Hello, I’m Tawanda and I’m trash.

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The only time we typically seem to be in agreement that “Men Are Trash” is when something physically violent or hurtful has been done to someone by a man. For instance, a man rapes someone, man beats up a woman, or a man is deceitful to his family, then we are all in agreement that men are trash…well, most of us anyway. But is this really the measure we should be standing ourselves up against? Is this really what we, as men, should be aiming for? To not rape, assault, deceive, or pillage?

I remember Munroe Bergdorf getting slaughtered by the media for saying all white people were racist. She explained her statement very clearly, however all the focus was purely on the phrase “all white people are racist”. Rather than listening to the explanation and arguing it logically, even the most accomplished white journalists found themselves reacting only to that phrase and not her clarification. “Are you saying I am racist?”, “Have I ever said anything racist?” they all screamed. But what Bergdorf basically meant, as she repeatedly explicated, was that white people benefit from racism and thus are racist. I totally get her argument. If you benefit from criminal activity, are you not a criminal? If you benefit from a system designed to benefit, prioritise and protect your race before anyone of any other race, are you not a racist?

This is exactly what happens with the statement “Men are Trash”. We focus so much on the semantics that we get defensive by pointing out how non-violent we are towards women. Where a white person would say to a black person “I did not call you the N-word hence I am not racist”, a man would say to a woman “I did not beat you up hence I am not trash”.

To use Ms Bergdorf’s argument as a starting point, if, as a man, you benefit from patriarchy, are you not trash? In my humble opinion, you are…I am. When women say “Men are Trash”, so many of us are quick to reel out our non-violent attributes à la “I don’t beat up my wife”, “I take care of my family”, “I respect my girlfriend”, etc…but what we should rather ask ourselves is “do I benefit from patriarchy?” “Do I benefit from certain privileges in my home, workplace, and/or daily life purely because I am a man?” “Do I call out patriarchy when I encounter it?” “Am I a genuine ally to women in their struggle to put an end to patriarchy?”

It is not enough to not physically abuse women. We must go beyond that, way beyond that. We must be visibly part of the fight to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. I mention the term “visibly”, because sometimes we as men do fight patriarchy but only behind closed doors. I remember someone tweeting that her husband used to treat her as an equal in everything until his boys were around. Then, she’d have to be a traditional wife and him the traditional alpha male. TRASH!

Come on gents; let’s dismantle patriarchy in ourselves and in our sons (and daughters) from the day they are born. Let’s help each other, let’s open up, share, and talk about it in our spaces. If we see patriarchy rear its ugly head, let’s call it out. And yes, I know some men (and women) will call you weak for it but you need to remember that that thought process too is a result of patriarchy. When women think emotionally expressive men, or men who aren’t alpha, macho, or violent, are weak, they do so because they are conditioned to think that way by patriarchy. We’ll discuss the effects patriarchy has on women’s thought processes another day. Until then, let’s kick patriarchy out of your spaces by any means necessary. Otherwise, we really are just trash.

Just scribbling my trashy thoughts.

 

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South Africa’s slow death…on our watch.

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I wasn’t there during apartheid but I feel like it was an easier fight than that faced by South Africans today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying apartheid was “easy”, I’m just trying to highlight how today’s struggle seems easier yet it’s actually the harder because so many don’t even know there is a struggle.

 

When South Africa was under the wicked rule of apartheid, everyone knew apartheid was evil, immoral, and depraved. There was no middle ground and nothing subtle about its wickedness. It was gruesome, demeaning, and fatal for black people. As a result, every black person knew were they stood; every black person knew they had to fight the system. The frog knew it had to jump out the pan. This is not so obvious today. The frog is slowly burning to death in the pan.

 

For instance, last night protesting black students at the University of the Free State (the same university where white students made black workers drink urine) were beaten up by fellow white students (and their parents) and not one word has been uttered on the matter by the government, a black government for that matter. What’s worse is you have some black people apologising to white people for “other blacks’ behavior”. Furthermore, you have more black people who are blaming the protesting black students for not “promoting a racially inclusive South Africa”….are you fucking kidding me?

 

Black students are fighting for equality…like blacks have done since forever. Unlike white people who fight for superiority, all black people have ever wanted is equality. These students are fighting against abuse, white privilege, a curriculum and language policy that is skewed in favour of a white minority, and for that they are accused (by other black people too) of essentially promoting racism? This is exactly what I mean by “apartheid was the easier struggle”.

