Category Archives: Say what??

You know how stuff happens in real life and you have to ask yourself “Did that just happen?” This section is dedicated to those moments.

Where is Doc Stukie?

My friend Dr. Suwilanji Situmbeko is missing, and we are all left with are a series of bizarre tweets and more questions than answers.

Stukie's Facebook profile picture, dated Oct, 2016

Stukie’s Facebook profile picture, dated Oct, 2016

In April of 2015, a 26-year-old Zambian Medical Doctor and MBA candidate majoring in Financial Management named Suwilanji Situmbeko shared his exciting news with me. He had been selected as a Global Health Corps finalist for US12-Int: Global Program Associate, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Out of an applicant pool of 5000, only 150 people would be selected and confirmed for the coveted associate positions. Doc Stukie, as we all fondly know him online, made the final cut and moved to New York from Zambia later that year.

This was no meager feat. Orphaned by the age of 13, Suwilanji devoted himself to his studies and went on to receive a scholarship to study medicine in Algeria in 2007 from the Bursaries Committee after completing 12th grade. He studies kept him abroad for 8 years where he excelled. And it is that same sense of perseverance and dedication that catapulted him to his position at Planned Parenthood.

If time and circumstances allowed, it was my and Stukie’s plan to meet up in New York for our first face-to-face, but they never did. We were ‘strangers’, but he called me ‘sis’ and I called him ‘bro’. I consider him family. He is an avid MOM reader, and was one of the first people to buy Madness & Tea when it was released. I sent him an autographed copy and he sent me screenshots of him giggling on the subway as he read the book. He is a wonderful man, incredibly intelligent, and fierce women’s reproductive rights advocate and today, he is missing.

Stukie moved from New York to Washington, DC to continue working with Global Health Corps (GHC). From what his tweets and other social media activity reveal, he had experienced unpleasant and strained relationships with his roommates, three white women named Erica, Laura and Morgan who appeared to take umbrage with the fact that GHC fellows of color were being specifically chosen to attend media events, signaling that they believed that as white women, they were being discriminated against. It is unclear if this same cabal of women (and the troubles he endured at their hands) followed him from New York to DC where they would continue to room together, but he shared emails typed in January of this year on October 20 and 21st, asking his friends and followers to screenshot them as evidence. Evidence of what, we don’t know. That next day, he was reported as missing.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-21-28-pm screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-23-53-pm screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-21-45-pm

Other portions of his Twitter activity indicate that GHC was trawling through his personal Facebook page – which was taken down and then reinstated – after he threatened to sue GHC if they dared to shut down his Twitter account just as they had influenced Facebook to do as well. I can only speculate what he uncovered while working at GHC/Planned Parenthood.

His last tweet says:

Cryptic...

Cryptic…

Someone knows what happened to Doc Stukie, where he is and if he is safe. They know and they are not saying. Suwilanji is much loved. He is an ally and a good friend. He deserves to be safe, happy and back doing the work in medicine that he cares so deeply for. If you are reading this and you know of his whereabouts, if you have any clues or information, please contact the local authorities immediately. Please share his face and details on social media.

cv7jbffw8aazcgg

A Black man is missing in the Metro DC area, and he’s not a thug, drug lord or wanted for murder. You won’t see him on Fox news at 5pm. It’s down to us to keep his face and name in the public’s eye.

We are praying for word from you, Doc Stukie. I AM praying for you. We have an unfulfilled coffee date, remember? My treat.

 

Behold: Lye Rolls Catcha Mellows!

Hi! HI! HIIII!!!!

I’m excited! Can you tell? I am so thrilled to share something I’ve been working on – or spent months not working on, if I’m honest – recently. I’m not entirely sure what to call the final product, so I’m calling it an InterWebz Audio Storybook (or IWAS) until one of you very brilliant readers can categorize it correctly for me.

There’s been a lot of talk in the news but very little “news” on the airwaves, if you catch my drift. I turn on the TV and I can nearly predict what’s going to be said. It’s Donald Trump and Hillary, Donald Trump and Hillary and then some neon-green eyed former rapper who refers to himself as a ‘trick’ while admonishing hoes of a particular race to “tighten up” before Spanish and white women obsolete skeets himself into the news-cycle to break the monotony before it goes back Donald and Hillary. (If this lattermost story flew over your radar, don’t widen your signal net to try to catch it. It’s not going to edify you in the least. No…trust me. Don’t. Do. It.)

