New Rules: Hillary, Cut It Out; Ebola for Guantanamo; and More Perks for Black Women at Work

new rules_august 15_cover

Allow me to get my ‘Bill Maher’ on for a moment.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

The ‘Hillary Clinton’ portion of this article was published at The Root on August 15, 2014.

They say much truth is said in jest. Plus, Bill Maher’s on vacation, so allow me.

It’s time for new rules:

1. New Rule: If we ban Ebola patients from the U.S., then we have to shut down Guantanamo and rid Cuba of our detainees.

ebola cuba

Since we’re getting all particular about each nation keeping their cooties to themselves, it’s only fair that we put our Guantanamo prisoners on the first red-eye out of Cuba.

Surely Donald Trump—who tweeted that we should “stop Ebola patients from entering the U.S.”—and all those people sending nasty e-mails to the Atlanta hospital treating America’s two Ebola patients, would understand if Cubans decided to take a page out of their book, and developed a new sensitivity for how they’re a stone’s throw away from the world’s most accomplished terrorists?

And it’s not even that the Donald Trump’s and Ann Coulter’s of the nation have all of a sudden become hypochondriacs. It’s pretty clear that implicit in their concerns is the xenophobic idea that the Ebola virus is a West African disease that ought to be dealt with over there, and not here. Hell, Donald Trump said as much when he caught himself trying to cloak his disgust in compassion, suggesting that the patients ought to be treated “at the highest level,” but, of course, “over there.” Some people just can’t fathom the idea that a foreign pathogen is brewing in our midst. It’s as if the Ebola virus is messing up America’s feng shui, and folks are worried that we don’t have the appropriate device thingy to zap those negative particles away.

I mean let’s not act like America doesn’t have a few “harmful” exports that intrude on foreign lands on a habitual basis. I mean there’s McDonald’s, that horrible twerking sensation and the Kardashian clan’s family vacations.

Plus, with regard to the Guantanamo trade-off, the Cubans were never really fond of us housing our most dangerous criminal minds in the southeastern pocket of their beautiful island. This Ebola crisis gives their argument new ammunition. If we ban our Ebola patients from U.S. shores because Ebola is somehow un-American, then we should exercise a little quid pro quo and show the world that we’re ready to act on our principles by ridding Cuba of our detainees.

So, America, send Donald Trump a huge gift basket for this honor, and make way for the likes of Khaled Sheik Muhammed and Abdul Haq Wasiq because they’re coming to a correctional facility near you.

No more subjecting Cuba to our prison virus.

2. New Rule: Your black female colleagues get to have the big piece of chicken during company outings.

black women at work

And that’s just one of the quick-fix remedies to correct for the travesty that black women make 64 cents for every dollar a white man makes for doing the exact same job—this according to a new study released by the National Women’s Law Center.

Others remedies can include a 4-day work week, her own shelf in the refrigerator, extended vacation time and her own personal assistant.

It’s ironic that these finding have come in light of how some black women have been in the spotlight lately for the ways in which they’re trying to balance being a mother and being a career woman. There’s the South Carolina mom who was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old in the park while she went to work and the Arizona mother who was arrested for leaving her children in her car while she went on a job interview. These women are trying to make a dollar out of the 64 measly cents that they are given, and so it’s no surprise that some of them don’t have enough money to afford adequate child care.

So the next time you see your black female colleague taking a half-day, don’t cry foul or furrow your eyebrows, offer to buy her some lunch, thank her gratuitously for her contributions to the company’s bottom line and bow down.

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Pssst! Here’s a Cheat Sheet for the US-Africa Leaders Summit

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Need some talking points? Make reference to China’s influence, the unrest in South Sudan and Libya, and be sure to throw in, “Did you hear what Hillary said?!” and you’ll be all right.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This article was published at The Root on August 4, 2014.

Africa’s coming to town.

And in a big way. Africa’s movers and shakers are in Washington, D.C., this week to chop it up with President Barack Obama about trade and investment opportunities, politics and the U.S.’s interests in the region’s stability. The 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is the largest gathering of African presidents and leaders ever to meet with a U.S. president.

If you’ve got your eyes on the international stage, then this initiative should be of no surprise. China has been making a killing in Africa. The Chinese had the insight to take Africa seriously as an economic partner when a lot of nations saw the continent more as a humanitarian charity case. Now that Africa’s influence is becoming increasingly important to a lot of countries’ bottom lines and GDPs, Western nations are looking at the Motherland through a new lens.

The festivities start on Monday. Here are some topics to keep in mind when gabbing about the summit at the watercooler or during happy hour as you take in the news reports that’ll trickle out of this three-day affair:

1.) South Sudan’s civil war is ongoing.

United Nations peacekeepers patrol a road in Malakal, South Sudan, as internally displaced South Sudanese people go about their daily routines.

United Nations peacekeepers patrol a road in Malakal, South Sudan, as internally displaced South Sudanese people go about their daily routines.

