The Seniors/Elders in the Rider-Waite Tarot

There are only 4 seniors/elders in the Rider-Waite deck. I have a soft spot for elders, I have Saturn in my natal 1st house, and I’m not surprised that I intentionally chose to seek out the old in my deck.

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The first man is Baba Arugbo- the Emperor. I like to call him O̩bàtálá because he shares very significant characteristics with the father of the “òrìs̩à”s. He is wise, and he is a good leader/ruler. There are several lessons to learn from him, including his courage, sense of judgement, and wisdom. If one is too big to serve, one is too small to lead; a good leader is a servant.

If you look behind his throne, there’s a small, blue stream that runs behind him. This tells me that although he is logical, methodical, disciplined, dedicated, and meticulous, he is not heartless. He is an experienced and balanced person, and a balance between one’s thoughts and emotions is necessary when one is in a position of power/authority. 

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The second is The Hermit. This is an elder who probably lives alone, or has a place where he likes to go/sit alone in order to ponder on some things- the kind that you’d frequently visit or call for words of wisdom/advice. He is a writer too, and Baba Wole Soyinka/Araba Ifayemi Elebuibon always come to my mind whenever I see him. He is a wise sage, a knowledgable man, a seer. He is analytical and insightful, and unlike The Fool that he was when he was younger, when he was seeking to explore everything and anything, he has a decent sense of direction, and a desire to not just spread his knowledge but acquire more. He is a life-long learner.

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The third is the old man in the 10 of Pentacles, sitting by the corner. The cloak that he’s wearing tells me who he is- The King of Pentacles! He spent almost all his life gathering up his luxury/wealth, and him being included in the 10 of Pentacles tells me that he had a lot to do with the wealth that the nuclear family in the image has- he has a lot of possessions that his generations would continue to inherit.

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Something tells me that he was once dirt-poor [5 of Pentacles], and perhaps, the woman he loved left him for a wealthier man. I think of it as slightly similar to a Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” situation, but not necessarily- his situation was not as sad in the end, as we can see. You have to forgive me, I’m Neptunian; I may be totally wrong.

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I don’t think the King of Pentacles was born rich though. This is a man that had to work himself silly to become a King.

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The 6 of Pentacles indicates that he tried to beg but he didn’t receive; he was not fairly or humanely treated by the self-righteous person he was asking for help from. He tried his hands on certain things that did not work out or yield the kind of results that he hoped for; he went through frustrations- 7 of Pentacles. He contemplated on what to do next, and he began the business that made him wealthy- 8 of Pentacles. There’s a smile in the 8 of Pentacles; it’s so heartwarming.

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The woman wearing red in the 10 of Pentacles is the one in the 3 of Cups- she’s Fitzgerald’s Daisy and Adichie’s Kosi- as long as she’s married to a rich man and she has a life of luxury, she’s good. She’s not the King of Pentacles’ daughter; she’s the one the King’s son married.

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The fourth, the one I worry about, is the old woman in the 9 of Swords. She is filled with regret, as you can see. She’s not really depressed to me, as much as I would like to go with other interpretations and state that she is; at this point, it’s not really an emotional thing. Depression seems like a ready-made, go-to answer for what’s going on, but it isn’t depression. When I look at the 5 of Cups and the 9 of Swords, I see vast differences. For the 9 of Swords, this isn’t really an emotional thing as much as it is a mental thing.

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She is sitting upright with her face in her palms, and she has a flowery [roses] blanket that indicates desire, so she’s okay right now, but she’s sad about a past occurrence that probably involved the unfulfillment of a desire or two. To understand the present, one has to look to the past. At a point, she lived a very restricted/limited life- 8 of Swords.

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Why? Well, let’s examine the card before the 8 of Swords. The 7 of Swords had something to do with it. He’s holding 5 Swords and leaving 2. He’s manipulative/secretly doing something/winning in his game, and leaving the 2 of Swords to believe their truth- hold their swords to their chest and refuse to see the light/reality [in the negative sense]. The bed the old lady is sitting on has a wood etching of someone being slain by a sword, and this confirms that someone did her wrong in the past.

