Unpacking Voter Apathy Among Ghana’s Emerging Middle Class

It’s been difficult to feign enthusiasm for the 2016 edition of Ghana’s election process, and with an incumbent government performing so poorly, that should serve as a red alert that something is fundamentally wrong. With all the corruption scandals and improprieties exhibited by the ruling NDC, many more people should be rabidly howling for a conversion in government, but even at this 11th hour “I don’t know who I will vote for, and I may not even vote” is a common refrain.

Why should that be? There should be a clear victor here, if we as a nation have a collective vision concerning our heading.

Speaking in general terms, NDC is corrupt and incompetent. NPP is unpalatable in its arrogance and has spent the first part of its campaign cannibalizing itself. CPP is clueless and Ndoum – who embodies the PPP is proving to be a vindictive shrew. Neither of these parties nor its leadership can be trusted to move the mind of the nation forward. In fact, none of them has the slightest interest in elevating the political discourse, for in doing so it would mean that the citizenry would have the tools to hold the political elite to constitutional account. They are busy pandering to the lowest denominator, 1) because it’s easy and 2) because there is little pressure to perform beyond the minimum from those who occupy that space.  When was the last time you heard a Ghana politician speak passionately in the public sphere about the constitutionally guaranteed rights and role of the citizen, or the part the government plays in ensuring those rights and guiding/enforcing those roles? I can’t think of a single instance this campaign season, and I’d wager that people who are tired of the old way of politics being done in the country have given up hope.

On Nana Ama Agyemang Asante’s podcast ‘Unfiltered’, she has been asking eligible female voters if they will be voting in this election cycle. To her dismay – and mine as well, frankly – many women responded that they would not be voting. Why not?

“I just don’t want to,” they said.

You could hear it in their voices. The pitch and register of their answer is familiar. It’s exasperation. We as women employ this response in our lives every day. “I just don’t want to” is the polite and succinct way of (not) saying ‘Your stroke game SUCKS, you pre-mature ejaculating chimp’ or ‘I could work out, but that’s what society expects of me so I’m just gonna sit on the sofa and eat Pringles and kelewele and watch this The Princess Bride marathon.’ It would take the responder too long to explain why voting is such a chore that it elicits a sullen sigh, rather than a thrilling gasp and a flush of the cheeks. It has everything to do with the way political campaigning is done in Ghana and the Ghanaians’ response to these stimuli.

NDC was run a cruel and negative campaign, at times crossing into the ridiculous. Rather than focusing on the issues, they have spent the majority of the time attacking the main opposition leader, Nana Addo, personally. They have intimated that he is old, frail and therefore physically unfit to lead the nation. Nana Addo is a relic of the past. The latest one compares the relationship between the Ghanaian voter, NDC and NPP to a love triangle. Just watch:

Funny, right? At first blush, it does make you chuckle, but it’s a really troubling ad. Ghana – and its citizenry by extension – is portrayed as a fickle, idle girl who is compelled to depend on men to care for her needs. Despite the fact that Ghanaian women make up more than half of the labor force and are incredibly entrepreneurial, the ‘lazy, gold digging’ trope still exists. And if that weren’t odious enough, the ad makers threw in a dash of colorism, which continues to be a plague on our collective mental health. While “Ghana’s” pursuer (NPP) is a darker skinned male in a polyester shirt, the guy she temporarily dumped (NDC) is light skinned, current and smooth. She realizes she’s made a poor choice and coyly tries to sidle up to her previous partner. All of these play on the Ghanaian’s insecurities at the intersection of ethnicity, gender and color.

NPP’s problems have not been with advertising. Their woes have everything to do with their mouth. John Mahama, his brothers and Anita ‘the dwarfs ate your cedis’ De Sosoo have run the country into the ground, sprinkled lights over the rubber glue monuments they’ve constructed and dubbed them Dubai. It should be easy to defeat this boorish breed, but people aren’t convinced NPP is any better. Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife notwithstanding, both the party leadership and its supporters provoke an ick response in a lot of people.

Clearly, Nana Addo is not interesting in courting new supporters. This is hubris on both his and his supporters’ part. I suppose he can’t see past the crowds of people who show up at rallies and is satisfied that the clamor is enough. He routinely refuses to participate in debates, has not put out a concise, actionable message that the university graduate or young entrepreneur can relate to, and he certainly has not called for his leadership to behave circumspectly. Kennedy Agyapong and George ‘Show me your wife’ Andah threaten and disrespect women with abandon, and those who cry foul are silenced and made to feel shame. This tyranny goes right down to the Ghanaweb comments section, for what is name-calling and cyber bullying compared to a bus branding scandal? Vote for change! Is this alternative truly any better? Is it more tolerable to live in a country where people fear to express their thoughts and ideas than it is to live in a dumsor republic? Are we not simply trading one form of darkness for another?

