racism

African Time: Late To Recognizing Our Greatness

“Here’s the thing, nobody wants to face the fact that we focus on everything BUT what we need to focus on.  For a long time Africa has been seen through everybody else’s eyes but our own, such that now, we find ourselves at a point where those who tell our truth, and are of our Land, are either revered or shunned.   Case in point, Chimamanda Adichie.  As celebrated as she may be worldwide now due to the spotlight being shown on her after her feature on Beyonce, a lot of the people back home view her as a stubborn woman, a sell out, one who doesn’t know her place and basically, a problem.

We need to see ourselves as we are in order to start going where we should be.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.

Africa has a long history of feeling like the ugly step sister.  Whether due to our spirit of Ubuntu that saw us sharing ourselves with those who had unsavory intentions or the aftermath of aforementioned intentions being carried out being the root cause of it, we’ve come to believe we’re weak and insignificant. We seem to be worthless to only ourselves, however, with the entire Western and Eastern world clamoring to get SOMETHING out of us, you’d think by now, we’d realize our worth.

Africa is like the pretty girl with the abusive boyfriend she keeps around because she knows no better and he says she’s worthless.  She believes everything she’s told, and disregards what she herself sees; That she is worthy, capable and deserving.”

Something I wrote for AHHB.

These Blurred Lines: On racism in South Africa’s school system and the White Psyche

In my Literature class we’re currently reading a book about a said racist killing, how race, class & culture are the blurred lines that intersect and the correlation between them in a South Africa that has just found the Big D known as Democracy.

Now if you’re one of six people of Colour in a classroom of 30 teenage white supremacists, with a teacher who knows no different, everything about this arduous experience will tension you.

Let’s huddle up while I tell this story.

Nearing the end of that period (which was five to the end of the day), I took my cellphone out, because that’s what teenagers do. The teacher reprimanded me & told me to hand over the phone. Now I know I was well within the wrong. Naturally however, you’d want to negotiate your way out of the situation, because yo! Who wants to be without their phone? During this though the teacher hit me with a “You’re going to call me racist for confiscating your phone, now?!”

That burned as much as her shouting did. My natural & instinctive defence was this equally loud response: “Why are you bringing up
race? Which is completely irrelevant to the situation at hand. So no, I am not going to hand it over.” Mind you, this altercation is taking place infront of a class of 30 people who can’t wait to see the action being taken against this opinionated Black girl with a shitty attitude, right?

Not only was the statement she made unnecessary & humiliating to me, it sprawled out the white privilege that she possesses which enabled her to even say that to me in the first place. Or think that it was okay, for that matter. Help me understand the white psyche. We ended up in the principal’s office whose argument remained that I had broken a rule & had every right to be reprimanded. Again, sure. But nothing was said of the cemetery growing inside me, where I’d bury my tolerance for white supremacists like them. Nothing of how stupid it is to throw what the teacher said to me around as a lame defense mechanism (Against what, by the
way?) Instead, she kept telling me about how good of a person she is, because she “hugs all the black kids”. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to laugh.

At the end of the day, that means absolutely nothing. If you’re able to make statements like that & not see your racist thinking, then I don’t know hey.
They acted like I had no idea what racism is. Or what sexism is. Giving me textbook definitions, because this dreadlocked township raised Black girl knows nothing of what she’s talking about.

Help me understand the white psyche.

Why lazy racist thinking like “We don’t see race at this school” is something they deserve a cookie for? No, sir. Please see it. My race & I are not invisible. I’m pretty sure that you can see me. Yes, I am getting a good enough education. But why is it that people don’t want to educate themselves of things that we aren’t taught at school? Especially one where adaptability & the acceptance of change are so stagnant.

Why is it that people don’t get that racism is much more than just openly treating another race badly?

Why is it that the principal so quickly & easily referred to me as a housewife & then as someone in a leadership position in the corporate world; when making an example of how I’d feel in the future if someone broke rules that I set? Because it’s already hard enough to imagine that the Black woman will ever amount to anything besides being a maid. This is the exact internalized &
deeply rooted thinking of superiority towards blacks that whites have systematically been taught.

