Why Separatism may not be the right solution for Africans and people of African ancestry.

Malcolm X and a short Intro to separatism.

To begin at the beginning, for me, when I finally became conscious of the plight of black people and delved into the annals of history of Africans and Afro-descendants, from those that went with the Trans-Atlantic slave-trade to the Americas, to those that went with the Trans-Saharan slave trade to the Arab world, to those that even went using the least talked about Indian Ocean route from the East African coast, to those of us who are descendants of those that remained and every one in between. To read of the brutality, the exactitude of vileness, torture and all manner of isms that have been levied on my kind, for millennia, to say I was angry would be an understatement.

In fact, at that point I could not even think. I saw red and wanted blood. With every lash of historical injustice that I consumed, exacted by majority white people, felt unbearable. Even then, I consumed greedily, because I felt it was my duty, in order to remember the fallen, honour them and forever stay on guard. In a twisted way I thought it was salutary to see the damage with my own eyes for at least I was in a better position, as I did not necessarily go through it myself.

And even on that, I was wrong, because I do live through it, we all do. The legacy of all the oppression is born every day it seems, like a snake shedding its old skin for a new one the second we recognize it for what it is.

In this state, this state of charged rage and possible violence is when I stumbled upon the great Malcolm X. Him and his transformational parrhesia, and his separatism ideals were a worthwhile respite.

To this day I still love Malcom X, a man who died before my mother was even conceived. What can I say, real recognize real. I literally wept when I got to the bit in Alex Haley’s biography of him that narrated his death, his assassination, anyway that is a story for another day.

Nonetheless, this was my introduction to separatism as an actionable solution. Basically, to the best of my understanding, having white people and black people separate, build their own communities away from each other because having them together is just a fatal combination.

And I will say this, I was seduced by it. I even wondered aloud, if black people didn’t rely on white people economically as most of us do today, is it really the worst idea? Is there any love lost there? Will we even miss each other, at least for the black people in question?

First thing’s first, blackness is not a monolith and I am sure black people from different places, be it the US, the continent, Latin America or even the Caribbean and many other places where Africans and Afro-descendants are found, have varied answers to this. For me though, I was okay with it, let’s go, it’s about time. Time to all go our own way if for nothing else, to avoid killing each other.

The most compelling argument for this was again from Malcolm X. An argument that I still resonate with, that there is no justice for a black person in a white world. For no matter how much you destroy oppression and all his sons, as long as the whiteness is still the bedrock, politically, psychologically and economically, in a way it’s all always in vain.

Unfortunately, the tradition and proliferation of racism has perverted the world so much so, that even in a non-white world, say Asia, anti-blackness is now a core tenet.

Why it does not work?

So why wouldn’t such a delicious plan work. That is the question.

Well, for one, it will not work for the same reason that having interracial relationships and by extension, mixed-race children does not cure racism and anti-blackness. Not that there is anything wrong with interracial people, in fact I personally always hate how mixed-race people have historically and even now been used as political symbols to divide, unite and fetishize black people.

The issue with the solution is that it is hideously inept.

The truth is, the damage is already done. The loc has been loced and no amount of quick cutting and unwinding can undo it, at least not at this point.

 I always say, what racism did, is what happens when a house filled with maximalist décor, very unique and beautiful décor to be exact, is robbed. Even if the police managed to get the robber, you could not possibly remember everything that was stolen in one go, and even if you could, tracing the items to their new landing spots, transfigured as they may be now, would be such a challenge. And I am talking about durable items what about the ephemeral things that were stolen, say your ice-cream for instance, even if you found it, would it be the same?

All that you are left to do is mourn over your possessions slowly over time, lick your wounds as slowly as you discover them. This is precisely where Africans and Afro-descendants are. Slowly trying to rebuild that which was lost in a hostile environment, so much so that the project of recovery takes many a hiatus even now. And if you are one of these, honestly, your very existence is a treasure to be celebrated.

As far as separatism goes, even to indulge myself with a thought experiment of a world where separatism has been achieved? Is that world, the black part anyway, free from internalized racism, colorism, texturism or featurism?

Do the Africans and afro-descendants pursue justice and liberation for all, especially the marginalized communities within the black world, be it certain tribes in certain African countries, boys, girls, men, women, children, LGBTQIA, the disabled and the mentally ill?

Are the Africans and Afro-descendants now firmly in possession of all their stolen artifacts, histories, traditions, institutions, consciousness, systems and ideas?

Are the Africans and Afro descendants ready to build anew without defaulting to capitulate to the immoral tactics and corrupt value systems that enslaved them in the first place?

Have the Africans and Afro descendants been purged of the generational pain and trauma that resides in the fiber of their very being?

And I could ask many more questions for that matter.

So you see, the problem is a complex one, therefore the solution cannot be simple, in fact the solution is not even one, and as such cannot be restricted to any amount of time, because remember, the evil you fight has had quite a head-start.

What then?

So then with all the devastation behind us, are we resigned to our demise? The current status-quo that works against us on every turn.

Well, no African or Afro descendant need me to explain to them that black people are just something else. Because even squeezed from all sides with all forms of oppression still we have overcome.

We love, we live, we excel, we enjoy in the face of all our detractors, every day of our lives and this is something I can say is true for each and every one of us, wherever we may be.

The Black Base

However, sometimes I think we do what we can in isolation, which in many ways is a choice and not a choice at all. Though separatism is not the answer, I do believe we need a black base.

Do not get me wrong, by a black base I do not mean let us all go back to Africa and force ourselves and our differences on one another. No. I reiterate, blackness is not a monolith, and we have all been on our respective journeys, similar but not the same, and that must be respected. But we are in this together, we are not the same but we are one.

What we need is to rebuild the black base, from institutions, both physical and psychological, to physical places that are just for us, to the black family and rebuilding that, to black feminism including both men and all women, to the protection of black children everywhere. To rekindling all black mythology, languages, literature, spirituality and traditions. To reigniting black propaganda, technology, science and invention.

We need our own thing, our own homeland, in the broadest of terms, where we can just be without fear of prejudice or discrimination. A black base to call home, where we can always return to and one that will always summon the collective when any one of us is in danger, anywhere.

