Sunday, November 29, 2015

Complete

As I wake up everyday discovering something new about myself
I laugh at the idea
The idea they sold me
The idea that you could complete me
How could someone who was still learning about themselves complete me?

Is that what they told you?
Is that why you look at me with disgust
When I tell you I have not found someone?
Is that why you
To you, single means lonely.
To you, single means miserable.

Is that what they told you?
If tomorrow I change, how will you adjust?
If you completed me.


The Afrolegalise


Femicide

"I don't want daughters"
Signed
The Misogynistic Bastard


The Afrolegalise

Nwa Baby

As a mother, you are no longer a woman.
If ever you were a human being.  
You are no longer a human being.
If ever you had a choice.
You no longer have a choice.
If ever you enjoyed life.
You are no longer entitled to enjoy life.
Babies Sucking Breasts
Until you are out of breath
No longer able to live your life
Slow death diagnosed with burden, stress, shame, guilt, and
The World.

They said.
Stay in . Take care of your children.
If ever you put yourself first
If ever you take care of yourself
You are bad
Bad mother
Terrible Mother
Careless Mother
Reckless Mother
Dead beat Mother 
Heartless Mother 
Selfish Mother 
Evil Mother
Witch
Don’t you see?
When you become a mother, your burden becomes even greater.
You are no longer a woman.
You are no longer a human being with desires.
No more wants.

But as a father.
You are now the man.

Congrats.
We are so proud of you. 
All 30 seconds of it. 
All that hard work. 
You can do as you please.
Just be home when I wake up. 

The afrolegalise

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Angry BW

Be slow to anger
They said
But I am an Angry Black women
Angry at the world
Angry at everything around me
Angry at you 
And you 
And you
Angry
Angry
Angry
If this world were not so quick to judge me
If this world were not so quick to hurt me
If this world were not so quick to kill me
If this world were not so quick to ridicule me 
I would not be so quick to anger
Yet you demand in me a patience that you yourself never had to live
You demand in me a patience that you yourself will never have to live
Quick to anger
But I don’t always hold on to it
Sometimes I channel it into love for my sisters
Who know what it feels like to be
Angry
Angry Black women 
Sometimes I create with it
The complexity of my hairstyles
The vibrant colors of my attire
The knots in my hair tie
Sometimes I cherish it
I cherish it so that I can see that my daughters
Can be a 
LLLL
ittle bit more slower

Longing

Out of boredom
I write about the things I wish I had
I ought to have
I should have
I must have
Everything I want seems unattainable
So I write
And I write
And I write
And I write
And I write
Until I no longer long

The Afrolegalise 

The Greats

Have you ever had someone tell you that you are the greatest human being 
Alive

And believe it?

The Afrolegalise

Insanity

He once told me he loved me
He stuttered it but I know he meant it
Pulling teeth
I think he meant it
I know he meant it
The way he looked at me
I keep telling myself these things
Over and over again
Insanity
I know he meant it
Love

The Afrolegalise 

Onugbu

Radiant Skin
Her melanin fights against the hot sun
As she plucks onugbu
The heat is too much
Sweat runs down her forehead into her eyes
She rubs her eyes
Chai! She yells  
Burning sensation
Blurred vision
But she does not make any more noise
Because she knows no one will come
She bends over and waits for the pain to subdue

The Afrolegalise

Fonder

Absence makes the heart forget
I closed my eyelids
And you were gone
No fairytales
No fantasies
I wanted you out of my sight
Out of my mind
Hoping the pain will some day
Magically disappear

The Afrolegalise

Ofunneamaka

An extension of me
My best friend
My sister
Ofunneamaka
One Beautiful mother
Nyerem Aka Gi
I want you to plait my hair

The Afrolegalise

Anointing Oil

Splashing anointing oil on my forehead
Forgive those who trespass against me
O’ Lord

The Afrolegalise

Baptism

Baptism
Washing away my sins before I even knew myself
Before I even had a chance to live
Before I even had a chance to walk
Before I even had a chance to talk
Guilty by association
Purity is earned

The Afrolegalise

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Black American Hypervisibility


My point of view comes from someone who is first generation Nigerian Black in America. I feel like my perspective gives unique insight because I can see things from all sides of the coin . I was raised in a Nigerian household but I have lived in America as a Black person my whole life . My experiences are shaped by both my ethnicity and by my race. 

I think it's problematic when people say that the Hyper-visibility of Black Americans equate to privilege over other Black people in the western diaspora . Blackness in America has been commodified and exported throughout the world reducing Black people in America to a product of capitalism. By reducing Black people to a product , Black people are rendered invisible . There is literally no tangible benefit of being Black in America in a global world if people do not see you as a human being but rather a product that everyone is entitled to consume . Being seen as "cool" or "down" is exploitive no matter how many Black people say they love it. Everyone want to be Black, but don't nobody want to be Black. To people around the world, you are entertainment. You are a science project that they can dissect and analyze. You are not a human being . 

