Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guest Post: This is What Male Privilege Looks Like

I just got this post in from Nana Darkoa who asked me to ‘put this man on blast’. Let her experience be a warning. Read, gasp and hide your kids. The rest of you: behave yourselves in public!

 

The plan was to enjoy an Ethiopian buffet at Hush Lounge in Labone. My friends and I were seated comfortably in a far corner of the dimly lit venue, chit chatting. We were 4 adult women, with a 13-year-old girl in our company. Her brother sat adjacent to us. Close enough to be within earshot, yet far away enough to retain his teenage cool.

I was drinking Smirnoff Ice and chatting with one of my friends when this man came and sat right in the corner where we had ensconced ourselves. I groaned inwardly, why did he have to come and sit right next to us when the venue was practically empty. You could tell he was drunk from the way that he lurched into the seat.

 My friends and I continued chatting.

“Excuse me, excuse” we soon heard him say loudly. Sure enough, Mr. Drunk Man was trying to interrupt our conversation. I looked up briefly, then away, and continued to talk to my friend. One of the women in our party must have said something briefly to him, which I didn’t quite catch before returning to our conversation. I couldn’t help but say to my friend,

“Ah, male privilege can be annoying. Can you imagine ever going to a bar, sitting right next to a group of men and then raising your voice at them to get their attention?” We laughed and went back to our conversation.

Mr. Drunk Man tried to interrupt us one more time with no luck and somehow started a conversation with Mr. Cool Teenage Boy whom he had sat right next door to. While I chatted with his mother, she glanced his way intermittently, concerned about whether or not he was okay. He seemed fine, and walked away after a while.

It was then that Mr. Drunk Man started trying to interrupt our party with something to the effect of, “Oi, I’m talking to you”. We ignored him and tried to carry on our convo. But would Mr. Drunk Man take a hint? Oh no. He just got louder. Eventually I said,

“Excuse me, we are trying to have a conversation. Please leave us alone”.

He started to swear at us. “Shut the fuck up.” “Ugly fat black bitches.” “Fuck off!” and even something to the effect of “You’re just looking for black dicks.” My friend said, “Don’t talk to us like that,” but that made no difference to him and he continued to rant and rave.

Just at that moment a male friend who had told us about the regular Ethiopian buffet at that lounge walked to the corner of the restaurant where we were seated. He tried to calm down the situation. “Good evening, Sir,” he said whilst making direct eye contact with Mr. Drunk Man. But oh no, Mr. Drunk Man couldn’t be talked down into civility. Eventually, security led him away.

 

van-lare-dosooThat night, I did some digging, and found out Mr. Drunk Man was called Lionel, and earlier on had taken to bragging about being a former Chairman of Ecobank (and the fancy school his children attend, and that he used to live in the States and had just come back from Brazil). So off to Google I went, where I searched for ‘Lionel + Chairman + Ecobank.’ Indeed, there is a (former?) chairman of the esteemed bank called Lionel. I did a Google images search with the full name I now had. Yup, it looked like the same man. I sent it to my friend. She was with one of the other women who had been with us at Hush lounge that night. They both confirmed it was the same man. Lionel Van Lare Dosoo, next time you’re drunk go home, don’t harass women in bars.

 

 

 

 

I Need A Pediatrician Who Understands Black Bodies

Since our doctor’s visit on Friday, I have been oscillating between titles in my head.

My Kids’ Pediatrician is a Blooming Idiot would be unfair, because no one gets a medical degree by being an idiot. In the same way, My Kids’ Pediatrician is on CRACK has a nice ring to it, but I can’t substantiate those claims. That’s not to say that I don’t think that this woman is an idiot who might be smoking crack based on her claims about my children’s health, but neither of these titles addresses the issue as I have come to understand it.

I don’t know if medical doctors understand how much faith and trust their patients put in their utterances and opinions. I didn’t see a gynecologist until I was 25 because I didn’t want someone I didn’t trust peering into either one of the holes I hide between the folds of my buttocks. (That, and I didn’t have insurance until I began working a job that offered benefits.) In the same vein, I did not select a pediatrician for my children until I had completely vetted that person.

My search for a pediatrician began when I was five months pregnant with Nadjah. I had a list of nearby practices, calling on the phone first and assessing wait and hold times and listening for friendliness in the office admin’s voice. After weeks of searching, I found Dr. Leonard who greeted me with a no-nonsense attitude and rarely smiled. I was hooked. I did not want a goofy doctor looking after my offspring.

