The Unpopular Culture Part 2

Karabo Mokoena is killed by her partner
Nkensani commits suicide due to her revealing that her boyfriend used to rape and abuse her

Elderly woman is abused and brutally beaten for her grant money

Mamphinsta beats up Babes Wodumo

Tensions and antagonisms between the elite and masses

Countless moments of violence in high schools between educators the students

Thoriso Themane is killed in cold blood by gang of students in Polokwane

About more than a year ago, I wrote about rape and sexual abuse, more importantly, about how has been normalized in this country. The “Unpopular Culture”, somewhat of an oxymoron, explains the rape culture and how it has been gaining its momentum. Since I  wrote that piece, there has been disturbing instances of rape in the country. The most recent one is the story which shook the nation which involved a white male by the name of Nicolas Ninow that raped an 8 year old girl in the bathroom of a family restaurant called Dros.

All these stories and more have a common factor which generally has to do with the fact that perpetrator has more power. This is typically physical or financial power. In this article, I’ll concentrate more on violence. This will not be explicitly about gender based violence but about violence in the country in general. Violence is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the country but it is also an unfortunate social issue which has manifested itself into many spheres of society, mainly in the home environment through domestic violence, in schools due to bullying, gang related violence and disputes within the classroom and through society by means of class related antagonisms between the working class and the elite.

It is scary to see that we have become even more violent, especially since the dawn of democracy. Quite frankly, we’ve always been violent and as usual, I blame it on captialism. Why? The inability to be a breadwinner thus being unable to participate in the economy is a sign of a remorselessness by the elite to ensure that there is a working class with good pay, healthcare coverage and a pension fund. Moreover, it also means that many people who don’t find work turn to crime as a last resort, a significant amount of these crimes have become atrocious and violent. Furthermore, society makes a person very violent as most children become accustomed to those tendencies and has a negative effect, especially on boys.

The poisonous effects of these actions have also resulted in patriarchal tendencies which is very present in men who abuse women and children, hence I said that there is an element of power.

We’re faced with growing cultures which are cancerous to the social development as well as the health of our young nation. This culture along with racism, inequality, xenophobia and rape are the chains of our journey to total freedom. We must have conversations about conflict resolution in all settings for all ages to reduce impulsive behaviours and ensure that violence is not even a last resort for problem solving.

The safety of women, children, the elderly and the vulnerable & marginalised must be ensured and we must condemn the violence against them.

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The State of the Native Mind

When someone is unwell, a practitioner or health worker is able to diagnose and in most cases, be able to treat the disease. Most diseases have a host, agent and environment which usually has some sort of influence on the pathology of the disease.

Well…
With that being said, what about mental illness? What sets it apart from other diseases capable of causing mortalities and morbidities throughout all walks of life? Are mental illnesses acute or chron
ic? Most importantly, does race actually have anything to do this state of illness.

The reason I decided to write on mental illnesses, especially depressive disorders is due to the lack of technical knowledge by individuals and communities especially in African settings. We tend to downplay the severity of mental illness, particularly the more popular ones amongst society such as depression and anxiety which really comes from a mixture of many things. In South Africa’s instance, it is both historical and present determinants of health which causes this spread in the mind like the invisible tumour that it is.

The Apartheid regime caused a great deal of mental illness, especially amongst the current generations of between 40-60 year olds who experienced the wrath of a nationalist and evil government whilst they were still young. It bred a significant amount of self-hating black people. The extent of mental illness has even created stigmas and discrimination amongst the uneducated masses, most of them citing misconceptions such as witchcraft and just borderline crazy. The reality of poverty and also the injustices of the past plays a significant part in the growing epidemic that is mental illness.

In recent times, many factors leads to the  unfortunate state of mental illness and instability, in South Africa’s instance, it is lack of employment and job creation opportunities to an extent, entrepreneurial opportunities due to a toxic and monopolized economy controlled by white men and a black bourgeoisie. Another factor is pressure created by social media, forcing young people of the “born-free” generation uphold lifestyles they cannot afford or keep up with just for the sake of “retweets” and “likes”. We seldom ask the question that if one acts like a painkiller for other people, who alleviates our pain when we’re alone? The suicides across our institutions of higher learning have skyrocketed while the lack of black and fully qualified psychologists who would be much in touch of the grievances of the black mind.