If you call out these transgressions, then you MUST be an NDC supporter. NPP sympathizers have been nasty, illogical and downright insufferable over the previous 12 months, so much so that people want them to lose this election just to shut them up. Lydia Forson wrote an objective, thought-provoking piece detailing why NPP could fail to grasp power this season, and like the hit dogs they are, the violent canines did holler. She has been subjected to the worst sort of personal attacks – online and off – that have been seen in recent history.

Ghanaians have the gall to ask why more women don’t participate in the political process, musing over why we don’t have our versions of a Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or Sheryl Sandberg to boast of, conveniently forgetting how men threaten to release nudes in response to political analysis or reflexively default to reducing a woman to her looks if she is considered ungovernable. Even the EC Chair, Charlotte Osei , has not been immune to ad hominem attacks. While not having executed her first election cycle with the perfection that she required of the presidential candidates, she does not deserve to have that failure reduced to it being a consequence of giving a woman so much power. Naturally, there are death threats predicated on her presumed partiality to the party who appointed her.

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As if this series of fiascos weren’t were not bad enough, Joyce Amankwaa ,the Assin North municipal assistant civic education officer of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), has urged the wives of the Ghana police service to “satisfy their husbands very well in bed to enable them work effectively during the upcoming elections”. Once gain ladies, the fate and the stability of the nation rests your vagina. But don’t get too cocky! That you have a vagina also makes you inferior and weak. Always remember that the man is the head of he household and your natural leader.

Let’s not even get into the IGP who cannot decide if he wants to block social media or Election Day or conduct himself as though he’s living in a modern democracy where the citizens have rights and can be trusted to employ reason.

The whole thing is a charade and a circus, and little wonder so many people just can’t muster the passion to stand in the sun and be a part of the sideshow. For many people, Ghana’s politics do no reflect their values, nor is it representative of something to aspire to. It is considered retrogressive for reasons that are far too lengthy to list in one blog post. No wonder so many people find themselves apathetic!

Now, there are people for whom none of this matters. They are the party faithful at both ends of the economic spectrum. The wealthy are those whose fortunes are inextricably linked to the umbrella or elephant in office, and the poor simply want the satisfaction of knowing their team won. Ghanaian politics is FIFA’s sickly step-brother; but if we’re all lucky, we’ll avoid the melee at the end. But for those in the middle, the now despised neutrals who cannot bring themselves to hold their noses and pick a side, there is no clear choice here. A win for either party is merely a win for the party, not the country as a whole.

It’s time for Ghana politics to grow up. It’s time to transform the election process into a cerebral exercise, rather than an emotionally reactive one. We’ve been choosing the lesser of two evils for so long that it’s gotten us back to HIPC and disenfranchised our brightest minds. I always say that if you have a choice, choose greatness. Why settle for mediocrity and mendacity? We must all demand more of ourselves, and especially those who presume to lead us.

I’ll end with Kinna Likimani’s apt thoughts on the politician’s failure to woe undecided voters. She says:

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Birthday Con(ned), 2016

“Sigh…”

I looked up from my phone, irritated. It seems like Nadjah is always sighing about one thing or another these days.

“What? What is it?” I demanded. I was in no mood for her mercurial tween angst. Her episodes had been a burden on my nerves for weeks.

“Well… It’s just that my birthday is coming up, and I think it’s going to be pretty lame because we’re not in Atlanta any more.”

I softened a bit. It just so happened that in that very moment, I was missing Atlanta as well. I missed the blending of cultures; the hundreds of venues and events from which to choose for entertainment; and Chick-Fil-A. We always miss Chick-Fil-A. And DragonCon. The painful memory of its omission from our social calendar was still fresh in my and the children’s minds. We’ve been attending the Con as a family since Aya was in a stroller. I put my hand on Nadjah’s cheek and sighed with her.

Now I understand completely what happened, of course. Hindsight is always 20/20. It is because she caught me snacking on roasted peanuts and raisins instead of waffle fries and thick ketchup that I found myself beholden to the ridiculous idea that I proffered. The torment I have experienced over the previous two weeks is of no one’s making but my own – for it was with my own lips and through my own face that I said:

“You know what? Since we didn’t get to go to DragonCon this year, why don’t we have ‘NadjahCon’ for your birthday?”

“What?”

“Yeah! You and all your friends dress up in cosplay, we’ll have some games…”

“…and a photo booth, and prizes!”

“Ok… Sure.”

“I’m going to be Hatsune Miku blah, blah, blah, blah, blahhhh….”

I had no idea who or what this Hatsune Miku person was, but knowing my child as I do, I knew that creating this entity was going to cost me a pretty penny. *Spoiler alert: It has.*

For the next 4 days, every conversation we had was about the invitations I was promised to design and make.