Dr. Leonard cared for the physical and developmental needs of all my children for six good years. We developed an understanding with one another. She once told me that I was one of the best moms she’s ever worked with.

“You’re just so easy,” she said. “There’s no drama.”

I smiled sheepishly in appreciation. I might have muttered my thanks. What does one say to that? She made it easy as well. I remember how she would coo over Stone when he was born, and pointed out all his best attributes.

“He’s in the 90th percentile for height and weight,” Dr. Leonard told me at his one year check-up. “He’s big for his age, but he’s been plotting like that since he’s was born.”

She described his physical development on the chart as ‘perfectly square’.

Then a month later, Liya was born and Dr. Leonard came to see her in the nursery in order to evaluate her and do her doctor-y things. She popped in to visit me as well. I brightened when I saw her and she smiled back, which of course was rare. Liya was doing well, she said. She was a perfectly healthy baby. We chatted for a bit and then she left. I didn’t see her again until I went for Liya’s first official in office check-up. That’s when Dr. Leonard dropped the bomb on me. She told me she was leaving the practice. To go where, I asked.

“Out of state,” she replied.

I felt my knees weaken. What was I to do? I didn’t like any of the other doctors in the practice. One looked like a pedophile and the other had shamelessly flirted with Douche Bag on the ONE visit he had come to when Nadjah was born. (She also no longer sports that enormous rock that was crushing her ring finger that day, which tells me her wanton flirtation had led to other less innocent events.) The other I had not taken time to get to know at all. How could she do this to me?!

“How could you do this to me, Dr. Leonard?”

“Well, I told your husband. There was no way I was going to tell you while you were in the hospital having a baby…”

And then she was gone. She left no contact information. It was a clean break. Sometimes I look her up on the internet to see what she’s up to. I hope she’s happy. Because I’m not… I got stuck with the one thing I never wanted: a goofy doctor.

In order to preserve our new pediatrician’s ‘integrity’, I will not mention her by name. Suffice to say she is young, bubbly, blonde and just began practicing a few years ago. She is literally “practicing” medicine with my kids! If I was a new mom, she’d have me in a corner curled up in a fetal position convinced I was doing horrible wrong by my kids. Our sticking point is my children’s weight…or their individual BMIs, more precisely.

MOM Squad, we’ve discussed BMI in the past. Marshall and I are overweight. We know that. Our children (crosses body) are NOT. They’re just Black. Now, what do I mean by that?

Remember when Jimmy Snyder said these words – words that left mouths agape – in 1988?

“The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black [man] to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.”

As crude as his words were, they were true. African Americans were bred for specific attributes on plantations. The topic came up at my in-laws’ house just last week as my mother-in-law spread her huge hands…hands that would be most useful to field work. Because like it or not, that’s what Africans were brought here to do: hard labor and field work.

Well now, de Lord and Lincoln dun gave us freedoms, but dat don’t erase fo’hunned years of genetic engineering. My children are tall, thick and muscular because some white guy decided that body type would work best to support his plantation’s goals. So excuse me if my youngest baby isn’t a willowy nymph flitting through the lines of your government issued bio chart. I wanted so desperately to snatch this woman and her files as she went over Liya’s stat sheet.

“She’s in the 98th percentile for height,” Dr. Dumbass said with a silly giggle, “but her BMI is way off. She was normal last visit, but look how much she’s sprung up here.”

This sinewy blur you see hurtling towards you is "overweight".

This sinewy blur you see hurtling towards you is “overweight”.

I looked at her plot line, and then I looked at my child, and then I looked in her face. WTH?

With a half giggle, half frown she went on to ask “Is she eating a bunch of sugar and carbs?”

“She doesn’t really like bread,” I said pensively. “But she does love french fries. She…”

“Oh, no!” Dr. Dimwit said, cutting me off, gasping as she interrupted. “She can’t have any more fries. Ever. That just means not going to places that don’t serve those things. Mkay?”

I looked at her and nodded silently so I wouldn’t have to cuss her out. She was already snapping up her Brighton pocket book shut and readjusting her stethoscope on her neck before exiting the door with a guttural Hahum! See you later!

Ohh I was offended. I was offended on an ancestral level! How much thinner did she want my baby to be? She didn’t say. She just made a playful quip about not eating anymore potatoes. The Irish mother in me would have hit her with a camogie stick if I could have. Instead, we left her office and went straight to Chick-fil-a.