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After a major separation that I had with someone, that I now know was for my own good, I used to be the 9 of Swords. I would wake up in the middle of the night from stressful dreams/have flashbacks. I would wish that I did not do certain things when I did them, or wish that I had, when I should have done them. At that time, I would see the other person in my dreams, and in those dreams, I would try, for a long time, to make them look into my eyes, but to no avail. 

For this old lady, it could have been domestic violence, or being lied to, or being extorted, or being emotionally and mentally manipulated, or being made to feel inferior so someone else could have the upper hand.  This old lady wishes she had known then, what she now knows. All in all, it indicates unfulfilled desires, desires for love, desires for winning in life, desires for happiness, satisfaction, and contentment. 

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Control-versy

ControlversyEven among three friends, a friend could turn the second friend’s back against the third friend, and the third friend’s against the second. It’s not impossible to report that someone has done something they haven’t done, or they mean something they don’t mean, by changing the narrative(s) to suit one’s interest.

Public and private interests have used controversy as a means of control many times in history- turn the light-skinned blacks against the dark-skinned blacks, turn the Caucasians against the Africans, by pushing a narrative that promotes one as the enemy and the other as the protagonist, especially in the media. Call it “control-versy”. What does it all result in? Xenophobia, discrimination, racism, hate, irritability, and fear.

That way, the people turn against one another, not the elites who really are in power, the 1% who have 99% of the wealth on earth (while many starve to death; isn’t it a shame?), who would take jobs to other countries (rather than create employment in both countries) so they could pay the barest minimum to their workers, who are more interested in gaining more wealth, more power and/or more fame, to suit their interests.

How much money is enough money? If your goal in life is to make $1 billion, if you can’t really think beyond the fact that life is futile, you will die at the end of it all, and the well-being of the people that are not in your position matter too, matter just as much, you would discover that the $1 billion would not give you as much satisfaction as you hoped after a while, so you’ll begin to seek means of making $2 billion, even if it means cheating others, destroying the lives and withdrawing the comfort of your fellow human beings, and directly/indirectly controlling others, while portraying a “good man” narrative.

Two “powerless” black and white members of the working class turn against one another, because one thinks the other is responsible for his unemployment, and the other for his oppression. While they do so, the person who is really responsible for their problem, who has pushed the narrative that the white is superior and he ought to fight for “his place” over the black, or that the black should not be hired because he is not trustworthy (and so the black is forced to do illegal things for survival) is sipping a well-made smoothie in Sun Valley or Cancun, living his best life.

Control-versies are created and promoted everywhere, even in entertainment, to keep the people busy, to get people riled up against one another, while ignoring the real issues, the real factors, and the real actors. It’s a crying shame.

Is Sex Work Work?

Sex and Sex Work

Sex Work: Rethinking the Job, Respecting the Workers by Colette Parent et. al. and Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work by Melissa Gira Grant are a few of my favourite books right now. Why? Well, you’re about to know.

To begin with, they make you question everything you think you know about prostitution. Is it the sex itself that is disgusting, ’cause whether you are sucking dick (I beg your pardon) for money or not, you are still sucking dick? Perhaps, it is the fact that money is often involved, but if you have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend and they offer you money afterwards or buy you items that you request or do not request for, have you suddenly become a prostitute? Perhaps, it is the sleeping with many men/women aspect that is absolutely distasteful, but many people have sex with many men and/or women for free. As a matter of fact, they have more sex than sex workers themselves. So, what exactly about the job is out of the ordinary? Why then is sex work/prostitution criminalized in many places?

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Playing the Whore briefly mentions how marriage boosts the sex trade, funnily enough. Many men and women get married and feel like they’re missing out on certain things, they feel terribly constrained by societal norms and standards, so they patronize sex workers. Many of them don’t get mistresses because they often anticipate some sort of commitment, and they (the engaged or married men and women) already have partners that they are committed to. A sex worker, on the other hand, would most likely not need any form of structured commitment, or expect their client to leave their wife or husband for them. You get the idea.

