Materialism, Mindsets…and Heck; Why Not? Jets.

“I wish I had been better prepared for this moment.”

“You are the descendant of a mighty people…of kings and queens. Their blood flows through your veins and they have prepared you for this moment.”

-Paraphrased conversation between Coretta Scott King and Amelia Boynton Robinson in the movie Selma

 

A few friends and I have been talking about world views for the past few weeks, an exercise we engaged in regularly in college but really haven’t had time for as we got older. The basic questions we ask ourselves are:

“What is your world view?”

“Have you even taken the time to develop one?”

“Why do you/we accept the things we see today as truth and reality?”

Since we are a group of Black women, we concern ourselves with Black life and how it is experienced globally. Our shared analyses were pretty sobering, to be honest. My friend Tosha* talked about many of the young people she works with – most of whom are in their late 20’s and early 30’s – who have no true concept of how the world works around them, or worse, how it relates to them. Many of them are men.

“They just don’t read,” she sighed. “A lot of these guys think that life is about getting a check, having occasional sex, and repeating that simple cycle. They don’t read!”

The conversation was all over the map, ranging from racial profiling, internalized racism/colorism, spending, forecasting and economic (dis)advantages for people of color. It was the lattermost topic that struck a chord with me: Economics. It drew me back to the scene in Selma I referenced earlier.

I am going to raise my hand and admit that when we talk about being descendants of a “great and mighty people”, I have never invested the time to explore what that means. On the surface I, and I think the majority of people, look at Blackness as the embodiment and epitome of physical strength. We have greater bone and muscle density than whites; we are capable of running long distances faster than any other race; we have proven a capacity to endure and overcome intense and unspeakable torture and terrorism. But what does all that mean? Where does that come from? What is the purpose of being able to endure beyond endurance sake? The idea that we are descended from a “great and mighty people” led me to query what made our ancestors so special that an entire continent of Europeans felt it imperative to erase their history and memory and appropriate their accomplishments as their own. In just 30 short minutes, I felt like I had entered another dimension.

Last night I read excerpt s from two books which are available online. The first is Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute  and the other is Empires of Medieval West Africa by David C. Conrad. In them they describe observations made by European traders and explorers who were so astonished by the great wealth of these empires and even went as far as to attempt to draw parallels to their own. One explorer suggested that the aristocratic airs of Songhay rivaled those of the Tudors.

“This most interesting spot was the capital of Songhay, a country described as being very fertile and rich in gold. The origin of its kings was from the East. At a later period it entirely dominated Melle, and established at Timbuctoo a dynasty about contemporary with our own Tudors, of which I wish that time per mitted me to give you some account.”

Later, he goes on to describe the magnificence of the Empire’s Court “in which the ladies were served on pure gold, and men on occasions of state wore velvet tunics, were booted and spurred, and had all their weapons mounted in gold or silver.”

He went on to describe the clothing of those who dwelt in various parts of medieval West Africa, and noted the intricate brocade, vibrant cotton tunics and gold woven into hairdos of the most influential aristocrats. Because gold was in such abundance in West Africa, only the leadership of the day was allowed to trade in nuggets while the proletariat was permitted to trade in gold dust, lest it lose its value. (The roads and trade routes that allowed each ruler to trade in knowledge and goods were also well maintained.) Medieval West Africa was sounding more advanced than 21st Century West Africa with every sentence!

So what happened?

We all know about the scramble and partition of Africa, and something tells me that destruction of an entire continent had more to do with Europeans attempting to cover their own shame than trying to expose our own. They literally swapped histories with us. It is no coincidence that the Renaissance period that took place in Europe also coincided with European contact with Africa and Asia. While we were wearing silk and cotton, they were still making their clothing from jute (a smelly plant substance) and wool. The gold that guilds the Versailles came from Africa. Much of the “enlightened thought” that reached old Europe was being taught in our universities for centuries. And of course, women had greater rights and influence in society, an idea medieval Europeans found boorish.

This is what it means to be descended from a great and mighty people. And yet, how do we see ourselves today?