When students in South Africa were at war with neoliberal and capitalist forces when fighting for only for Free Higher Education but also for the decolonization of the Apartheid designed institutions to cater for the solutions of native students. They too became affected mentally, because it already isn’t fair to be young, black and poor. The students fought for the total freedom of the female mind and body from the shackles of sexual violence and vile patriarchal tendencies which has not being addressed with the full attention it deserves. 

I hope we’ll be as brave to talk about the scourge of mental illness as much as we are gaining the courage talk about sexuality and religion (even though it is still taboo to touch on certain issues). If not, we will have to deal with the pain of burying our friends, comrades, mothers, fathers and siblings from this ill as much as we have had to deal with the pain of HIV and most recently, Ebola and Zika.

We must reach out and ask for help but also help those who need to help themselves.

Land or Death?

“Awakening on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth”

That is what the great writer, politician and African Nationalist Sol Plaatje wrote on the eve of establishment of the infamous Natives Land Act of 1913 which prohibited natives from owning or even renting land on the soil of their forefathers by the British Empire. A colonialist history endorsed by a white nationalist minority which ensured that these laws were furthered encouraged and continued to oppress the natives by classifying and separating them even more. This uneven and unholy activity is the source of many historically related antagonisms between those who are of the ruling class and the toiling class.

Land is an integral part of the freedom of the natives and one of the founding principles on which the Constitution was built on. It is the source of precious minerals, water and food after all. This is why land is a historically important question to answer to address the injustices of South Africa’s colonial and Apartheid past contributing to economic inequality and poverty. The need for land reform is important through expropriation of land without compensation where the people and to an extent, the state, is the custodian of the land. As an economically and socially valuable asset, the capitalisation of this question would be wrong and insensitive.

Many Pan-Africans and black communists argued that the ownership, expropriation and restitution of land is important for the emancipation of the natives as well as the restoration of dignity. It would be ignorant and a spit in the face of Bantubonke Biko and Mangaliso Sobukwe if the land question is not answered.

After all, total freedom with be achieved if there is economic freedom. 

Silent Majority vs The Loud Minority: A Political Report.

For the first time, I’ll be dabbling in the current political climate which stretches to as far as the days of “-isms” and “-ologies” go. 
In this case, the “loud minority” will the reference made to the class of people who control and own all the means of production whilst the “silent majority” would refer to the marginalized, poor, and proletariat (in some cases)

In the South African context, it isn’t much of a shocker that the loudest voice is that of the minority. They control the centres of power and always incite moments of uncertainty. They control the mouthpiece that is the “liberal media”. Through this medium, they prey on the anxiety of an aloof middle-class/bourgeoisie which prides itself through the assumption that they have some form of influence in the economy. Basically, they are comfortable with being “debt-based proletariats”. They live on loans, debts and “policies” which only guarantee temporary wealth solutions. This is all because of being comfortable and economically entitled usually cause of their European institutional education and also their  social position in general.

Now that I’ve explained the political climate that exists, it is easier to see society’s position in relation to certain issues due to its position in this classist society. One reality that comes to mind is racism, which manifests itself in its different forms: institutionally, systematically, “colourism” and subtly. 

These manifestations have proven to be poisonous and have created an unexplainable arrogance which aims to undermine those who are of the “silent majority”.

A country which shows these attributes quite well is Brazil. It is a country with a loud minority, but a silent majority. To conclude, it is important to understand the social climate of a particular place in order to understand its political climate. This is important in the South African context because of the bounds of gender, race and class politics that comes into play here. The problems are not the leaders, but the systems and policies surrounding them and their pursuit for neo-liberal ideology in socially decaying communities as well as the cushioning of the status quo.

