Author Archives: Malaka

Education: The Missing Piece of the Reparations Conversation

The topic of reparations is never far from the minds of most people in America. Even if it’s not a subject dominating the conversation, it is always niggling at the subconscious of the population, and just about every one has a strong opinion on the matter: Either reparations is owed to the descendants of slaves or it isn’t. It’s tempting to assume that race primarily plays a factor in attitudes for or against (the most vocal opponents of any reparations initiative are frequently white), but there are quite a fair number of people of color who oppose the idea that the descendants of African slaves in America are due any sort of pecuniary redress because “slavery was a long time ago” and we’ve had ample opportunity to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. In his book Enough, Juan Williams paints those who pursue the cause as those looking to exploit the blood sweat and tears of slaves and the current suffering of Blacks in inner cities and impoverished pockets of the nation as wanting to line their own pockets. He calls the reparations conversation ‘dead’.

As long as there is racism in America – as long as violent racial tensions exist in the country – the reparations conversation will never truly die. I say this because the topic is far more complicated (at least in my mind) than ‘for or against’; because the idea of reparations, like the successful institution of slavery, requires deep thought, much effort and a clear vision about desired outcomes for the future.

Every once in a while, an event from America’s ugly past makes headlines and necessitates a conversation about reparations. Earlier this year, a story revisiting the 272 slaves that were sold by Georgetown Jesuits in 1838 in order to pay off a debt (briefly) took over the national conversation about what the descendants of slaves are owed, if anything at all. Esther Armah discussed the Georgetown incident with her co-hosts for the day on her podcasts The Spin in a refreshing look at the topic from the both the African and African American perspectives. It is here that Christina Greer explores her complex feelings on the topic, particularly where Georgetown is concerned. For her, the idea that naming a building after the ill-fated slaves in the 1838 purchase, or giving university applications of their descendants a “closer look” does not even begin to mark redress for the tragedy their ancestors endured. Yet it seems this is where Georgetown has begun and ended their monologue. It was a ‘monologue’ because the descendants were never brought to the table to discuss reconciliation or acceptable steps moving forward.

The great-grandfather of Rochell Sanders Prater was a slave sold by Jesuit priests to help keep Georgetown University afloat. Source: OEA

The great-grandfather of Rochell Sanders Prater was a slave sold by Jesuit priests to help keep Georgetown University afloat.
Source: OEA

I’ve recently had similar conversations with Chriss Tay, one of the most brilliant academic minds I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Mr. Tay is of the opinion that the key – and missing – element of the reparations conversation is not money, it is education.

He says, “Should there be monetary compensation to the descendants of slaves? Absolutely. But that alone is not remedy enough for the ills that the Trans Atlantic Slaver Trade unleashed globally. Monetary reparations won’t stop a cop from shooting a child playing with a toy in the park or from choking a man selling cigarettes…but education WILL. There is something that this man has been taught about Black people to see them as a threat and a menace first, rather than human.”


As a professor of history himself, he asserts that the history and horrors of slavery, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, the Flint water crisis and so on must be taught accurately and beyond platitudes. This history – poorly taught – affects current attitudes, and not just in America, but globally. How does he know this?

“Look. If you put a big ship at the harbor today in Ghana and wrote ‘Slave Ship – Destination: America!’ indigents would be fighting among themselves to get their spot on that ship. They have no concept or understanding of the types of things African slaves went through on board and after they got off of those ships in the New World. This is because of a lack of education.”

He and I had this talk in June of this year. If I had any doubts about his assertion, they were all put to rest when I saw this video of African migrants jubilating at their first sight of the Europe after they were rescued from the coast of Libya on BBC:


If only they knew what they were in store for, eh?

The reasons why these migrants and all minorities are little better than second class citizens go back to the systems that were erected to keep them there; and I believe it is those systems that need to be eradicated, rather than having money thrown at them.

We know that money has never really solved a problem. Not at its root cause. It is integrity and intention that brings about true change. Giving Black and brown people in America 40 acres and a Hyundai today are not going to resolve the issues of chattel slavery. Why? Because most people aren’t going to know what to do with those types of resources…because harboring this level of ignorance has been by design. Furthermore, Black people and communities who have historically shown themselves to be entrepreneurial and self-sufficient have had their work and efforts destroyed, forcing them back into positions of need.

I am against any sort of lump sum pay out per head for slavery. I believe it would be a disaster from both ends of the equation. First, I believe that for white people it would signal the end of the conversation. America declared itself “post racial” with the election of Barack Obama, something the news and interactions in your WalMart parking lot tell you is nowhere near the truth. Can you imagine what a payout of $xxx would signal to them? “Well we’ve already given you money you didn’t earn. What more do you want”  The second problem is what to do with the money itself. I can’t say with confidence that an individual payout will help communities of color if there is no plan for community re-investment.

When Hurricane Katrina happened, we were all privy to the number of victims who ended up in Lennox Mall with their emergency money in hand buying Luis Vuitton bags or scheduling cosmetic surgeries. These people had never been taught the value of investment and long-term thinking. They have lived hand to mouth with moments of mirth sprinkled in, just as their predecessors had. This was not an accident. From Reconstruction to Second but Equal, the creation of a second-class citizen and a blunted mind was intentional. And if white people in general and the elite in particular want to throw off the shackles of the White Man’s Burden – his self-appointed directive to ‘civilize’ the world – then this corps is going to have to do just that. They will have to put in the same effort that made slavery and the many forms of effective subjugation that followed successful into the effort of demolishing these old systems and the erection of new ones with the partnership of people of color. Probably more effort. Everyone knows it’s more difficult to undo a knot than it is to tie one.

