In praise of, Beyoncé.

 In praise of, Beyoncé.I can’t believe I fell for your schemes, I’m smarter than that/So dumb and naive to believe that with me you’re a changed man/Foolish of me to compete when you cheat with those women
/It took me some time, but now I moved on/Cause I realized I got/Me, myself and I/That’s all I got in the end/That’s what I found out/And it ain’t no need to cry/I took a vow that from now on/I’ma be my own best friend

The lyrics above once saw me through a break-up. Whenever I listened to Me, Myself and I (which was often at that point) I felt empowered and even excited to be single again after a relationship breaking me to pieces. The song spoke to my inner feminist.

Feminism is a journey rather than a destination, it is a tool that we use to unpatriarchalise our lives. And it’s a damn good one at that, the best I’d say. But more about that another time, suffice to say for now that feminism “in a way” a la Beyoncé is simply one feministic journey. It isn’t perfect nor is it my personal ideal. For one, it’s terribly class centred with its focus on how a woman can buy empowerment. (More of my Beyoncé-related analyses here, here and here.) Sometimes she gets it incredibly wrong and other times, homegirl’s on to something.

Now Beyoncé’s GQ feature photos are hot. They are also objectifying in a reductive way. But they’re a ferociously smart move within the main currency that she trades with, namely desire.

While I don’t entirely disagree with Hadley Freeman that Beyoncé being photographed in her underwear doesn’t help feminism, what is more important than how sexualised a woman is willing to be portrayed as, is to raise consciousness to a level where women understand that desire, and glamour, are not the only, let alone the most rewarding currencies to “trade with” for they are indexed in the tempestuous male-gaze-stock-exchange.

However, to the extent that we all have some femme fatale in us – and if not, this archetype is one to engage with (even if critically), for she dares to be creative, powerful, serious, troublesome, seductive and sexy at the same time and say “Fuck you” to anyone who questions her – there are few world-famous icons who embody her better than ‘Queen Bey’.

Or?

 

 

Huffington Post: Hair-Raising Conversations

 Huffington Post: Hair Raising ConversationsFollowing another week of hair-related scandals in entertainment and sports, my latest HuffPo article argues that there is more to the black hair conversation than shallowness or self loathing and that as long as black hair aesthetics are part of a complex social structure we should engage with the conversations critically rather than silence them or mock them for being superficial.

In a discussion on the MsAfropolitan FB page following the article, I wrote:

“We should be careful to trivialize the hair conversation because when we do, rather than critically engage with it, we also trivialize within its context the parallel conversation taking place, namely that which is dealing with such issues as internalized racism, the way beauty and sexism are linked, the process of healing from continued racist ideas in society, the commodification of white supremacist beauty ideals in black communities, bonding between black women over a shared hair trajectory, recreating ourselves and healing our bodies, and more. For many women, including myself, the process of quitting relaxing was one of healing and even though I’m aware that for many others it was an insignificant moment to do with finances/time, I think that the fact that the discussions are so rampant is a sign that they are needed and that we actually still do live in a society where black hair in all its many variations is a highly politicized issue [...] I think that by trivialising it we ignore the social relations that are being expressed. When black hair aesthetics are no longer part of a complex social structure, the convo will gradually fade out but in the meantime I think we should engage with it critically rather than silence it.”

 

What are your thoughts on talking hair politics? Can we separate the superficial from the psychological, cultural and political?

Read the original Huffington Post article here.

 

Read related posts

A tribute to the black hair conversation

The fashion and politics of natural hair

Some thoughts on Ashley Judd’s definition of patriarchy

dsc0069 198x300 Some thoughts on Ashley Judd’s definition of patriarchyIn the unlikely case that you missed actress Ashley Judd’s smashing op-ed piece on media’s misogynist practices, then start by reading it here.

It’s truly a landmark piece in its bringing to the mainstream forefront both the f-word (feminism) and the p-word (patriarchy) and the ways in which the latter impacts relationships not only between the state and women but between women ourselves. Ohh yes, we are every bit as guilty according to Ashley Judd.

