items, sometimes putting them in their right place, sometimes not. Store associates are working desperately to keep up with the pace of the mess that is being created in the wake of the back-to-school shopping weekend. Lisa has been working at the store for 6 months, after being transferred from another location for disciplinary issues. She looks across the store and sees a woman and her young son try on 8 pairs of shoes. They have left a pile of paper, boxes and plastic all over the area.

Lisa takes a series of meaningful strides and is at the mom’s side in moments.

“Who left this pile of trash here?” Lisa asks, already knowing the answer. It’s not a crime to leave trash on the floor, but it IS rude.

“What?” asks the mom. “There was paper in the boxes. We took it out to try the shoes on.”

Lisa is miffed. Her question has not been answered appropriately. She repeats herself.

“I said ‘Who left this pile of trash here?’ I didn’t ask you about the nature of the stuffing of the boxes! You left a pile of trash here and you’re going to pay for it!”

Indignant, the mother retorts. Never in her life has she been spoken to this way by a store associate.

“There’s no reason to yell!” she screeches. “You are making a scene, and you are frightening my son!” She points to the young boy for emphasis.

Feeling threatened and irritated, Lisa wrestles the mother to the ground and grabs her by the throat, demanding that she confess to putting the paper mess all over her store floor. But the mom can’t speak. She’s having the life choked out of her.

2 weeks later, there is an inquest and Lisa’s conduct has been ruled appropriate. The mother did pose a threat, since she raised her hand and became erratic during what should have been a simple Q&A session. Lisa has been transferred to the administration department where she will spend 9 hours a day off her feet enjoying donuts and water-cooler conversation.

 

****

John works at big box retailer in its tech repair department. His shift is unpredictable. Some days he works from the time the store opens until it closes. Sometimes he only works 8 hours a week. It just depends on how much crack the manager on duty has been smoking when he did the schedule. On this day, John has pulled a double shift. He’s been in the back of the store – an area the staff refers to as The Cage – for 16 hours already.

John doesn’t mind working with laptops and cell phones. They don’t talk back. It’s when he gets called to the front to deal with customers that gets him particularly irate. Today, a man in dark washed jeans, a pale blue buttoned down shirt and a silver bangle on his wrist is standing in his line. John already knows his type: high maintenance. He sighs and calls for the next customer to come forward.

The bangle wearing customer already has an attitude when he approaches John. He drops his Blackberry on the tech desk and leans in during his conversation.

“I brought this device in 2 weeks ago, and the problem hasn’t been resolved!” the customer seethes.

John takes a step back, decides he doesn’t like either his tone OR his attitude and picks up the Blackberry. He then smashes it into Bangle Boy’s temple. It’s been a rough week already, see? John is not to blame. There is an investigation and soon media reports are released to show that the bangle wearing customer had weed in his system. How was John expected to behave when the client had weed in their system???

 

*****

Pots are banging. The floor is slippery. None of the orders are coming out on time. Food is being served cold. When Alara took the job as a waitress to help supplement her income, she never thought it would be like this. She imagined a quirky life making frivolous conversation while serving meals to sanguine lovers in a dimly lit dining room. Sadly, there are no such eateries in her small town, and her big city dreams and demeanor have made her somewhat of a misfit in this diner where she works for tips.

Uninterested, she asks two men who are seated in her section about their beverage choices.

“What will you have to drink?”

The gentlemen are doubled over with laughter. Alara assumes they are laughing at her. She takes a scalding hot pot of coffee and tosses it into one of the men’s face. He screams in agony. His compatriot jumps to his feet and demands that Alara explain herself! What does she think she’s doing! How does is laughter pose a threat! Alara, feeling attacked, pulls a knife and threatens to stab the screaming man. When the sight of the knife only makes him scream louder, she plunges it into his chest.

There is an investigation and Alara is not only given a raise, but is promoted to manager. The customers should not only have been more attentive to her queries, but should not have engaged in any form of merriment in her presence. She was trying to carry out her duty, for crying out loud, and they were interring with that! (A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Alara so that she can retire on a million dollars whenever she’s ready. She’s earned it for her bravery.)

