Please forgive Bryan Adams for starting apartheid in Zimbabwe

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Some of you recognise the name Bryan Adams but cannot really put a face or a song to the name. The Canadian singer, who is on tour and recently performed a concert in Harare, is famous for songs like  “Summer of ’69” and “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”. Believe it or not, the concert brought up some discussions about race in Zimbabwe, including reports in national newspapers. What started this racial debate? The first report that I saw was in the Sunday Mail in an article titled “Full House at Bryan Adams’ show” which alleged that the concert tickets “went on sale almost clandestinely”. The second newspaper article that I came across was “Keep your Bryan Adams and we will keep our Warriors” which focussed on the fact that the concert had a “99,9 percent” white attendance, with only 2 black people attending out of total of about 3,500 concert-goers.

Ridiculousness?

While The Sheepish Shulamite is still on the topic of race etc., I thought it was out of place  ridiculous silly  appropriate (along with the articles mentioned above) to put impute a political motive to what was just a fun night out for most of the party goers. Who knew that as Bryan Adams strummed the guitar, he was strumming the pain of black people with his fingers? Or that “Please Forgive Me” are the words that black people have been waiting to hear from a white man’s lips? Who would have thought that this was yet another “us against them” spy operation which was calculated to deprive black people of 1980’s rock music blaring through the speakers. Amaiwee!

All ridiculousness and jokes aside, this scenario does bring up some important racial issues that are relevant for most southern African countries. Regarding the fact that the show was attended by and advertised mostly (or exclusively) to white people, a friend on Facebook argued that it is hypocritical that we do not seem to have as much of a problem with the fact that concerts by black artists such as Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi are attended mostly by black people. But this misses the point. Bryan Adams posted a picture of his audience on Twitter and when I saw it, my first reaction was shock. To be honest, I was shocked to see such a huge number of white people, I did not even know that there were so many white people in Zimbabwe! It was a weird picture because there was not one dark brown hand raised in that crowd, in a country where the majority of people are dark brown.

Contextualising the problem::

Allow me to make my point clear:

i) in a context where the majority of people are black, it is unusual and problematic to have spaces where only white people are. The inverse is not as unusual because the majority of people are black and it makes statistical sense that they will dominate most spaces, simply because of their numbers.

ii) in a context where there has been a history of segregation of races (colours), the creation of “white spaces” that result in the separation of races is problematic, regardless of the motives of the people involved in creating these spaces.

We need to understand our present and historical context, even a concert is not independent of it. We need to stop defending images that are clearly problematic and start addressing the issues behind them. We need to address the issue that people feel marginalised – both white and black people, and we need to stop asking questions like: Why can’t we all just love each other? The real questions we need to ask are: Why are so many black people still angry with white people, decades after independence? and How can people living in the same context (black and white) see the same issue so differently?

Ignorance is bliss::

The reality is that we do not live in the same context, black/white and rich/poor. I am a black Zimbabwean who has a privileged background and I have never existed within the same context as my white contemporaries. We spent most of our days together at school but it very rarely went beyond that. The white girls had parties and holiday getaways that the black girls were never invited to and vice versa. We had our boyfriends, they had theirs. Separate and sort of equal. By the time l was in high school, Zimbabwe had already gone through a lot of changes, private schools were racially integrated and the controversial land reform programme was in full force.

Things had changed but they were still the same. In spite of the fact that my high school was made up of a majority of black pupils, the school leadership was still made up of mostly white people. The school board was mostly white, the prefects and sports captains were a majority of white people and the head girls were white. In 2007, a year before my last year of high school, my friends and I drew up a guess list of who we thought would be elected into the school leadership in our final year. The votes of the pupils would count but we knew that, ultimately, the decision would be made by the higher powers that be. Our list went something like this:

Head girl : obviously, a white girl.

Deputy head girl: token black girl / black girl who should have been head girl.

Senior prefect: one white girl, one black/ indian girl.

