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The more killed, the braver the Black womxn – they say.

The world knows of the Black womxn. But not understanding what I am about – doesnt give me the respect and seriousness I deserve.

I am Black and I am a womxn. Theres serious limitations in both, but I am a person too. I cant let anybody decide who I am. That’s slavery.

My low expectations on the world and my devotion to myself centres me and elavates me to a higher place.

Im learning that while your sympathy might shield me, it does not strengthen me. And why should it? Why’s that your job and not my own?

I don’t know any soft Black womxn. Not my mother. Not her mother or my greatgrandmother. Why should I be the first?

I need to be that person who will never again need rescue. Wishing will not make this happen. Neither will blame. But thinking might. If I don’t respect and empower myself, why should anybody else?

Dont be sorry for me. Dont tell me not to cry. Why shouldn’t I? I can be miserable if I want.

Stop telling Black womxn what to do!

I’m as sad as I ought to be and I’m not going to hide from what’s true just because it hurts.

I need to think about what it is in this world that I love, find that thing and ground myself in it. But I also need to know the truth, accept it and only then will I be free to do what it is that I love and truly be at home in this world.

Reflections on #FBGOJhb31Jan

Been a while… feels so unnatural to sit here and try to articulate my thoughts in more than 140 characters.

So yesterday…Melanin Explosion!!! Beautiful and must needed event.  #FBGOJHB31Jan #ForBlackGirlsOnly ! Thank you thank you than you so much to everyone who put in the efforts to make the event as magical as it was.

This post is not going to be about the importance of such a space (your understanding of this is assumed if you are interested in my reflections).  In this post I seek, rather, to explore who this space was created for.  I dont know how I felt about seeing Indians (specifically) at the event…

So I hate white supremacy and white privilege and as a result I love all people of colour. Obviously! However, I do not think that its okay for all people of colour to have the option to identify as Black.  Why is it okay that Indian people can be Indian when its beneficial (e.g. during Apartheid) and they can also be Black when its beneficial (e.g. for BEE and FBGO event passes)? I, as a Black person, cant wake up tomorrow and decide I’m Indian for the day.  So why do Indian/Coloured/Mixed Race/Racially Ambiguous/Chinese and other “non-white” people have the social permission to do that?

We cant even use the term “African” cause White people think that a birth certificate qualifies them. If our Black brothers and sisters are called African-American then WTF arent white people in Africa called European-Africans? Why must we constantly be forced to accommodate so many other people in our own spaces?

For me, the term Black has very little to do with pigmentation and a lot to do with experience.  Yes we are all dark, but our life experiences aren’t the same.  So its not fair to deny me the opportunity to identify exclusively with people that have had the same struggle with me in order to heal, grow, reflect, build etc. just because you’ve also been oppressed in some other way by white people.  To classify us under one umbrella name ignores the race specific struggles that Black people face.  Your oppression was different and I can’t relate to it and you benefit from certain privileges that I dont, so why are we healing in the same spaces?

And no it has nothing to do with upbringing either.  If you are White (for example) and had a typical Black upbringing of being raised by Black parents in a Black neighbourhood and even speak Vanac, that is great but you are still non-Black because the fact of the matter is that if you want, you can wash up really nice and be welcome at AWB / Oranje events whereas I wont, and (to be less dramatic) in everyday spaces, especially corporate, you are most likely to benefit from White Privilege no matter how Black you feel in your heart.

So please guys, its exciting that Black is finally fashionable and everybody wants to identify with us because they “feel our struggle”, but we also need our own spaces…just for sanity. If I cant even have that at a For Black girls Only event, then I dont know hey….

 

 

 

 

Why I Dropped Everything And Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

“We aren’t protecting students from vulgarity when we forbid hip hop in the classroom. We are protecting ourselves from our fears about race – while simultaneously robbing our students of authentic opportunities to think critically about the media they consume.”

Most beautiful blog speaking on the relationship of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in that they are continuations of the same story. A necessary story.

Just beautiful.

Brian Mooney

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.

Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…

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Open Letter to Zizipho Pae, With Love

Following then acting UCT SRC president Zizipho Pae’s Facebook homophobic comments after the USA’s legalisation of gay marriage, I wrote an open letter to her on the problematic nature of her comments and how as a leader, with an understanding of intersectional oppression, she must and can do better.

Dear Zizipho,

First of all, I would like to make it clear that the aim of this letter is not to further harass you, but an attempt to provide an opportunity for growth from this experience.  I write this instead because it bothers me greatly that you still do not understand why your post and subsequent comments and responses and the lack of an apology are wrong and this is what I would like to discuss.