Put me on an invitation!

Put me on an invitation!

“Mommy, I drew Hatsune like I said I would. Are the invitations done yet?”

“Mommy, did you do them yet?”

“Mommy…the invitations!”

 

Mind you, we have no functioning printer in our house, so I have to run to a local joint called The Print Shop and give them 60 cents per page anytime I need to fulfill an order. 60 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, until you multiply it by a billion. Because guess who didn’t line up her images correctly? Yes. This chick… this chick right here. And guess who had to pay The Print Shop a nice little grip to re-print the cards? You know don’t how much I wish the answer to that question was Your momma!

Sigh.

At this point, it’s all gotten completely out of hand. I’m making pterodactyl eggs, commissioning a local seamstress to make superhero capes for the kids who are SURE to show up without a costume and scattering money all over town for props. I am behaving like a Nigerian mother but operating without an Oga’s budget. You think my husband is in support of this foolishness?

“Why can’t she just have a couple of friends over, have some pizza, and have a sleepover?”

I would have (possibly) been in favor of that plan if Pastor Grant hadn’t done that thing when he bends his body at the knees, widens his eyes and speaks in slow, deliberate terms. Like he’s talking to someone in the process of making a series of poor, regrettable decisions and he’s trying desperately to get through to them with reason.

Naturally, I rebuffed his suggestion with a counterpoint of my own.

“That’s LAME, Marshall!”

And that’s how your craftily challenged blogger friend here ended up making a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell out of papier-mâché and several “indestructible” shields out of cardboard and hot glue.

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As I was mulling over my self-inflicted wounds, the eldest of my loin fruit joined me in the living room and settled herself on the sofa across from me.

“Yes?”

“You know what, Mommy? I was thinking. Instead of calling it ‘NadjahCon’, can we just call it ‘BDayCon’?”

NadjahCon sounded too self-absorbed, apparently. I just looked at her, grunted my approval and redesigned the invitations…again.

Yesterday, after I’d gotten back from Home Express (the US equivalent of Dollar Tree), where I had dropped the same obscene amount of money that every woman leaves in any discount store where she walks in with the intention of getting ‘one thing’, a thought occurred to me.

Maybe…maybe Nadjah could’ve gotten her best buddies together and just gone OUT for dinner. Maybe…maybe milkshakes with her friends could have been good enough. Perhaps – and I was just standing there in the sun thinking out loud, mind you – but perhaps we all could’ve just watched the highlights of DragonCon 2016 on YouTube instead of trying to live out a counterfeit version in the middle of South Africa with a bunch of kids who have no idea what cosplay is or how it works or might not find it interesting in the least.

Oh well. We’ll never know, will we? Tomorrow I go in search of PVC pipe so that I can construct a frame for the steampunk inspired photo booth. Like I said, I’ve gone too far to turn back now.

I’m glad we changed the name of the party to BDayCon 2016. It’s totally apt. Not only did I get conned into producing a major party, but I played myself.

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*This isn’t one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my parenting journey, but it certainly isn’t one of my finest hours. Have you ever parented out of guilt? At what point did you decide this point was far enough and decide to pull back? Or are you like me – just riding all the way into the Danger Zone with no decorum nor common sense? Discuss! 

 

 

 

Query: Is Pumpkin Spice Supposed to be the New Watermelon?

The election is over, thankfully. We’d all hoped for some normalcy to return to our lives (Trump’s repeated threats to rip apart families and unleash his Gestapo on communities of color, notwithstanding) but things have only gone on to get more and more bizarre. Now, in post-racial America, we have white people who are convinced that they number among the racially oppressed. They have termed this phenomenon ‘anti-white bigotry’.

I have yet to find anyone who has been able to explain what anti-white bigotry actually is, how it has adversely affected white communities, or robbed them of their humanity or one way or another. If anyone from the Reddit community could do this without referring to me as “nigger” or “cunt”, as so many who wandered here after my Tomi Lahren piece did, it would be much appreciated. Because as it stands, many people are uncertain about how pointing out white delight for Sperrys, roller derby, fresh fruit and now – pumpkin spice – equates to having to navigate voter disenfranchisement, redlining, police brutality, stigmatization, and so on. Inquiring minds want to know!

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I have come to the conclusion that white Americans are only oppressed in their minds. All of the angst and fear they’re experiencing is the same as the anomalous effect described in Michael Crichton’s book, Sphere. Native Americans are not rallying to chase you off their land, Black people are not gathering up arms to murder you in your beds, Mexicans are not building a wall around Buford Highway to keep you away from authentic food or fresh, affordable produce at the farmer’s market…even though these would all be natural and justified reactions to the way these and other marginalized groups have been cheated, brutalized and dispossessed by mainstream white America. In the absence of that retaliation, certain factions of liberal and alt-right America have identified how marginalized groups are now exacting revenge through reverse racism (which is not a real thing, by the way). Behold! We the Committee for White Tears puts to you that Pumpkin Spice is the new watermelon!