Let me give one example. The DeWolfs – a prominent family in Rhode Island – made their fortune in the shipping and selling of slaves. James DeWolf (1764-1837), was a U.S. senator and a wealthy merchant who was reportedly the second-richest person in the country when he died. In the 1790s and early 1800s, DeWolf and his brothers virtually built the economy of Bristol.* In reading about the DeWolfs, I discovered that their wealth generation was not a straight line: it was a web. People from all walks of life in their New England community invested in DeWolf slave ships for a handsome return on that investment. Blacksmiths, bankers, even preachers earned capital from those investments. So when folks use the excuse that their ancestors never owned slaves to absolve either themselves or their family from the great stain of slavery and its aftershocks, it simply doesn’t wash. We see here that you didn’t have to own a slave to be a beneficiary of slavery.

This is just ONE community that invested its time and resources into making the institution of chattel slavery a success; efforts that went on for hundreds of years. The Civil Rights Act was just passed into law in 1965. That was only 51 years ago. Do you think slavery was the efficient monster it grew to become after its first 51 years? No. African folk were still running away, talking back and thinking their ideas counted for something. The enslaved mind had to be made and that inheritance passed on to their descendants. The undoing of that effort is the new White Man’s Burden. Teachers, the TSA and Theresa May will need to invest their resources into revolutionizing not just the minority mind, but “mainstream” thinking as well. If Black people could have done it alone, we would have done it by now. But we’ve been appealing to white consciousness with very little effect for centuries. See the ease with which people blame the Trayvon Martins of this world for their own deaths.


Unlike Juan Williams, I do not believe the reparations conversation is dead, but I do believe it’s time for it to evolve. I suggest that the conversation move away from reparations to restoration. What financial compensation can be offered for the fracturing of families? How many dollars is displacement worth? Can you put a figure on what it means to have your identity ripped away from you? And yet, that’s what’s required to bring this quarrel to a close: a restoration of what was lost in those centuries of colonization and slavery. Put back what you stole. Give people back their dignity. Give them freedom over their affairs. Stop cheating, experimenting and poisoning whole communities. Commission effective programs that will give people a real world skill. Allow people to feel safe in their own communities. Restore the humanity that was and is still being siphoned away today. And just like the triangular slave trade, this must be a global effort. The aftershocks of slavery have not affected North and South America alone. Everyone from Cape Town to Copenhagen has a part to play in this process. Whether for pain or pleasure, we are all the heirs of our ancestors’ actions and have a responsibility to work towards righting any wrongs for the sake of our progeny.


Let’s here from the scholars. What are your thoughts?



Her Dress Is Not the Problem… Your Mind Is


Last week we saw #TeacherBae briefly captivate our online attention. #TeacherBae is the hashtag that became Patrice Brown’s – an Atlanta public school paraprofessional – digital appendage after pictures that she posted of herself at work and/or at play on Instagram went viral. She’s a beautiful woman with a full, curvy body. Black Twitter did not disappoint with the jocular commentary that we’ve come to expect during such occasions. A fair number of men jested that they might have paid attention in class if she was their instructor. Most of the comments I saw from women were positive, expressing their admiration for Ms. Brown’s fitness and confidence. Naturally, there was a fair amount of shade, but that’s to be expected. This was a (Black) woman’s body that was being dissected in public by the public. And then Ms. Brown’s images went mainstream all hell has broken loose. It would not surprise me if we were to hear in the coming weeks that Patrice Brown has vacated her post as a teacher – a position she has performed with such distinction that she been reportedly recognized and received awards for – either voluntarily or under duress. APS does not have the strongest track record for supporting its teachers, and have reportedly already coached and reprimanded her for “violating” the employee dress code.


This is not the first nor will it be the last time this week that a Black woman’s features will be deemed “inappropriate”. Let’s not feign confusion about this matter. It’s not the dress that is “inappropriate”… it’s Patrice Brown’s body IN the dress that so many people have taken umbrage with. It’s is a quintessential Black woman’s body. We have the lowest waist to hip ratio of all ethnic groups. We are (in general) naturally built as close to an hourglass as you can humanly get. Just like melanin affords us the gift of slowed aging, genetics means we have big hips, small waists and a full bosom on top. If you had put an average Asian woman of the same height and weight in the same attire as Patrice Brown (or Peace Hyde or Beyoncé) had worn, the visual results would be drastically different and probably more tolerable to the general public. So it’s not the dress that her detractors are dissenting to…it’s her body. This is an argument that Preston Mitchum lays out brilliantly in an article he wrote for The Root.

There is a certain level of disdain for/fear of/envy that is specifically accorded Black women’s bodies that is frankly, really bewildering for us. We are human; and are there some of us who crave attention? As humans, absolutely. But just like the vast majority of white women do not get up in the morning eagerly anticipating having our sartorial choices dissected, ridiculed or sexualized, neither do we. We’re not looking forward to the catcalls, the “Ei guhl, you lookin’ good in dem jeans!”, or the unsolicited comments or groping that thousands of women have to endure each day. The task of dressing “modestly” is not one that easy for women who are built any way other than waiflike and elfin is not only mind-blowingly difficult – it’s expensive. Women who are top heavy have it even worse. (I got you, Tia!)

