By Kamaria Muntu
30 May 2012, GMT 02:10
Across the globe, women of African descent continue to be victims of racist and degrading characterisations. Recent events at the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art prove this out. Fortunately, there was immediate public outcry, as the photograph of Stockholm’s cultural minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth showed her slicing a cake shaped like the upper body of a naked black woman filled with a blood-red sponge. The supposed representation of Female Genital Mutilation (displaying an African woman with sub-human exaggerated features) was deemed offensive enough to call for the resignation of Liljeroth who defended the “cutting” of the symbolic Black woman despite an insufficient explanation by Black artist Makode Linde. This prompted groups like Rage Against Racism and Black Feminists UK to respond with organised protests.
Yet, not all the news is bad. Black women are defying colonial constructions of negative and stereotypical images and making a mockery of their mockers. They are emerging as some of the world’s most prominent leadership, changing the global face of politics as we know it.
Recently elected president of Malawi, Joyce Banda was married with three children before the age of 25. It was the growing Kenyan Women’s Movement of the 1970’s that informed, inspired and gave Banda the impetus to leave an abusive marriage. As a representative of The People’s Party (a party which she founded in 2011), she was officially sworn into office on the 7th of April. She had been previously expelled from The Democratic Progressive Party – the dominant party at that time. Banda was also the first vice-president of the country, serving from 2009-2012.
A grassroots activist and champion of women’s rights, she seeks to repeal “indecency” and “unnatural acts laws” which criminalise same-sex relationships and unions.
Beginning her career as a secretary, Banda has been an educator and entrepreneur, employing her varied and unique business skills to help women break the cycle of poverty.
The president is the proud mother of 5 children and presently married to former Chief Justice, Richard Banda, the first gentlemen of Malawi.
“For the left wing, she is often considered a free spirit, unwilling to respect party discipline. A strong personality which probably comes from her difficult childhood in a modest Guyanese family”. African Diplomacy.
French Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira was born in Cayenne French Guiana. The founder of the Walwari political party, Taubira holds the highest rank in French government (the first Black person to do so). She is also currently the highest ranking woman in the French government. Unarguably a role well deserved for all those with a sense of historical justice – in 2001 she gave her name to the 21 May law, which recognises the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity – the Loi Taubira. Taubira is also planning to rewrite the law on sexual harassment struck down by the Conseil Constitutionnel for vagueness.
A Left Radical candidate for president in 2002, Ms Christiane was sworn in as Minister of Justice on the 16th May 2012.
Peta Lindsay is an anti-war activist and presidential nominee for the party of Socialism and Liberation for the 2012 United States presidential election. A young dynamic Black woman born in 1984, she is ineligible to hold office in the US due to her age. Her running mate is Yari Osorio. Lindsay who was born in Virgina and raised in Philadelphia, was struck by the idea of activism and the possibility of social change while she was still in middle school struggling for a higher standard of education. She became active in ANSWER – Act Now to Stop War and End Racism shortly after 9/11. Lindsay also traveled to Cuba with Pastors for Peace.
Stated as the November 2011 candidate for the party of Socialism and Liberation in November 2011, she truly faces great obstacles when it comes to getting heard – particularly amongst the African-American community, due to her youth, gender and the immense popularity of sitting president Barack Obama. But Lindsay is definitely on her way to being even more of a power broker and champion of the oppressed for many years to come. Much success young sister.