I don’t entirely agree with that, and I also missed from the article, a critical engagement with the very real fact that a large amount of celebs are smooth-stitched and botox-pumped up. I guess you can’t have it all!

Another angle that was missing, but which to be fair isn’t Ashley Judd’s prerogative to discuss, was how patriarchy operates outside of Euro-American spaces. So voila, here I am to the rescue with one perspective on this. I doubt it will have an equally wide appeal, mind you icon wink Some thoughts on Ashley Judd’s definition of patriarchy

First of all, Judd’s definition of patriarchy:

Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

When you think of this as a person of African heritage, what does it mean? It still applies, right? But there are more points to observe.
First of all, the mind-boggling thing about patriarchy is that it is so enduring. We don’t know of a time in modern history when women of a racial/ethnic group were not disadvantaged vis-a-vis men of the same racial/ethnic group. I make this racial/ethnic distinction because, of course, we know of times (including this current one) when women of differing race and/or class may have social advantages over men of other race and/or class.

Thing is, patriarchy is a sly and devious motha-fucka! It operates in different ways accross times and regions. But the bottom line is that it uses law, tradition, force, ritual, customs, education, language, labour (etc.) to keep women subordinate to men.

It’s telling that, feminism, the tool that women across the world have used in its many different variations to challenge patriarchy, is seen as evil and confrontational and that feminists are believed, falsely, to be women who (if heterosexual) can’t get laid. Although, of course, we are all lesbians because no sane heterosexual woman would call herself a feminist, would she? Sigh.

For the African patriarchy (okay, okay, the system BUT also the men who promote it…), women’s inequality in Africa is often seen as having nothing to do with our precolonial traditions and everything to do with the gender roles legacy of imperialism, colonialism and religion.

Indeed, when we trace the historical origins of patriarchy in Africa, it is true that racism, colonialism and judeo-christian and Islamic religion gave ammo to the gender inequality machinery but that’s not the entire picture. There was an often-symbiotic relationship between colonial officials and African leaders when it came to controlling women. Colonial governments tolerated practices such as child betrothal, dowry and polygamy so that they could uphold rural authority and chiefs and rulers tolerated the import of western values through missionary education and legislation so that they could maintain the economic benefits they gained from the colonialists. The control of women was no novelty, it all just took on a different form, for better or for worse!

Any thoughts on this, or on puffy faces? (God, forgive me!!)

 

photo by: Genevieve719

Celebrating African Music – The MsAfropolitan Mixtapes vol. 1

MsA Mixtapes 1 Celebrating African Music   The MsAfropolitan Mixtapes vol. 1

I’m pleased to share that the first edition of the MsAfropolitan Mixtapes is here.

Courtesy of Broadcite Music, an esteemed independent label committed to creating unique sounds for the musically aware, we are going on an Afropolitan ride from Ghana to South Africa fusing highlife, juju, afrobeat and more with Detroit House and the edgy beats of underground London.

Out of all the arts, music possibly has the most direct effect on our senses. It touches on those places in our souls where we can’t forget to feel and it hits us with a cathartic recollection of emotion making us dance, sing, shout etc.!
Therefore I often write about African music because part of any renaissance movement such as Afropolitanism, negritude, the Harlem Renaissance or pan-Africanism must celebrate the creativity and culture among African and diasporic communities.

Click the image above or the soundcloud below to listen or download for free.

Enjoy and share!

The MsAfropolitan Mixtapes – vol. 1 by MsAfropolitan

The MsAfropolitan mixtapes vol. 1 by T.Roy [Broadcite]

1) Tony Allen – Kindness
2) Revolution – The Journey Continues
3) Sister Pearl – Bang the Drum
4) Bollie – You May Kiss Your Bride
5) Rob – Move
6) Aye toro – From Benin to Belize
7) Nneka – Africans
8 ) Stolen Moments
9) Uppers International – Dankasa
10) Apagya Showband – Mummunde
11) Malik Alston – Badeya
12) Upside down – Fela tribute
13) Joni Haastrup – My People

photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

Cadbury’s ad row with Naomi Campbell and ASA’s response

 Cadburys ad row with Naomi Campbell and ASAs responseThe Black History Walks website has a useful list of ways to help combat negative media portrayal of black people.

