For LaShawnte: Sing a Black Girl’s Song

On Sunday December 9th, CNN aired the latest installment of their annual Black in America series reported by Soledad O’Brien. This year’s special, entitled “Who is Black in America?,” focused on colorism and racial identity and the intricate intersections between the two. We watched young adults grapple with questions of their identity, namely the question of “What are you?” – a question not only asked of them by others, but one that they continue to ask of themselves. This is a question I myself have never had to think about, much less articulate an answer to because the color of my skin is reflective of my Ghanaian ancestry. By its dark tone, everyone I encounter knows exactly what I am.

Perhaps that’s why I felt most personally connected to the story of seven-year-old, LaShawnte. Continue reading “For LaShawnte: Sing a Black Girl’s Song”

On Yellow Fever

Although I grew up hearing Highlife, Soukous, and Zouk music blare almost daily from my Daddy’s speakers (home and car), I admittedly didn’t get ‘put on’ to Fela Kuti and the Afrobeat sound until my early 20s. I remember one of the first tunes I heard was “Zombie.” After listening intently to those intoxicating horn riffs (my goodness those horns) and unconsciously pulsing to that infectious beat, finally, after a full five minutes, I heard his voice. And his message. And I was hooked. Instantly. Later I would learn that it was this very song that provoked Nigerian soldiers’ attack on his home, the incident during which his mother, fierce and fearless activist, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was thrown from a window. She later died from her injuries. Continue reading “On Yellow Fever”

Why I Do the Work I Do

I am a visual learner. I like pictures. I like moving images. I figured out a long time ago that the best way for me to retain information is to digest it with my eyes. I can remember many an exam where I relied upon my photographic memory to recall the answer to a question; I literally conjured an image of my notes – asterisks, arrows, fluorescent highlighting and all. It makes sense then that as educator and public speaker, I regularly use visual aids (photos, videos, films, etc) to drive particular points home.

Continue reading “Why I Do the Work I Do”