It is important to note that sex workers are not just prostitutes- pornography actors/models, strippers, escorts, massage-parlour girls, cam girls, and so on, are all sex workers, providing different kinds of sexual services. So, if you, as a married person, have ever watched a pornographic CD or visited any of the free/premium pornographic websites, perhaps, with your spouse, the aforementioned would include you. Haha!

The fact that people do not pay for their pornography contributes to the precariousness of the actor/model’s work. They get paid once for a scene and never again, they do not own the license to the video that is made, and for many years (or forever), the sex worker continues to please everyone for free, while getting terribly shamed/attacked for it.

Why would a person want to do sex work? Well, why would anyone want to work at all? People choose to work for money, for fame, for connections, for a sense of freedom and independence, and for pleasure. The same reasons apply to sex workers. A person does not need to be a sex worker to be involved in the sex trade- directors, light men, location managers, script writers, make-up artists, and so on, can be involved in the sex trade without performing sexual services.

Sex work is highly precarious, just like many other jobs. In pornography, for instance, if a worker is not constantly trying other sex-trade spheres, and doing new things, they could very quickly be forgotten. In stripping, there would always be someone with a bigger butt, or someone who can dance better. There’s competition and promotion all of the stuff you find in other work spheres in the sex industry.

The authors of the two books expose you to how the police dehumanize women, some men, members of the LGBTQ community, who are involved in sex work. They are abused more by the police than their clients in many parts of the world, even in the United States, and there are oral and written surveys and whatnot in the books to prove it. The police doesn’t come to the sex workers’ aid at all or quickly when they need help because they blame them for choosing to have sex for money in the first place. It is worse for transgender men and women; many members of the police force intentionally pick on them or try to break them for fun. It’s even worse in theoretically non-democratic countries. As the saying goes, “power destroys, absolute power destroys absolutely”.

Although straight men are involved in sex work too, young/old men who work as escorts for sugar mummies and such, or work as pornography actors/models, they are almost never viewed in the same light as women. 

The authors don’t necessarily praise sex work itself or deem it a hundred percent wonderful because of the many risks that are involved- being abused by pimps and clients, the fact that a condom can slip off and the worker could get a disease and all that, exploitation, especially with non-independent sex workers, and so on- but they implore you to call off your old, tired ethics. Religion often forces people to see many things and many people condescendingly, especially the major world religions, but call it off, as far as consensual sex work is concerned.

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By Michael Escoffery

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “trafficking in persons is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” A person can be trafficked in their home country or across borders- farmers, live-in caregivers, and labourers are trafficked on a daily basis, not just prostitutes, which is terrible.

The face of the trafficked sex worker is often the face of the people who have willingly chosen to provide sexual services to other people for a living, especially in popular discourse and in the media, and it is quite unfair. If you must feel bad for anyone, feel bad for the factory workers who kill sentient animals inhumanly for a living, or for the McDonald’s worker who stands all day, working from 9 am-5 pm everyday for survival, basically, or for the person who moves stuff around all night (food, flowers, whatever needs to be moved in the respective company) in a cold room, shivering and struggling not to fall asleep. If you must save anyone from their work, save those workers. Nobody wants to do those jobs, and they are not necessarily more “respectable” than sex work in essence, but they do them for survival.

No? Are you convinced that there are people who really want to stand and act (like they really, ever so really care about the customers) at McDonald’s or Tim Hortons or one of the call-centers all day for survival? If you are, that a person has chosen to do sex work should not surprise or upset you either, should it? 

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By Michael Escoffery

The authors discuss the fact that sex work is not all about intercourse. It may involve acting and fulfilling fantasies. Many of the married men and women who patronize the industry can get all the intercourse they want from their spouses or boy/girlfriends if they have them; it’s not all about that.

They compare sex work to any other kind of job that requires the provision of a service; they mention that sex work is the world’s oldest profession. Sex workers may not always be victims, and they make us realize that. 

Apparently, sex work is saving marriages; I didn’t even know that before I read the books. Basically, you don’t need to divorce your wife/husband, or be with someone else physically to be with someone else, whether through porn and cam sites or whatnot. You masturbate to another woman or man, for free sometimes, like I mentioned earlier, many times, through the mainstream sites, and you’re good. You love your wife/husband again, and you’re satisfied. You don’t think you’ve cheated on her/him, and you don’t feel as bad. Or, if your wife would not do anal or try something you read about or saw with you, whether or not it involves intercourse, you call upon your favourite strumpet to do them with you, and you go home, kiss your wife/husband, and enjoy your marriage again. Haha! 

