Her Words October 3, 2015 – Posted in: Thandi Chase, Why Speak Now, WPN
Since my father’s passing in March in Washington, DC and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel silenced by my fear of him. Like many professional athletes in the news today, my father was celebrated for his athletic achievement. The violent, criminal acts, for which he was responsible, were intrinsically minimized – if even mentioned. I am perturbed by the recent national commemoration of his life at South Africa’s FNB stadium where the 2010 World Cup Final was held, and sponsored by South Africa’s Federation of Sports (SAFA). His narrative seems a chronic representation of the violent athlete misogynist, similar to other elite athletes such as Floyd Mayweather, Ray Rice, and Oscar Pistorius that continues to play out without much of an enduring conscience raising effect. How can it be that we simplify one’s criminal, violent behavior with statements “With the pressure of divorce and child custody battle…he simply lost his head” or “…good men do sometimes do bad things?”
My father was punished for his crimes in the U.S. but I question might he have been treated differently if he was a national figure in the U.S? In this case, justice was served and my father spent 12 years in prison for his violent crimes against my mother and her attorney but only because he was not a national superstar in the U.S. His incarceration in the U.S. has been discredited internationally because the United States has a sordid history of racial discrimination that the world acknowledges on every level even to defend an indefensible crime. Furthermore, both the social and racial culture of Africa suggests male privilege which renders women as property and therefore disposable or controllable. Granted not all African men are being indicted in this writing but when do we begin to challenge a culture that enables them to do as they please? When do we stop accusing women for speaking out against domestic violence as “airing dirty laundry in public?” rather than praise her for her courage? When do “Women’s lives matter”?