I like watermelons. Everyone does. There is a reason every fruit salad bowl made available at Public is 70% watermelon. In fact, I consider anyone who does not enjoy a sweet watermelon suspicious. However, watermelons and the Black community have a turbulent relationship. Says William Black of the Atlantic:

“…that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose. The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence. This racist trope then exploded in American popular culture, becoming so pervasive that its historical origin became obscure. Few Americans in 1900 would’ve guessed the stereotype was less than half a century old.”

On the other hand, the elements that make up pumpkin spice have a far less noble beginning. It is comprised of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Much like sugar, pumpkin spice was initially available to only aristocratic families. Because elitist tastes always dictate middle class fashion, the proletariat in both New World and the Old soon also developed a taste for the aromatic goodness of cinnamon. To feed this new demand, the Spice Trade went into full gear. It devastated natural habitats, cost human life in the thousands, robbed nations of their sovereignty and changed the balance of power.

In that regard alone, watermelon and pumpkin spice sharply differ. The proliferation of one is rooted in economic freedom and the other in colonial, imperialist oppression.

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I can understand how a group of people who have never known extensive oppression – or whose ancestors were given preference and opportunities to lift themselves from subjugation, like the Irish – can suffer confusion about what makes a stereotype and what constitutes racism. As I told the bearded twitter user who made the stretch in asserting that pumpkin spice is a racist trope: Denying people jobs or housing because of their ethnicity is racism; Not allowing a Black doctor to help an ill passenger on a plane because she’s Black is racism. Saying white girls love pumpkin spice…is just a fact. And it’s certainly not rooted in bigotry.

Look. I can pick up 15 glossy magazines today, from Marie Claire to Teen Vogue – and I can guarantee you that there will be dozens of mentions about pumpkin spice, boots and wooly mittens. There will be hundreds of thousands of dollars of ad dollars spent to attract white, female consumers to try out pumpkin spice Oreos and/or cream cheese, or participate in a Pumpkin Spice 5K run to support a charitable cause. The simple fact is, white women respond more urgently to pumpkin spice than they do to the sight of a black child gunned down in the street. And this perception – and twisted reality – is not the fault of any person of color. This is an idea fueled and created by white people working at white owned and controlled ad agencies.

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Before you proffer the idea that pumpkin spice is a symbol of white oppression or a tool of Black antagonism, as yourself how many white people died violently in the procurement of pumpkin spice. Has pumpkin spice been used as an emblem of shame? How does the image of a happy white woman in an autumnal glen inhaling its sweet aroma lend to the oppression of an entire group?

107725159_girl-eating-watermelon-black-americana-retro-tin-signI would love to see watermelon themed fun runs, 5Ks, camping events or birthday parties, but we as a race still haven’t been able to overcome the stigma that is attached to the wonderful, sweet summer fruit. That’s the difference. When a white woman clasps her venti Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, she’s considered artistic, determined even. She’s getting fueled for her day or taking a break from it. *If I sit on my porch, swinging my legs, twisting my pigtails and spittin’ seeds in a cup, I stand a real chance of some douchebag making hooting monkey noises in reaction to my presence. Both substances are used as agents of humor, but only one affords the persons closely associated with it humanity.

Conclusion: It is absurd and obscene to compare the warfare and violence that has dovetailed with the cultivation and consumption of pumpkin spice with the entrepreneurial spirit behind the cultivation and consumption of watermelon.

 

*Imagery borrowed from Rasheeda S. who, like me, loves a good piece of watermelon.

 

The Religious Right Has Ignored Its Role in Propagating Abortion. That Ends Now.

Q: “Serious question: Evangelicals, how could you do it? How could you support Trump?”

A: “We did it to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. We did it to protect the unborn.”

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“So excited! I took my daughter in the booth with me to vote today. I asked her if we should vote for the candidate who wants to save unborn babies, or the one who doesn’t. We voted to save babies.”

 

This is just a small sample of the conversations I’ve seen online from those who have been brave (or nonchalant) enough to voice for their support for Donald Trump.

Pastors routinely encourage their congregations to vote for the candidate that’s going to protect life, support Israel and defend heterosexual marriage. There is rarely any critical examination of a candidate beyond these three mandates, the logic being that believers are in this world, but not of it. (Ref John 17:16) Over time as the Evangelical Movement has become mainstream and the most recognized form of Christianity after Catholicism, and abortion and gay marriage have become THE voter issue(s) that Christians care about. I know my pastor couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s a narrow way to view the world, and it is unhelpful, as it takes into no consideration why women often feel compelled to seek an abortion in the first place. In order to do that, the church (and all who follow the tenants of any Abrahamic religion, really) would have to look itself in the mirror and accept blame.

