Name Him?

The politics of naming a family member. A colleague. 

Being told you asked for it. 
Watching another woman’s life crumble because she is married to a rapist. Their children. Their grownup children who only ever knew him as a loving, protective father. 
You weren’t a child when this happened, so how could it happen? You must have wanted it because look, he loves his wife. He loves his children. You must have said something. Done something. 
Your life under threat.
Starting over without family because rapists and rape apologists. 
Never visiting a favourite cousin’s house  because her husband is rapey, and never being able to say that because objectively, they are great together. Happy. Another cousin mentions she wants to see the wife but can’t go over there, but still you say nothing, you don’t ask why. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. 
He will forever be a violator, a rapist.  Is that all he is? What makes the rapeyness more significant than his actions as husband and father? Is there redemption for rapists? Once a rapist forever one? 
I don’t know. I just. Don’t. Know.

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We Shall Not Be Erased

​The Call

Stand strong. Do not let yourself be erased by the names they call you nor by the language they make you speak. Do not erase yourself.

I speak to you from a land that time has never known, where every moment is now and there is no tomorrow and no yesterday and I say to you: you have forgotten yourself. 
Your magic has been stolen, misused, and you yourself have been bruised and abused but you must rise. Find yourself. Recover what has been lost. Restore what has been stolen. Stand in the place fit for you -not the you they have turned you into, but the you who was even before they were. Do you not know that you are made of stars and they are made of you? Can the wooden bowl call the tree fool? 


The Response
I am here and I listen and I hear. 

I look upon the wooden bowl and see the tree standing tall and hear the wind playing hide and seek in its leaves. I honour not just the strength and the beauty of the tree but also the darkly fertile land that birthed it and the mighty waters that nourished it. 

There is for everything a time and a season; the Wisdom of the elders has taught me this and much besides. I cannot pull back the time that has passed and undo the deeds of wickedness and sin, but  I stand to take hold of today so that my tomorrow is not stolen. 
Yes. I am here and I listen and I hear. 
I will not erase myself nor allow myself to be erased. 

I will stand in my womanhood and celebrate my femininity.

I stand in my power and celebrate this hair and this skin and the languages of my people. Bathi baqedile kanti abakaqali.

I am here and I listen and I hear.
Different does not mean inferior and two things that are one thing may be yet different but equal. Are we not all hue-man and do we not all bleed red? Are we not different despite that we are one? 

Let those who have ears hear.
I stand in fierce, black, African and Nguni femininity when the sun awakens the magic of the melanin that thuds through me like the drumbeat of a gifted one, magic and drum connecting me to all that is and was and is still to be-

-in a world where womanhood is only a feeling and not a state of being. Nonetheless it remains a gift that cannot be had despite all of the gold and all of the diamonds in all of the world…they can but try.
The Stand
You cannot erase my name and what stands behind it for in that name I have my being and in all my many names I move and live and breathe.

I will not forget my language and the history of the people I come from but I will speak yours and conquer you because what is this life but a fight for immortality, and what is immortality but my name, my language, my voice ringing in your ears? 

You will meet me and through me come face to face with you those you slaughtered on whose backs I stand; whose wisdom has come to me as birth right bestowed by the GreatestGreatOne herself; wisdom come to me not in books and manifestos, those dry, lifeless things such as you must rely upon, but in soaring spirit and in vivid light and in the dreams of darkness that tell of a time when freedom covered the land and the knowing of it was available to all who would do the work. With that wisdom – hear me well – with that wisdom came knowledge, came the truth of  the inalienable right to be, and to be in peace.


The Prophetic Word
I am a daughter of kings and queens and you will know my brothers and sisters by the magic of their melanin. You would do well to remember that we are all of us royalty.

We shall rise and we shall overcome and we shall not, shall not, be erased.

*All images by Frank Morrison, my fav Afro artist. 