And I must add, the building of the black base must be done only by black people. All this business of white philanthropy, poorism in Africa and white guilt should be despised by black people. The only people who should be allowed to build and indulge in the black base are the people it is for. This is something even Malcolm X understood intuitively, black people must not be seduced into becoming coons or house N-words or even the absurd post-racial utopia, that always ends up the same way, tokenism.

Black people are capable, all this time we have built everything for everyone else but ourselves and it’s a high time this changes. Black people must rise up for black people because that’s really the only way it can get done. Black people and Africa specifically does not need a big brother whether that be former colonial powers or the Chinese, we need to rebuild the motherland and be strong internally and then we can move as one bloc when we need to.

Still on that point, the infighting in the Black world has got to stop, whether it be based on class, geography, ethnicity, gender or whatever. Like I said, we are all so different, and that is a good thing, let us use it to bond. Some of us are Africans, others are from the Carribean, others are gay, others trans, others Americans, others Latin Americans and the list goes on and on. No one of us is more authentically black than the other.

Our differences have been used to separate us before and we cannot in good conscience let it happen to us again. We must embrace the wholeness of blackness, because we all belong and where injustice between ourselves occurs we must be honest and tackle it justly and courageously. However, I do admit that at times it is a delicate situation but most especially when dealing with each other, we must be even more empathetic, more gentle, more keen because we know how bad it can get out there, exposed and without each other.

The black base was robbed and we cannot remember everything that was stolen, when and why, but painstakingly and meticulously we can rebuild, God knows if anyone can do it, it is us. A black future glints in the horizon for all of us to share in, and all we need to do now, is reclaim it.

As I say this I suppose I won’t be alive to see it myself, but the seed has been planted and the tree prophesied. In many ways that is all we need to get started.

A Non-Diaspora African’s review of Dear White People

Sam and Joelle from DWP.

To begin with as usual, for all those who feel they might at one point or another like to watch the show this is absolutely your cue to leave, as this review will be chock-full of spoilers. However you can read the final thoughts if you need a push to start watching, no spoilers there

I have also inserted the bit about my identity a ‘Non-Diaspora African’, just to mean that I am an African who has not lived abroad and is not part of peoples or descendants of people who now live in the diaspora, either by choice or not, resulting from a number of reasons ranging from immigration, to slavery, to personal exploration and adventure. That being said, I am not the thoughts ambassador from those of a similar identity to mine, as we all know, blackness is not a monolith but perhaps the disclaimer will somewhat lend itself more to some of the opinions in this review so that if anything I say sounds odd perhaps it is just that my sensibilities differ from yours.

Well then, let’s begin.

The characters

I will begin with the male characters. I mean. I am not from America and could be wrong but I did think the writing to do with the male characters, especially Reggie, Troy, Moses and Lionel was a thing of beauty. I loved how each of them interacted with race but is such different and nuanced ways.

For Reggie, the boxed in hulk of a black man to the world, always being mistaken for a thoughtless jock who is just really a super conscientious Computer Scientist, also happening to come from a family of famed Black Panthers whose ideals he constantly seems to want to live up to. Oh, and the bit about the cop pulling the gun on him was priceless even though I did watch all this past George Floyd, I can imagine that at the time the show aired it was quite something. I also love the juxtaposition between people like him and the white player that died after jumping from a building while high or something of the sort. It was interesting to see that, because the other guy’s end was what people would expect from one such as Reggie, directionless masculinity that just ends fatal and yet that couldn’t be farther from the reality.

Reggie and Moses was also such a powerful dynamic to watch. How the idol became the mentor and finally the disgraced foe. The moral calculations Reggie had to wrangle in order for him to view his champion, one who had also stared down the barrel of a gun on the very same campus, could be a rapist, and with a name like Moses. Absolutely delicious.

His relationship with Joelle and fascination with the very light-skinned and vocal Sam was also done right. His vacillation between activism and colorism and his own blind spots when it comes to black women and their struggles. They did Joelle wrong though, but I will come back to that later.

Moses too, if I might add, added much needed spice especially with his perfidious ‘It wasn’t me’ initial response to Muffy’s allegations. That, together with the earlier portrayal of Muffy throwing sexual innuendos at him that he pretended not to want, kisebusebu na kijoyo ki papo, please, I saw right though that. However the trap laid to evoke slut-shaming later on was laid well, like a good wig.

Next up, Troy. Another one of my favourites. The hollowness of his being in order for him to be the golden boy, a.k.a the good harmless black boy who even though is built dangerously is softened by his accomplishments, mannerisms and dare I say, privilege, to only serve as a trophy. First for his father then briefly for Coco. All the while, underneath lies a misunderstood comic, full of silliness and insight, longing for his mother but having to contend with an unrelenting father and his drug of choice, sex. Again, expertly written and the delivery on another level.

Lionel, on the other hand was just a guilty pleasure. First things first, his relationship with Troy and the voluble absence of homophobia despite him having a major crush on, if nothing else Troy’s body was a cold glass of water on a sweltering day, refreshing times one million. I mean, homophobia among black men is one of the bigger diseases and if you don’t believe me, google two words, Da Baby.

The relationship with his first boyfriend though not heavily expounded on was a good start but I do wish we got to see more of that. He really blossoms when we are introduced to the gay scene in the school, where I also got to learn about ‘girl dick’, very educational indeed. When he goes to the sex club, his tryst with the pos guy which I honestly think counts a bit more like a missed opportunity. We definitely needed to see more of that and his various interactions with his loquacious friend cum doctor cum rival, D’Unte, an amazing side-character who I also wanted to see more of. I loved it all but it definitely counts as a missed opportunity because I just think what the show needed was more from that whole plotline.

As for the black women on the show, Joelle, Sam, Brooke, Kelsey and Coco. It was half and half.

First of all, I felt the women unlike the men, were boxed into stereotypes,from the light-skinned one riddled with white guilt, overly vocal to overcompensate for being half white and truly loving 2 white men dearly and I will get to Gabe, just you wait. The groovy, cool, non-angry, braid wearing dark skin Nubian queen, the aimless workaholic journalist one, and of course the precocious dark skinned girl from the most dangerous part of Chicago who is set to be the next thing bigger and even more marvelous than Michelle Obama with a hint of sinister born from her unbecoming background.

