Finishing off this first run of the panel with these last two questions that came in – only two responses at the moment but will add more as they come in…

QUESTION 3:  [Suzane Hoffman]

We have seen our country go down hill. We have watched apartheid in reverse . reconciliation is fantasy. All that happens is now the blacks control and the whites still suffer and get the blame. With real reconciliation there would be tolerance and forgiveness. Instead as whites ,we are now wrong. How would you address this?

Busi Ledibane:

I would just like to say that this whole “apartheid in reverse” thing is being taken a bit too far because there is no such thing. For as long as we live, there will never be anything as atrocious as apartheid in this country. Calling South Africa’s current situation “reverse apartheid” is a complete disregard of the oppression and dehumanization that people went through during apartheid. I do think that there are issues that need to be addressed around reconciliation and equality but the situation in South Africa is nowhere near apartheid in reverse.

Tasha Melissa Govender:

I think we need to remember that our democracy is still young. We’re still learning to cope with this new found freedom to be who we want and live how we want. And like a child with no defined boundaries I think at times it’s simple to go overboard. Having said that I don’t believe reconciliation is a fantasy, it’s an amazing ideal that we should all work hard to strive for, daily. I do acknowledge that there have been many who have been hurt amidst apartheid and within the years of freedom that has followed. 

The one thing I feel we should strive to move away from is generalization. As much as it can be said “the blacks control and the whites still suffer…” we must remember that the majority of the ‘black’ population live below the poverty line and whilst BEE may be seen as reverse racism it really is a system, if implemented the way it was intended, that works well.

The only way we will be able to move past the hurt is to forgive. I’ve heard horror stories from my parents and grandparents concerning things that happened to them during apartheid- friends of my parents going into exile, many we’re killed and my mother being arrested whilst she was pregnant for me purely because she wore a shirt that held an image of the Black Panthers. My family has adopted the stance of forgiveness, it is a core pillar of our faith and I believe it is the only way for us to move forward and find a way to be released from the sins of the past.

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QUESTION 4:  [Nancy Strauss] 

Why do black men feel it’s okay to blatantly hit on/harass me? Is it a cultural thing ie. they hit on all young looking women on their own regardless of race/culture OR is it because I am of another race that my status as “other” makes me more “desirable” and less worthy of respect? I literally had this conversation yesterday:


“Hi”


“Hello”


“I need a pretty wife”


(Nervous laugh) that’s nice.


“You should come be my wife”


“Sorry but I have a husband”


“You should have two husbands. You so beautiful”


“Bye”

 

If it’s cultural and “the norm” maybe I would feel less violated and nervous? 

2nd question maybe for black women – how does one respond in these situations?? Cos I would give a white guy a sarcastic cut down…

 

Tasha Melissa Govender:

Hi Nancy! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I understand your outrage and anger, I’ve been on the receiving end and at the most inopportune moments. Once I was standing in line to board a flight, thinking about the mass amounts of work I had to do, only to be interrupted by someone who I thought wanted a friendly chat but rather used it as a moment to harass- although I clearly stated I was uninterested.

I have to say from the get go that I will refer to myself as a feminist and I think a large portion of my worldview comes with that particular context in mind.

Having said that i think there was a point in my life that I assumed it was cultural, but I think to simplify this sort of behaviour into something as insular as ethnicity or culture is to truly ignore and negate the pandemic that is sexual harassment. I really believe this is not a race thing but an individual male thing thing.

It’s the behaviours that you and I as women have experienced that has contributed to the growing issue of rape culture and the reason why we see so many violent acts against women in our media and news. The only way this behaviour can be combated is by educating future parents on how to raise their children. Young girls should not be taught that they should be ‘all things nice’ or think that when a boy is mean to them it’s only because they have a crush. Young boys should be taught the proper way to treat a female, to always have respect and to understand that a ‘want’ does not necessitate a ‘take’.

I’m not sure if this answered your question but I really hope it shed a bit of light in some way or possibly gave you a new avenue of thought.

Busi Ledibane:

Here’s what I think and I can be corrected if I’m wrong. What happened to you happens on a daily basis to me and several friends of mine. I’m a black woman who is the size of a ten-year-old and I get that and I’ve seen different women of all shapes and sizes being treated the same way.

To guys like that a woman is a woman (or maybe even just a thing) and that’s it. That’s why your marital status didn’t even matter. As to whether this is a cultural norm or not… Well, calling it a norm makes it somehow justifiable and it’s not. It’s disrespectful and it hurts. To be honest with you, there are a lot of things, dark clouds that hover over black culture when it comes to gender but more specifically the male gender that we as black people have allowed to sort of become norms in our failure to address them.

Like absent fathers (SERIOUSLY, THOUGH. What is up with that?!), promiscuity and generally irresponsible behaviour for which black mothers would even defend their sons. There are serious conversations that black people need to have about the brokenness that is so prevalent within our culture and I say culture because these things aren’t just in South Africa, black Americans also have the same issues. [I might get a lot of flack for the paragraph above, but I stand by it]

You already said that not all black men are like this and it is true. There are some really great black men who would never speak to you the way that guy did, but they are hard to find. That is mainly because fatherhood is a serious issue within black culture and a lot black men have a poor sense of self and a warped view of manhood. I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying it like it is. No self-respecting, well-raised black man would treat a woman with such disrespect.

Lastly, on how to respond. You learn over time that you can’t have the same response for every situation, obviously but most of the time, you can just walk away. For example, construction workers. You must know about those! Just keep walking, there is no need to say anything. And generally in a situation like with the guy, I think you handled it well. Especially if you were in a situation where you couldn’t walk away.

[To return to the beginning of the Panel and see all the questions they looked at, click here]

[For a wider variety of race-related topics, click here]

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