You, a white person living under the privilege that you attained at the hands of us, Blacks, can be as nonchalant when it comes to race as you like.

I, a Black South African woman, living by a post apartheid doggie bag, cannot.

As a result I have become an openly defiant & opinionated Black girl who can never shut up. I am constantly being taken deep into the white headspace but can never truly grasp it.

People need to understand that the problem is not the skin colour the person is in. The enemy is
the white supremacist thinking. The racist thinking.

Help me understand this “I am above Black people” white psyche.

-Siwo Mata

*More of Siwo’s brilliance can be found on Twitter

Or WordPress

Things I’ll probably never fully understand: Men, Race and Gender

  1. What it’s like to be  a Man

It’s easy to complain about men’s behaviour isn’t it? So many of them mess up so effortlessly when interacting with women.  If one isn’t calling you a bitch he’s groping you or one of the straight ones is going on about how “homos” are an abomination. They’re quick to point out how they don’t do certain things because they’re “not bitches”, think feminists “are just angry lesbians” and when out, it’s shocking to find one who isn’t getting sloppy drunk, sexually harassing a woman or looking for a fight.

Now no, I’m not saying that ALL men do this, I’m saying a lot do. Too many.

And some genuinely have no remorse. Some think this is what it means to be a Man.  Some are unwilling to grow.

Why? Because this  is what they’ve been taught it means to be a Real Man. These are the thoughts that’ve been ingrained into their minds.

A man doesn’t cry.

A man doesn’t read books that aren’t about nude women, sex or money.  Wondering about the World and feelings is for women and homosexuals.

Nobody’s opinion matters more than a heterosexual man’s.

You need to be your own man, but only as long as your father and society approves.

Do not feel. Do not think anything you haven’t been told to think. Do not be anything other than what you’ve been told to be.

And a lot of men refuse to acknowledge that they aren’t living for themselves. That they live with a chronic fear of being considered feminine because, whether they’ll admit it or not they believe a woman is a horrible thing to be.  That it gets heavy sometimes, having to always be on your toes because someone may catch you slipping and wearing pink, only to question your sexuality.

That they’re often confused and feel confined by the word “Man.”

With the help of one, I have little difficulty understanding their experiences and their behaviour. I encourage my male friends to explore their feelings. To be honest about their desires, their fears and their dreams. To draw the line between What Society Wants and their Wants.  And there, I’ve found a lot of pain. A lot of confusion.

A lot of women are guilty of stripping males of their humanity too. Girlfriends who laugh when their partners cry or confide in them, mothers who tell their sons to “man up”, there’s always someone ready to continue the process of dehumanizing the Man, and yet who complains when said Man begins to act like the animal he’s been led to believe he is.

Men need healing too. They need acceptance too and for us to acknowledge their struggles with identity etc. They need to be taught.

I know some of you, especially women, are reading this and saying “Well they don’t do that for us” and I know, they don’t. Some of them are lost causes. But some men really do want to be better. They know there’s more to Life than being “Real”. If you come across one, nurture them. Is all I’m saying.

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2.  What it’s like to be Black, In America

“Diaspora”. I first heard the word in High School as my History teacher discussed “the African diaspora”. The conversation led to how hard life must be for Black people  in America. We all rolled our eyes.

What was he on? Evidently someone didn’t listen to Hip Hop. Hadn’t he seen all the sexy women with long weaves chilling outsides their yards, hanging out with their high yella lovers as kids played on the streets and expensive cars passed by with drug dealers behind the seat? Hadn’t he ever witnessed that Utopia? Well..yeah..random shoot outs would occur and that was sad..Yes, Tupac said it was rough over there but..It couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Right?

We thought for a long time that because America was “civilized”, because everything that we knew to symbolize success came from there or was somehow connected to it and the American Dream, it wasn’t possible for anyone to be unhappy there.

We thought Black Americans were ungrateful.