Before I do so, I would like to extend my apologies for the abuse and harassment you have suffered as a result of your post, I don’t think this was necessarily the best way to handle the situation as I don’t believe that two wrongs make a right.  Having said that, I feel that it is quite a shame that all of this commotion has taken away from the opportunity for you, and others that think like you, to learn from this mistake which you have made.

The fact that this has become about: Your s15 (Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion) and s16 (Freedom of Expression) rights vs The Queer Community’s s9 (Equality) and s10 (Human Dignity) rights is problematic because it provides you with an opportunity to play victim and shy away from addressing the real issues about this situation, which I will be unpacking for you in this letter.

Christian or not, your statement was oppressive. One way to define oppression is as “Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority”.  That being said surely now you see why your social media rants were oppressive? Okay, let me explain:

  1. On being ‘cruel and unjust’: Your statements were ‘cruel and unjust’ in that they incited division in your community.  You targeted a minority group without due cause.  No one can stop you from subscribing to your homophobic Christian views, but once you started imposing them on others, that’s where the problem started. It’s one thing that you actually believe what you wrote (which I will not entertain for now), but I think the real question here should be: Was it necessary for you to post that statement?  In your mind, how was that supposed to play out? What was the intention behind making that statement? In answering these questions, you should be able to see why your statements were cruel and unjust.  It’s the same reason people don’t just go up to others and say things like “hey you’re ugly” or “I think you’re stupid” no matter how strongly we believe that, because we know that nothing good could ever come from such.
  2. On authority: the grey area between your s15 and s16 rights and oppression.  What you say in your capacity as a leader carries far greater weight than anything I could ever say in my capacity as a layman. You have the power to incite certain reactions.  For you to use this power to incite homophobia or marginalize a minority group is not good or responsible leadership.  And so, the oppression in your statement comes more from the effect and consequences it had, as opposed to its actual contents.

 

In many of your responses on this issue you highlight the fact that you ran as an independent candidate and therefore do not have the responsibility to represent any constituency.  I don’t understand what weight this argument is supposed to hold. Independent candidates do not vote themselves into office. You too, like any other candidate, were voted into your position of leadership by people who trusted you to represent or uphold a certain view on their behalf.  The fact that there was never any one point during your very public SRC campaign where you stated that you will represent the constituency of people whose Christianity requires them to be homophobic means that this is not the constituency you were elected to represent.

In fact, from the little that I do know about your campaign (being someone who all the way from Wits, retweeted here and there during your election campaign – because I thought I understood what you stood for and supported it) your campaign slogan was “Here I am, send me” and many of the people that did send you into that office were black women.  Being black women, we suffer oppression because we are black and we suffer even more oppression because we are women.  We (the black women who supported your campaign) trusted you to represent our voice; the voice that stands against oppression.

For you to think that oppression is okay, insofar as it is not directed at us, but to other people, is disappointing.  Oppression is wrong, whether it is directed at women or black people and oppression is also wrong when it is directed at the queer community.  You cannot stand against one form of oppression but endorse another.  You are either for oppression or against it, and if you are for oppression, as your statements indicate, then you do not represent the constituency that we thought you did.

So, just because you were an independent candidate does not mean that you are not accountable to anybody.  Leadership is about accountability.  You have to be accountable to the people that put you in power.  Currently, these people are hurt, and just because you didn’t mean to hurt them, doesn’t mean they didn’t get hurt.  Lack of intention does not excuse consequence.  Once you become a leader, it stops being just about you and starts being about your constituency. And this is why in my personal opinion, your refusal to apologise is problematic.  If you cannot be accountable to your constituency, then who are you leading?

If you find it hard to put this constituency above your own personal desires, that is okay, but then maybe leadership isn’t something you are ready for yet, and you need to acknowledge this. Nobody is against your Christianity and your s15 rights, but you have the responsibility to not impose your Christianity on everyone else. You cannot let your Christianity get in the way of you executing the mandate of leadership you have been elected into.  You need to understand that you were voted into power by a diverse group of students who needed a vice President and not a vice Jesus.

I think you need to ask yourself why you are in leadership if you do not want to be accountable. Personally, I think you need to reflect on what it means to be a leader and why you are in leadership. In your recent post you spoke about contesting the latest decision to remove you from office because of some technical irregularities.

Why is it important for you to insist on leading students who no longer want to be led by you?

