Tag Archives: race

Black, Female and Strong

It is a really interesting time to be in South Africa, what with all the #Fallist talks and the different dialogues happening around race, culture and identity. Last week, I attended the Open Book Festival in Cape Town and happened to attend two talks that had me very excited.

The first related to decolonising institutions. Although most African countries obtained political and some level of economic independence, in the main very few countries embarked on that extra step to decolonise their culture, their thinking, their language and their identity. My personal view is that this is vital and regardless of the length of time that has passed from independence, no country is fully emancipated until they do this and I suppose this is where South Africa is at the moment. Slightly controversially, I think that it is the colonised Black people that must fully lead in this process and set the agenda. Also, less clear to me is the question of language. Can a revolution led in the “colonisers” language ever be taken seriously? Or have that full acceptance and recognition? While I am not fully convinced it can be, I am not sure what the counterfactual is.

This talk also touched on the question of privilege which led me to think of my own story and my privilege. As I am obviously Black and female this makes class my privilege because through class, I can transcend some of the discrimination I would otherwise face. For example, I am really grateful that I am privileged to be able to outsource some of the things I don’t enjoy doing around the house to someone else and pay her to do them on my behalf. Some of the expectations that I am graciously excused from as a  new wife by my extended family. I am extremely grateful but also, with privilege does responsibility also increase. To give back, to ensure justice and reduced inequality for others that are less fortunate. To do something.

The second talk was on feminism. The panel has become my ultimate girl/writer crush/ perfect dinner guest list/ people I must meet before I leave the earth. The moderator was Mohale Mashigo and the panelists were: Yewande OmotosoNnedi Okorafor and Pumla Dineo Gqola. After the session was over, I just wanted to sit and bask in the warm fuzzies generated by that session. Nothing I love more than passionate and educated women with a strong opinion that they are happy to share and loudly at that. For the hour that they spoke, it was nice to talk about common and sometimes not so common experiences we share as women. When did you first know that you were a feminist? How do the books that you read portray female characters? Media? TV? Is feminism for all? Is this brand of feminism accessible to all or are there some class privilege undertones? When the struggle is so tough, how do you reignite the joy and keep the focus? I am obviously not even summarising the discussion well but it was a very interesting discussion.

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L-R Mashigo, Okorafor, Gqola, Omotoso

Sunday Reads

  1. ​This is so true of my Undergrad experience of Economics as a whole​.
  2. Not really an Oatmeal fan, but this strip is very inspirational.
  3. Great writing advice!!
  4. Article had such promise only to wind up with me asking, and then? so what?
  5. ​This one too was well written about an emotionally evocative topic, white privilege.
  6. Practical tips to help us think through nutrition. Also, thinking of stopping to take dairy and switch to alternatives.
  7. Cue the farewell to 2015 posts!
  8. How to respond when things go wrong.

Book review: The Invention of Wings

 Buy here

I love Sue Monk Kidd and have read all her earlier works and so when I heard she had a new book out, I thought yay!! Good stuff. BUT, I wasn’t prepared for the beauty and the magic of The Invention of Wings. Just beauty.

Synopsis

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a #1 New York Times bestselling novel about two unforgettable American women.

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

First off, I must start with the fact that I loved this cover and the fact that when you start to read about Hetty, you will see how the image on the cover totally resembles her. I totally judge a book by its cover and this would have piqued my interest even if I did not love the author.

My other overarching thought was how this book has such beautiful imagery, it must be converted into a movie or a series for TV. It simply must for the following reasons:

  • I mean if all these Vampire things can be adapted, why not such a beautiful story?
  • Without spoiling too much, quilting and dressmaking is a central theme in the story which I would love to see on screen.
  • Although painful, I would also like to see how they stage the beatings and the diverse relationships between the slaves and the relationship between them and their Owners.
  • Sarah is also a pivotal character and I would love to see who is cast to portray her and then how she develops over time.

All in all, the language was beautiful and it told a very emotional topic in a nuanced and sensitive manner which appealed to me greatly. I found out at the end that it was based on a historical figure, Sarah Grimke, and was slightly embellished. It was the best piece of writing on feminism that I have come across in a loooong long time.

I would definitely recommend this book as well as watch the movie when it comes out.

Book Review: Capitalist Nigger

Buy here

I recently read this book and hated it.

It was poorly edited and very repetitive, also, I felt that Onyeani, the author, did not really counter the accusations he made against Black people – that we don’t really like to research and come up with new knowledge, rather we just sit back, consume and adapt what people around us have done. I would have liked to see his well-thought out theory that is counter the status quo. However, he did have some gems that I took note of.