Sex Worker

By Michael Escoffery

We love sex work when it’s on our screens. We love Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and all the stereotypes, especially when the prostitute (or any other sex worker) is portrayed as a strong, independent person in Hollywood movies. As soon as someone proudly describes herself as a prostitute or sex worker or stripper, we go “woah”. The woman of our dreams and fantasies now suddenly becomes a terrible, demonic or disgusting woman. At that moment, we suddenly detest prostitution and sex work.

The word “prostitute” itself is still considered very terrible, and many would sometimes use it as an insult to women who are not involved in sex work. Ashewo, which means prostitute, is used as an insult to women very often by misogynistic men in Nigeria, for instance.   

If we don’t go “woah” with disgust, we begin to feel sorry for them- it wasn’t their choice, they were probably forced to join the trade, maybe they had a bad childhood, maybe they were abused. We really don’t care if they had a bad childhood whenever it’s time to jerk off. For some reason, we care so much about it when it’s time to discuss prostitution in public spaces; some people who have sex begin to look down on other people who have sex. Haha! It makes no sense.

Again, the authors don’t praise or glamourize sex work, it has its own challenges, just like any job- customers/clients may insult you, bosses may look down on you, you could slip and fall to death, or have your fingers sliced off by a machine at the flower factory where you work, someone might report you or leave you a bad review, to mention a few.

However, they did not fail to mention that making sex work illegal has contributed to the harm that sex workers suffer around the world. Sex work, mainly prostitution, is criminalized in many places, and just like any illegal job, the security of a person who is involved is often badly affected.

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Sex workers are often harassed by the police for having condoms, and for that reason, many do not move around with condoms while soliciting for clients, so they won’t be charged for an offence. The clients may not have condoms, and so the sex worker is left with no choice but to have raw sex with them, many times, to their own detriment, and that of their clients, as far as the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases is concerned. The client may infect the sex worker. If the client or worker then becomes ill, the state spends money on them- money that would have been diverted to other things, if that situation was prevented, if the police had treated the sex worker with enough dignity and respect to let them have all the items they need for their work.

Those who have condoms hide them in their wigs and private parts to avoid being arrested; that’s inhumane.

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There are grey areas in morality and societal standards, and it’s quite interesting. It’s okay to be in a pant and bra in a Victoria Secret’s collection [for money] but it’s not okay to wear just those on your Facebook profile. The society is highly hypocritical when it comes to the body and what is to be done with it.

I can’t possibly cover everything that was discussed in the books, so I’ll stop here. Some of the points that I have addressed are additions to the ones mentioned in the book. I barely covered the books; I could go on and on. A must-read for every feminist (especially second-wave feminists who tend to condemn sex work more than the third-wave feminists) or person who is interested in the facts regarding sex work, is what those books are. I read both books simultaneously.

THIS IS NOT A PAID REVIEW.

How Do They Destroy the Blacks?

“I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. The Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
-“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr., 1963.

Green Nose

The elites know what they are doing with the African-Americans, and you have to think beyond man-made laws and policies to understand. A President sits in his office, snorts coke and smokes pot, and it’s totally fine, but not for everyone.

It has been really hard for Michael, an African-American, to get a job because he is often profiled as unsuitable for certain positions, not just because of the colour of his skin and the way he speaks, but because he’s just not disciplined and ambitious enough to push against  and through societal stereotypes. His priorities in life are his Jays, his chains, his grillz, and some cash, so he results to selling marijuana and some drugs.

Why? Well, he grew up in a dysfunctional home. He has had very little or no contact with his father because his father is in jail, and his mother’s focus is mainly on survival than on Michael’s psychologically well-being. Michael did not realize as a child that his purpose in life did not revolve around making mixed tapes, playing football, buying sparkling trash and hitting the club.

