Blog: The Soundboard

Think of Arfaib's blog as a virtual round table. A place for debate, discussion, the coming of minds, where innovation is refined to perfect, where resolve is conceptualized and solutions are calls to action.

At this round table, we are not passive viewers of injustices.  Arfaib is a soundboard, where history is heard in the voice of the non-victor. At this round table we are motivated by the idea that change and social justice is achievable.

How you ask a question dictates how it will be answered.

Monday Call to Action

It’s been a week with Trump in office, 14 Executive Orders, a historic worldwide women’s march, and nationwide airport peaceful protests.  We have been as active as he has, in fact we are still active and here is what you can do to participate.

Call and write your representatives and ask for the following:

1).  A judge in Brooklyn put a stay on Trump’s executive order. Call your Senators ask them to vote in support of this decision, effectively stopping the implementation of the Muslim travel ban.

2) Ask your representatives to support the BRIDGE Act

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have introduced the BRIDGE Act, bipartisan legislation whose intent is to allow people who are eligible for or who have received work authorization and temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to continue living in the U.S. with permission from the federal government.

3) Call to stop Jeff Sessions

On Tuesday congress will vote on Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General. Senator Jeff Sessions once deemed unfit to be Alabama federal judge cannot be US Attorney General. His positions on race, civil liberties, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights will put many in jeopardy. 

When We Accept Bad Behavior

After you read “Is. He. Nice.” Let’s think a little about what it means When We Accept Bad Behavior.

I am less concerned in examining the context of the actor vs. the receiver. I want to think past the binary of who is right or wrong. Rather what it means when we let ourselves die by a 1000 cuts. The snob and the shade we are asked to ignore. The condition it leaves ones state of mind. The position it leaves you when you next have to interact with the giver of the cut, the insult dished cold. It starts to feel like your voice is slowly smothered out. And you feel the pressures of tone policing… and being nice, collegial, sisterly, lady like…professional?

Why is that fair? Where is the equity in that?

My issue is when the responsibility is weighted on the receiver of the insult. The caution game one must play. The power dance between who has subtle and who has obvert power. Where does it really leave us? Resentful. Sad. Overwhelmed. Beaten. Playing silent games until, the straw, that tiny sleight of hand, shady eye roll, the effort to dismiss or disenfranchise, brakes the patient back.

The weight of this dance on the psyche is a clear danger that may lead to an impolite outburst. Few pay attention to the danger of the normalcy built to allow bad behavior: “Oh that’s just who they are”, “Oh she is older and set in her ways” … “culture” … “work style”. ALL EXCUESES, presented as reasons to tolerate the marginalization of your feelings. “You have a right to your feelings” even in the most caring of settings is dismissive. However, I am entitled to equitable respect. When you are asked to ignore bad behavior for the greater good, a priority is set that does not include a place for your …anything, and least your right to respect. It is forged for the preservation of bad behavior, in the land of no respect.

Bad behavior is never a one off offence. In the land of no respect bad behavior has supreme jurisdiction.  It is impunities. It is THE death by a thousand cuts. You bleed out. You bleed out all your patience. You bleed out your self-respect.

You bleed out.

Worse, it validates your worthlessness in the eye of the offender. Every time you ignore bad behavior, even for the sake of politically politeness, it diminishes and soils any good effort.  It condones a culture of bad politics, ego and I-centered-metrics, selfishness. And in any community that is poison.

No workspace can live with it, no marriage or relationship, no family can grow healthy with it, no country can govern properly with it. 

Bad behavior should be checked, not with pettiness, but with reason. Taking the high-road, should not mean accepting bad behavior as “just her way of doing things”. Taking the high-road is without shaming the insulter, reminding them of what is valued and calling to their attention how their action is not inline with the greater mission of the community. To do otherwise is to undermine your foundation and bring resentment across the board. 

it's not about #thedress

So it would appear that the appearance of a dress was THE hot topic via Social Media. Mass consumption confusion, memes and hashtags went viral. It was contagious, no matter how hard you tried minding your own business. #theDress was foie gras and the pretentious amongst us was enlightened. "In a postracal america," said the pretentious facebook friend we all have "this dress is an indicator of how we see each other and finally a reason to talk about colorblindness". 

Such superficial extensional platforms are laughable best. I could not event muster an eye roll because this America, is how society has now chosen to discuss things. This weekend marked the 3 year anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death. There has been no justice and no peace, but there is a dress to help America talk about race issues?

#theDress, however is an indicator of how we engage each other. Tempers and insults flared as people got frustrated trying to understand the perspective of the other. Many waited until the truth of the dress was uncovered by others, so that they can comment on the matter with the certainty of everyone else's opinion behind them. Must we wait to be told what to think? Must we be angered to insults before we understand the topic at hand. Must we oversimplify a matter only to highlight our superior self-examined self-appointed pedestal? 

We popcorn our news and information, and then demand that everyone around us consume it in the same manner. #theDress showed we have no patience for each other. No will, to understand where another is coming from. No compassion, when we find that we are on opposite ends. When we see that our neighbor is standing at an opposite end, we as a society have lost the art and the skill of talking towards a of place of balance and understanding. 