 

Oh. Laugh! Feel free. There is a certain irony to all this that warrants dark mirth. Of course, we can’t allow this sort of behavior to run rampant in American society. We would quickly fall into total anarchy, which is why I am a bit befuddled as to why state and federal officials aren’t doing more to curb the shenanigans of the police. The ideals of white supremacy must be protected at all cost, I suppose.

Have you ever wanted to slap the taste out of someone on your job? If you could get away with it, would you? Do you think the police continue to brutalize (certain sections of) the public because they know they can get away with it? And finally, should Obama be out there chastising African nations about human rights abuses when there are clear (daily) violations of those same rights on the nation that he presides over? Discuss!

HANDBOOK FOR AFRICANS 1: You see only the worst in you

Today, I am honored to feature another post from the inimitable Field Ruwe. Comments are always welcome and feel free to share and reblog.

HANDBOOK FOR AFRICANS 1

You see only the worst in you

By Field Ruwe

 

We, black Africans, seldom feel the urge to jump into the river and swim across, more so if it is infested with crocodiles. Yes, when we stand by the riverside, the first thought that comes to mind is the fear of drowning or being attacked by a crocodile. This mortifying psychological faintheartedness is in the majority of Africans. We are gripped with so much fear, we are afraid to make that most crucial jump out of the nest and fly into the challenging world. It is this feeling of inadequacy that affects our upward mobility, and allows non-Africans to condition us their way. They have managed to make us see only the worst in us.

For centuries we have been victims of a camouflaged psychological warfare, covert and overt racism, that have left many Africans mentally indoctrinated. The belief that Africans have low intelligence remains in the African psyche and is passed from one generation to another. This has resulted in low-esteem, loss of scholastic motivation, and lack of great imagination. Today, there is even a much more sophisticated and massive furtive effort by non-Africans to portray Africans as failures. As a result, many Africans continue to believe that all non-black people are intellectually better than them. This has contributed to the continued deteriorating image of Africa.

 

I am working on a handbook that’s meant to change this perception and bring the best in Africans. It is a psychological conditioning book for Africans that attempts to remove the devastating feeling of self-contempt, self-hatred, self-doubt, self-loathing, disunity, dislike of the other African, and instills self-confidence, admiration, respect, trust, and unity. It urges Africans to rid of negative pathologies embedded within them and turn their thinking around and look at themselves as a brave and intelligent people who deserve to be part of the cognitive elite.

 

Beginning today, once a week, I shall use this platform to confront our Achilles’ heels—the weaknesses that have resulted in the loss of our unity, racial pride, and educational aspirations in spite of our physical and mental strengths. I offer ideas, suggestions, and recommendations that can gain us the acceptance of the world. The benefit of reading this column will be a change from feelings of hopelessness and despair to an awareness of the most urgent issues of our time. We can no longer survive as Africans hanging on to intimidation and humiliation. In order to succeed, we need to engage in critical thinking, reexamine some of our most basic beliefs and prior assumptions.

My first task this week is to prepare you for the most provocative and grueling topics ahead. In doing so, I table ten self-development techniques to help build your self-esteem and self-confidence.

 

  1. Self-acceptance: Know that you will never be the color you are not. Accept who you are and display optimism and confidence. Realize that you can’t change the color of your skin or your features, but you can take personal responsibility and change how you think and feel about yourself. If you accept the way you look, your body accepts you. Always say to yourself: “I’ll not change the way I look to accommodate the people who hate me. I’ve been black all my life and will proudly live with it.” When you hate the way you are, you surrender your willpower to your tormentors. They will gladly kill you. Remember there is absolutely nothing wrong with black skin. It is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with your broad nose. It is no worse than the noses of many non-blacks. There is nothing wrong with your thick lips. In fact they are the admiration of many non-blacks. So, reject the senseless feelings of self-hate that have been forced on you.