I took advantage of the lull in interesting current events to work on a project I had tabled in early 2016. The beginning of the year was hectic as we were focusing on final exams, projects, field trips and an international move…all excuses I pointed to as evidence that I was way too busy and good reason for my delayed work on the IWAS. The truth was that I was afraid of screwing up. This week, I decided to overcome my fear and just give the IWAS a try. How was I going to fail if I didn’t even try? So after all those mental gymnastics, here it is! My first IWAS: Lye Rolls Catcha Mellows.

Lye Rolls Catcha Mellows was a story I wrote and submitted to Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Award in 2015. I didn’t enter the competition with the intention of winning. (Which might be why I never win at these sorts of things.) Like the Golden Baobab Award which pushed me to finish Sally & the Butterfly on schedule, the New Voices Award served as my motivator to write about a character I don’t often feature in my writing: a little Black boy. All of my fiction has been very female focused and driven, so to give voice to a boy felt foreign, but comfortable.

Close to Home is available everywhere on Amazon.

Close to Home is available everywhere on Amazon.

I wrote Close to Home while simultaneously writing Lye Rolls, and while I always knew that Carlos’ story was going to be presented in print, I wasn’t sure how I would introduce the Nameless Boy and his Grandfather to the world. I knew I wanted something audible because the title is so unique and because I knew the one question I knew I would frequently get if it was put to print first would be “Huh? How do you pronounce this thing?” Long story shortened, the IWAB proved to be the way forward.

For a first attempt, I’m pretty pleased with the result. There are some bloopers that I’m very much aware of and after doing x number of takes, this one was the better of the lot that I decided to go forward with. Keen listeners will hear me say “metcha mellows” at one point and “boys” instead of “boy”. I’m not rerecording it sha. Ayam tiyed! The gbaa police can issue their tickets in the comments section if they like. Ha! Despite the two hiccups, I’m really, really happy. And I have a brand new appreciation and respect for filmmakers and animators. You deserve every coin you earn and you guys that work behind the scenes without the glory really deserve more shine. MAGIX sees your sacrifice, even if no one else does.

Without further ado, I give you the one, the only IWAS: Lye Rolls Catcha Mellows!

 

What do you think? Do you have questions? Do you need a narrator? I’m available for hire.😉

 

*If you are new to writing and/or illustrating and are looking for publishing opportunities, check out the details on Lee & Low Books’ annual awards competition here. May the odds be in your favor!

Thuggin’ It: Asians Want Diversity in Representation in Film Too

The countdown to my departure from the ATL has officially begun with less than a fortnight until we leave the place I have called home for 17 years, possibly for good. There is SO much I have left undiscovered in Atlanta, so many experiences I promised myself I would “get to eventually”. Between mothering and the constant need to avoid traffic on 285/85/20/400, or any tarred surfaces in the metropolitan area, I never gathered the motivation or strength to fulfill this promise; but nothing compels you to action like a ticking clock, does it? For the next few days, I’ve decided to visit famous landmarks and venues in my fair city that I’ve hitherto left unexplored.

A friend recently and suddenly found herself with lots of free time after being “promoted to customer” after years of faithful service to her company (an experience every Atlanta native and trnsplant has in common), and availed herself as my traveling companion for today’s quest. Our quarry: The studio of one of the world’s most famous filmmakers. The address of this studio is unpublished, so it took some sleuthing to unearth its location.

And guess what?

We did it. There is no greater sleuthhound than a woman with spare time on her hands.

We approached the gate and smiled at the security guard, fully expecting that a flash of our teeth would grant us entrance.

“The studio isn’t open for tours yet,” he informed us. “There’s still a lot of construction going on.”

We asked if we could just drive around the lot to see the outside of the buildings.

“No,” he said cordially, but with finality.

He didn’t care if I was moving to South Africa, or that I would never EVER be back in Atlanta again (which obviously isn’t true. My stuff is still in storage here.), he couldn’t let us onto the premises. Unless…

“Unless you’re extras for the show that’s being filmed today. These are the cars I’m letting through.”

Excited, we asked where we could apply. The web address he gave us was www.TPS.com – which is a chemical/light industrial manufacturing company instead of to the casting company.