The dress is gold and white, because of the background, and filter, and sometimes the angle of our screen, it can look black and blue if you look too quickly. Everyone is right. 

RIP Trayvon Martin and the too many others to name. 

The Round Table

Because, how you ask a question dictates how it will be answered. 

Think of Arfaib's blog as a round table. A place for debate, discussion, the coming of minds, where innovation is refined to perfect, where resolve is conceptualized and solutions are calls to action.

At this round table, we are not passive viewers of injustices.  Arfaib is a soundboard, where history is heard in the voice of the non-victor. At this round table we are motivated by the idea that change and social justice is achievable.

Something else to hashtag and "care" about.

Approximately 2000 people were murdered by fire in Nigeria. So what is the new hashtag going to be? #NijiaNiMi? Because it is true ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬‪#‎Nigeria‬ included.

I have to ask, are we doing our part to understand the historical content and the failed law/policy implementation that brought us to this point, the institutionalized criminal behavior that soaks the system leaving it waterlogged, sluggish and backed up on justice?

‪#‎Icantbreathe‬ and I can't stand to see when people pick and choose to be involved based on what is trending on social media. Often those people are self promoting. I am however, interested in understanding why elections for decades after ‪#‎Biafra‬-Nigeria civil war are increasingly problematic. Why is Nigeria having such difficulty finding peace throughout its nation? Why has it not found a unified sense of identity, and has not found a resolve for equitable governance. What has been found is the many ways to exacerbate the exploitation of every resource this country has, including its own people. 

-signed ready for resolve ‪#‎Arfaib‬

a recap of Arfaib's launch

On the 31st of May 2014, the vivacious Ms. Nkem Ejoh celebrated her birthday, same day that doubled as the inaugural evening for her company Arfaib. The gods must have heard Ms. Ejoh’s prayers because the weather that evening was auspicious and very beautiful. The venue itself was breathtaking like the host and the dazzling sunset that followed suit made the night all the more magical and a testament that something unique and important, a movement in the words of one of the guest speakers had begun.

The night started off with paying respect and remembering our ancestors and this was made more spiritual by the musical accompaniment of African beautiful drums provided by the artist known as D>tOUr, a young, energetic, up and coming African drummer. The cadence of the drums echoing the rituals of long ago and got some of the guest tapping into their African roots and they started channeling by dancing to the sound of the beating drums. This went on for a while just to get everyone into a spiritual state before the libation was given as a token to our African roots.

Once everybody was loose and comfortable, the birthday gal/company owner and moderator called the event to order by introducing the two guest speakers. On this note it needs to be said that although the night was a double celebration, it was also a night for discussing one of the pertinent international issues unfolding on the continent of Africa especially in Nigeria viz a viz the kidnapping of close to 300 girls by the infamous Boko Haram group that has been terrorizing the northern part of Nigeria for so long.

In light of this, Mr. Michael, Igwebuike Nwaesei, a doctoral candidate, a writer filmmaker that has produced and directed two movies titled “The Tragedies of Adata” and “18 months” spoke about the term “cultural disability”,  a term he had coined when to understand how we relate to one another in terms of our cultural identities. He reminisced about his days as a student and why he being an African wanted to get rid of his accent only to be told by an American that there was nothing wrong with his accent.  He also enthused about the problem inherent in Africans wanting to be Americans and Americans trying too hard to be African.

And this is where the second guest speaker contributed to the conversation. Professor Daniel Black is an Associate Professor at Clark Atlanta University and he is also the author of the books “They Tell Me of a Home” and “The Sacred Place”. Professor Black, a very charismatic gentleman enthused that is it our rights to modify what the ancestors had done. As much as there is tradition, that tradition can also be changed. Times are different he intoned and the circumstances surrounding today are quite different from the instances that brought African-Americans here to the United States. To be African is not a title but a birthright, however understanding that birthright is where most people get lost. The floor was opened up for question and answers and some very interesting questions were asked; that was no surprise given the fact most of the guests were alumni, professors, recent graduates and students of The City College of New York.

The night was brought to a close by Messiah, a spoken word artiste. He spoke about love in all its forms and his poignant words were just the perfect way to bring to a close an otherwise perfect evening.

a letter to my audience

Dear readers and thinkers,

I have always imagined the conversation would be different, if those influenced by an act or a policy had a seat at the table... if their voices were included in the beginning, as power shifts are decided... instead of at the end when those voices become cries of outrage at injustice. It is not enough to have representation, if it is just ceremonial or a symbolic gesture. Through representation at the table is an important step, it is meaningless if all do not have respectively equal stakes in the conversation.

Developing countries particularly those on the continent of Africa, currently hold symbolic seats at the tables where policy is made. Similarly, Africans on the continent, Africans in America (African Americans) and Africans in the diaspora at large across the board are battling for non-symbolic / equitable seats at policy-making-tables. 

I say battle because we are not idol, waiting for handouts, we are actively engaging. There are many diffent vantage points, as all Africans are living a different story, we are united in wanting agency and equity. 

Here, at this roundtable you will hear all our voices and if need be our outcries too. 

Sincerely with love,- Arfaib