  • You must understand that the same amount of time it takes to start a small venture might be the same amount of time or even less than it takes in starting a major one.
  • You must possess great discipline and an iron hand if you are to succeed in this world … One of the greatest drawbacks to our march to the promised land of wealth and money is our lack of discipline and persistence in the face of adversity.
  • If you are a slave, you cannot be independent and distinct from the whims and caprices or dictates of your conquerors.
  • Capitalist Nigger … understands that the State of Black economy can only be created when a group of young Black men and women dare to be success. Yes we have to dare to be successful.
  • If you cannot buy African, there is absolutely no way you are going to create a Black economy.
  • A Capitalist Nigger understands that for the Black economy to be created, he must have to create a niche for himself. The movement to restart the Black economy must be planned with absolute focus, with each individual focusing on how he can contribute to making it a reality.
  • The Capitalist Nigger is not going to patronise people who disrespect him and denigrate his intelligence as inferior.
  • It is extremely necessary that we take a few minutes,  hours,  days or months to ponder the intelligence of a race who cannot produce the basic things of life that are needed for their survival and have to depend on those who have oppressed them for years to come to their aid.
  • The question really is how could Africa have millions of educated men and women, yet have to import experts in all fields to manage areas of economic development, engineering and others for which Africans had gone to the same school.
  • Today, Africa is incapable of defending itself militarily, it is incapable of sustaining itself economically,  it has lost its culture and its socialisation is based on European culture.
  • The second annihilation which confronts the African child when he begins his school life is the name he must answer to. … They insisted that  if Africans had to become “Christians” they had to abandon their names which are historically and culturally rich. … I have never seen a European adopting an African name, despite the fact that some of them had lived or were born in Africa. They are not a conquered people ….

The book made me ask myself/ think of:

  1. How am I procuring from black people and making sure that the money circulates within the community I live in or if not, among African people? During the wedding, I tried to have as many African vendors as possible and sometimes it didn’t work out but for the most part,we did keep it within.
  2. It did get me wondering about some of the franchises closest to me and how many of them are owned by a African owner. Also, how would I go about finding that out?
  3. I had to come clean to the fact that part of my reluctance to patronise African-owned establishments is the lack of #excellence and the expectation that because I am supporting them, I should be happy to take scrapes from them. None of that! I won’t have it!
  4. Any establishment that disrespects me or my worth as a buyer, I complain about and if after suitable time no change is made, I vote with my feet and tell my constituents to also abstain from taking their patronage there. And this is the case, African or not!
  5. English/ Caucasian/Foreign names for African children in this day and age. NO! JUST NO!
  6. I still feel sad that I do not speak an African language. Thankfully I have Kiswahili which is African. But I wish I could speak with my grandparents and now some of my in-laws!

I would further recommend Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Similar subject but mainly about language and literature and the editing is THAT bit better!

So much race stuff to talk about this week …

Totally love Black Millenial Musings writings and these last three posts she has outdone herself talking about race. Lemme know what you think!!

On Columbus Short losing his Scandal job!!

On Racism in Spanish Football

Is there a “best” way to respond to a racist?

Updated: Additional analysis here by Devin Dishner.

 

 

 

Monday Link love

Anything you have read this week that tickled your fancy?

21: KE vs SA: First impressions

Moving towns is not easy, least of all one that you have lived in 20+ years and love dearly. The following is a list of things I first compared between the new home and old home. Enjoy and take it in the spirit it is intended.