Likewise , Black Americans are not seen as human beings in America . Black people are dehumanized and reduced to racist stereotypes to perpetuate White supremacy. What does it mean to be Black in America when "citizen" is not applied to you as a Black person . Black people in America don't even have human rights , let alone civil rights . I think the same can be said about Black Canadians , French , British , German , Dutch , etc etc . What does it mean to be Black in a country that sees you as subhuman . The very function of #Blacklivesmatter is to assert the radical idea that Black people are human beings and deserve the same human rights as everyone else . 

No matter where Black people are , other people's experiences are used to silence and erase them . For example, after the horrific attack in Paris , people all over social media used the deaths of Parisians to erase the experiences of Black people in Missouri. People told Black Americans to shut up and realize that they are not oppressed . In fact , real oppression is happening over there in Paris and Black Americans should be grateful for not being seen as human in America . This happens all the time when people commodify the experiences of Africans (because every African in Africa has the same experience ) to tell Black Americans to be grateful for being seen as subhuman in America . 

The same thing is done in France when Black French take it to the streets to protest anti-blackness and xenophobia. People in France commodify Ferguson and use it to silence Black French people. Because Black French people should be grateful that they are not being shot by police everyday in a country that does not recognize their humanity . Because Black people in France supposedly don't get killed by police . 

A Black British person may come to America and be told "I didn't know there were Black people in the UK." Similarly , a Black American may travel to the UK and be asked "But where are you reallyyyyy from?" because many Black British people are 1-2 generations removed from Africa or the Caribbean . But even within this context , there are Black British people who are neither direct descendants of Africa or Caribbean but rather are similarly situated as Black Americans because of slavery . I think people forget that European countries also enslaved Africans . 

Who benefits from all of this ? Black people are literally rendered invisible everywhere they go and their pain is exploited to shame other Black people in the diaspora . It's not "better" for Black people anywhere and what does "better" even mean for Black people . I think sometimes it's a coping mechanism to think that there is a place where you can escape anti blackness but there isn't . 

Moving to the UK won't help .
Moving to Malaysia won't help .
Moving to Brazil won't help .
Moving to South Africa won't help.
Moving to Australia. 

I recognize my western privilege as Nigerian Black who has traveled to "third world countries ". But I think that is true for Black people who come from any western country . They have class privilege and probably come from a background where they had enough money or education to travel .

Who does it serve when one says people in Africa don't even have running water? It reduces African people to props or tools to make White people feel better about their oppression in their homecountry of America or France or Canada or the Netherlands or Russia . It reduces African people to poverty and disease . As Chimamanda says , the danger of a single story . It also ignores the fact that there are Black people in America who are poor and don't have running water . It assumes that everyone in America is similarly situated and that being poor and Black is not a thing because you are in a western country . What is happening in some village in Nigeria shouldn't be used to silence Black people in America . Especially when people don't even really care about what is happening in that small village in Nigeria . 

Similarly , the experiences of Black immigrants or Latinx immigrants or Asian immigrants are used to shame and silence Black American experiences and further the myth of American exceptionalism and the American Dream . Without fully understanding the history of Black people in America , people will use some arbitrary experience to silence them . All in all, it functions to erase the oppression of Black people globally . 

People may even argue that non black Americans are able to navigate through America easier such as the entertainment and arts industry . Where Lupita, Idris, Chimamanda , and Uzo are praised and given opportunities but I think that is a messy conversation and only promotes in fighting . So I will not get into that. 

But the fact of the matter is , most Black Americans don't have a passport nor are they traveling all over the world. Black people in America are struggling to tackle voter ID laws because mandatory identification cards negatively impacts Black communities. Most Black Americans who are traveling are first generation who are traveling back to their home countries . I think nuance is necessary in this conversation . And I think it's important to understand what these terms mean . There is nothing good about hyper-visibility . This is why people draw the distinction between visibility and hyper visibility . Hyper being negative and harmful . Hyper contradicting visibility and rendering you invisible .  

Anti blackness is global and anti blackness manifests differently in different parts of the world . But the function is the same . The function is to dehumanize Black people and render them invisible and justify oppression of Black people . So I would be hesitant to make broad comparisons of separate countries that have different histories and different ways anti blackness manifests . 

I have an American passport . I have a Nigerian passport . I have traveled to many different parts of the world . Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East . My passport allowed me to get to those places but my passport didn't prevent me from experiencing racism in those places . But I also have two degrees and I come from an formally educated middle class household. I am only one generation in America so I don't represent the vast majority of Black Americans . Even though 3 million of Black Americans are immigrants,  we all have different stories . We all have different ways we got here . Not every immigrant is an America citizen nor do they have an American passport . Not every immigrant came on diversity visa . Not every immigrant is formally educated . Not every immigrant came to America by choice. Not every immigrant is flourishing in America . 

So no, I don't believe the hyper-visibility of Black Americans is a privilege or benefits Black Americans. I don't know when hypervisibility in the media became a good thing for Black people anywhere. I don't think showing Black people getting killed everyday without justice is beneficial. To assert this would be to believe that showcasing Black pain around the world somehow leads to justice in America for Blacks. But I know, you know, we know; that it does not. 

