Posts in RantsByGbemi

Prejudice: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: By typing this, I am not making generalizations about any race or ethnicity. I am simply sharing my story as it happened to me. If you do not agree with my story, welp…

I live in Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world so it’s a no-brainer that almost everyone in Lagos, my country’s commercial capital, is Black. And while Lagos has a thriving expatriate community, I would believe that their population pales in comparison to the population of Nigerians.
I live in a block of flats in Ikeja. It’s not spick and span but it’s fair enough. It’s close to work, actually a walking distance, so I get to dodge the crazy Lagos traffic. It’s also very quiet and is the perfect hide-out for a hermit like me. My neighbors are from Nigeria, India, Philippines and Vietnam, so it’s quite the mix. I rarely have people come over, enough to make anyone uncomfortable but even when I have guests, I make sure we’re not invading anyone’s privacy.

 
Last weekend, my friend, who stays with me on and off, was trying to shoot a short home-made film. It’s really a project on the scale of say, a make-up tutorial. Only difference was the fact that we wanted something with a professional touch, so we got a videographer, while my friend’s brother and another friend of mine were assistants. In all, I had about eight people over, most of whom were inside my apartment. We had a scene to shoot outside, which involved a male friend driving my car, into the premises and parking right outside my apartment. I made sure we didn’t go beyond my apartment as I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy.

 
About an hour into the shoot, I get a call from the estate management to ask why I have people over. The facilities’ manager goes on and on about how my expat neighbors are uncomfortable because I have guests. I explain that all we’ve done outside is drive my car into the gate and park it at my allotted spot but he’s too unrealistic to listen. Finally I tell him, in my loudest voice which my expat neighbor on the third floor can hear that all I have done is drive the car that I bought into the compound where I pay rent and service charge and park in my allotted spot. I also tell him that I believe that I am loud enough so anybody who has a problem with my friends coming and going out of my house should come downstairs and meet me. Sadly, no one came downstairs.

 
I had heard stories in the past about expats trying to make sure no locals live in the same apartment complex as I did. I always thought they were really far-fetched. However, paying attention to race relations and last Saturday’s events really made me understand something. There is a FEAR of black people that I cannot understand. If you live in Nigeria, a country of black people, why should you be scared if you see black people? You shouldn’t be here at all if you are afraid. It is probably one of those things I will never understand, but I also will never condone it. I am my mother’s daughter.

 
I did get an apology from my estate management on Monday evening, and a plea for this not to be on the internet. But I own my experiences and what I choose to do with my what has happened to me is totally up to me. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, if people want you to write kindly about them, they should treat you better.

 
How’s everyone else doing?

On Gender Equality and Lip Service: Beyond the Pay Gap

Women deserve equal pay for equal work.
You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.
– President Barack Obama

In the last few years much has been said about trying to close the gap between working conditions and expectations for men and women. You know how it’s so cool for a man to take time off work once in a while to attend Open Day at his child’s school, but if a woman did as she is naturally expected to, it would be asking for too much too often?

Many women groups and mentoring programs have sprung up in the last few years to address this. These programs take on different shapes and forms – you may get assigned a professional mentor who has probably gained experience in your area of specialization and who is supposed to be able to teach you the ropes. She’s also supposed to teach you how to be a superwoman – to combine family and a successful career.
Here’s why I have questions: Many women are managers, employers of labour, decision makers, heads of human resources in their respective organizations. So why is it still so hard to help other women progress or get better working conditions for the women who work under them. It’s because as it is with many other things, there’s a lot of motion and no movement, and I dare say plenty of lip service. Its easy to step into a power suit and step on a platform and talk about wage gap and how we wish it were easier for women to grow their careers while raising their families, and then go right back to the office and be the ice queen that no woman would dare ask for half a day off because she wants to attend her daughter’s recital. It’s also easy to talk about how it’s important to have a work life balance when raising children but complain that work is suffering when someone is asking for an extra month of maternity leave, albeit unpaid, so she can bond with her baby.
I’m treading carefully here, seeing as I don’t have kids yet and I have not been in the position to actively steer a company’s HR policies as I would. I’m also not trying to rubbish the work of women who dedicate their time and effort to mentoring other women and help them on their respective career journeys. It’s a lot of work.
I’m just saying here that if we paid a little more attention and showed a little more empathy to the women around us, perhaps we would advance our own cause faster than if we spoke empty words. Start where you are. Mentor the women around you, create a warmer workplace. By doing this you create a domino effect where women naturally show empathy towards other women and are sensitive to the dynamics of work-life balance. If you’re head of human resources, maybe your next employee retention program/ strategy should include the idea of a creche for children of employees, maybe an extra two weeks paid maternity leave and more child friendly policies. Maybe we could all just show empathy, knowing how hard it is to juggle home and work life for women. Be the woman other women can talk to and trust.
Beyond Labour Day and International Women’s Day speeches, beyond “Lean In” book clubs and trying to chase superwoman, there’s real work to be done. And it won’t get done if we-men don’t roll up their sleeves and fight for what they should actually get. This is how progress is made.

