ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Peter Bergens only credibility in this whole affair is that hes a white man and Im
a black woman who looks black, so he is automatically trustworthy and
I am automatically a bed wench with an accent.
Books by Kola Boof
Nile River Woman (Poems, Feb. 10, 2004) / Long Train to the Redeeming Sin-Stories About African Women (April 6, 2004)
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Kam Williams Interviews Kola Boof
Author of The Diary of a Lost Girl
The Best Black Book of 2006
Kola Boof — Egyptian/Sudanese-American writer — is the author of seven books published in eight countries. Her autobiography, Diary of a Lost Girl (Door of Kush, ISBN: 0-9712019-8-6) was this critics #1 pick on the 10 Best Black Books List for 2006.
Born Naima Bint Harith in Omdurman, Sudan, Kola was adopted by African-Americans, Marvin and Claudine Johnson in 1979 and became an American citizen in 1993. The next year, she returned to North Africa and became a paid party girl at government functions in Egypt and Libya. She also appeared in more than 40 Arabian films before meeting Osama Bin Laden who reportedly took her as his mistress for six months in 1996.
However, Boof was later kicked out of Morocco for the publication of an inflammatory anti-Arabic, anti-Muslim poetry collection called Nile River Woman, and for carrying out undercover missions for the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). In April 2003, a U.N. commissioned human rights report identified her as one of several Sudanese journalists tried in absentia by a court in Khartoum, which issued a fatwa on Kola, sentencing her to beheading after finding her guilty of blasphemy and treason.
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KW: Who do you believe is behind the fatwa (death sentence) declared on you?
Kola Boof: I know who it was. It was Gamal Ibraheim and Hasan al-Turabi. Gamal wrote an article threatening me in a London newspaper, and even the portions of it which appeared in the New York Times were calling for me to be assassinated if its interpreted by anyone with half a brain. In private, Hasan al-Turabi telephoned me and told me that a fatwa was put on my head, and in April 2003, the United Nations had a report saying that a court in Khartoum had ordered me to be beheaded for blasphemy and for being a traitor to Sudan. Theo Van Gogh, who was a friend of mine and was eventually slain by the Muslim fundamentalists told me thisthat it was all over Amsterdam for he, Ayann Hirsi Ali and Kola Boof to be killed.
KW: Do you live in fear for your life? Do you look over your shoulder when you walk down the street? Are you in hiding like Salman Rushdie was for so long?
Kola Boof: I have much more power and protection than Salman Rushdie, because Im an American citizen, but yes, I live in terrible fear for my life and for the lives of my children. My whole family has been threatened, my adoptive parents had to sell their house and move out of Washington, D.C. because of death threats caused by my work and activism. I suffer chronic nightmares and cant sleep at night, but what can I do? Everything between Osama and me is now public, and he is alive and indeed could have me killed at any time. His men would love to carry it outand before that, everything that I was called to say about the Arab world has been said and said loudly. I live on a whim now.
KW: Where do you live?
Kola Boof: Well, for security reasons, its best if people think I live in California, and thats the story Im sticking to.
KW: While I loved your autobiography, some say its pure fabrication. How much of it is fiction?
Kola Boof: None of it is fiction. My autobiography is one of the truest, most frankly written books ever published in the western hemisphere. Perhaps someone who was mentioned in the book remembers events differently, and in some cases I wasnt allowed to use peoples real names, such as my siblings and my childrens father, but theres nothing fabricated or untrue in my autobiography. I wrote about my life just as I remembered it. I named names and its very detailed. Hundreds of Sudanese refugees and people from Africa say that my journey is very similar to theirs.
KW: Specifically, people seem to doubt your claim of being Osama bin Ladens mistress. What do you have to say to convince them that youre telling the truth?