Some of the suggestions are:

  • Go out of your way to attend events, prove there is demand
  • Buy original dvds with positive images direct from source
  • Check out www.colourfulradio.com and www.voxafrica.com
  • Read Frantz Fanon Wretched of the Earth and Brainwashed by Tim Burrell
  • Decorate your house/office with positive images
  • Challenge stereotypical comments
  • Write to editors/directors if you see inaccurate portrayals

In line with the last two points I contacted ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) about the Cadbury Dairy Milk ads which likened super model Naomi Campbell to a chocolate bar. Despite that Naomi Campbell threatened to sue Cadbury’s, and stated that she was hurt and insulted by the ads, apparently we were only three people that complained.

It was quite surprising as the web was rife with commentary about the ad. Of course, many people might not have found the ad offensive. The ASA point out to me how people have varying opinions on what is ‘bad taste’. The ASA also argue that “the ad was likely to be understood to refer to Naomi Campbell’s reputation for “diva-style” behaviour rather than her race”. Seeing that chocolate doesn’t have an attitude I failed to make that immediate link but I agree that she is seen as a diva.

As ASA received only four complaints about the campaign, three from members of the public and one from OBV,  and due to their sentiments about the ad’s suitability, they did not find rounds to intervene. Whatever our views about this particular ad, the correspondence got me wondering if we complain often enough about black people being negatively portrayed in media, what do you think? Are we so used to stereotypical images that we see no point in reacting when something rubs us the wrong way?

Posting ASA’s response in the case it’s of interest.

Dear Ms Salami

CADBURY TREBOR BASSETT SERVICES LTD

Thank you for contacting the Advertising Standards Authority.
I should say right at the start that the ASA Council has considered your complaint but didn’t think there were sufficient grounds for us to intervene.  Let me explain.

Our Code says that ads should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence.  The ASA bases its judgments on the content of the ad and the medium, audience, product type and prevailing standards in society.

Complaints about offence often require difficult judgements but we don’t intervene where advertising is simply criticised for being in poor taste. Apart from freedom of speech considerations, even well-intentioned and thoughtful people will have different and sometimes contradictory opinions about what constitutes ‘bad taste’ or should be prohibited.  We can only act if the ad, in our judgement, offends against widely accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

In this case, we didn’t think the advertising was likely to have those effects because we considered that the ad was likely to be understood to refer to Naomi Campbell’s reputation for “diva-style” behaviour rather than her race.  On this basis the Council decided that the ad was unlikely to be seen as racist or to cause serious or widespread offence.

We’ve received only three other complaints on the subject so it does seem your concern isn’t widely shared.  The number of complaints isn’t the main factor of course – we’ve upheld solo complaints and not intervened when there were hundreds – but it is part of the picture in cases of this kind.

I realise this decision will disappoint you but I’ve passed your comments to the advertiser (without revealing your identity) so they’re aware of your views.  And we’ll continue to monitor the response to this campaign.

Our website, www.asa.org.uk, contains information about the ASA and the work we do, including the results of investigations into other complaints, many of which have been upheld.

Yours sincerely

Save the date – June 24th – V&A Museum Friday Late: Afropolitans.


Rihanna gets it right with Man Down

 Rihanna gets it right with Man DownAfter commenting unfavourably on Rihanna in an article in The Guardian as well as in this post some months ago I didn’t think I would be praising her any time soon.
But I am feeling her new song ‘Man Down’ and the accompanying video.

The actual song makes me feel like dirty dancing with a pleasant male specimen with the wind and sunshine cocooning us from the rest of the world. YUP!

