Race

Admissions That Can Strip Me of My Blackness

Back in my foolish, ‘ain’t-shit’, self-hating days, I thought that because I liked odd shit, and was always on a mission to improve my vocabulary that I was a ‘better Black’. Then I woke up to the fact that no kind of personality trait or hobby or interest can be attributed to one race in particular. After learning of Black people, present and history, who make the stereotypes about Black people seem obsolete and absurd (because they are), I started to love my people more. I began hacking at the layers of chalked self-hatred within me, and worked on learning to love myself. I wanted to move forward.

As much as I accepted my blackness, stopped making it the bulk of ‘what’s wrong with me’, asked it to forgive me, and embraced it, I feel like I don’t deserve it. In my misguided delusion, I tried hard to assimilate into predominantly White society and strayed far from what was probably meant to be me. Could I deserve to know and call myself Black, be confident in that truth and not have anything negate that or cause anyone to doubt it (and people have)? Do I deserve to, since I used to willfully attempt to erase my blackness? I mean, I used to think, as a girl of six, that I was white because I was lightskin as a child and we lived in Nigeria where a lot of the people have dark skin.

I’m reading too much into it, it’s probably not even that deep, but I’ve always had it at the back of my mind. As black people, we don’t usually demand atonement, we just forgive and move on, because there are more pressing issues. Nobody, unless they’re truly petty and/or hurting deep inside, will bar me from entering the gates of Negrotown and Nae-Nae’ing to my heart’s content, because of my past transgressions. I know that there’s a billion of us in the world, spread out but firmly tethered together. A billion is a lot of people; how could you expect us to all like the same things, do the same things, act the same, look the same?

Nothing I do or do not do takes away from my blackness. I, and every other Black person on Earth, is not a spokesperson for the whole race. Only ourselves. We are not add-ons. I am a person who dresses the way I do because confidence, who talks the way I do because of experience, who thinks the way I do because being ignorant doesn’t work for me.

Black people have created and developed music genres, fashion trends for decades, works of art and literature, innovations, language; influenced them in ways it’s a wonder why our ancestors and current kinfolk don’t get the recognition they really deserve. Do you expect this type of diversity in excellence to be the result of a people often assumed to be a ‘monolith’?

But say we were truly a monolith, or some overarching law stated that we were supposed to act a certain way or face social scrutiny, I’d be one of the nominees brought forward at the “Who Should We Trade Out At The Next Racial Draft” meeting. Well, the one in Johannesburg. If we’re going full stereotypical, then there are things about me that would have me stripped of my blackness. Admissions that would have me cast out like a rotting skroplap, and my only choice is to assimilate into Western society or be factionless (not recommended).

In real life, it’s not that deep. But there have been things about me, that were made public to family members who didn’t know me like that or strangers I’m getting to know, that made the other person throw their head back in astonishment/surprise/rage.

Observe the following:

I find any food derived from the organs of animals disgusting.

Yes, I know the origins behind the inclusion of animal innards into our diet, but isn’t it possible to stop eating them? I guess you can leave the liver and kidney, since those are protein-rich and we need that, I guess.

I can’t speak any South African language.

I don’t know vernacular. Makes lunch at the canteen with other Black colleagues tough because I don’t know Zulu and the conversation passes over me.

I am on super high alert every time I get into a taxi.

Okay, maybe this wouldn’t be cause to have me drafted out, considering how many women in South African urban areas are being reminded that no matter how careful they are, they’re not safe on their own in public places.

My diet does not depend on pap. Actually I don’t need pap in my life.

I have rice, bread, spaghetti, the occasional lasagna sheets; my Carb Squad is full, sorry.

I don’t like going ‘home home’.

It gets real and harrowing once the tar road disappears and all you see where the road was supposed to be is red, rocky terrain. ‘Home home’ is where all the mosquitos, not-attractive-yet-entitled-and-grabby local boys and the aunties and grandmas who stare you down for wearing something revealing are.

I mix up South African languages

I once thought I was hearing Zulu when it was actually Swati. That’s when I realised, ‘I’ll never make it here.’

I find our local dramas to be anti-innovative.

I feel like y’all just recycling the characters, plot devices, themes, AND the actors.