I mean it sounds nice but damn, can’t these women just be women and not standpoints. First of all it felt like everyone was assigned a hair mantra, I mean. Everybody knows black women, especially, like to experiment and while I suppose it might be a little harder to experiment in the States for a whole host of reasons, surely, one hair-style for 3 seasons. I call bull shit, but I could be wrong, I am a non-Diasporan African after all ,and here hair is only a charged subject if you want it to be, the options are immense and for the most part affordable so…yeah….we move on.

Sam, I think was written well but I honestly don’t really understand why we had to indulge her white guilt so much. So you love Gabe, so what, who cares. Don’t get me wrong she was sharp as a tack, girl been reading them books for sure, but should she really be the mouthpiece of Dear White People. She wasn’t even a journalist, she was like a documentarian/film maker, why do I feel that adding radio to that was just such a stretch. I loved the bit about her film making and how she almost flunked and Justin Simien himself coming through, very nice insertion. I also enjoyed seeing Laverne Cox as a villain, she needs more roles like that, just because she is inspiring in real life doesn’t mean she can’t get bitch roles, she killed.

Joelle. This was just, I think, done all the way wrong. They wasted that story and the actress. First of all why can’t she find a man? Her only choice are Sam’s sloppy seconds and a full-blown hotep. Even Rashid and her, I don’t mean that she should have chosen him but why didn’t we see more of that interaction, why not even a FWB situation, God knows she was lonely. She honestly felt like a prop being moved around between Sam and Reggie, and even in Season 1 when we finally had her episode, which basically just informed us that she has always been a golden girl, so what! What does she feel? What does she want? How is she evolving? And for God’s sake when will she change her hair style? I mean, all that deep melanin poured down the drain like that was painful to watch. And let me clarify this is not an indictment on the actress, that woman did all she could to save a pointless script.

Brooke, let me save her for later.

Coco was certainly the best work from all the women. Only her insistence on the same hair-style made sense, and can I just say, the few times she didn’t have the sow-in weave, not that she looked bad in the weave, like with the cornrows while it (the wig) was being installed and the short wig that was to mimic her natural hair, unless that was her hair, she looked absolutely adorable.

Anyway, between her naked ambition, her failed romance with the then aimless Troy then onto the very white and very rich Kurt, who I will also get to. She did feel a bit trite. Her best scenes, according to me, had to do with her abortion which although being sorely unoriginal were actually very well executed. The idea that the even the well-put together, control-freak Coco could fall into that pregnancy trap, and not for accidental failure of her contraception but because she got caught up and didn’t use contraception at all, which makes a lot of sense if you’ve seen Troy , was a very good choice.

I wish we got to see how juggling all those things, be it the obliviously passive-aggressive Muffy, to the obnoxious Kurt, to her friend turn foe Sam as well as her academics, a social life, being on the comeup, a sex life, CORE and her secret life of Colandrea back in Chicago, plus the abortion can wreck you mentally. I mean, I guess we sort of did see that especially with her seeing the ghost of her fully grown aborted daughter jeering at her, at every turn.

Her dilemma between rising in a terrible system using terrible tools, or sinking further to be the anchor for everyone else because she certainly was one of the most capable students and all round people in the whole campus to do just about anything , was very well articulated. Actually, come to think of it I quite liked Coco’s portrayal and I look forward to seeing more from her.

Some really good moments were her steadiness when it came to the sexual assault of Muffy and her sinisterhood when it came to some of her schadenfreude a.ka. powergasms especially with the girls who kicked her out of the sorority. I think her character was given room to splay on the screen quite beautifully.

Representation of ‘other’ blacks

Hmm, and here comes the tragedy. I will of course start with Rashid Bakr. I am definitely laughing just now as we speak, or is it as I write. As a Kenyan myself, let me just say I am well aware that people like me are not the target audience for such shows but surely, what was that. I will be the first to admit I do not even know all the accents in a country as rich as mine and by the way for those who do not know, it is pretty much the same in most other African countries. Richness is what I always feel is apropos when discussing Africa, no two anything are alike. All the more reason why it seems so absurd that they had to make up his accent when they could so easily just choose from the variety we have.

It was so bad that Rashid sounded like something I would expect from Lion King. I mean. Come on. I hate to bash Black-American creators but sometimes I feel like they do unto us what was done unto them by white people with this pathetic representation thing, because this isn’t the first time and I am sure won’t be the last.

Why the ridiculous accent when you could have easily gotten the right person on the team to do the research and get it right the first time. Black American creators should be the last people who need a lecture on why correct representation matters. I am sure there are African actors in the U.S who have a more believable accent and since Black Panther, if Prince T’Challa could do it, we know it can be done by Jeremy Tardy by just learning how to. Now I am just left to imagine the culprits are either laziness or an interesting version of racism or a combination of both and this does not please me not one bit.

The good thing about it is that it made me laugh like crazy. Thanks for that at least. Ha ha! It would have been really offensive if it wasn’t so damn funny.

As for Kelsey who I believe has a parent from Trinidad and Tobago, I am not really in a position to judge the portrayal but I did like that she was a lesbian but not like Lena Waithe, which is a common-place portrayal of black lesbians, not that there is something wrong with Lena or being more butch, it was just good to have such a confusing unpredictable black character. Half the time I didn’t even know she was Trinidadian or gay, it didn’t matter. Her opening, that kind of casts her as a spoilt idiot is a wonderful red herring, her relationship with Brooke, the friendship she offers Coco and even her unusual membership in the Black Caucus under CORE was spectacularly unexpected I still can’t even decide if she is rich or not. And not to forget Sorbet, side note I really love dogs, but I will get to Sorbet a little later.

The White Characters

Unfortunately, these to me were the most well written characters which was a sort of disappointment since I hoped there would be more effort dedicated to the black stars but I guess the title of the show gave it away.

Muffy’s embodiment of the oblivious rich white girl, trying to do her best for white feminism complete with the  whole ‘Lean In’ mentality was spot on, I always really appreciate white actors or actresses who take on roles that they are sure reveals the worst of their kind, like the white girlfriend from Get out. Electric stuff.

