Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Identity Struggles in the Oval Office

First of all, I really annoyed at the reporter who asked Obama about his opinions regarding the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. by the Cambridge Police Department. Here we are at a press conference about HEALTHCARE REFORM. All the other reporters asked relevant questions about Obama's proposed policies that they felt really concerned the American public. In the final question, she brings up an otherwise dwindling topic provoking the President to choose between his black and white identity.

She was MESSY for instigating the controversy and would have not dared mention this topic if it had been a white president's press conference. So in that moment, she made Obama the spokesperson for the entire black community, a position that we have all encountered at some point or another in our lives to inquiring Caucasian minds.... Let's not forget that Obama shortened his answers for the sake of time, just so that he could get to every reporter--not knowing that his last response would send the media into a sensationalist FRENZY.

That's right, sensationalist. Sensationalist because the media conveniently discarded the preface of Obama's comments that the Cambridge Police Department acted stupidly.

Here's a that portion of the transcript:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay? All right. I tried to make that short so that Lynn Sweet would get her -- the last question in.

QUESTION FROM LYNN SWEET: Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I -- I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.

I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.

So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen.

(Chuckling.) But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. They're -- they're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate. What happens?

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is -- is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I've -- I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. That's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently, and oftentime for no cause, casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody's going to be.

There! Obama plainly states that:
1. He's biased because Prof. Gates is his good friend. (I guess all the Black Harvard alum are pretty tight, it's not that many of them!)
2. He doesn't know the facts of the case, he's merely going off of the media reports (which have already made this into a black-white issue anyway!)
3. America has a history of disporportional arrests of minorities.

So why did everyone flip out?

Honestly, I don't think this situation is as big of a deal as everyone is making it. I actually think that we're making this into more of a racial issue than it actually is. I think the situation would have been the same if both people were of the same race.

*Before you jump down my throat, let me remind you that I'm a Ghanaian-American, from the same Ghana whose shores were the main hubs for the transatlantic slave trade. Also, I'm a student at Fisk, a historically black private university. I went down to Jena, Louisiana to protest the injustices of the Jena 6. AND I have natural hair. So I'm pretty Afrocentric, dare I say radical is some peoples' eyes.

Anywho, I digress. Professor gates admits taht he was thankful that the police arrived to investigate a report of a burgulary in his home. In my opinion, Prof. Gates flipped out before even knowing why the police were there in the first place and continued to flip out, provoking his arrest. I also think that the officer, Sgt. James Crowley, could have done a better job of explaining why he was there first instead of immediately accusing someone of burgulary. And was this immediate accusation because Prof. Gates was black, and therefore, racial profiling? Yes. But is that so wrong?

Let's think about it. As a Cambridge police officer, how many blacks do you really encounter that live in homes in the neighborhood that Prof. Gates resides? And according to statistics and experiences, if someone were really to break in Prof. Gates home, of what race are they most likely to be? Racial profiling happens every day. If we hear somebody was arrested for robbing the liquor store on 24th, we'll be disappointed that black folks keep messin' it up for all of us! And if we hear that somebody was arrested for embezzlement and fraud at the Bank of America headquarters downtown, we'll assume that it's white people conducting white collar crimes, again. That's racial profiling. It goes both ways, people. Let's face it, everyone sees color.

So in that sense, I think Prof. Gates racially profiled Sgt. Crowley. If that had been the black officer, he probaly would've been like, "Alright, 'preciate that bruh. Good lookin' out." Instead, he saw a white officer, and like most black men, became intimidated (for good reason, the name Rodney King ring a bell?), but because of his education, power, and prestige became very defensive--so defensive that Sgt. Crowley felt that his authority was being challenged. The situation: two grown men on a serious egotrip.

So I really don't see what Obama has to do with any of this. Yeah, he made the comments, but not without being asked his opinion. Why does he have to be the mediator? He's the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Those two grown men should've handled the situation as such, without using the media to recriminate each other. That's just dumb. If Prof. Gates is so offended and wants to file a lawsuit, let him utilize the channels of the system just like everybody else. Why he gotta call Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton 'nem? I'm actually wondering if the black community has as much sympathy on Prof. Gates, since he's a part of a elite class that some blacks consider to be sell outs.... But that's another conversation for another day. FYI, I don't think he's a sellout, and I have high aspirations to one day be apart of the black bourgeoisie too. Except, I'll still be down to Earth, still shop at Wal-Mart, and still volunteer. As I was saying, I think Obama has bigger issues to solve. Like bipartisan healthcare reform. Or the War in Iraq. Not treating two grown men acting like fighting children to beer and making them apologize and shake hands.

President Bush offended a lot of people, but you didn't see him inviting all the Hurricane Katrina victims to the White House for a cup o' tea. I wish Obama would just keep it professional because right now it just looks like he's trying to please everybody, which will never happen. It also looks like he's allowing the media to challenge his authority to do and say as he pleases. And damn that reporter for putting him in this position in the first place.