Games captain: Ah, white girl (what black girl can swim?).

Cultural captain: Can go either way.

And so on… Every year the prefects were announced on Speech Day and there was always a sense of anticipation in the air. In the entire history of our school, we had only had two black head girls and the last one was ten years before our year. On the 10th of October 2007, the tension was palpable. My journal entry from that day tells me that I broke into a cold sweat just before the head girl’s name was announced and I was still in shock and overwhelmed by the hugs, screams and kisses ten minutes later. The name they had announced was mine.

Lest we forget ::

“Never say never” 

were are the words that I wrote on that day when I came home, still on a once in a lifetime high. People say that we cannot change anything in one day but I am telling you, my life was changed on that day. It was my very own ‘Nelson Mandela inauguration’ moment, my 17 year old heart shifted, I saw something historical on that day. I was the first in what has been a string of gifted, capable and promising young black women who have occupied the position of head girl at my high school.

Make tea not war, by @shooeygooey

Make tea not war, by @shooeygooey

Over 5 years later, that day is forgotten to many people, but it will never be forgotten by me, never by me. Because of that day, I believe.

I believe that there will come a day when white people understand where black people are coming from and understand the generational effect of things like colonisation and apartheid. And take some responsibility for it, even if it is not their fault. I believe that we will see black people embrace their blackness and choose forgiveness and reconciliation. And take ownership of their own destiny. I believe that one day the voices that will be heard in the public square are the ones that speak out on behalf of justice for all and not just the majority or minority. As crazy as it sounds, I believe in the kingdom of God coming to earth.

He said that unless we become like children we will never enter this kingdom. So I guess I’m always going to be a few months short of 18 ’til I die.

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

TCT :: What is your flavour, chocolate or vanilla?

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This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week - yum!

This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week – yum!

It is Trench Coat Thursday and I am writing about a topic that is fraught with controversy, you may identify with a lot of what I am going to say, or you may disagree completely. This is me being honest and real about this issue. Whether you agree with me or not, please let your voice be heard! The point of these posts is not for me to just state my opinion but for us to engage in a conversation. I am really forward to hearing what you think!

This Tuesday was my birthday and my mom, sister and I went for a celebratory lunch. As we walked in a young white guy looked our way and smiled. Let me clear something up, it was not that weirdly condescending smile that you get when you walk past some people and it was not that leery look that you get from dodgy men, it was not brief either. Actually, it was more like a Ryan Gosling-esque “Hey girl…” kind of smile. We were charmed because he is really cute and athletic looking, we were surprised because, well, because he is white.

Who was your first crush?

My family says that mine was Daniel and I was 5 years old. I used to come home from pre-school every day and talked about him all the time. And then there was Ross who was cute and sweet and sporty. I will never forget Mark who was American and best friends with a guy who liked my friend. We were in Grade 5 and their school had come to ours for a rugby tour. We sat and chatted for ages about who-knows-what and by the end of the night I was faint with love. I have a list of crushes as long as my arm: rugby players, hockey players, swimmers, head boys, captains and a pastor’s kid. Looking at my list brings up some questions because, well, because all my crushes are white.

While I was still wondering if we would see that cute guy in the restaurant again the waiter came. My sister wanted me to order a vanilla milkshake but I preferred chocolate. So that is what I ordered.

Preference or Prejudice?

Do people have a physical type? If yes, is it something that people are born with, does it develop over time or is it a choice? I have two male friends that say that they will not/ cannot marry any woman other than a white woman.  Let’s call them Tristan and Sandi. Tristan is white and Sandi is black. My initial reaction to this was “No man, that’s racist!”, but is it really? Some would argue that it is just a preference. Like how some women are attracted to tall men and not short men. And how some men find that they are attracted to women with short hair and not long. Some people like chocolate flavoured milkshakes, others prefer vanilla.

But can we reduce our physical attraction to mere preference?

