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Posted by MrScorpio | Sat Sep 5, 2015, 07:50 AM (5 replies)
"How can anyone of African descent be worshiping the same tool used to uselessly murder their ancestors?"
According to a 2012 Gallup International survey about religiosity and atheism, Ghana is one of the most religious countries in the world. At first glance, there is some evidence for this: when you land in Accra, you’ll notice churches everywhere you go. If you look even closer, you’ll see Mormon missionaries on their bikes throughout the country.
But are Ghanaians very religious or are they a very spiritual people invaded by highly organized, predatory religious structures? A quick Google search will give you countless links to Methodist, Apostolic, Pentecostal, Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and many other churches, many of them based in America or funded by Americans. If you do a search for pastors in Ghana, every single result on the first page is a link to list of the richest pastors. Where that information comes from is not as clear as what it expresses: Christianity is big business in Ghana. Going to church means many things to many people, but one fundamental aspect of the majority of Sunday masses in Ghana is people with very little income giving away a substantial amount of their salary to their pastors.
What's also disturbing about churches and missionaries spreading their gospel in Ghana is that Christianity fundamentally rejects any other religious customs. For Ghanaians, that means any spiritual practices which preceded colonizers—spiritual practices that are often misunderstood and grouped into the animist and polytheist boxes. Given the big role that religion plays in Ghana, this rejection creates a cycle of self-hatred that arises from the conflict of adoring a foreign deity that demands the rejection of elements of local culture and tradition.
Music artist Azizaa and rapper/video director Wanlov the Kubolor recently tackled this issue head-on with the video for Azizaa’s “Black Magic Woman” (watch it above). Growing up between Accra and New York, Azizaa is a rising voice in Ghana. She speaks and occasionally sings in her native Ewe tongue, and has managed to always stay in touch with her Ghanaian roots. Wanlov—who featured in the very first Lungu Lungu column—is one of the most vocal rappers on the continent, using humor and parody to bring up difficult issues, both in his solo work and as one half of Ghanaian rap duo FOKN Bois. In 2014, he co-directed the pidgin musical Coz ov Moni 2 and has continued to play a role behind the camera ever since, as he did for Azizaa's video. The FADER caught up with the pair to ask them about “Black Magic Woman” and their take on religion in Ghana.
Posted by MrScorpio | Sat Sep 5, 2015, 07:11 AM (0 replies)
—By Brandon Ellington Patterson | Fri Sep. 4, 2015 6:00 AM EDT
In the wake of last Friday's murder of a Harris County, Texas, police deputy, Fox News pundits have bent over backward to find a way to connect the killing to the Black Lives Matter movement. A guest on the Fox talk show The Five on Monday called the movement a "criminal organization," and several hosts, including Bill O'Reilly, described it as a "hate group."
Harris County law enforcement officials have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, and suspect Shannon Miles had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial on a felony assault charge in 2012. But that hasn't stopped Fox News from showing a recent clip of protesters at the Minnesota State Fair chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon," as pundits discussed the Texas killing, or from running inflammatory on-screen banners that read "Murder Movement" and "Black Lives Matter Taunts Cop Killings."
But this is not a new tactic from the right. Conservatives have long attempted to discredit black social movements by casting them as criminal. In fact, the law-and-order rhetoric they've espoused since the civil rights movement was invented to do just that.
In the 1950s, for example, Southern conservative lawmakers and law enforcement officials argued that acts of civil disobedience by black civil rights activists violated the law, and they criticized support for civil rights legislation as rewarding lawbreakers. Federal courts that struck down Jim Crow laws, they chided, were soft on crime.
Posted by MrScorpio | Fri Sep 4, 2015, 06:38 PM (8 replies)
Hello, Everyone, I hope that you're doing well.
