nigerian revolutionary group boko haram has been accused of abducting 276 girls from a boarding school in nigeria.  almost 50 of the young women were able to escape and have reported that some of their counterparts were forced to marry members of the militia.  this story of children torn from school, a space that’s supposed to be safe, breaks my heart and fourteen-year old eden duncan-smith shared the thoughtful piece below explaining how little a black woman’s body is worth.

WPTV Nigeria children slavery_1398872771133_4306601_ver1.0_640_480“For less than a week at Starbucks…even less than a graphic tee at Forever 21…less than a meal for two at McDonald’s or even a bus pass for a week’s trip to school and back…The lives of each of those girls were sold for cheap. Dirt-cheap!

When I Rep. Ted Poe of Texas’ address to the United States House of Representatives on April 30th in which he said, “In Nigeria, $12 is the cost of a bride slave. Recently, around 200 girls went to school and never came home. They were kidnapped and, for $12 apiece, sold to the Islamic militant terrorist group Boko Haram. They were forced into marriage and raped–modern sex slavery,” I felt exhausted trying to wrap my mind around how in 2014 with all the Jedi mind- tricking, surveillance camera-ing and Google mapping that this world has at its disposal that Black bodies can still fall off the face of the Earth.

I accepted a long time ago the little Black and Brown girls are the very least of the concerns of most people in the world (even though there are more us in the world than any of y’all). It just bugs me out that aside from being able to identify the group Boko Haram as the enslavers and profiteers that no one knows where to find them.

As a young actress, I am bought and sold all the times. Each time I am cast for a role, I know that the decision for me to fill a role is based on my personality, my disposition that day, how I look (whether it be my hair length, color & texture, how tall I am, my waist size and if my breasts are too large or small). But my family and I are in control over how I am exploited and to what degree I am exploited. If I want to stop this game, I can. It is a job for which I am compensated. There is nothing consensual about slavery. These girls had no say so about their exploitation.

…I am exhausted. I am exhausted to think that I could be next. Yup, even me. I could be sold for a lunch meal at Red Lobster and no one would even notice. Look at organizations like GEMS and Children of the Night. It could happen and I a Broadway and Movie Star could be the next Amber Alert on your Facebook and no one but my mom would even care. I wonder if at next weeks World Economic Forum in Nigeria if anyone will care. Where is your outrage or are you also exhausted?”

reposted from

mother of george

mog5have you seen mother of george?  the film premiered at the sundance film festival earlier this year to great reviews.  directed by andrew dosunmu, director of last summer’s restless city, the film is about the struggles a yoruba woman faces soon after her marriage and immigration to brooklyn.  she and her husband unsuccessfully tried to conceive a child for over a year when, as a result of his frustration, a neighbor recommends a surprising suggestion.  built around the themes of culture, tradition, marriage and gender roles, the story line is just as remarkable as the images.  no surprise the cinematographer, bradford young, won the award for best cinematography at sundance.

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end of summer: what i’m reading

book4what happens when a well-educated, accomplished writer who is married with two children decides she wants to be happier? the happiness project is a story that describes gretchen rubin’s journey to up her happy pedometer, not because she was depressed or emotionally unstable, but because she loved her life and decided that she wanted to stop complaining and appreciate it more.  rubin makes resolutions or goals to focus on each month for a year, guided by her 10 happiness commandments.  as a single-black woman, i was hesitant to pick up this book because…well, what could i have in common with gretchen rubin? to my surprise it’s been a lesson in interconnectedness — the human condition makes our struggles and triumphs startlingly similar.

check out the happiness project blog with book recommendations and instructions for 21 day projects.

americanah is the newest novel by my favorite writer chimamanda ngozi adichie.  it’s thebook3 story of a young couple who are separated by distance and experiences when one gets a visa to study in the us and the other is left behind in nigeria.  ever the creator of uber-complex characters, the reader gets a voyeuristic view of what it’s like to experience race, racism and class in america as an african immigrant. part of adichie’s genius is that she doesn’t create clear protagonists — i disliked the main character until the very end, not because she was portrayed as a bad person, but because she was unapologetically human.

book2i read several books at once.  admittedly, i haven’t delved deep into nw, but the first chapter definitely captured my attention.  it’s a story of a group of neighbors living in northwest, london and was one of the new york times 10 best books in 2012. nw is described as, “a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself. ”

book1dreaming in cuban by cristina garcia was recently banned by schools in sierra vista, arizona.  i’m planning to read it for no other reason than it’s clearly the anti-establishment thing to do.  oh , and the plot sounds dope with themes of exile, politics and family dynamics post the 1959 cuban revolution.

what’s on your end of summer book list?

half of a yellow sun

few novels have challenged my worldview like chimamanda adichie’s half of a yellow sun.  set in nigeria during the biafra war, the complex characters struggle through idealism, sacrifice, love and conflict.  i found myself holding my breath when turning pages because each moment was as unpredictable as the next.  i’m often guilty of romanticizing people’s movements, but after reading this novel my simplistic rhetoric was pummeled to a pulp.

half of a yellow sun has been adapted into a movie, directed by nigerian novelist and playwright biyi bandele, with some of my favorite actors: thandie newton, anika noni rose and chiwetal ejiofor.

i.  can’t.  wait.