For 3 weeks now, a Facebook pressure group that calls itself the PepperDemMinistries, founded by 7 young women in Ghana, has managed to get the whole of the country talking. The aim of this group is to use satire to flip the script and change toxic narratives that cage African women. All they do is use their individual timelines to post stories that highlight the slavery of African women by the society and culture. They put men in the place of women to provoke society and readers to see the absurdity in some of the expectations that our culture sets for women. Some of their posts include:

  • Never give room for your wife to look for love elsewhere. A wise husband works hard to make his wife fall in love with him daily.
  • Women are like babies, they need to be shown love & attention constantly. If you fail to do so, you’ll lose her to another man.
  • My friend called me now to tell me she dumped a guy she slept with on their first official date. She said she hates cheap guys.

What is interesting about this Facebook trend in Ghana, is the lethal reaction of people who find it difficult to accept that women in the country are oppressed by the society and that gender imbalances, occur every day. Some of these people have also formed their own groups where they have blatantly insulted these women and cyber bullied them with diverse attacks on their persons.

As I considered the trend from my room in Virginia, my thought process immediately veers off towards what happened in Charlottesville. A group of people choose a seemingly harmless approach to let their views known, then another group that opposes their views set out on a counter demonstration that ends violently.

This social media group did not choose as radical a method as walking on the streets and pulling down statutes of the many African leaders whose policies ensured that women are seen only as help mates to men and are therefore inferior. However, there have been instances where some have had rotten tomatoes hurled at them because someone identified them on the streets. Just like the white supremacists attacked people that expressed divergent views from theirs, these women are being attacked.

The ultimate take away from this incident and the Charlottesville incident is that the approach never matters. No matter how peaceful you demonstrate your views, if the other party insists on finding faults and behaving violently, human lives will be in danger. For me, the lines between passive aggression and active aggression are blurred, when it comes to sensitive issues like racism and gender inequalities. No matter how peaceful demonstrations against any of these highly sensitive subjects may set out to be, counter demonstrations are bound to end up violently.

My frustration with Microagressions…..

About microagressions, without a doubt my least personal favorite will be the question I get asked by my friends whenever they hear me speak on the phone with my family back home. Excitedly, they ask if African is what I just spoke. I often wonder what language is called African, given that in Ghana alone, there are about 75 different ethnic groups that speak more than 50 different languages. To the credit of my inquirers, there is certainly a language called Afrikaans, the ‘s’ is however not silent, making it different from the word African, which describes people originating from the continent called Africa.

I don’t know why I don’t like this innocent inquiry and would prefer it if I get asked what language I just spoke rather than the inquirer presuming that it is ‘the’ African language. I think it is because back home in Ghana, one gets asked which tribe he or she belongs to, only after their pronunciation of words in another language sounds off. I think getting asked that question makes me feel incapable of speaking my own language after I get asked all the time where I am from, because I have an accent when I speak English. If I can’t speak English very well, by American standards, and I am unable to speak my own language too, where exactly do I belong?

Talking about microaggressions in class took my mind to the consequent impact on the persons who are ‘microagressed’. In my opinion, I think what microagressions do to its victims is, put a lot of fear in them and make them lose their self-confidence.

I visited Pittsfield, Massachussettes two weeks ago and decided to take a walk. I had my ear piece on and strolled confidently along the pedestrian walkway towards oncoming traffic. I came to a complete standstill when I saw a driver show me her middle finger as she drove past me. My initial response was to jump into the bush because automatically, I thought I deserved the middle finger because I was in the streets. After jumping into the bush and getting scratched by thorns, I realized that I was perfectly right where I was and that I got that treatment because of no apparent reason.

Imagine what I did immediately. I walked back home cutting my walk short because I felt unsafe and insecure. I think of myself as a very strong minded person and however, I walked back, retreating from my intended course. I wonder how many black women shut themselves in their homes, unable to go out because they are afraid that they might get hurt by some random racist….