I know from personal experience the pain and disappointment of buying clothes off the rack. I am 5’5” and at my fittest, my proportions were 36-24-38. After having 4 kids and failing to snap back, I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight, but my ratios have remained the same. Only curvy women know what it’s like to have pants fit you in the hips only to have to suffer that intolerable gap in the waist. Only curvy women know what it’s like to scour racks for hours in search of jeans cut in such a way that the denim will not cut off circulation in your crotch. Materials with stretch have been (and will continue to be) our salvation. These blends are literally the only thing we can wear comfortably and still have a sense of feeling fashionable. You know why? Because the fashion industry ain’t checkin’ for US. Tim Gunn said as much in his op/ed for the Washington Post. 

The fashion industry denizen says:

“In addition to the fact that most designers max out at size 12, the selection of plus-size items on offer at many retailers is paltry compared with what’s available for a size 2 woman. According to a Bloomberg analysis, only 8.5 percent of dresses on in May were plus-size. At J.C. Penney’s website, it was 16 percent; had a mere five items — total.”

Brotha Tim: WE know this and we thank you for making it plain. It is for these reasons among others that some of us have had to take matters into our own hands… literally. Such was my sister’s frustration with shopping off the rack that she has taken it upon herself to learn how to sew her own clothes. Between buying material, a fit mannequin, two sewing machines and the man-hours involved in making the garment, this is a costly pursuit. But if a curvy/plus sized woman wants to wear something flattering and modern, she’s going to have to:

  1. Make it herself
  2. Pay someone else to sew for her
  3. Find garments with stretch that move with and hug her hips

The latter-most option is the one the majority of us opt for – which incidentally is what a certain mulish section of society finds offensive. You can all kick rocks. You have no idea about this struggle. Your opinions are nonsense, invalid and unwelcome. Did we not all watch Leslie Jones’ struggle to find a designer to dress her full-figured body for her red carpet premier? Even the so-called elite among us is not spared this humiliation.

Much has already been written and discussed about the policing of women’s bodies, but it seems everyone wants to be and has appointed themselves as the Black Woman’s constable; not just in America. It might both sadden and comfort Ms. Brown to know that she is not the only teacher to come under fire for “indecently” attiring her assets. These two teachers in Zimbabwe were reprimanded and publicly shamed for being too “sexy” in the classroom.


This teacher was rebuked and sanctioned for dressing too sexy for work.

Where you gonna find a skirt to "appropriately" fit THAT??

Where you gonna find a skirt to “appropriately” fit THAT??

Critics say that their clothing is a distraction for children. I say you see what you want to see.


To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

                                                                                    – Titus 1:15

There is an image – an optical illusion that made the rounds after a study was conducted exploring the links between perception and experience a few years ago. It always comes to mind in moments like these. What do you see when you look at this?


Like those who participated in the study, most adults will see two people caught in an erotic embrace. They will struggle to find the dolphins. The children who participated in the study, however, saw dolphins first. They had no sexual memories of point of reference to immediately recognize a lovers’ embrace.

America has dubbed Patrice Brown ‘the sexiest teacher alive’. You all imputed that standard on her. You’re the problem; her dress is not.


*Have you ever been made to go home and change your clothes? Have you ever been denied entry into a club because you weren’t in heels? Have you ever been admonished by your boss to cover up because ‘your nipples are showing’, meanwhile, the office A/C is on full blast? (That last one was my personal experience. I wanted to kick my manager that day.)

Fist Bumps to the So-Called Social Media Feminists!

A July article written by Betty Kankam-Boadu and (re)published on Starr FM made the social media rounds yesterday afternoon to the mirth and amusement of all who chimed in to comment on Ms. Kankam-Boadu’s contribution on the conversation surrounding feminism in Ghana. My initial reaction after I read the article entitled “To the so-called feminists on social media; the struggle is real!” was one I struggled to unriddle, until I went to sleep and drifted off into dreams of my children. Betty Kankam-Boadu’s (who shall at some points in this post be referred to as ‘BKB’) written attempt at shaming what she calls “social media feminists” (and it was such an attempt) reminded me of watching a toddler waddling into rush-hour traffic on a long holiday weekend. It left me alarmed and tense. Like, who let you outside of the safety of your crib and into these dangerous streets? You ain’t Barry Allen. You ain’t the Flash! You ain’t equipped to be here! Bless your heart…

In Betty Kankam-Boadu’s somewhat waffling analysis (which you can read here) she takes potshots at the advocacy efforts of feminists like Lydia Forson when she says:

“Let me give this to them, I like the fact that they get people talking about whatever issue is being discussed. But after jumping on Hamamat Montia’s viral red carpet “situation” by telling all women to get naked and do whatever they want with their bodies any day any time anywhere, how do you measure results?”

There were a few other people on Twitter/Facebook to support Ms. Montia’s choice to wear whatever she bought and paid for at a celebrity event – since she IS a sentient being and all – but they are not as visible as Lydia Forson. So yeah…It’s safe to assume that Betty was dissing Lydia specifically for not having measureable results. She then goes on to cite the work of a bunch of people with whom she has no social or cultural connection (Brandon from Human’s of New York, a barefoot Julia Roberts at Cannes, etc.) who are doing what she feels is tangible and therefore more admirable activism. It’s really disappointing (and telling) that Betty couldn’t point to a single Ghanaian/African feminist activist to drive home her argument. Perhaps our local champions are not good enough, eh? Kinna Likimani, Dorcas Coker-Appiah and Jessica Horn are all women doing the work on and offline…and more importantly, doing it with respect to our cultural context.