Light a fire where you are.

The Rounds: Is the World Imploding?

Songs for the Week: “I believe” by Mali Music and “My World Needs You” by Kirk Franklin, Sarah Reeves and Tasha Cobbs.

 

I’ve had one hell of a week.

 

You know what it feels like to lose someone who was in his prime and so full of life? I experienced that, again this week. It hurts. It leaves you confused and asking questions you know you won’t get any answers too. Everyday I learn more about the sovereignty of God through acts like this. And even though people say you shouldn’t question God, I think that everyone should. It’s how your faith grows. You may not get the answer you require, but your faith will grow. I got this new book Trashing About with God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything by Mandy Steward, it’s a book for times like this. I’ll review it afterwards.

 

Black Lives Matter

 

So yes. I’m one of those people who is more interested in things happening abroad than in Nigeria, except it concerns. I know that I should feel a certain ownership of things happening in Nigeria, but I’ll wait till we have responsible journalism. Everything here is so sensationalized. I wake up on Wednesday Morning and the first thing I see on my Twitter feed is Alton Sterling’s murder. While I was still trying to get a hang of it, the next day I see #FalconHeightsShooting and #PhilandoCastile. The videos are so gory. Then I hear about the Nigerian, Chidi Nnamdi, who was killed in Italy for defending his girlfriend when she was called a monkey in an apparently racist attack. By the end of Thursday, I am exhausted with all this talk about race. Reminded me of “Roots” and “Da Rules” by Marvin Hodges, Em Allison and Seidu Tejan-Thomas, I posted a minute of it on my Instagram. In the aftermath, some snipers shot and killed 5 Dallas policemen. The issue here is that you can’t end violence with more violence. I understand the frustrations, having seen videos of Police encounters with black people, but common, killing innocent cops? I only hope that all of this forces a conversation. And I hope that we get to the point in Nigeria where you can openly record policemen. Amen

 

But what’s it with race that humans cannot seem to get a hang of, centuries after? What is with the feeling of superiority or inferiority that we feel? Why can’t we all just get along? I think I have more questions for God.

 

Three-Day Public Holiday

 

I don’t think we’ve had a 2-day work week in a long time, or perhaps since I started working post-NYSC. The moon decided to play peek-a-boo, is the lightest way I can put it. And while some people argue that it is senseless in a country in recession, I loved it. I slept well, which is something I have been struggling with lately. I also got to write a chapter of my book. I saw my sister and her kids, who are like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy world.

 

Deregulation Blues

I ran out of gas during the Public Holiday and had to refill my cylinder. Cooking Gas is now N4,000 for a 12.5kg cylinder?

 

Jesus come quickly!

 

Thank You

Hello you,

Yes you.

I just wanted to say “thank you” for coming here and giving me a reason to write what I write. It’s hard to come on here and talk about life, and being single, and being a christian, who is rebellious and feminist. I know that everyone has so much going for them, so the fact that you even relate enough to come by here means an awful lot.

 

I know that I don’t write enough, sometimes my heart has so much to say I can’t find the words. Sometimes there’s too many places I want to split myself into. Sometimes I just want to curl and let whatever I’m feeling wash over me.

 

But I’m here today! And I’m blessed to be doing what I do.

 

There’s so much more I would love you to experience with me.

 

Stay a little longer.

The 30 – Day Praise Challenge : A Review

You know those times in your life when no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to find a good thing going on for you? I had one of those at the end of April. I was sad and depressed, then my body shut down too. Sometimes your body is down and your spirit is lifted, so you hang in there. This time it was both for me. I was disinterested in everything and did what I would typically do if I was depressed – check out. So I checked out, besides personal hygiene and going through the motions at work, I was just floating, numb, auto pilot. You know what I mean? Anyway, on one of those days at work, I was in a meeting and wasn’t concentrating so I started going through my email and saw a newsletter after free E-Books. I clicked and the one that  caught my eye was The 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling, probably because I was being cynical at the time. When I read the blurb (or whatever it is called for e-books) and I saw that it was a book that focused on intentional praise, definitely worth the try. And the best part was that it was $0.00. Can you see God?

 

Background and Author

 

Becky Harling  started to intentionally praise God after she was diagnosed with Cancer and had a double mastectomy at age forty-two. She also walked through healing from sexual abuse, but still kept up a vibrant praise and worship which lifted her heart and mind above the circumstances around her. So if anyone should teach you about Intentional Praise, Becky is the right candidate.