Finally, I think its really unfair for such negative attention to be cast upon Harvard University and the Cambridge Police Department. They were also plunged into the situation for doing what they thought was the right thing. Before this came to light, everybody should've considered the repercussions upon Obama's alma mater as far as diversity admissions. Right before school starts, this situation screams to minority students that "MINORITIES ARE NOT WELCOME AT HARVARD OR IN CAMBRIDGE, AND EVEN IF YOU DO GRADUATE FROM HERE, YOU'RE STILL PERCEIVED AS A THREAT TO SOCIETY". (Not that I have TOO much sympathy for Harvard, since its endowment is like a hundred times the endowment of all 104 HBCUs combined....) But this message completely contradicts the election of Barack Obama.

I hope Professor Gates is tenured. But then again, Harvard wouldn't dare fire a professor for soliciting negative attention to the univerisity, in society's eyes, he would only be fired 'cause he's BLACK. Riiiiiiiight.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Interracial Relationships

Even in countries like Ghana, where the population is mostly black, they have issues of inter-ethnic relationships.

Firstly, old creepy (and probably married) white men come to find a young voluptuous African beauty. This isn't an uncommon sight at all. I cannot remember how many times I had to check my facial expression when I saw these men carrying these gorgeous women on their arms and parading them around town. It's pretty much prostitution. But these women submit themselves to such exploitation simply because these men are spending DOLLARS, and a lot of them. Actually the money may be nothing to these business-minded pimps, but its the key to a golden lifestyle for these women who obviously see no other opportunity for glamor and wealth, thus desperate for a white 'savior' to relieve them of their 'poor' condition.

Secondly, (a little history) there are 10 different regions in Ghana, each with its own language, customs, and culture. In fact, the only reason that they are together is because the European colonists just grouped them together, gave them a flag, and called them the Republic of Ghana.

So anyway, the conservative, traditionalist viewpoint is that you don't date or marry outside of your ethic group. This wasn't really ever a problem since there wasn't much interaction between the different groups. However, because of modern technology, travel, and most significantly, education, the interactions and thus the intermarriages have greatly increased. However, here's the problem:

The blurring of these ethnic lines have resulted in a MAJOR loss of culture for these different groups.

For example, if the mother and father speak different languages, the child usually speaks the language of the mother, simply because the gender roles provide that the mother spends the most time rearing the child. Therefore, the father's language is lost, hence creating significant language barriers with the paternal side of the family. This is rather ironic, because most of these ethnic groups are patrilineal, meaning one inherits their cultural identity from their father. So let's say the father is a Ga, the indigenous people of the Greater Accra Region, and the mother is an Ewe, the indigenous people of the Volta Region. Well if your mother only taught you Ewe and your father was never around, then you are still considered a Ga... just a Ga that doesn't speak Ga or knows nothing about the Ga culture, or as the local people might refer to it, a LOST Ga.

The second scenario is worse. Because the mother and the father are from two different regions, neither can understand the other's vernacular. So they communicate in a common language, most likely English. And they only communicate with the kid in English. And the kid knows neither language. So both cultures are officially lost with that kid's generation. Can you say disappear?

However, this may not be completely detrimental to Ghanaian society, yet. Ghanaians can actually take this opportunity to encourage cultural knowledge and enrichment, as well as develop a multilingual society. Many people can speak fluently or have conversational knowledge of three or more languages. This should be encouraged. This way, the generational language barrier between grandparent and grandchild can be eliminated. Also, a country with a culture as rich as Ghana's cannot afford to lose it to ignorance and Westernization. I mean, English is cool and whatnot, but why should a country so desperate to be European forfeit the only thing that is authentically Ghanaian? That's like selling your soul to the devil for jeans, business suits, and iPods. I don't know ONE Ghanaian that would choose hamburgers, or even fish and chips, over kenkey or freshly pounded fufu and light soup.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Random Things

1. I hate tennis shoes; I'd much rather be barefoot.
2. I hate white bread.
3. I was a Barney fanatic as a child.... I had all the seasons on VHS, Barney sheets, Barney birthday cakes, Barney light up shoes... I NEVER liked Power Rangers.
4. I have an insane obsession with earrings.
5. For the longest I wanted a pet white tiger.
6. I still wouldn't mind having a chimpanzee around the house.
7. Ladybugs creep me out.
8. I'm terrified of squirrels.
9. I want to be a professional jet setter.
10. Flashlights intrigue me.
11. My very first email address was
12. I love baby kisses.
13. I love Anderson Cooper.
14. I accidentally wrecked my dad's car when I was 9.
15. John Legend makes my heart melt.
16. I have a new favorite color every year.
17. I hate packing and unpacking.
18. I play Bubble Breaker everyday until my thumbs hurt.
19. I'm easily amused.
20. I love colorful toe socks.
21. I collect HBCU paraphernalia.
22. I eat too much red meat.
23. I've spent the night at my former high school 3 times, once on the football field, once in the gym, and once in the auditorium.
24. I always set the microwave timer on prime numbers, i.e. 0:17 or 0:31.
25. I think some Hip Hop songs can be very degrading... but Beat It Up by Young Joc is my JAM!!!