I am not advocating for Creflo Dollar to get his jet, but I think his predicament offers a useful example in this instance. Let’s say he gets his $60-65M jet. So what? Out of all the jets that crisscross the world that are owned by Saudi princes, American CEOs and pop stars, how is this one jet going to change anything about our condition as Black people? It won’t . A jet is a tool. It is a thing. It is a vehicle to fly a person from one point to another in the most efficient manner possible. A group of men (and two women) got together to decide how much to sell this thing for, but what gives that jet value is you and I. If Boeing wanted, they could give that jet away for the price of a hug. Didn’t McDonald’s just end a campaign giving away meals in return for acts of kindness? But today, that same burger is back to retailing at $2.99.

“Oh! But Creflo can’t afford it!” I’ve heard folks say. Ah. The federal government with its trillions in debt can’t afford any of the programs it is touting, but it hasn’t stopped them from mortgaging their goals on the backs of our unborn great-grandchildren!

It’s all arbitrary. YOU are the great value in the earth. When Miles Monroe and all those who perished on the Germanwings airline died, we did not mourn the loss of metal and plastic. We mourned life. And yet every day – we as Black people in particular – put possessions and wealth above human life as though we can’t grasp this.

I have changed my world view on economics, things and wealth…or at least I’m trying to.

Queen Ekuba is one of our contributors on Adventures, and in 2013 she shared a series called “Gran” on the site. In it, she uses her grandmother’s voice to talk about the sexual shenanigans of women in her village of Ajumako, about love, lust, loss and coming into womanhood. It’s a thrilling, informative read which you can find here.

Ekuba’s grandmother tells us about the day she started her menstrual cycle and how it was event celebrated by everyone in the community, from the Queen Mother down. On the day her transition into womanhood was celebrated in her family’s courtyard, she was dressed in the best kente, brand new sandals and adorned with gold bangles and earrings. One of her aunts rubbed gold dust on her face to make her skin glitter. Bear in mind that this was only about 70 years ago and 115+/- years after the slave trade ended. Judging from the stories Ekuba’s grandmother tells about having to go to the farm as a child, she sounds like she came from a solid middle class background…certainly not a princess in a royal palace. But a middle class Ghanaian girl from a Fante-speaking farming community was draped in kente and gold because she got her period…and we’re losing our minds over cars and jets? We are so brainwashed we can’t even create fantasy for our brown children to imagine themselves as anything besides dirty, barefoot things that play in the mud. Isn’t this the image we think of when we think of ancient and “typical” modern African childhood?

When I bought my luxury leather bag from F&W, I got quizzical looks and furrowed brows from at least two women when they asked me the cost.

“$290 plus tax,” I replied flatly.

Eish…Malaka…”, one of them breathed.

goldI offered a half smile in return. Our ancestors, yours and mine, were walking around with gold braided into their cornrows…and it’s a stretch for us today to carry a quality leather purse? It’s just leather! Once we begin to see ourselves in new and through the lens of a different world view, this will be easier to grasp. I believe that our history of wealth, intelligence and enlightenment is what kept those mighty people now trapped in the bowels of those slave ships alive and thriving. When you KNOW your life has instrinsic value, you fight to protect it.

For those bent on missing the point: I’m not advocating that we all go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff we don’t need, but I am saying that I am no longer going to feel guilty for pursuing quality. Besides, don’t we have enough junk in our lives already? We deserve better. We deserve to treat and think of each other better. We are capable of much better.

Mo’Ne Davis’ Accepting Casselberry’s Apology is ‘Mature’, but it Ain’t ‘Right’

It’s pretty hard not to be in the know where Mo’Ne Davis is concerned. Even if you were previously unfamiliar with her name, you certainly heard of her story. She is that (now) 13 year old girl who played in the 2014 Little League World Series and is the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history. That means she can throw a ball really, really fast.

Her face has become ubiquitous in the sports world, with skill so phenomenal that she made the cover of Sports Illustrated and a back-story so inspiring that Disney has approved a movie to be made about her life. This did not sit well with some people, and one person in particular – Joey Casselberry, a junior first baseman at Bloomsburg University – took to twitter to make one of the most disgusting comments about a girl barely older than my first born by saying the following:

joey

Selah

A grown man, who has never had any sort of interpersonal contact with this 13 year old CHILD, called her a slut.

