A good cultural critic should be observant, honest, and prepared to receive comments that range from agreement to admiration to admonishment. Author, speaker and freelance journalist Meri Nana-Ama Danquah writes, “The View from Here”, a weekly cultural critique found in The Daily Graphic every Friday. Danquah uses personal narrative with a touch of self-depreciation and humor “to get people to look at the various sides of a certain issue and hopefully inspire dialogue about that issue within the community.”
Admiration and Admonishment
Inspire dialogue she does. She once wrote about her dislike for fake flowers and how hard it is to find fresh cut flowers to buy in Ghana even from a florist. To this, one reader commented: ‘You expect too much from life woman!’ Another remarked that the website where her articles are found on the weekend should be publishing something more serious. Danquah laughs in amusement recalling these comments. But whether people approve or disapprove of her views, she remains fascinated by people’s interpretations of her articles and how they embrace it in their own way. “I just kind of am always amazed at the responses that I get.”
Danquah, whose latest anthology, The Black Body, explores the myths, insecurities and intrigue surrounding the bodies of Black folk, is not afraid of offending readers. “When you write non-fiction, you can’t be afraid of offending people… The things you think are safe i.e.) writing about flowers, might be the very thing that pisses somebody off and the things that you think will really upset people, you realize they don’t really care or else they’ll just say ‘thank god you put that.’” She feels that at some point, every writer faces the critical decision of either honoring her creative impulse or being a captive to others’ opinions. “You’ll never really truly write what’s in your spirit to write if you’re always worried about who’s reading it and what they’re going to think.” There is one boundary the author won’t cross which is to use her writing to attack or vilify a particular individual. She says that as long as she’s in line with her moral boundaries she feels comfortable speaking her truth in a responsible and artistic way.
Take me to Part Two