If he was trying to throw us off the scent, he failed miserably! We sauntered into the casting director’s check-in which I spied at the corner of the entrance to acquire accurate information. On the way in, my friend struck up a conversation with an Asian woman who looked like she was of Korean descent, based on her bone structure. She was wearing a casting badge. SHE had access.

She was nice enough to give us information on which sites to visit to become an extra and told us how much pay you could expect. Neither of us was there to get paid – we just wanted to tour the site – but if that tour just mistakenly included a per diem, who were we to refuse?

“What show are you an extra on?” we asked.

“I actually play a detective,” the woman replied. “I can’t tell you which show it’s for though.

“A detective!” we exclaimed in unison. “How cool is THAT?”

She laughed and replied with a wry smile, “Yeah…typical Asian role. You know: detective, doctor, lab technician…”

“Better that than a thug or a prisoner,” I said. “That’s all WE would ever get cast for.” I pointed at my friend in our (coincidentally) matching black t-shirts.

“But you know what? I would love that. I would love to play a thug.”

Her English was still heavily accented, betraying what I’m sure is a recent immigration experience. I was gobsmacked. This woman – this petite, lithe and prim, ASIAN woman wanted to play at thug in some point in her thespian career? Who would’ve thunk it?

As they say in the old country: Getting-getting no want, wanting-wanting no get.

My friend and I hastily took pictures on our cell phones and sent them off to the casting director’s email. Our new acquaintance wished us luck and then disappeared into the hallowed building. Naturally, we didn’t expect to get approved at that moment (The casting agency never got back with either of us at all. Shocking!), so we went down to a local bar-b-q shack to eat pulled pork sandwiches and live out our fat girl dreams and recount the day’s mini adventure.

B.D. Wong plays special Agent George Huang on SVU Source: ©2002 Universal Network Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

B.D. Wong plays special Agent George Huang on SVU
Source: ©2002 Universal Network Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

I was still in awe that an Asian woman would harbor a desire to portray an image that is so completely opposite of what we perceive as “typically Asian” in America. And yet, she made an important point, indirectly: Asians – just like all people of color – are poorly represented in the mainstream (and independent) media… or at least their portrayals are limited in scope. Are there Asian drug dealers and inmates and morally bankrupt fiends of all kinds? Absolutely! But if you want to catch such diversity of character you’ll have to check out a film produced in Hong Kong and suffer through the subtitles. There are no Asian thugs in American film – only math sorcerers and psych wizards.

Oftentimes when we think of the term diversity in film, we think Black and/or gay before we think Native American, Arab or Asian. The former are generally the loudest voices in the cry for diversity and therefore get the most representation, albeit miniscule. If it weren’t for the likes of Amy Tan, Mindy Kaling and Ang Lee there would hardly be any representation of the modern Asian in either film or print at all. Most of their stories would be told from antiquity’s vantage point, where sword-wielding warriors can fly and centuries-old sages emerge from their hermitage in order to tutor a new pupil upon whose shoulders it falls to defeat some despicable enemy. Which is all great – it’s just not the reality that the average person living in 2016 experiences.

The twisted irony is that for big budget films like Dr. Strange and The Last Airbender – films centering on Asian characters, lore and settings – the leads are white (because only white people can be anything). Except for when the lead is a villain. Then we need someone a leeeettle darker to play that part. The bad guy is always dark skinned.

Shan_Yu

A user on Twitter recently noted that Hollywood loves Asian stories…as long as Asians don’t portray themselves in those stories. But that’s the good news! Asian actors are more than ready to branch out! Hollywood: Are you listening? Asians want to thug it up too. Thugging knows no race or gender.

 

What race or nationality do you associate with? Are you often stereotyped as one way and wish you could see yourself in pop culture another? Like, do you wish there were more Jewish pimps and hustlers on late night TV? Discuss!

 

Spreading Love for International Women’s Month

Hi MOM Squad!