 

The Book

 

The Book is divided into three parts: The Challenge (which is basically the Introduction and Background), Thirty Days of Praise and Taking it Further.  In Part Two which is Thirty Days of Praise, each day starts with an Invitation from God (it reads like Jesus Calling) where he encourages you to praise Him for a particular attribute or deed of His, or for a particular reason or person. The Invitation ends with relevant bible verses. After the Invitation, there is a suggestion of songs to listen to, a Prayer, and a Journal section. In Taking it Further, Becky Harling helps with more ways to intentionally praise God – Praising God through His names, Praising God using the Psalms, Praising God from the book of Revelation, praising God to defeat the Enemy, Praising God through a declaration, Praising God when you are grieving and a list of Praise Songs to download.

 

Here’s where it gets interesting: During my own 30-day Praise Challenge, I was broke as hell, ill for most part, depressed, had a minor accident (I say minor because God came through) and then ended up in the hospital for back pain. So it was clearly not a quick fix. But what I learned from intentionally praising God is that even though you don’t get all the answers immediately, your faith grows and your focus changes from the things happening around you to the things that God can and will eventually do for you, in His perfect timing.

 

The best of all of this, is that in a bid to encourage myself, I started sharing screenshots of The 30-Day Praise Challenge on my Instagram page. Turns out there were many other people following and who were blessed by it too. And the best part is that I got it for free. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be able to buy copies of this book to give out to everyone around me. There’s also a 30-Day Praise Challenge for Parents, but when we get to that bridge.

 

Have you read The 30-Day Praise Challenge? Let me know what you think.

Love and Light

‘Gbemisola.

The Grind: Reasons Why Better Work-Life Balance Isn’t Overrated

The Irony: I’m only just learning again what Work-Life Balance should be. I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like, having spent the last 44 months in a start-up where by default everything is urgent. If I knew what work-life balance was, I’m sure stress-induced amnesia has made me forget. Until lately.

 

In the last one year though, I’ve had to retreat and rethink the things that are most important to me. And while my job will still be among those things, I realize that I am not doing myself, my career or my loved ones any good by not having a vibrant life outside of work. You’re not much fun when you can’t hang out with your friends without taking your laptop, or when you’re having drinks with friends and pause mid-sentence because an email came in and you have to respond because the subject has “URGENT” in it.

 

Not having a work-life balance wears you out quickly. You may love your job and be passionate about it even, but if you work round the clock that it always leaves you too drained to do anything else, you’ll soon start to resent the job. You’ll start to become so tired and spent and inevitably hate the thing that makes you always tired. And let’s not forget that it breeds unrealistic expectations of you, since people are used to expecting results from you, regardless of if you have to stay all night to achieve those.

 

You also need to have a personality outside work. I remember at a certain point in time, my entire world was centered around my job. Most of my friends were from work (which isn’t really a bad thing) and even keeping in touch with people seemed like too much work. After a restructuring at my workplace, I backtracked a bit and tried to ask myself who I would become if I didn’t have a job, seeing as most of interactions were work-related. I can’t say I have gotten to the point where I have a work-life balance, but I am headed there.

 

You need to have a work-life balance so that you can work on your dreams and goals. Except you own your business, or your job is your hobby, chances are that you have some goal or dream or passion that you would work on if you had a little extra time. If you have no work-life balance, there’ll never be time or energy to work on those dreams and passions. And as someone working in Human Capital once told me, only you are responsible for your choices and outcomes. At the end of the day you’ll have to live with yourself and the chances you didn’t take.

 

In the last few months when I’ve been intentionally trying to cultivate a work-life balance, I’ve learned a lot more about myself, and had a little more time to work on my dreams. Here’s what I did, and hopefully you can try:

  • Unplug: Unplug. Log out of work email on your mobile phone
  • Don’t bring work home. What’s the point in closing early if you’re going home to continue working
  • Make out time for your dreams
  • Have a to-do list.
  • Concentrate on your tasks: This helps you spend less time on tasks, so you don’t have to work during your free-time
  • Prioritize: Learn to put the things that count top of your list

 

Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have a work-life balance? Please share how you overcame.

 

Have a great week.

The Body Issue: The Case for Sexy

I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you. – Amy Schumer

I like to think that my body is stuck in the year I turned 23, save for a little weight loss. I’m a 5ft 4 pear shaped woman woman who has a 27 inch waist and 42 inch hips. That ratio is curvy by any standard, and is particularly seen as desirable and sexy in these parts. But yeah, i think I’d be considered sexy.