Kola Boof: What makes me angry is that it wasnt me who revealed that I had been with Osama Bin Laden. I originally denied being involved with Osama when the London Guardian threatened to out me. I was terrified to be branded Hitlers Girlfriend and I refused to cooperate with a story they were doing. Anyone can look that up. But once the United States became aware of it and placed me on a suspected terrorist list and threatened to take away my citizenshipI really didnt have any choice but to admit to it and to tell my side of what happened.
But, you know, I laugh when Americans claim that it cant possibly be true, because it just goes to show why the Americans will never capture Osama. They can only think in English. They have this homogenized textbook view of what the Arab world is like. When they speak of Osama, they use cartoonish terms like sex slave and cave. As Westerners, they assume Osama would be chasing blondes rather than his preferencewomen whose vaginas are infibulated.
KW: Peter Bergen, who is widely regarded as a Bin Laden expert, has called your claims delusional and says that Bin Laden has never set foot in Morocco.
Kola Boof: Peter Bergen is your typical two-cent Bin Laden groupiehes made several comments about me that have been proven untruefor instance his claim that Ayman al Zawahiri was in prison during the time I met him in my book. Peters dates were a year off; he was proven wrong. His claim that Osama never went to Morocco is nothing less than lunacyOsamas been to Morocco dozens of times. Peter Bergens only credibility in this whole affair is that hes a white man and Im a black woman who looks black, so he is automatically trustworthy and I am automatically a bed wench with an accent.
But like Ive said in the pastin any mansion its the whores and the maids who know the most about any man, and Peter Bergens real problem with me is that hes jealous that he didnt get to be Osamas mistress. The more he attacks me, the more he will look like a fool down the road, and Im just the bitch to bite his shrimp off and eat it. Im tired, quite frankly, of being picked on by that smug half-a-shilling, guttersnipe punk from Picadilly. Hes a bitch, but Im a better one.
KW: How do you feel about the mainstream medias handling of your story?
Kola Boof: The media has outright lied on me. They reported that I called myself Osamas sex slave, apparently unaware that sex slaves arent allowed to look their master in the eye, write poetry with him or go on hunting excursions with him. They reported that I claimed to have been raped repeatedly by Osama, which is untrue. Theyve called me an African Priestess. And Im sure youve heard the jokes about my name. The press doesnt like me, because I am a weirdo to them, so they do everything to create their own fictional Kola Boof. I have been completely disrespected, lied on and misrepresented by these cynical know-it-alls who call themselves journalists.
They keep calling me the Diana Ross of the publishing industry, whatever that means, and calling me a bitch but they make me a bitch! They write that I was a prostitutebut I have never in my life been a prostitute. When I was a paid party girl in Egypt, we were paid to come to the party and be hallway dressing. I met rich men and they became my boyfriends. When I was a kept womanit was a relationship. For the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army [SPLA], it was war tactics. I have never turned a trick in my life, and I just resent the American definitions of sex slave and prostitute so much. I was a mistress!
KW: So what was your involvement in the SPLA?
Kola Boof: In 1998, I was trained by the SPLA in London how to pretend to be a geologist, I went by the name Katrina Wexler and slept with men at Talisman Oil in Port Colborne, Canada, at Ludin Oil in Sweden, and at China National Petroleum company in Nairobi, Kenya, so that I could attain information that allowed the SPLA to bomb oil fields in South Sudan, specifically Operation Miuokda a few years later, where they bombed oil refineries using my blueprint. In 2004, I went to Israel and gave a speech that resulted in guns and ammunition being given to the South Sudanese rebels, specifically Commanders Athols and Yaka’s armies. I have never received full credit from the SPLA, because the men are very sexist and feel that I’m acting out of place, bringing too much attention to myself–but for the funeral of our leader John Garang, they had me write the poem “Chol Apieth” to eulogize him, and that was their way of acknowledging my contributions.
KW: Why are you so anti-Muslim and so pro-Israel?