Which brings me to my next point.

becca1Maddddaaaaaam. Come ON! How much does Accra have in common with New York? How does Cannes even compare to the VGMAs? Sister…please. You say Julia Roberts showed up barefoot at an event in silent protest to women who were previously turned away for not wearing heels. Just this weekend, Becca showed up on the Glitz red carpet preening in a plunging neckline, greedily posing for pictures next to a grand piano until the morality police swooped in and demanded both an explanation and an apology for her attire. It could have been her moment as an African woman to reclaim agency not over just her body, but stand for women whose bodies are routinely poked, commented on and commodified all over the nation. Instead, Becca threw her stylist under the bus, blaming her for the now-deemed fashion faux pas all while playing the victim. You know who came to her defense? Those ‘social media feminists’ you so clearly disdain. Don’t try to deny your revulsion for this group. Obviously, the term – like ‘armchair researcher ‘and ‘Instagram model’ – is used as a pejorative and not meant to be complimentary… shaming people into ceasing behavior that you take umbrage with.

Here’s the reality we live in today: Our veritable lives are lived out online and often through and/or social media. Heck, it took the creation of Pokemon Go just to get droves of millennials – who spend the better portion of their day online – just to go outside for a few minutes. Brick and mortar businesses are closing shop all over the world and focusing their retail sales efforts to online channels. Whether you want to believe it or not, a hashtag CAN bring an organization to its knees. Reputations are won and lost online. For the first time in history, people can participate in the political process in real time thanks to social media. So it would ONLY make sense that there would be social media feminists who concentrate their advocacy efforts to online spaces. It’s often the only spaces that these voices are ever heard. Right now, a hoard of feminists are in Bahia plotting ways to create a feminist internet, so BKB and any other like-minded individuals had better get their minds right and their hearts ready.

The idea that these women (and men) speak up are “just in for the cheap popularity” is absolutely laughable. The sought popularity Betty Kankam-Boadu so glibly assigns to these women often comes in the form of online and threats of physical abuse. There is a very good reason that very few of Ghana’s celebrity or civilian core speaks up publicly about hot button issues in this patriarchal society. It’s more beneficial to stand with the oppressor than to number yourself with the oppressed. Wanlov the Kubolor is only one of the few names in entertainment I can think of to take such a stand repeatedly, and we’ve seen how Ghana’s music industry has treated him and the FOKN Bois duo over the years. So no: I very much doubt anyone does their social media activism for the benefit of cheap fans. If anything, it comes at a great cost. That’s why Becca and Hamamat chose to cower and cast blame on stylists and photographers: they’ve deemed the cost of seeking self-actualization as too high and therefore sought real cheap popularity by kowtowing to the whims of a fickle public..

Since Ms. Kankam-Boadu spoke so boldly about her objection to social media feminism, I expected to Google her name and find a list of great activist exploits revealed to me. You know what I saw? Some social media activism. One thing on #MarchAgainstMisogyny (a hashtag and online movement created by Philip Ashon) and…nothing. Even her LinkedIn profile is devoid of any tangible work she’s doing as a self-proclaimed feminist. She’s a journalist…period. But she admonishes others “You better get on your feet and do the hard and uncomfortable stuff.” Does SHE have a cause she’s leading and she can rally feminists to? I’m sure everyone would love to hear it. Because if BKB were to be judged by the same standard she’s upholding others to, there’s going to be Big Trouble in Little China.

To conclude, I’ll leave you all with quotes from these three brilliant women whose reactions sum up the matter succinctly. Listen, all ye who have ears, and perhaps learn.


Ask again oooo...

Ask again oooo…



We are all grateful!

We are all grateful!

Evidence of a Dark Heart

Friends, Diaspora, Innanets Fam:

Lend me your ears.

But first, lend me your pupils. Look at this! No… Don’t turn away. See this abomination for what it is!


This is a demonic manifestation. A Satanic offering. The wages of Lucifer’s war against the Almighty.

What in God’s holy name is this and why would someone do this to plantain? What has plantain ever done to anybody to deserve this? Chesu!

Maya Angelou once said that “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I believe this person to be a worker of the dark arts. This is a joyless soul. This is someone who has never known, given, nor received love. If someone can char plantain like this, plate it on such a brightly colored platter, serve it and then take a picture of it? My friend, you had better run. This person is capable of anything. This person is capable of unspeakable acts. Look at what they’ve done to plantain. What do you think they can do to YOU?

The individual responsible for this loathsome act should not be trusted with children. They should never be given control of finances. This person must be barred from participating in public events…like carnivals and spring festivals. Why? Because this minion is clearly a loose canon. They are careless and thoughtless. To leave plantain – precious, delicate, wholesome plantain – in scorching oil for this length of time, a duration long enough to produce this caliber of blackening? It means that there is an equally sooty space in their spirit.


There isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t love and care for plantain. Early depictions of the encounter Eve had with the serpent in the Garden of Eden show her eating fruit from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That fruit is depicted as an apple. In my heart of hearts, I know this to be a false illustration. There isn’t an apple in the world – not a Granny Smith, not a Golden Delicious, not a Honeycrisp – that is strong enough to tempt you to defy the word of the Lord. Now, ripe plantain on the other hand? Ahaaaaa. Now we’re talking. I believe Eve plucked a sweet, yellow plantain from the tree of knowledge, bit into it and said “Chineke God! No wonder Yaweh didn’t want us to consume this fruit. Hei! It’s sweet ooo!”