Yet of hope

I don't 
Even know you 
Yet 
A yet filled with hope 
The way the hairs on your face connect 
Arouse me 
Yet the youthfulness of your smirk 
Calms me 
I don't 
Even know you 
Yet 
A yet filled with hope 
But this image I've created of you 
From you voice 
To your touch 
To the way you look at me 
I feel like I do know you 
The way the hairs on you chest connect 
It's a pattern aligned like a road 
To me 
Perfectly made for you 
To balance out the smoothness of your skin 
A little edge 
A road less traveled 
To make you more of a man 
Signs of maturity 
I want you to mature inside of me 
And I don't even know you 
Yet 

Nwannem

And I wonder do they realize
The millions of people who were captured from my village
And I wonder do they realize
Geography didn’t end oppression
And I wonder do they realize that 500 years of oppression here
Included 500 years of oppression there
And I wonder if they realize
That we still existed
That my
great (1900)
great (1800)
great (1700)
great (1600)
grandmother
And your great great great great grandmother
Could have been fetching water together
When the White man snatched Ifeoma
Or maybe it was another Black man from another tribe named Adebola
Drunken with liquor , powerful with the touch of a gun 
Who Forced himself inside of her
Chained her up
And dragged her across the ocean
But there is a possibility that she didn’t survive
Maybe from sickness
Maybe she was brave enough to jump into the water
Maybe she had heard stories of those who left and never came back
Maybe her mother left and never came back
Or Maybe no one ever talked about it
Maybe everyone just moved in silence cradling their personal
Chi
Because we don’t talk. Maybe our ancestors didn’t talk either
I don’t know
Its hard for me to know
Because like you I am colonized
Or maybe she was among the Igbo Landing 
May 1803 
Savannah, Georgia 
"The Water Spirit brought us, the Water Spirit will take us home"
They chanted as they walked into the ocean and chose death
Over the life of an enslaved African
Suicide
Rebellion
Was that bravery or cowardice?
They say my people are stubborn
Igbo, Eboe, Ibo
They say my people fight . So when I see you
I see me . Because I see hundreds of years of resistance
Like them, you have .
But I don't know.
I am one generation removed from colonization
What I know is what my parents know or maybe what they don’t know
Because as soon as they stopped taking us to where you are
Where we are now 
They begin slaughtering us there
Burning villages
Hanging elders
Raping women
Capturing young girls
Taxing the poor
Exasperating internal conflicts
Steal everything. 
Take everything. 
Destroy everything. 
But our spirits . 

Or so I think . 

No. What I really think is that we are all suffering from post-colonial traumatic stress disorder
I imagine that’s what happened
I try to read books . I try to visualize.
I am obsessed with the past because I feel so much of me was taken
Here I am in this country
With my native name but still I feel empty
Is this a symptom of oppression
Am I imagining this? Am I making something more than it is?
Or do I truly have a longing to figure it out
Is there something to figure out ?

I say this because I too used to romanticize “ home”
But I am at a loss of what home is 
Who is home
And what does it mean to be home
What does it mean to have a home 
And I wonder if this is a symptom of colonization
Where borders were created
Identities manufactured
Nationality employed

Who am I
And 'What am I to you? nwannem?

Theafrolegalise 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Because Culture


Paul and Rose

Paul and Rose
Maybe no one ever told you two

But you are perfect to me
Rose’s passion
Paul’s insight

The thinkers
The engineers

My engineers
Everything I am is you and more
Thank you

Mbadiwe and Nnennaya

As you get older

You begin to realize the burdens
To parent
Because as they told me

They told you

Put your kids first

Forget about yourselves
Do everything for you kids
So that they may be better
And so you did

And so we were
I hope you don’t resent the freedom you allowed me to have

The freedoms that you only dreamt of
But what does it mean to be free
To be an immigrant couple

With a house full of children
In a community full of trauma
Sometimes your children is your only dosage of freedom
SO sometimes I get why you put so much energy and making me the best version of you

And more
I say and more because I have picked the best parts

Of You two to recreate my own version of me
Thank you

Imela
Daalu
Paul’s introversion
Rose’s empathy

Rose’s I am not yelling

I am raising my voice
My need to be heard like her
And my prudence like Paul

My engineers

Theafrolegalise

High


The Day


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Suffering and Serving

Lord, give me the strength to feed my kids.
My God, please never forsake my children.
Lord, let me not be bitter or angry towards my husband.
My God, please let my husband never leave me astray.
Lord, give my husband the strength to love me through thick and thin.
My God, please do not allow my children to go astray.

Blessed is the mother who gives her husband an abundance of children.
Blessed are the children of a self-sacrificing mother.
Blessed is she who puts all above her own.
Blessed is the overworked mother who never breaks.
For she who breaks is broken.
Blessed is she who never breaks.
Blessed is she who suffers in silence.

Virtuous women.
Who can find a virtuous woman?
Surely, those who she serves.

"Strong and resilient."
Suffering and serving.
Mother and Wife.