 

  1. The Dominance Motive: Understand that the color of your skin and your appearance are tools of intimidation, oppression, and suppression, used by non-blacks to dominate you. The majority of non-blacks are driven by dominance motives because they have been conditioned from childhood. Many non-blacks have made a pledge that a black person will never be their equal or above them. Not because he is brainless, but because he possesses the two most vital qualities of dominance—power and intellect. Overcome by your physic, they have gone after your mind and reduced it to the size of a marble. Driven by their ego and dominance motive, they have managed to replace your self-love with self-hate. It is up to you. You either reclaim your self-love or allow self-hate to consume and kill you.

 

  1. Responsibility: God put you on earth for a purpose. You are responsible for that purpose. You are your own purpose. Teach yourself to shoulder the responsibilities of your life. You find yourself overburdened by self-hate because you have allowed other people to take control of your responsibilities. Develop the courage to be responsible of NOT your self-hate, but self-love. Take control of yourself and begin to love everything about you. God loves you.
  2. Positivity [the quality or state of being positive]. Believe in yourself. Begin to chip in your negative thoughts by filling your mind with self-affirming thoughts. Tell yourself “I’m happy with the way I am. I need not bother about other people’s thoughts and actions.” Fill your mind with black people who inspire you or those who have made it to the top. Put yourself in their shoes and emulate their positivity. They became successful against all odds, and so can you. It will take time, but it is worth it.

 

  1. Understand the psychological motive of your tormentor. Always bear in mind that your tormentor is waging a war against you; that his/her negative attitude toward you is meant to remind you that you don’t belong to his group/race. By doing so he is boosting his own self-worth. When in public study, even for a moment, the people around you. Know that not all have negative feelings about you. Those who do will display their prejudicial attitude through body language. It is their only way to maintain their self-esteem. Always remember that racism is the underlying motive behind the actions of your tormentor. He may not be a racist, but he/she truly thinks he/she is of higher social status. Don’t forget that bigoted behavior can be expressed through words, actions, body language, love or hate, knowledge or ignorance. Most of the non-black people in your presence have been told that black people are bad or dangerous. Don’t show anger or emotion when you encounter any of these attributes. Being angry or emotional gives your tormentor a sense of victory.

 

  1. Isolation: In isolation understand that the people who carry biases are shielding their failures. Take a look or a glance at anyone who is trying to bring you down. On public transport, ask yourself why they are on the same transport, going in the same direction as you; in class, is their intelligence exceptional? Look at their grades, judge their participation and contribution. At work, are they the company’s Einstein? What spectacular contribution have they made—that you can’t make? Let them not intimidate you because of the color of their skin. They could be worse than you. It is possible that they exude confidence in public and curl in misery in private. Remember, tormentors are tormented people. They typically inflict their torment on others. Bare this in mind, and in your seat, keep a smile on your face.

 

  1. Blame: Don’t blame God. Don’t blame your parents. Don’t blame your fellow blacks. It is not their fault that you despise yourself—that you think you are black, ugly, bad, mean, inferior, primitive, and intellectually deficient. Blame those non-blacks who work night and day to ensure you feel the way you do. They are the ones that have imprisoned you and turned you into an object of hate. They have succeeded in making you hate yourself. They have made you dislike anything and everything black—the color, culture, music, sports, and other talents. Understand that you have enough wisdom to realize that self-hate is not doing you any good. Begin to appreciate yourself and your own people.

 

  1. Outlook: Build your self-image by taking care of yourself. Always take a bath/shower, brush your teeth, and kill any unpleasant smell on you. Dress well – clean shirt, underwear, and pants. Remind yourself that your tormentors could be avoiding you because they, themselves, are not clean and do not want you to know.

 

  1. Hope: Always think that you will be much better as a black person someday; that the future is bright for all blacks on earth. Think about where you have come as a black to where you are now. Whereas before you were not allowed to be on the same bus with non-blacks, you are now separated only by a seat. Soon a day will come when all black people will enjoy life in all its richness.

 

  1. Love: Replacing self-hate with self-love is all about loving oneself, caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself. You must go further than that and share the same feelings with others. Love them for who they are, respect and appreciate them for their effort and talent in class, sports, etc.