Conversations With A Black Man

Worldly injustices happening to the world
Questions left unanswered!
The good are punished and the bad continue to be a rot in society
Giants continue to fall, walls begin to crumble!
The melanin remains inferior and you still reminded how much of a pest you are!
The public servants end the lives of many, simply wielding the piece of lead…
It all seems familiar to him, time travel without the trill of nostalgia
Pain and misery, reminding him of those days past
Women remain underrated and unappreciated
Fathers remain absent…our children remain fatherless!
The poor crippled by hunger…the rich controlled by greed!
The media is still biased and stupid!
Freedom never existed, democracy is a theory!
If it did, then why is the colour of my skin still a defining factor in the court of law?
Why is it that we turn us against each other?
Label us idiots, call us gullible, find us easily manipulated?
Education seems indifferent from our time…still taught what they think is appropriate and not what we need
Dumber by the year in school…this Queen’s tongue still segregates us
Slowly not realising our potential with our cocoa skins
Our native tongues
Our distinctive swagger
Our strength, their fear of what we are capable of!
When will we realise that we were built to never crack because black will never crack!
Our Queens are majestic, graceful!
Feeders of nations,
teachers of the illiterate,
mothers of the motherless,
mender of the broken souls
healers of the ill
We too shall prevail one day for our skin should never define us…but only the journey traveled!

Men Are Trash: A Universal Rant 

It makes sense for men to be defensive and end up supporting a narrative that pushes patriarchy and bigotry because it is in their nature to think they know what is good or bad for women. You have to ask yourself if you’re so damn interesting in controlling femininity, then why don’t you just ask for a damn vagina and uterus?

Every day, you hear of women being stripped of their dignity and their life when they are meant to be protected and you wonder why we are as a collective are called trash. I was raised in a female-headed household then by a single mother. Their mere existence has shaped my perceptions about the same men who are supposed to be protectors. Men are trash? Yes. Am I writing this from a dude’s perceptive who many might think is trying to get laid from all this? No. It’s from experience. In every single possible way that a man could ever disappoint you, I have experienced that.

Men assume their position in society because of their masculinity and generally have nothing to offer except for their lack of emotional control and manpower. Statements like “If you say that I’m trash, it means you’re talking about your father too” or “not all men are trash”. The problem is that we aren’t willing to concede that we’re wrong and we make a lot of mistakes. What do you expect? Most of us weren’t raised by our fathers as some of us have had to find out on our own what it means to be a man. Society usually doesn’t teach us that, instead it nurses bruised egos and misogynistic tendencies which hasn’t exactly raised accountable males.

Ironically, I’m a 23-year-old dude who has already made my fair share of mistakes. The most poisonous men are black. We are vocal on matters of class, oppression and racism but our grasp of feminism is only restricted by our blatant ignorance. We constantly disturb the peace of our women and you wonder why you are trash! Is your emotional trauma caused by your landlessness and oppression of dominating classes? Must be.

Men are trash. Always and Forever, until we change our perceptions to seek for the emancipation of the mind and body of the female. We must free ourselves from the chains of misogyny, chauvinism and patriarchy. Women are important for the freedom of the oppressed people. History always remembers the men who fought hard through various struggles but only uses the revolutionary fight of women for their own politicking.

I pay homage to Angela Davis, Mother Theresa, Albertina Sisulu, Adelaide Tambo, Winnie Mandela, Lillian Ngoyi, Rosa Luxemburg and many other female revolutionaries who fought not only against oppression and illnesses but also from the ills of patriarchy directly and indirectly.

The Black Narrative

Main Writer: Flow Masengesho
Co written: Koketso Thema
Edited by: Dineo Matloga

Social Anxiety in black people

He said this with conviction: “Being yellow and ugly is a waste of skin because yellow bones are meant to be beautiful.”

He chuckled while looking at my hands. “I read somewhere that dark girls love bright colours but you shouldn’t wear them. You shouldn’t have painted your nails pink. Try darker colours next time.”

“I fetishize yellow girls but I’ll kick it with you since you ain’t like other dark girls,” as I read through my messages.

“Why you playing hard to get?! Dark girls are always ready to get it,” he said with a smirk on his face.

We live in a world filled with numerous factors that not only cause physical and emotional pain, but also an array of mental illness issues left undiagnosed because of the lack of awareness of one’s mental health. From the burden of diseases that force their way into various communities, to the growing level of unemployment and poverty, as well as the beauty standards that pressure women into conformity, these are but a few of the many things that cause depression- and anxiety-related disorders that go undetected. Due to lack of resources and the stereotypes that surround what mental health is and who is more vulnerable to succumb to this psychological war, many people live in an incorrigible state of mind where they fail to conceptualise the reasons behind their disarray.

