A #Melanin Mind

by Sandile Mkhize

If i had to ask you to picture a black Afrikan woman, what would you conjure up in your mind? The reason i ask you to ponder this is that you can have some point of reference.

 

#Blackoutday was such a proud moment for me, not only as a person but as a man. It warmed my heart to see how men and women decided that we do not need main stream media to validate our beauty. We bathed in compliments and we shared each other’s allure on millions of phones and laptops worldwide. Emotions ignite till today. Of course this made some people uncomfortable, but fuck ‘em. #Blackoutday made me notice the quality of women i shared time and space with. Rooted cultural misogyny blinds men from enlightening conversations and knowledge from the women they only see as pussy. Black women have always been a source of wealth in all forms. In recognizing that, in a conversation with my day 1, he said the realest thing I have heard this year. “I am done with women who are willing to fuck me on my friends couch on the first night”. He said this as we were talking about life, our ambitions and the struggle in finding our female counterpoints. Our own Winnie.

 

i have always been the friendly type and women who were kind enough to share their desires with me, one night stands were not a foreign concept. That life was no longer worth my worth. I am done with things that effect, i want things that affect me now.

When i heard those words it hit me how i am in that same space, and have been for a minute. We spoke about how those women are not inferior but they are just not what we want anymore. Soon after this chat i met with an old crush turned home girl, and she opened my eyes.

Nokulunga is a product of a black woman’s love. Her father died when she was 4 years 9 months old (she is always that specific). Growing up she lacked that male figure to teach her how to be treated by men. That is not the tragedy because her mother truly filled that role. The only tragedy and pain was watching her mother work long hours to come home to a boyfriend that was cold and selfish by nature for 8 years. Her mother put up with that because she wanted someone close. She missed the father of her baby.

Nokulunga spoke of how the black family has been through so much and the only way to progress is to unlearn and rethink our place in the world. As we dance in conversation, i can assure you there is no better force for Afrikan progress than the thinking Nokulunga subscribes to. i have studied every motion and sound she makes and not once does this queen divulge how she as an individual is more important than blackness. It resonated when she spoke of the guilt when she is so quick to bargain with a street vendor, but never questions the formal economy when she buys sneakers, diamonds and clothes. “We swipe and enrich the shareholders instead of supporting our own” she says. At this point i am all ears. While innocently walking in Joburg CBD, headed to an art class, she was met with whistles and “ama-dreds”. Choosing to not respond to the vile pronouncements haunted her. From that point she decided to speak up firstly for herself then all women. All her efforts now go towards the works that resonates with most people. Her work paints other faces though at first glance it looks like a self-portrait. Her ambition was not epitomized by a Maserati and Moet. Her dream is to develop other black dreams. In a light hearted tone i utter the excitement her feminist nature gives me. She smiles but not the way i was hoping. i remembered this women holds herself accountable to a higher code of ethics than me and that is what caused my crush in the first place. With her mother always working she had been alone for a long time and realized the importance of connecting with people. She never had a family. Yes her mother was there but the struggle that plagues all single parents is time, or lack thereof. The relevance of her stating she yearns to connect with people goes beyond the you and i dynamic. She wants to change a system structured to shit on the black child. The passion she has for this can be felt in one statement she said:

“These mother fuckers have been in charge for a very long time. I cannot bring them down alone with my sledge hammer so to speak; not you with a scalpel, not your mother with a broomstick. We need a large group of us to come together to rectify the wrong our children will face if we don’t act.”

Nokulunga works in corporate as a ‘bean counter (accountant)’ she so eloquently describes :). But when she is not slaving away to earn a means of exchange, she runs a book club centered on Afrikan literary works and she mentors orphaned young kids. She proudly showcases their achievements whenever she can. It’s cute.

After our chat i look around and i see how the best of us as Afrikan people is not popular. What is easy to imitate has been turned into popular trends by those who exploit our skin. A form of racial patriarchy that exposes the plagiarism of black works that white people have been passing as their own every day is further realized. As vague as this is, how have i not questioned it before. This nonchalant existence i have been conditioned to accept is proof of the unlearning Nokulunga has mentioned earlier. This hetero-patriarchal society will die with each conversation Nokulunga has. No mind can go unchanged after meeting this woman. She is a god. Deists will understand that all that is in this universe i see in her. i recognize a braver, stronger, more committed version of myself since we are both made of the same star dust. The narrow spectrum that explains beauty can only be experienced through the physical is shattered. This fallacy is exposed due to the aesthetics of her mind that cannot go unnoticed. Her best cosmetic is her words. i have become a better person by talking to this woman. Even though this makes some men uncomfortable. Women work. Women acquire knowledge and are able to teach it in a way that brings us to a higher realization of self. Women hold the unique ability to nurture more than one simultaneously. The only known cure for poverty can be simply put as the empowerment of women. When women have ownership of production in the economy, things work better.

Notes

The “i” small cap is a conscious imagery of not being bigger than the group.. The Cartesian principle is “I think therefore I am.” In Afrika we say,”I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.”