I’m vexed; but not for the reasons you may suppose. I’m annoyed because I have to begin the search for a new pediatrician all over again! It’s a time consuming, mentally exhausting task. I need a pediatrician that can make independent assessments about my children outside of the box of what a form says. Who can look at my daughter and say:

“On paper, you’re not the ideal body type, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a prima ballerina like Misty Copeland. They told her she didn’t have the right body for ballet either.”

misty-copeland-feb14

Or

“Did you know until the Williams sisters came around, muscular girls on tennis courts were almost unheard of?”

Serena-Williams-img16902_668

Or

“You are built just like Surya Bonaly, an Olympic medal winning figure skater who was so daring and lithe that she would do backflips on the ice! (She was later banned for it too, after defying an order not to.)”

Surya

In short, I need a pediatrician for my son and daughters who understands Black bodies, not this doe-eyed recent graduate who has lived out her entire existence in some suburban bubble somewhere reading Teen Vogue and lulling herself into the belief that every body should look that way.

Do you like your pediatrician? Do you live in North Fulton? Care to make a recommendation? ↓

Red Friday Installments: Apathy Doesn’t Count

Malaka:

I would add something, but I think she’s said it all. *Stretches*

Originally posted on My Nostalgia for the Future:

“So are you going to the protest?”

“Nah… I have meetings”

-_____________-  “But you work for yourself… like, you set your own schedule and it will all be done by like, noon.”

“Meeehhhhhh… I just feel like, there is no point really. I mean, they know the issues, they just don’t care. And if they cared, we wouldn’t need to protest! I don”t see what marching and standing around is gonna do anyway”

“But for every single person that says that, we lose that much momentum and brute force for agitation…. and… well— nevermind, you suck. And I hope all of your meetings fail tomorrow”

“Wow… I suck? really Amma?”

“Yes.”

“So are you ordering fish or chicken at Chez?”

“Fish, girl!”

photo (4)

This is essentially an amalgamation of conversations I had with friends on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Conversations about protests, civil unrest, complaining, civil rights, agitation.

Conversations

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Hairenemies – part 2

Originally posted on Hairvolution:

I present the concluding part of Hairenemies. If you haven’t read it, do check the previous post.

6. This is truth; trimming does not make hair grow. Of course if your ends are weak and damaged, they will have to go but regular trimming in itself does not increase the hair growth rate. Pay attention to the ends of your hair and trim accordingly. Don’t allow that scissor – happy stylist, to chop off those tresses unless they are absolutely necessary.

7. Relaxer ills; there are some stylists who spread the relaxer over already processed hair which weakens the hair more than it already is. If you want thick healthy hair, ensure that your processed hair is coated with Vaseline or shea butter. I mentioned Vaseline because its stifling properties are what we need to shield our already processed hair against the relaxer-attack. Your hair does not have to cook…

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Hairenemies (part 1)

Malaka:

Yes! We are talking about HAIR again. But instead of all the negativity, this discussion is about loving your locks to length. It’s a two-part series, written by my friend Lady Adwoa.

Originally posted on Hairvolution:

Today, I present to you part 1 of what I’ve titled, ” Hairenemies”

So you’ve never gone past a certain length when it comes to your hair…is it neck length? Or shoulder length? Or just because you think your hair does not and cannot grow, you really do not care anymore? How about if I told you that you and your hairdresser/hair stylist may be the reason why your hair does not grow out? Is it true? Let’s see

  1. Heat. Everyone wants to look fly all the time and I do not begrudge you but honey, please put the flat iron down. Put the curler away. Many of us use these items on a regular basis without a heat protectant and we damage our hair badly.  A heat protectant is a product that protects your hair from potential damage from regular use of direct heat such as flat irons, curling irons…

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African Literature: The New Dark Continent

Don’t you just hate the use of the phrase ‘Dark Continent’? C’mon, admit it. It’s become such a pejorative. Those two words smashed together have so many implications. What are you trying to say? Is Africa dark because we that dwell therein are primarily dark skinned? Is it dark because we’re lagging in technology (and sanitation and health and press freedom…)? Or is it dark because there is still so much to discover – little gems that the West and the Rest have yet to explore and exploit, just waiting to be brought to the light?

Let’s go with the lattermost assumption. I like that one to best.