As you know, March is international women’s month and I’m inviting you to join me in celebrating sisterhood and recognizing phenomenal women (like yourself) with the #SisterhoodMatters campaign! #SisterhoodMatters is a fun, simple and meaningful way to say thank you to the women and sisters who have stood by and supported us. By participating, you help us showcase how beautiful sisterhood is, while encouraging women to really support one another. All you have to do is:

1. Find a photo of yourself and a woman in your life who supports, impacts, and/or inspires you

2. Write a short message to accompany the photo using one of the following: #SisterhoodMatters to me because…. Describe how your sister supports or inspires you and include the hashtag #SisterhoodMatters in your message You can come up with your own message, but make sure the hashtag #SisterhoodMatters is in there

3. Publish your photo and message on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ using the hashtag #SisterhoodMatters. OR Email the photo and message to info@circumspecte.com with your name, location, and subject heading “SisterhoodMatters” and we will post it online on your behalf via Circumspecte’s social media platforms!

4. Tag @Circumspecte_ and @AuntieOboshie if you or the person you are celebrating is in Ghana. You will be entered into a weekly raffle giveaway with prizes from Fabulously Fit & Fine, Green Basket, Auntie Oboshie and Circumspecte. You could also make it onto the guest list for an exclusive event on Saturday, April 2, 2016.

5. Invite at least three other women anywhere in the world to celebrate sisterhood and sisters. You can copy and paste this message. Don’t forget to change the name of the recipient.

6. Repeat as many times as you like to make the sisters and women in your life feel extra special! Questions? Email info@circumspecte.com.

That’s it! Are you ready? Let’s spread some sisterly love!

 

11143309_10153986655047846_3156778046079160577_o

How Nicole Amarteifio and ‘An African City’ Made a Daydream of Mine Come True

Back when I was binge watching episodes of ‘Scandal’ – after coming to the party two years too late – I remember sighing with relief when Olivia took Jake’s hand and finally decided to run away with him in order to “live in the sun”. All this Fitz and DC political stress was just too much! I wanted Kerry to have some peace. But where would that leave the show and the rest of the Gladiators, I wondered? How could Kerry Washington abandon them?!? Would she send IMs or post cards? Thanks to the power of Hulu, I didn’t have to wait to find out. I dove into the next season headfirst.

So there was Olivia/Kerry, sunning herself on the beach, clad in a gorgeous white halter swimsuit, sipping on ice water and staring out into the endless blue horizon. The wind played with her curls. Her lips were parted, as though she were anticipating something. (Kerry’s lips are always parted in anticipation. I love that about her mouth. That, and the way she says ‘NO’.) Next to her drink sat a book: Gone Girl. The camera panned on it for a while before cutting Jake who had suddenly materialized and bent down to greet her with a kiss.

scandal-olivia-pope.png.CROP.rtstory-large

source: ABC.com

In that few seconds, I shifted from a voracious ‘Scandal’ consumer to an affected author, impressed by what those few seconds must have meant to (and for) Gillian Flynn, the book’s author. The exposure the book got in those few seconds was unquantifiable! (Challenge to my friends who work in the field of valuation. Pull out your Hogwarts wands and try to work out the worth of that incident if you can!)

As I suspected, sales of Gone Girl received a bump in the weeks following that brief moment of exposure. But in that moment, I only had one thought…and it wasn’t about book sales.

Scandal_GoneGirl

source: ABC.com

Man, I said to myself, I would love to see one of my books in a television star’s hands one day. How cool would that be?

And then I left the thought at that. Guess what happened almost a year and a half after I had that internal dialogue? Wait!! No, no… don’t guess! Let me tell you!

I was on Instagram yesterday when I received a private message from a friend whose name translates as  “a glow” from our local language. She said:

“Not a very clear shot, but isn’t that a copy of Daughters of Swallows on ‘An African City’?”

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 12.02.32 PM

Well daggonit if it wasn’t! I was amazed…even more amazed that my glittering friend had recognized it so quickly. Well spotted, Glow.

So let me tell you what you’re looking at if you’re unfamiliar with the show. This is Nana Yaa, the lead character on An African City, played by MaameYaa Boafo. She’s obviously in her bed…alone. There may be a dude about to pop over for a quick shag or snake his way uninvited into her room from the balcony. I don’t know – and you never know with An African City. (I haven’t watched Season 2 yet.) But whatever. The point is Nana Yaa is in her bed, with MY book in her hands on what is arguably one of the most popular web series in existence today, in Africa or otherwise. A fleeting thought – a daydream had actually come true!

