Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories March 1, 2013

So this is a book of short stories, the first one I’ve come across on the shelf. I hope it isn’t the last because I really like these. They’re a breeze to read. The backbone to this entire book is that someone in the stories is probably from Ghana. 

This book gets a point for actually being written by an Afican American, as opposed to an African African. Now. The author is from Ghana, but currently lives in Brooklyn. Which is closer to African American fiction than “Things Fall Apart” or “Half of a Yellow Sun.” This has nothing to do with where books are written or who writes them, but more to do with how fucking stupid America’s book categorizations system is. If a black person wrote it, it goes into the African American Fiction section, no matter if the person is African, or American, or what other genre the book might be. It was kind of a joke when I started doing this, but it’s amazing how many authors in the AA fiction section aren’t AA at all. They’re just black from somewhere. 

Anyway, this book is a mixed bag of goodies. Oh the whole, I enjoyed it. When the book is dealing with issues of race or colonialization or imperialism and religion, it’s pretty on point. When the book touches on gender issues it’s not as cohesive. That stuff clearly isn’t the authors bag, but problems are problems.

So most of these short stories are very conversational. People talking about life and stuff. Since almost all the protagonists are men, you come across a few male gazey scenes. Those are whatever, and then there’s the representation. We get the single moms and the mean women and the needy queen bee and the poor maid and the big fat ugly domineering wife.

Not all of these are ‘negative’ or intended to be that way, but there isn’t the scholar or shop owner or leader to balance anything out, and the ones that are negative definitely get their full time. 

The positives are that the stories are all generally well written, and the language is good. I feel that he’s at his personal best doing the thoughtful conversation stuff (even though one of those stories goes off rails in the worst way possible). It’s a quick read and if a story doesn’t hit you in a page or two you miss nothing by hopping to the next one.

I wouldn’t recommend this really, because one short story turned me off so thoroughly it made the parts of the book that were remotely enjoyable less so.The more I think about it the worse it gets too.

Below the cut TW: Rape Racism

Avoid the story “Rachmaninov” at all costs though.

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On Frederick Douglas’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave” part 1. November 8, 2011

I wrote the framework of this for my English class, but I have more to say.  A lot more than 250 words.
I think the turning point in Frederick Douglas’ life was his first time viewing his Aunt being whipped. The description is particularly horrifying, especially given notes in the introduction about how white people refuse to believe things like this were going on, and that if they did bring their heads out of their butts for long enough to believe they were going on that it was probably justified for some reason or another. Seeing this sort of barbaric cruelty at such a young age would definitely be a defining moment.
Douglas gives descriptions of of the slave master, and the slave overseer, as men who are about as evil as it gets, and there’s probably a good chance that these guys were upstanding members of white society. Even though the captain wasn’t a particularly rich slave holder, he had enough money to own multiple farms and pay an overseer. Not only that, but these dudes are probably good christian men.
See, the thing about Christianity is that it’s perfectly okay with the way the USA did slavery. The bible is perfectly okay with rape. If you rape someone you get a wife. A man raping a woman is just something that happens. People being put in slavery and harshly treated is okay within the confines of the bible. Thinking of yourself as a chosen person and that other people are lower and less than you is okay. If you have God’s favor you are a better man. Women are property underneath you as God’s chosen vessel and those niggers are especially deserving of whatever sort of foul punishment you have for them.
The thing that gets me is the idea that slave owners were allowed to rape their slaves as much as they pleased and this christian society is okay with that. Which makes sense because black people weren’t people and so it couldn’t be rape since they were property. If a black person toook their own love life and sexuality into their own hands it could be punished by more rape and a savage and brutal
whipping. All Douglas’ Aunt did was try and pursue a life of her own and was punished harshly for it.
Much like today people wouldn’t say that he was wrong for whipping her since she should’ve known that trying to do what she wanted would result in punishment. Society as a whole would never mention how the slave master is acting out of turn. That “nigger bitch” should have known that going to see that other slave for a moment of happiness in her own life would lead to disaster. Much like these sluts now should know that wearing slutty outfits and taking their own sexuality into their own hands has a chance to lead to her being raped. The thing is, that’s all bogus. Slave women were raped just for existing, the same way women are today. There’s no rationale for rape and abuse. Rapists rape people and it has nothing to do with what they look like, what they wear, and how they’re acting.
See, in modern times when a woman is raped the first thing we do is try and find an excuse for why it’s her fault. We say a lot of stupid shit like “What is she wearing? She shouldn’t have drunk that much. She should know that flirting would lead to a man wanting more” and other terrible horrible excuses for rape. Rape is rape. The only way to stop rape, is for people not to rape. There is nothing a person can do to warrant being raped. We do a similar thing with domestic violence. “She shouldn’t have made him so mad” and so forth. It’s clear that our attitudes haven’t changed much since the 1800s.
I understand that later events would have direct impacts on him being able to articulate to stupid white people that black people are smart and that slavery is wrong, but without first hand accounts of events like this those same stupid white people wouldn’t be moved to actually do anything about slavery. As an individual that kind of event removes all doubt about how your life is going to be living in America. The thing is, there was nothing she could have done to prevent the whipping. The master had already raped her in the past, and had whipped her until he got tired in the past whether she had done anything or not. The reason she got whipped was because when he was desiring of sex, she wasn’t there. He was going to teach her a lesson. Nothing she did could have prevented whipping. At least she was able to find a moments happiness with a fellow slave. Frederick also couldn’t do anything. His lot was to sit and watch as the man who owns him, and this woman, did terrible things. He knew he would be forced, one day, to endure similar things. Nothing he did or didn’t do mattered. As a slave, it was only a matter of time before your whippings came, because that’s just how life went.