Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Nomalanga: Are Black Men disabled?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Today, I received a message from a man who described himself as “a disabled black man”. He asked me a very important question in response to some of my posts that talk about what black men want or what black women want. For the purpose of this post, I will call him “G”.

G: what about black men

Me: What about them, G?

G: You wrote about what black women want – well as a black disabled male, I know they do not want disabled males

Because I do not personally know G, I had to assume that he was physically or mentally challenged and that is what he was referring to as “disabled”. This got me thinking; we all have some form of “disability” and “black men” are no different. In addition to that, I believe that black men have a collective “disability” that is unique to them. Through no choice of their own, they have been built into many people’s minds as a threat and every day, they have to overcome that “disability”. The Trayvon Martin case has reminded us that black men and boys can even be brutally killed because of this “disability”.

Here is how I responded to “G”:

I hear you [G]. I think it is important to re-define how people perceive who you call “black disabled males”. Being “black” or “disabled” or “male” are all secondary to being a human being. We all want to love and be loved and all the descriptions come after.

What we all want is for people to see us for who we are; not for what we can be described as. On a personal note, I have spent A LOT of time investing in my personal development and the people who genuinely love and appreciate me do so because of who I am and not what I can be described as.

We are all differently abled and there will always be people who can see past our “disability” and focus on what we are able to do. There is no one on this earth that is still alive that does not have some ability-the fact that we are here is a testament to the fact that we have ability and our own unique ability is our contribution to this life as long as we are alive.

Have a great day, [G]!

Here is the bottom line: The people in this country and the world, at large, are going to have to find a way to see people for who they are (human beings) before they see their “blackness” or any other “ness” that can describe them. We have to start seeing people without using a lense of racism or any other “ism” that we can come up with.

Nomalanga: Miss World announces contestants list-what about the judges?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

It is being reported that a list of 50 winners of national beauty pageants around the world was made public. These 50 are the first of what is expected to be a total of 120 women all vying for the Miss World 2012 title. What I find interesting is that we always know so much about the contestants but so little about the judges.

It makes sense that in order to protect the integrity of the judging process, the international beauty pageants would not disclose the names of the judges but I also think it is reasonable to expect that after the pageants, there should be full disclosure. If there is no transparency in the judging process, we can never be certain that the winner was chosen fairly.

My experience at Mrs World 2011
led me to write a letter to the Mrs World Pageant owners, specifically because the pageant lacked both transparency in the judging process and there was a lack of diversity in the selection of the judges as well. Of the nearly 60 women that entered the Mrs World pageant, there were no less that 12 women who were either African or identified themselves as being of African decent and yet, not one single one made it into the top 14. Of the women that the judges selected to go into the top 14, only Mrs Vietnam (a gorgeous and phenomenal woman) made it in. The problem with this is that the only non-white judge on the judging panel was a Vietnamese woman who is also a former Mrs Vietnam.

I’m saying all this to make one basic point, we need BOTH transparency and diversity in judging international pageants. If pageants are going to define beauty by narrow, euro-centric standards, then it may be best for those that do not fit into those narrow stands to forgo entering the pageants all together. Although pageants are about more than how the women look, it is next to impossible to deny that how the women look is certainly a critical factor in deciding who walks away with the title.

The main reason why I wrote the letter to the owners of the Mrs World pageant is because I believe that the Mrs World did not select a diverse pool of judges and in so doing, they opened most of the Mrs World contestants to an unfair pageant experience.

One thing that I absolutely love about the Miss World (not MRS) pageant system is that their judging system is such that they always have a finalist from every continent or region of the world. That being said, in their history, they have only, to my knowledge, ever had two Black women win the title. Statistically, that is not high enough and I hope that in the coming years, we will see an improvement. Being a finalist and or runner up is great, but black women deserve to wear the crown as well.

Tearing down the wall: Racism and Sexism

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

“The lifting up of the woman does not require the tearing down of the man.” Bishop T.D. Jakes

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people, I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Nelson) Rolihlahla Mandela

I’ve come to realize that often when people speak out against racism, they are viewed as racists. When women speak out about sexism, they are perceived as “man haters”. I can’t speak for anyone else on this matter so I will speak for myself.

The way I see it, racism (and sexism) is this huge, thick wall that I keep running into. My response to the wall is NOT to then go and build another wall that people who are different from me (Non-black people for example) will then run into. My response is to first acknowledge that the wall exists and then explore if the wall exists primarily in my mind or if it exists in reality. I really wish I could say the wall was in my mind because that would mean that I could just deal with my mind and the “problem” would be solved! Just to be clear: more often than not, the wall is real.  I respond to the wall by doing my part to chip away at it and I believe that if enough of us chip away at it, it will disintegrate.

For the rest of my life, I will chip at the wall(s). I will bring attention to the wall and encourage as many people as I can to also chip at the wall and to also bring attention to the wall. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.