First, a caveat about how this piece came about: Coincidentally, while searching the site history recently, just to see if I had previously posted a particular video in the Lounge, I just happened to come across an OP that I wrote five years ago today. It was entitled, "MrScorpio talks to 'Guys.'" http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=389&topic_id=9073202&mesg_id=9073202
The most remarkable thing about that post is the fact that it stands as the most responded to thread that I've ever written during my membership here; it had over one thousand replies. That's quite a bit, right? I wrote that OP as a response to the negative reaction I had observed against another OP written at the time by DU poster, Brickbat, entitled "Cartoon: Street Harassment." http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=389&topic_id=9062677&mesg_id=9062677
Brickbat's OP spawned a long running, more than five hundred post, back and forth discussion between many DUers on the nature of street harassment, misogyny, sexism, rape and relationships. The kind of thing that can happen anywhere and not just on DU, right? Well, while reading many of those posts, particularly by some of the male posters, a couple of days later I chose to take it upon myself to be responsible enough to use this as an opportunity to "talk" to other males about something that I found problematic in that exchange, an exchange that could have happened IRL with any number of other guys on any street corner in this country. The funny thing is that I don't have a lot unattached male friends, as my male friends are other family guys. So, between us, discussions about street harassment normally wouldn't happen. However, one never can anticipate when these opportunities to pass on knowledge will occur. So, I saw one and I took it.
What followed, as they say, is history. By the way, when I specifically mentioned responsibility, I assure you that I'm going to elaborate on that subject later.
Now to the meat of this issue: In the intervening five years and with all of the things that have happened in our society during this time, the simple truth is that certain things about how we all live as Americans should be painfully obvious to anyone paying any attention, yet perhaps they're not. Either way, I believe that something needs to be discussed. In that much of the problems of our society can be connected to the fact that we all still live in age of inequality, privilege, power and difference. However, in abiding by the rules of this power structure and hierarchy, it can influence each of our own perspectives and the course of our own actions. While some actions and perspectives are done in ways that create positive outcomes, others create general harm, even for those who ostensibly benefit from the lopsidedness of the overall power structure. It's this point that I want to discuss.
As a microcosm, going back to the problematic reaction to Brickbat's thread and which also found its way into my own, I had noticed at the time that other males were responding as if they were being attacked. Yet, no one was being attacked, no names were ever mentioned, no one was being labeled a "rapist." However, those accusations were still being made. Let's suppose that what happened in those threads was indicative of the same kinds of conversations that happen in real life. It also became apparent that certain patterns were developing right in front of me.
Understanding how something like that could happen meant that I had to take some time to listen to other voices, even if many of those were unlike my own. In these particular instances, what was painfully obvious then and as of late was the fact that many of us are choosing not listen to each other. Anyone can see that these attitudes happen in pretty much all facets of our society and just about anywhere where discussions occur. Generally, one can see that attitudes are not changing sufficiently over time and even today can happen even in a myriad of spaces and with people who profess to be liberals, progressives and Democrats. Maybe I'm being presumptuous, but I think that people who profess to fight for progressive and liberal issues should be on the same page in the fight against systemic inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination, or at least be reading from the same book. What does it say when people on the same side are fighting against each other?
Last year, when I spent much of my time on the Discussionist, I used that opportunity to discuss, challenge and demonstrate with people who did not share my own world-view about the nature of inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination. I did a lot of reading and thinking about what was said back and forth. There again, many of the posters there behaved as if they were being attacked even when they weren't. Now, although different forms of bias and discrimination each have their own particular elements, what revealed itself to me was a pattern of structures in the power and privilege dynamic, and they shared certain common elements.
It was clearly apparent that the reactions against discussions of sexism and misogyny here in the past mirrored the corresponding reactions against discussions on race and discrimination on the Discussionst, and oddly enough, both were indicative of the negative reactions that happen in our greater society. The kicker here is that in each case, those negative reactions were expressed by those who personally identified with the privileged position and regardless of political ideology. This article, for example, explains these same dynamics as they regard to discussions about race: http://www.salon.com/2015/04/10/white_americas_racial_illiteracy_why_our_national_conversation_is_poisoned_from_the_start_partner/
Over time many of us have witnessed this pernicious and persistent overall system of inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination defended, mitigated, excused and the victims of this system diminished and discredited under the auspices of respectability politics. We've seen right wing efforts to discredit activists mirrored and defended by liberals. That stuff is going to be challenged, because there's no justifiable excuse for it. Yet, despite the fact that whenever these things are challenged, as invested as all we are in this society, it's clear that each one of us actively chooses to exercise our own responsibilities, whether or not as empathetic and sympathetic individuals who belong to particular groups. What's frustrating about this is whenever this is done, it's done in wildly conflicting ways, perhaps as an intentional effort to derail and conflate the issues.
