I am Rithuli Orleyn, a freelance writer of black conscious thought and a former student of natural sciences fro UCT and IT Business Analyst from CPUT. Due to the magnitude and international medial coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial, I have written an opinion piece on gender that could be published for woman’s month. Please see article attached.
by Rithuli Orleyn
Forget bell hooks saying that Beyonce is a terrorist. ANC women are more terrorized than they are terrorists. I draw you to this sight of underplayed terror displayed in the way ANC women yoke their Black sympathies into one blob of emotions with Steenkamp’s pain (pain of losing their daughter to domestic and gender violence.) I want us to meditate on the possibility that they might be co-opted (by their “nervous condition” or Black-Anxiety-Disorder), and perhaps they don’t even see it.
I want us to ask the question “what does that solidarity really mean?” What are the common things that bind the Steenkamp and Black women in camaraderie solidarity? Isn’t this uncritical ‘friendship’ of Black& White a page right out of savagery text of do-gooders? Stay with me as I attempt to show that these women, by a macabre irony of self-dissolution, turn to renounce their own pain of Blackness when they fuse it with Steenkamp’s in this case.
It’s my view that it escapes ANC women to see that Power preys on Black bodies with benevolence too. Power doesn’t only apply cruelty through forced obedience; it also achieves total subjection through gestures of benevolence. By taking a softer-line it engineers self-will and makes it one with its violent commands? Think about it: Power is never just happy with obedience to its violent demands, Power also wants you to Love to obey. The two, Obey violence & Love it, constitute the finished work; how power always expresses itself as a form of Sexual Fantasy. I say ruling-party women solidarity with the Steenkamp demonstrates this engineered Love; loving the insults Power heaps and hurls at them, like a masochist turned on by pain & her own debasement. Of course I come from a place that says, current Power is a re-elaboration of former slave conditions rather than a transformation of those conditions.
But how come Blacks are caught napping, with no rigor of analysis, unable to name or ‘call a thing a thing’? Two reasons 1) our tame and wanting lexicon fails us; making us unable to notice the reconfiguration of our crutch-relations to a world whose grid of personhood, humanity and agency excludes us by design; and 2) I’d like to pose this second point in the form of a question: what kind of traumatized national psyche black people suffer from which makes them sit through the re-inscription of insults, sitting in that court gallery supporting a gender cause right in the midst of Black negation?
Why doesn’t the ANC see this insult? Instead ANC women’s league packs the Gallery not to protest the Black negation inherent in the case, but to support it. This solidarity is an act (according to Dr Hartman) of “displacing culpability that enables white innocence.” Whites are adept in this ritual of ‘washing their hands clean’ through acts of saving-grace that they afford Blacks. That way they resuscitate their innocence and give it a new lease on life. But it seems the worst has happened; Black women are co-opted to rubber stamp that tradition by availing their non-white ideology as a cleansing (stand-in) Whiteness detergent.
Since its inception, ANC’s failure to locate the social subtext which occasions black erasure and denigration, in perpetuity, blinds their view from seeing that we (Blacks) are dealing with adjustments that do not transform: 1) democracy without land, 2) flag-independence without liberation, 3) human rights that privilege ill-gotten gains 4) even Abolition which harbours law that provides an alibi for Back dispossession. It seems that the ANC learns nothing from history! Yes that’s what we do when we reach out and touch white people’s hands hoping to embrace their scarlet hatchet, and bury it in multicultural discourse.
When we blur the line between the Master and the Slave, the White and the Black, we allow white people’s canon, about what went wrong, to define our problem and our interests along the lines that bury our best expressions in the crevices of silence and in the rehashed slave position; “the position of the unthought”, the underbelly that props the world as is. As long as Blacks are the composition of this underbelly, social cohesion will rework itself refiguring Black as guarantee for continuation of Power’s subjection project.