 

For me it’s like depression versus a broken arm. If you break your arm, everyone says you need to get to the hospital ASAP. It’s not life threatening but everyone is in agreement that it needs urgent attention by medical professionals. However, if you are depressed, people miss the urgency. You have people telling you to “cheer up”, some telling you to “just pray”, and some even telling you “it’s all in your mind”…and no, that wasn’t a pun. But we are talking about the human brain here. The command center of your whole anatomy. If it has problems, surely that calls for urgent attention right? Just because you cannot physically see that my brain is broken, doesn’t mean it’s not.

 

And this is the problem South Africa is faced with now. Unlike back when all black people could clearly see the ‘broken arm’ that was apartheid, so many cannot see the ‘depression’ that is white privilege; brutality of the police particularly towards black bodies; the need for decolonization; the historical advantages white people garnered during apartheid and continue to hold today;….the list is endless really.

 

And you know what the saddest part is? You may not be able to see it, but depression will kill you.

 

**** Just scribbling my thoughts ****

From a job interview to a body bag. RIP #SandraBland

Every time I see Sandra Bland’s traffic stop, it just seems to get worse. How did what should have been a routine stop (or no stop at all to be honest) turn into three days in jail and then into death?

Look, I’m not American nor do I live in America so please enlighten me here – is it illegal to smoke whilst in your own car in America? No? Why was Sandra Bland dragged out of her car for refusing to put out her cigarette?

Surely she was well within her rights to refuse to put out the cigratte. It wasn’t interfering with the cop’s work nor was it a danger to the cop. As is her right, she refused to put out her cigarette and next thing she’s being forcibly dragged out of her car.

Naturally she refused to leave her vehicle for some punk cop trying to make himself feel good by abusing his powers. And just because of that refusal, the far right white supremacist cop sympathisers say she was effectively resisting arrest. How is it resisting arrest to refuse to accept unjust orders from what was clearly a an egomaniac of a police officer with a racist chip on his shoulder? Cops just can’t go around giving unlawful orders. And how is she resisting arrest if she wasn’t even under arrest? She asked 14 times why she was being arrested. FOURTEEN. He didn’t answer her once.

Why WAS she even arrested in the first place? What was she charged with? Assulting an officer? Resisting arrest? Well Officer Encinia wasnt even sure himself what he arrested her for. | See here: https://goo.gl/kPJ9tV

Coz I mean, was he arresting her for resisting arrest when her resistance was a response to him escalating the situation for no reason but to boost his own ego?

I’m not even going to go into the sleuth of inconsistencies surrounding her death. Suicide? Ha. My ass. It would have been more believable if they told us she was struck down by God because she said something blasphemous.

And now, as if on cue, they start telling us she had marijuana in her system. A large quantity of marijuana that she probably smoked or injested while incarcerated. Ha. My ass. She was an active #BlackLivesMatter activist wanting to change history, she’d just got offered a new job, she was ready to take this injustice to court. She went from all that to ingesting large amounts of marijuana IN PRISON, to killing herself? Ha. You guessed it, my ass!

1 in 9 Americans partake in marijuana for various reasons, from recreational to medical. I read that statistic years back. It’s probably way more now. But somehow the marijuana found in the systems of black individuals killed by the police is always so relevant as a justification for their murder. Marijuana made Trayvon Martin super aggressive, marijuana made Mike Brown super strong, and now it appears the same marijuana made Sandra Bland suicidal. Ha!

And another thing, you ever noticed how all the white pro-marijuana groups that are always fighting for the legalisation of marijuana, telling us it’s safe (which I agree with); you ever noticed how they never come out in defence of these black individuals killed by the police? I mean, the police are effectively saying marijuana is a dangerous drug – why do groups like NORML never come out disputing this like they always do? You think they’d take such high profile opportunities to say “actually, weed doesn’t make you do any of those super aggressive, super strong type of activities.” Or maybe, like the police, they too believe marijuana is only a safe substance when smoked by white people.

Someone once said it best when they said “the system isn’t broken…it was built this way”. Stay woke people.

*just scribbling my thoughts*

Oh, by the way if you haven’t already seen this video, watch it. Some examples of white people refusing to take orders from police and living to tell the tale.

