Misogynoir isn’t enough.

Misogynoir isn’t enough. Being black and womxn gets worse once you add foreign to that label.  The interrogation of our identities should not end at race and Gender as black womxn. We should look at the other intersections that are used to as try to destroy us.

Class and Ethnicity oppression have done as much damage as Race and gender based oppression in my life. Being bullied for simply being Congolese for the first couple of years in South Africa was really damaging.

For years, I tried to assimilate into South African culture, I didn’t want my friends to see me as one of the foreign kids so I mostly avoided foreign kids.

The assimilation and self-hate were not conscious decisions. They were my 9-year old self’s subconscious way to build defense mechanisms to survive school.

My features are kind of obviously Congolese so I struggled to see myself as beautiful since what made me was what I had to avoid. My people love bright outrageous colours and I avoided those (for the most part), I avoided prints from back home and anything else that would give me away.

Learning to love and appreciate the fact that I am Congolese has been a highlight for the last couple of years.

I wear all the ridiculous prints, I cut my hair so my features were even more prominent, Congolese strangers in the road don’t even bother to speak English with me because they can tell. For years being easily identified would make me cringe on the inside, now I just do me and this makes me happy.

I Bought these earrings a few weeks ago, just because I thought they were pretty, the friend who was with me laughed and told me that I was making “such a Congolese” choice, I agreed with her and still got the earrings without feeling any shame.

Growing up as a refugee in South Africa is hard and It continues to break refugee kids. South Africans are selective in their praise. Everyone thinks Kenya and Ghana and Tanzania are cool, I mean at least there aren’t many of those here. The Zimbabweans and Malawians are not that great but at least their speak some South African languages.

The Congolese, Nigerians, Somalians, Ethiopians and others who are obviously different are the ones who remain on the outside. Dealing with Classism, racism and the casual Xenophobia (the obvious Xenophobia is reserved for certain episodes most of the time).

People still use my doing something obviously not South African as an insult/ something not desirable, even conscious folks who are friends do this.

The last couple of years have been about me learning for myself now I am ready to call people out on Their causal xenophobia.

 

 

Men are Trash

We live in an unequal society that has oppressed many in different forms for centuries. Oppression has become the norm, we often do not even see how the simplest things that we do can dehumanize another.
Humans created oppressive systems and it is humans who maintain them. Identities are complex, we can be both oppressed and oppressors. Often you can be oppressed in one way and still contribute in the system that oppresses you by finding someone else that you can abuse. Poor folks in capitalist systems steal from each other in the name of xenophobia, Black men in racist societies continue to abuse the black womxn who are supposed to be their partners in the revolution.
Our conscious and subconscious conditioning prepares us to live in the world that we are born in. Black people born in racist societies internalize racism, White folks in racist societies display racism.
We are born in a racist-capitalist-hetronomative-patriachal-abelist-transexclusianary-classist world. If we do not realize our intersection in this system we will let this system harm us, we will enforce its existence and we will hurt others.
In this racist world, all white folks are racist. Not just trump. For most whites your first interaction in life with a POC is one where their serve you, the media Presents people like you in a positive light, education systems make you the center of the universe, television and books make your experiences the norm. No one is exempt from the conscious and subconscious conditioning that happens daily. Until you realize that you are racist as a white person, you will never truly interrogate the role that you play in maintaining racism and you will continue to maintain it. As a white person, you are either a racist or a recovering racist.
It is not just the men who abuse and rape who are Trash. All men who are born in a system that teaches them to; belittle/ Undermine womxn, a system that puts their needs over those of womxn, a system that makes them the owner of a womxn’s body and a system that makes them a judge of a womxn’s character are trash. You are Trash or recovering trash as a man.
The temptation to slipback into racism for whites will always remain if the system remains the way that it is. New ways to be racist are invented daily, lots of racist choices are made on a subconscious level and you might not even realize that you are being racist until someone points it out. The patriarchy/sexism are displayed by men consciously and subconsciously too. Every single man has been sexist/problematic at some point and chances are you will be again and that is why you are all trash.
It is not just the big racist and the big sexist who maintain racist and sexist systems. The earlier we realize that every bit counts, that subconscious and conscious bits also count, the sooner we can truly fight these oppressive systems.
The man who abuses his partner, the man who won’t let his daughter attend school, the man who laughs at sexist jokes, the man who thinks he is smarter with his mansplaining, the “not all men” nice guy who wants a pat on the back for just being a decent human and the man with the hero-complex all contribute towards maintaining a sexist society and they are all trash.
Oppressive systems prepare us to enforce and maintain them. All white people are racist, All men are trash, All cis-folks are Trans-phobic, All straight people are homophobic.