A few years ago, I was at a mall with a guy relative of mine who was disgusted at the sight of an interracial couple. We will call him Dali. We had a chat about it and he was vehement about how a black man should be with a black woman and he did not understand why any black man or woman would want to cross over to the lighter side – whether that meant white, light brown, green, blue or red. What do you think he was expressing there, preference or prejudice?

Which of these makes less or more sense to you, and why?:

A. white man only attracted to white women (Tristan).

B. black man only attracted to white women (Sandi).

C. black man only attracted to black women (Dali).

A complex issue::

These questions are framed as black/ white issues but they are not really that simple. Firstly, black and white are not the only colours out there – you can add in whatever colour (‘race’) you choose and the questions would still apply. Secondly, for most of us, a person’s skin colour denotes something more than the amount of melanin in it. In our minds a person’s skin colour tells us something about where they come from, their culture, their level of income and education, their class or lack thereof. And everything is rated within these categories – low to high.

I would argue that a lot of what we call ‘preferences’ are borne out of either an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, depending on what rating you put on a certain skin colour. Of course, this does not apply to everyone but it does apply to many of us! My mom thinks that my childhood crushes were mostly the fruit of who I was exposed to from a young age. Outside of home, most of my interactions were with white people, my friendships were with white children and I existed within the white cultural context. It was not anomalous that I liked white boys.

But what of the fact that I liked white boys only, even after having been exposed to a whole spectrum of colours of men later on in life? Many black women will tell you that they dread the thought of marrying a black man and they have made up their mind to marry a white one or not to marry at all. Why a white man? Well, because he is better! A white man will be faithful, true and will take care of you. A black man will cheat, lie and will probably drink his salary away for the rest of your married lives. White culture is easy, liberal and gives wives a place other than in the kitchen. Black culture is strict, traditional and makes a wife subservient (not submissive) to her husband.

Let us revisit my friends Tristan, Sandi and Dali.

If you had a discussion with Tristan, he might first respond by saying that he did not think the questions were important or relevant: You cannot help who you love! If you pressed and challenged him on that, he might admit that this was not really about love, but physical attraction because a woman’s looks are the first thing that a man is drawn to. He might also defend his choice by saying that this was not primarily about race but about culture – we are all naturally drawn to people who are like us and there was nothing wrong with that. Tristan is either blind to his own prejudice or being dishonest. Some honest white men have told me that they have been attracted to women of other colours but consider a relationship with them taboo (what will my family think?!) or something of an exotic adventure rather than something serious. They also admit they think that black culture is primitive and white culture is civilised and the two just do not mix.

Sandi will probably have some good reasons why he is only attracted to white women. Allow me to draw from an actual conversation I have had. Sandi thinks that black women are dramatic, demanding and difficult to please and his sisters have put him off black women for life. Of course, he has black women friends, none of whom he would seriously consider. He has always been told that he will marry a white woman and that is what God has called him to. He played the God-card which is really difficult to argue with! But here is the thing: firstly, Sandi is making his decision out of a place of past pain or hurt. Secondly, he makes generalisations about black women and white women and his generalisations are not true!

Dali already stated his stance clearly: black people should be with black people. In many ways he is much like Tristan, except that he is willing to admit that his are not just preferences but prejudices. He justifies his prejudice with arguments like: Black people were put in Africa, White people in Europe, and Chinese in China so this means that like must be with like! Getting through to Dali will be a struggle but you might win him over by pointing out the fact that his arguments are much like the eugenics theories that people use to justify apartheid, other forms of segregation and genocide. Prejudice is harmful and unjustifiable.

What do you think?

I have so much more to say but will stop there! Now it is your turn, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Shula 

We are Africa’s “born-frees” :: a generation of Narcissists?