Everyone has agreed that this is pretty offensive and definitely unacceptable, and Mr. Casselberry has been dismissed from his team. As far as I and 98% of the world are concerned, this was absolutely the right move for the university to take. However, his remarks left young Ms. Davis in an awkward position as people were clamoring for a response from her. Her response was one typical of any girl her age – which was to forgive. She even went as far as to plead on his behalf and ask the university to give him a “second chance”.

Every mother to a Black daughter I know experienced cognitive dissonance when news of Joey Casselberry’s sorry apology and Mo’Ne’s crusade to spare him discomfort came to light. Many have gone as far as to term her actions as “mature”…and that is problematic for me. Sure, her actions are righteous, but they are not right. A grown, crusty man should not be putting a girl this young in the position to act righteously in response to his boorishness.

Let me just get to the point: The fact is, Joey Casselberry’s remarks are a direct reflection of a culture that sexualizes young Black girls and their bodies, then moves on to demonize and punish them for labels not of their own choosing and ultimately marginalizes them. Girls of African descent are built differently from any other girl on the planet. By the age of 5, our hip to waist ratio often mirrors those of our mothers. I have had trouble fitting at least 2 of my girls for trousers and pants because the items are cut for (white) girls who are built straight up and down. (This is a battle Black women have to fight our entire lives.) It is not the responsibility of the 5 year old to cloister herself so as not to have these labels ascribed to her; it is the responsibility of grown men to check their privilege so that she can thrive.

This is not the first time a Black girl has been sexually degraded in the media at large by those who occupy positions of power and privilege. In 2013, 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis was called a “cunt” by The Onion on twitter during that year’s Oscars.

Qcunt

As I recall, this was in response to Ms. Wallis refusing to let a journalist refer to her as ‘Annie’ because she was too lazy to figure out how to pronounce the child’s name. She made a “mature” decision to check that chick, and in return a representative from an organization dominated by white males labelled her a moniker that is so disgusting, it makes bikers shift in their seats. But it’s free speech, right? It’s satire, ain’t it? Making jokes about Black girls’ bodies is funny, isn’t it? Remember how Black male comedians jumped to Don Imus’ defense when he called an entire basketball team “nappy headed hoes”?

Slut

Cunt

Whore

All ascribed to girls who are barely old enough to knock on Womanhood’s door – and suspiciously – all at the top of their game in specific fields.

The main reason that Davis’ acceptance for Casselberry’s apology sickens and saddens me so much is that it is yet another spoke in the wheel of accepted public violence against Black women and girls. The part that Mo’Ne plays in this cycle is by shielding her abuser in the name of turning the other cheek and maturity. How many Black women refuse to call the police on abusive husbands and boyfriends because they have been conditioned to believe it is their job to protect them, or their responsibility to be strong enough to endure the abuse for the sake of peace? THIS is exactly where it starts…and that is not Mo’Ne Davis’ fault – it’s ours. While I applaud Mo’Ne for her poise and level headedness in this situation, it is not okay that she should have an innate sense that this particular reaction is expected of her in a situation like this. These are not the lessons we should be teaching our young girls of color, especially in a world that views them as provocative minxes before they’ve had a first date, first kiss or first menstrual cycle.

 

It’s Time for the Ghana Blogging Social Media Awards!

BlogCamp15Logo-White-forWebsite430x140

MOOOOM Squaaaaad!

Happy Monday to one and all. There’s so much that I want to talk about today that I can’t decide which topic to tackle first. And since I only have an hour left until I have to pick up the kids, this was definitely easiest on the to do list.

What is “this”? Man, I love it when you ask me questions!

It’s that time of year when it’s time to vote in the Social Media Awards, 2015 edition. Adventures From the Bedroom of African women, the blog I started with my BFFFL 6 years ago is up again! We’ve won the best blog category two years in a row, and this year we’re looking to score a hat trick. We can only do that with YOUR help.