Standing up against racial inequalities does not make me a racist; it makes me, among other things, a mother who wants her children to live to their full potential without running into unnecessary walls that degrade and defeat their beautiful minds and spirits. Standing up for women does not make me an “angry feminist” or an “angry black woman”; it makes me, among other things, a woman who wants her daughter , all our daughters, to reach their full potential without constantly running into a wall that tells them that they are less than.

The question that we all need to ask ourselves with regards to racial, gender and other walls, is this: Am I a builder or a chipper?

I am a Chipper. 🙂

Mrs World Pageant Owner responds to letter citing lack of racial diversity

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

A week ago I wrote a letter to Mr. David Marmel, the owner of the Mrs World Pageant.

I got a response from Mr Marmel but I was very disappointed in his lack of acknowledgemnt of the points made in the letter. In my video interview with Your Black World, I discuss why I was not satisfied with Mr. Marmel’s response.

Nomalanga: Why I wrote a letter to The Mrs World Pageant Owners

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

These are the reasons that I wrote the letter:

1. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and skin tones. The judges selection of the Mrs World 2011 finalists did not reflect that.

2. An all white judging panel is less likely to see the beauty in a black women and other non-white women than a panel of judges that has a mix of both white and non-white judges.

3. I believe that because of my letter, the next time that the Mrs World organization holds a pageant, they will diversify their judging panel or they will have a judging system in place that will ensure that they select finalists from very continent or region of the world.

Side note: If they don’t do what I mentioned on point number 3, above, I will be writing them another letter and publishing that as well!

These are NOT the reasons why I wrote-the letter:

1. Mrs. America, April Lufriu did not deserve to win. -In fact, I actually believe that in spite of all the inconsistencies of the pageant, she probably would still have emerged as the winner!

2. I was mad that I did not win. -I have entered more pageants than I can count and have never actually won a national or international title and have never complained because there was a fairness, diversity and transparency in the judging system. I have been a first runner up twice and a finalist in most of the pageants that I entered and each and every time, I graciously congratulated the winner, thanked the organizers and then went on with my life.

Open Letter to Mrs World Pageant Owner, David Marmel

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Dear Mr. Marmel,

I would like to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you for what has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You and your delightful wife planned an experience that made me and the other contestants feel like royalty for the 8 to 10 days that we spent in Orlando, FL this year. The relationships that we built and the memories that were created are gifts that we will carry for the rest of our lives.

My name is Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses, Mrs Botswana 2010/2011 and I was one of the 58 contestants that participated in the Mrs World 2011 pageant. I am writing this letter on behalf of some* of the contestants that identify themselves as being black or of being of African heritage to express our disappointment in the lack of diversity both in your selection of judges as well as their selection of the top 14 contestants on finals night.

I will not assume that you are as aware as we all were that there was not a single black woman or a woman of African descent/heritage amongst the top 14 contestants and I am writing to bring this shocking detail to your attention. On the night of the finals at Mrs World 2011, shortly after the announcement of the top 14, several women voiced their disappointment at the way they were so grossly insulted by the blatant disregard of their presence in the pageant as well as the lack of acknowledgment that black women are beautiful, accomplished and worthy of consideration of the Mrs World crown. My suggestion was that upon our arrival back home, we should take a dignified approach to making you aware of our concerns regarding the issue of the top 14 not including any woman who is either African, black or identifies herself as having African heritage. That is the purpose of this letter.

Mr. Marmel, the omission of the above mentioned women in the top 14 makes such a strong statement that I feel that I would be remiss if I did not bring it to your attention; it says that no African woman is beautiful enough to be Mrs World; it says that our foundations, charities and the causes that we are passionate about are not important enough; it says that the Mrs World organization has such a narrow definition of beauty that we have no hope of ever fitting into it.

My research has found that in the history of the Mrs World pageant, no African woman or woman of African descent has ever won the pageant and to my knowledge, they have never even been in the top 3. I was told that the reasoning for this was that the pageant historically did not draw a large enough pool of women of color but I was present this year and I saw for myself that there was a large enough pool! I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most beautiful women that I have ever seen and amongst them were some intelligent, accomplished, passionate and gorgeous women of color!

My intention, being the first ever contestant to represent Botswana, was to then go back to Botswana and initiate a Mrs Botswana pageant and have a conversation with you about how I or another Motswana can become a country director. At this point, I feel that I cannot in good faith hold a pageant, prepare one of our most beautiful and accomplished Motswana women and then send her to Mrs World, knowing that she would be subjected to the same treatment that the black woman of the world were subjected to this year at the Mrs world pageant.

