Image credit: AFP
By Ayanda Tshazi
When I read the opening of Malaika’s post addressing herself to women from the Pan Africanist and Black Consciousness (BC) traditions, I sat up and took notice: finally someone whose capacity and range I respect was talking to me about the dissonance of being a black woman in an anti-black world, living in complicated intersectionality with the black man.
Well. It turns out that I am still at square 1: intensely moved by the eloquent articulation of our painful subjective experience of violence visited upon us by black men.
But I have a few problems that remain unsolved by the declaration: black men are not our allies.
1. My understanding of an Ally is someone who stands in solidarity with you and uses their agency and privilege to support your struggle. A struggle they themselves may not suffer.
So I guess, the question really is: what is the struggle?
Is the struggle to breathe, or is it against an oppressive racist capitalist system that defines all possibilities of existence and non-existance within it?
Well, if you can’t breathe how are you gonna fight is a fair question. But it is SADLY, only an immediate question. It is an important one and has its place; but it is not the central question. If your eyes are bulging at this point, exit here.
So at this point: black men are not our allies because they don’t stand outside of the central struggle. They are fellow blacks.
2. The black zone (the zone of death and violence as existence) is structured to mimic the zone of life. The power order is bastardised and reproduced where black men dominate women and women sit a level above children and children, pets and plants (if any). We all know the script: men take out their shame and powerlessness on the women and children. Much in the media has been written about the great and heinous crimes of black men. They rape as a matter of course; they are the monsters behind the GBV and femicide in this country: we all know the script. But let us for a moment take this script to its logical conclusion, considering that we are looking at the entire system:
The battered Black women are IN TURN the main abusers of black children. Yes we are. We are the main abusers of children. Within the system of abandonment, we are the ones who throw babies in bins / pit toilets, the veld… We beat our children, we bully them. We show aggression at every turn. We reject children… Generally, the subjective experience of violence is visited upon the child by women.
The vast majority of boys’ first sexual experience is non-concentual, with a known and trusted adult female. Yeah, it happens A LOT. and if you want to understand how ingrained rape culture is among women just follow threads where men are talking about their sexual experiences with women partners who won’t take no for an answer. I digress. But the point is there.
Systems thinking tells us that in turn, bigger children will bully, rape and torment younger children… And children will visit their wrath upon small animals etc.
So when we say the black zone is violent; NO ONE IS SPARED! Both as victim and perpetrator. Which is why we must now take the overrepresentation of black men as arbiters of violence in the world with suspicion. Who are these mothefuckers in the system and why are they positioned in the way they are. Why are reports of violence by white men always mitigated in comparison (no pictures or names, psychological analysis always provided, etc)? What agenda is reinforced in the images? We cannot buy into the propaganda without questioning. More importantly; when we say Black Men are NOT us, who fills up that space? Who becomes our “ally”… The Afrikaaner woman? I’ll pick this up later, but you see where its going?