Social anxiety can be defined as the fear of interactions in a social setting. One’s fear of being negatively judged by peers can cause overwhelming self-consciousness or isolation as a way to prevent others from evaluating one’s physical appearance or noticing one’s lack of engagement. Fixations on scenarios where one’s embarrassed or mocked in public may plague one’s mind on a daily basis. This is coupled with low self-esteem or depression. But, which factors might lead to this classification of anxiety? Observations have been made on the different ways in which social anxiety can manifest itself in people, particularly black women. There is not enough evidence on this ailment simply because it is not researched thoroughly, not just by doctors and psychologists, but also the people mostly affected by it. The only reliable survey found was conducted in 2001-2002 among 40,000 people. Of those surveyed, black people were amongst the highest to suffer from social anxiety disorder, with the majority being black women. Most black women who suffer from social anxiety might be unaware of this simply because, in most predominantly-black communities, mental illnesses are labelled as the “white man’s disease”. 

There is another misconception surrounding social anxiety. You don’t have to be poor and trying to survive for you to be affected by it; you can also be privileged while marinating in self-hate and made-up transgressions. Take the middle class, for example. Their biggest fear is not being able to afford their current livelihoods, like tertiary education for their children, keeping up with the lifestyle they portray or even conforming to beauty ideals. How does this cause social anxiety? Simple: black people still believe in the “educated, pure, and beautiful” black girl narrative. But this notion isn’t placed on all black women; “purity” is a birthmark given to women of lighter shades, and the same goes for education and beauty. The black woman is pressured by society and her own race to conform to a set of rules governing beauty, behaviour and education. This collective pressure often leads to desperation that causes anxiety-related disorders which are often disguised as being “introverted” or “shy” by the victims themselves.

Black women grow up in environments where social standards and beauty ideals are measured on a Westernised scale. The assumption is that the darker you are, the less desirable you may be, not only to different races or ethnic groups, but to black men within certain social demographics. This self-inflicting enormity is persistently forced into our belief systems by mass media and people who share these malicious ideologies. Women of darker shades across a broad racial spectrum are subjected to judgment based on racial and colorism stereotypes which include the notion that lighter women are undoubtedly more beautiful than darker women; darker women are loud, angry, and less pure and innocent.” Other races are also shaped to see black women a certain way and, yes, with different cultures and demographics come different anxiety-related issues pertaining to being a black woman, which makes social interactions with people even less enjoyable. 

Social anxiety disorder as well as low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders and various other issues relation to emotional and mental health can be largely influenced by one’s understanding of what beauty is. A staggering amount of women live their lives feeling heavily pressured to be a certain way so as to avoid judgement or embarrassment that may arise because of their skin. The standard by which beauty is measured fails to accommodate women of all forms, creating a hierarchy in which women are placed, from their bodies to their hair. Black women of darker shades are often subjected to psychological abuse. This includes being called derogatory slurs and being portrayed negatively in the media. Lighter-skinned women, too, face pressures within society to be a certain type of way. They are often subjected to bullying by darker-skinned girls, are highly favoured by boys only because they are light-skinned, and they may also face the pressure of wanting to be darker so they could blend in with everyone else. This is slowly becoming an epidemic that is going undetected as some women use this socially constructed hierarchy to place themselves where they comprehensively believe they belong. As a dark-skinned girl, my mother bought me lightening creams in my adolescent years, convincing me that “beautiful” is only as light as you can make your skin appear. I wallowed in self-hate and resentment, not realizing that she, herself, is facing the same battle as most women of darker skin tones. As a dark girl I grew up with the predisposed notion that my skin positioned me deeper into the stereotype, leading me to partake in less social interactions even with people I knew.
William “Willie” Lynch was a British slave owner who wrote The Making of a Slave in 1712. In the letter he wrote describing ways to control slaves, he called for a division of the slaves: the house negroids against the field negroids, men against women, old against young, and so forth. The house negroes were either mixed-race or light-skinned, while the field negroes were darker-skinned and consequently became even darker from working in the sun. Soon, house slaves were favoured because, unlike field slaves, they had features that more closely resembled those of their masters. But, they were both still slaves, except, of course, house negroes were not subjected to as much abuse as their cotton field-working counterparts because they were “lucky” enough to work in the house closer to the slave master. House slaves were thus conditioned to feel privileged for their role less than their master but superior amongst their own race. Field slaves desired this same type of recognition, presuming that they were at fault due to the colour of their skin. These divisions among black people have only grown wider through the centuries, and have made their way into the modern day construct where underlying stereotypes about black people and black women persist.