I had no idea that the show’s creator (Nicole Amarteifio) was going to incorporate Daughters of Swallows as a prop in the story line. A few folks have asked me about the legality of using my books image without my consent or permission. My answer is I don’t know and I don’t care. Nana Yaa could have flung the book away from her in disgust and declared that “Daughters of Swallows is boo boo and I can’t believe I wasted unrecoverable hours of my life reading it!” before filing her nails and guzzling a liter of wine to soothe her aggravated senses. I wouldn’t have cared.

Because there is/was MY book.

On the screen.

Just as I hoped it might be one day, once upon a dream.

Thank you, Nicole, cast and crew of An African City for making this fantasy a reality – and most important of all, thank you GlowY for bringing it to my attention.😉

Now lets see if I can dream up three million dollars in sales…

 

Daughters of Swallows is available on Storefoundry, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.

The Most Impactful Moments of 2015

2015 will end in just two days. Incredible! It feels as though it was just a few weeks ago that we were doubled over in laughter in response to Two Thoozin’s hopes and prayers that “evultin will be vibely on Nachurrr Gawd!” – and yet a whole year has gone by!

This year has been fraught with memorable events, both good and bad. Personally, 2015 marked what I consider the best year of my life to date. I mean that earnestly. I connected with wonderful people, achieved an astounding number of professional and personal goals, and finally experienced what it was like to walk in divine favor. I believe these successes had a lot to do with my decision to choose to be more selfish this year. I wouldn’t consider myself a “people pleaser”, but I do acknowledge I have a near uncontrollable propensity to come to the ready rescue of others; whether they deserve it or not, whether I am fully equipped to “save” them or not. This has repeatedly cost me heartache and money in the past, and this year I just said “NO!” to all of it. It is the first time in my life I have felt empowered and comfortable with saying “no”. Those “nos” also affected what I decided to write about. I chose less weighty topics for the majority of the year, and it’s done wonders for my psyche and my spiritual health.

I have not yet decided if I will return to fighting form in 2016. Honestly, I’m a little scared to.

And I got to focus on writing and completing a bunch of books!

Plus, I got to focus on writing and completing a bunch of books!

But this post isn’t about my year. It’s about our year as an online family! I’ve asked a number of you to share what you consider to be your most impactful moments of the year and have compiled them here. I have to say, I agree with ALL of them. Some were amusing, others disturbing, some soul-rending and all of them truly stirring. So without further ado, I present to you – in no particular order – the most important moments of 2015, according to the MOM Squad!

 

Social/Political Moments

The Circumstances Surrounding Sandra Bland’s Death: Sandra Bland’s death (some say murder) rocked the conscience of the entire nation. It set us ill at ease. Sandy is but one of many persons of color who lost their lives to police brutality under suspicious circumstances. We were left feeling less safe; more certain that we are being hunted in this country. It didn’t matter that she was “woke”, or knew her rights, or that she hadn’t committed a crime other than resisting arrest while not being under arrest in the first place…she still ended up dead in a rural Texas jail cell. Never forget Sandra Bland.

uonq3rr3msmvtcnqpwim

Key & Peele Perform Negro Town Skit: Like 2014 (and 2013 and 2012 and…1643), 2015 saw its fair share of public executions of unarmed citizens. Through it all, we used music and/or comedy as a balm to soothe a never healing wound. Often criticized for their failure to/fear of addressing brutality against the Black community specifically, comedy duo Key & Peele ended the five year run of their show with a sketch called Negro Town, a brilliant response to the many ills affecting the Black community frequently wrought by racism. Hilarity did ensue. We were comforted, grateful…even hopeful. A couple of us are still trying to navigate our way to this fabled town.

POTUS pop off play list: Please…! Don’t pop off about President Obama’s response to ISIS or any policies regarding it unless you have some alternatives. If not, get ready for that clapback!

100 Black Pastors shame us: This was a low moment for the Kingdom of God and all who call themselves sons and daughters of the King. 100+/- Black clergymen and women pledged to endorse a hate-mongering bigot and wearer of a strange hairdo. Yes, we are talking about Black pastors who publicly support Donald Trump for no discernible reason other than the fact that he “can’t be bought”.

Y’all.

Judas tried to return his 30 pieces of silver after betraying Jesus, and for a moment, he couldn’t be “bought” either. My Lord n’ Savior still ended up battered on the cross though.

