Black women must do it for themselves and each other

Black women must do it for themselves and each other.
Black women must do it for themselves and each other.
Image: 123RF/ HONGQI ZHANG

I love being black, and I love being a woman, these two qualities are what make up a lot of what is my identity. It's a pity then, that these two qualities are often what make life hard for me and those who look like me.

One of the most exciting things about living in these times is the urgency in the fight for gender equality. Each day, I and the women who look like me wake up to unlearn yet another thing that was never meant to be our burden to begin with. It is exciting, it is thrilling and it smells like freedom.

With each new day, we are emboldened to call out those who stand in the way of our freedom. It is a new dawn.

Except for when we go to our families and have to interact with the men we have loved our whole lives, and who have shown us nothing but love. This is where I personally struggle with asserting my voice and I have been tested recently.

If I as a woman have vowed to believe any woman over a man, how do I do this when it is a man I love? How good are we as women, in supporting women who come into our families via our uncles, brothers and cousins? Where does "blood is thicker than water" begin and where does it end? Also, the more I think about this saying, the more manipulative it sounds to me.

It feels as though it was designed and engineered as a cloak to hide the sins of the ones we love.

We have to learn to hold these men accountable, even if it means publicly. We can no longer be held hostage by "what will people say" at the expense of abused women.

The perpetrators ought to be thinking about that before they violate people. And the truth is, they know they can do these things because their mothers, fathers and siblings will protect them.

Protect them by holding bogus family meetings where the rights of the man are further asserted. For far too long women have been oppressed under the guise of tradition; it simply must stop.

So what are we to do, as agents of change? You start by using your voice. You may not win, but perpetrators do not deserve to be comfortable. Make it known that you will not be at the same family gathering with your uncle who was accused or convicted of rape.

It makes no sense to have every mother at the gathering constantly checking to see if her daughter is within sight while he drinks and socialise freely. Choose the little girls over him, always. They are the ones who need protection from him, not the other way round.

Let your brother know that if he hits his wife, you will personally drive his wife to the police station to report him and, if you can, give her shelter. While you can't match his physical strength, you can use your voice and your actions against him.

You won't succeed in telling your aunt she is not your uncle's servant, but tell your uncle to make his own food when she is not feeling well.

When they try to remind you of family ties and loyalty, remind them that love is not blind. And it applies and holds for familial love especially. We will free each other.

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