The video is not similarly inciting. Rihanna acts the role of a woman who follows up a rape by chasing her rapist down and killing him. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, it would not occur to me to justify murder. But the video is metaphorical, and as such, I think it’s raising an important topic, namely how frustrated many women feel that rape is often not judged as the vicious crime that it is.
We still hear bizarre arguments when it comes to rape; that if a man refuses to use a condom it is not really rape, that there are different categories of rape, that there is a biological factor that prevents men from controlling their ‘natural urges’ and that if a woman wears certain clothes she is asking to get raped and so on.

Here’s an example of the invalidity of the last argument. Last week, was on my way home from yoga wearing a very casual outfit. Not a hijab exactly but by far not the sexiest thing I own. There I am, walking home, minding my own business when a guy stops his car to ask me how much it would cost. To sleep with me, that is. And as if that was not enough, he received semi-encouraging winks from a group of men standing in the corner of the road where this all happened. I wasn’t raped this time, but I definitely felt violated. This is just one example of many, I have more, my friends have more, there are countless examples that prove that what you wear has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault.

Men who violate women do so primarily because it makes them feel powerful. The guy who stopped the car was after a power trip more so than anything else. He actually knew that I wasn’t a prostitute but he wanted to feel like a Don.

Rape is a power battle, and hence it’s no coincidence that as women demand more power in society, the rape stats are shooting up. In Rhianna’s video the protagonist gets even the only way she can, winning the fight with another weapon and in that fantasy world, buoy, vengeance feels good.

More Afropolitan artists you need to know

Thanks for all your recommendations to the ’7 Afropolitan artists to watch’ list.

As I’m sure you will understand after listening to these three artists, I simply cannot choose.

So I’ve got three runners up.

190511 blitz1 More Afropolitan artists you need to know

1. Blitz the Ambassador

Seriously, you got to hit play and groove to this full album stream. Ghanaian, US-based emcee Blitz the Ambassador‘s ‘Native Sun’ is a superb mix of afrobeat, highlife and hip hop played against beautiful African footage. Native Sun is released with an accompanying short film which you can watch. It’s all so good.

meklit34 web More Afropolitan artists you need to know

2. Meklit Hadero

Born in Ethiopia, raised in the U.S. and nurtured by San Francisco’s richly diverse arts scene, this acclaimed singer embodies worlds. She is the founder of the Arba Minch Collective, a group of Ethiopian artists in diaspora devoted to nurturing ties to their homeland through collaborating with both traditional and contemporary artists there.

 More Afropolitan artists you need to know

3. Siji

“Ijo” which means “dance” in Yoruba is the title of New York-based Nigerian artist, Siji’s, latest video. The video features cameo appearances from Afro beat singer, Ade Bantu, and a cast of Lagosians doing what we love to do best. Oh, I like this a lot.

Whose your favourite?


7 Afropolitan artists to watch

1. Kay Elizabeth

kay elizabeth promo photo web 7 Afropolitan artists to watch

Kay Elizabeth is a vocalist living in London, born in California, of Jamaican and English heritage. Her unique sound and performance style has formed through her personal voyages through history, experience and education. Becoming disenchanted in her youth with American education and popular culture, Kay found her musical interests moving away from the more conventional genres of radio pop and R&B and began what seems to be a never ending trans-Atlantic journey between the Bay Area and the UK´s underground music scenes of experimental jazz, hip hop, hardcore and London´s flourishing reggae and sound system cultures.
Her debut album ‘Disposition’ released October 2010 is ethereal and autumnal storytelling within acoustic composition, a work created out of poetry and prose set to minimalist chord progressions.

Sample her journey here

2. Bumi Thomas

l 7 Afropolitan artists to watch

Bumi’s poetic Jazz sounds have been influenced by Maya Angelou, Sade, Faithless, Bjork, Tracy Champman, Mariam Makeba, Saul Williams, Skin, Inner and outer space, the elements, Yinka Shonibare, Oli twista, Miles Davies,Chaka Chaka, The Outkast, Siji Awoyinka, Bobby Mcferrin, Fela & Seun Kuti, James Brown, Amel Larrieux,Nina Simone, Rox, Fat Freddy’s Drop,Buika, Thandisawa, Eryka Badu and Minnie Riperton.