You need to understand, we got to see them through the eyes of the privileged White people who create the shows and the videos.

So we thought: Thugs. Prostitutes. Crackheads. Drug dealers. A few trying to make it out of the hood. Black on Black violence.  Unappreciative. Lazy.

We were led to believe the circumstances that many live under were of their own doing. That America, the land of Milk and Honey, provided equal opportunities to everyone. Everything was there, the Blacks just wouldn’t get up and take it because they still believed they were victims, that they were still being oppressed.

Delusional Blacks, living in the past. Tut tut.

It wasn’t until I stopped paying attention to the media that I began to somewhat understand the effects of oppression, the difference between what Is and What’s Shown etc. Social networking sites began my growth as a person, as a person of colour, as a woman, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Meeting and interacting with not just African Americans but Black South Africans and hearing their stories made me appreciate my country and experiences that much more, as I understood theirs.

Botswana’s never really had any hostile experiences. Our country’s filled with Batswana and to be honest, most of us are shocked to see White people among us walking.  They’re an addition to our society, we aren’t an addition to theirs. We don’t know what it’s like to be Othered.  To be treated as Less Than. To be viewed as parasites in our own Land.

When the Trayvon Martin case began, some ignored it because they felt many more kids had been murdered, why focus on one? But I remember someone saying it would be an iconic case and we all waited to see whether that would be true.

Zimmerman was acquitted.

The case was simple. We all knew.

He saw a young Black man walking, he stalked him, confronted him and murdered him.

And he was let go.

It’s not that we didn’t know chances were this would occur, it’s that many were hoping it wouldn’t.

Now?

The racists are coming out to play.

Black boys are scared.

The Black community is outraged.

Simply, the facade is falling apart.

I cried.

I still do.

It’s heavy. It’s heavy on the heart and it’s heavy on the Soul.

I continue to watch this all unravel.

Me

3. What it’s like to feel like a stranger in your own body

Growing up I thought you were either a man or a woman. It was that simple to many. If you’re a woman, act like one, is you’re a man, act like one.

I didn’t acknowledge the Trans community til later on in Life, and even then, even now, it’s still something I’m learning about. Someone explained it to me simply “I just don’t feel comfortable this way. It doesn’t feel like who I am. Who I should be” and it’s something I still think about.

To a lot of people, the fact that they can’t relate means they should  reject something.  I thinks it’s silly.  I don’t relate to your struggle but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t understand it.

One of my closest friends is undergoing hormone treatment. When she told me she intended to go along with it, she was cautious. I could shun her. I could tell her it was a waste. I could tell her anything that would dismiss her feelings and crush her spirit. I understood why she tiptoed around it.

My main concern? Was she sure? Would it make her happy? Then sure.

We already live in a society that’s dismissive, you don’t need to be one more person who’s a total asshole to  people because they aren’t like/don’t feel like you.

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I’ve had my own experiences as an African Cisgender Woman, and I am always aware of what and who I am. I appreciate it. But I’m always fully aware of the fact that there are so many more stories out there. An endless array of feelings and experiences that I’ll never fully feel, and I appreciate that too.

The World is larger and more diverse than your existence and your experiences, I’ve learned.

Corporate America still thinks you’re a Coon

This morning I had one of those “I can’t even get mad because this is just ridiculous” moments as I read about Pepsi’s latest Mountain Dew  advert.

The ad depicts a bruised White woman on crutches in a police station attempting to point out her attacker. There are five Black  men and a goat named Felicia in a line-up.  The goat, Felicia, proceeds to go “..You should’ve given me some more, I’m nasty” in what could be a Latina/Black accent, then “Ya better not snitch on a playa.” The White detective eggs her on by pointing out that the possible assailant is wearing a du-rag, which the goat isn’t, then “Come on, it’s the one with the four legs”. Then the goat says “Keep your mouth shut-ah” [Sound like Trinidad James?] and the Lady runs off screaming “I can’t do it.”The punchline then drops, the detective going “She’s just gonna Dew it.” as he sips his bottle of Mountain Dew.