The civil war in South Sudan is not looking like it’s getting any better. The 2013 fallout between its warring ethnic groups—those loyal to the current president, Salva Kiir of the Dinka tribe, and those loyal to a deposed vice president, Riek Machar of the Nuer tribe—is picking up steam again since the meetings that were supposed to take place last week to drum up solutions were delayed. Apparently both sides are still engaged in off-the-record conversations about the state of the transitional government. South Sudan is a fairly new country—it split from Sudan in 2011 and has been embroiled in ethnic fighting stemming from that succession ever since. That there’s still fighting going on in one of its northern states is not helping move things along.

The United States and Europe threw down the gauntlet by freezing important assets in the country and told both sides that they have until mid-August to form an interim government that has a clear plan for maintaining the peace.

2.) Ebola is refueling Africa’s “image” problem.

Members of Doctors Without Borders put on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated.

Members of Doctors Without Borders put on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, primarily Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have people on edge. In fact the leaders of Liberia and Sierra Leone will be skipping the summit in order to tend to the Ebola outbreaks in their countries. Within the past two weeks, more than 100 new cases were reported in these countries, and two American health care workers who were working in Liberia contracted the virus. Besides the obvious health concerns, one point that is not being discussed, which ought to be, is how this recent outbreak is unraveling the years of work it took to undo the perception that Africa is a diseased continent and that travelers going there should beware.

Unfortunately, for many parts of West Africa, that perception is now a reality.

3.) Libya’s power vacuum has taken a turn for the worse.

Libyans take part in a demonstration in the capital, Tripoli, on July 31, 2014, calling for international intervention to protect civilians.

Libyans take part in a demonstration in the capital, Tripoli, on July 31, 2014, calling for international intervention to protect civilians.

The summit, like most initiatives about Africa, will likely focus on the continent’s sub-Saharan countries, but Libya, an African country that is typically brought up during discussions relating to the Middle East, ought to be on everyone’s minds as well.

Getting rid of a dictator is typically a good thing but the power vacuums that emerge often create bigger problems. It’s been nearly three years since Libya’s former leader Moammar Gadhafi was disposed. But in that time, the interim government has not been able to reign in the various law-enforcement groups that have vied to fill that slot and provide security. The situation has gotten so bad on the ground that several embassies were evacuated—including that of the U.S.—and the United Nations no longer has a strong presence in the region.

There’s been chatter that this is the West’s problem, since Gadhafi’s ousting was heavily influenced and backed by Great Britain and France. Some say the enthusiasm to hold Libya’s hand as it transitions to a sound democracy hasn’t been there, and that lack of support is causing a lot of violence, unrest and confusion on the ground.

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When First Ladies Clap Back: Michelle Obama vs. Hillary Clinton

How their off-the-cuff responses to adversity are a departure from racial stereotypes.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton

First Lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

The LGBT activist who interrupted First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech during a fundraising event in early June said she was “taken aback” by Obama’s reply. Her and everyone else. Obama’s response to that interruption went viral.  A boatload of people shared the heckler’s (Ellen Sturtz) feelings of being startled by the First Lady’s reaction, but more specifically, tickled by the level of directness and candor—yet class—that was cloaked in the response, especially from a—dare I say—African-American woman. Social media commentary convened on the idea that Obama’s comments were a departure from the idea that black women cannot be disagreeable in a tactful manner and that they cannot go on the offensive in a polite way.

It’s also interesting to think about Obama’s response when juxtaposed against one of her predecessors, Hillary Clinton, who also spoke up when her feathers were ruffled. If Sturtz was “taken aback” by Michelle, she would have cowered in the face of an early-90’s, pitbull-in-a-suit Hillary Clinton.

Michelle Obama’s comments were not nearly as snippy as Hillary Clinton’s infamous “I suppose I could have stayed at home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession,”  comments she made to reporters back in 1992, when she and her husband Bill Clinton (then a Governor) were on the campaign trail for the 1992 presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton was on defense about foregoing the route of Mommy-tracking her career in light of her husband’s blossoming one. In an interview with 60 minutes earlier that same year, she ballooned this ballsy woman persona when she said, in a rather curt fashion, “I’m not a woman sitting here standing by my man like Tammy Wynette…if that’s enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him.” Clinton was referring to the country singer’s hit song Stand by Your Man and the idea that she idly stood by while Bill Clinton engaged in extramarital affairs.  If one were to compare those comments against the “Listen to me or you can take the mic…You have one choice” ultimatum Michelle dished out to the LGBT heckler lady, it might not have been clear which statement belonged to the black First Lady (let alone the first black First Lady) and which one belonged to the white First Lady, given the mainstream narratives about how black women and white women perform in the face of adversity. According to pool reports, Michelle considered leaving the event, instead of staying to engage Sturtz’ disruptive behavior—again, a clear departure from what some might expect from a self-proclaimed opinionated black woman.

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