The persistence of racist ideologies into contemporary society have been worsened by the role of the media. The problem with the media is that when it constructs the “ideal” woman, it considers the Westernised one-dimensional view. Not only are young girls psychologically affected by this, but young boys are also exposed to this ideology, therefore placing women on pedestals while weighing morals, behaviour and emotions by complexion. We often hear phrases like, “Why are you acting light skinned?” or, “Dark girls spread their legs faster”, and women are scaled down “from graduate to welfare” or “from main chick to baby mamma” –  granted, of course, the lighter women are the coveted graduates and main chicks. It is also taught that natural hair and dark skin is not synonymous to beauty, hence statements like, “You’re pretty for a dark girl” or, “Are you mixed?” This implies that beauty cannot possibly stem from the part of a person that is purely black, and that lighter shades with blonde hair and blue eyes are generally what’s acceptable. Light-skinned women are considered the “rule” while women of darker skin live their lives as the exception. Media distorts what beauty is and forces women, as well as men, to conform to an ideal that is unrealistic and biased. The idea that a woman is either a disappointment or surpasses beauty expectations because of her skin tone is a broken mentality as we are blaming the dark woman for being undeserving of her beauty and the light woman for being undeserving of the colour of her skin. 

When it comes to beauty standards, society has a made a norm of being widely influential in shaping how one sees others and how one also sees oneself. We are slowly blurring the lines between what is acceptable and what isn’t, and we currently live in a time where the “real woman” ideal has changed its meaning to accommodate all women and where it has become widely acceptable to embrace who you are. Yet, some still feel the pressure to be “perfect”. This is because, despite the slow progress, young minds are still being subconsciously instilled with images of the “perfect” woman. Magazine covers, billboards, runways and music videos all paint a picture of an idealised woman as pop culture and hip hop music slander darker women while lighter-skinned women are embraced.  We are often bombarded with imagery of lighter women fitting into positive social roles while darker women, and darker-skinned people in general, are blatantly disrespected for humour. 

Social anxiety disorder can be caused by many factors surrounding an individual, it can easily go undetected long enough to assume it is nothing else but timidness or introverted qualities. When it comes to women they generally feel the pressure to be beautiful and excepted. The standards of society has black women fighting negative stereotypes just to be labelled as normal, while they keep pushing the black girl narrative into our belief systems.

Hoffman SG, Asnaani A. Cultural Aspects in Social Anxiety and Social Anxiety Disorder. Depression and Anxiety. 2010;27(12):1117-1127.

Trap Music- Does This Shit Really Slap or is it Pure Crap?

Woke/conscious writers, the “older generation” and lovers of “deep and underground” genres of music despise this term because they claim it destroys a culture of “good music”. Rarely enough, I’ve decided to be one of the few conscious writers not to nullify and deny its existence.

Trap music is a growing subgenre of hip-hop and dance music which originally comes from the Dirty South of America (Virginia, Louisana, Arizona) and was based of the Roland TR-808 (a drum machine). Trap music is known for its hard hitting beats, vulgar lyricism, the use of sounds and effects (or Ad-Libs) and flashy lifestyles. Ironically, this subgenre also addresses the hardship of growing up in the slums in households ran by drug dealing fathers and mothers who fall into the trap of drugs and prostitution.

Now go even further South, in a little place that fought for its independence and only gained its “democratic freedom” 23 years ago. South Africa is a diverse, multiculturual environment co-existing in a economically unequal and socially unequal sectors, also a country infamous for a high crime rate, high rape and domestic violence and some communities consumed by drug abuse (rich and poor). Music is an attribute that South Africa has been able to have a huge influence on, not just on the continent but also the world.