Good people, Mom Squad, Random Readers, Lurkers and even you Pesky Trolls (for how dull would the internet be without our villainous  trolls?)  please do us the honor of clicking on this link right here (http://www.blogcampghana.com/social-media-awards/), pressing the little bubble next to ‘Adventures’ in the best blog category, and do your part to catapult your humble blogging servants into interweb glory! After this year, we think it’s only fair to pass the baton over to younger talent, but THIS YEAR we’re going for the glory.

Edith Faalong received our award on our behalf last year.

Edith Faalong received our award on our behalf last year.

Will you help us do it? Of course you will. You’ve made lightening strike in the same spot twice already! :) Remember: You can vote from anywhere in the world. All you need is internet access and a valid email address. I just voted and it took me literally 45 seconds. And while you’re on there, you might consider a vote for the Green Ghanaian, since their organization is trying to clean up the filth and find solutions to eliminating the mountains of crap Ghana is being buried under on a daily basis.

Mmmkay? Great.

God. I love you guys. I love you so, so much. *sniff!!!*

NOW GO VOTE HERE!

http://www.blogcampghana.com/social-media-awards/

 

Why Can’t I Find a Reliable African Illustrator?

Palette.

Dear Ancestors and Sweet Baby Jesus:

Whatever I have done to offend you, I repent for it! Okay! I yield. I give up! Ah. Warrenthis?

Oh. You want to know what has me so agitated, eh? The title should have served as a clue. I am overwhelmed and confused as to why I cannot secure a reliable, talented illustrator for my books. I just don’t get it.

I have struggled for 2 months about whether or not to write this post, ever since it became evident that the company I had contracted in Ghana to work on my next project was not going to meet the deadline we had agreed upon in November of last year. Still, I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

Stupid me. When it comes to dealing with Africans, I should always rely on the portents, not my optimism. I know this – with every fiber of my being – and yet I still dare to hope!

Ever since I decided to become a professional writer, I have made it a goal of mine to make sure that every aspect of my novels supports another African. When I needed an editor for my first book, I contracted with a Nigerian editing company and paid a pretty handsome sum. I was rewarded with a product that was returned with MORE typos and grammatical errors than I submitted. When I wrote my second book, I didn’t make the same mistake. I sent it off to a white woman in Seattle who charged me 25% of the price and sent me back a pristine product. I was both pleased and perplexed.

When I decided to write a children’s book, I looked everywhere for an illustrator and referred to a Nigerian gentleman for whom this would be his first time illustrating. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the kinks with that whole encounter, but suffice to say the kinks were aplenty. I decided that I would not give up so easily and try to find someone Stateside to redo the work, since I know for a fact that there are plenty of talented artists in Ghana who are looking to elevate their skill and turn their hobbies into a profitable business…or so I heard. That’s why I contacted a group in Ghana to have them illustrate my new book – and I’ve been burned for it.

The MOM Squad knows me. I have no problem naming and shaming, particularly when the targets are big. But this group of artists are a small outlet and I don’t want to come off as a bully by putting them on blast here. Beside, I’m not really angry with them. I’m just really, really sad about how all of these events have played out for the last 5 months.

As I mentioned before, I reached out to their director who is responsible for getting new clients on board. We struck up an easy social media friendship. I was quick to answer his queries. I told him that I would do and give him ANYTHING to get the project done on time, which was in February. I wanted the release of this particular story to coincide with Black History Month.

“And I have your cash ready too,” I said solemnly. “I don’t like chasing people for money and I also don’t want chasing anyone for money.”

We laughed, especially when I remembered that someone owed me a couple hundred myself.

“Great. And on our part, we will send you concepts back and forth until we get an idea of what you are looking for.”

He was very honest and said that they had one other client they were trying to wrap a few things up for and that they would get on mine as soon as they were done. That didn’t seem like a problem from my end, because there was plenty of time ahead.