Michael has been arrested, and he’s on his way to jail too. He already has a son. His girlfriend is now a single mother, and his son, in a few years, wouldn’t even know how to describe his father.

Michael will die in jail. Micheal’s son, Chris, will not learn the average family values, like discipline and the need for ambition. There most likely will not be a proper dad or dad-figure for Chris to look up to.

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The rich get richer because they make themselves and their descendants rich. They teach them the importance of maintaining dominance, of saving. They give their sons small loans of a million dollars or positions at Goldman Sachs after sending them to the best schools. The poor will get poorer; Chris’ mother will be too focused on survival than on training Chris. One thing will lead to another; Chris will replace his father in one of the correctional institutions. The cycle will continue.

“C’est la vie”, but it shouldn’t be. This is just one scenario. Robbery, murder, abuse/molestation, and all sorts of vices often stem from the disruption of Black families. When you disrupt the family, voila!

Dysfunctional families are so functional for the very few who have it all mapped out. That is just one of the means to the desired end. Even when he does nothing wrong and he simply minds his business, the Black man could still be killed. The Few in charge are ruthless. By any means necessary, they cling to power and control, and they’ll make sure that it never slips out of their hands. Slavery was once legal. That something is legal or illegal doesn’t mean it is so for the well-being of everyone involved.

There is more to any society than you can see on your televisions and radios. Enough said.

 

Class Injury

Black Girl

“Girl in the Window” | Prudence Heward

It’s almost hypocritical for me to write about the struggles of the working class- I try as much as possible not to say “lower” because of the negative connotations that are often associated with the word. I’m a citizen of two countries; I’m in the university, and I’m okay, health-wise. I am a little girl’s dream come true- me, I’m the little girl. I did not state that I “was” the little girl for a reason; our little, inner selves never just disappear, even when our bodies change.

My parents were in the lower-middle class, status-wise, when I was growing; they were both lecturers. In reality, although we had an “okay” house and at least one functioning car, and my brothers and I went to good schools, we were still members of the working class. I used to daydream a lot more than I do now- there were a good number of excursions and items that I wished I could afford. Don’t get me started on the inferiority complex that I suffered from too. I wore my mum’s hand-me-down’s majorly.

I did phone-call business for my mum (20 naira per min.) and sold recharge cards under an MTN umbrella with two chairs. I sold pure-water and “minerals” (pop)- I hawked for a day around my house and never did it again; I preferred to sit. Then we got a small kiosk and I began to sell more stuff till my dad completed his building of proper shops. Men would pull my growing breasts back then, when I wasn’t looking. It made me angry and resentful- I was like 11 or 12- but I learnt the art of sucking things up very quickly.
I used olo– grinding stone- to grind peppers, fetched water, used wood or coal to cook whenever we ran out of kerosene, and all. My life wasn’t the hardest. People who lived close to me were not very wealthy either- “a face-me-I-face-you” apartment building, one ile-alamo– clay house… it wasn’t the fanciest neighbourhood. Thinking back to how people used to stare at me in envy like I was some princess, we (my family and I) really were local champions.

The Janitor

“The Janitor Who Paints” by Palmer Haden

We don’t celebrate the working class enough, hence, the urgency that people place on being wealthy. You’re nobody in the society except you are rich or can pretend to be. It has gotten worse with the advent of the social media- there is this desperate, adoration-seeking urge that people have to display a level of wealth/influence.

Class injury sits with you in different ways: One way is that you feel uneasy in upper-class settings when you become a member of the middle-upper or upper class. You miss the joys, the struggles and the pain that came with being in the working class, and you feel like something is missing in your life, or you don’t deserve to be where you are, or you feel guilty/bad because some people are not enjoying life as much as you are.

Another way that it manifests is that you try to get away from the people you used to be like as much as people, even members of your own family- you don’t want to be reminded that you used to be poor. You don’t want to remember the struggles, the hurt, and the societal “shame” that you used to experience. I see people like that a lot on social media. “I’m not poor, and I don’t sit with the poor” type thing.

I’m still a member of the working class; I came into the country that I currently live in some winter ago, with a few clothes and some books, and there has been no drastic, overnight, lottery-winning change in my life.