Kola Boof: Im not so Pro-Israel Im Pro-Africa. Africas greatest enemy of all time is the Arab Muslim Empirethey enslaved us for one thousand years and have committed untold atrocities and genocides against the East African people. Though the white man is a kind of Satan, and though the black man is Satan for selling his own children into bondage and assassinating the image of his own mother, because he himself wants to be white I can assure you that Africa has known no greater Satan than the twins, Arab and Islam. I was born to an Arab father and I was born Islamic, and on behalf of the people of Sudan and as a black African womanthat is what I have to say. By any means necessary, I am for Africa.
KW: Did your parents being murdered by Muslims shape your attitudes at all?
Kola Boof: Oh, absolutely. But one of my brothers in my adopted family converted to Islam and I love him with all my heart. I have Muslim women who understand my pain and they give me lots of love and support. But what Black Americans never think about is that the African version of Islam is totally different from American Islam. Theyve never seen mothers doused in gasoline and set on fire for religious reasons. So they dont know what Im talking about.
KW: As an irrepressible feminist, do you see Islam as a too restrictive religion?
Kola Boof: While I love Mohammed and Jesus Christ I reject all mens religions, not just Islam, but Christianity, Judaism and whatever else the men use for a whip. I believe that Christianity trains black people, especially black women, to think like slaves, and I believe that Islam is mainly fueled by its hatred for women. As for feminism, I am a womanist more than Im a feminist. I love cooking for men and making love with themnot just reproductive lovemaking but I like sex for the sake of freaking out with men. I value men and I dont necessarily want to adopt the mans role, but I do want to see womens humanity honored and respected. I do feel its crucial that womens opinions be taken equally with mens. But still I have not been accepted by the American white feminist writers and activists, and frankly I dont care to be, so I am a womanist. I am feisty and I am given to womanish behavior.
KW: Why do you appear topless on both your book and on your website? To sell books? To generate books? Or are you just an exhibitionist?
Kola Boof: I appear topless as a way of holding on to my Nilotic culture, and I also do it to taunt those Africans who are ashamed of our original cultural beliefs. Africans believed that the womans bare breast represented God, the circle of life and the moral cleanliness of human beings. Right now, there are more than 100 million African women who go topless at some point in the day, each and every day, to honor both God and our ancestors. So being in a country like America where nothing is hated more than the image of the black woman, even by black peoplebecause her womb produces the black man and makes us blackI find it of grave importance to implement African images, and especially to produce media images that acknowledge the sexual power and fertility of black women.
KW: Do you deliberately try to be controversial?
KB: Absolutely not. I long to be accepted as myself. Im too good for assimilation.
KW: Do you feel alienated from or supported by black America?
Kola Boof: Alienated.
KW: Do you regret making the rounds of the TV talk shows, or do you think they treated you fairly?
Kola Boof: I dont regret it, but I find it very insulting how they always try to focus on the most gossipy meaningless questions like Did Osama want Whitney Houston? and that crap rather than the invasive political, religious and cultural aspects of my experience with Osama. People dont want truth, they just want trash.
KW: What I appreciated about your book was your brutal honesty and your engaging way of telling a story. Where did you get that ability to be so blunt?
Kola Boof: It started when my birth parents were murdered and I stayed outdoors all night with the bodies. Years later in America, around fourteen, my psychiatrist explained to me that staying with the bodies that night made me fearless. He said that it made me an emotional exhibitionist and told me never to let people convince me that I was weird for speaking with clarity and passion.
KW: Do you ever regret going so public with your personal life?
Kola Boof: No, I had to. There are millions of little black girls out there who really need me to do that.
KW: What is the one skeleton youve shared with the world that youd like to put back in your closet?
Kola Boof: I never wanted anyone to know about me and Osama. I wanted that to be a secret that I carried to my grave, and since I wasnt the one who revealed itits definitely something that I wish was in the closet. Its destroyed my career.
KW: There was a lot in the news recently about Madonna adopting a boy from Malawi and you were adopted from Sudan by African-Americans. What are your thoughts on this sort of adoption?
