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Inclusion, Diversity and Equality in Africa

Surviving R-Kelly painfully reminds us how our women in our lives let us down.

17 min read

Women screaming “take me hostage” to R-Kelly at his V75 party yesterday is enough proof of how black women keep on failing us even when we make it clear that we need them. I am saying BLACK here to refer to any individual of African descent. I am also saying BLACK women to refer to any female figure in our lives that we look/ed up to while growing up.

These women let us down in every way while growing up.

Note that I am specifically speaking about women because I have nothing left to say about men. They’ve caused us more harm than good.

Black women on the other hand were our mentors, people we looked up to and trusted them with our safety. They were supposed to protect us and lead us in the right way. Instead, we were raised by a generation of women who were tired and drained from being the pillar of families and standing by men as they pursued their dreams.

How many times were we dismissed because they thought we were lying or joking about our abuse? Most of the time these violations came from people in our families like uncles, fathers, grandfathers, cousins, brothers and male family friends. I remember the first man who asked me to have sex with him when I was 15 was my father’s best friend. I had two options. Have sex with him and then he’d take me to college when I was done or refuse and I bear the consequences. At 15 I was already aware that we were living below the poverty line and I wanted to make my mother happy. When I told her about it, after years of being overwhelmed by his never-ending pleas, she slapped me and asked me not to go around destroying people’s homes. I was 19.

This is one of the many examples of how our mothers protected our abusers with every fibre of their being. They hid facts, beat us into submission and turned a blind eye on us when we cried out their names. In much as I understand the need for women to keep families together by avoiding drama and sweeping things under the carpet as patriarchy dictates, doing so at the expense of their young girls who shared rooms with these predators was wrong.

Kids like I who were self-aware at an early age noticed that things weren’t as rosy as it seemed and our mothers were ever on edge around our fathers. For the few of you who were fortunate enough to have mothers who listened to you when you came to them with your problems, I say you were lucky. Our mothers beat us up for being interested in boys but turned a blind eye when men touched our 13-year-old breasts. Some of them sent us out to “get sugar” and help feed our starving families. Getting sugar here meant letting a man touch your adolescent breasts and then giving you 50 kshs for ‘sukari nusu’, half a kilo of sugar. Our grandmothers and aunts refused to have the sex talk with us but were quick to take us to shoddy midwives who could abort on us discreetly so as to avoid shame. Our teachers called us loose and fast, blaming us for attracting men. Which teenage girl was fast enough to stop a grown man from touching her after she said no?

This culture of normalizing abuse against black girls is what we’ve been brought up and are raising our kids in. Black girls are made to believe from the word to that nobody cares about them and it’s heartbreaking. As a person who was once a troubled teen and has worked with equally troubled kids in my adult years, I came to realise that kids often times project what they feel by acting out and being unruly. Yes, some kids are generally rude and hard to deal with but for the kids I engaged, whatever they told me about their lives made senses to me after trying to understand why they were behaving the way they did. Society had made them feel disposable and replaceable. These children were living their lives not hoping for anything.

Black Girls keep on hurting and suffering in silence because their pain has been ignored, their suffering normalized. I say it’s time we start seeing young black girls like the children they are, success or not, and not see them as the epitome of black girl magic which makes us forget that these are young people who may not have it together. It’s 2019.

Listen to black girls.

Protect Black girls.

Love Black girls.

We need to do better

 

MEET AFRIKA.

  • Unapologetically Feminist!
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