 

Sexy. That word is hella confusing. Lately I’ve read articles where men (Reno Omokri I’m talking to you) claim that it is better to be beautiful than sexy. Problem is the word “sexy” is in itself subjective. Sexy may be interpreted as meaning sexually attractive, and we all know that what one person finds sexually attractive may be repulsive to another person. So while one person is drooling, another person is going “eww”. For instance, some men say they are “Ass men” while others say they are “Boobs Men”. And that’s fine. So for starters the notion of telling women to intentionally not be sexy is ridiculous, seeing as we don’t necessarily set these standards.

 
Before I became curvy, I was straight, like the letter “I” and I still got cat called and propositioned. (To put things in perspective, I weighed 45kg till I was 22). I remember the Non-Academic staff who worked in a Exams and Records and all but threatened me because I’d need him since I was in my final year. And then the senior citizen at NYSC who was to help with my redeployment to Lagos but chose instead to invite me to come and rendezvous with him at Rita Lori Hotel. Then there was the man who gave me a lift once on my way to my grandma’s house and managed to tell me during the short drive that he wanted to “lick me like a tom-tom”. At this time I was about 40kg and struggling to fill up UK 8 pants. That was before all the curves.

 
Now post curves: I understand that I can wear the exact same dress as my slimmer friends and look like I’m tricking, so I’m a little careful with my style. Clothes will naturally cling and then my skirt will probably ride up my hips. However, your perception is entirely yours. I remember once I wanted to buy a pair of jeans with a back zipper and my then boyfriend told me that that was why I always got harassed. It didn’t make a lot of sense at the time but I didn’t argue. In the last few years, my personality has also grown a lot. I grew from loving my body to trying to hide it under long shirts and tunics to realizing that I am a goddess, and then trying to be modest again for these earthlings. Right now, I’m in the “whatever” phase.

 
I realize that I’m not responsible for your morality, I’m only responsible for mine. I dress as decently as a modern Christian close to 30 year-old woman should. I have a mind of my own, and such a strong sense of self, and I just let my personality shine through. When I feel the need to show a little décolleté I do. When I think I should show my legs, I do. When I want to wear fitted clothes, I do. Somedays I wake up and decide that I want to dress sexy, and I do. Somedays I want to look like a bum, I can pull that off too. Somedays, I want to be a tom-boy, and on other days I want to look like I stepped right out of Aso-Ebi Bella Instagram feed into real life. I can do all of that if I want too. I dress up for myself, so it’s never about who sees me or who doesn’t. If you decide to ogle, that’s on you. If you want to catcall, please go on. If you find me sexy or your husband or boyfriend or brother, that’s on you or them. I will wear whatever I want to wear as much as my religious views permit, but I will not be held responsible for your lack of self control.

 
And sorry I’m not sorry about not fitting in the little box you made for me. I am beautiful, undoubtedly. If you find me “sexy”, let’s talk about what was going on in your head when you were looking at me. If my body makes you uncomfortable, either as a man or as a woman on behalf of her man, my bad. You should look away.

 

Love in the Time of Internet

I wanted to title this “The commodification of love” but I don’t know if that quite captures it. So I played with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

Sometimes it does feel like love has been commodified though. Every once in a while I meet (or hear about) some guy trying to “sell” himself as husband material, but a story for another post.

I’ve lived alone for 4 years now and mostly had only my phone and TV for company for half the time so if anyone would eventually try to shoot her shot on the Internet, it should be me. Before #ShootYourShot though, I had met quite a few people on the great Internet, both male and female, and I’m now best friends with some of them. So I think it’s safe to say that I have a fair understanding of these streets.

Anyways, since the plan this year has been to leave my comfort zone (which can be interpreted literally to mean my bed or couch), I signed up for Tinder (Drum Roll). Before Tinder though, DMs were still lit, occasionally (I kid, once in a blue moon). Anyway, Tinder was/is a whole new experience for me because it felt like I had to consciously choose who to like. The experience of swiping made me feel like I was looking for a dress to buy on a rack with way too many clothes. And what if I like the dress but it doesn’t fit (translate to what if I “like” his profile but he doesn’t like me back so we can’t match). Besides trying to physically duck when I see someone I know in real life, I think I’m having a good time, except the one time one guy’s first question was “U short yh?”. I unmatched in 0.5 seconds 🙂  I still think Tinder is the best thing in a while.

 

I’ve matched with a few good men and unmatched some. And I’ve probably only liked one person who didn’t like me back (pats self on the back). Safe to say I think 1 or more persons will make it out of Tinder. Tinder is really like when someone introduces you to another person and they text you on Whatsapp or BBM before you ever speak. Only difference here it is just as much your call to make as it is your virtual friend’s. Expect the same mix – the good, the bad, the obnoxious, since all you have is a profile picture to decide.

Major Key Alert: It is so important to never get to the point where all your validation comes from how many matches you have.

 

Got to go, phone’s buzzing 🙂