Keep your essentialism to yourself.

I do not want to be your exception. If you find parts of my identity disgusting then please go ahead and find me unattractive too.

I do not exist so that you can consume bits of me that mostly likely resemble you while you reject everything else that makes me who I am.

“You speak well for a black person” “You are pretty for a Congolese”, “You are smart for a girl”, “you are really nice for a black girl” and any other similar comments are not welcome.

Here is the logic behind those comments

  • Y is a desirable characteristic
  • People who are X do not have Y
  • Persons X lack desirability when they lack Y
  • As a Member of X with a Y, you are the exception.

example of above logic

  • Being smart is Important in life.
  • Girls are not smart
  • Girls are not important because they are not smart.
  • You must be the exception

If you need to insult a whole part of my identity to give me a compliment you should probably not say anything.

The oppressed can keep an oppressive system in place

A lot of my anxiety and depression this year has been about realizing that the white-supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy is winning because many of those for whom this system exists to crush are still propping it up daily.

Seeing people of colour defending whiteness for the atrocities it has committed in the past and continues to commit to this day is what breaks my heart.

Racist white folks don’t bother me in the least.
People of colour who have internalized racism and continue to defend the current white-supremacist global order break my heart.

I cant even begin to explain the sadness that overwhelms me every time I see a woman of colour defending systems that continue to oppress her.

Dating as a feminist

I haven’t blogged in months because my degree got hectic, my depression stole a few months of my life and life just got busy. I am writing again with the hope of getting my life back on track. So much has happened in the last couple of months and I am hoping to write it all down in the next couple of weeks.

My Twenties have made me bolder and unapologetic about  who I am as a person . Although the last couple of years  have been some of the best and hardest years of my life. At 23  I already feel like I cannot relate to 18-year-old me.

I know that marriage, children and other factors could have made my life completely different. However living alone and studying has really helped to shape both who I am at the moment and the person I am growing into  .

The fast paced and constant personal growth is my favourite part of my life right now. Continuously learning and refining who I am is very liberating, especially for someone like me from a very conservative background who suffered from self-esteem issues up. My twenties are about defining me for me.

Being able to study in a different city from the rest of my family and living alone has helped me in this journey of self-discovery. Having space to define my own rules, boundaries and beliefs has made me a lot stronger than I was 3 years ago. I am forced to live with my own choices, so I’ve learnt to be confident and comfortable in myself. The independence of my twenties has given me the ability to rely on myself, to force myself to do things despite my insecurities.

The people in my life right now are mostly likely not going to be a permanent feature and this is something I’ve had to accept over the last couple of years. We are all growing and trying to figure ourselves out, life might take us to different places.

I’ve believed in equality for years but it is only in recent years that I have started identifying as a feminist. Feminism has allowed be to define myself with no shame, to accept and love who I am and to question a lot of things around me. Having very strong feminist ideology and being in the very stubborn fast growing phase of my life has made dating extremely challenging. I only had my first proper relationship last year.

I dated this individual for just under 2 months last year. That awkwardly short relationship was in itself a learning curve. He identified as a feminist too, he was a man of colour with strong opinions about race and identity and he just seemed to be  equally as  fascinated by me as I was by him. Being together just made sense. We started dating less than two weeks after meeting each other. The initially perfect guy turned out to be a huge mistake, he had learnt to clothe his misogyny in feminist terminology, he was emotionally manipulative and condescending. I lost 2 years’ worth of confidence building in less than a month. I started questioning myself more and more. In a matter of weeks, I went from blissfully infatuated to uncertain of myself and depressed. I never really spoke to friends about how bad things were but I decided that I needed to end things when I felt at my lowest.

The belief in some sort of bounce back is something in my twenties that I want to carry for the rest of my life. I decided in my mind and broke it off the very next day. I didn’t allow myself to stay long enough in that relationship to fall inlove, the longer you stay the harder it becomes to leave. I didn’t stay long enough to start measuring worth not on current happiness but based on past experiences and the potential for future happiness. Right now I can be selfish, I can make decisions based on the present and not feel any sort of guilt or loss.

