Black woman, you are on your own

2014-09-09 06:45

Former senior Wits lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu apologised on Facebook last week.

Supporters of Wa Mamatu have continually said allegations that he sexually harassed students under his tutorship over a six-year period are a slur created by racists to discredit him?–?thus ignoring the glaring gender-based issue at the centre.

This has extended to the conversation around the lobbying that led to Wa Mamatu’s play, My Grave, being withdrawn from the Cape Town Fringe festival.

Some gender activists have applauded the decision. Wa Mamatu supporters say it’s further evidence of racism in the theatre fraternity.

Most concerning is the manner in which these supporters have repeatedly stated that Brett Bailey’s controversial Exhibit B should be addressed more urgently than the Wa Mamatu issue?–?and with the latter, the greater matter of sexual violence against women.

What we are seeing is the same old issue?–?that black women are whole black citizens when there are race issues to be tackled. But they lose some of their blackness when it’s a gender issue to be taken on?–?especially when that involves a black man.

And we will continue to see it because it is a myth that blackness is a single struggle. It’s more complex than that.

A few female mine workers reportedly do not just experience racism, but domestic and sexual violence at the same time.

Part of the challenge is the investment in black male privilege, and a refusal to acknowledge it, because we live in a society that continues to oppress black maleness.

So how is it that the oppressed male could possibly enjoy privilege? And yet he does, and is able to cast the need for black feminism as a secondary struggle.

Patriarchal ideas of feminism only make the matter worse. As writer Bell Hooks says: “Masses of people think feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And the majority of these folks think feminism is anti male.”

And anyway, why do black women need feminism when we are all free?

But we are not. Our domestic and sexual violence statistics say so. And it simply cannot wait because black women are not living in a utopia where they are just black (and not female) in the meantime.

Martin Luther King Jr said: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

A racial unity, in which black women are asked to support blackness blindly even when they suffer within it, is no unity at all.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.