There are worlds within Africa that we Africans ourselves have yet to discover. There are micro-universes that would make all our lives infinitely better if we could just figure out how to access them. Because most of our stories are still told by the international media who still carry a prescribed spin on how it tells African stories, these universes remain “dark” to the rest of us. There are advances in science, technology, social engineering and medicine in various parts of the continent that still remain unknown to us. You Ghanaian reading this: did you know that it is possible to attain an agreeable existence without plastic bags? We don’t NEED plastic in our society. Rwanda has proven that and saved their ecosystem. As I type this tonight, hear there will be a slight drizzle and Accra is bracing for flooding.

We’re not sharing knowledge, people, and I for one am here to repent. Forgive me! I have not held true to some oath I’m sure I took years ago to uplift and educate my co-sojourners in this life. I am here to make amends.

When Chinua Achebe died, I ran across an article entitled Beyond Chinua Achebe: Five Great African Writers You Should Read Right Now. Of course I was intrigued and dove into the list. Ah. But what was this? Save one person, everyone was born before independence from colonial rule! Are there no contemporary African writers one must read not just now, but right now? The list was published on the Smithsonian’s website, so I suppose it made sense that all the notables would be fossils. (Wole, you know I love you! I couldn’t just leave that punchline sitting there. Tell me you understand!)

Anyway brethren, I am here to help you with some names that I think you should watch for. Here are five contemporary African Authors you should read RIGHT NOW!

  1. Number one and most obvious is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has usurped Oprah’s position for the most quoted woman of color in the world. I hear “Chimamanda says – “ at least twice a week, which is fabulous. That a woman so young should be so quotable is no mean feat. If you haven’t read Chimamanda, you don’t know what you’re missing! That being said, let me confess: I have never read any of Chimamanda’s books, and that’s only because I don’t want her writing style to influence my own. When I hit it big, I don’t want to be accused of fleecing her flair and art. I’m looking forward to finishing these two manuscripts so I can dig into Americanah; eventually.Chimamanda-Adichie
  2. Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian crime fiction writer. Actually, Kwei is a hybrid Ghanaian like me, which is why I probably feel such a kinship with him. He went to Howard, I went to Hampton and neither of us can speak Twi – which doesn’t matter, because we are neither of us Akan anyway. Have I met Kwei? No! But it’s good to know a little bit about an author’s personal life. It helps you hear their voice a bit better. And no, it’s not stalking until you make some form of personal contact. *whispers* I love you, Kwei…Kwei Quartey
  3. I have always wanted to write historical African fiction à la Pride & Prejudice, but now I don’t have to because Kiru Taye has been doing it, and doing it for years. Did you know there’s a whole genre and squadron of contemporary African romance, replete with published authors just waiting for your beady eyes to discover their work? The group is called Romance Writers of West Africa. You didn’t, did you? I know. I’m here to bring you the Light! You can read about the group here: http://rwowa.wordpress.com/ kiru
  4. Africa has its share of geeks. Don’t you think for a second that we’re not here for that African Bambata, futuristic ish. Never consider for a moment that we are unfamiliar with flux capacitors, warp core breaches/stabilizers, plasma containment fields or the dangers and wonder of inter-species mating rituals. We are here for ALL of it! That is why Nnedi Okorafor was such a wonderful discovery for me. Nnedi has penned several African Sci-Fi novels, most notable Lagoon and Akata Witch. I spent two hours on her blog, and I never have two hours to spare. Her mind – good heavens. She’s so creative and OUT THERE. I have nothing else to add about Nnedi Okorafor.Nnedi Okorafor
  5. I couldn’t figure out whom to put on the last of the list, as there are so many more talented authors out there who deserve their spot in the lime light: Boakyewaa Glover, Nana Malone, Nnenna Marcia (whom I’m convinced is insane) and a host of other writers who we are all yet to discover. I’ll just part with modesty and say read me. Ehhh, yes. Read my books. I’ve written two. But you wouldn’t know that, because I keep my light “hidden under a bushel” as my elder sister Nana Ama often laments. You can find/buy my books by clicking here and here!malaka2

Hopefully, this will serve as a guide or at least an oar for your canoe ride into Darkest Africa’s Literary Rivers. I chose these authors because I like the pace of their writing: it’s quick, the story telling is excellent, and there’s something for everyone.

Who are your favorite contemporary authors? You know who else I love? Amy Tan. The woman is just wicked with the vocabulary. You know who else I love? Jemila Abdulai. She makes words bend and form in ways unimaginable. I can’t wait for her to write a book so I can put her on number one of my list!

 

 

 

Rsas