On Love – What It Is, What It Isn’t

It’s not love if you have to beg it to stay,

Or if you only feel it on monthend Friday,

Or if it makes you feel like you are both too much

And too lacking in slay.
It’s not love if it’s not there when you need it

Or if you need a magnifying glass to see it

Or if all you ever do is give of your energy to feed it.
It’s not love if your heart regularly shatters,

Or if you lie about what you think matters,

Or if right now bridges are appealing cos your entire life is in tatters.
Love is hard and difficult –

Nothing worth having is ever simple but
Love tries, so hard;

Love gives and shares and opens up;

Love forgives and cries and forgives again

And then Love holds itself as the standard against which all action is measured.

If the act was not loving

Then perhaps Love was never there.

-Beauty’s Daughter

On Decepticons Posing As Men

If you’re dating for marriage you need to learn how to recognise decoys or, as my friend Lyn and I like to call them – Decepticons. Decepticons come in various forms and learning how to identify them in the shortest possible time is vital. 

Type 1: YOU’RE JUST NOT INTO HIM
These are men who look good on paper but that you just don’t find attractive. If you have ‘a list’ -you shouldn’t, you should have non-negotiables and there should be no more than two or three- everything on that list checks out BUT the feeling just isn’t there; you can’t connect emotionally at all. You forget this man exists, you never miss him, you only tolerate him because you feel bad about not liking him since he’s ‘everything you want’ and you hang on to him in case nothing better comes along. You’re being unfair to this man and you’re short-changing yourself: it’s beneath you. You can do better than be motivated by fear. Let him go. And while you’re at, if you do have a list you might want to think about chucking it out because clearly, it’s not serving you well. 

Type 2: HE DOESN’T like YOU LIKE THAT

Marriage is incredibly difficult. Some people even claim that getting married is a sure-fire way to kill a relationship but here’s the thing: people who say that are usually men with commitment issues or women dating men they know are not worthy of the husband title. Sure these people might love their partners, but they know it’s a for-now situation and they want the option of an out, just in case their worst fears come true. Leaving a girlfriend/boyfriend is always going to be easier than leaving a spouse. Marriage is not for everyone nor should it be, but obviously I’m talking to people who understand and accept the value of marriage as an important building-block of society. If you’re anti-marriage, this isn’t for you. 

This Type 2 Decepticon wastes your time by saying all the right things but doing none of them. He says and does just enough to keep you hoping and believing and sexing, but falls just short of giving you the exclusive commitment and the security you really want. Hear this: if a man doesn’t want to lose you he’ll make sure he doesn’t, but if his life is not improved by your presence in it he’ll do the bare minimum: you’re Miss Good-enough till Miss Game-changer comes on by. If you’re not his game-changer – you’ll know if you are – keep it moving. 


Type 3: HE MAKES YOUR LADY-PARTS EXCEEDINGLY HAPPY, and DASSIT

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you know anything at all about marriage you know that sex is very important, but if you know a lot about marriage you’ll know that good sex won’t save a bad marriage. If all this man is good for is several screaming Os a day (please Lord), that alone is not enough to build a relationship on, certainly not a marriage. If he’s not your intellectual equal (NOT measured in degrees fyi); if he can’t give you emotional and spiritual support (a man has to be able to ‘stand in the gap’ for his wife and ‘cover’ her); if he can’t fulfill his God-given role to ‘provide and protect’ – that man is not husband-material. You would do well to RUN before all that oxytocin makes you make a bad decision. 

See that last ‘and’? It’s not an either/or situation.

Decepticons are called that because they deceive you into thinking they’re the real deal. Decoys, or Decepticons, come into your life to steal your time, energy and your resources; to keep you from finding the love God has for you; and to destroy your sense of worth/self-esteem by making you think you’re unloveable and convincing you you’ll die alone. You have to be self-aware to recognise a Type 1 Decepticon so do the work to figure out who you are, what kind of relationship makes you thrive, and then grow into the kind of woman your kind of man would value.