I long for the day she sees in her the humanity and god in She.
Woman and Human being.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Strong and Weak

It's a celebration.
She wakes up early in the morning to prepare for tomorrow’s festivities
Preparation takes days.
All hands on deck. She calls some of her friends to help
Washing the meat with her rough hands
Years of physical and emotional and sexual labor.
To be woman is to please.
To be woman is to satisfy.
The women laugh and sing Christian hymns.
They talk about how their husbands are always out.
Never home. Never supportive.
How they caught their husband in the act.
But for the good of the home they were told to deal.
Well they weren’t told, because they never told
Anyone
But somehow in their childhood, they got the message
To be woman is to forgive
To be woman is to gift
The giver of life.
They say.
9 months of torture. Hours of pain.
They forget how many lives have been lost in this process.
To be woman is to be a womb.
Full of fruit to be plucked. Until she is barren.
Winter tree as autumn leaves.
Sweet and spicy aroma.
Nutmeg, Grounded Pepper. Grounded Tomato and Onions.
It’s a celebration.

He walks in. She says, "Good evening di’m"
It is now nighttime and the circle of friends are hard at labor.
Peeling black eyed peas. Washing fresh cow and packing them in freezer before it spoils in the morning. Goat skin carefully seasoned and boiled.

Dry fish washed and mixed in with the cow’s intestines.
A true Igbo delicacy.
Plucking vegetable in the backyard. Trying to wash the bitterness out.
7,907 miles away from home but physical labor continues

My mother is strong they say. My mother is resilient they proclaim.
I am not sure what strong means.
What is strength to a woman who can never be vulnerable.
What is strength to a woman who is afraid to cry.
What is strength to a woman who is afraid to fail.
You say she is strong. I say you make her weak.

Superhuman nnem. Do you rest?
I know you keep praying to your god asking him to relieve you of this stress.
I see the unpleasant joy in your eyes.
It’s a celebration.
Husbands drop drinks at her house .
To be man is to pick up drinks from the store and drop them at a friends house.
To be man is to lift a box in a house.
To be man is to be man.
Because we will never know what it is to be a man.

But she. They. They are defined by what it is to be a man.
They bear the burden because to be a man is to be a man.
She hires workers to carry food to the hall.
It’s a celebration.

One by one, girls, young ladies, and women enter the hall.
Many know their place. They have almost immediately stood up after sitting down, trying to wave down someone to get a drink and chin chin for their dear husband.

Because to be a man is to be a man.
To be a man is to be served.
To be a man is to be fed.
To be a man is to be satisfied.
To be a woman is to satisfy

One by one , girls, young ladies, and women assume their positions.
Having cooked in their homes all week and having prepared the food for the event, they were also expected to  serve.

Because well. You know.. to be a woman is to ..
The night passed by. The women danced and danced, entertaining their dear, dear husbands.
Even those without husbands, danced, danced, danced
Entertaining their dear, dear men.

The single women danced and danced, hoping to find a husband.
Because to be a woman is to be married.
To be a woman is to be wanted by a man.
Even if you don't want him.

The night was coming to a close.
These women packed trays of food in their handbags.
I wondered if they had even eaten anything all day, the way they trampled over each other for the last piece of chicken.

I wonder about them, I do.
I wonder about the shame they carry.
The guilt.
The sadness.
The anger.
His woes. Their woes.
I wonder if she’s in a completely new life form.
Removed from reality.
Simply going with the motions.
Begging for an out. 

She tells me to go to the backyard and pick a switch.
Bitter leaves. Water leaves. Utazi. Ukazi. Uziza.
They all looked green. They all would do the same thing.
The little Igbo I knew came from plucking plants.
I closed my eyes. Spun around and chose one.

I came back inside.
“ Here you go,” I said.
She told me to bend over .
I cant remember anything after that.
All I remember is she hadn’t eaten at the party.

And then I remembered someone telling me that my kind is strong.
We are resilient. We must endure. We must. We have to. We ought to.
So many demands , I wonder how they do it.

Remain so strong .

To be woman is to be strong and weak.
To be woman is to be treated like a weakness but be expected to be strong. 
To be woman is to be woman. 
Because that is just the way it is. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Aba, Aba

Walking down the coral red road
Hustlers of all ages
They had everything. Everything.
Jewelry. Pots and Pans. Soap. Groundnut. Udara. Meatpie. Dresses. Broom. Sewing Machines.
We were preparing for my dad's age grade so we went to the market to buy takeaway plates and souvenirs. After all, its not a Nigerian function unless one leaves with more than they came with.
Pure water Pure water
Auntie Dash Me, nau

Sweet girl. Where are you from

Several eyes met mine. Men salivating staring at me like a piece of meat.

By now, I had been used to this. I learned how to smile in pain trying to ignore it.

Everyday, " Can I be your friend?". I was convinced that men worldwide suck at speaking to women. They recycle the same three lines yet expect the same reaction out of women. But today was different.

"Ashawo!!" One man yelled as I walked by. Soon after another man joined in " Ashawo!!"

Suddenly a crowd of men began to follow me, " Ashawo!!"

I began to walk faster, reaching out to grab my mother's hand. Every man I passed joined in the mob yelling, " Ashawo!! Gawa!" I ran to my car and remained inside for the next three hours.

I was so confused. I had bought these shorts specifically for Nigeria.  It passed the finger test but I guess it didnt pass the market test.

Aba, Aba.
  

Monday, October 26, 2015

“Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child”: On Spanking in the Nigerian Igbo community.


"Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child" 

Proclaimed in every Nigerian household, this phrase fosters an environment where children feel unsafe and demonized. Many times, we think what is normal is right or what is normal is good. We believe that because something happened to us, we should continue to do it. We share our collective stories of spanking , standing up with one foot, squatting for an hour, picking out a switch, using pepper on our bodies and think this is okay. Psychology has told us over and over again that negative reinforcement does not correct behavior yet we continue to believe it does. Psychology has told us that spanking or hitting your child has negative effects on their psyche and overall mental health.

While many Igbo names describe the value of a child, children are denied agency, autonomy, and humanity. Children are often viewed as property wherein parents have ownership over them. As the owner of property, parents can do whatever they want to their children. But, children are human beings not property. While age may be a marker of experience, age is not a marker of humanity. Rather than communicate with our children, we are quick to anger and violence. We instill fear in our children, which creates an unhealthy relationship between children and parents. Some children/adults say they have “ turned out fine” but what do we really mean by “ fine”?  It is similar to the hazing process for fraternities and sororities. We justify and rationalize unnecessary violence by saying “I went through it and I made it just fine”.

There are a million vines glorifying the abuse of children by adults. It is normal. We see Nigerian vines with children receiving a spanking for something as simple as taking a plate with their left hand. What is it that makes us so quick to violence? What is it that forces us out a dialogue and forces us towards violence? I firmly believe that our inclination to spank is a symptom of Post traumatic colonial stress disorder. This is not to say that flogging did not exist before the British came to Nigeria, but I do believe “flogging/spanking” was prominent under British rule.

Toyin Falola [ in Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria] explains the use of violence during colonial Nigeria,

“The goal for all of them was the same: colonial subjects had to respect the new colonial institutions and obey the officers appointed to run them. Respect had to be made visible and symbolic: in ways the officers were addressed and greeted and the speed at which instructions were carried out.” [sound familiar?]

 In 1908, the chief justice of Nigeria stated “ The only way to correct Black people was to flog them”. Falola asserts, “ Many officers regarded Africans as children who had to be lectured and flogged to get the best out of them and enable them to mature quickly” [sound familiar?] Furthermore, “ There was a connection between the stereotypes and violence: primitive Africans were conquered by guns and were expected to become economically productive by means of flogging, while those who were unredeemable were put into prison.”

Colonizers made examples out of elders who refused to accept the new structures of colonialism. They would flog chiefs and ridicule them in public, which would send a message to everyone not to “ act out of line”. “ Acting out of line” meant to go against colonization. “ Acting out of line” meant to resist, to speak out, to fight back. “Acting out of line” meant to question. "Acting out of line" meant to think freely. Flogging was a way to dehumanize Nigerians and force them to submit to colonial officers and appointed chiefs. 

In many ways we act as officers to our children. We often use the words “ discipline and obedience” to describe how our children should be but I find this problematic. Discipline and obedience are coded terms that only benefit those with power. We deny children curiosity and humanity when we tell them they are not allowed to question “authority”. We deny our children creativity when we tell them they must submit to " authority". Those with “ authority” are often the most likely to abuse others. Teachers, parents, and church leaders often use their “ authority” to exert power, control, and abuse.   

I think every human being deserves basic respect. Being a child does not make one less human. I understand respecting elders is very integral part of Igbo culture, but to what degree should we respect elders? If an elder is beating his wife, do we stay silent? If an elder is sexually harassing a young girl, do we stay silent? If an elder is repeating the mistakes of the past, do we accept it? At what point do we level down as human beings and have a conversation where all opinions are valued. While we had a council of elders in Igboland, elders were not the sole decision making body. In fact, we had/have multiple groups (men, women, and children). We had collective community engagement. And even if we did not, why do we assume that culture is stagnant? Why do we only hold on to culture when it only benefits those with power?

People create culture. Culture does not create people. If something is culture and it is wrong, then people have the ability to change it. Culture should adapt. Culture is a collection of common experiences, symbols, language, food, geography, expressions used to define a group of people. But culture can change and culture does change. That’s what makes us a better people.

As a stubborn child and adult, I know that no amount of beating will ever make me “ respect” someone. When I was spanked or beat, I simply found creative ways to hide things from my parents. Children should not be controlled. Children should not be treated as property. Children should be respected as human beings. Children should be listened to and talked to. Parents should want children to respect them as parents not fear them. Children make mistakes. Children are still growing. The worst thing we do to our children is make them feel a sense of guilt and shame [ post coming later about shame in the Nigerian community]. The worst thing we do to children is to make them feel as though they have no outlet. The worst thing we do to children is make them fear those who they entrust their lives to.  

We need to evaluate why we are so quick to spank and “ discipline” our children. We need to evaluate why we have a hard time discussing things with our children. We need to evaluate why our children have a hard time coming to us with their problems or issues. We need to evaluate why we have to cling to “ tough love”. We need to evaluate Post-Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome. We need to evaluate why we have a difficult time expressing ourselves and being vulnerable. We need to evaluate why we ignore mental health concerns in our community. We need to evaluate why we put unnecessary stress and pressure on our children. Who benefits and who suffers?

