The Double Burden

Hello everyone! I truly am sending you all peace and love, it has been a tough couple of weeks.

Usually before I start writing a post, I decide what I will be writing about but this time, I couldn’t, I don’t really know what to write about anymore. So I’m kind of just writing as I go. A number of people messaged me over the past couple of weeks telling me that they were ‘excited,’ for lack of a better word, to read my piece on racism, police brutality, structurally racist countries – they’re all one in the same thing really. But let me be honest, I have been avoiding and even dreading writing about it and I have felt incredibly guilty about feeling this way. Don’t get me wrong, I do not feel obligated to write about it; I want to but I feel like I can’t. What is happening right now is not about my person experiences with race or my personal perceptions on race. Although I am a person of colour, what is happening right now is calling for me to listen and learn not to dilute the struggles being faced by adding my own layer of personal experiences. Furthermore, I believe that the point of talking about race is to get people to listen, to understand what is being faced by marginalised groups in society. I think there has been an incredible influx of learning material that have surfaced about race over the past few weeks and I think adding material such as personal opinions (which is what I do here) will lead to information saturation. I do not want that to happen because I want people to continue to educate themselves during these times. The thing is that, from the beginning of this blog, I always intend on discussing race but because race and female equality are two topics that can bring me to tears, they were things I wanted to wait to write about. Ironically, both these topics are currently ‘trending.’ – I hate that word, but it’s true, they are trending and much of the fervour that is present now will devastatingly die down.

Now, I just said that I wanted to speak about neither but look at me being ambitious and discussing both in one post! In terms of explanations, I do not think much has to be explained about the racism plaguing the United States; and I am so glad to see that people have been attempting to listen and learn. However, I do think the feminine issues need to be explained a little more as they are being quite overlooked at the moment. Women have been dying. Dying at the hands of men. I honestly am not sure what is going on or how it can be explained but sexual assaults and murders of women have been skyrocketing in African countries such as Nigeria and South Africa. Being a woman is hard… being a black women taxing to say the least… being a black, African woman is draining and being a poor, black, African woman…can you even imagine it?

We are being killed both for the colour of our skin and for being women. I say we, but obviously I have not been killed, I say we because every single time I hear about these horrendous things happening, a piece of my identity seems to go along with the story and with the person who has suffered. The actual person dying is a stranger to me but they are nonetheless my brother or sister; we were cut from the same cloth. That is why I find it so mind-numbing and emotionally draining that we still have to prove that we have the right to life. The right to life?! Never-mind the right to our own bodies which succumb treatment that constantly reminds us that they are not really ours. But the right to life? How is it possible that I have to fight someone about the right to life?

In the beginning of the George Floyd protests, I was pessimism if it were a person. I was devastated, emotional and shocked. I looked at what American’s were doing and my first thought was “what’s the point, nothing will change.” But I went through some hard introspection and I realised that yes, things are bad but things were worse. Our ancestors fought, suffered and died to give us the iota of freedom and equality we have now. I refer to both women and people of colour in this context. While it is unfair that we still have to fight for what is given to others freely, it is our struggle and we will always continue to fight with pride. Being a woman is beautiful, we carry the world on our shoulders and still give all we have. We love hard, we are strong and we need to stick together in these times of trauma.

I do not want to say that I know much about being black in the United States or about being systematically oppressed because of my race. For the most part, I have been shielded from systematic racism because of my social class and I have being shielded from a lot of the black stereotypes because I am mixed race. My fairer skin, curlier hair, mixed features and accent have made me ‘exotic,’ rather than black. I will be the first to admit that the mixed race community in Zimbabwe has its fair share of racism which is inexcusable. It is a result of colonial ordering of racial significance. It seeped in generation after generation to make mixed race people think they were somehow better than black people. This is something I want to discuss in more depth in a later post. My point is that I do not, nor will I ever understand what it feels like to be black because of how and where I grew up. But what I do know is that black culture, our culture in unmatched and we should never stop fighting rigorously for it. Everyone knows it, including the racists who try so hard to keep black people down. One might say this is the exact reason they try so hard because they know the strength and power that is in a black person. That knowledge and unexplained hatred. To my mixed race Africans, we need to realise that just because we have black ancestry, it does not mean that we are ‘allowed’ to be racist. We need to check ourselves as much as overt racists. I know a lot of it stems from our own identity crises but we need to do better. I say the same think to black Africans, it is believed that because you are black you cannot be racist. In a sense this is true, there are other words for black on black racism such as xenophobia and self-hate. It exists and we need to get our houses in order too. How can we expect others to respect us when we do not respect ourselves or each other?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” —Barack Obama

This quote resonates with me because with hindsight, I am ashamed that I was one of the people who said what is the point in fighting. We have faced these same problems for hundreds of years and look at us, still fighting. It is hard to realise how far we have come when we look at the inequality, violence and torment we are still facing but we have done great things and we will continue to do great tings; women, people of colour and women of colour.

I’d like to leave you all with some words about the protests. Looting, corona, violence… there will always be criticisms and reasons as to why we should not be protesting. But it does not make sense to me why people should listen to their oppressors on how to protest, that defeats the entire purpose of a protest, no? Why do these people even feel entitled to comment on the way that we are expressing our hurt? Pain is a strong emotion and you will never understand why someone acts a certain way until you experience their pain. You will never experience our pain, this is not about George Floyd or Uwavera Omozuwa (a twenty-two year old university student in Nigeria who was raped and bludgeoned to death in her church). It is about years of pain, suffering and oppression. Yes corona is still very much around; killing people.. so you explain to me why there are still police officers and despicable men out killing innocent people when there is a deadly virus already doing that? I understand the disregard for the virus and for property. We have had enough. Criticising a protest comes from a place of privilege and I for one am proud of what has been happening in the United States and the rest of the world too. I wish that my fellow Africans could have the same enthusiasm and outrage for the things happening in their own countries but that is a post for another day. On that same note, I want to remind all my people of colour to be kind to one another. These are tough times and simply because someone is not posting on social media, it does not mean that they do not care or they are not in pain over what is happening. We do not know what people are doing or going through behind closed doors, we do not know any of these tradegies effect them emotionally or mentally. I too believe that silence is taking the side of the oppressor, however, I think that is applicable when you have a choice to ignore the situation (in this case, our white ‘friends’). Whether a person of colour posts on social media or not, they will be subjected to racism and whether or not a woman posts on social media, they will be subjected to gender inequality and violation. Social media has helped us to reach out to millions of people but it has also enabled us to exacerbate the feelings of helplessness and loneliness people may feel during these times. So now is not the time to judge and persecute… we all do what we can and that is enough.

If you have read this far, I hope you are at least an ally of the causes. If so, you can visit the Black Lives Matter website (www.blacklivesmatter.com) to educate yourself, sign petitions or donate to the cause. I have so far, been unable to find applicable websites/ petitions for the problems being faced by African women in particular and if anyone knows any sights please let me know and I will put it in my next post. ❤️

Once again, love to you all.

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