Listing her influences is a perfect way to hint at the sensual, tribal and organic soul sound this fantastic Afropolitan singer who was born in Glasgow, is now based in London, was raised by a Brazilian-Yoruba Father and Igbo mother has. “Music has always been at the core of my life, slowly making its way to the surface. The soundtrack of my perception is quite eclectic…. Afrocentric creativity is my philosophy on art and music. A realm in which nothing is ever wasted,” Bumi says.

You really should enter that realm…

3. M3NSA

M3NSA BW 7 Afropolitan artists to watch

2010 MOBO nominee M3NSA makes me smile just writing about his music. His upbeat sound remains positive even when the topics get deep. For example, check out his new video ‘No one knows’ , a cover on Asa’s famous song.
Even before he was listed as one of MsAfropolitan’s 7 african artists to watch, M3NSA was listed as one of Ghana’s top 50 people to watch icon wink 7 Afropolitan artists to watch Born in Ghana and raised in London M3NSA says, “I talk about going back to pick up from where I left things, and where everything started. It’s about acknowledging exactly where I come from and bringing all those experiences with me. With snatches of Twi and Pidgen, the clever rhyme schemes and narratives are what make the sound universally relatable. You don’t have to be into African Hip-hop to listen to the album, you just have to be into music.

Of course you’re into music!

4. KUKU

tumblr lieyaqCl8w1qcn483 7 Afropolitan artists to watch
Influenced by a rich multicultural upbringing, it is by this rare artistic sensibility of mixing his Yoruba/African roots and western modernism that the Nigerian singer, songwriter and composer KUKU distinguishes himself. One of my favourite tracks of his is Polongo (gossip in Yoruba) on London collective Broadcite and TRoy’s Bushmeat album as featured in ARISE magazine. His album ‘Soldier of Peace’ is a beautiful effort to bridge the gap between his African roots and the western world, blending Yoruba, English and Pidgin English lyricism, percussive guitar progression, infectious Udu drum rhythms, topped with South African Township guitar inflections. “The music embraces you, caresses you and has the sustaining quality of a good but simple meal.”

Indeed, yummy.

5. Andy Allo

Screen shot 2011 05 10 at 17.34.20 7 Afropolitan artists to watch

Andy Allo is a Cameroonian born and raised singer-songwriter. In the midst of a landslide of uninspiring and simple lyrics, and an industry of spiritless and senseless content, Allo serves up a refreshing and serene haven of conscious musical poetry. Allo’s formula is also simple. With only a guitar that she delicately strums, her soft sultry vocals and a dab of humor, Allo has created her own genre of music that she affectionately calls Alter.Hip.Soul- a mix of alternative, hip hop and soul.

Her sophomore album, which will be a personal rendition of her life reflects honest accounts of a young woman navigating the music world. With only her guitar and a rich subtle voice she is set to captivate the hearts and ears of those who appreciate music for the soul.
6. Teni
Screen shot 2011 05 10 at 21.30.19 7 Afropolitan artists to watch
Last month in Lagos, I saw an ad for an afrocentric centre called House of Makeda, which I then visited. House of Makeda is truly an oasis in the heart of Lagos. The space which is entered through a jungle-like pathway consists of a cafe, a fashion boutique and a live performance space. I spoke with Teni, not knowing that she was a singer as well as a fashion designer, and furthermore a singer who had contacted me some months earlier! Going through my messages this week, I was excited to link my cherished Lagos experience at House of Makeda with the afrobeat sounds in these clips. Teni is s British born afro-jazz singer and composer who leads a ten piece band the Afro-Renaissance. She has collaborated with the legendary master drummer Tony Allen and also appears from time to time with the Egypt 80, Fela Kutis’ original band.
7. WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE HERE?