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“Me, myself and I that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out…” Beyonce

I was born in 1990 in Zimbabwe, 10 years after independence from British rule. My mother was born 35 years before that, in a country with a different name but the same landscape- Rhodesia. When Mariah and Jonathan (my grandparents) met, she was a domestic worker and he was a manual labourer. He later became a metalworker for the national railways and she a housewife.

They worked hard for their children. When my mother met my father she was a qualified nurse – diplomas in midwifery and psychiatry – and he was an academic, a history professor and then a politician.

A friend of mine once commented on the affinity my father and I share. He is a history professor with a minor in Economics, I studied the former until my third year of university and graduated with a degree in the latter. My father’s dream was to be a lawyer, a dream he gave up as a young man, I wrote my final law exams a few weeks ago.

We all share something in common with our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors, but

we are so different. My father and I recall different histories. In the broad sense, his is one of poverty, racial segregation and the suppression of the majority. I was born into privilege, integration and the rule of the majority.

And so we view ourselves and the world differently. I’ve always found it funny that my father says “we” when he speaks about a decision he himself has made, “We are going to sell this and buy that.”, he says. His view of the world is essentially collective. I find that strange because mine is individualistic.

Our generation is the “i” generation – iPhone, iPad, iPod.The generation of selfies.

Funny.

But sad. Because in every generation, change has come through people who saw beyond the “I” and found their place, their role in the “We”. People like Nelson Mandela who sacrificed their own individual ambition, comfort, safety, their lives…

For us.

I think we have a long way to go, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

shula

How To:: Not Offend Your Black Friend

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sistergirlHaving a conversation with a black friend about anything can often feel like walking on a minefield. And there are specific phrases that are a trigger and have black people grimacing, sighing or snapping our fingers in a z-formation because they get us really defensive about being black, racism and such and such. Here are my thoughts on some of the “harmless” stuff that you say and what your friend actually hears:

1. You say: “Apartheid/ colonialism/ the slave trade is over. Why can’t we all just love each other?”

Black person hears: “Wah-wah wee-wah…”

This is a classic foot-in-mouth statement. This comment is usually thrown in when a group of friends are having a little debate about colour etc and the diplomat in the group will say “But guys, why can’t we all just love each other? People who say this come off as sweet but also quite ignorant and really shallow. Yes, we have democracy and BBBEE and and can marry who we want to but we still have a long way to go! No, we are not at the point of just loving each other and we do need to talk about these issues because they are real and we face them every day.

2. You say: “But you are different, you’re more like us than them.”

Black person hears: “White is good, black is bad.”

This is one usually comes after a friend makes a statement that shows her/ his prejudice and they throw that in to make sure that you know that you are not included in that statement. Like how black people are so lazy, or untrustworthy or generally think they are entitled. So just to make sure you know their intentions they will add: “It’s just some black people, not you…” I have a lot of white friends (see number 4 for more on this) and they have often expressed the fact that they do not think of me as a black person. What that sounds like is: “You are less like a black person and more like a white person. White is good, black is bad.”

3. You say: “Your people.”

Black person hears: “Your (good-for-nothing) people.”

This one very rarely slips out but will in the heat of the moment. I have heard it once or twice in an academic debate that got out of hand – in a Politics, History or Jurisprudence class. It is always met with a low roar from the black students and flashing eyes. This one particularly makes black people feel very defensive and like they are being accused of something. Stay away from ‘our’ and ‘your’ distinctions.

4. You say: “I am not racist. Some of my best friends are black.”

Black person hears: *alarm bells*

Do I really need to explain why this is offensive? Okay, maybe I should. It is often said, again, by someone who has just made an offensive comment about people of a different colour. It sounds like a kind of justification and an excuse: “Yes, I make racist comments but that does not make me racist.” These days though, my usual reaction is a giggle when a well-meaning person says it and occasionally a moment of silence for the unfortunate deliverer of such words.

5. You say: “Your people.”

I just had to put that one in again!

These were fun to compile – haha! Any other ones that you would like to add? Also, are my observations correct?

