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August Editor’s Letter: We are Your Sisters Killjoy of everything pink, banal and ‘progressively patriarchal’ this Women’s Month

05 August of 2015

Dear Vanguard readers,

It’s the elephant in the room that I don’t want to address. It’s hard not to because it is after all August. I won’t give it a name, because after all, naming is power.

What I will address is the banality of campaigns – be it the pinkification or ones concerning heels. As a dear friend wryly said, it’s clearly not a national competence. In the same way that we accept that we don’t have a national skiing team, we should perhaps accept that this is not our strong point.

We are indeed Your Sisters Killjoys of W—— …this month. That is why this month’s theme is taken from Ghanaian feminist writer Ama Ata Aidoo’s brilliant book “Our Sister Killjoy”.

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of all things that are in the way of our construction of our Queer Womanist Future.

We are Your Sisters Killjoys of all things banal in their reinforcement of patriarchy and white supremacy through notions of women’s empowerment that hinge themselves on the image of the ever-suffering Strong Black Woman. We are the Sisters Killjoys of all notions of black womanhood that Hoteps love, you know, the ‘Nubian Black Queen’ ever loyal and devoted to her ‘Black King’. We are the Sisters Killjoys of all notions of black womanhood that Fake Deep men or ‘progressive patriarchs’ such as Steve Harvey will so generously advise us to become in order for us to become marriageable.

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of the normative and patriarchal notions of gender. So we will publish an interview with Sandile Ndelu on being young, black and transgender.

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of all who want to apologise for important spaces such as #ForBlackGirlsOnly. We say ‘Njalo!’ to all those who use their “#AllLivesMatter” logic to issues that specifically affect black women. I have written before about how the presence of white bodies in spaces where black women come to heal can be deeply hurtful and divisive. It needs to end. We stand behind these brave black women from Cape Town. Writing her thoughts on the “controversial” nature of such an event, the event’s organiser Sivu Siwisa articulates the sentiment even more beautifully:

“I think the time has long gone for us to tip toe around needing Black only spaces. I am not apologetic about that. We cannot deal with trauma and damaging experiences anywhere because we are called upon to be ‘inclusive’. NO!

#ForBlackGirlsOnly is a deliberate and unapologetic space to centre the lives and experiences of Black women right across gender and sexuality lines. It is a space to share tools to build ourselves. A space to tend to our wounds – wounds we may have not even known we had. It is a space of safety, however momentary, where Black girls are not threatened.”

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of our country’s views on rape. We have the honour of publishing an exclusive extract from womanist academic Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola’s soon to be published book ‘Rape: A South African nightmare’. She has handpicked a section that she believes is particularly brave and daring. Look out for it next week.

We are Your Sisters Killjoys of notions of survival and respectability of orphaned young black women. In the three-part instalment beginning next week, Nomali Cele writes an incredibly brave piece about coming to terms with her mother’s death more than five years ago and “being poor and alone and shit.” She speaks of her anxieties about money and being late on rent, raising her mother’s child and “transactional relationship” shaming.

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of ideas around black students and degrees. Read Anele Nzimande’s beautiful take down of the political, economic and social circumstances that create young, black people that are trapped in passionless degrees.

We are Your Sisters Killjoy of ideas on race and the Rainbow Nation. This is the month that Sisonke Msimang, Lebo Mashile and I will be delivering the 2015 Ruth First lecture on the 17th August at Wits University. Sisonke and Lebo will be performing a piece titled “With friends like these”, exploring why genuine interracial relationships cannot happen until there is social and economic justice in post-apartheid South Africa. I will be delivering my paper titled “Of Coconuts, Consciousness and Cecil John Rhodes: Disillusionments and disavowals of the Rainbow Nation”.

We do hope you enjoy Our Killjoy issue.

Yours in Killjoy love,

Panashe

P.S. We have had an overwhelming response to our call for ungovernable writers of pan-Africanist, Black Conscious and Womanist futures – they literally crashed mine and Thato’s inboxes. We are in the process of consolidating responses to everyone from photographers to web designers and poets. We will have them sent to all who responded to the call by the end of the week.

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