 7 Afropolitan artists to watch
Who are your favourite Afropolitan artists that the world should know about?

Fela in Lagos, reflections and ruminations

Picture 4 Fela in Lagos, reflections and ruminations

I don’t know what to make of the Finnish elections last weekend, where the nationalist True Finns party won 39 seats of a 200-seat parliament.

The Nigerian elections, which have led to violent clashes in Northern Nigeria where hundreds of people have now died, sadden me even more so.

To make sense of things, I tried to find similarities between the Finnish and Nigerian elections, which took place simultaneously, but I could not find a single link flowing through my Finn-Nigerian blood other than the timing.

Ultimately, the things I love about Nigeria and Finland are not affected by the elections. One’s soul has no political or ideological affiliation.

Being Finnish and Nigerian, I’ve always wanted to find links between the two apart from myself. One such association that always amused me is the story of Nigerian musical legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, forgetting one of his twenty-seven wives at the airport in Helsinki, Finland’s capital.

On Thursday at the Fela in Lagos show, the role of the wives was ever-present. Ah, the Queens!

When asked what attracted him to his wives, or his Queens as he referred to them as, Fela once said:

“Sex! I thought they were sexy and fuckable. That’s what attracts me to a woman first … It grew into something else after though. Something special…Did I sleep with all of them on the night of the marriage? No. Man, I said I married twenty-seven, not seven!”

After his longest stunt in prison Fela returned to his home, the Kalakuta Republic, to find that some of his wives had new boyfriends and some had even born children for other men.

Patriarchal and chauvinistic as he had been, Fela now refrained from any accusations of infidelity. He understood his wives, he said. Shortly after he divorced the Queens but those who wanted to were welcome to remain in his Kalakuta home. The reason he gave for the divorce was:

“People marry because they are jealous. People marry because they are possessive. People marry because they are selfish. All this comes to the very ugly fact that people want to own and control other people’s bodies. I think the mind of human beings should develop to the point where that jealous feeling should be completely eradicated.” – Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

When Fela died in 1997, he was a tormented man. Although he suffered from AIDS, the disease, which he himself never in fact acknowledged, was not the entire cause of his pain. Instead his agony arose from a life dedicated to empowering Africans through activist work and getting little in return. Despite the sacrifices he made for his countrymen – the turning down of huge amounts of ‘dirty’ money from record labels; the weekly donations of his accumulated wealth to his community; the establishment of the Shrine; the multiple and soul-destroying imprisonments; the telling the truth at all costs – in spite of all he suffered for his people, Fela felt his attempts to create any significant change were unsuccessful, the masses were too brainwashed by ‘colonial mentality’. As stories of heroes such as Fela often end, it was not until he died that his sacrifices became fully appreciated.

Sahr Ngaujah plays Fela in the critically acclaimed musical which now has also arrived in Fela’s hometown, Lagos. The false Nigerian accent takes away from the magic of Fela, but what the portrayal truly lacks is actually the poignant and intense passion for political justice that drove Fela to pursue his musical career. Fela’s music is not primarily about dance, or fashion, but about pain. If you listen carefully, almost every song is characterized by a deeply entrenched agony over Africa’s maltreatment, and of African’s blindness to this maltreatment.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Ngaujah was great, the musical is vibrant and its aim is to make the audience feel good which it does. As such, it represents one side of Fela’s life eloquently, the beautiful Queens, their energetic African dancing, the magnificent Afrobeat energy of the music. Sahr Ngaujah does a very decent service to Fela in that light. On the other end, however, the side of Fela’s life that he suffered sorrow, tears and blood for – the political and spiritual activism– that side of his, Ngaujah was unable to capture.

The question is, could anyone?

Tickets for Fela in Lagos are available here.