And the serpent said, “But what if you fried it?”

So Eve did. She fried it and called Adamu. “Shei! Adamu! Come and taste dis sweet ting oooo! You won’t believe it!”

And her husband did. He had never tasted anything so magical in all his life. His mind was riddled by the euphoria he was experiencing. Adamu was tripping! And that’s why when God asked him, “Chale, Adam? Where you dey?”

Adam replied, “I am naked.”

Plantain had stripped him on his senses. Plantain was – and still is – the original temptation. Even you today sitting here reading this, if they offer you plantain will you say you won’t take? You are lying! You will take!

…Unless it looks like this.What sort of witchcraft is this?

Not all black is beautiful.

Not all black is beautiful.

My friend Dara Mathis (you’ll know her from her blog was introduced to plantain over the summer of 2016. So impacting was that one encounter that she was inspired to create a t-shirt to commemorate the instant affection and connection she had made with plantain.


And then you go and do this to her beloved? To the beloved of billions of people across the globe? I’m telling you, this person can kill your child without remorse. It’s like this person used plantain as a tool to exact their revenge for some grievous, personal offense but took the retaliation too far. Say someone slaps you, and in response you burn this plantain and feed it to them. Are you not godless? Such a person is wicked, and a danger to society.

People of all walks of life and cultures know what I’m saying is true. Right now there are Australians looking at this image, recoiling in horror. There is an Englishman who has just thrown his baked beans across the kitchen table in anger. Your abuelita has just dropped to her knees, reciting the rosary to pray for the forgiveness of this sin. Ghanaians, Nigerians and Jamaicans are cursing the name of this faceless coward. In this one cause, we are united: to protect the sanctity of plantain.

Please. We beg you. If you were thinking of desecrating plantain in this gruesome manner, don’t do it. Have some humanity! Why should you be numbered among the transgressors? Why should you be responsible for this level of sorrow?


That is all.


*Describe how this plantain made you feel.

Should You Keep Secrets From Your Spouse?

Should there be secrets in marriage? This dilemma has provided the plot for daytime soap dramas since Guiding Light was on the radio. Sunset Beach took the theme to another level. Remember with Olivia was cuckolding Greg and then got pregnant with what she thought was Cole’s baby, who Annie stole and gave to Caitlin who was married to Cole but pretending to be pregnant with his baby? (If it sounds confusing and FUBAR’d, it’s because it is.) So many secrets! I think Meg was the only honest character on that show, but she was dull and susceptible to emotional injury because of her sincerity. It annoyed me to no end that she got her happily-ever-after when the show ended.

See her honest, vulnerable face.

See her honest, vulnerable face.

I’m getting off track. This ain’t about Meg. This post is about Marshall and Malaka.

Yesterday, I called a good friend to catch up and caterwaul about life. In female relationships, there is a dance that we do to establish trust. I tell you a tidbit of information and wait a few weeks (in some cases, days) to see if it comes back to me. You in turn may do the same. If nothing comes back, I tell you a bit more. This cycle repeats itself over the course of many months until eventually we’re discussing bedroom theatrics and/or revealing the secret ingredient in Big Mama’s sweet potato pie. That’s the real mark of a trust relationship; that sweet potato pie.

So anyway, this friend told me something and said she would only reveal it on one condition: “You BET not tell anyone…not even your husband!”

And I, hungry for filla (the 411), agreed.

Ohhh…and it was good. Spine tingling good. I’ve been mulling over it for days and am amused and horrified in equal measure whenever I think about it. I am also plagued with guilt, because I have willingly accepted the charge of withholding information from my husband. But you know what the worst part is…what the most annoying thing is? My husband probably already knows about this “secret”, and has simply forgotten to tell me!

I don’t know how or where Marshall gathers his intel, but the man has already heard it all. It’s difficult to quantify the number of times I’ve excitedly burst into the house with news, only to be countered with a placid “Yeah. I heard that last week.”

Me: Hey babe! Did you know Felicia’s daughter just discovered the secret formula for Coke?

Him: Yeah. I helped her crack it at a student-led conference. Amazing, eh?

Me: Babe! Have you heard this new underground trap song? It’s called Booty, Booty, Booty Cake. Isn’t that CRAZY?

Him: Yes. God revealed it to me in the spirit. We were at prayer last night praying against its affect on this generation.

Marshall’s ‘I know’ response to everything led me to the false belief that he has also been keeping secrets from me; so I asked him about it.

Me: Dude! You aren’t going to believe this. They ACTUALLY have Pumpkin Spice Oreos. Isn’t that gross?

Him: Ugh! I know. In 2012, I was invited to taste test them before they put them on the market. What? I didn’t tell you about that? Must’ve slipped my mind….

And that’s how it’s been for most of our marriage – most of our relationship, really. He’ll become privy to juicy or interesting information and then







I’m looking at him as I type this. Look at him over there on his iPhone…scratchin’ his head and gathering information. Just swallowing all of the mysteries and secrets of the universe with his eyes. Humph.