Thanks for reading.

shula

 

 

#RedOctober :: how I discovered the racist in me

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“I see no changes, all I see is racist faces.” 

Tupac Shakur

This post is unusual because I am sharing my deeply personal thoughts on a topic, I do not usually do that here and tend to focus on the topic rather than my opinion. I am going to be very honest and hopefully say some thought-provoking things. I want to invite you into a conversation, to agree and to disagree with me.

Have you heard about Red October? Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“People all over the World released RED Balloons into the skies, in protest against the inhumane Slaughter and Oppression of the White People of South Africa. This needs to stop and can no longer be ignored.” (Source: http://www.redoctober.co.za/about/)

My first thought was how ridiculous this was – the idea that white people are being ‘slaughtered’ and ‘oppressed’ in South Africa. I also wondered about the use of capitals for those two words as well as ‘World’, ‘White People’ and ‘RED Balloons’. As if that was not weird enough I then heard that Steve Hofmeyr was at the forefront of the protest in Pretoria and it was all I could do to keep my eyes from rolling. Was this a joke? When I eventually accepted that this was for real this thought crossed my mind:

“Who do these people think they are? Don’t they know that black people have a monopoly on words like ‘oppression’, ‘genocide’ and ‘discrimination’?”

This thought of mine disturbed me and made me wonder what was really going on under the hood of my heart. It worried me for three reasons:

 Firstly, in my mind these people referred not just to the founders or participants of Red October specifically, but to white people in general. At the risk of putting my foot in my mouth I am going to say: I am not racist, some of my best friends are white! And they are. So how could I think that way about people that I really love?

 Secondly, I have received almost five years of University education where I have been trained to believe in the equality of all people, every person’s entitlement to certain rights and fair treatment before the law. What kind of law graduate could still believe that ‘unfair discrimination’ was something only black people should be protected from?

Finally, and most importantly, my thoughts and feelings disturbed me because I am a Christian. I struggled to reconcile them with what I have always professed to believe about human beings, justice and Jesus Christ. WWJT-what would Jesus think??

A war of identities.

” “Identity” is presently used in two linked senses, which may be termed “social” and “personal.” In the former sense, an “identity” refers simply to a social category, a set of persons marked by a label and distinguished by rules deciding membership and (alleged) characteristic features or attributes. In the second sense of personal identity, an identity is some distinguishing characteristic (or characteristics) that a person takes a special pride in or views as socially consequential but more-or-less unchangeable.” (J Fearon “What is Identity (As We Now Use the Word)”, my emphasis. Available at: http://www.stanford.edu/~jfearon/papers/iden1v2.pdf)

When it comes to controversial issues, l seem to have multiple identities at war within me. On a subconscious level I have internal debates going on, trying to reconcile Me, Myself and I. Black- Intellectual – Christian. But how does one reach a compromise with oneself?

How do I handle my racism?

These issues are not black and white (see what I did there?). But there are answers. The answers are definite but nuanced. Never simple. The truth exists but is always hidden, those who seek it will find it.

Knowledge of the truth brings freedom.

Red October is only one of many news items that brings up issues of race, power and privilege, things that expose where society is at and therefore where our hearts are at. Things that make us feel like we have to choose sides and take it to the streets, or retreat into our gated communities.

What we think, feel and believe is important.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Femme Fridays – for black women: Fathers and Forgiveness (the unmentionables)

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“I’ve tried and tried to forgive this, but I’m much too full of resentment.” Beyonce Knowles

I feel some apprehension creeping in as I write this post because I know this is a sensitive issue. In a previous post I talked about how being a black woman is not easy. The first point I made was that for most black women, life is not easy because we grew up fatherless, or where our fathers were present physically, they were abusive or emotionally absent.

This post is about the role of forgiveness in relation to our fathers. I have chosen to focus on black women, mainly because this post is linked to the previously mentioned one. Of course, these principles apply to women across cultures as well as to men.