Being a single-issue voter is not a trait that inspires admiration; however, it has been a luxury that the American voter has enjoyed ever since Civil Rights had been achieved and Roe v Wade was enacted. In terms of core values, there is nothing that truly separates Democrats from Republicans. The difference is only in the approach to achieving their goals. This is why no matter who wins a presidential election, Americans have been able to work together to achieve those core values. That is not the case with the election of Donald Trump, a man who has vowed a complete shut down on Muslims entering the country, vowed to impose “law and order” (read police harassment) in inner cities, encouraged his supporters to physically assault protestors at his rallies, promised to hire a special prosecutor to jail his political opponent, advanced ideas about jailing/punishing women who carry out abortions and preyed on women sexually, just to name a few. Oh, and he has some casinos that feature nice restaurants. I wouldn’t want to be accused of being biased in my assessment of Donald Trump.

I’m not here to discuss with my Bible believing friends and readers how for support for a Trump presidency is inconsistent with calling yourself a holder of Christian values. How do you justify electing a man who completely embodies the opposite of all the values you say you hold dear? I won’t discuss today how hurt I am to discover that your latent white supremacist biases would allow you to vote for a man who has the endorsement of the KKK precisely because his rhetoric has been racist and because his proposals would adversely affect marginalized groups. You’ve convinced yourselves that God is white and/or holds Republican values, and any conversation on the topic would be futile. I see where we stand.

Today, I want to talk to you about your ‘one’ issue…the issue you said would preclude you from supporting Hillary Clinton due to her stand: Abortion.

Do you recognize the part you have historically played in making abortions not only necessary, but desirable? You probably don’t, but that obliviousness is also a luxury privileged groups enjoy. And yes, Christians have been the privileged majority in America since its inception.

Abortion has its roots in shame and guilt, two emotions that paternal societies and religions have used to manipulate the multitudes for centuries. Let’s consider Mary, who was chosen as a vessel to carry God’s Son and fulfill His word. What did Joseph have to do when she informed him of her divine pregnancy? He took her away, not wanting to make an example of her. Being with child outside of the bonds of marriage was a grievous (and punishable) sin. Societal attitudes towards unwed mothers haven’t change in over a thousand years. In the 1940s and 50s, we saw how unwed mothers in Europe and America were forced to either give up their babies for adoption (or sale), or uprooted from their family life completely in order to cover the shame of getting pregnant out of wedlock. How many couples have been forced into shotgun weddings to cover the humiliation of getting pregnant out of wedlock? How many lives have been completely destroyed as a result of those forced unions? The conservative/Abrahamic religious mind and attitude toward women and pregnancy has wreaked havoc across the world for generations.

In West Africa amongst the Akans, there was a saying that ‘a baby was for us all’. A baby, no matter the circumstances of its birth was something to be celebrated. Everyone played a part in that child’s success. It takes a village to raise a child is a concept Hillary Clinton – and others – coopted from Africa. But what have we seen with the spread of Judeo Christian values in Africa? The tyranny of shame surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Just as it is in America, there is only one right time to have a baby, and if a child is conceived outside of those confines, it’s cause for humiliation, not celebration. Most of the time, women and girls are made to shoulder the burden of that humiliation, while men are spared any torment. In the face of this, an abortion looks like a more attractive option.

The Church is not really pro-life. The modern Church is merely anti-abortion. If the Church was pro-life, it would have put structures in place to support young women and girls as they prepare to bring life into this world. Pastors would not spit hateful words to make these women feel like criminal delinquents. Unwed or not, women would feel more confident in announcing their condition. This is not the case.

After a yearlong tryst with Douche Bag, I found myself pregnant. We had already ended things prior to this discovery, so I had no intention of marrying him. He took the news poorly, as was to be expected. However when I told by a select number of Christian counterparts, I was told I needed to “go see Pastor XXX and pray and ask God’s forgiveness!”

When a friend of mine got pregnant and decided to keep the baby, her paramour – who was a deacon in the church and later became her husband – was stripped of his duties while she was whispered about behind her back and made to feel like a pariah.

My South African housekeeper’s daughter got pregnant at 17. I’ve known her since she was 13. When I hugged her and told her I couldn’t wait to meet her baby, her mother said, “Get down on your knees! Tell Malaka that this was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your life!” This is a church going woman.