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The ad was apparently part of a series developed by rapper Tyler, The Creator, who’s known for his shocking antics and which would explain the appearance of Odd Future’s Left Brain as “Beyonte” in there, but I’m still fairly confused. 

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Responding to the complaints, Pepsi says it immediately removed the ad from all Mountain Dew channels and requested Tyler to do the same. It was, however, still available on certain YouTube accounts and the company said: ‘We understand how this video could be perceived by some as offensive, and we apologize to those who were offended.’

Are they fucking serious?

Now I know nothing of the advertising world but if what I’ve seen from Mad Men is anything to go by, there’s a lot of consultation and explaining of concepts, market research and such before an ad is made. You want to tell me everyone just kept on approving this atrocity to the point where the concept was bought, created, and attempted to be sold to us? Who were they marketing this to anyway? Hillbilly racists? Self hating Black people who can take blatant disrespect with a grain of salt? People who have a sense of humor?  Who was supposed to find this appealing?

Why would they think it’s appropriate to blatantly depict Black men as criminals? To go as far as to add a goat to the line-up and drop the not so subtle hint that in fact, Black men are STILL viewed as animals?

And their “apology”. Good God. This is like if I walked over to someone, defecated on their shoe then looked at them and said “Oh, I understand how this might be seen as inappropriate, sorry” then handed them a tissue and went away. Absolute fuckery.

But then let’s be frank, you wouldn’t do that to someone who’d beat your ass now would you?

The only reason they approved it is because they know Black Americans won’t really do much will they? We no longer march for causes with a passion and we no longer boycott what we don’t approve of. 

Will anyone sue Pepsi? Will they stop buying Tyler’s albums? No, probably not. 

Some will get mad, some won’t care and others will tell the rest that we don’t know how to take a joke.

As for Tyler, I can’t say I expected better from him.  I respect him as an entertainer and he has managed to use shock value to his advantage countless times, his career is based on it, but I honestly cannot for the Life of me begin to understand where he was going with this, and if it was supposed to be funny, how. 

With Black boys constantly being portrayed as thugs and hoodlums, being locked up for crimes they didn’t commit, having their identity stripped from them daily and getting shot over bags of skittles, you really mean to tell me they LET this be released?

I guess it’s time to be straightforward, they are showing us they will never respect us and we are showing them we’re alright with that. 

It’s the same with the Adidas Handcuff sneakers last year and Volkswagen’s “Get In. Get Happy” ad. 

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In music I could liken it to Rick Ross glorifying date rape on a song and still having women who think the rest of the world “Just didn’t get it.” Didn’t get what? That he said it’s alright, funny even, to drug a woman and have sex with her, without her consent?

But then again, it’s just music right? They’re just ads right?

No, Corporate America isn’t letting you know that they think you’re not worth being respected. That they know they can still create and ad reminiscent of  something that would appear on TV in the 50s and just like then, you’ll laugh and take it. That your so called Freedom means nothing to you as it does to them and you will always be Niggers in their eyes. No, they aren’t saying that at all. 

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Fuck me: When Porn becomes Political

“Young Ebony bitch gets dominated”, “Young slut gets first drilling”, “Massive Black cock stretches Ebony cunt.” “She pleasures her pretty pussy.” Do you see the difference because it always stands out to me? Guess which ones have Black actresses. Go ahead. 

 

A lot of the time friends are bothered by the fact that I don’t really watch Black porn.  They wonder if I’m ashamed of being Black. If I don’t like my people, whether I think White sex is better [I don’t watch Asian porn either, Asa Akira being the only exception]. And I guess I understand why those would be the first thoughts to gravitate to but here’s why.