Mr Marmel, please be aware that these are not the angry ramblings of a discontented woman (or group of women) who feel(s) sour that she or they did not win. I am a woman who has a history of giving young women of color a voice, both in Botswana and in America. (I am married to a man who was born and raised in America.) This past semester I designed and piloted a college level course designed in the learning community seminar model to explore issues of women of color. Among these “issues” is a lack of recognition for our type of beauty and a lack of recognition of our accomplishments and the hard work that we do. I have a blog, that I created to take part in the redefinition of black women. Part of that redefinition is speaking up when we see issues that need a voice and doing it with grace and dignity. I am in the process of building a foundation in Botswana that will encourage the education of young Batswana, especially girls. I cannot remain silent when the most prestigious pageant for married women, whether intentionally or not, makes such a loud and deafening statement that black and/or African women do not have a place among the top 14 most beautiful and most accomplished women in the world.

My request, Mr. Marmel is that you make a statement that assures us that the selection of a top 14 that omitted black women at Mrs World 2011 was not the intention of the Mrs World organization. We would like some reassurance that the next time that the Mrs World organization holds a pageant; you will take deliberate actions to ensure that the judging panel is reflective of the diversity that exists among the women that are entering the pageant. We also suggest that the process of selection is more inclusive in that it is deliberately designed to select a minimum of one contestant from every region or continent of the world.

I would like to conclude by emphasizing that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your lovely wife. I believe that it took a lot of hard work, focus and talent to establish the Mrs World organization and develop it to its stature and I’m sure that you are just as concerned about its image as I am. I would also like to acknowledge Mrs America as one of the most amazing women that I have ever met and emphasize that this letter is not in any way written to criticize her or imply that she did not deserve the crown. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the pageant staff who were a remarkable group of people to work with. Once again, I thank you, Mr. Marmel and your wife, Elaine, for what has been a life changing experience.


Mrs. Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Mrs. Botswana 2010/2011, Miss Botswana 1997-First Princess

*Please contact me for a list of contestants that endorse the writing of this letter

Mindful Mornings: Do Black people complain too much?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about President Obama supposedly chastising black people for complaining too much and it got me thinking about an experience I had not too long ago.

Recently, I was standing outside of another faculty member’s office, at the college, engaged in a conversation with two colleagues who are both “African American”. The colleague whose office I was standing by was a “white” male who then stepped out of his office, locked it and then walked away. A few minutes later he comes back and then as he is unlocking his office he apologizes to me for locking his office and insists that he normally locks his office and is not locking it because I’m “black”. He goes on to tell me that he hopes that I’m not offended that he locked his office. My response was “No, not at all.”

Now, I have to admit, I found the whole experience very weird! I then began to think: Do “black” people complain so much that now we have “white” people walking on eggshells and hoping that they don’t do or say anything that may be construed as racist? Was the President right to, so called, chastise “black” people for complaining? Let me know what you think.

The View’s Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg respond to Psychology Today’s apology

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Yesterday, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd of the popular daytime show, The View, responded to Psychology Today’s apology for publishing an article that reported that black women were the most unattractive women of any race. Satoshi Kanazawa, a self proclaimed ‘evolutionary psychologist’, posted the study entitled ‘Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?’.

Whoopi Goldberg pointed out that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, while Sherri Shepherd, among other things, mentioned that she felt it was detrimental to young black women who may take the study as the truth about who they are. Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s main question was “why publish the study in the first place?”

I am of the opinion that this is yet another attack on the image of black women. It is up to us to consistently push back every single time that there is an attack of this kind. Just because these kinds of attacks have been going on for centuries, does not mean that we should allow them to continue. In fact, the very reason that we need to put an end to it is because it has been going on much too long.

Watch the clip of the women of The View at

Racism within a race; dark vs. light skinned girls

Friday, May 27th, 2011

I just watched a sad but insightful video  about “dark skinned girls” and was amazed by how much the women who were part of the documentary were so negatively affected by their skin tone.

What stands out to me the most is that every single one of those women was in pain because she felt like her skin tone defined her as ugly. Their pain is a result of what society has collectively agreed defines beauty and that, in many black communities, means being light skinned which then as a default means that being dark skinned translates to being ugly.

I remember some years ago, one of my aunts jokingly remarked that I was not all that beautiful but appeared so because I was lighter skinned. I remember, in my childish ignorance, thinking how “lucky” I was that I was not as dark as she was. Years later, I find it almost laughable that we even had that conversation but the sad truth is that for a lot of people, in black communities, those kinds of conversation are not a thing of the past. How dark or light a black woman is is still a very relevant topic.

In recent years, I find that so much emphasis is being placed on recognizing “chocolate sisters” as beautiful which is great but it seems as though in an effort to appreciate the “chocolate” we are now suggesting that “caramel” is not as beautiful or “exotic”.

Here is the bottom line: How “chocolate” or “caramel” a woman is only as important as we collectively agree that it is. It is up to us to cultivate a  culture where we are able to look past surfaces  such as skin tone or color.

How long are we going to allow our minds to be raped by false beliefs? I say NO MORE!!!

Take a look at the video here: Dark Girls