The melodious song of longing, Baaba Maal – In Praise of the female voice

BaabaMaal2 The melodious song of longing, Baaba Maal   In Praise of the female voice

Baaba Maal

Apart from lyrical gratification, what do you get when you fill the Royal Festival Hall in London Southbank with artists like Senegalese superstar and advocate of women’s rights Baaba Maal, Speech Debelle, VV Brown, Eska, Krystle Warren and Annie Flore? You get a powerful evening of inspirational female voices from across three continents aptly title ‘Baaba Maal – In Praise of the Female Voice’.

What else do you get? Longing.

In Brazil they call this type of longing saudade, a term which is hard to translate adequately because it describes a melange of nostalgia and craving for something that is unattainable as it leans towards the past or the future. The Brazilians say that once you’ve visited their country and left you will always have saudade, a truth which I can confirm. In Finland, we also have a similar word, kaiho. It describes a deep emotional yearning and pining for something which most often is unidentified.

Normally during my working day, I occasionally pause. Mostly I break to gaze out of the window observing not only passersby, but also the shape of the clouds or the tree in front of my building, which looks different every time I see it.
Sometimes I pause to call a friend or to go for a quick walk or to dance in front of my mirror.
When I’m out I try to deliberately pause as well. Not stop, just slow my pace, share a smile or strike up a conversation with a stranger.
I take these moments as an exercise in regrouping of my mind, body and soul. And I take them in order to not get caught up in routine and forget to feel.
Music touches on those places in our souls where we can’t forget to feel. It hits us with a cathartic recollection of emotion.

The WOW (women of the world) concert made me long for Africa, but more than long, it made me have saudade and kaiho for Africa because my longing is for an unidentified Africa in the past or in the future.

Krystle Warren 5 The melodious song of longing, Baaba Maal   In Praise of the female voice

Krystle Warren

My favourite artist was Krystle Warren. Especially her version of John Lennon’s ‘Woman is the nigger of the world’ was breathtaking.

My least favourite was Speech Debelle. She didn’t really get me going. That is, until she did.
The minus points are only because as she admitted herself she was tired of performing the same songs from her old album and I thought that was obvious because when she did ‘Elephant in the living room’, a taster from her new album, feet were suddenly stomping like a room filled with elephants and I fell in love with her all over again.

Longing. Saudade. Kaiho.

Make of that what you will but when you tune in, pump the volume up ~

What are your thoughts, do you think it’s healthy to long?

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Is Halle Berry’s daughter black?

 Is Halle Berry’s daughter black?The world of science has on several occasions declared that race is biologically meaningless, but yet accepting this idea as general knowledge seems curiously hard to accomplish.

The sooner we can understand the fallacious construct of race, the sooner we might begin to speak about multi-racialism with the kind of sensible thinking that it requires.

However, the prospects for that remain remote. The issue of whether a biracial individual should deny or embrace their other half began in 1937 when Everett Stonequist wrote his famous work ‘The Marginal Man’ (thanks for that!). Recent events proved that we have not made much progress; biracial people are still an uncomfortable thorn in the side of the social experiment called race. Following actress Halle Berry’s declaration that her daughter is black in Ebony magazine last week, people got very emotional and all these articles about biracialism surfaced. Such as Sonia Poulton’s moving but naïve piece, which again referred to dated racial terminology such as DNA and white inheritance when debating biracialism. The one drop rule was up for discussion, US journalist John McWhorter wrote in Let’s Stop Being Angry at Biracial People that black people inflict a sort of reverse racism on mixed race people by forcing them to label themselves black. Bene Viera responded to this with an article in Clutch Magazine asking that mixed race people Stop Bringing the Biracial Issue to the Doorsteps of Blacks. Again they all approached race as though a biological fact, thus resulting in a segregating conclusion.

Maybe this is as good a time as ever to say that in accordance with president Obama, Berry and countless other mixed race people I refer to myself (amongst other labels) as black. I do so even though my genetic make up is European and African, Finnish and Nigerian to be precise. The reason I am black is not unclear to me in any manner. I appreciate that although flawed, the theory of racial difference is one that continues and in all likeliness, will continue to shape society for a while. Secondly, people like myself have the same history as any other black person. We were slaves, oppressed and colonized in the same fashion and on the same grounds. Third, and most importantly, it’s one out of many cultural labels that I’m able to identify with.