My intention is not to bash fathers, in fact, you’ll find that this post is more about us than about them.

Some of us have good fathers, others have bad ones but one thing in common that we all have is that our fathers are human. They hurt us, disappoint us, anger us and make us sad. Maybe your father hurt you in ways that you feel you can never tell anyone else about, it still hurts too much. And maybe you’ve never felt ready to face the reality of how disappointed you’ve felt about your father and you’ve had resentment for him simmering beneath the surface.

Here are my thoughts on why we should forgive and why we should not:

Do forgive :

For personal freedom. Have you heard it said that “Forgiveness is releasing a prisoner and discovering that the prisoner is you.”? Not forgiving someone has a way of binding you to that person, it can even begin to define you. Your life becomes about proving that that person was wrong about you. For example, if your father abandoned you or disowned you, you may feel driven to justify your existence to him, to the world. Often we think we’re exerting our independence but we’re actually like remotely controlled machines or puppets – your father still holds the strings of your heart and can tug at them at will. Live free!

For your relationships. We can all probably trace our wounds from our fathers back to early childhood. Maybe you can remember hearing other kids at school talk about their dads and it made you wonder why you didn’t have one. Or you have stored up years of memories of forgotten birthdays; financial issues caused by his irresponsibility; violence; things he said/ didn’t say; what he put your mother through… You may have decided many years ago to hold on to your unforgiveness until justice is done for the wrong committed against you. Is this your way of punishing your father? The truth is that when we hold on to past wrongs our hearts become like a closed fist – strong, hard, impenetrable. Sure, a great defence mechanism, nothing unwanted will ever enter. But it also means that the bad stuff gets trapped on the inside and the good can never come in. You may become insensitive, you may struggle to relate, you may really want to be open but fear that this makes you look vulnerable and weak.

Don’t forgive:

To change your father. I’ve heard stories about people whose relationships were instantly restored after having forgiven someone. I’ve also heard stories about people who forgave and died never having heard the offender repent of what they had done. Forgiveness may indeed be the key that unlocks the door to reconciliation with your father. But it is not a means of leveraging. Forgiveness by definition is about writing off a debt – by your choice, you decide that that person does not owe you anything. You don’t expect them to change.

To please anyone else. Ultimately, forgiveness is about us coming face to face with the state of our own hearts and choosing healing over pain, letting joy in instead of anger and trading in our ashes in exchange for beauty. Real forgiveness is a choice borne out of a personal conviction, not external pressure.

What’s on your mind? I would love to know!

Thanks for reading.
shula

being a black woman is not easy

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“Brown skin, you know I love your brown skin. I can’t tell where yours begins, can’t tell where mine ends.” India Arie

I am passionate about womanhood and I am always asking myself what it means to be a woman. Looking for answers in the Bible, looking around me and reading up online and in books.

Most recently I have been asking myself the question: What does it mean to be a black woman. This post will contain some strong generalisations but I am ok with that. Because I think the majority of black women fit into these generalisations. If you disagree, please comment! If you agree, comment too!

I have just asked myself why I am writing this post. I think it is because it is my way of understanding who I am and what has shaped me. And  perhaps  to help anyone who is curious to understand what it is like to live in this skin.

Why do you have to make it about colour though? It is not really comfortable to say this but my opinion is this: we cannot avoid the colour thing. For a black person, being black is such a big part of your identity. For black people in Africa, I believe that that has a lot to do with the colonial legacy. When you/ your parents/ your grandparents are a part of society that distributes income, housing, education, even freedom according to the colour of your skin, the colour thing is not just something that goes away because the government has changed. It goes deep.

For many of us, being black is our primary identity, whether we’re aware of it or not. Is that how it should be? Well, that’s up for debate! Everything I write here is up for debate, these are my views and I look forward to hearing yours.

Here are my thoughts on why being a black woman is not easy.

Most of us grew up with absent / abusive / unfaithful fathers.