The tension and plot progression her sexual assault brought forth was just perfect and how various people reacted to it. Loved it. How she herself reacted was a very bold choice because I think it was not to exonerate her from all her previous micro-aggressions especially towards Coco, but it was a delightful switch.

Where we are all so inured to white women shamelessly lying when abuse by a black man is non-existent, when it is in fact real they act very similar to typical rape survivors, hiding and trivializing their ordeal and in an unusual twist of events, somewhat discarding their privilege. Not to say that this is always the case, I just thought the story went to a very interesting place on how Muffy herself responded to her assault.

Gabe. You know at first I struggled with why we gave this guy so much screen-time, screen-time that could have otherwise been used on Joelle. Damn it, I literally came to see the black people, sorry for being frank.

Nevertheless, though I still feel he got too much time I get why he was so important in Sam’s story arc. He was her dad incarnate, and her dad was the best. Am not mad at it, every woman deserves the best deal, and for Sam, the best deal was Gabe. Especially the mature way he handled the cheating despite Sam’s incapacity to be to one to offer an apology first, I salute that guy.

Not to compare, but he did in 2 seasons what it took Lawrence to do in 4. That should tell you something about his suitability.

Besides that, his own struggles with money and Sam throwing the age thing at him since I presume he is  bit older and might have seemed predator-like or like one who does not want to date an equal was interesting. His inclusion in the T.A’s Labor group, as an ex-T.A (Teacher’s Assistant or Graduate Assistant) myself remembering the abuse and low pay that came with the gig, I really appreciated that whole portrayal.

Last but not least, him taking the grant and noting himself as a Person Of Color, haha! It was very funny and very symbolic, reminded me of the scandal I heard from Brazil a while back that white students were the ones taking posts reserved for black students and it took a while for them to be discovered. It just goes to show even after a white ally has done so much work and seems alright, racism is still one of the bigger beasts to kill. Oh well. I do hope we see some consequences for that later on in the final 4th season.

Onto Kurt. El president of Pastiche himself. Hands down the fairest of them all.

I mean, a white man so blatant in his contempt, his privilege and yet in more ways than one, the most self-aware of them all, and by them I include all the characters. In fact intelligence-wise if I was to compare him to anyone I would pair him up there with Coco. He is a master of the system as it is and he even knows how to pervert it further for his own ends, for example the black lawn jockey debacle, he educated some people on that little bit of history, myself included, but was it really his place to do so? I will let you decide for yourself. Technically marvelous, morally reprehensible. Love it.

His relationship with Troy is interesting because I think it is one of the most authentic male to male frenemies dynamic, blackmailing him with a sex-tape one minute, only to give him a spot at Pastiche and then quickly over-editing his piece to make it both cartoonish and coonish. They are not close friends but are also never too far from each other.

 And with Coco, a major shift. In many ways the relationship is undeniably honest and when it comes to the casualness of it all, even though he has nothing to lose by its revelation, he is surprisingly not uncouth about the whole arrangement. Even offering some wisdom about how the world though moulded for him whether he deserves it or not, it is people like Coco who should have the reins. I don’t know, though I still don’t trust him, that was some goodwill right there.

I also found it odd and kind of pleasant that the reason why he is good for Coco is one I hadn’t anticipated. He is good for her because he relaxes her, he is a good partner. Despite the fact that they are both vile and constantly conniving, that is somehow not the crux of their relationship. They never once get together to scheme, its’ all very, healthy, which is unusually pleasant.

And then, in the next scene there he is in all his tyrannical glory blackmailing everyone from Pastiche. Even just the meaning of Pastiche itself, an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period, from Dictionary boxes on Google which basically means a rented definition from a third-party source. Don’t ask. In the bid to come correct with sources, it led me to a whole new rabbit hole.

Anyway, Pastiche seems to me,  just a fancy way of appropriating black racialised humor best explored by those who experience it but instead we get the whitest of men running the show, very much on brand if you ask me. This is the genius of Kurt Fletcher. And of course the juxtaposition with Troy who is an actual black comic willing to discuss race is very well done.

In fact the best juxtaposition is between how he interacts with Coco as a for real gentleman, even having her orgasms at the top of his priority list while he loathes but must tolerate Troy. I can’t decide if he is jealous or just angry at Troy which is a good thing, I like it when shows put me on a tight-rope forcing me to run because, such is life.

Wasted Opportunities

I know I have already mentioned a number but sadly there are more to come.

Beginning with the psychology of Silvio, I feel he was cast aside too fast. I wished we explored more of his story and exactly why he did what he did, he was basically Coco on steroids sans the black girl magic with the AltIvyW stupidity, I wanted to see more from him and I thought Lionel would be the guy for us to do that through.

Furthermore, I wanted to see what he lost by siding with the oppressor like that and though I loved Lionel uncovering him, I hated that it all had to end there for their storyline. I did see him sneaking back in with Al, who lo and behold is I guess part Hispanic.

I don’t want to say Al is a missed opportunity as well, because they may yet explore it as they have just only introduced it, very nice and subtle too if I might add.

I will say it again because it pains me so, Joelle! Joelle! Joelle! That was some missing black girl magic, her side characters kept overstepping her and pushing her to the side whether it was Sam, Reggie, Gabe, even the damn hotep. Goodness! For the record I think we could have done without the hotep to be honest. I am still seething from this Joelle business.

The Labor Movement though not too badly done, but it still felt a bit lackluster, I wish we saw more organizing, demonstrating and all. I however did like the Massa diatribe from D’Unte, but I would love to have seen even more. Additionally, though I have said it before, I liked Gabe’s story arc, I wish he did not take lead on this movement. I feel we missed out on some possible intersectionality if the lead was given to a person from yet another marginalized identity ,someone like D’Unte, so that we can see how discrimination and economics can collapse into one amazing thud. Oh well, like I said before, the name of the show, to my chagrin, was not a misnomer.

Also light-skin privilege especially between Joelle and Sam as well as between Sam and Coco was just nibbled at. Why, I ask, why?  I so waited for that to be explored and then nothing. Unusually I think Gabe during her ‘Why did we break up’ spiel, her being Sam, before they found out her dad died and got back together was as much exploration as we got from light-skin privilege and from the lens of a white man. The shame.