It’s hard to be in this position because of the generation I was born into. The previous century was an era defined by secrecy. Secrecy was currency. There was a direct relationship between clandestineness and trust. The 20th century was the James Bond and Cold War age, where no one was who they appeared to be and everyone was just fine living next door to the Russian spy masquerading as a soccer coach next door as long as he brought beer to the Memorial Day picnic. Why? Because secrets! Today, you can’t even take a dump without attempting to turn it into front-page news. The 21st century is all about performance, exhibitionism and vanity. Nothing is a secret anymore, and the person who gabs the most is seen as the more trustworthy individual.

TMZ has proven this.

Can you imagine if TMZ had been around in the age of Martin Luther King? They would have destroyed his image, publishing audio of him groaning in bed with a woman who was not his wife and so forth. We would still be riding at the back of the bus, all because TMZ had to go run tell that. But who do we go to to verify if a political/celeb scandal has any merit?


Dear friend:

If you’re reading this today, have no fear. The 70’s baby in me is strong. I can keep this not-secret secret from my husband. I’m gonna cloak and dagger this thing so hard, you’d think this was a scene from a medieval martial arts play. And in December, when the topic somehow finds its way into our discourse, I will be fully prepared for its natural conclusion.

“Oh. Yeah…I already knew that. In fact, I was seated at the right hand of Nostradamus when he predicted it.”

On a serious note, I don’t think that there should be certain types of secrets between spouses. There are topics that are absolutely each others’ business. These topics include – but are not limited to – issues with fiscal and physical health, anything pertaining to the children and the wifi password. Withholding details surrounding particular events breeds mistrust, and you can’t have a successful relationship where doubt forms cracks in the foundation.


Do you tell your spouse everything? Should you tell your spouse everything? Discuss! You’ve got 24 hours before the comments close.🙂

Franklin Cudjoe Doesn’t Need to Know a Woman to Know That She’s a Hoe!

Franklin Cudjoe is founding President and CEO of IMANI Center for Policy and Education. IMANI’s mission is to “subject any government policy that is likely to have systematic implications for development” to scrutiny and analysis and then actively engage in public advocacy to publicize the results. It’s a noble cause that is spearheaded by a man who also happens to be a closeted pervert.

That’s a mischaracterization. Franklin Cudjoe is an overt pervert.

Franklin Cudjoe. Image source: Atlas Network

Franklin Cudjoe. Image source: Atlas Network

Social media is a magnificent tool. It has the power to resurrect dreams and careers from dust, or reduce either to cinders. Social media is a double-edged sword. It gives people a false sense of security – the virtual anonymity that so many people assume that they can hide behind, while emboldening others who think that they can use their titles, degrees, government positions, verified accounts or the number of followers they have on their pages as clout; as a shield. Clearly Franklin Cudjoe – and his buddy, Evron Hughes– falls in the latter group. It was on Evron’s Facebook page that a sordid drama unfolded and confirmed this suspicion that many have long held.

Franklin Cudjoe (and the sort of men that function in similar frat ‘boys-boys’ cliques he belongs to) frequently makes repulsive comments about women publicly. Some are mild, and others downright revolting. Here is his latest offering.

This post caught so much flack that it was deleted from FB by the owner. But the innanets is forever, as are screen shots.

This post caught so much flack that it was deleted from FB by the owner. But the innanets is forever, as are screen shots.


Overused. And. Smelly.

I’m not going to keep you long, because the crass behavior exhibited here is rife among men of society’s upper strata and is certainly nothing new. It’s something we’re all familiar with and next week another man will say something equally stupid. He may even eclipse the foolishness of this statement. Once upon a time, however, this obtuse and gross behavior (and the conversations that accompanied it) was sequestered to smoking rooms, pool halls or toilet stalls in the back of greasy bars. Men in positions of power have long found comfort in targeting women’s bodies for ridicule, either for sport, spite or as sheer reflex. Every week we are presented with yet another example of men confidently vocalizing their warped perceptions about female genitalia and how where and how frequently it is engaged in sex. These delusions are shouted as fact, and when the targets of those utterances rightly express their outrage and point to these utterances as evidence of their unconscious bias, a Franklin Cudjoe will invariably attempt to placate them by asserting that these crude comments were made in jest.

“Lighten up! It was just a joke!”

This bull stopped being funny a long time ago.

What I find irritating is that Franklin Cudjoe and his ilk refuse to grasp that gravity of their sins and how their attitudes and words have far reaching effects and consequences. One day you’re joking about how a ladies’ faction of a political organization is populated by “overused and smelly” women (a clear reference to the condition of their vaginas), and then the next you’re making a case for putting attractive women with stellar academic track records through additional screening during the hiring process because the credentials of a beautiful lady are “suspect”. This is the advice that Kofi Amoabeng, the founder of UT Holdings unashamedly admitted giving his underlings during a recent interview. He intimates is that good-looking women use sex appeal and/or sex to get better grades (grades presumably given by men) and therefore can’t be as good in their job as their certificate/marks would indicate. Now, “without warning”, that joke…that perception…is now policy.

My ire is further enflamed when you consider that these men see other men – poor men, uneducated men, NDC footsoldiers – as the problem. The other guy is the threat and obstacle to female success in Ghana, not them! But you know what? When the truth always comes out in the wash, and the same fellows who were bellowing about the release of the Montie 3 – a group of men who notoriously threatened to rape a Supreme Court judge – have the unmitigated gall to pass disgusting comments about women every day. Just because those comments are not on the radio and rather made on the presumed safety of your personal Facebook page doesn’t make them any less insidious or appalling.