 You have to be paying attention to how a man treats you and to how he makes you feel to identify Types 2 and 3. If we (women) paid as much attention to our emotional health as we do to our looks and gassing each other up with lies, we’d be far better off because we’d recognise those threats to the pillars of our self-esteem long before they did any real damage.

 
What other kinds of Decepticons do you know? Tell me, please!

On Boycotting Unilever 

#​boycottUnilever 

Can I start off by clarifying a few things:

  1. The Dove clip that made it onto FB and Twitter is part of a longer TV ad showing, allegedly, seven women all turning into each other. What caught MY attention is that it was Dove. Again. Unilever. Again.
  2. Everyone has a breaking point. That clip took me to MY breaking point. I don’t need anyone to agree with me (but if you do, great).

I, as a black woman, am EXCEEDINGLY upset by Unilever’s blatant disrespect for people like me as shown in not just one, but several Dove ads, all of which have been followed by non-apology apologies. Unlike some, I didn’t find out about the earlier Dove ads just yesterday, I already knew they were out there having seen them before and like most are doing now, I decided it was all much of a muchness because what am I gonna do if Dove disrespects black women and black people, being little ol’ me? Life carried on as normal. 

But things have changed since then, perhaps I have changed. Continuous trauma in the form of micro aggressions and larger-scale acts of racist intent towards my person and the persons of people like me… it’s gotten to the point where I, in my capacity as a black woman and as a user of Unilever products decided – no more. NOT IN MY NAME. As an individual, I have reached the point where I cannot ignore this any longer. I can see how others can, but I cannot. 

Is clicktivism/slacktivism a pointless exercise? Yes it is, without real world application. 

I don’t expect anyone to boycott Unilever, but I myself am doing that because I am tired. I am boycotting Unilever because supporting local and supporting black is the right thing to do, and now is as good a time as any to start. I’m posting about these things not because I’m trying to start a movement -I’m far from activist material- but because that’s what I do.

Are you boycotting Unilever, black man? No? And really, why should you? You’re not a black woman fed-up with being everybody’s punching bag, but I am. I am boycotting Unilever for MY peace of mind. If somebody said, right now, let’s march Unilever SA Ltd in Paulshof, Sandton, I wouldn’t go because that, to me and in this case, is the definition of pointless. I choose to let my money speak for me, and everyone else is free to do the same. I am boycotting Unilever and I don’t care who doesn’t like that. 

Are you not boycotting Unilever, black woman? I hear you. It’s too much trouble. Too much effort. There’s nothing better than Vaseline or Handy Andy or Sunlight Liquid. Where are the black-owned companies to replace all those products? I hear you. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m doing it anyway because it matters to me. I didn’t boycott the first time Dove pulled this stunt, nor the second. But this time I have reached the end of my tether. 

Let me tell you a story. 

Inside LUSH.

I used to love Lush products. Before they opened stores here I was buying that shit online thanks to rave reviews on women’s forums. (Do I mean fora?) I LOVED all their rose-scented bath products; the bath bombs were my happy place. One day, I went into the Rosebank store as I had done before, and walked out again without buying anything after the three girls there -two white, one black- failed to give me the service they gave everyone who entered before and after me – the welcoming smile, little shopping basket handed to you, polite offers of assistance…don’t get me wrong, I didn’t need any of that, but it was the basic standard of service Lush had set. I have never been in another Lush store since because I choose not to spend my money in establishments that treat me like they’re doing me a favour. If I can’t take that sort of crap from a man, the fuck I look like spending money to be disrespected?

Are there other issues? Bigger issues than Dove’s dumb ad campaigns? Yes. And?

Contrary to the opinions held by some, black women are really quite talented – we can hold more than two thoughts in our brains at the same damn time. I can talk about a Unilever boycott and do my bit for under-served communities and speak on youth empowerment and promote black people’s self-love, starting with loving our hair and our melanin. And, mind you, all that while holding down a full-time job and raising my children while bleeding, in heels. 