Kola Boof: Im not at all against white people adopting black children, because were all human beings who need to give love and be nurtured in safety, but I do think its better to be adopted by blacks. I happen to know at least a hundred Sudanese refugees in the United States, all of whom were taken in by white families and white churches, and they all tell meNaima, you were blessed to be raised by Black Americans. And because I was in psychiatric treatment for most of my childhood and had to learn English and had to adjust to a white-dominated society, I truly know what they mean.
Its not something that you can explain in the confines of an interview, but there is an immediate comfort, a connection between black phenotypes that is natural. Even though I couldnt speak English, there were many times that my black-American parents could read my mind and I could read theirs. It was because we shared the bloodberry, African tribal blood, and I would not have had that with whites, not even African whites, no matter how much they loved and wanted me. Race means family and all black people whether they like it or not, are family. This is why I warn black Americansdont get too mixed. A little is fine, but not to the point where youre out of the family.
KW: How is it that youve been able to make so many sage insights about the African-American condition?
Kola Boof: I dont see a huge difference between the African condition and the black American condition. The only real difference is that black Americans live in the richest country on Earth surrounded by a majority white population and are almost entirely disconnected from their original culture and their God-given identity. But in my case, because I was adopted my black Americans, I feel that Im a Hybrid. When Im around AfricansI suddenly feel very black American. And when Im around black AmericansI feel very North African. North Africa and black America are both the creators of Kola Boof.
KW: And where did you develop your writing style? Were you assisted by a ghostwriter?
Kola Boof: A ghostwriter! How dare you! Nobodys ever written any of my work but me. But as for developing a writing styleI would say that I tried to copy the pacing of the old movies I loved as a kid. When I couldnt speak English, I loved silent films circa 1914-1929, Abel Gance being my favorite director. And then later, I loved 1930s womens pictures films by Josef Von Sternberg or William Wyler. So, I fashioned a style out of that. The integrity and ethos of what I would write, however, came from the films of Ousmane Sembene and from reading Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath and Alice Walker.
KW: How old are your sons, and what do they think of their mom?
Kola Boof: My sons are both younger than eleven. Theyre very protective and loving towards me, but I dont know whats in their secret minds about me. They are in the state of Cuoiingo, a stage between 5-16 where black boys are raised more by the father than the mother, though both parents are in the house, so right now they feel that their father is the strict one and that Im some kind of magical safe harbor.
KW: Are you married or in a relationship now? How would your man describe what being in a relationship with you is like?
KB: Men always liked me, because I was very damaged and unpredictablemy childrens father claims that I have multiple personalities, but I dont. I seem to go for very dominant men. Right now, Ive been separated from my childrens father for two yearshes moved on to a younger woman from his own culture, Belize, but were still very close and we raise our sons together. He monitors the boys daily and lives here on the weekends so they can hunt, fish and bond. I would love to have a new man in my life since hes found someone, but I feel as if Im going through a mid-life crisis right now. I dont feel very attractive and its like Im frigid or something. Im aging and it makes me very sad.
KW: Is there any truth to the recent rumors romantically linking you to certain celebrities?
Kola Boof: Im glad you brought that up, because the rumors about me being with Jamal Lewis, Adam Carolla and Tiki Barber are absolutely false. Ive never even met Adam or Tiki Barber in personwe did phone interviews. What happens is that a lot of high-profile men saw topless photos of me. They heard I was a sex slaveyou have men who want to hit what Osama hit. Im not talking about Adam, Tiki or Jamal Lewis, but none of the rumors about me are true. Im not a cannibal, I dont have sex with other women. Im not told what to say by any Republicans and Ive never done a personal appearance topless.
KW: While this persona Kola Boof youve created is certainly intriguing, thats not your real name. Is there a part of you that youve managed to keep private despite baring your soul?
Kola Boof: Definitely. Theres a whole world about me that no one knows.
KW: Who is the real Naima Bint Harith, and how is she different from Kola Boof?
