It was recently brought to my attention that a certain journalist in South Africa, that is known to behave like one who is twenty-minutes away from applying for a trademark on Black Consciousness, dates nothing but women of European Descent (or White women, as I may continue to refer to them for the rest of this article).
Upon seeing that my response was a sarcastic “surprise, surprise” my friend quickly wanted to know why I was so unimpressed by this piece of information, that I went on to say something along the lines of: “these Black Consciousness brothers couldn’t care less about Black Women.”
But there’s a lot more to it than that and I’m going to show you why I think many subscribers to Biko, Fanon, Garvey and Co.’s principles end up with romantic histories that predominantly feature non-Black lovers.
Before we begin, let me confess something: At the age of fifteen I nearly got arrested for shoplifting Steve Biko’s ‘I write what I like’ from CNA.
That began my path into the wonderful world of Black Consciousness (BC). I ran into the aforementioned contributors to the movement and have since grown to understand a lot about my identity as an African woman and what exactly that means to me.
But I am beginning to suspect that I have outgrown staunch Bikoism and can therefore look at this topic with a detached wisdom on the issue.
Why subscribers some Black Consciousness date White people:
THEORY #1: Deification of Black People leading to disappointment
I’ve taken to yelling “Do your thang, girl!” at women that I perceive to be dressed excellently in public spaces. Accompanied with a sassy snap of the fingers, my little ritual makes me both proud to put a smile on a woman’s face and simultaneously, very worried about the evident descent of my mental health.
In any case, this little thing I do serves as my attempt to push good energy into the world on a daily basis as well as a small manifestation of my positive woman-centric principles.
But lately, I’ve begun to think about my interpretation of ‘excellent dressing’ as well as the role it plays in plaiting a larger idea of ‘appropriate attire.’ What is the definition of excellent dressing and why should that have to be a pre-requisite before I encourage a woman to do her proverbial ‘thang’?
I realised that I had the conventional way of thinking. I was one of those women that could tweet quite whole-heartedly about which women should or should not dress a certain way. I had no problems forming imaginary rules about which attire I deemed appropriate for mothers and women over a ‘certain age’.
The most dangerous thing is many Africans’ inability to separate African culture from systems that oppress the freedoms of African women. It is this inability to see a future where African culture isn’t tinged with patriarchal undertones that is the biggest threat to the Black Consciousness Movement. It is necessary that we disassemble what it means to be African and take a closer look at what customs are merely window dressing and which things define our culture. My hope is to bring an understanding of patriarchy, African culture and the need to separate the two.
Patriarchy has been defined as a gendered power system. It is a network of social, political and economic relationships through which men dominate and control female labour, reproduction and sexuality as well as define women’s status, privileges and rights in a society. It is a successful system because those that gain this privilege are often unaware of it and therefore inadvertently perpetuate the ill treatment of the people in this society whose suffering is the fulcrum upon which this society turns. It is also believed that this social system has managed to survive for so long because its chief psychological weapon is its universality as well as its longevity.
It is difficult for many people to imagine a time when this system did not exist. It is even more difficult for people to imagine a future minus patriarchy. But that has to change. A complete overhaul of our mentalities when it comes to African culture must take place if there is any hope for the Black Consciousness Movement in this century.
But what is African Culture and how is it in danger?