 

 

Remember: The psychological impact of racism and discrimination has long lasting effects. The enormous personal stress that you experience when you are shunned, ignored, snubbed, feared, discriminated against, creates a deep wound in your soul. It gets even deeper when you pay too much attention to what non-blacks are doing to you or saying about you. When in such a situation keep your head high and smile in the face of unpleasantness.

 

Please Note: The reader must understand that this is not an attack on a particular people or race, but an honest attempt to make Africans understand who they are, where they came from, what their history is, where they went wrong, when and why, where they are today, and what to do about their future. An African who reads this article and shares with another African, spreads the word one African at a time. Next week I tackle the history of the color black and why religion takes a chunk of the blame. Don’t miss it.

 

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, author, and a doctoral candidate. Learn more about him on his website www.aruwebooks.com. On it you shall access his autobiography, articles, and books. Contact him, blog, or join in the debate. ©Ruwe2012

 

How can Africans on the continent and in the diaspora find common ground and collaborate?

Bullied for her looks, Kyemah McEntyre claps back at critics for her "African looks" by embracing her heritage and showing up at prom looking like 150% pure African ethereal royalty!

Bullied for her appearance, Kyemah McEntyre claps back at critics for her “African looks” by embracing her heritage and showing up at prom looking like 150% pure African ethereal royalty!

I have to confess, where African and diaspora relations are concerned, I thought that it would be simpler to frame my thoughts and present them than the task has proven to be. I have been – in a word – naïve. There is nothing simple about the factors that separate or, conversely, bind people of African descent in the least. The numerous conversations I’ve either participated in or witnessed have borne this out.

First of all, one has to account for the fact that people of African descent in the diaspora are not even unified around what to call themselves. Names and verbal identifiers have power, something that virtually every African society recognizes, understands, and takes pains to execute with meaning and honor. In the same way, Black people in the diaspora are very conscious of what to call themselves as a group. Some within this microcosm of the African family are comfortable with being identified as “African American,” while others rebuff the label, stating that they are simply “Black.”

Continue reading HERE.

What Happens When You Trap Death in a Basket?

Yaa Traps Death Cover

Greetings MOM Squad, Random Readers and Lurkers!

You are shocked by this question, isn’t it? After all, who would so something as foolhardy as to trap Death in a basket? No one you or I know… but once upon a time, a fearless girl named Yaa did just that.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket is my latest children’s book – although you adults seem to love them too – and it’s available to pre-order internationally now when you click this link!

Want to save a little bit of money? Enter D4S35P6H at check out to save 20% on the list price of the book. I know, I know! It’s all so thrilling. Check out this video for a peek at the fabulous illustrations done by Poka Arts.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket from Malaka Grant on Vimeo.

Yaa Traps Death in a Basket will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks in May. It will also be available from the trunk of my car if you’re in Atlanta, and Writers Project in Ghana will have some copies on hand in June  if you’re in Accra and want to scoop up a few. Contact them on twitter @writersPG or on their website at writersprojectghana.com

I ain’t gon’ lie. The book is pretty dope. This is one of those rare times when you guys will call/inbox/email/drum beat me to tell me how great it is, and I won’t reply with a humble “Oh, eheh eheh. Thank you. Na God ooo…”

I will simply reply with “Yes. I know!” :)

Peace!

What Kind of Kung Fu Did the Ashanti Soldiers Have?

One of the most enlightening trips I have taken was to the Western Region of Ghana, where I visited Princess (or Prince’s, depending on who you ask) Town, Fort St. Anthony and Cape Thee Points. While my group and I were there, we learned about Nana Jonkone and his interactions with the Germans. Like most Afro-European encounters, it began as a relationship built on trade and eventually evolved into one of European dominance and African subjugation. I wrote about our experience in 2013.

Every once in a while, I think about that mini excursion we took. I have looked for more material online since then, and have found none. I am afraid that just like much of Ghana’s proud history and traditions, the story of Nana Jonkone and his gallant resistance to the European (Dutch) invasion will be lost to some patty cake oatmeal version of sanitized events depicting Africans as welcoming, willing participants in their own destruction.