Kola Boof: Im not a strong warrior queen like people think. I spend most of my day cooking and doing things with my sons. I like to be alone and very quiet at night, and I have this problem where its like I can never stop thinking. For instance, I find myself obsessing over the treatment of black women and girls by black menthe fact that black men have a special prejudice against black women and generally dont protect them or attempt to understand them, and I cry an awful lot about that.
And no, Im not talking about my childrens fatherhes a wonderful black man, the hero of my life, and hes never disrespected or betrayed me. But Im talking about what I see in the streets and in the media, this naked hatred that black men have towards the authentic black womanwhich is really an indication of black mens hatred for blackness itself. Those women who can make them whiter, they seek out, celebrate and protect. But the mother of our race they demonize and disallow, they make excuses for why they cant honor the image of their own mother.
God would agree with me that the majority of black Americans are white supremaciststhey think that bitch in New York Harbor is their real mother, or at least, they want her to be. And because Im an African woman, I suppose these thoughts torture me more than they do black American people, because its like watching my own children trapped in a car thats sinking to the bottom of a lake and being impotent to save themthe black Americans have their own holocaust going on. They whine about Michael Richards calling us niggers, but what are we if not niggerstock?
You see the black man erasing black children from the landscape, you see black women desperately trying to get the black mans attention by wearing blonde hair and fake blue eyes, 500 years after he sold her and their children across the ocean, and shes still an idiot and a weakling just like she was back in Africashe cant stand up for herself, for her womb, only for himso you see this total holocaust devouring the black Americans, who are not my cousins as they like to claim, but are my childrenyes, not Lena Horne, not that bitch in New York Harbor, but me, Im their real mother! I am!so in Naimas private life, as an African mother, this is the demon that rides my back each and everyday.
KW: Are you working on another book or some other project?
Kola Boof: Oh, Im working on tons of projects. Novels, poems, movie scripts that Id like to directsomeday my own cooking show. Im currently serving as a ghost consultant on one of daytimes top rated soap operas and thats always fun, because I learned English by watching soaps as a kid, and since I dont have any formal education and cant teach at the universities like other literary writers do. Writing for the soaps helps me to supplement things. Fans should look for two Kola Boof novels coming out in 2007Virgins In the Beehive and The Sexy Part of the Bible, and a new poetry collection, The White Mans Mother, meaning Africa, plus, at lasta book tour.
KW: Thanks for the time, Kola.
Kola Boof: You know, Kam, I was really a bitch towards you when we first met, and Id already pre-judged you with such venomous prejudiceI feel very bad about that, because Ive now come to like you so much, and though Ive said this before, I just want to say again that Im very sorry I was so vicious towards you. Youre an absolutely splendid brother. Thanks for all your consideration and support.
For More Kola Boof: http://www.kolaboof.com
posted 27 December 2007
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02_My_Story,_My_Song.mp3 (24503 KB)
(Kalamu reading “My Story, My Song”
Parable of the Cellphone (Marvin X)
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Wole Soyinka
Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception
a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits
who alternately terrify and inspire him
all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.” In writing from a child’s perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.
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By Derrick Bell
In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school’s hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell’s fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard’s president and all of the school’s black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.
Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell’s And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.Publishers Weekly
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By Peter Edelman
If the nations gross national incomeover $14 trillionwere divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 millionclimbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted forwhile the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.
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By Alek Wek
“When I cleaned toilets, I only saw it as work to give me the means to achieve my goals. Of course I hated it,” the Sudanese supermodel exclaimed. “Waking up at 4 a.m. when it’s freezing cold is not easy, followed by Uni, coursework and my evening baby-sitting job, but it made me disciplined and gave me a huge sense of self-appreciation.”
Born the seventh of nine children Alek, meaning ‘black-spotted cow’ (one of Sudan’s most treasured cows, which represents good luck), never dreamt of becoming a model. Both in her motherland, where she was considered to be inferior due to her Dinka tribe (dubbed as ‘zurqa’, meaning dirty black) and again in Britain when she arrived in 1991, she faced hostility.Jamaica-Gleaner
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.
“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 14 July 2012