“Is this Isibaya?”

“No, it’s The Queen.”

“But this guy, I saw him on Isibaya.

“Well, he’s on this show, too.”

“You’d think South Africa only has like twenty actors.”

“Right?”

I’ve had doubts about the ANC since Mandela was no longer president.

I had no beef with Mbeki, but I could tell (and I was eleven at the time) that he was not a fave. Also, I caught bits of radio news and sensed that it was not all good in the hood.

(President) Zuma is a trash leader and I cannot decide who’s worse between him and a plate of gizzards.

Life works better for me if I don’t acknowledge his existence. I hear his name on the radio and think “Who? Oh… that guy. Who gives a flying Fokker?”

South African hip-hop makes me yawn.

I’m not a fan of hip-hop, though I have a few hip-hop and rap tracks on my iPod. I’m not invested in it, though I’m aware of its influence in pop culture and folks’ lives. However, South African hip-hop makes me shrug one shoulder. Your beats are hot, and I like a good, bass-rich beat, but most of the time, the lyrics are underwhelming. The usual shots (not of the alcoholic kind), soft/hard misogyny, bragging about rolling in cash while you film your music video in the Dainfern home of a billionaire (the invisible kind).

That’s the same thing the Americans are doing. Unless that’s what y’all going for…

SABC is the cake-headed Happy Birthday guy on that Regular Show episode who tries to force everyone in attendance to accept that they will live with the Birthday Song (which is copyrighted, for some feck ass reason) as the only song to ever sing at birthdays. At a show where a farmer dude called for a competition to have the birthday song re-written.

SABC is trying to reassure us that they’re still a staple for us. That, without them, our television-watching would be incomplete. *sings Beyonce’s Irreplaceable*

I don’t need KFC in my life.

Chicken will always be a constant in my life, like detangling and passive-aggressive elders. Just not from KFC.

I listen to “White people’s music”.

The type that Internet trolls of yesteryear (i.e. 2009) used to say was “the sound of Transformers having sex”. No, it sounds better.

Dubstep. And its extreme sports cousin Drum & Bass, its refined sibling Chillstep, and Lamborghini-driving partner, Trap.

#EDMsis4lyf

South African Black Twitter is a toxic place.

Aside from the voracious Twars between celebrities and getting blocked by Bonang Matheba for apparently just existing, a fringe of unknowns (unknown outside night clubs and reality shows), F**kboy Bible in hand, spread their stank gospel. And this is not some bunch of basic-selfie-having gremlins at the moldy corners of Twitter; these are the guys with thousands of followers. The ‘influencers’.

When I was still on SA Black Twitter, I made some observations: healthy discussions are shut down and almost not allowed, unless you find a niche of kindred spirits among that mess. The more people know you and see your tweets, the worse your time on there will become. Everything is meant to taken apart and scrutinised once it enters the cybersphere. Nobody is safe.

Even when it’s time to put away the jokes and serious shit is going down, there are those guys who clearly didn’t hear that the audience stopped laughing. One one end, rape is spun into a joke, and on the other end, silly topics like “who pays on the first date?” are debated hard.

If your lifeforce is not dependent on being an ashy nigga on the Internets, steer clear of South African Black Twitter.

South African guys are not hard to look at, but cognitive dissonance kicks in once some of them start talking.

It feels like not enough boys are being taught, early, where the value of their manhood lies, and what it means to be a man and that no activity negates masculinity. The night my 21-year-old male cousin said that he wouldn’t let his girlfriend (non-existent, at the mo) go out clubbing with her friends (because apparently in clubs, the opportunity to cheat presents itself), I thought, “You’ve only been in Joburg for three years, full-time, humble yourself, Mr I-Can’t-Eat-Less-Than-Four-Slices-Of-Bread-In-One-Sitting.”

I judge, severely, the life choice of township dwelling South Africans who protest the ‘stealing of jobs by foreigners’ by torching innocent foreigners.

Way to graduate from “misinformed” to “I took part in the killing of a human being”. *claps once*

My mum told me, to my face, that I was “too European”. I could barely speak English before I was whisked out of the only place in the world I knew at that time. Is it all on me?

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