I continued to keep in touch with him throughout. First he said that Christmas was coming, so the guys weren’t really working. Then it was New Year’s with the same “explanation”. There was radio silence throughout the month of January. In the middle of February I sent a message to ask how it was going. I was assured that there were no problems! February 28th came and went. And then, in the middle of March, I got a voice message telling me how “sorry” they were.

“Oh, Malaka…hahahaha! We haven’t really started on anything for you. We’ve been so busy with another client. But here is are some sketches of some ideas we have. Oh, by the way, can you send the concepts for these scenes?”

“Dude. I’ve already sent them twice,” I said tersely. “But I’ll send them again.”

Then I got another voice note asking me what range I had asked for (they offer a low, mid and high price range) and for some other particulars we had already discussed. That’s when I lost it. That’s when he went from “dude” to “nigga”. This was just TOO unprofessional.

“You aren’t doing me a favor,” I hollered into my phone. “I AM paying you for this service. You’re not ‘helping me out’ and doing it for free! As cool as we are, I am still you’re client. This isn’t cool.”

When I asked him how he would feel if I tossed him around the way he and his group have tossed me when it was time to pay, he got serious.

“Let’s deescalate the tension, shall we?” he replied stonily. He said he would send me an invoice and I said that would be great.

“And my sh*t better be spectacular.”

That was 2 weeks ago. I haven’t gotten an invoice, an final image (out of the 15 I need), a nothing.

Like I said, I’m not even mad. I’m just sad. You know why? Because I’m going to have to break my commitment to invest in African artists, and find me a little weed smoking, Dorito eating, basement dwelling white boy in Nebraska who will finish the work when he says he will. And you know what? Basement Boy WILL.

The only good thing about this encounter is that I did not pay a deposit that I’d have to fight to get back because these young men did not fulfil their end of the bargain, but this really hurts. I was looking forward to bragging about them and recommending their work. I can’t recommend anyone whose business practices and delivery suck, no matter how great their product may be.

 

 

F & W Style: Handbags for Happiness

Did you know that today was the International Day of Happiness? No really. It’s an actual, real thing. Here is a blurb on www.dayofhappiness.net on why the day was created and sanctioned:

After years of happiness research, one thing has proved fundamental – the importance of our connections with other people.

But modern societies are built as if the opposite was true. We are surrounded by people, yet we feel genuinely connected to almost none of them. The effects are devastating. 

Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking; and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.

We could change this in a day if we all reached out and made at least one positive connection. For the International Day of Happiness, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

I took this mandate very seriously, and as my contribution to International Happiness Day, I went out into my community and spent some money. Eh heh! What greater connection can a woman have than with a designer/retailer who makes her spirit come alive? And are designers/retailers not also happy when they have parted us from our money? Everyone has a part to play in this cycle of joy!

No, but seriously MOM Squad: you all know I have been on the hunt for Black Luxury ever since I told you about that article expressing mainstream disgust for Black dollars, and I am happy to report I have found it. As of 10:43 this morning, I became an F &W Girl, thanks to the design and business prowess of Alexandria Alli manager and head of creative concepts at F & W Style. The story behind her brand has been featured in this month’s edition of Jezebel Magazine, as well as on Black Enterprise and other publications you can look up at your leisure. They will tell you all the stuff that comes as part and parcel of a polite and proper interview. Me, I went to her shop for gossip.

photo 3(1)Alexandria Alli is tall with a tiny waist and stunning with a perfect complexion. Pimples daren’t approach her skin. Her lipstick doesn’t smudge when she talks. Her body is one fluid masterpiece and all its pieces work in tandem. Today she was wearing a figure flattering green and bronze asoke blouse and skirt ensemble. If I was going to buy a luxury handbag from anyone, it was going to be this Nigerian goddess today! She greeted me warmly and invited me into her studio. I was immediately impressed by how clean it was design and décor wise. The simplicity and boldness she surrounds herself with in her environment translates to the way in which she designs her bag.

After our pleasantries were exchanged, I told her without mincing words why I had come to seek her out.

“Someone actually put that on a blog? For the whole world to see?”

“Yes! And no one on their editing team thought it might be a good idea to take it down!”