499321032-republican-candidate-donald-trump-arrives-to-speaks-to.jpg.CROP.rtstory-large

Music and Entertainment

indexReggie and Bollie nearly win X Factor: Ghanaian music duo Reggie and Bollie catapulted themselves to international fame on the sheer power of vim and determination. While energetic and wildly entertaining, it can’t be claimed that the beloved pair are musically gifted or truly possess any musical talent. They are, however, the ultimate live performers. And they nearly succeeded in carrying out the ultimate coup – and borga fantasy – when they came dangerously close to winning the top spot on the popular English TV show, X Factor. Vim!

Viola Davis’ Harriet Tubman quote at the Emmys: This moment was the epitome of Black Girl MAGIC!!! You hear??? Everything about this moment was magical – from her dress, to her hair, to Taraji leaping from her seat and bearing Viola up with the sister love of the ancients. Just…just watch it again. Relive the moment and fall back in love.

Jem Movie Boycott: I have never seen another movie so roundly rejected. Have you? This movie was doomed to fail from the moment they released the trailer depicting Synergy as an iPhone accessory instead of the intricate holographic program she was designed to function as. There was no saving this film. The words “source material” and “fraud” were bandied about with good reason: the Jem movie offered the ultimate disrespect to all who grew up with and loved the show. The boycott was proof that Hollywood should refrain from screwing with iconic characters, especially if they are female. May the sales numbers serve as a warning – a proverbial head on a spike to all who dare to screw with Jem (or My Little Pony or Punky Brewster) in the future!

jem

The Hamiltones Sing the Hits: God bless Anthony Hamilton and the Hamiltones for sprinkling Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and bacon grease on these pop hits and making them even Blacker and better. Genius!

Wizkid, Drake, Skepta ‘Ojuelegba’ Mix: For as long as anyone can remember, there has been tension between Africans in the Diaspora and those on the Continent, despite the intermittent spurts of effort to reverse that trend. (Think Nkrumah, Ali, Mandela, Maya n’ dem.) This year, the author of a certain article went further in flaming the fans of unnecessary tension by claiming that Blacks in the Diaspora and African Americans (in particular) ought to stop “appropriating” African culture, because reasons. But in all that noise and clamor, 3 artists quietly collaborated to reprise Nigerian hit-maker Wizkid’s Ojuelegba in a stunning mix of simple creativity and cross-cultural partnership that hasn’t been witnessed in recent history. Naija, UK and Canada one track? Come ON, now!

Pop Culture

Walaba U Girl: This child singlehandedly got an entire nation to look within, reflect and ask their neighbor/hater to do the same with the repeating of one, singular, probing question: Walaba yew?

The Wiz Live: We needed The Wiz, and we needed it at the moment that it aired. We needed to see a star being born. We needed all that Black Excellence on screen and in our homes, and on a mainstream platform. The Wiz Live is/was our crown jewel this year. Watching it with all of America felt like being in a giant living room, filled with love. We needed that moment of unity, even if it came with 4,000 commercials between scenes and a few dozen inbred racist Twitter trolls.

15124-news-wiz

Patti Pies: Unknown to the rest of the world, Miss Patti Labelle’s sweet potato pies had been on shelves at Walmart for months with tepid sales. Then a little known backup/jingle singer named James Wright Chanel did a review that went viral and one Patti Pie was sold per second for 72 consecutive hours, netting just under $1 million. On that weekend. Never underestimate the power of your voice and a bedazzled hat.

Adele’s Comeback with ‘Hello’ and all the Parodies that Ensued:

Black Twitter featuring #ThanksgivingClapBack, #AskRkelly #masculinitysofragile #BlackLivesMatter #YouOKSis: As Black Twitter is not done doing the Lawd’s work as 2015 has not yet come to a close. In the meantime, I invite you to get online and check out these and other hashtags for yourself in order to witness the glory!

Rachel Dolezal makes ‘Transracial’ a thing: This chick doesn’t deserve any of our energy, and yet, here we are. That’s all I have to say about that.

rachel-dolezal-what-transracial-wrong-skin-twitter-naacp-spokane-washington-lied-said

 

Events Shaking Africa

john-boyegaJohn Boyega: Young Mr. Boyega is doing the entire continent proud, and is the latest centurion to join the Nigerian Actor/Mogul World Domination Force (NAMWoDomF). We’re looking forward to seeing what he does in his career in the future!

