Latest Posts

The Average Black Girl: Sick and tired of the stereotyping

Average black girlI was once asked by a reader of my blog about what my stance is in regards to making negative stereotypes positive; this was my answer:

To be perfectly honest with you, I have a hard time thinking of a stereotype that can be made positive. There might be some that are not as harmful as others, but still are quite negative because in their nature, stereotypes are not true depictions of people but imagined ones. And personally, I don’t know of any stereotype that truly characterizes all people of that stereotyped group, whether positive or negative, because in the end, people are individuals entitled to their own opinions, beliefs and practices. For instance, some people think I’m a musician or singer because of my hair. Now, that’s not such a bad thought, and I do enjoy playing the guitar and singing… but if someone concludes that I am something that I am not just by looking at my hair, that also implies that they can’t or are not interested in seeing me as who I really am. This issue of agency or lack of is a detrimental issue among those who come from postcolonial countries, those who have definitely been negatively affected by stereotyping as it often manifests to racism and xenophobia.

If asked this question again today, I would answer the same but thanks to Ernestine Johnson, I know how using art, such as spoken word, can be used to pronounce and reverse stereotypes by basically owning the stereotype. “I’m not the average black girl… I can only aspire to me.”

The power of her poem is just mind boggling, and judging by the comments, shares and “likes” I received after posting the video on my Facebook wall, this power was felt beyond national, racial, ethnic, religious and gender boundaries. The video below is a MUST SEE!!

Wisdom in the Age of Information and the Importance of Storytelling in Making Sense of the World: An Animated Essay

Below is a video of an animated essay, the essay written and narrated by Maria Popova with animator Drew Christie. I’m posting it here on my blog because I believe it is a powerful explanation and demonstration of how people may cultivate true wisdom in the age of information through storytelling. I am also in full agreement that great storytellers matter more than ever in helping us make sense of this world. However, I hope that those who visit my blog and see this video are also encouraged to use information technology and/or storytelling to counteract grossly imbalanced public discourse.

You may find the essay text in full below the video.

We live in a world awash with information, but we seem to face a growing scarcity of wisdom. And what’s worse, we confuse the two. We believe that having access to more information produces more knowledge, which results in more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true — more and more information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.

This barrage of readily available information has also created an environment where one of the worst social sins is to appear uninformed. Ours is a culture where it’s enormously embarrassing not to have an opinion on something, and in order to seem informed, we form our so-called opinions hastily, based on fragmentary bits of information and superficial impressions rather than true understanding.

“Knowledge,” Emerson wrote, “is the knowing that we can not know.”

To grasp the importance of this, we first need to define these concepts as a ladder of understanding.

At its base is a piece of information, which simply tells us some basic fact about the world. Above that is knowledge — the understanding of how different bits of information fit together to reveal some truth about the world. Knowledge hinges on an act of correlation and interpretation. At the top is wisdom, which has a moral component — it is the application of information worth remembering and knowledgethat matters to understanding not only how the world works, but also how it should work. And that requires a moral framework of what should and shouldn’t matter, as well as an ideal of the world at its highest potentiality.

This is why the storyteller is all the more urgently valuable today.

A great storyteller — whether a journalist or editor or filmmaker or curator — helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters. A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom. Through symbol, metaphor, and association, the storyteller helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.

Susan Sontag once said that “reading sets standards.” Storytelling not only sets standards but, at its best, makes us want to live up to them, to transcend them.

A great story, then, is not about providing information, though it can certainly inform — a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, it plants the seed for it and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding — of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence.

At a time when information is increasingly cheap and wisdom increasingly expensive, this gap is where the modern storyteller’s value lives.

I think of it this way:

Information is having a library of books on shipbuilding. Knowledge applies that to building a ship. Access to the information — to the books — is a prerequisite for the knowledge, but not a guarantee of it.

Once you’ve built your ship, wisdom is what allows you to sail it without sinking, to protect it from the storm that creeps up from the horizon in the dead of the night, to point it just so that the wind breathes life into its sails.

Moral wisdom helps you tell the difference between the right direction and the wrong direction in steering the ship.

A great storyteller is the kindly captain who sails her ship with tremendous wisdom and boundless courage; who points its nose in the direction of horizons and worlds chosen with unflinching idealism and integrity; who brings us somewhat closer to the answer, to our particular answer, to that grand question: Why are we here?

West not in moral position to tell anybody how corrupt they are

Below is a clip from an interview  of Louis Farrakhan conducted in 1996 by Mike Wallace from ’60 minutes’ (an American television newsmagazine program). Mike Wallace accuses Nigeria of being the most corrupt nation in the world… and Louis Farrakhan’s epic response still holds true to this very day. In fact, his message resonates true to just about all western countries.

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Reality Check: Why I think the World should End

So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos? What is the solution?… We can love. Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio. I mean real love, true love, boundless love. You can love, love each other from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. Performing act of kindness because that is contagious…

…So yes, the world is coming to an end, and the path towards a new beginning starts within you.

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Literature reflecting similarities of African migrants despite country of origin

He had not been back in Nigeria in years and perhaps he needed the consolation of those online groups, where small observations flared and blazed into attacks, personal insults flung back and forth. Ifemelu imagined the writers, Nigerians in bleak houses in America, their lives deadened by work, nursing their careful savings throughout the years so that they could visit home in December for a week, when they would arrive bearing suitcases of shoes and clothes and cheap watches, and see, in the eyes of their relatives, brightly burnished images of themselves. Afterwards they would return to America to fight on the Internet over their mythologies of home, because home was now a blurred place between here and there, and at least online they could ignore the awareness of how inconsequential they had become. (Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, pg. 117)

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