Even the relationship between Coco and Sam was a bit underplayed, it too quickly soured into a frenemy situation where it lasted for the rest of the show, I wish we squeezed more from that.

But if I am being really honest, the female relationship I much more wanted to explore was Joelle and Coco. Two dark skinned women, two different schools of thought, equally beautiful, equally talented and in a weird twist, gunning for the same goal. Not that I want to see them fight, I just wanted to see that dynamic. I loved when they bonded during Sam’s dad’s funeral. I swear they wasted that Joelle.

When it came to Sam, I would have wanted to see more of her father, contrary to everything I’ve said before. I just did feel like, he was the key to understanding her and her motives. Plus, judging from the eulogy, he wrote for her to read, nice one by the way, sounded like a pretty good guy. But, if I can be frank ,looking at the way major white male characters have been written on this show from Gabe, to Sam’s dad, to Kurt, I didn’t like it one bit, the inner messaging.

This portrayal of white men being the saviors of black women if only black women would try them, rubs me the wrong way. While I understand that the issue has never been individual white men per se, you can’t give me three examples and all are angels. I call bullshit again. Some of that repugnance from Silvio should be equally shared.

Lastly, there was an episode that was an alternate universe where the show was, Dear Black People and it was the white people with black mannerisms that were discriminated against still with Sam being the mouthpiece.

Though I understood it I still wonder why Sam had to be the mouthpiece and why the white people when they are the ones being discriminated, exude black mannerisms, why not white mannerisms. As in, in an alternate universe where white people are discriminated, it is still their ‘black mannerisms’ that precipitate the hate, I found that a rather weird choice. I can still remember Muffy’s black and red braids and thinking to myself, WTF, why this route?

While it was a bit jarring and if I can think of a word to describe it, fully I would say, consternation. I still think they were headed in the right direction with that one.

This is the kind of surrealism that drew me into Justin Simien’s work in the first place, fresh from watching Bad Hair. I just wish they elaborated more on that. You know.

Racial Tension

This was by far one of my favorite devices used on the shows if you can even call it that. I always hate it when black and white people in shows share a space and everyone is good and happy, jolly as can be, no racism, tokenism or white supremacy here. Please!

I get that its’ not always all about racism but to ignore it totally is not a good look. I am not naming names but….2nd season of Why Women Kill, she says amid coughs.

In DWP, the tension is there, all day, ery day. The racial tension is a character of its own. Even just from the environment, everyone is aware of what’s up.

My personal faves were when Armstrong-Parker was integrated, the white guy who said the N-word to Reggie setting off an unfortunate series of events, Coco and Muffy’s interactions even down to the interaction between Troy’s dad and the cop who pulled a gun on Reggie, and especially the farce that is Dear Right People. That was some good s$%#.

I loved it.

Unusual Signage

This section is all about the stuff I am still on like ‘ok but huh, come again…’ feeling.

For one, Sorbet. Obviously the lovely actor playing Sorbet did a wonderful job but, Sorbet an all-white dainty poodle, brought in initially as Kelsey’s support animal. Stolen, only to be discovered in Al’s custody having been kidnapped by, I think, Rashid.

After which, he leaps onto the campus grounds only to re-appear in Dr. Ruskin’s lair for his Secret Society. I mean. Am I the only one who sees too much here? I think not. I do have some hypotheses since learning the difference between hypotheses and theory but I do not know why I still feel like Sorbet was a powerful signal that I didn’t quite get.

Of course I have to speak of the Secret Black Society, Dr Ruskin as well as Sam and Lionel. The weaving was not bad especially when we see the Secret Society in other instances with regards to Troy and Moses.

The history cum folklore behind secret societies in the school in general too is fascinating. Or maybe one of the many black student organization is the façade for its operation. And what does Dr.Ruskin want them to understand? Why is he the narrator of the show? Why does he not teach anymore and how does he know when to appear? How does he know Moses or even Troy’s dad? What the hell is going on there? Who are the other ominous silhouetted figures of the Secret Society that we see from time to time? Seriously though, what the hell is going on there?

I will not write it off but I am both confused and intrigued.

Brooke is yet another unusual symbol. Workaholic to no end, lesbian-experimenter, lover of white men and sometimes gay men on the down low and, pursuer of justice for the sexually assaulted because of some unconfirmed personal history. Not to forget, in-house natural hair goddess.

I know life and characters do not have to have neat, well-tied up definitions and motives but I will ask this, of all the things I have listed above, why exactly?

Brooke was just confounding to me, not in a good way but also not in a bad way. I felt we didn’t need her but I could never be sure.

And finally, Chester, chronicling loosely the sexual and romantic escapades of Lionel. I mean I did say Lionel felt a bit wasted and we did need to explore more of him and while I too found Chester riveting, it was unusual that we should explore him like that, hidden and closeted. Maybe, he just wanted to prove his salt as a writer, I am just not quite sure why it was so necessary especially after it basically became an open secret that he writes it. I still wonder what purpose it served, that style of delving into Lionel.

Final thoughts

I have surprised myself with my own feelings. Turns out it was a pretty good show, just not in the way I expected. I would definitely advise you to watch. Hopefully it’ll do for you what it did for me.

The White Lotus: A Review.

Before I begin, I do want to caution anyone who is about to read this that yes, yes, yes there are spoilers not just skimmed over details so be sure to not read it if you plan on watching unless you’re one of those people. Anyway…

Ms. McQuoid .


So, even before I get started, right off the back the cast was a delightful motley of the familiar and newbies. In fact if I am being honest, Connie Britton was a big draw for me, she has never disappointed and I was an avid watcher of hers in the first season of American Horror Story, Nashville and loved her performance in Promising Young Woman . Armando’s actor, Murray Bartlett, I also have seen in Looking and he too, was amazing to watch and I will get into that a bit later on. Jennifer Coolidge playing Ms.McQuoid was also perfect for her role and of course it was my absolute pleasure to see Natasha Rothwell from Insecure killing it, as usual. That being said, all of the newcomers certainly gave the bigwigs a run for their money, especially those playing the roles of Olivia, Quinn, Lina and even Greg.