I’m not blind to how things are in the Porn Industry.  Maybe because I don’t watch porn when I’m dizzy off arousal that I notice the sometimes blatant, sometimes racial undertones, how she’s a “Black bitch” but I’ve hardly ever seen a “White bitch” in a porn title. Maybe it’s cos I notice that, in interracial porn, the guy is quick to say “Suck that White cock” instead of “suck my cock”. The women, “Give me that big Black cock” or in the case of Sasha Grey, “Nigger Cock” instead of “Give me that cock” and these things bother me. And why are the majority of Asian women that I’ve seen masseuses? If we’re going to play into racial stereotypes then where are the White men being depicted as hillbillies? Since the Black women are still often depicted as “Ghetto bitches”, why don’t we play fair and level the playing field if that’s what we’re doing?

I’m not silly. I know porn is supposed to sell dreams and fantasies, it’s about creating an illusion, of dominance, submission etc.  It’s meant to cater to the sexual desires you never knew you had, the fantasies you can’t live out, but the blatant misogyny, disrespect and occasional racism get to me. I would like to watch it freely and not have to be reminded that the person is of a specific race, am I meant to care, I mean, I’m not here for a bad, thinly veiled depiction of women as cum whores and People of Colour being fetishized in this day and age.   And I understand that with that having being said, it may look like I’m contradicting myself, however, it’s not every porn clip where the man objectifies the woman and for the most part, those are the ones I prefer.

 

While discussing this with someone she said “Well, porn was made for men” and I sat and thought about it.  I see the truth to this statement. Porn has obviously been around for a while and in the beginning it’s not possible that women’s feelings would have been taken into consideration. It was not made for our consumption and therefore I understood why possibly in the beginning it would’ve fed into misogyny and why it would have ran with the gender roles. But now? 

The thing is whether we’ll admit it or not, porn makes an impact on people.  It’s the reason why a lot of men I know skip foreplay and still expect you to drip all over his penis.  The reason why they think all women want to have their clits slapped.  The reason why they think we’re all ready for anal and why they expect 30 minute blowjobs.  Not everyone has the ability to differentiate fantasy from reality when they so resemble each other and really I wouldn’t be looking forward to being called a “Black bitch” during sex. Could we try a bit of Respect? No? Or is that asking for too much in an industry that is supposedly ran by White males?  It’s business, no? 

It’s just that when it comes to White porn [Which surprisingly nobody refers to as “White porn”, everybody else gets a Category except for them] there appears to be less reason to get mad. The sexism is there, but racial slurs, one hardly ever comes across and from what I’ve seen there’s less of the fetishizing, you can watch them have sex without a feeling of discomfort because someone slipped up and said something stupid. 

 

Now I know full and well not all clips are like this, but I got tired of getting angry at something I’m unlikely to change. At cringing when I see the Black guy with a fake gold chain, shades, socks and slippers fucking the “Big Booty Black ho”. Of reading that Black porn stars get paid less and that probably explains why some perform like it’s a chore.  

When you read and realize that some agencies still tell actresses that interracial scenes will ruin their reputations and some actresses would rather claim to “not do Black guys cos of their massive dick” [Really? Really?]  how is one meant to feel? Nothing? Should we simply say it boils down to choice and ignore it? Some outright say their families would be okay with them doing porn, just not with People of Colour, and yet scenes between Women of Colour and White men are popular.

“In the Pornland chapter titled “Racy Sex, Sexy Racism!” Dines writes that women of color are generally relegated to gonzo–a porn genre lacking any plot–which provides little glamour, security or status. According to Dines, porn racializes the bodies and sexual behavior of the performer with lines like “Saxxx tried to clean herself up [but] she was still a low-down dirty ghetto ho! So I rammed her.” Websites and videos commonly feature race-biased titles like, “Me Fuck You Long Time,” or “Oh No! There’s a Negro in My Mom.” To Dines, rampant racism in the porn industry is caused because most people working in the production-end of the business are white.” – MS  MAGAZINE

These are the things that bother me. That in order to find Black porn I’m comfortable with I have to know specific females’ names, like Jada Fire, Naomi Banxxx and Skin Diamond, or else I’m going to think myself into a frenzy and get mad at how we are depicted.  And that I can’t enjoy something that’s meant to be as simple, as porn. 

 

 

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