“Wow,” she said pensively, “that’s really sad.”

(In hindsight, I’m glad that they didn’t. I might never have discovered F & W if I had remained in my pop culture stupor. )

I took a quick scan around the back office we were meeting in and took note of several of the bags I’d seen online. My eye went immediately to the red Chloe bag, since red is my favorite color. At Alexandria’s subtle urging, I turned my attention over to the croc embossed bags to the left. I asked her about where she gets her leather and inspiration from.

photo 4

“This is Italian leather,” she replied. “As far as the type of leather we choose, that’s all because of our customers. They indicated that they like pebble grain and crocodile, so you will notice that all of the bags have that sort of embellishment. It just gives them something special, and gives it a more luxurious look.”

I ran my finger over the details of the burnt orange croc embossed bag I was holding and had to agree with her.

“As far as inspiration, I look to women,” she continued. “I spend a lot of time just observing women…how they move and interact with their accessories…and I then I try to imagine what they might like that is functional while still having an element of luxury.”

We then went on to discuss color and how she chooses her leather. Alexandria’s favorite color is pink.

Pink!

Aba!

A strong Nigerian woman should like gold or midnight blue…warris pink? She laughed.

“Not just any pink…strong pink. And besides, pink is a very happy color, I think!”

photo 2(3)

Alexandria opened up the purse I had been looking at and drew my attention to the lining. Every F&W bag is lined with the same hot pink in its interior. This distinguishes it from other luxury bags and serves as her stamp.

“And it was a compromise for me, since I couldn’t make every single bag I designed pink.”

“How does your mother feel about your success?” I asked. I am always impressed when Africans of a certain age pursue a career in the fine, literary and/or digital arts and are successful at it. Such careers do not come without some opposition from our parents. Of course, Alexandria’s mother – being a designer herself – is very proud. “Did you go to school for design?”

“No. Actually I was modeling in school.”

“Heh? Wait! Your mother – your Nigerian mother – allowed you to go to modeling school?”

“No! I went to school to study management,” she replied, “but my mother allowed me to model so long as it didn’t interfere with my work. She’s just really happy to see us doing well, you know? Parents love to see their kids succeeding…”

“…even when it’s not the ideal career that they would have mapped out for them. But when the success comes?”

“Oh! Then suddenly, all of this was their idea!”

We cackled for a bit about Chimamanda, Wale, African norms, husbands and children and making it all work. Alexandria mused about how her husband was the one who really pushed her to start her own luxury brand. She gave me a look that told me she thought he was crazy at the time.

“Who does that?” she asked. “But he really encouraged me and we’ve been in business for 5 years. This year, it’s really taken off!”

She did a swoop motion with her hand, like a rocket taking off. I was compelled to smile. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her humility refreshing.

photo 4(1)Now that I had everything I needed, I bade her goodbye and thanked her sincerely. I don’t know if she or her husband know what they have done for (newly) conscious consumers like me by giving us a choice. I am particularly grateful that she views her luxury brand as something that all women – no matter what their social strata or racial makeup – should have access to and enjoy.

This won’t be my last bag from F&W Style.

 

 

 

 

Visit http://www.fwstyle.com to find a list of stores that carry the brand in your area or to shop online. 

Elton John’s Campaign Against Dolce & Gabbana is Very Much in the Spirit of WEB DuBois

photo source: nymag

photo source: nymag

 

The worlds of high fashion and pop culture were set ablaze this week when Dolce & Gabbana were asked how they felt about homosexuality, family values and procreation. These are the quotes that were attributed to them:

“We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one,” Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce recently told Italy’s Panorama magazine. “No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow. There are things that should not be changed.”

“You are born to a mother and a father — or at least that’s how it should be,” Dolce added. “I call children of chemicals synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”

Their opinions are neither revolutionary nor shocking. There are many people who feel this way, although they are not as verbose about stating them. What IS shocking who these views emanated from – that being two gay men who once shared a romantic relationship with one another. These views are what are known as “traditional” values, and only rednecks and people with a third grade education hold “traditional values”, right? No seriously. Read the comments on any online forum and that’s what people think/say.