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10 Ways to Justify Attacking Foreigners

There has been a spike in the number of attacks on foreigners in South Africa of late. As with any social event nowadays, social media is where all the discourse (and not much action) is taking place. I followed the trending hashtags this morning (#Xenophobia, #XenophobicSA, #XenophobicAttacks) and compiled what appear to be the ten most common justifications for these attacks on foreigners. So, without further ado, here are 10 ways to justify attacking foreigners:

  1. Illegal immigrants bring crime to South Africa
  1. Immigrants cause unemployment because they take jobs from South Africans, lower their salaries, and hurt the economy
  1. Black immigrants scrounge off the state, whilst white immigrants pump money into the economy
  1. Immigrants who have legal papers do not commit crimes
  1. Immigrants come to South Africa to get grants and other free State services
  1. Immigrants don’t spend any money in South Africa. They send all their money back to their home countries and leave South Africans with no money
  1. Illegal immigrants are the source of many communicable diseases
  1. Immigrants don’t integrate; they just dilute the values of South Africans
  1. Illegal immigrants do not pay any taxes and they cost more than they contribute
  1. It’s easy to be a legal immigrant…just go to Home Affairs

So next time someone asks you why you’re attacking a foreigner, pick a reason above. It might just save your blushes….shame it won’t save the foreigner’s life.

*just scribbling my thoughts*

Statue(tory) Rape

Rhodes has Fallen

In case you are not aware, something rather interesting has been happening in South Africa over the last couple of weeks. And as my blog title suggests, it’s about statues. Missed it? Let me quickly bring you up to speed.

About a month ago now, a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) staged a political protest against the lack of racial transformation at the university. His location of protest? The statue of Cecil John Rhodes located on the university’s campus grounds. His weapon of choice?  Faeces! Yep, good old fashioned human poo. His plan was to cause extreme offense and confront the situation head on. It worked. Frustrated at the lack of transformation at UCT, many other students joined the protest (without emptying the bowels though) and “#RhodesMustFall” was born.

But it didn’t end there. As the news made its way around the country, a nationwide conversation around colonial statues began. More and more people, led by the rabble rousing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party, began calling for colonial statues to be removed. But as with most things in South Africa, the racial undertones made their way to the surface. The “pro-statue camps” and the “anti-statue camps” fast became the “white camps” and the “black camps” respectively.

The general (note, I said “general” not “absolute”)  feeling among South Africans is this: white people feel the statues are a part of history so they must stay, while black people feel they are a part of an oppressive history so they must fall.

As for me? Well, I’m of the “statues must fall camp” and here’s why:

  1. These colonial statues celebrate/commemorate people who were not pro-equality. Whatever the argument, people like Cecil John Rhodes and Paul Kruger did not believe in the equality of all irrespective of race. They were pro-white. Why must a statue of such an individual be exhibited in the public space of a country trying to transform from a racially oppressive past?
  1. Some people are saying things like employment, education, healthcare, etc. are way more important than statues; that we must ignore statues and attend to those issues first. But just because AIDS is more deadly than the common cold, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your cold.
  1. Why is it an issue when black people are offended by something? I mean, you don’t see statues of Nazis in Israel do you? Why not? Because they are offensive to Jews. And everyone understands and respects that. But when black people say they are offended by something, we belittle their feelings. “It’s no big deal”, “it’s the past”, “there are more important things”. No!!! This is important too!!!
  1. I’ve seen a lot of white commentators saying these colonial figures did a lot of good in the country, like building roads, rail, etc. Hitler did most things out of love for his country…are there any statues of him in Germany? Why not?
  1. Finally there’s those that say rather than removing colonial statues, statues of struggle heroes must be built next to the colonial statues. But that’s totally missing the point. The colonial statues represent a people that fought for white supremacy and domination. The struggle against colonisation and apartheid was not about black domination, it was about equality across all races. So you cannot equate Cecil John Rhodes (or his statue) to Nelson Mandela (or his statue).

Ultimately, I think it’s almost impossible for white South Africans to understand Black South Africans’ pain as far as apartheid is concerned. I mean, I personally don’t even fully appreciate it so I can’t imagine most white South Africans will ever really get it…and most don’t want to anyway. Hence the ever increasing racial tensions in the country.

As for the Rhodes statue at UCT, well, the University’s council met yesterday and unanimously decided the statue must be removed…which is happening this very minute as I type this. #RhodesHasFallen is born. The question now is….”will the same fate befall the myriad of colonial statues dotted around the country?” I ‘EFFen’ hope so!

When the razzmatazz of the media leaves Ferguson…

I noticed last night that the hashtags #Ferguson and #MikeBrown were no longer trending on Twitter. I guess this was to be expected. There was only so much protesting that could take place before people started returning to their day-to-day lives or they found other things to tweet and iProtest about.

This is how these things seem to play out. Were the public’s interest to be plotted on a graph, it’ll probably look a bit like what the mathematicians among us would refer to as a bell curve; a normal distribution curve of sorts, because our interest rises then slowly decreases and eventually just dies.