Class shapes every aspect of our lives, and those of our descendants, and I find it quite interesting; our society and inequality are pari passu, and we’ve been taught that it’s okay. Even if you are not part of the 1%, don’t be at the bottom among the 99%.

In conclusion, the point of this whole epistle is- while you struggle and hope for better days, you should be proud of yourself and your class. You are not a failure if you are not rich, and you’re not inferior either. It’s easier said than done, but be grateful for what you have, and find joy in the little things.

Stand tall and proud wherever you go; don’t put yourself down for anyone, and don’t let anyone put you down. Acquire new skills, develop yourself, and be innovative, not necessarily because you thirst to be one of the 1%, but because you want to build yourself and contribute your quota to your society. A line from Badlands goes like this- “poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king is never satisfied…” 

Fattening

Ilè̩ n je̩ ènìyàn.

A farmer plants and reaps his harvest.
He places seeds into the ground
and gets food in return.
Then he gives 99% of his food
to the ones who sit on the highest chairs.

Ilè̩ n je̩ ènìyàn.

One day, the ones who sit on the highest chairs
will be placed into the ground too,
properly buried, like mere seeds,
six feet under the ground,
but they will not grow back.
They will become food for the earth.

Ilè̩ n je̩ ènìyàn.

The earth feeds them,
then it eats them.

Too Rich to Give

Poverty in the Midst of Plenty (1939)

Poverty in the Midst of Plenty (1939) by Gerard Sekoto

A poor man wakes up feeling hungry and useless.
A rich man prefers to have his meat boneless.
The poor man eats out of the rich man’s bins, homeless.
The rich man blames him for it, but the poor man is faultless.

Poor man only wants some food; he’s harmless.
He has told rich man many times- it’s countless.
He needs rich man’s attention; he’s helpless,
but rich man doesn’t care, he’s loveless.

Does wealth make a person heartless?
Someone, tell me, ’cause I’m clueless.
Does it kill a person’s sense of fairness?
Does it make a human being think less?

The Representation of the Working Class in the Media

Peasant with a Wheelbarrow by Jean Francois Millet

“Peasant with a Wheelbarrow” by Jean Francois Millet

Nollywood movies, to begin with, are now increasingly becoming movies for the rich. Look at the “normal”, sophisticated settings that are used for the produced plays- beautiful sofas, expensive paintings, large compounds, one or more workers, expensive clothes, suggestions/mentions of easy access to foreign countries… I don’t need to keep counting. The actors, who often are members of the working class in essence themselves, tend to promote the upper-class as ideal.

The realities of working-class families are barely ever represented, and when they are, they are presented as comedies- situations to be laughed at or mocked- lots of children, dirty wives and numerous exchange of words. Gatemen or security guards, in Yoruba Nollywood movies, to be specific, are represented as extremely retarded. Even when they suffer gross levels of workplace abuses, the audience is tempted to even insult them more, and laugh- “ha ha ha”.

When these realities don’t appear as a comedy, they are presented as pitiful- a character is presented as either suffering so terribly, experiencing an illness or the death of a loved one, or as being very close to death, and suddenly, by the end of the movie, they would “magically” [usually by some sort of unrealistic luck] become members of the upper class.

"Bouquet' by an unknown artist

Being a member of the working/lower class is seen as extremely pathetic; something to be avoided at all cost. No honest, hard-working member of the working class is ever presented as truly happy. They never enjoy the joys of being with family; they never go to parties as normal people or possess dignity in their labour. They are only made to serve the rich in many plays; their own achievements- no matter how “little” or “basic” they might be to the members of the upper class- are never shown/celebrated, until, of course, they become members of the upper class.

Even when the working-class members of the audience can relate to the produced stories, they often find it really hard to relate to the rich settings and everything else that they are presented with.
No one is taking the bus except they are about to be kidnapped; no one is in the market buying foodstuff; no one is wearing simple clothes… It does terrible things to the subconscious in the long run- feelings of worthlessness, to begin with.

The general media is becoming more race-conscious and class-blind (in the aforementioned way), and it’s sick. It’s quite sick.