Rhetorical shots have been fired by Ghanaians who take issue with the twit pic of poor children Amber Rose posted during her recent trip to Ghana. Ghanaians have a right to be exhausted with media stereotypes about Ghana that laser in on poor, barefoot children. But that is no excuse for using a double standard that seems to be rooted in a gender bias and not recognizing Rose for her positive contributions.
“What I have noticed about Africa since I have been here” Rose said in a YouTube interview which also apologized for how Ghanaians may have received the picture, “is it’s either extremely rich or extremely poor, there is no middle class.”
A Ghanaweb article pounced on Amber for committing the cardinal sin when an African country is the topic of discussion: making a generalization about Africa when one’s experiences are usually based in one country. It is also clear that Rose’s absolute statement about Africa’s middle class — or lack thereof — didn’t help matters. Still, Rose is undeserving of having her credentials reduced to a relationship that is black history or being called “cheap.” Rose may be on to something in her recent WhoSay entry when she called folks out on what she feels is a double standard regarding gender. Before folks dismiss Rose outright, consider the ultimate pass R&B singer Mario received after acting a fool this July.African American R&B singer Mario recently visited and dedicated seven consecutive tweets to objectifying the butts of Ghanaian women. Mario joked on twitter that he would tweet a picture of “a real African ass” to his followers and the worst of his tweets read — sans lol — “Tmrw MTO [Media Take Out] gone read : Mario stuck in Africa on ass harassment charges…” Searching the net, I couldn’t find one critic that cared enough to remind Mario that Africa had 54 countries, including South Sudan, or that the sexual objectification of black women is not a laughing matter.
Rose’s trip on the other hand involved her making an economic impact, especially on the lives of low-income people, women, and girls. She has used her physique to raise the profile of Ghanaian women fashion designers such as Kayda Nana Afriyie Frimpong of KNAF Couture, a clothing line that helps women “accentuate their figures.” Despite the fact that her picture of poor children has come under fire, some would do well in remembering that it was meant to illustrate a day she spent feeding poor children and interacting with locals.
Her apology video also notes that in her visit to the Islamic all-girl school she stressed to girls that their investment in human capital was “the most important thing in life.” This is especially important in a country where only 34 percent of adult women have a high school or college degree compared to 83 percent of men. In a blog post, she explained that she identified with these girls because she grew up poor and can relate to those who dropped out of school to provide for their families.
I am not saying give Rose a pass if she extrapolates about an entire continent from a few car rides in one country. But blog posts featuring personal attacks do little to bolster the image of Ghana or Ghanaians. In fact, this tactic is just as reductive as the notion that an entire continent doesn’t have a middle class. Further, Rose’s treatment of late and her resistance against it, deserves a second look from feminists considering the context of how other similarly situated men have been treated.