Conflicts most likely occur because each of us as individuals retain varying levels of power and privilege as members of these groups within our society, an investment, one that needs to be protected at all costs. That investment can be determined for each of us simply because we were each born a certain way. The problem here is that, under such a system, different values are placed on the validity of each person. That's because where one stands within the overall hierarchy, the disparate worth of each person's perceived validity is what's important and not the logic and justification of their own argument. This is what's known as the "double standard." As an example, a stupid statement by an important person usually carries more value than a smart statement by a less important person. It should be mentioned that levels of privilege can vary. I'm aware that I retain some inherent privileges from being a straight male, but I have limitations within the hierarchy because I'm not affluent and I'm non-white.
Going back to my responsibility from five years ago, I recognized that I was writing from a position of patriarchal privilege within our society. The point that I wanted to make at that time to other males is that such a position in this hierarchy not only has a directly detrimental effect on women, but in an indirect way, on our fellow beneficiaries of male privilege as well. It's the hierarchy which inflicts a certain amount of isolating limitations on males, while at the same time serves to grant us a system of privileges. Rather than mentioning the obvious privileges of maleness, one such limitation of being in the privileged position is the fact that we need to actively educate ourselves on the intrinsic reality of those who don't retain such privileges. We all weren't necessarily born and raised in this society to know that. That intrinsic reality is something which I call forms of "normality," forms which share particular patterns:
- Sexism and misogyny are problems inflicted by and for the benefit of males within a patriarchal societal system and against the female half. Women and girls are all judged against a standard of maleness, a standard in which they will always be classified as inferior, as in the so-called "weaker" sex. However, the fact is that women have their own normality, one which does NOT have a main purpose to be subservient to men's needs and is something that sometimes needs to be pointed out to men by other men. It's our responsibility as men to tell this to each other. Male normality does not apply to women. Women are all aware of this fact simply by existing within this society, from the unequal rates of pay, to the diminishing access to medical care, to being treated as if they're unclaimed property whenever they dare to go out in public.
- Under a system of white supremacy, racial discrimination is a problem inflicted by and for the behalf of the white majority. Non-whites are all judged against a standard of whiteness, a standard in which they will always be classified as inferior. However, when Black lives are said to matter, it's meant to matter unconditionally, especially in a society which snuffs black lives out constantly. White normality does not apply to non-white people, we all have our own. One which always forces us be keenly aware our own status as non-whites in this white supremacist society, in any particular situation and as a simple matter of survival.
- Under a system of heteronormality, homophobia is a problem that's inflicted onto others by the straight majority. LGBTQIA persons are all judged against a standard of heterosexuals, a standard in which they're classified as "abnormal," "perverted" or worse. Here, some gains were recently made. In this arena gains were made when SOME of our laws were changed by the straight people who are in control of the system. However, whenever heteronormality is not considered to be the only valid form of existence, when same-sex marriages are considered to be just as unremarkable as straight marriages for example, only then can a fuller progress in this normality can be achieved. But harm to all still happens, like whenever a homophobic county clerk ceases to issues marriage licenses for everyone in order to prevent licenses being issued to same-sex couples. It's still a work in progress and we all still have a long way to go.
- Under an ablelist social hierarchy, discrimination against the disabled are problems inflicted by and for the behalf of the abled majority. What's interesting about this one is the fact that being abled in not necessarily a constant. Abled people can become disabled at the drop of a hat. It also should be pointed out that disability is not always visually apparent. Mental disabilities still retain certain stigmas; those stigmas may prevent those with treatable conditions from seeking treatment. Untreated conditions that may inflict unnecessary tragedy for everyone involved.
- Under a system of class privilege, the poor are blamed for the problems that the rich create and such blame is used to benefit those who build, maintain and control such a system. ("Why can't the poor buy more money?") But the truth is that poor people are not controlling or destroying our economic system, but are the first and most vulnerable to feel the detrimental effects of collapse and corruption whenever negative consequences affect us all, as well the very last to reap the rewards when they're heaped on the affluent.
That's just a few of the examples that I can come up with off the top of my head. However, I'm sure that some of you may well understand the pattern in which I'm demonstrating here and apply it for yourselves in other ways.