_82760522_027049507-1Burundi: The violence that has broken out in Burundi – a nation that has already seen its fair share – has all of us watching nervously and waiting.

 

Sucka!

Sucka!

Nelson Baani loses Parliamentary Seat: Known as the ‘Sharia MP’, the man who proposed stoning adulterous women as recompense for cheating on their husbands in 2014 lost his re-election bid almost to the day his absurd utterances came to light. Karma is sweet.

 

Burkina Faso has issued an international arrest warrant for ousted leader Blaise Compaore in connection with the murder of former President Thomas Sankara. Sankara’s death has never been properly investigated, nor justice done on his behalf. This is a day many Africans have waited for for decades.

Africa Trumps Ebola and Sends it to America: This isn’t something to celebrate. This is actually very serious. Considering that Republicans (and closeted racist Democrats) lobbied hard to close off Africa while this disease ravaged an entire region, but then ended up having Ebola resurface in the US by proxy of American carriers was the ultimate boomerang.

KpyRymuOStoreFoundry rips up the online merchant game in Ghana: There’s not much else to say about this. SF is KILLING the game! And if the competition doesn’t get their act together, they will find themselves a distant third in the POS market. (Of course, I confess I’m biased, because they serve as my exclusive online retailer on the Continent.🙂 )

 

Kantanka-SUVKantanka Cars Available for Commercial Sale: At long last: Cars made in Ghana for the Ghanaian market (and hopefully, beyond). What’s not to love?! Let’s hope 2016 sees this pioneer building a website as part of their brand marketing. I mean…because it’s 2016.

 

 

Sports

Serena Williams: A picture is worth ALL my words.

serena-williams-new-york-magazine-lead

Biggest upset of the year: Rhonda Rousey got the smack smacked out of her by a woman who seemed to rise out of the mist like a phantom. In the biggest upset in women’s MMA history Holly Holm handily handed Rhonda Rousey her ass. With a kick to the neck. It was unbelievable. I don’t think Rhonda still believes it.

Holly-Holm-beats-Ronda-Rousey

 

The Heavens Unify the Globe

The world gathered to see the Blood Moon: This was my personal favorite moment of all of 2015. The entire world gathered to watch a historic cosmic event, and for those few hours, we weren’t Christians or Muslims or atheists or pro-gun or anti-abortion. We were just human beings trying (in vain depending on geography) to get a glimpse of a rare blood moon on a cloudy night. Many of us had to rely on technology to get a glimpse. (That’s how I got this shot.)

We congregated in awed silence to witness nature’s majesty…and for those few hours, nothing else mattered: Not our political positions, not our race, not what the Kardashians were wearing to their weekly anal bleaching session.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 5.50.09 PM

It was a monumental moment of unity, and it gave me shivers.

 

Deaths

We all lost a number of good friends, family, villains and heroes this year. Not wanting to claim that the passing of some people is/was of more importance than others, I opted not list any names out of respect for all. Most will be missed dearly. Other people left the Earth in a better (happier) position with their passing. That’s our reality. If you lost a loved one this year, may fond memories of them forever live in your heart.

 

What were your favorite moments of 2015? Did this year turn out the way you had hoped, or better?

Well, this is my last post for the year! What will be your last comment? Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, fulfilled 2016, MOM Squad! You all mean the world to me.

New-Year-2016-28

 

Let Your Haters be Your Progress Gauges

When I moved to Atlanta at the turn of the century, I used to ride the MARTA, switch on my Walkman and listen to the city’s favorite radio station: V-103. Everyone who was anyone that mattered (as far as the world of urban radio was concerned) worked at V-103. Frank Ski, Wanda, Ryan, Portia Foxx. Of the entire crew, Ryan Cameron was my absolute favorite. The man is the emperor of clowns. His inflection, intonation and his reactions and remarks to even the most mundane events left me and half the city in stitches.

Frank and Wanda were a’ight.

Portia Foxx was a’ight too. Something about her voice rubbed me the wrong way. It was a little too soothing… like Kathy Bates with a sledge hammer in that scene from Misery. I didn’t trust Ms. Foxx; not one iota. Nevertheless, there is one thing I appreciated about her presence on the radio, and that was her signature tag line/motto: “Let your haters be your motivators”. Though she went off V-103 in 2004, we in the Atlanta community still quote and live by those words today!