These stories are not unique. These are the norm. So when I hear Christians claim that they voted and supported a violent fascist for their presidential candidate because he’s going to protect the “innocence of life”, I call bull. What about the innocent men that populate America’s overflowing prisons? What about the law abiding same sex couple that gets hateful words hurled at them? What about the immigrant who really wants a path to legal citizenship, but finds his/her path blocked at every turn by unnavigable legislation and is forced deeper underground just to survive? Not everyone can emigrate from Slovakia and find their path to citizenship by marrying a septuagenarian billionaire. These lives are innocent and worthy of protection as well. You do yourself and the God you serve a grave disservice when you refuse to be nuanced in your advocacy. God doesn’t just care about one group of people, and neither should you.

To the degree that your cause and preaching has participated in making a woman feel uncomfortable/ashamed/desperate in her state of pregnancy is the degree to which you’ve driven her to have an abortion, the very procedure that you find so repugnant. We shame women for getting pregnant, we shame them for seeking public assistance to bring a healthy baby into the world, we shame them for terminating a pregnancy that nobody – maybe not even herself – seems to want. Again, this is not being pro-life.

Evangelicals who overwhelmingly supported Trump will have to take a hard look at themselves over the course of the next 4 years, when they watch their neighbors battle severe illnesses with Ibuprofen because they no longer have access to healthcare, or when their children come home to report how their friends have taken to shouting “Go back to Mexico/Africa! Build that wall!” in the lunchroom. When the chaos that has ensued over the last 48 hours has not fizzled out but only heightened and expanded in other unanticipated areas. You will have to tell us all then if criminalizing and blocking a woman’s access to abortion was all worth it.

*I’ve focused on Christianity in this piece because it’s what I’m most familiar with. What does your religion or worldview say about pregnancy and life? Does it support women, or does it force, punish and dictate how their bring life into the Earth?

Theory: Why The 66% Bent Over To Give Trump A Better Angle From Which to Grab ‘Em By The Pussy

Up until 3 weeks before the election, I was 80% certain that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency. I had voiced this repeatedly on Facebook, to the horror of my Democrat leaning/voting friends. As far as race and justice are concerned, I haven’t had faith in America in a long time – not since I’ve grown up past the pleasures of Saturday morning cartoons and birthday parties at Showbiz. I know it to be a country founded and built on genocide, man stealing, rape and broken treaties. Donald Trump’s peculiar brand of horribleness resonated with the soul of the nation. I could feel it.

I’ve worked in retail for the last 7 years, so I’ve seen how angry white people – white men, particularly – have been. Working in any service industry allows you to see people either at their best or their absolute worst. And because my job necessitated me working with the general public, I got to see and serve ‘real Americans’, unfiltered, for 8-24 hours a week, depending on my schedule.

What I saw wasn’t pretty.

Nevertheless, I allowed a friend of mine convince me that a Trump presidency was highly unlikely. She sent me this breakdown from the NY Times and I permitted myself to be lulled by the predictions of pollsters who had the benefit of access to resources that would allow them make (somewhat) scientific conclusions based on data gathered in real time. For what is intuition and lived experience compared to data? Surely I was wrong.

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Well, as we all know, the polls were trash, as were the predictions, and I was right. There is a proboscis monkey and his caterwauling troop headed the White House come January. But how did it happen? Hours after the results came in, everyone was still stunned, wondering how he did it. Fingers were pointed everywhere: at minority voters who might have not turned up in force to support Hillary, or the thousands of Americans who wrote in “Harambe” on their ballots, or even those who siphoned votes from HRC to Gary Johnson in protest. Who, who I say, could be responsible for this folly?!

Once the raw data came in, it was clear who gave Trump his victory: White women.

But hadn’t Trump offended them too? Wasn’t he an alleged sexual predator who not only imposed his carnal desires on women – admitting himself that he ‘just starts kissing them’ without waiting for permission – a man who said you could do anything to a woman if you were “a star”? And since we know his appetites don’t swing toward swirl, we could only conclude that the targets of perverse urges would be white women. He wasn’t talking about kissing me. So how did white women – of all economic backgrounds, in possession of several degrees or none – bring themselves to put a man who has pretty much admitted that he has no impulse control when his fist is in close proximity to any warm vagina, potentially their own?

I have my own theory based on lived experience, and since my intuition has proven more accurate than scientific polls, I’ll share it with you.

It all boils down to white female survival at the expense of all else… or what we refer to in Ghana as stomach politics.

