Sunday, December 7, 2014

YOU ARE NOT SNOW WHITE'S STEPMOTHER


I was at the mall a few days ago and I saw a white family; a man, his wife and son. This kid was cute and big enough to even carry a baby brother or sister, if he had any. However, his parents apparently thought that he was pram-worthy so he sat comfortably as the Nigerian housegirl pushed and pulled him around the entire mall. That’s not the point. The point is that the said housegirl looked scrawny and scruffy and of course very sad as she did her job. Well, that’s not exactly the point again; it was apparent that the girl was not well taken care of, as if the racial contrast and class difference were not obvious enough. I was mad. I mean, what was that all about?  My friend couldn’t understand why I was so irked. Maybe it’s the fact that lately, there’s been so much tension surrounding white dominance and the devaluation of black lives to them. Maybe it’s because I looked at the white woman and saw Snow White’s stepmother. I’m sure the parents of the poor girl gave her up enthusiastically, thinking that having their daughter work for an Oyibo man would bring them some fortune. Just maybe…Maybe she’d be looking healthier if she stayed back in the village eating fresh fruits from trees and drinking spring water just as it flows from the belly of rocks. Amidst my complaints, my friend asked me whether I had not seen Nigerian women whose house helps looked just as bad. I knew she was right but this scenario seemed much worse to me at that moment. Somewhere in my head, I blamed black people for treating themselves with so much disdain that these people thought it was okay to treat them in the same way that they treat their brothers. I was so mad because it was so obvious that the poor black girl meant absolutely nothing to them. Again, I blamed us for saying to these people committing so much crime against ourselves that justice is now defined as “crimes against us”.

Today is not for talking about how our skin color makes us seem like better slaves than CEOs. Or how they think we are better off with no air in our lungs than walking on the streets our ancestors worked on with backs bleeding from the whips of white Lords. Today is not for that. We will today talk about mothers who see beings less than human in the faces of other people’s children. We will talk about a practice that is perhaps even more common in the African society than in the western societies.

First of all, I do not want to see your house help and know that that is exactly what she is, except of course she’s putting on a well-tailored uniform with an apron tied to her waist. I do not want to see your kids wearing smart clothes while the fruit of another’s womb is clad in rags as she caters to your munchkins. I do not want to see your children having skins as smooth and glossy as magazine covers while another’s walks around your house with bruises and cuts from your belt or shoes. No, I do not want to look at you and see Snow White’s stepmother because you know what? You are worse than her simply because you are a real life monster human being and she’s not.

I do not what to understand why you would knowingly batter another in every way that you can just to highlight the already present truth that he/she can never mean as much as your kids (who by the way are spoilt) to you. Why would you see the poor and uneducated as a threat to you and your oh-so-royal family when you do not give them the tiniest opportunity to get to where you were ages ago? Why do you feel the need to see another tremble and shudder before you? Are you Karashika? Oh!! And why have you forgotten that what goes around comes back around? Like why will you treat an orphan with so much undeserving hate, forgetting that if you and your husband get hit by a truck while doing your love thing on the streets, the baby in the pram would have the same cross to carry as that battered maid pushing the stroller? What point are you trying to make?

In civilized countries, the average person does not batter their maid or nanny with khoi khoi shoes or with the buckle of their husbands’ belt. They do not go around buttering the private parts of their house helps with pepper because the kids did not eat at 7pm, after the poor housegirl might have begged them for 2 hours while taking the insults being hurled at her by your pretty little darlings. It’s a shame that among ourselves, we create terror for reasons more subtle than skin color. Even that is not enough to treat another like a creature from hell else everything we are hearing today would be justified.

There is no reason…none at all…that makes okay to treat a human being as anything other than that. There is no justification for maltreating your domestic workers just because it feel right to you. Slave trade was abolished for a reason. I am not saying you should take all the crap that these workers bring with them, especially in the African society, I’m saying that you should be civilized while dealing with them. If you’re going going to spank a child for doing wrong, do it as though he/she were your own. Don’t buy your dog KFC chicken while your domestic help feeds on your children’s leftovers. For the record, I knew a man like that. And please, don’t ask your housegirl who weighs less than 4 boxes of cereal to cart around a child who weighs more than a sack of rice and is old enough to wash his socks. He’s not crippled for a reason.


Mothers must learn to do these things right or else their daughters will learn from them and a vicious cycle would be triggered. Charity they say, begins at home. If we are going to fight for ourselves at the global level, we must learn to defend and protect ourselves at home. There is much more beauty in a world filled with kindness and good deeds that reeking of rancor. I know we all want to live fairytales but I think it’ll be better to emulate the sweet-natured princesses or the gracious fairy-godmothers rather than the Ursulas and Snow White’s stepmothers.
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I really want to hear what you guys have to say about this one. Kindly drop your comments below and thanks for stopping by. Cheers!