The only cultural racial label, which applies to me but that I can’t claim to have experienced, is the one of ‘white’. This is not due to my denying my whiteness as some accuse Halle Berry of doing; rather it is a result of how society is constructed. If you don’t believe me, try stepping into my shoes at a western airport and watching all the white people with the same passport as I have, waltz past you as you get stopped and possibly detained. Or, if you want hard evidence there’s the study conducted at Harvard University, which found “that individuals who were a 50-50 mix of two races, either black-white, Asian-white etc, were almost never identified by study participants as white.”

It’s sad somehow, but I have to live with the fact that it would feel absolutely farcical for me to see myself as white.

The topic of ‘mixed race’ and the ‘one drop rule’ can bring out the worst in people and understandably so; we are seen as a problematic group. Whereas we previously were problematic because we were considered a hindrance to ‘white purity’, now we are the elephant in the room called ‘post-racialism’, arguably also a white construct. Black patriots often see us as a challenge too; are we traitors to our ‘race’ or compatriots?

Whether Berry’s daughter Nahla will choose to label herself white, black or biracial, people in a rigidly aligned world will want her to choose. My perception of the world is not rigid, nor aligned, and in my opinion and depending on her surroundings Nahla can identify herself as all three, simply because she is all three.

Thoughts?

How not to come out of the closet

Black Lesbians How not to come out of the closet

 

For many years I’ve kept this secret, but I’m now ready to get out of the closet and reveal that I am straight. Yes, heterosexual.
I know, I know, it’s controversial for a woman to be straight nowadays, but I’ll try to cope with the discerning looks from passersby when I walk hand in hand with a man and I’ll try not to surprise anyone by revealing that I find men can be fascinatingly attractive.

Hear me out, I’m not patronising lesbians. In fact, I’m writing this post partly because I can’t stand it when people do, and partly because I wanted to pull a Ricky Martin and reveal an obvious sexual status.

And I truly don’t mean to sound like a broken record, I already blogged about female pop stars getting naked so I’ll say this quickly. I can’t fucking believe this video. In my opinion, it’s so disrespectful to bona fide lesbians who find women attractive in REAL life and not just as performing clowns, and also as I stated in a tweet yesterday, I find controversy for the sake of controversy (rather than actually having something to say) distasteful.

Thank GOD I don’t have kids.
How do you possibly prevent your kids from being badly influenced by pop culture??

Speaking of kids, I found this column by Sasha Slater refreshingly frank. Admitting that becoming a mother, as spiritually and emotionally mind blowing as it must be, also can be a bit of a trial is what I’d consider the first step towards actually creating a social structure that’s beneficial to mothers.
Sometimes I wonder whether God, or whatever created me, forgot to set the alarm on my biological clock. It’s not this god’s fault of course, it is in fact that both the 30something-babieless-single-woman-in-state-of-panic and 30-something-mother/careerwoman/wife-can-do-it-all-woman frighten the shit out of me and there seems to be no other options.
Jokes aside, I find there is something very soothing about my Afropolitan experience and my being from, and relating to, such different worlds.
Earlier this year in Nigeria, my family and I followed out tradition of morning prayers with an Imam. At one point the Imam paused to translate the Arabic prayers to me. Turns out, we had all just prayed for Allah to bless me with children this year.
Somehow, although my life here in London is miles from those precious but nevertheless pseudo-Islamic moments of mine, I find myself wondering, if things really were as simple and natural as a prayer, would I be waking up early to feed the kids, rather than hitting snooze on both my BB and my biological clock?

 

I’ve noticed that even here, in the blogosphere, there seems to be less communication between the many mom-blogs and those blogs written by baby-less women. Don’t we need to bridge the gap between mothers and non-mothers?

pixel How not to come out of the closet