I met someone a few weeks later and we are now happily dating.

My current partner is not perfect, however he is willing to learn and listen . He is very much aware of his positionaliy and that is a great start. I don’t think a perfect feminist relationship exists to be honest.

My previous and current relationships have made me very aware of my feminism when I am dating. At this stage of my life dating as a feminist for me has been about knowing what I can and what I cannot compromise, it is about knowing that both my partner and I can be problematic but our intentions should always be in the right place, I now know how to be both critical and compassionate with both my partner and myself.

My feminism has removed my tolerance for misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and any other problematic behaviours in a partner, the independence of my twenties has given me the freedom to be resolute in my beliefs and to leave when I no longer feel safe.

 

Choosing to love my Natural hair.

I’m not really a fashionista and I almost always fail to think about my aesthetics. My family and friends still determines what I wear to a large extent. Just like clothes, Hair has never been something that I had to think about. I had short hair as a toddler, relaxed or braided until I was 18, now weaves and everything else in between.

For a very long time I was a strong advocate of “I am not my hair”. I hated the fact that black women’s hair was so political. I believed in my individuality and wanted my hair to be nothing more than a reflection of my mood.

Not really caring about hair meant that for the last couple of years, I stuck to what was easy regarding my hair. Braids, low-maintenance weaves and relaxed hair. To me this choice not to wear my hair natural was one of convenience and not aesthetic preference.  It was only recently when I tried to do my own hair and basically ruined it and had to go natural that I realised that I had a subconscious issue with my natural hair.

Wearing my hair in its natural state initially made me feel less beautiful. My head looked too big, I didn’t have enough hair in the front and my afro was just not what I expected.

After my initial disappointment with my natural hair I had to stop and think.  I am one who claims to be proudly African and comfortable in my blackness and yet my “black” hair was not good enough. I really felt like a hypocrite, how I can preach black pride when I hated something as natural as the hair on my head.

It was at this point that I had to stop and do some introspection. I had to know the reason why I had such a huge problem with my natural hair.

My Grandparents were raised through Belgium’s colonisation of  Congo (DR) and being part of the generation that fought for independence made them very pro-black consciousness and pan-Africanism.

Independence did not go as planned, the country was in ruins a few years after independence. My parents were born through the decaying years and I think their blamed their parents for getting rid of the “whites”. A lot of people in my parents’ generation that I encountered while growing up all wanted to go to the west, their thought that we got rid of the colonisers too quickly

Having grandparents who are pro-black and Being part of a family that values blackness is a privilege and I think for a while I forgot that my family is not a reflection of the world and that my subconscious also absorbs a lot of the problematic stuff in the media.

I had to come to a point where I could admit that my lack of love for my natural hair was a subconscious internalization of my parent’s hatred for post-colonial Africa and the media’s constant reinforcement of western standards of beauty.

I would never have known that I had internalized white supremacy notions of hair if I never tried wearing my hair in its natural state.

It was only when I learnt to love my natural hair that choosing to have a weave or braids became a real choice.

The fact that the media continues to reinforce the idea that black hair is just not as great seeped into my subconscious.

I live on my own now and I truly want to live a life that is completely decolonized. The decision to learn to love my Hair is one of the steps I had to take on this journey of decolonizing my mind.

I am currently learning about natural treatment and styles that work for my natural hair. I have Afro envy and Afro-goals.

Winning the game of adulting is all about learning.

I kept repeating some of my mistakes because I didn’t take stock of the lessons I learnt while making these mistakes.  Now that I know better, I take some time off to write down the lessons that I’ve learnt every couple of months.

I learn new things everyday. However somethings are more memorable than others.

Keeping track of the important lessons in life is essential for growth. You will only know and remember; what went wrong, what could have been avoided and what could be better when you take the time to analyse certain situations in life .

I did some introspection this weekend and I want to share the 5 biggest lessons for me from the last couple of months .

1. It is OK to lose friends.

2. The right person at the wrong time is still the wrong person.

3. Anxiety about the future shouldn’t take away from present Joy

4.Embracing my uncertainty is better than false assurance.

5.The only thing worse than the “I-Told-you-so” from friends is the “I-Knew                   better from self. Listen to your spirit.

I will go through these in detail when I have time, but for now I Just thought I should share these lessons.