Trap music in South Africa has continued to grow and make its way into the mainstream setup amongst other popular genres such as House, Pop, Maskandi (Traditional Zulu Music) and Kwaito, which have given a different identity to South Africa’s growing and diversified hip-hop scene. The argument about trap music is that it is an American subgenre and does not represent nor reflect the complexities of South Africa.

We can argue that trap music only speaks of money, the “fast life”, sex and drugs but the reality is that those topics reflect most people’s realities. Most people just have a problem with the way trap music approaches it. How was it supposed to do it? By censoring the truth and being conservative about the harsh realities of what it takes to hustle and makes ends meet? I don’t approve of some of the things “trap rappers” rap about in their tracks, but to most of them, it is their reality. Just like the way Kwaito (another genre indigenous to Southern Africa) used to address the socioeconomic struggles of a majority, their trials and tribulations as well as their successes which always seem easy to acquire…

So before you underestimate trap music and its objective to not only entertain and mesmerize but also to drift away from the hardships and struggles of growing up in the “trap”.

Rape- The Unpopular Culture 

Imagine this, in a modern and predominantly democractic societies, you’re told what to wear because you’re more likely to recieve an unpleasant surprise if your skirt is “too short” or your pants are too tight or how you should be careful who speak to, who you fall in love with or simply of who you know because that person might harm you in ways unimaginable. A culture so that is ironically very popular and isn’t meant to be. A culture that affects the confidence and the dignity of those affected. A culture that elevates bigots and chauvinists.  
Rape, a culture that torments the dignity and assurance of safety and security in the lives of many vulnerable persons, particularly women and children. Living in a country that carries one of the highest rates in the world makes it an “unpopular popular culture” and to add insult to injury, the rate of reporting rape and sexually related crimes keep on decreasing. Which then forces us to ask the question, what keeps on providing this heinous crime with the platform to become a culture in all our societies? Is it fear? Patriarchal behaviour which forcefully pushes the vulnerable to a corner? Or is it that we still believe that only a complete stranger would promote such a culture? We created this monster.

We must always question our influence in our society and how that promotes rape, and why we should always remember that it’s not about what she wears, it is about how you think. Rape has been subtly forced in our different spheres of life and ironically has been accepted because we claim we can’t prevent it! So then why promote it? Why must a culture infamously known to create ripples in our society be used to incite moments of awe?  Why do we as men allow our brothers and friends to be digusting chauvinists for the sake of it? Why allow our uncles and fathers to do what they want because they older and know “better”? Why have we downplayed the idea of rape been what it is, a crime!

A rot we could do without in our world, a culture that must be isolated and addressed before we start to live in a world where the wrong becomes right. 

Mass media- Friend or Enemy

I’ve always wanted to write my few two cents about the media and my analysis in line with the ideologies that make sense to me and those who might share my sediments. It seems like no one shares anyone’s sentiments to start off with, especially when it comes to current affairs and moronic utterances of outrage. The media has been one sector with an influence to either make or break a system or an individual. I’ve always been critical of the media and how much “truth” it assumes it writes or regurgitates but the truth is, the media is a corporate tool which selectively feeds off the fears of an elite class and the anxieties of the middle class, while the forms of media that are meant for those of the lower class is forced to feed off misinformation.

As much the objectives of the media is to keep those who are assumed to be uninformed “in the loop”, the same thing can be used to incite moments of violence and uncertainty. As I analyzed the media from a Marxist perspective, it is easy to assume that the mass media can/is a tool of captialists. Firstly, just like most businesses and corporations that exists, it has been monopolized and because of this, the sources of information are also controlled and owned one corporation. The mass media in this case are the factories, and the journalists and editors are the workers and because of this, the mass media has to continue to produce even it means that some of the information has to be fabricated.

As a blogger, I benefit from media in order to display my work but as a writer, I aim to provide credible and clean information in order to get my thoughts out, even if it means that I’ll be infamous amongst some. The truth is, the media has a good and bad sides (like most things), we just need to be aware. In this, I mean we see more, ask more questions and not just believe what has been told and to keep a better an open mind about the things that happen around you. A Chinese Proverb says “He who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes but he who does not ask remains a fool forever”, and this separates those who always believe what they read to those who continues to ask questions until you have all the answers. The beauty of being human is wanting to know more in order to grow. This must be practiced to assure our survival in order to gain knowledge and that is the true treasure.