How do we find better ways to engage our children? How to we find better ways to encourage our children?
We need to heal. Too many of us are suffering and we have not carved out the space to discuss these issues. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Women are Catty

Often times people use gendered terms like "catty" and "bitchy" or complain that women don't get along . This brief video explores how these terms are sexist and not equally applied to men. It also highlights how this belief that "women should get along" is both dehumanizing and nonsensical.

Also, I will have another video addressing how competitiveness amongst women is seen as " catty" or "unladylike", whereas competitiveness amongst men is encouraged. I will also discuss how society pits women against each other another and perpetuates this idea of "cattiness" which women then internalize. Feminism is seen as a " threat" is because society and status quo because it destroys the idea that women are catty and don't get along. To keep women in their place, society, men, and women have to perpetuate this myth which women begin to internalize.

Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Introduction: What Does Black Feminism Mean to Me?

Im so excited! I just started a vlog and cannot wait to upload more content. I will try to do a weekly video and I hope you all tune in !


Welcome to my new Youtube Channel, The Afrolegalise. This channel is dedicated to all things Black women. I will discuss Black Feminist Theory and everyday topics that are informed by Black Feminism . But since I don't like boxes, I may go outside this content and talk about something a little bit more sexy =p. 

This video discusses what Black Feminism means to me. To me, Black Feminism is the radical idea that Black women are autonomous human beings capable of making decisions for themselves and about themselves. Black feminism is all an inclusive theory for all Black women. Black feminism is the little bits of joy I have when I talk about my experience and it resonates with other Black women. 

It is extremely healing to speak about your experience and have other people affirm that you are not alone, so I hope this platform will serve as a source of healing, education, entertainment, and anything you want to make it. 

Thank you for tuning in. Feel free to leave topic suggestions or any feedback that you feel will make this channel more resourceful. 



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Just exist

How many of us can say that we are comfortable with just existing ?


Is there a moment of your day you aren't thinking about the future ?


Consumed with what could would should be or been ?

What is this unrequited love for our future that continues to leave us in disappointment ?

We abuse ourselves sometimes by fabricating things to suppress the present ?

I am a dreamer . I am a thinker . But so often I get so caught up with what I could be that I never find the time to fully embrace myself as I am . Often leaving me with feelings of inadequacy.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Becoming one

Gathered her things
She left nothing behind but herself
She joined him in a new life
A new way
A new her
With the same him
The old him
Who are you when you become one with him


Hopeless Romantic

To be a hopeless romantic
I want your love
I need your love
So in love in the romance of it
All
Hopelessly wanting what
I Cannot Have
Hopelessly putting pieces that
Were Never There
How naive
Yet how bliss
Hopelessly living in a world where compatibility
Is slim
Is rare
for me at least 
Hopelessly hiding from the emptiness that fills me
As I find ways to keep my mind busy
On you
You who does not exist
Like this poem I type
Hopelessly believing in the power of words
Speak you to existence I say
But i wake up the next day
and still I turn next to me only to see
Emptiness that fills the bedside where the sun rays
Alas, I wake up to light in my eyes
To be a Hopeless romantic

Correr

Why do they run from me?
Was it the wrinkles on my face from my big smile?
Pinks gums frightening anyone who walks by?
Gun shot through my heart when you left
Me
I never got to say goodbye
So goodbye
You taught me nothing
But
everything I needed to know
About me
Impatiently waiting
For your return or so I convince myself
Reminiscing about the moments we never had
Because somehow I always expect more than whats given
Caught up in what I want you to be for me
That I never saw you run away
Dashing through the spaces of my fingers
You did not merely slip
You jetted
And because this happens so often I wonder
Is it me?
What is it on me or about me that made you run before I ever got to say
Goodbye
So goodbye
You taught me nothing
But
Everything I need to know

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nigerian Women as Colonial Politicians


Margaret Ekpo and Janet Mokelu . Two of the three(Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti) women who were appointed officials when Nigeria established its state . Colonialism drastically limited women's ability to gain an education and enter into leadership positions . The British brought their patriarchal sexist culture and prevented women from actively participating in Nigeria . However , as my previous posts showed . Nigerian women understood their oppression and intelligently articulated their conditions and found innovative /creative ways to resist and build community . We stand on the shoulders of giants . While they may not have had the term feminism , Nigerian women and women of African descent have been demonstrating autonomy and working to eradicate all forms of oppression since forever forever. 

Nigeria at 55

Happy " Independence" Day Nigeria. 

Frantz Fanon is one of the best people to theorize the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized and the effects of this situation on our psyche. He most famously discusses the power of language in creating and perpetuating conditions of oppression. I wont delve into Frantz Fanon or the theories of post-colonialism or the process of decolonization, but I understand why people express disinterest in celebrating " Independence" or the end of " colonization". 


I would urge everyone to watch this documentary titled " Concerning Violence" which combines film from colonization and different freedom movements with the words of Frantz Fanon:-->    Concerning Violence . Let me know what you think ! 