White women have been listening to their husbands, boyfriends and blessers bellyache about a Black man in the White House for the past 8 years. President Obama successfully won two terms, in part because of the support of the white female voter. 56% of white female college educated voters gave Obama their mandate in 2008. Mitt Romney was able to siphon off some of those numbers, reducing President Obama’s support from this group to just 42% – this despite Romney’s “binders full of women” gaffe. Nevertheless, President Obama prevailed and will complete his second term come January.😦

From binding bodies to clamping pussies

I don’t know if white female voters enjoy being denigrated by their potential elected officials. It’s a possibility, since they were able to overlook the utterances of a man who has called women ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, ‘pigs’ and bragged about grabbing them by the genitals. Maybe Trump saw Romney’s post-binder surge and figured it was the code to connecting with this group of women. I don’t know. I DO know that those women who were fresh faced and right out of college went on to work, started families (most of them with white men) and watched real life come at them fast. There was no picket fence and dutiful, unseen colored gardener at the other end of “I do” in 2009. Everyone had to tighten their belts and pull up their socks in this new economy, and even though President Obama came into office during the worst recession America had seen since the Great Depression – somehow, according to conservatives – it was his entire fault that the event happened in the first place.

President Obama has been blamed for everything from crop failure to the creation of ISIS. It’s strange, but white men have been able to look at the world’s suffering – the poverty, the war, the genocide – and imagine that they are somehow suffering those precise fates. They look at the gains that people of other races and circumstances have made under the Obama administration (gay marriage, the fight for income equality, etc.) and imagine that this somehow robs them of prosperity. With this new imaginary reality firmly implanted in their consciousness, the persona of the Angry Endangered White Male emerges, and it is his mandate to take America back and make it great, safe (and white) again. The white man’s existence as an endangered being is all a phantasm, of course. The raw truth is that median incomes for white males have historically outpaced those of their male counterparts of color, and even saw a slight increase under the Obama administration in 2014-2015.

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(Source U.S. Bureau of the Census)

But you can’t tell an irrational white male that, and it’s certainly not his longsuffering wife’s position to do so either. His enemy becomes her enemy, and if her beloved is feeling less inclined to fork out cash for trips to Destin because ‘times are lean’ under that n*gger in charge, then her duty is to make sure she does all she can to get that obstacle out of the way… which in this case could be solved with a simple vote. This is why Hillary could not have possibly been a suitable replacement for Obama. As he said clearly in one impassioned stump speech rallying support for Clinton:

“My name may not be on the ballet, but my policies are on the ballot!”

What? This is just too much.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Malaka, how do you know this? This is just conjecture!”

I know this because of Bones. And because I people watch.

Before the dot com bubble burst, people were coming out of university demanding $40-50K salaries, with no experience, and getting them. The economy was booming because people were spending an obscene amount of money on luxury goods. But then the bubble DID burst, and everything went to hell. While some people were forced to take a reduction in salary to keep their jobs, others just lost their livelihoods altogether. It was a hard time and people were really concerned; concerned about things that really matter.

“Does that mean we’re not going to be able to go to Bones every Friday?” a painted 50-something woman dripping in costume baubles squawked to her husband.

People were wondering how their rents were going to be paid, and here she was concerned about whether she’d be able to schmooze and booze it up at a local high-end steak house.

Stomach politics.

Not convinced? Perhaps you might recall the Trumpettes, whose explanation for why Donald Trump would make such a great leader is if he could do such a fantastic job with his club – where there are options for 75 different desserts – he could certainly replicate that sort of excellence as president.

Madam! We are not making cheesecake in the Oval Office! What…?

Again, stomach politics.

You think I’m lying. Google it.

I’m not surprised white women sold us out. I’m surprised people consider white womanhood an enduring ally. From Harriet to this week, we’ve seen them do this before. Oh, they are more than happy to take those small business loans set aside for monitories, but outside of that, this is not a group of women who identifies with the disenfranchised. This only comes as a shock to those who are unfamiliar with Susan B. Anthony’s racist quirks that served as the hallmark for the Suffragette Movement and then formed the basis of modern day white feminism. 66% of white women voted for Trump because it was good for white men, and because they are still dependent on the rewards of a white male patriarchal society. Their fortunes are inextricably linked. So it doesn’t matter if Trump unleashes a newly formed police force (Gestapo) to separate immigrant parents from their American-born kids, or if he orders Giuliani to implement Stop & Frisk in Black and brown communities, or even if Trump himself shows up at the Toddlers and Tiaras pageant and starts snatching 13 year old girls by the crotch. As long as that 401K is protected, the rest of us can go hang.

But, but, Malaka. What about all the anti-Trump protests breaking out all over the country? Look at all the young white women taking to the streets!

Hush. Those chicks aren’t out there protesting for ME. They’re out there protesting for access to birth control. How many of these same women turned for Black Lives Matter rallies?

Selah. I’ll wait.

 

The Penguin Home Wrecker Video Touched a Raw Nerve and Provoked Raw Feelings Everywhere

The kids are not allowed to watch TV during the week, but sometimes, when the noise level is more than I can bear and the constant bleating of the words “But we’re so boooooored….!” is more than I can abide, I allow them one small indulgence.