And so it begins.

So, Nicole, high-powered tech-giant and white feminist to a t. I mean, the portrayal was just unbelievably spot on, complete with the defense of ‘poor young white men’ whose time has passed. Not to forget the typical aspiration to simply achieve what white men have, all the while leaving the grotesque edifice safely in place for when its’ their turn to rule.

Interestingly though, while that was exceptionally portrayed, I loved how humanized she was in the middle of all this. She is still a woman herself, living in a patriarchal world, and we get to see how her success and bid to sustain it, hurts her. How her family’s ingratitude to her hard work coupled with her husband’s infidelity really wounds her. Underneath all that privilege and white feminism is a woman, and we are sort of made to empathize with her situation and I think that was a pretty remarkable feat.

Next up, Rachel, a woman who finds herself landing in the lap of luxury by marrying well and is quite conflicted about it. I love this character so much because from the actress’ interview, her perception of Rachel was quite different from mine.

For one, she simply thought this character only needed to be heard by her rather obnoxious husband Shane, who might as well be deaf at this point. I disagree though because by my estimation, she wasn’t the innocent trapped woman she seemed to be portrayed as. She might have, quite a bit of self-doubt but weak is not really what I gathered.

She seemed to me, a woman who did not want to admit who she was because as much as she goes through hell with Shane, at no point is she really, absolutely tied to him such that she cannot leave him. Of all his horribleness his one silver lining is that he does however, at all times, allow her to make her own decisions even though he proffers heavy misguided input.

And the decision she keeps making, is to stay, even as things grow more and more intolerable. I think she just cannot believe that she still wants ‘the life’ even in the face of the ugly day to day of it all and this is confirmed in the final episode. In fact, I think she is not an unremarkable journalist, she just cops to that in order to feel better about not choosing to make her own way and opting for the cushy life he offers her.

I also tend to think the reason she dislikes her mother-in-law, Kitty, is not that she is intrusive, rather that she is a mirror, a few years into her own future. She wrestles with the fact that she wants to be that woman, her mother-in-law, even though that woman is an abomination. I mean, all you have to do is just remember how delighted she was at the beginning to be addressed by his name, Mrs. Patton, right before she did the whole fake modesty of acting as though she is not quite used to being addressed that way. Please. Alexandra Daddario delivered that one expertly too.

Then Armando. For me, he really was the very best part of the show, delivering my two most memorable lines ,’…the idea is to create a sense of vagueness, where they get whatever they want but they don’t even know what they want….’ While informing Lina of how to treat hotel guests. As well as his last night of mayhem when he told Dillon, the employee he ogles at throughout the show and who he finally ‘gets’ so to speak in exchange for some perks, ‘…They exploit me, and I exploit you…’ Genius.

Using him to depict sexual harassment of men at work was amazing because I do believe we don’t get to see that much of, on screen and even less in real life where sexual assault on men is one of the more underreported crimes, and some may say it was transactional but even for that to be the case, the workplace need to be pretty toxic. We see all this while the man grapples with various addictions, then as if that isn’t enough he finds a bunch of pills and ketamine in the girls’ bag.

His back and forth with Shane is also quite amazing to watch and though he pays the ultimate price, he certainly isn’t blameless in the tug of war but it was incredibly sad to see him die. As they say, the punishment did not fit the crime but oh well, it happened and that’s that. Its just that kind of show.

Shane, a.k.a classic Karen with a sharp pineapple knife. Busy body to death, unable to live without stirring things up unnecessarily. He literally insists on calling the manager even after he gets the Pineapple suite and the knife by the bedside thing did seem like it would end up badly, which it did. The thing that struck me the most was not that he killed the guy but the response to it. He managed to fly home unquestioned, unrestrained, uncharged,  as if nothing had happened, meanwhile Paula’s fling, Kai, who only stole jewelry was disappeared from the show after being tracked by the police, where it seemed justice was all of a sudden such a matter of expedience.

I also did want to talk about the scene where he walks in on Armando and Dillon and how that little piece of blackmail pleased him so, how he hinted at it and sat on it just waiting for the right moment to unleash it. I do wish we could have gotten more information on the origin story of Shane and why he was catty like that, but it was a mini-series and its understandable, its lack of inclusion. I guess now I just have to let my imagination run wild and though it had a sprinkling of vanilla homophobia, it just seemed like something more was going on there that I can’t quite point out.

Quinn, Paula and Olivia. The disingenuous dynamic between the girls is very transparent which is somewhat halted when Paula meets the ‘very real’ Kai and her demeanour changes radically. Olivia just like her mother, pretends to want to do better but she too is a product of her environment and her sinister nature cannot help but simply pour out of her when she realizes Kai and Paula’s fling. Even as she and Paula reconcile towards the end, and she opts to keeps her secret of the heist, I just know Paula will pay for that later on.

I think it’s’ also worthwhile to interrogate the actions of people like Paula, because her befriending Olivia and her family to the point of going on vacation together is so suspect. Because, why? It certainly isn’t the same as Kai having to work at the White Lotus to earn a living, she seems to have more of a choice. However, we don’t really know too much of her story but judging from her indignation towards the ‘rich white people who are all the same’ according to her she does seem to be from a lower economic class or struggling more somehow. Even the bit about the pills which didn’t seem completely recreational for her and how genuinely distraught she felt when she lost her bag I seem to feel is more of a clue to her. That being said, I like the way she was hidden in a way, her story before the vacation, gives us a lot of room to speculate on and create.

Quinn, on the other hand after being shunned out of sleeping in the living room with her very abusive sister, is actually the one who ends up having the best vacation of them all, interacting with the locals who are so welcoming and kind, and truly enjoying the majesty of the environment and the entire experience. I do question his motives for sticking around though, and what they really point to, his true appreciation of the Islanders or just the temporal wearing of their culture for his own perverse gratification. Its subtle cliffhangers like this that whet my appetite for a Season 2, which I doubt will happen, but a girl can dream.

His story is a bit like Tanya’s and Greg’s, who unexpectedly find each other and have a great time. The only hitch in the story is having to see Belinda enticed with the idea of a business only to be let down just as she has committed to the plan. The bit about BLM turning out to be the Bureau of Lands Commission was hands down one of the funniest moments. How Tanya was all of a sudden committed to ‘black people’ until she wasn’t.

