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.