We are bodies who have not been allowed to pose the question “what does it mean [for us]to suffer?” Weaned from that breast of articulation, the political imagination to free women (here “women” is reserved for black bodies, females, constructed by property relations that disavowed sexual violation on them. Because social order viewed sexual injury on them the same way it viewed pulling a lever on an assembly line, in a production plant, where all black bodies, calibrated to perfect submission by means of any amount of violence, existed only to produce ill-gotten gains for the master) from the clutches of Patriarchal Power relations will always exist on a lower register if it does not form conceptual allies with the idea that black female bodies, like all back bodies, share a similar predicament; namely,” there is no internal recognition of the libidinal costs of turning human bodies into…flesh”, says Frank Wilderson III. Black bodies (male and female), everywhere, are that flesh for use. Put differently Black bodies are reserved for one thing and one thing only, the scandal of being configured “as property for enjoyment”, as Hartman says.
It is in this relationship, being a thing for the owner rather than for itself, it is in this relation— “property for enjoyment [relations]”—that we must locate the core of the problem and end it. Black bodies can’t be prosthetics to crutch white-parasitic-visibility at the cost of their erasure. That must end!
To locate the zeitgeist of this social subtext Frank Wilderson III notes:” [D]espite the [Abolition Reconstruction] proclamations about the whip’s demise, emergent forms of involuntary servitude, the coercive control of Black labour, the repressive instrumentality of the law, and the social intercourse of everyday life revealed the entanglement of slavery and freedom.”
Bringing that register of how white-power re-launches itself in the guise of something benevolent and different, we should be able to see that the fusing of freedom with slavery rings something closer to modalities employed in the transition we underwent here at home. That; what had legitimized itself as the representative of the people, post-94, had come with an inheritance of despotic colonial legal regime that structurally continued unabated. In South Africa what had been constructed in the crudest positivist tradition, as colonial state law, to transmit force, seeped through into the liberal democracy order, with a rigid holdover framework, from the past, that continues to disadvantage, appropriate and use Black bodies when that colonial project is in crisis.
When one takes the logic of this colonial framework present in our current democracy one sees the law privileging ill-gotten gains and poised to punish badly-behaved blacks thus: “The concepts of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ [are]confined, as of old, to private law contractual relations..[where abstract definition of ‘persons’ and ‘individuals’ refers to those who historically own property; in short: Whites], and public law inscribe(s) what [is]constitutive of criminal code”, says Shivji. A criminal code, sponsored by white silent consensus, to answer the “native question”; meaning: construct a set of rules designed to punish the unruly blacks who Intrude on White nice-time; burglars who piss on the fantasy of gated-communities.
What is overlooked by ANC women’s league is that, this construction of an Intruder—on trial here— is a Person whom historically was not only violently dispossessed but was, by law, a hybrid between person& property. Marked, like all black-bodies, for humiliation by the very people he gave warmth, land and food to; people he never thought of as Intruders when they came breathing pestilence and wasting away with scurvy. And what does the ANC do? Occasions this travesty with the dignity of Black women’s sympathy! Something deeply traumatised about black subjects exists, how they hanker after white acceptance and inclusion. This inclusion seems to always have been the highest aspiration and imagination of ANC’s idea of freedom. Reminds me of Biko when he says “just because it is a difficult feat to bring together the two races, the mere coming together of them doesn’t mean we’ve fundamentally destroyed racism”
When we see white culpability displaced as Black criminality; in this defensive sentiment “I shot at shadows because my irrational fear is not so irrational against debilitating fear that S.A crime statistics inspires” we know that bad faith as a form of racism languishes in our vicinity. Sadly that vicinity is our legal framework. This displaced culpability, embedded as assumptive logic that holds the meme of Oscar Pestorious Murder Case, is not only consistent with preconscious racist white attitudes but it folds slavery& freedom into one continuous event. Moreover it goes unchallenged by the mum & nervous voices of Black women in the ruling party. What a pity for all months, especially for women’s month.