I hope you understand my concerns and I that hope you didn’t take any offence to me equally exercising my s15 and s16 rights. Most importantly, I hope you understand how this had more to do with the principles of leadership and what it means to be a leader, than it did about your Christianity. I have no doubt that you are destined for much greatness and this is just the beginning of your leadership career, and this is why I feel so strongly that despite the commotion and abuse that have arisen from this incident, you should not let the opportunity to grow from this experience pass.

Sincerely,

President Sea

The Audacity of Blackness

I’m first in line at Pick n Pay. Holding only one item.  I’m about to pay when the cashier starts assisting a white woman who was the only person in line behind me who was also holding only one item. I’m offended. So I ask the cashier why she did that.
She replies: Eya akere wena wa utlwisisa…bona ha ba utlisisi (Yes, you understand…they dont.)

That was her honest response. That. That was what a black woman said to me, another black woman, when asked why she thought the white woman deserved better service than a black customer.

Die Stem Must Fall

I remember the first time I learned the Afrikaans part of our national anthem.  I was 8.  I was so excited that I could sing in Afrikaans…

Then I grew older and I realised it was only us black people who got excited when we got the Afrikaans part right…Afrikaners don’t care to get our Sesotho/isiXhosa/isiZulu parts right… in fact many don’t even bother.  Anyone who has gone to a ‘multi-racial’ school has noticed how the volume increases significantly when we start singing the Afrikaans part of the National Anthem every time the Anthem is sung.  I went to a Hoërskool, so you can imagine how the National Anthem sounded: ‘Nkosi, *mumble mumble mumble* UIT DIE BLOU VAN…” that annoyed the hell out of me…still does.  I guess it is partly the reason why I haven’t sung die stem for more than 5 years now.

But why should die stem be there in the first place?

Can we argue that because Venda, Tsonga, Ndebele and Swati are not in the National Anthem we are marginalizing Venda, Tsonga, Ndebele and Swati people? Then why do Afrikaans people and ‘intelligent blacks’ think that is an argument? To remove die stem from our anthem will in no way marginalise Afrikaans people in South Africa.

Afrikaans is already a very dominant language in South Africa.  More often than not, when anything has been translated in South Africa, it has been translated into Afrikaans. Road signs, public notices, textbooks. South Africans can get degrees and whole PhDs in Afrikaans and we are still struggling to teach a basic high school curriculum in our own languages.   So tell me, how can any logical person argue that lack of Afrikaans representation in our national anthem will equate to marginalising Afrikaans when the language is already so heavily entrenched in South Africa?

So now that we have established that there can be no harm in removing die stem from the National Anthem, let us discuss why having it there is so wrong to begin with.

Firstly South Africa claims to have 11 official languages.  Two are ‘white languages’ and the rest are ‘black languages’.  If we have to be mathematical, guess that’s fair in a country where nearly 90% of the population are black people right? That being said, how is it that 50% of our National Anthem is in the white languages? They already own most of our land and economy…it’s really not like we have to go out of our way to include them in the ‘new South Africa’ and that’s why we give them half our Anthem They own South Africa and they know it.

Secondly, we do all realise die stem was the national anthem of the Apartheid government right? How are we still singing that and calling ourselves free? Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica was a symbol of hope for unity in South Africa, for our people.  die stem was sang by racist soldiers and police men before they killed our people.  die stem was sang to unify all those racist colonists that hated us.  To bring solidarity to a supreme Afrikaner state that is anti-black people! People in Oranje still sing die stem while they wave the old Apartheid flag and plan ways to kill black people…or do whatever it is that racist people do.  And it’s part of our National Anthem in 2015 because…? There is a reason why the Horst-Wessel-Lied was completely illegalised and banned in Germany after the Holocaust. In fact the only time Germans make reference to it is for educational purposes.  But we are outchea calling ourselves born frees while we are singing die stem.  Then we wonder where the racist Afrikaners get their audacity…

Lastly, although not so relevant, but truly hilarious…how do we go from ‘God Bless Africa, hear our prayers, stop wars and suffering’ to ‘From the blue of our heaven, from the depths of our seas, over our mountain ranges, where the cliffs give answer’.  Like what does that even mean? How is this one ‘song’? Do we really want to accommodate Afrikaans people and their racist song that badly we are prepared to have a schizophrenic Anthem that doesn’t even really make sense?

Feminists can’t be Christians

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”  (1 Cor 11:3 NIV).For a man…is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.  For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Cor 11:7-9 NIV).