I have chosen to make this one a launching pad because the first place a black woman learns what it means to be a black woman is in our childhood home. The pattern of our experiences in childhood become defining moments, for better or worse.

I don’t believe that should hate our fathers. I do believe that we should face the facts about them. How many black women do you know whose fathers are decent, loving and present in the home? Most of us just have a blank space where our dads are supposed to be. Or if he was there physically he was violent, verbally abusive or emotionally absent.

I have had many a conversation with my guy friends about their issues with black women: “Hayi (no), you guys are too strong! You leave no room for a man in your life!” Black women have had to learn to be strong, to not ever have to rely on anyone, certainly not a man for anything. For a black woman, this is not a cute ideological tag on to our lives, we feel it is necessary for our survival!

Most of us will admit that we do not really trust our fathers to be there for us when we really need them. We love our mothers to death, they have their faults. But we love them because we know that they had to be both the mother and the father, they were there when our dads couldn’t/ wouldn’t. The consequences of this is that we either really struggle to trust men, to connect with them

because we have trained ourselves to harden our hearts. On the other end of the spectrum, we may spend all our lives looking for affirmation in men, we long for their love, we trust too easily.

Most of us have serious self image issues.

Ok, granted this is a general woman issue. Or even a people issue, men included. But if you will allow me to, I would like to argue that things are a bit different for black women. For example, where I live there is an area where there are many little hair salons lining the streets. It is common to see a hairdresser standing outside trying to convince women to come and do their hair – braid it, weave it, relax it. Each time I walk past, without exception, one of these women will ambush me and tell me about all the ways they can “fix” my hair. You see, I have an afro. A big and untamed one and it is always amusing to see the look on their faces when I explain that it is not something I want remedied! It is how my hair naturally is and I want to keep it that way.

Yes, yes, we know that all women face a lot of pressure to conform to a certain standard of womanhood but many black women learn from a very young age that their hair is a problem and the lighter in complexion you are, the prettier you are. If I had R1 for every time the teenage girls I live with have complained about how “ugly” they look because they had to spend all afternoon in the sun, I’d be as rich as Kenny Kunene!

Most of my white friends do not have to worry about whether their natural hair will count against them in a job interview but that is a reality for many black women. Whether they look “professional” enough. I really love hip hop and R ‘n’ B but I realise that the portrayal of women in that genre is really harmful to women, particularly black women. I have seen it in the way that girls long to have a butt and boobs like Nicki Minaj, the pressure that black men put on women to conform to the hip hop candy/ video girl ideal. Skin lightening creams, hair extensions and hair relaxers are big business where black women live! Sadly, most black women will spend their whole lives reaching for a standard of beauty that is urealistic and unattainable.

Most black women are achievers and their male counterparts lag behind them.

Listen, I am by no means a man basher and I hope that I do not come across as one. Many black women have resigned themselves to the fact they will never meet and marry/ have a long term relationship with a man who is “at their level”. I see this amongst my relatives and my friends. Most black women I know, at different levels of income and education, are hardworking, disciplined and can take care of themselves. Many of us worry that we will never find a black man who is the same. We look around and all we see is boys. Boys still living off their momma’s money, boys with their jeans hanging way too low, boys who have no vision for their lives and are really not going anywhere.

I have seen this problem played out in church. The black women are in the ushering team, set up team, tea-serving team, the choir and the decorating team. The black guys (who probably make up about 5% of the church- I exaggerate!) are the guys who arrive late, sit at the back and leave as soon as the preacher says, “Amen!” Black men seem to struggle with spiritual topics and are really weak in that area. For spiritually strong women who think it is important to find a partner they can connect with at this level, this is really important! Most of us have given up on black men altogether and set our affections on the “white brothers” instead but in our heart of hearts we believe that we hope in vain!

Being a black woman is not easy. The understatement of the year! Being a black woman is a fight!

What are your thoughts?