When I first heard the phrase “let your haters be your motivators”, I must admit I harbored a certain level of ambivalence towards the sentiment. I was fresh out of college, just interacting with the world independently for the first time, and therefore wanted everyone to like me…or at least not hate me. Neutral indifference I could handle. But hatred? Now way. So why were all these people who were calling into the radio station talking about their haters? And furthermore, why was Ms. Foxx facilitating a platform on which to “celebrate” this hateration? Well as they say, small girls are young and now that I’m a full grown woman, I understand the value of the proverbial hater.

let-your-haters-be-your-motivators-3

The idea that one should make their haters – or detractors, if you will – their motivators is not a new one. The sentiment is actually expressed throughout the bible. You just have to decode it. For instance, both books of Samuel are almost completely dedicated to chronicling one dude’s (Saul) ultimate quest to hate on another dude(David) and how the latter spent his entire life circumventing or triumphing over those hate-fueled attempts. We credit David for the book of Psalms, but what are David’s Psalms without the influence of Saul’s many micro aggressions and/or bodily threats, aka hate?

Selah.

Now that I understand the importance of the hater, I would take the idea of letting them serve as motivation a step further and add that one’s haters must also work in the capacity of your progress gauges. Look at the caliber of your average hater and allow that to serve as an indicator for how far you’ve come.

For instance, I was talking to a young man ago about this very thing. He is a recent acquaintance and is one of those guys who has set himself on a course to receive “everything” in life. He’s building a strong business, he’s talking to people about investing in future ventures, he has a beautiful, smart fiancé, he’s well-traveled and he’s only in his early 20’s. He’s on the track to becoming one of Forbes celebrated 30 under 30 or some such similar list in a similar publication. During our chat, he confided in me that his business (let’s call it the Lemonade Stand for for) has yanked quite a bit of market share from indirect competitors.

“When I set up the Lemonade Stand, we were literally begging people to give us a try. I said if I had 20 customers at the end of 2015, I’d be happy.”

“And how many do you have now?”

“Close to 200,” he replied. “And we’re getting requests from all over the continent to be a part of the Lemonade Stand.”

“That’s great! How has this impacted you personally?”

“Well…it’s interesting. Now that the Lemonade Stand is on the scene, the Ice Cream Stand is struggling because we’ve taken so many of their best customers. They’ve actually set out to destroy me.”

I was shocked. I know the Ice Cream Stand’s reputation and they are HUGE. They’ve had a stranglehold on the market for close to five years now.

“Dude. That’s amazing…but why are they mad at YOU? They sell ice cream. Sure, they’re both cold and sweet, but that aside, neither product is even remotely similar!”

He went on the confide that not only is the Ice Cream Stand out for his blood, but so are the Library and the Auto Repair Shop. His Lemonade Stand has siphoned business from them as well. This is where I got excited.

“You do of course realize that you have entered a whole different realm of influence, right? If within less than a year of operation you’ve been able to fulfill the needs of all these customers, the so-called titans of industry were not truly doing their duty in servicing a segment of the customer base that relies on their product and services. This is HUGE for you.”

He agreed that it was indeed a big deal (and somewhat flattering) to have this class of hater working against him, however with what he has in mind for Lemonade development, he will leave his competition bloodied and in the dust.

“They’re still thinking about meeting current market trends. I’m looking to create market trends,” he said simply.

crunk juice

Well dag.

I took what he said to heart, and now I’m not just assessing my progress as a writer/mother/kung fu aficionado but also looking at the quality and class of individual criticizing my work as well. I advise you to do the same. For instance, if you are accustomed to that one underachieving account manager on your job taking stabs at you for the quality of your work and NO ONE else taking notice of what you do, it’s time to up your game and expand your influence. Get your work in front of someone who matters…someone who signs your check, for instance. Produce work that rivals theirs at their level. Whether they become a hater – in the hood sense of the word- is really up to them (they could turn out to be a congratulator), but at least you’ll know you’re operating in a different league. A better league. A stronger league!

As the old Bahamian saying goes: A dog only barks at a moving car. So get moving and take off at light speed! You are jollof rice. Don’t let white rice talk to you like you are supposed to remain on its level. Conduct yourself accordingly!

 

 

Don’t forget! Madness & Tea is coming out on Christmas Day! Check back here for details on how to get your free copy!

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 12.20.34 PM