Is decolonization an end? What does it mean to decolonized? What does it mean to be colonized? What does it mean to be independent? What does it mean to be sovereign? What does it mean to be free? What does freedom look like to you as an individual and to the world around you? How do we use history and our current situation to re-imagine what we think is possible or attainable? How do we decolonize the mind? How do we celebrate one another by simultaneously recognizing the colonized state we are in? 



Interview with Fela 


Below are excerpts from an excellent author Toyin Falola in " Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria". A great read that i HIGHLY recommend. He perfectly compiles different acts of resistance by Nigerians against the British. I think we often romanticize colonization or water it down; part of that is through our language and the way our independence is framed and discussed. 


This is a passage from a complaining woman about her oppressive situation during colonization . Often times the role of women in nation building is overlooked . During colonialism Nigeria women were the most oppressed as a result they were the group most likely to resist . The British were extremely violent to Nigerian women from kidnapping to rape to cold blood murder. Nigerian women endured a lot during colonization and are still suffering from the generational trauma experienced during that time . Moreover , There are hundreds of resistance/rebellions documented against the British but one of the most important Acts of resistance was the Women's war of 1929 . Like the#blacklivesmatter movement , this movement was led by women in a decentralized yet strategic and intentional faction . This movement gave future nationalist the pride and confidence to stage both violent and nonviolent acts against British rule . Many armed resistance strategies followed after this war and put pressure on the British to leave Nigeria and also gave way for more nonviolent Measures to be deemed acceptable . There would be no Nigeria without this movement . The Women's war of 1929 and it's undeniable success paved the way for what we call Nigeria today . 



Falola states,  "Colonialism undermined and subverted the position and status of women in many African societies. The Women's War of 1929 represents an early response of African women to their disempowerment and the subservience colonialism perpetrated and legitimized. The 1929 riots also reveal traditions of women's activism among the peoples and groups of eastern Nigeria. ria. While there were other examples of protests by women in other parts of Nigeria, the 1929 example offers rich data with which to understand the role of women in the colonial setting."

Colonization was about economic exploitation and political domination . The British were very violent to Nigerians . They cut off the heads of many village elders to send a message to the community . They imprisoned any person who spoke against or fought colonial rule in Nigeria . They burnt down whole villages .They murdered and raped many women and children . They continuously justified this violence by referring to Nigerians as dumb , stupid , uncivilized , primitive, animalistic, untamed, Black, ugly, niggers . As in the United States , Nigerians were not even allowed to use the same public accommodations as British in Nigeria .


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Politics of a Selfie


Google Searches Beautiful woman


Google Searches Pretty Girl 


Google searches Little Girl 


Google searches woman 





Four google searches and not a single image that looks like me, my mom, my sister, my best friend, my grandmother, my aunt… you get the picture. These images represent the standard of beauty in America and around the world. To me and to many women of African descent, selfies are radical.

Selfie: a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick.

A selfie enables you to look at your reflection and snap a photo. A reflection that is not represented in the media or world around you. The ability for a Black woman to capture herself and cherish that moment is powerful. Many historians, sociologists, and psychologists love to discuss how the millennial generation is full of narcissists. This framework assumes that all millennial experience the world the same way. Millennial generation really means White kids. Black women do not get the luxury of living in a carefree world where everything around them reinforces their existence.

Selfies overcompensate for what is lacking in the world, positive representations of Black women. Selfies are another way to say I love myself and I choose to put myself first.

I have 2,113 pictures on my instagram and the majority of them are selfies. Selfies remind me that I exist. They remind me that I can exist within my own context. They remind me that I am beautiful. They remind me that I am fabolous. They remind me that if no one else loves me I love me. They remind me how stylish I am. They remind me how unique my hair is. They remind me how versatile my hair is. They remind me how great I look from a perfect angle. They remind me of the good times. They remind me of the struggle times. They remind me of the many ways I can express myself. They remind me of what colors look best on my skin color. They remind me how much I love big bold colors. They remind me of me. And that is important for Black women. 

While we are never free from societal pressures, I can post a picture that I feel that I look best in. I can edit a picture in a way that I feel compliments myself the best. I do what I do to me on my own terms and in my own way. I am 150% about myself. I have talked about self-love multiple times and the idea of being cocky in a world that renders you invisible.

Selfies are revolutionary. Black women are flooding youtube, tumblr, blogging platforms, twitter, facebook, and instagram because they finally have the channel and medium to express themselves in a way they will best represents Black women. The most popular fashion and beauty bloggers are Black women. Why? Because outside of the online medium, Black women cannot find products, images, or advice on things that are conducive to their hair texture or skin color or body type.

Black women are the fastest growing entrepreneurs because we have decided (as we have always done) that it is important to put ourselves first and create content that mirrors our wants and desires.

In a world that renders Black women invisible, it is hard for many to conceptualize how revolutionary and radical a selfie is.

As you see on social media, there are many memes and posts about how women (particularly Black women) do things for likes. They describe us as materialistic, shallow, gold digging, attention seekers who live a life revolved around men. The reason why? People don’t see Black women as autonomous human beings who are able to make decisions for themselves, including the decision to love themselves in a world that hates them.

