Author: yayagigs

22/ South African/ Rhodes University journalism student/Aspiring wordsmith/ Thinker of thoughts so expect opinion stories/ Occasionally the disgruntled human who points out the social, cultural and racial wrongdoings of a situation

My hair is not my heritage

My hair speaks to the ancestors and decidedly snubs me. It excludes me from the conversation because the language is post-paradise and pre-colonial. But that’s alright. I’m just happy that I get the privilege to third-wheel.

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Girlhood: the expiration of safe spaces once a ‘perfect moment’ is over

Girlhood (2014), directed by Céline Sciamma, follows the turbulent coming of age story of an Afro-French teenager, Marieme. The film is divided into distinct periods in which Marieme explores and discovers different parts of her identity. These periods are punctuated by the expiration of spaces that no longer feel safe or viable to her. Marieme migrates between social spaces in hopes to find a safe space to claim for herself in Paris, France. (more…)

My African African-American complex

Nothing captivates young minds more than cartoons. Some of the most memorable pieces of advice I’ve received in my life has come from the 2D lips of girls, boys, talking animals, friendly aliens and animated toys. Like most children, I loved letting my mind hop from one 20-minute-long animated dreamscape to the next.

As a little black girl, I had secretly accepted that these cartoon worlds were just not intended for someone who looked like me. There was a chance that Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network or Disney Chanel would graciously bless me with black female cartoon characters, even if she was just a one episode wonder. (more…)

The Sexual Health Mis-Education of Black Girls

Originally posted on myblackmatters.com

By Ayanda Gigaba

As a young black woman, I am accustomed to social systems failing me. The education system was one of the first to subtly inform me that my race and gender would render me invisible to the academic imagination. I had believed that from the centuries’ long oppression suffered by those of my race and gender, I was lucky to even have the opportunity to get an education no matter how exclusionary the curriculum was.

I attended a predominantly white secondary school in South Africa and the invisible feeling I dreaded lurked in almost every textbook I read and in the eyes of the teachers who conveniently ‘didn’t see race’. Every class I attended glorified the best and brightest minds that were suspiciously never black but somehow alright because ‘the blacks’ in this country hadn’t contributed a single thing to society except cheap labour. Of course no one said this aloud but even then as a child I could sense how black and white bodies were polarized and existed in different social spheres.

So, like all the other black girls and boys at my school, I learned my lessons diligently and ignored the racial micro-aggressions. Having since graduated, I thought it would be easy to unlearn the inferiority complex that my school curriculum drummed into me and let go of all the negative memories but I was wrong. Watching my younger sisters go through the same school system triggered a rage that I had fought hard to swallow when I was their age.

My 11 year old sister shyly told me about her first Sex Ed lesson at school and I started probing her with questions to check if she had really listened and learned. What was meant to be a light sisterly discussion turned into an interrogation as I urged her to detail the ‘types’ of bodies they used to explain the proverbial ‘Birds & the Bees’.

I don’t know why I was putting her through this questioning, I already knew the answers. I realized I was about to waste a perfect opportunity to connect with my sister, share my black girl experience and hopefully encourage her to healthily problematize how racial erasure effects the way she related to her Sex Ed lesson.

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Even Blessers Need Blessings

Disclaimer: I’ll be using cis-gendered, hetero-normative language for this imaginative narrative. I know that sounds discouraging but hear me out, yeah?

Waiters must witness an amusing array of human interactions while working a shift. They are not simply serving a bowl of pasta but they might be serving birthday pasta, engagement pasta, anniversary pasta and any other milestone occasion meal. Some occasions might be more subtle and difficult to detect so it would be easy for a waiter to place plates in front of a charming, beautiful young woman and an aged, confident gentleman and move onto the next table without recognising the Blesser-Blessee energy at the table.

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The ghost of nudes past

Gasp! We’re all naked underneath these clothes!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that human nudity is naturally attractive yet socially repulsive. Our relationship with our own bodies is complex because we censor ourselves—make ourselves uncomfortable—with clothes to create comfort for others. Now this might sound like a nudist’s endeavour to and encourage you to run off, appendages jiggling, into the sunset. But nudity in the 21st century is still a provocative taboo and this backwardness inspires social movements that they to normalise the natural.

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The Africa tattoo: continental tramp stamp

I write this list with a bashful heart as I was an Africa tattoo enthusiast. I almost etched my beloved continent onto my skin as a badge of eternal African pride. Here are 4 irksome questions I asked myself about the Africa tattoo that eventually convinced this little ol’ African against the venture:

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The legend of the woke warrior

Imagine residing in the comforting cradle of your REM cycle, a deep yet dreamless sleep. Your breathing is even and your heart beat is pacing at a constant thud. Lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub. Then suddenly you sense an intrusion that disrupts your peace. A pair of hands seizes your shoulders, hoists you up by your cotton pajama sleeves and thrashes you about. You are jolted awake without warning and without your consent. Before leaving you to recollect yourself, a floating mouth appears between the phantom hands and utters:

You better stay woke, brother/sister/comrade/cadre/leader!

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