In spite of the fact that the unprivileged can do everything that they can to call attention to these issues and more, unless the privileged parties chose to change, things won't. The unprivileged do not all live within the same perspective world as the privileged and do not share the same normality. Privileged parties have responsibilities to change that normality in order to abolish systems of inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination. It must change, because lop-sided systems of hierarchy eventually create general harm to all who live within them. This is not about blaming individuals, because no one person is accountable for running the system, it's about empowered groups of people doing what's right for all.
I have an idea that I haven't fully realized yet, but I've been considering a new exercise to demonstrate the fact of this interconnectedness of power and privilege, the general harm that such social systems inflict on all of us, in order to point out that the record stipulates that we can all change things for the better. Now, if folks who are familiar with my Lounge post series, "The Six Degrees of MrScorpio," already know that I play that game to demonstrate a certain quirk about me, in which I'm apparently associated in some way to practically every celebrity on the planet within a proximity of six degrees. It's a game, one that I'm proud to say that I'm very good at. But still, it's just a game.
What I've considered recently was applying that same model here in GD, because I truly suspect that most, if not all, of our socially, politically and economically regressive problems are intrinsically connected to inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination. I was thinking about calling this exercise, "The Six Degrees of Privilege, Bias and Discrimination." The title isn't as catchy as the Lounge game, but so be it. One point behind such a thing would be to demonstrate that none of us are immune from these problems. Again, this is not to assign blame to anyone regardless of their own degree of group normality, but it can be used to demonstrate that we all have responsibilities to each other. But the most important point of all would be to use the exercise as a demonstration, showing us all that inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination are at the CORE of our most pressing problems within our society. That in order to advance ourselves as a Americans, these systemic problems must be dealt with first and foremost and if not, they would eventually contribute to our societal collapse. Think of this too as a matter of survival.
I should point out that the main purpose of this OP that you've taken the time out of your busy, busy day to read (thank you, very much) is two-fold: On one hand, rather than as a moment in which I'm seeking to educate others, like I tried to do in that OP from five years ago, in this OP I'm simply making an announcement. I'm pointing out that people are seeing what's going on. What's going on should be painfully obvious to everyone. Patterns are clear and can be easily applied to whatever situation and for those who retain their group privileges, blindness is an individual choice. No one is fooling anyone else, not now and not ever. My Six Degrees game in the Lounge is, I'm sure, something that can be done by most other people on this planet and with similar outcomes.
Consequently, as we are all similarly connected and live within a finitely shared space within our greater society. In this shared space, whitesplaining, straightsplaining, abledsplaining and richsplaining must not be accepted paradigms to sweep away the normality of the non-privileged for the sake of the privileged. Because, accepting those paradigms would invite general regression as well. In other words, a harm against one is a harm against all. Those who are paying attention will see the struggle against our detrimental system of inequality, privilege, power, difference, bias and discrimination happening right in front of them; those who aren't will not. Being blind to problems doesn't mean that one is not harmed by them.
Either way, in the struggle, the responses from each side both are noticed and remembered. Those in that struggle understand full well who their real allies are. However, once progress is made, such as in marriage equality, there absolutely is no going back. In spite of the systems that we all are born into, with our consent or not, we are all connected. You to me, me to others, white to non-white, straight to LGBTQIA, rich to poor, men to women, abled to disabled and so on.
Let's all live like it.
In conclusion, I have some more resources for everyone. Please use them as you choose:
Allan G Johnson on The Gender Knot + Privilege, Power, and Difference
Allan G Johnson on The Gender Knot + Privilege, Power, and Difference Part 2
"How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion": Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools
The REAL definition of White Supremacy (w/ SELF TEST)
wandelen | ep 1 | black dutch culture, dutch caribbean, citizenship, veganism, mental health & more
Voices from the Black Diaspora
28 COMMON RACIST ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS
Again, thanks for your time.
Posted by MrScorpio | Fri Sep 4, 2015, 01:27 PM (81 replies)
It's time to write an extensive essay in GD detailing THE problem. If you've been taking notice of the themes behind my serious OPs recently, you can pretty anticipate what I'm going to say.
It's going to take some time to elaborate on all of the details… But, hopefully, it'll turn some heads.
I don't know if I'll finish it today, but once I've posted it, I'll post the link in this thread.
Wish me well.
Posted by MrScorpio | Tue Sep 1, 2015, 05:19 PM (60 replies)