Mark, also brings forth a wonderful story arc especially with his reaction to finding out about his father’s AIDS-Induced death and his double life, which ironically is not different from his having an affair but the extra layer of homosexuality confounds him so much that he himself has a minor existential crisis and inadvertently comes on to Armando. He is the typical white man that feels cheated by the system that he is entitled to rule over, since his wife earns more and other than that role competence he feels he has no other value. He is a man who desperately wants respect handed to him after doing absolutely nothing to earn it and I don’t mean being the breadwinner. And like clockwork when he ‘saves’ his wife from a conveniently timed robbery, using all his masculine bravado, and I use the term ‘save’ very lightly and is showered with praise from his otherwise apathetic children and sex from his over-achiever wife, alas, suddenly the man is restored. Laughable, but I don’t know why I suspect it’s completely realistic in its portrayal.

The bangles fiasco also, kept me happy, I just don’t want to imagine that Nicole after basically paying for his husband’s mistress, when they were sneaking around and all, also had to buy herself an apology gift via him. This show loves misery too much.

It is also revelatory that despite him being the cheater, he still feels he has the right to control the unfurling process of the tragedy. What was even worse for me, is that she lets him. It was hard to watch but after his whole ‘I’m not giving away my privilege’ spiel I found it hard to sympathize and instead just basked in the brilliant Schadenfreude.


I do love how the theme of numbness is used throughout the show. How Paula behaves like a clone of Olivia to avoid grappling with what is actually going on, until her chance encounter with Kai re-awakens her. The books bit was fantastic to watch, very well executed. Armando as well, seems high long before he gets back on drugs because of people like Shane and sometimes I couldn’t even blame him.

Quinn too was somewhat sedated by his phone, pornography and his family but just like Paula once he ventured out into the real world, he too seemed to re-awaken from it all.

The worst bit had to do with the local Hawaiians working at ‘The White Lotus’ who even though we don’t hear much about them, seem also muted in a sense, as they work for their robbers because as Kai says it, they need to make a living, the indignities of living in a White Capitalist world that you must participate in.

The End is the Beginning

Everything ends as it started, Rachel still embarking on her new life with Shane, Paula restored to her numb state, and even the welcome party for the next group being exactly the same, despite the notable absence of Armando and Lina who were always inconsequential to the hotel, and Belinda continuing to waste away in the spa even farther from achieving her business idea.

There are changes certainly, for Tanya and Greg, even Mark and Nicole rekindling their love but the tragedies of Kai, Lina, Paula, Armando and Belinda remain trivial and fade into the background. I guess it’s’ as they say, some things never change.

The third option we all desperately need when it comes to abortion.

Why its pro-life vs pro-choice and not pro-life vs pro-abortion?

When it comes to the debate on abortion especially among feminists its’ clear that the binary is between those who support the choice of women to have an abortion or not and those who do not support the choice being a choice at all.

Notice that neither of the sides actually support abortion itself per se. In fact many women will tell you, abortion is plan Z. It is the plan after all plans have failed, because as many of us know there really is nothing pleasant about it. Even in the many wonderful on-screen depictions of abortion that do not chastise women at all, at least those I have seen such as those found in ‘Please Like Me’ , ‘For colored girls’ and ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ , abortion is a necessary evil.

Pro-choice is the movement you get in an already unjust world. It’s the best decision out of the worst options.

As a long-term pro-choice feminist myself I am actually more vocal on all the ways we can prevent unwanted pregnancy before we ever need to terminate it unless of course it’s a case of abortion that does not result from an unwanted pregnancy.

Personally, I have always been more inclined to dealing with all the other injustices that lead to unwanted pregnancies in the first place, whether it’s the very deliberate obfuscation of sexual education, neglect of female science to further improve treatments such as birth control, society’s subtle excommunication of teen/unwed mothers as well as the economic maligning of mothers especially those with lower incomes in the family, in public institutions and at work.

All the while, I have always been aware that pro-choice is not the destination rather just a stop on the way. Things can be better, even with the help of reasoning from an unlikely source.

Where Pro-Life comes in

The pro-life stance in many ways I find quite abhorrent, because more often than not its proponents are not willing to deal with some of the glaring systemic issues underlying the choice to abort. Ignorantly choosing instead to perceive abortion as the disease and not the symptom of a much larger problem. Then continuing on to cite hilarious solutions such as ‘forceful purity culture’, ’rape culture’ and religious abstinence.

However, where I do resonate with pro-lifers is when they rally for the right of life for the unborn. Stating very clearly that they consider conception to be the genesis of life and from there on according the zygote, embryo or foetus with full dignity and humanity just like the rest of us.

On this, and probably this alone do I disagree with certain pro-choice arguments that go so far as to crudely dehumanize the foetus as just a ‘pair of cells’ in order to justify their termination.

And this right here is the problem with this debate. It forces you to pick one life over another. A decision which I believe has no moral value once made because each and every life has value, none more valuable than the other, and whatever choice is made, it is inevitably always, the wrong choice.

It seems to me like one of those trick questions where the right answer is always no answer at all.

Unfortunately for us, and many women of child-bearing age existing in an already patriarchal capitalist system, that chooses to weaponize motherhood only to leave both mothers and children in the cold when it really matters, a decision must be made. Enter pro-choice.

But does it always have to be like this? Will it always have to be like this?

What if indeed, we fix the underlying issues, and I hate the idea of utopia but still, I wonder, what if.

What if young men and women are given sex education adequately and in a timely manner? What if rape ceases to exist? What if we master birth-control such that it is both convenient, accessible and lacks side-effects for all women? What if having a child early or with low-income does not automatically mean living below the poverty line? What if there are no social ramifications for single-mothers and their children? What then?

Will we still need pro-choice in its current configuration or not?

This may seem like a little bit of jumping the gun and skipping certain steps but now more than ever I do believe that our radical imagination especially of the future is just as important as our logic in churning out possible solutions for some of our most pernicious problems.

