As part of last weekend’s For Black Girls Only event, black women came out in all their splendour to honour themselves and each other by occupying the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Founded by Sivu Siwisa, For Black Girls Only brings together black women from all walks of life into a space of conversation and celebration irrespective of sexuality, class, occupation or any other social construct outside of blackness.
Dressed in black and adorned with bright accessories, hundreds of women came out to support small businesses, picnic, laugh, dance, entertain, educate and just be. A panel discussion began proceedings and once the discussions were over it was time to sing and dance, between singing struggle songs and being mesmerised by an all-female DJ lineup, a space was also provided for guardians to have their children entertained by the wonderful volunteers in the FBGO childcare centre. In the true sense of revolution, what was once a women’s jail for political prisoners became a safe and inclusive space for black women of all ages, sizes, faiths and social status. A space to laugh, cry, interrogate sexuality and gender and be unapologetic.
In a country such as ours, where the history and heritage of oppression plays itself out every day, we cannot continue to be delusional about freedom and equality for the sake of a rainbow nation and at the expense of black women’s livelihood. This is a country where the victims of corrective rape and domestic abuse are predominantly black women, where the occupants of overcrowded buses and taxis are black women, and where child minders and domestic workers who sacrifice their bodies and time away from their own children are black. A safe space to rant, share headwrap lessons, laugh and dance is sanity.
For Black Girls Only is important because the luxury of being able to enter any space where I’m not required to mother, smile, assimilate or be the subject of exoticism and comparison is a treat. To be able to discuss issues of blackness without the guilt and distraction of having to explain the context to someone who does not possess the lived experience of blackness is neccessary.
The revolution is black, women led and full of song.
Images by Verona Banda