Working SMART!

A lot of my friends have been sharing a well written article with the gist that  telling your child they are smart is damaging to them and how it is better for them to praise their hard work and effort. If I was raising my children in Nigeria, I would agree with the writer. Unfortunately as a mother raising black girls in America, I WILL continue to praise my children’s intelligence.  Why? Because everyday they are bombarded with negative stereotypes telling them that they are not smart. Images that tell them that being black or female means not being capable of excelling in science and math. Images that tell them that the stereotypical African American child underperforms in every subject. My daughters know they are SMART because I remind them that despite anything others may say, they were gifted with intelligence. However my daughters also hear and see from me that being SMART means working smart.

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I call Bull Shit

A church opens its doors to a young man and he massacres 9 members of this church. He is a hate filled murderer but the excuses have already started.  Even before the  bodies are cold, blame has been shifted to everyone except the killer and the culture that nurtured his hate.  So before you scream lone wolf and insanity, remember that this man like Tim McVeigh and many others before him is a product of his culture. A product of hateful generations of privilege. A product of a society that has more severe penalties for kicking stray animals than killing certain types of people. The fact remains that privilege allows you not to see injustice because it does not affect you.

The revolution is being televised?

The past few years has seen revolutions and uprisings all over the globe. From Cairo to Baltimore people are rising and rioting, in reaction to a trigger of some kind, police brutality, oppression by leaders. People are reacting! The 99% marched in reaction to the status quo. But then what? What has changed? What has improved? Revolutions cannot be sustained if they are reactionary, they have to be nurtured and purposeful. They have to be driven by goals and these specific objectives must be focused and deliberate otherwise after the fires stop burning, if they do, the resulting anarchy is often worse than what was displaced.  Sadly all over the globe folks are relearning this.  But then should people just sit and do nothing? Of course not, because if they do nothing the rage just simmers and grows and the riots are simply postponed. Ideally we would address the root causes of the problems and find solutions. Solutions that recognize that human lives are more important than property and $$$. But getting there will be difficult if we wait for elected leaders. Many of these elected leaders are too privileged to relate to the poor or even the middle class. They are clueless about the needs of the people they should serve and cannot comprehend the effect of their words. So in addition to marching, shouting and praying, register to vote. Field your own candidates that will change the status quo. Think before you act.  Remember if all you do is burn your own neighborhood, 20 years from now it may still stay burned. And no one will give a damn until the burning starts again.

Paranoid Helicopter Parents.

It’s funny watching helicopter parents with their kids, you know the mom or dad that always holds on so tight to their children they never figure out how to explore for themselves. It stops being funny when they want to impose their irrational fears on others. The nosey helicopter parents call the cops when a neighbor’s 5ft 3 twelve year old is walking home from school by himself and trigger a child neglect investigation. The annoying neighbor who calls 911 when a 6 year old is riding her bike by herself in the driveway of her house, while her mom is watching from the kitchen not sitting next to the kid. Just because a helicopter does not allow her kids to ride the bus or cross the road does not mean that she has the right to use the police to harass her neighbors. OK helicopters claim to have good intentions but let’s remind them that “the road to hell is paved in good intentions.” Of course bad things may happen but living in constant fear and crippling kids with unfounded paranoia does not help them.  Life is too short to spend living in fear and kids should be allowed to learn how to assess risks in age appropriate ways.  So if you’re a helicopter parent and you are getting outraged by your neighbor who is so relaxed and letting his kids run free, take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery and go over and say hi.  Be neighborly before judging out of context. Use your brain and don’t be ruled by irrational fears. Also remember the police have real emergencies to deal with, a healthy kid walking home from school on a beautiful day is not an emergency. If you think it is please examine yourself seriously as you may need some help.

First Female Governor in Nigeria?

The people of Taraba state may have elected a female governor this weekend. Still waiting to see if INEC ratifies the elections but I’ll jump the gun anyways and say congratulations to Governor- Elect Hajia Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan. The Nigerian blogs are on fire because many Nigerians are excited to finally have an elected female governor? For those who don’t know, Taraba state is in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, bordered by Plateau and Benue State on the West and on the east by Cameroon. Taraba state is also one of the states where Boko Haram has been active. It is fitting that the people of Taraba state by electing a female governor gave an electoral middle-finger to and shut up Boko Haram as well as those who through their stereotypes and ignorance minimize the roles of women.   Potential governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan is not a political novice riding the coat-tails of a father or a husband, she is a former senator and a lawyer. She has a history of reaching across religious lines which is important in Nigeria.

Nigeria_Taraba_State_map

Some Nigerian men have been posting stupid nonsense about “tokenism.” Curiously, many of these men are from the southern part of Nigeria and likely do not know anything about potential Governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan or Taraba state. They do not understand how the people of Taraba state could potentially elect the most qualified candidate. In their evaluation  a woman could never be the most qualified candidate. These good educated men continue to create barriers for women in Nigeria hiding behind their words and spewing misinformation, and sexism.  But this is a time for celebration and there is work to be done. The people of Taraba state spoke out loud and clearly.  Even if the INEC ratified data shows that she lost, Taraba state still won as a woman competed fairly. Congratulations to them. Hopefully the rest of the nation can catch up soon.

Governor Elect of Taraba state

Potential Governor Elect of Taraba state

No consequences?!

I must confess that I am a forgiving person. Being born in Nigeria, I was taught to forgive people as soon as they apologized. If they prostrated themselves and said “e pele” and “e ma bi nu”,  it was quite criminal not to forgive. Ironically it seems that forgiveness in the Nigerian collective is inversely proportional to the crime. A petty thief is easy dispatched by a mob for stealing a phone or recharge card. A government banker who steals millions from pension funds is, our son, the future senator, worthy of protection at any cost. An election is not seen as an opportunity to reward or punish a corrupt official, but as a chance to ride in private jets and collect ‘free’ bags of rice, chicken, shoes, or recharge cards. People mortgage their futures for petty gifts.  People love to pray for change but will those with valid PVCs please raise their hands? Elections offer the opportunity to kick out officials who fail to deliver and replace them with someone else. That’s the main power of any democracy. If elected officials know that there is no consequence to their incompetence and neglect what incentive do they have to do better?

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