  • Being able to read books and newspapers at the bookshop. And not have to pay for them. Oh and no one looks at you funny or tries to intimidate you.
  • Funeral cover advertising. Like regular health insurance except they pay for the costs of your burial. Ah, Ok!
  • Openly gay people. My sisters and I kept saying there must be a third gender because of these men and women that proudly embrace their “other” sex and take it on full-on. One of the leading local soapies even has an openly gay married couple. Yeah, let’s see that on ANY Kenyan station, public or privately owned!
  • Street fashion. It’s interesting to just stop and stare at people’s unique interpretation of fashion. Very colourful and unique.
  • Understanding the phenomenon that is “excess”. Why am I paying for insurance if I must cough up the first X thousand of any claim I make????? Just sounds like daylight robbery.
  • That motor insurance is optional! In Kenya everyone must have insurance whether comprehensive or third-party. Not so here.
  • The prevalence of Afrikaans and Afrikaners. Coming here I knew South Africa has eleven official languages I just didn’t think it had been integrated and people could openly speak of it or that some people were comfortable with and proud to be culturally Afrikaner!
  • I liked the fact that many people my age spoke an African language. As we all know that’s one thing I sorely regret not being able to partake in.
  • Churches having braais with beer/evening events with sherry and beer! And that after the service you can decide to light up your cigarette and no one will kick you out.
  • Leaving handbags on chairs during communion in church and that no one steals the bags.
  • How people combine traditional and modern/traditional and religion and they just know when to do so.
  • Almost all Black names will have a meaning. Nice!
  • The fascination with race – like never knowing I was Black till I came here.
  • Being told the scope of an exam. How’s about reading the whole semester work and then being surprised coz it is called an exam, right?
  • Calling lecturers by their first name to their face. Yeah!
  • Drinking tap water!  In Kenya that’s asking for death right there.
  • The number of well-maintained public parks for recreation. I keep expecting someone to grab that land and construct a house or school.
  • A public transportation system that actually works and/or cheap cabs.
  • I love(d) that any Church service had people from all racial backgrounds.
  • The difference in pronunciation between stuff I knew from home: Panado v Panadol, Weetbix v Weetabix.
  • Butternut and pumpkins are always sweet. That and the introduction to food stuff like “dombolo” (dumplings) and samp. YUM!

6: And she dropped another

I recently read Americanah, Chimamanda’s most recent offering.

Book coverchimamanda-bio

The back of the book states:

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.

My thoughts?

(Spoiler Alert!!!!!)

  • Race  IS a big deal and we can’t be disingenuous and pretend otherwise.
  • I also didn’t know I was black until I came to South Africa five and a bit years back. Even now, there is a separateness and difference, I am not like the local Blacks, I just don’t have the same kind of heritage issues.
  • Loved how she highlighted the inter-racial differences talking about how a given Black character took the pains not to take an opinion because his family happened to be wealthier than the rest or how he was pro-Hilary and not pro-Obama. We are not a homogeneous nebulous cultural group, we are different.
  • I loved how she spoke of the run up to Obama’s victory. I totally identified with that, the fear that he might be shot dead at any point/ they would discover something awful about him that would force him to get disqualified and then his Pastor spoke and I thought, no!
  • Loved how she characterised the desperation that so many Africans have regarding moving abroad. Very palpable.
  • About natural hair? I rock it, you don’t! Moving along swiftly.
  • Saddened by the portrayal of Nigerian women and the fact that men appear to be firmly in control.
  • It was nice to see her talk of modern day Nigeria and the fact that people do hustle and we appreciate this better when we contrast Obinze in London versus Obinze in Lagos/Abuja. Big boy about town!
  • The apparent ending of the story further saddened me. Does Ifem take him back or not?
  • While the story is pretty much about Ifem and Obinze, there were a few hollow characters. Curtis? Blake?
  • Loved the names. So beautiful.
  • Curiously, I do wonder what the problem was with the girl that Ifem first baby-sat. Was she molested, a psychopath,what?
  • Dike, was another underdeveloped character, or maybe not, I am not sure. (Wondered how the name is pronounced as I read the book)

I loved this book but it made me immediately want to go back to Half of a Yellow Sun.

Interesting take on interracial gender dynamics

Please read and circulate this article widely!

It made such sense to me but what shocked me was when I sent it to some of my (Black) female friends and they too had personal experiences of similar propositions. THAT shocked me and made it real for me!

Stuff I’ve read this week

This article was Freshly pressed on WordPress and I must say it is well written and got me really thinking. She talks about white privilege and race.

Ever wondered about Scientology?

For the mothers out there!

The university that has not admitted women since 1917! Also here.

Changes to the Obamas.

Why do people still eat white bread?

When did we start rolling our eyes to express contempt?

Talking weight in a relationship?

What did you read recently that made you giddy with joy?

how many colours?

Living in South Africa, one can’t help but notice how everything is broken down and viewed in terms of colour, even things that have no such connection.  This is the land of apartheid, I THINK WE ALL KNOW but must it all come down to whether you are White, Coloured, Black or Asian? What’s this all about? On radio, all you hear talk of is racist this, racist the other and its not very comfortable.

In Kenya, we are a mixed race society and while on the one hand we don’t really mix, look at us, we are happy and somewhat peaceful.

Some University kids didn’t want to have a mixed race hostel and so they went ahead and filmed a mean and derogatory video depicting a mock integration ceremony with the schools (Black) support staff. In this day and age,  14 years into the Democracy and Rainbow Nation, why are we still discussing this? Somebody help me here  because coming from Kenya, I don’t understand this kind of discrimination.