I am an African. I am a black woman. I get angry. Being black, and a woman does not equate to being angry. I am not always angry. Sometimes I’m happy, other times I’m excited and on occasion I am fearful. Anger is an emotion not a permanent state of being. Emotions come and go as and when they are triggered. There are two triggers for anger, fear or trauma. But today I am angry.
I am angry because yet another black woman not unlike myself has died at the hands of her partner. I don’t care if there was a fight. I don’t care who started it. I don’t care that she spent his money or whether she wanted to break off the relationship. I am angry because it could happen to my sister, my daughter, my niece or my friend.
I am angry because I live in a society where a woman cannot negotiate relationship terms, ask a man to use a condom, or walk away from an abusive man without losing her life. I am angry because men who kill their partners get off with culpable homicide because the prosecution cannot prove that the killing was pre-meditated.
I am angry because black girls are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse, at the hands of family, friends, teachers or complete strangers. I am angry because 40% of women in South Africa are likely to experience rape at least once in their lives. I am angry because the trial, court system, rules of evidence and conduct of police, judges and lawyers retraumatise the victims.
I am angry because black women and girls cannot walk in public or travel on public transport at certain times, without being sexually harassed. I am angry that men actually think they should be flattered by the attention and accept being groped, fondled and raped. I am angry because black women and girls are told what to wear and where to go, instead of telling men not to grope, fondle or rape. I am angry that rapists don’t get to go to jail to experience the hell of rape themselves by other men.
I am angry because in this world, a girl must prostitute herself for alcohol, drugs, a new hairstyle whether Brazilian weave or a synthetic bob, a designer outfit, sanitary pads, a two piece meal at KFC, a can of coke or university fees. I am angry because a young woman must grant sexual favours to the boss to get a job, keep her job or get a promotion.
I am angry because black girls are mutilated to control their sexual feelings. I am angry because they are cut open with knives by their husbands when they have sex for the first time. I am angry because they have to be treated at a specialist hospital for injuries sustained during childbirth.
I am angry because a black girl is seen, not heard, not educated, or given an inheritance ahead of her brothers to assure her independence. I am angry because black girls are married off before they finish puberty to assure men of their purity. I am angry because educated black women are under pressure to find a husband, as if men who are marriage material are as many as grains of sand on a seashore. I am angry because a black woman cannot decide when and if she wants children or how many. I am angry because black women still die in childbirth in South Africa.
I am angry because I live in a world of whiteness and patriarchy, which puts a black woman at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. White man, White woman, Indian Man, Indian Woman, Coloured Man, Coloured Woman , Black Man then Black Woman. I am angry, because when a black Woman challenges anyone above her on the ladder, even based on facts, she is labeled as emotional irrational and you guessed it, angry.
I am angry because a black woman is offered and paid less than a white or Indian man or woman for the same job, even if she has more qualifications and experience. We know from the cars that they drive, where they go on holiday and where they send their children to school. I am angry that the diversity and inclusion committees have no real power to influence transformation in corporate entities.
I am angry because a black woman executive must put on a performance to get ahead in the patriarchal corporate death cult. She must read more, learn more, work harder, sleep less, lean in. She must show just enough passion, not too much, otherwise the place will burn to the ground. She must smile, be pleasant, make her point without ruffling superiors’ feathers, tiptoeing around gross executive egos with jagged edges. She must be on the side of management even when they are wrong. She must defend the oppressor against the oppressed because they hold her livelihood in the palm of her hand.
I am angry because black women experience racist and sexist road rage, sometimes just for driving with care. I am angry because black women still get verbally abused in restaurants by white patrons. I am angry because black mothers have to bury their children killed by white farmers for spurious reasons,
I am angry that many reading this article will either minimize or deny this constant assault on black women’s bodies, lives and integrity. I am angry because others will be emotional without taking any action or doing any self-introspection. I am angry at the black men who are more oppressive of black women than other races, calling them ‘bitches’ or ‘hoes’. I am angry at black women who blame the victims and take the oppressor’s side, that they lack empathy because they are in a more comfortable position with education, money and choices that other black women don’t have.
I have plenty to be angry about, enough for several lifetimes. Most of all, I am angry that I will be called an angry black woman, as if anger is a permanent state of my being, by the same people who do the very things that make me angry.