Nana Jonkone was king over a small area at Pokesu. Though his kingdom was not large, it did have an alliance with the mighty Ashanti Kingdom to the north. I haven’t had the opportunity to study up on what the terms of an alliance with the Ashanti would entail in those days (annual tributes, taxes or provision of a percentage of livestock, for example), but I imagine that there was some sort of Mafioso terms and conditions that the Ashantis levied on their lesser partners. Our guide that afternoon gave us a hint at what those may have been.

220px-Prempeh_IWhen the Dutch barbarians attacked Pokesu, Nana Jonkone travelled north to entreat the Asantehene for his help and protection. The Asantehene was happy to oblige and sent mercenaries to protect the coastal town. It would only cost Jonkone a calabash of gold PER mercenary for his help, and for 20 years, these strong men (and possibly some women) frustrated and prevented any Dutch attack or take over. When all seemed settled, the mercenaries left and the Dutch seized their chance, taking over Pokesu, dismantling Nana Jonkone’s seat of power and ultimately sending him into obscurity. Nana Jonkone was never seen or heard from again.

Last night I was watching the 36th Chamber of Shaolin for the first time, where the movie depicts the Manchu takeover of the Hans in China. San Te – the film’s protagonist – felt that if the Hans had kung fu from Shaolin, they would at least be able to protect themselves from the pervasive street harassment and indignity that the Manchus meted out on them on a daily basis. So then that got me thinking:

WHAT KIND OF KUNG FU DID THE ASHANTIS POSSES?!?!

No seriously: Think about it. To stave off the aggression of a Dutch force replete with canons, muskets and bayonets protected by an impregnable wall of stones, they must’ve had some pretty impressive fighting skills. They possibly scaled walls. They may have even floated in the air, just like real kung fu masters!

But why don’t we know this? Surely there were Ghanaian fighting styles that our ancestors had to learn and become proficient at. What made the Ashanti military so unique that they were able to suppress and absorb the clans in their environs? It had to be Ashanti kung fu! The real shame is that we don’t know this. Right now, the old armory in Kumasi sits beneath a market or something. It should have been preserved as a museum.

If you are a historian and have more information on what made the Ashantis such a formidable fighting force, please leave the details in the comments or email me. I’d love to hear more! It’d be something we could all add to our information banks for Black history month. Thank you, and

 

WHoWAAAAA!!!!

I’m participating in the #YourTurnChallenge …Yikes!

Dear MOM Squad:

Blame Tosinger oooo. Blame her! Last week she quietly knocked on my Twitter door, entered my mentions, and gently threw set down the gauntlet, asking me if I’d like to participate in the #YourTurnChallenge. I could have ignored her if not for the word “challenge” hanging on the end of the hashtag. Me to back away from a challenge? How!

Naturally, I said yes…without even bothering to find out what I was getting into. It’s  a reflex I have; like William Wallace chopping off the heads of English nobles. I just can’t help myself!

The #YourTurnChallenge isn’t nearly as grotesque as that, thankfully. It merely encourages bloggers to post something every day for seven days, starting January 19th. A year or more ago, this would be no difficult task at all. I used to write two posts a day without any real effort (one here and one on  Adventures). And then the trolls found me…After that, let’s just say my zest for writing was far less zesty.

Anyhow, I’ve devised my strategy to get through this challenge and to come out victorious! For the next seven days, I will be writing under the theme “What it feels like to…” wherein I will describe in very raw terms what it feels like to endure a particular event. One of the posts I’m most looking forward to penning is “What it feels like to have a boil on your arse.”

“Well, Malaka,” says you, “how would you know what it’s like to have a cyst upon thy buttocks?”

Oh don’t be so coy. How is a writer to write effectively about anything if she has not experienced it, or spent a great deal of time studying it? Clearly, someone very close to be has suffered a boil on their butt. Yes sir! This will be a week of hard hitting journalism and provocative topics! (Not really.)

Feel free to skip reading this week, MOM Squad. I just wanted to give you a heads up to prepare yourself for what’s to come. Hopefully, nothing of serious consequence will happen in popular culture or society at large that will cause me to deviate from my task.

See you tomorrow on Day 1, and if you’re on twitter, follow @Tosinger to see what she’ll be up to as well!