Christianity is sexist.  Christianity is a religious system that endorses the oppression of women.  According to Christianity women are second class citizens of society.  1 Corinthians 14:34-35; Ephesians 5:22-25 and Colossians 3:18 all speak about how women should submit to a man.   Submission is defined as ‘the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another’.  According to Christianity, women are therefore inferior to men or men have authority over women.

Women who subscribe to Christianity subscribe to a system of oppression against themselves.  It is like if black people were to willingly subscribe to Apartheid.

The bible tells us about the existence of a very dark and horrible world.  The existence of an eternal fire even.  However, there is salvation from all of this evil.  A messiah.  A saviour.  A man.  Almost like one long Tyler Perry movie.

The Creator of the universe in the bible is a man.  His son, our ultimate savour, Jesus Christ, is a man.  That man’s disciples, all 12 of them, were men.  All the high priests, the educated people, the other righteous people and leaders of societies were also men.  John the Baptist.  Look at the books of the bible: Matthew, Luke, John, James, Mark, Timothy, Peter, Joshua, Samuel, Job, Ezekial, Daniel, Joel, Amos, Zachariah.  Why is there 1 Kings and 2 Kings but no Queens? But hey, there is Ruth, Jude and Esther so I guess that makes things okay…

The bible is about men.  The man was created first, in the image and likeliness of God.  God being the supreme power.  The woman was created as an afterthought.  From a man’s rib even.  Not in God’s image.  The woman is the man’s assistant.  That is why she was created.  We first learn of this in Genesis but the message is reiterated throughout the whole bible.  Both testaments.

Some of the most important men in the bible had multiple wives and many many children.  The most important woman, however, was a virgin.  She gave birth to ‘the most important’ man ever born.  And she was a virgin.  Did I mention that she was a virgin?  The other women who feature really well in the bible were prostitutes.  Another was a weak woman who talked to snakes and became the first sinner.  Because of her the whole human race continues to suffer today, thousands of years later.  Adam and Eve lived in the same jungle but it was the woman who got to deceived because women are so weak right?

The irony is that most Christians in South Africa are women.  Or rather, most church-goers.  In my experience women are the ones that go to church regularly with their children if they have, and the men will go now and then but it really isn’t a big deal if they do not.  Now I do not know if this trait is a general trait of Christianity or limited to townships, which is where I grew up and therefore made my observations.  Regardless, townships make up a large population of South Africa therefore the observation is valid.

In most churches the majority of the congregation are women.  But more often than not, the church leaders are men.  Imagine you are in a room that has 8 women and 2 men and you need to elect 2 leaders and you elect the men.  Logic? Sense? Oppression maybe…?

There are many people who argue that it is the women who elect to not be leaders.  And this is bull.  There are systems in place, written or unwritten, that prohibit women from rising in the ranks of church leadership.  Look at Catholic churches for example.  I know you can probably tell me about some church that has an amazing woman leader/priest/reverent etc.  And that is good for her.  Really.  But what about the other women? What about other congregations? Other Christian domains?  Are  we going to ignore the norm because of one exceptional woman?

In my church for example.  Or the church mom makes us go to on Sunday…women are literally 85-90% of the congregation every single Sunday.  But the church leaders are all men.  Every single one.  Every Sunday the service is hosted by one of the lekgotla (because we do not have a priest – well we do but his white and speaks Afrikaans and only comes to church twice a year – but that is a story for another day).   When women want to lead the service they have to apply.  Even then it is never one women who gets to lead the service, they always have to lead it collectively like women aren’t strong enough to perform male roles in churches.  I know my church might be a bit extreme but there are many like it in one or many ways.  And this is my point.

This irony defeats my point because I am trying to illustrate that Christianity is oppressive to women, but then why is it that there are generally more women in churches than there are men?

I am not saying that Christianity is wrong.  Or any religion for that matter.  In fact it is important to afford people hope, a sense of belonging to a greater cause than oneself.  It is great to have faith.  But blind faith is dangerous!  As women, we cannot subscribe to a system that blatantly seeks to oppress us by calling ourselves Christian, going to church and doing other religious activities that include ‘living a Christian lifestyle’ of which a main feature is submission; and then claim we care about the plight of women.  That we want to advance as women and we seek liberation.  Hence I strongly believe that feminists cannot be Christians.

You are either for woman emancipation or you are not.  But there is no in between.  That is why Christian Feminists are a lie.  Hypocrites!  Even Jesus says do not be hypocrites.

Pick a struggle!