There is little room for differing opinion in the public discourse anymore, and if you do not toe the mainstream line, one runs the very real risk of being vilified and destroyed. This is what Elton John has set out to do to Dolce & Gabbana: annihilate their brand and tarnish their reputation.

I have only watched the ensuing feud between these titans of fashion and entertainment with passing interest. I’m neither an Elton John fan, nor can I afford D&G. Besides, when white men start fighting, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of us, so I try to stay as far away from white fire as I can. Oh, you don’t believe me? Ask the few remaining AFRICAN veterans of WWII what the consequences of white struggle and ego were for them. How many Black lives and limbs were lost fighting on European soil for the white man’s cause? We will never know, because they won’t even include images of our ancestors fighting in their precious historical movies. So, yes! I was very happy to leave these 3 men to duke it out on their own…until Dolce & Gabbana called Elton John a fascist. Whoa now! Given Italy’s history with fascism and Mussolini, these are pretty strong fighting words! Now suddenly, my interest was piqued.

MOM Squad, I have to tell you, I am pretty intrigued by the dynamics of this quarrel. Something about it was so eerily familiar that I honestly gasped when I realized when I had seen this before. What Elton John has set out to do for gay people is the very same thing that WEB Dubois did to Black people: and that’s to silence opposition.

HarlemIf you ever have the opportunity, please pick up a copy of The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader, edited by David L. Lewis. The introduction goes into great detail about how the Renaissance was spawned (or manufactured), what constituted as an “acceptable” Negro message or expression, and who those acceptable Negros would be. WEB DuBois was one of the head architects of the Harlem Renaissance, and he was also instrumental in the destruction and demise of any Black thought or artistic expression that he felt beneath the worth of white acceptance. In truth, DuBois’ entire agenda was to be accepted by white people, something that was fundamentally contrary to the goals of his greatest nemesis: Marcus Garvey. While Garvey felt that there should be a push for Africans in the diaspora to return home to their roots on the Continent, DuBois felt that Negros in America ought to push for white acceptance and integration.

GarveyvDuBoisThe feud between this pair was legendary, as each man (and their supporters) had their own ideas about what Blackness ought to look like in America/globally. There was name calling, mudslinging, and sabotage. Ultimately, DuBois triumphed over Garvey in the end by doing the unthinkable: He colluded with the FBI to have Garvey tried and imprisoned for mail fraud, which led to his eventual deportation. The infant Back to Africa Movement died soon after, the NAACP triumphed as it repeated these tactics again and again against “fringe” groups, and now there was ONE way to be Black in America…just as DuBois had envisioned and advocated for all along. As a people group, we have had to fight against the scourge of homogeneity that has been imputed upon us.

So I have to ask Elton John and his celebrity supporters and his (eventual) federal supporters: is there only one way to be gay in this world? And who gets to decide what way that is? Is there not enough room for differing views and opinions in your existence? You see how far we as Blacks have gotten with this sort of mentality; and it’s done us a great disservice. We are poorer, less educated and probably more internally disenfranchised and disconnected than we have ever been in our history. Seriously, with all this information and technology within Black grasp, we are still having childish and churlish light skinned versus dark skinned wars or looking down upon one another for being ghetto or bourgeois. How many years into emancipation are we?

Open gay expression has only just become mainstream recently. I would hate to see gays as a people group go through what Blacks have because three wealthy guys have had their egos bruised by sentiments expressed that the other did not appreciate. History would literally be repeating itself, and the possible repercussions extend far beyond the nuclear gay community. There isn’t a people group on the globe that hasn’t been affected in some way by the shenanigans that took place during the Harlem Renaissance, and they haven’t all been for the best. It might look like a worthy fight today, but is Elton John ready to be the catalyst and bear responsibility for a possible calamity because he isn’t tolerant enough to allow people to express their opinions? We’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

Before there was Creflo, there was Jesus Christ: the Original Recipient of Crowd Funding

jesus donkey

It has been pretty well established that if Jesus Christ were alive today, nobody would like or follow that dude. Republicans would be so averse to his teaching that they would have denounced him as a Middle Eastern radical socialist whose only purpose is to serve as drone fodder – but that’s only if he managed to live long enough to escape Mary’s womb. Liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Bill and Melinda Gates would have done their best to convince Mary that the best course for her as an unwed, teen mom would be to abort her baby and pursue a career retailing olive oil. Given how successful Democrats have been in convincing the poor and disenfranchised that the unborn among their ranks have little to no human value, it’s safe to say that there would be no Jesus, no salvation story and no blog to entertain you today. Praise God that His Son lived!