“Y’all can watch NatGeo Wild for a bit. But nothing else! NatGeo is eddi-kay-shun-al. Y’all gon’ learn something if you watch NatGeo Wild, ‘stead of cartoons all the time!”

The children readily agree and rush up the stairs. For an hour, the only sounds I hear are “eewww!” and the occasional, incredulous “what?!” followed by a loud gasp. These noises satisfy me. They assure me that my children are being educated – or informed, at least – about the scientific world in ways that I am ill-equipped to do. But after watching this Maury-esque NatGeo Gone Wild video, I’m not sure that this is the best diversion for my offspring at this tender age. I don’t know if they are ready for this sort of mature material!

Holmaighat. Did you see that? This is just brutal. Just absolutely horrible. To quote the Blue Lives Matter corps, we can’t rush to judgment because we “don’t know all the facts”. As the Internet has pointed out, perhaps the cuckolded penguin was actually a poor provider or was abusing his wife in some way. Maybe he even had a second family in some other burrow that she found out about. Maybe – as the fight between her betrothed and her new boo revealed – she sniffed out a long time ago that he was too weak to be a model of strong, prime penguindom for the children she has to raise. All we know if is that the man went out to make some bacon and when he got home, some other guy was porking his wife.

Tragic.

2 weeks ago, we travelled to Oudtshorns and visited the Highgate Ostrich farm. We learned about how ostriches choose their partners. Instead of forcing a pair of ostriches on each other, breeders will release a male ostrich into a pen of five females and let him choose his mate from among them. If she precedes him in death, he will never mate with another ostrich again. However if HE dies, she immediately begins the process of looking for a new mate. Penguins are reported to share similar family values, where couples remain monogamous and committed, sharing responsibility for hatching and raising their young in a manner very much like ostriches do. I had this elaborate piece made up in my mind about how a (human) woman ought to choose her mate based on the qualities of the ostrich: One who is caring, committed for life, equally shoulders the burden of raising young, able to protect and provide…

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This male ostrich stands guard over his clutch while his mate feeds in the distance.

I had this elaborate, unwritten piece in my head where is marinated for days, forgetting one fundamental fact: Some chicks don’t want a sensitive dude. Some chicks see a man who respects them as an equal as weaklings. Some chicks are just evil hoes.  Ohhhh, and make no mistake: Mrs. Penguin is. An. Evil. Hoe. She has to be.

“Pick me, Penguina! Pick me!”

Did you see how the two embattled males stood there crying out for her to choose between them, and how she waddled over there, inspected the reproductive plantain of the penguin she was cheating with, ROLLED HER NECK AT HER HUSBAND, and nudged Rico the Home Wrecker with her beak in the direction of their den of iniquity before waddling back to the crib? This she-penguin has no decorum, whatsoever! She could’ve let her husband down gently. She could have let him leave their marital home with some dignity, but no! She not only robbed him of his burrow, and his children, she robbed him of his pride. She ain’t have to do that. But honestly, the way she finessed her husband with such nonchalance and savagery, I don’t know whether to slap her or shake her hand. Is she heartless or brilliant?

This was more than he could take, and in a valiant effort to reclaim his self-respect, he chased after the man who’d broken up his home – the man whom his kids had been calling ‘Daddy’ for only God knows how long – to launch one final brutal attack in order to prove that SHE had made a fatal error in rejecting him.

And man, was it brutal. Mr. Penguin left bloodied and half dead, while Rico Penguin lunged his massive body deeper into the burrow his sweat and bare beak built.

Holy Ghost Fiya!!  Why did he have to trip over the tree branch after he caught hands from Rico the Rival Penguin? I blame 2016 for this. Only 2016 is capable of something this cruel. 2016 stuck out its malignant, twisted foot and tripped Mr. Penguin as he prepared to take his walk of shame.

The sad part is, there is nothing Mr. Penguin could’ve done to prevent this outcome. Furthermore, his reputation as a punk is sealed in the community. Everyone saw this…everyone. He will never mate again – at least not in that community of penguins. He’ll be lucky if he makes it to another colony, bleeding the way he was. Predators – like rogue police in communities of color – will view him in this weakened state and see it as an opportunity to rob him of his civil liberties and right to life. It’s inevitable. And then it will be incumbent upon us to start a penguin lives matter movement to honor this unjustly slain life. It’s the decent thing to do as co-citizens of the earth. RIP in advance, Mr. Penguin. I’m sure you were a decent bloke.

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Herh. Lemme tell you something. If you’re human and male and reading this, be grateful that more women do not conduct themselves like birds. Now might be a good time to make sure everything is alright in your mammalian relationship. You don’t know when the spirit of Penguina will overtake your wife.