A handful of people have had their say about what Evron Hughes and Franklin Cudjoe, two men who have jockeyed for political relevance using the reality that is the abysmal state of Ghana’s socio-political landscape to further that end, in lengthy published pieces online. Their offence is all the more repulsive because they have voluntarily and intentionally placed themselves in positions to judge the misdeeds of their political adversaries… and to profit from it. These are supposed to be men of some sort of elevated moral standard, men you expect to demonstrate a level of couth and consideration because of the sort of advocacy they profess to be all about. But what does it say when one guy posts an image of two women at an about-face posture asks another to “quantify” what he’s looking at? Are these women’s bodies tomatoes or other commodities to be sold on the stock exchange? How is this behavior any different from the pimp selling women on an e-auction block, a horrible reality that countless women and girls who are trafficked for sex endure every day?

And furthermore to have that query met with the response: Overused and smelly.

This is where I get raw with you guys, and feel free to check out here if you need to.


A woman whose body is being traded for the sexual gratification of men can expect to have 1-3 penetrative encounters a day in order to make her quota. That’s on the “reasonable” end of the spectrum. A 12-year-old girl who was recently rescued from the trade in Atlanta said that her pimp (her mother’s boyfriend) would force her to have 5-6 encounters (oral sodomy, vaginal and/or anal penetrative sex) A DAY. Those were acts that were against her will. She was a “whore” by every social scientific definition of the word. Currency passed hands for the use of her body. Hundreds of thousands of girls and women face this trauma globally.

So to make a “joke” about the presumed overuse of a woman’s private parts is in fact to call her a whore. The query about quantifying it is to ask how much you (Evron) think she’s worth.


When you’re a whore, you don’t usually get to take long leisurely showers between clients. Clients like Franklin Cudjoe, who are intimate with the odor that accompanies frequent sexual encounters and less frequent encounters with soap and water.

The after shocks from having sex do not always end with a “glow” for women. Sometimes sex results in bruising, pain and yes, discharge.

“Sex trafficking victims are particularly susceptible to sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, urinary tract infections, and pubic lice. Human immunodeficiency virus/ AIDS infection is known to be prevalent. They may experience pelvic pain, vaginal/anal tearing, rectal trauma, and/or urinary difficulties as a result of commercial sex work. Sex trafficking victims are often physically abused and tortured.” – Source, NCBI

You think that sort of trauma isn’t going to produce a smell?

In Ghana, today, in 2016, there are villages populated by women with fistula, shunned because they emit an odor so foul that they are driven from their homes in shame because they don’t have access to decent obstetrical care. Yeast infections aside, if a woman’s vagina is “smelly”, it’s usually because it has come into contact with some ridiculous bloke’s penis.

That Franklin Cudjoe could look at a picture of two faceless women and immediately determine what sexual and hygienic habits they employ speaks volumes about him. It speaks volumes about what sort of men Ghanaian society is propping up. Those who come to his aid and claim that we should all “move on” are the fuel that keeps this forest fire burning. Look at this (non)apology:


*Eye roll* Of all the retarded mea culpas that ever were...

*Eye roll* Of all the retarded mea culpas that ever were…

Feminists and anthropologists have been telling us about how racism and sexism are cut from the same cloth…how they are opposite sides of the same coin. Franklin Cudjoe’s quip about having NPP women as friends is as stomach turning as George Zimmerman pointing to his work with one Black kid he big brothered in 4H as evidence of his ally ship with the Black community.

That this would happen on the waning days of Women’s Month shows how far we have to go with a nation. In the mind of our most elite men, every woman is a hoe. Is that what it all boils down to? Lydia Forson is a hoe because she has an opinion. Yvonne Nelson is a hoe because she led Dumsor Must Stop. Sandra Ankobiah is sho nuff a hoe, because she’s always on vacation. How are women supposed to feel safe, included and have their cerebral contributions taken seriously in spheres run by chauvinists like Cudjoe and Amoabeng and Agyapong, and Dela Coffie, and Ampaw and, and, and…


To quote your uncle, are we safe?



My Girls Live in Africa And We’re Afraid to Get Our Hair Braided

South Africa…

Land of the Big Six and the Proteas. Land of Mandela’s birth. Land where edges go to DIE.

One of the things I was most excited about in moving to South Africa was the prospect of having my hair slayed every week. Compared to prices in the States, cornrows and braids are delightfully inexpensive here. You can get your hair cornrowed in a fairly intricate style for R90-120 ($6.50 – 8.50) and get box braids for around R200 ($13.50). Of course, being an America, the prices I am quoted are subject to an ‘American tax’, so hairdressers are wont to tack on an additional R50 to the prices local women are generally quoted. This doesn’t offend me. It’s just the African way of doing business. It’s the accent. Ghanaians do this to me at home as well. And in the grand scheme of things, I AM making out better paying these prices than I would in the States… except when I’m not.

There is always a price to pay when you’re getting goods and services at a discount; and in South Africa, that price is your edges.

9 out of 10 Black women (in this part of the country) are not in possession of their edges. The numbers on TV are not much better. It is truly a heartrending vision to behold. Every whisper of hair has been snatched, tucked or ripped from Black scalps across the nation, as if they were wayward truants being punished for escaping their internment. Black hair is to be seen… but not seen… if at all possible, ya dig? In other words, tame your nappy knots, they’re offensive.