Saints, did you know God is can be relied on to be completely unpredictable? 1 Corinthians says:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I don’t know why God chose a cowardly stammerer to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt’s bondage (Moses), nor do I know why He chose the architect of a Jewish genocide to later preach salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike (Paul). All I know is, God works in mysterious and wacky ways and those methods don’t always make sense to us Earthlings.

There has been much ado in the last few days about an appeal that Creflo Dollar made to his congregants and ministry partners concerning a jet he needed to purchase. Creflo already has a jet, which was purchased in 1999. He uses it to fly all over the world to preach God’s word and do the work of the ministry and the call he believes he’s meant to accomplish. God called John the Baptist to live in the wild, eat locust and wear camel hair. Believe it or not, John’s lifestyle was just as offensive to the Jews as it rankles many that Creflo Dollar would choose to cruise the planet in a private jet.

I don’t know many Americans who keep anything for 16 consistent years…and before y’all scream “My parents have lived in the same house for 30 years!” ask them if they really want to. They don’t. Even the celebrities we blindly adore that live in mansions cycle out their homes every 3-7 years. Shoot, we don’t even keep cell phones for that long! And when it comes to automotive equipment, we ALL try to upgrade as frequently as possible…sometimes without having the means to do so. (This is bad stewardship of your funds, by the way.) So Creflo has had his jet for 16 years and I’m sure after the demise of Miles Monroe (God rest him), he took a look at his craft and thought it prudent to get a more current model. This sent the world into a tizzy. A veritable fit! Why? Not because Creflo Dollar stole church funds, or asked the government for a grant or bailout, or prostituted kids or charged his congregants a penalty for not adhering church law (I’m looking at YOU Obama, with your healthcare penalties and ridiculous tax policy!), but because he asked for the money. Made an appeal. Didn’t try to swindle anyone ooo! He merely asked the people who support his ministry and believe in his vision anyway to assist him in this way.

Well, what does a pastor need with a jet if he can’t afford one anyway? Well, what did Jesus need with a colt he ain’t buy nor could afford? Remember this story from the book of Matthew?

 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Source: Nairobi Wire

Photo Source: Nairobi Wire

Jesus had his disciples go and jack a dude for his colt AND his donkey because he needed them both to do his work and fulfill a prophecy. That donkey money didn’t come out of his pocket…it was crowd sourced! This looks selfish, self-serving and haughty, does it not? I’m not in Creflo Dollars prayer closet, and I don’t know if the Lord told him to “get thee thine own jet so that thoust may preach my word hastily!” I don’t know and I don’t care. Creflo Dollar wasn’t holding a gun to anyone’s head when he asked for the money, and as far as I know, he also didn’t promise anything in return for the donations. He didn’t promise a blessing, double honor or any of the manipulative language real charlatans employ when they are trying to fleece true believers and gullible people alike.

Am I going to be giving Creflo Dollar any money for his new aircraft? Probably not. My church needs all the pennies I can spare. And although I am not a part of his ministry, I do appreciate the work Creflo Dollar has done in support of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and several of the other projects he’s sanctioned in the city of Atlanta…and I do hope his partners will not abandon him and help fund this need. I mean that sincerely. Out of ALL the crazy things we put our time and energy into supporting – the Kardashian empire, the Disney juggernaut, the porn industry – it should not be so shocking (or appalling) that a group of men or women who want to support their pastor in this way should be allowed to do so, despite the offense that it might cause YOU.

Locust, anyone? I’m fresh out of tea.