People are uncomfortable with this notion so they bash and ridicule us. They cant imagine Black women loving themselves unapologetically. They cant imagine Black women owning themselves and their image. They cant imagine Black women doing anything without someone else's permission. People want to control what we do. Slurs, memes, and fake deep art such as this below only serve to put Black women black into their place. 




But this only forces us to build more sisterhood and community. Every time someone strikes a Black woman, a Black woman creates another channel to express self-love and to create products or ideas that cater to only Black women. I hate that our inspiration has to come from the hate in the world. But the most oppressed people are often the most innovative and creative people. They are the doers, the movers, the shakers because they have to survive.

Black women have to must survive.
As Assata said we have a duty to win and fight and love one another. A very important concept of Black feminist theory is the ability for Black women to 1) recognize the negative images and caricatures of them throughout history and currently in the media 2) recognize how those images are contrary to who and what we really are and 3) counter those images with a diversity of images. Black feminist theory allows us to assert that Black women can be all things at once. Our identity is fluid and adaptable because we are human beings. We exist and we have to survive.


Don’t ever feel discouraged from taking a selfie. Representation matters. We matter.

3 x3 x 4 x= 36  Beautiful Photos of ME ME ME + More




Because of Selfies I get to see people who look like me (literally me) and people who look like ME (in the figurative sense) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cliche Cliche

It was just yesterday I was heading into my junior year of college. I had it all planned out. I had it all planned out. My 5 year plan and here I am 5 years later still searching for it. Why is it that society tells us we have to know or to plan? I used to be one of those who thought, everything must be written down on paper. All your plans and goals must be spoken into existence. You are what you do.  Your career defines you. Your goals and aspirations define you. You have the capacity to do whatever you put your mind to.

But lately. Well maybe since I entered law school, I have been having 2nd, 3rd, 4th, guesses about what it means to live. What is it about society that forces us to know what we want to do at age 5?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Hmm. I want to be a an orthopedic surgeon, actress, and model. A 6 year old Black girl said at a recent Blackgirlscode event. How can a 6 year old who barely knows addition know what she wants to be when she grow up? Why do we push people into boxes when they are young? We claim to be a country founded on individual thought, creativity, and imagination; ( along with our many hypocrisies) yet there is absolutely no room for people to grow, adapt, or change.

I had a 5 year plan. It listed all the classes I needed to take to graduate. It had a list of all law schools I wanted to go to. It had the type of career I wanted to pursue and the income associated with each position. It ranked the different cities I would want to be in. I had it all planned out.

At 24 years old, I am about to receive my JD/MBA and I struggle with saying that I don't know specifically what I want to do. Or maybe society hasn't given me the space to be comfortable with what I want to do. Because I do know what I want to do. I want to do everything. I want to be everything. I want to be everywhere. I hate structure. I hate rules. I hate boxes. I have always known this about myself and yet I am still afraid to say it.

I love Black women. I want to use my legal and business degrees to create a more equitable and just society for women of the African diaspora. I want to empower other Black women and be empowered by other Black women. I want to learn something new everyday. I want to do something different everyday. I am not cut out for cubicles and billable hours. That is just not me. And yet I am still afraid to say that.

Everyone wants me to be what they think I should be. Nobody actually takes the time to look at me, listen to me, and give me actual tangible advice.

You are a sharp, intelligent women. We need people like you in the corporate world. I can see you as partner of a big law firm. You are very outspoken and care about racial justice issue. We need people like you in the district attorney's office. We need people like you within the system to effect change.

What does it mean to be a person like me? I struggle with that everyday and yet people who don't know me project what they feel is best for me.

If you knew me, you would know that none of those thing entice me. You would know that those are not environments I thrive in. You would know that I am with the people, for the people and as my journey continues my ideas about the world and my idea of change will continue to be radicalized. I have no interest in conforming. I have no interest in being the only one and being subjected to micro-aggressions daily by people who I am smarter than yet have little or no expectations of me. I have no interest in being around people who are enamored by my brilliance as though a person like me Black girl like me couldn't possibly be this smart and this good at what she does.

Everyday I am surrounded by mediocre White people who can do whatever they want and feel whatever they want. I resent that. I hate that I have to be 100 times better than someone to get a position that I don't even want just to say I have made it.

To many people that is success. To me that is an everyday nightmare. I went to law school and business school because I thought that having these degrees and education would open me up to endless possibilities. I thought that I would be able to adapt yet thrive in any environment I put myself in. But ever since I got here, I've been put in a box.

My favorite phrase is : It is okay not to be okay. I want young Black girls to know that. I want my peers to know that. Because some days I am not okay. Some days I don't have it figured out. Some days I do. Some days I have the energy to be outspoken. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like going to law school was the right decision. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like I have the capacity to effect real world change. Some days I don't.

This would be normal dilemma if Black women were actually considered full human beings. But we are not.

I am expected to be everything and nothing all at once. 

In a world where everyone and everything is trying to confine you to a box or a stereotype (professional, academic, hoe, good girl, bad girl, sexual, virgin, stripper, gold digger, angry/single/crazy/lonely/bitter bitch who cant get a man because shes a feminist and doesnt know her place), it is extremely difficult to find comfort in what is a basic human state: intentional uncertainty.