The idea that Black hair – especially and even on the African continent – is offensive is one that is ingrained in large swaths of society. Black women are not permitted to love their hair. Overwhelmingly, they can’t (and therefore don’t) take pride in it. I have yet to see a Black woman just let her hair be. Curly weaves and wigs are the order of the day where I live on the Garden Route. That sewed in or glued on artificial hair floats and catches the wind as women sashay by. And yet curiously, I have not seen a twist out, an Afro puff or braid out in these parts to date. Even my locked sisters have their tendrils tightly wound, tucked and folded on itself. Black hair is not free in South Africa!

This was something we discovered fairly quickly once the girls began school.


Last month I wrote about the veritable angst and frenzy our school’s administration had worked itself into over the styling of the girls’ hair. To Amana Academy’s credit, they do not police Black hair in the tyrannical ways I’ve heard other schools in and around Atlanta do. Girls are also allowed to wear hijabs at Amana without fear of reprisal. To attend school, hair simply has to be clean and neat. You know…a standard most parents have for their kids. As a result, the girls learned to be creative with their hair, were willing to explore new ideas about their hair and have conversations with their peers about all types of hair. In third grade, Aya and her friends formed The Hair Club, where they would sit at recess and positively “talk about hair.” Now, this may seem prosaic, or even silly to the ordinary observer, but these girls were participating in truly a revolutionary act; an act that was only made possible because their school fostered a permissive and safe environment.

Switch to the other side of the world: New school, new culture.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 4.44.53 AMI’ve been thinking about (and doing) a lot hair lately because a line item in their elementary school’s code of conduct says, “false hair pieces or braids are prohibited”. The first day I read this rule, I prayed for God to save me from the massive stroke I felt coming on. How can you prohibit braids…in AFRICA? What kind of colonialist/apartheid/Jim Crow hellbroth is this and who brewed it? And more importantly, why? You want to kee me and all the Mamas?

Whatever the reasons for the policy, I now find myself washing, blow drying and pressing three heads every weekend (with midweek touch ups required thanks to the humidity) in order to be in compliance with this “no braids” standard. However, I have come to the realization that I am the only dummy adhering to this rule, as I’ve seen dozens of Xhosa girls skate around the school’s premises with extensions and cornrows.

But ain’t a single one of them in possession of their edges; a reality that petrifies my kids and me. We were all witness to the aftershocks of the one time I let a Cameroonian woman get a grip on my follicles. The incident left me with a headache, scalp irritation and hair loss for days. It’s not a scenario I am eager to repeat or subject my girls to.

See the sides of my scalp? Edge banditry!

See the sides of my scalp? Edge banditry!

Why is it so hard for African women to learn to properly care for their hair?

I have long maintained that the deficiency harkens back to the trans-Atlantic responses to racism, education and all its systems. I think what’s happening in Pretoria is partial evidence of that.

In the years following Emancipation when African Americans could legally get an education, schools were segregated by race. Economically disadvantaged white children who lived in close proximity with former slaves would sometimes attend these schools. But for the most part, the environment was Black. The teacher was Black, the administrative board (if the school had one) was Black, and Black mothers saw to the care of their children’s hair which would be neatly plaited and perhaps have a ribbon tied into if it was a special day. Finally, their kids could take pride in their hair and not have to subdue it with a rag to facilitate fieldwork. Black women were experimenting with new ways to nurture and style their hair. (Enter Madam CJ Walker.)


On the other side of the Atlantic, education was facilitated largely by white missionaries and European stakeholders. Girls were made to chop off their hair in boarding and day schools alike, because African hair was (and still is) considered a distraction. They intimated that girls would spend too much time doing their hair, and not enough studying. It’s a nonsensical argument that holds no water and cannot be backed by any study or empirical data, but it stuck. And as a result, we have a whole continent of women who are just now learning how to properly nurture their hair and not see it as a threat or the enemy.

In either instance, Black pride and ability has been made to bow to whiteness. Where there is integration, there is always – often coerced – assimilation. When African American girls integrated into white schools, society and entertainment, lye made a triumphant strut onto the scene. A conk was considered a Black male right of passage. Straight hair signaled that you were grown, and more importantly, successful. This is why it frustrates me to no end when otherwise well-educated folk like Whoopi Goldberg confuse cultural appropriation with assimilation. One is oppressive and exploitative and the other is for survival!

No rule in school is JUST for school. It follows you and becomes an extension of your character and shapes your view of yourself, the world at large, and your place in the world. So when we’re telling girls like those who attend Pretoria High that they must chemically straighten their hair and “fix themselves” in order to be in compliance with school ethics, and then further bar them from speaking their native language(s) because it is also a violation of the code of conduct, the idea that their Xhosa/Zulu hair and heritage is inferior follows them long after matriculation. It has taken African women years of rehabilitation to get over this hurdle, only to have their daughters experience the same needless, harmful trials.

Pretoria High Students protest racist hair policies

Pretoria High Students protest racist hair policies

My alma mater, SOS HGIC, had (and still has) a very open and supportive hair care policy. Girls could wear their hair in cornrows, braids, weave or perms. We learned about hair care from each other. And guess what? Our studies were not affected in any way. In fact, HGIC female graduates are arguably the most successful, well-rounded and effective influencers in Ghanaian society today.

…And ALL of us are in possession of our edges.


What? You thought this post was about equality and education? Nah mehn, this is about keeping these African edges safe!

Does your school have a discriminatory language or hair policy? Has a lot changed since you were in school, or remained about the same? Are you of the opinion that policing hair is a valid approach to positive outcomes in education?