Furthermore, I also firmly believe that we all have a right to our bodies, no matter our age or circumstance. And this is precisely the problem with maternity. One finds themself in the biological custody of another with possible devastating consequences on the body and life of the custodian just by existing.

So what then, what next in this impossibly uneven and unfair circumstance.

The Separation proposal

Well, what if there could be a separation early on so that each can own themselves if need be. For pregnant women who do not wish to be mothers especially, the choices need not be to kill or be killed rather to have a third more humane alternative that emancipates both woman and baby.

To some and largely even myself this does sound like a bit of science-fiction gibberish but I want to invite you to imagine such a world. Where abortion need not exist.

Not so long ago I feel that many felt the very same way about IVF and honestly I don’t think the science is that far ahead or the thinking so far-fetched. We have already found a way to conceive babies outside a womb ironically I feel the next natural step is to devise a way to grow babies outside the womb.


Unintended consequences

Well Yes and No. It would be remiss for me not to mention the ‘other’ possibilities that will come with the introduction of such a kind of technology. Not to mention the very real inhumanity of experimentation in order to get to it.

After all, there is a reason for the indivisibility of mother and baby in those first months of life and changing that natural order can very well usher in a different version of hell. But humans have been designing new ways to live out of old ones for a very long time and I suppose in a sense this is just part of the process.

Like fire, the wheel even language the sword that can be introduced will most certainly cut both ways.

song of silence

There’s a song in this silence,
A proud melody of defiance,
When our eyes meet,
There are no words like this soundless sound.

I want to wring out the entirety of this eternal melody,
From the voice of your gaze.
To imprison this heaven in my atmosphere,
And take a deep breath.

A life without sound would be bearable,
if we stayed like this,
feasting on silence.

Featured image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Her self.

It is she,
the one who hovers in the delicate space between power and pain.
Swaying, falling, then flying.
She does not stand on anyone’s legs,
She balances on her head.
Abounded with courage,
She glides buoyantly despite our clumsy gait.
And yet how easy it is to dismiss her elegance,
her refinement,
her ease.
To deny her an introduction.
She warns,
She will no longer allow the assumptions.
The invisibility you have foisted on her,
Her ambiguity too is concrete.
And yet she is at the mercy of your acknowledgment.
It is her only fuel.
She wants you to call her by her name,
Whatever it may be.
Because even though she exists on her own realm,
her own planet filled with her own life-forms,
She depends on the force of your gravity,
To grip her,
Tether her lightly,
That she may never stray too far away,
Though she may wander,
perhaps even eternally.
If you must,
spit on her face,
then plant flowers on her grave.
But do not stab her with this apathy,
this intolerant indifference.
That will not kill her,
rather it’ll erase her.

the silent activist

In the staid calmness of my reality,
I notice the fabricated solitude,
The peacefulness I have gifted myself.
Stolen goods.
I admit,
It is serene.
And yet the noise shamelessly cuts through.
It is not a thing I can point out,
But it is all around me, wrapping me like the sky.
It nauseates, like an overdue pregnancy.
I feel the internal pull it creates.
Invisible cramps and convulsions.
I allow it only my foot.
A sacrifice to this unseen force.
My foot taps gently at first,
Then furiously.
It infects my wholeness like a cancer.
My body is wracked with the terrible rhythm.
I am feverish with a righteous desire.
My mind rapt with horrible images,
Images moving in uniform discontent.
Flashing widely before me,
A mental prison I can not turn away from.
My oasis of peacefulness is flattened and I am lifted.
And the desert reveals itself.
The famines of justice,
The cavernous poverty,
The plunder.
My fish-like eyes gobble the devastation,
They flick around directionless and ravenous.
A painful feast.
Determinedly, I lunge back into my reality,
Safely awakening into my dream.
I am back on the green surface.
The peace is restored,
I no longer see the desert.
The noise is no more.
Only a subtle shiver in my foot that I no longer allow.
I still myself and sigh a sigh of relief.
I exclaim cathartically, “At least it is not me”.
The pain is at its end.
Now I can finally return to my distractions.

a thousand different skies

Almost a billion pupils,

flickering like a faulty switch,

looked up,

And collided with the vast vastness.


The doctor saw cotton,

large ,clean, unused cotton swabs,

strewn across an azure floor.


The student decided it was like the swirling sea was lit up,

from a curved orange point,

Like the  hurricane lamp she used at night.

It sent dissipating ripples of lavender, navy, sea-green to far off places.

Like sentries,

to study the earth as she studied her books.


The soldier, as he lay dying,

thought it seemed like varying degrees of an untreated bruise.

With a concentrated yellow pus,

draining away into the horizon.


The artist could barely trace the bleary outline,

on the sheer minimalist painting.

A calming mix of dreamy blues and milky whites.

And when the rain threatened,

it seemed an eternal child up above,

had been commissioned,

to color into the whites carefully,

an angry grey.


The villager was certain it was a death,

Perhaps, a personage of sorts,

A politician or a businessman.

For he was domiciled in smoke,

Properly enclosed by the formless ceiling,

surely sent by funereal embers.

If not here,




 Photo by Donald Tong

like a seahorse

I want to wake to a blue morning, like a seahorse.

And sit at my vanity of coral,

Before my watery mirror, and do my make-up.

I want to slip on my pearl studs, the ones I keep under the seabed.

I want to apply my sandy foundation,

To match my look with the beach’s face,

for when we’ll kiss at the shoreline.

After the high-tide has escorted me to her.

I want to use sponges on my scaly skin and even out my complexion.

I want to tame the waves in my hair by letting the teeth of cowries bite into it,

pinning it.

I want to wear my seashell brassiere and jellyfish skirt,

And twirl in my ballooning outfit.

Showing off my pectoral muscles that will look even better,

Because I am holding my breath.

I just want to wake to a blue morning, like a seahorse.





son of night

Watch as the sun crouches low,

sinking below the horizon,

she is crowning.

Once again, it is time for her silent delivery,

time to birth the night.

Watch closely and see the fleeting erumption,

all around yet invisible.

The black amnion spills upwards,

look how fast it covers the sky.

Now the blueness of  day has died.

Yet in the cool darkness, fresh palpitations whisper into the tree’s ears.

A life for a life,

the earth decreed.


a baby as black as night has arrived.