Ultimately, the sad truth is most people only care when the media lights are on, and the media only cares when bad things are happening. It’s only when the razzmatazz of the media moves on that those who’ve suffered the loss will start to feel the true pain of that loss.

It’s almost like with funerals. I remember when my dad died a few years ago, we were so busy running around with funeral arrangements that we were almost insulated from the pain. It was only when everyone left, when the last family member told us to stay strong just before they returned to their home, it was then that all the insulation fell away and the pain stabbed me like a dagger to the heart. It was only then I realised my father was gone.

Likewise, it’s only when the media trucks pack up and move on to the next story that it will truly hit Michael Brown’s mum that her baby is no more. Just like it hit the mothers of more than 200 Nigerian girls when the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls stopped being fashionable. Just like it hit the families of those on flight MH370 when the faint beeps of the black boxes’ beacons finally died out and the media moved on. Just like it will hit the family of James Foley when we all move on to the next story. That, sadly, is how things work. Everyone else’s life will return to normal and that’s when it hurts the most, because that’s when you realise your life will never return to normal.

*just scribbling my thoughts*

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I hate foreigners…

It’s been a while since I scribbled about xenophobia. In fact, the last time was when I wrote “How Xenophobia Can Improve Your Life”. However, of late, I’ve seen xenophobia rear it’s ugly head both online and in the so called ‘real world’ so I thought, let’s write…if only to get it off my chest.

I should point out I’m not entirely sure if this is actually considered xenophobia. I know xenophobia is the hate/fear of foreigners, but what if a foreigner hates other foreigners? What’s that called? If I hate black people because of their race, does that make me a racist? Or if I was gay but hated gay people, would I be considered a homophobe? What if I was fat and hated fat people purely because they were fat? Would I be considered a weightist or do we just file all these under “self hate?”

So yes, my gripe today is with the xenophobia (or self hate…whichever floats your boat) displayed by foreigners towards other foreigners.

I recently had a bit of a debate with a fellow Zimbabwean regarding the changes to South Africa’s immigration laws. She was going on about “I’m glad the South African government is doing something about immigration. There’s way too many foreigners in South Africa.” At this point I was thinking to myself “oh, now that you’re in, there’s too many foreigners?” She continued “our economy can’t absorb them all.” By now I couldn’t stop myself laughing. “Our economy?” OUR? So now that you have a job, it’s “OUR” economy? Now that you have papers, everyone else is “too many foreigners?”

The crazy thing is you hear such talk all the time. One minute someone is jumping the fence into South Africa, next minute they get a job and start complaining about the holes in the border fence. One minute they are a refugee just trying to survive, the next their asylum papers come through and they start complaining that South Africa is granting asylum to too many people. But weren’t you this so called “too many people” a few months ago?

Then there’s those foreigners who have nothing but negative commentary about their nation of birth. “I can’t imagine living in Zimbabwe hey! I get sick whenever I’m there” they say….and this will be coming from someone born and raised in Zimbabwe for 25 years of his life before he moved to South Africa in 2010. How then did you survive 25 years of “I get sick whenever I’m there?”

Then there’s those foreigners who even pretend they are South African by birth. Your name is Tawanda but you’re out here talking about “how do we stop foreigners coming into OUR country?” Into whose country Tawanda? What makes it even more cringe worthy is when Tawanda can’t even speak a single South African language.

Then there’s the class warfare amongst foreigners; classist tendencies that usually see Western foreigners at the top of the foreigner food chain. They usually hate African foreigners because they believe they (Western foreigners) contribute to South Africa’s economy whilst African foreigners are just mooching off the state. This is probably the same everywhere you go though. I’m sure British foreigners in the USA hold themselves in higher regard than their fellow foreigners from Mexico. But it’s not as straighfoward as Westerners vs Africans. We also have classist tendencies amongst ourselves as African foreigners. For instance, Southern African foreigners feel like they have more of a claim to this foreign land than, say, Somalis/Ethiopians.

Ultimately, I don’t know why we are all so obsessed with borders, passports, nationalities, places of birth, etc. Countries are just the space between geometric lines drawn by some very capitalistic individuals who were sharing the world’s land between them.

As for foreigners, they are pretty easy to create. Just take a piece of land and codorn it off, name it, give yourselves little booklets with the land’s name on it, and voilà, everyone on the outside is a foreigner. Then, just for fun, allow some foreigners in and watch them fight each other.

I hate foreigners…who hate foreigners.

* just scribbling my foreigner thoughts*

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