Talmbout, surely there are bigger issues…gerarahere fo reeel!

I can walk and chew gum at the same time.
FOH. 

On Dove, Unilever and Black Men Throwing Us Under The Bus

1. Black men are claiming Dove is targeting black women buyers because we all want to be white, so what’s the fuss? This is what Khanyi Mbau and her ilk have done. One idiot male even claims ‘60%’ of black women bleach…a clearly made-up stat that’s being used to imply that all the outrage is false because black women want to be white. I’m very disappointed in black men spewing this hate but perhaps not surprised. It’s not like they’re known for defending us, anyway. 
2. Boycotts. Like I said yesterday, if you use Dove by all means boycott. The brand does not deserve your money. Don’t throw out what you have though, that’s just not a smart move and it will hurt you and nobody else. If you bulk buy, finish up what you have to give yourself time to look for alternatives. 

But also, Dove isn’t a stand-alone entity. Unilever, that multi-national giant that makes so many of those products we love – Vaseline (this will hurt), Handy Andy (and Domestos so don’t be thinking you’ll switch to that)…too many to mention (check the pics for Unilever SA brands). Over two billion people worldwide use Unilever products every day (acc. to Unilever SA’s website), myself included. If as black people we’re serious about voting with our wallets then we need to ditch Unilever en masse. We need to show the buying power of black and brown people, and demand better treatment. Too far? Well, that’s debatable isn’t it? 

How much disrespect and how many non-apologies does it take to get us to stand up for ourselves? Buy local, buy black. I’m not one for protests (but I’ll march and sign petitions and advocate for three-day weekends for women and mothers) and dude, Unilever is comfort but this is bullshit and I’m not here for it. Unilever is never getting a single cent from me if I can avoid it, and I’m going to do my damndest to avoid it.


3. Some have argued that raising black people’s ire is a new marketing ploy, see: Pepsi, and that therefore they are above the fray and it’s business as usual. I don’t understand why more people aren’t more outraged, and how it is that black people can ‘uncover’ such a nefarious scheme and still give Unilever and other problematic companies their money. If you believe that black women in particular and POC in general are being exploited in this way, how can you continue to support these companies? Bullshit like that is exactly why we continue to be disrespected like this. 

4. Support small businesses. Support local businesses. Support black-owned businesses. If you don’t want to boycott Unilever completely, at least do what you can to support your own people, and yes, hold them to the same standard of excellence and respect to which you hold other entities. Buying black and buying local should not and must not mean settling for inferior products. 

Here. Breathe. Jump.

It’s not a race, this is true, yet time is not to be misused. It may not be of the essence but let’s not downplay its importance. Allow me to misquote Kierkegaard: life is not so much a mystery to be solved as it is a reality to be experienced, sometimes foul mess notwithstanding. Breathe in the cleansing air. 

Here. Jump. 

Heart and lungs must keep pumping and heaving; one needs must keep breathing if ever the deed is to conform to the vision. Ask yourself why you keep restating the obvious; could it be that the audience you seek to convince is not without but within? 

Breathe. Here. 

The truth is unpalatable but taste and see how good the freedom feels.
 While not all fires smoke, there is never smoke without fire. 

Breathe. Inhale. 

Clear out the dank. 

Exhale. 

Fan the flames, don’t you dare smother; let them rise, let’s see the fruit of your desire.

It’s not a race, no, there’s no egg-timer here, no stopwatch; yet flames do not burn in a vacuum. Fuel the fire or in silence accept the death of desire. 

Breathe. 

Choices have been made and unmade and choices may just as easily be remade. He who chooses to sit in darkening twilight can just as easily choose to fan flames into blazing brilliance. 

Here. Breathe. Fan the flames high.

 Breathe. Exhale. Jump. 

T’is naught but a soft place to land.

-Beauty’s Daughter


*Written 2016, Oct.