In this Issue #3: Breathe In


What to say about putting together an issue on wellness, care and healing!? It would be easier to speak purely about what it looked like to put Issue 3 together, the thinking through of the concept, the collection of resources, working with our wonderful contributors - but it would also be disingenuous, too easy, and would kinda miss the point of what we are trying to do with this issue. 

We will talk about putting this issue together, of course, but what we are also going to do …[Breathe In]... is to talk about our own struggles, as queer, black, African women trying to organise in the contexts we do, in the iteration of structure we do while maintaining our grasp on community, on kindness, on love and on seeing each other as people first … [Breathe Out]...

Speaking as feminist activists working within organisational structures, we have all, at some point, thought about wellness within the confines of oragnisational policies and domestic labour laws. So wellness as good Human Resource policies, leave policies, maternity leave, medical aid, wellness days etc. And while this is necessary and important, it is also inadequate. We’ve realised, and learned, sometimes painfully, that relying or focusing purely on policies and documents to lead our wellness crusaid sidelines love and community, which are crucial in feminist work, feminist organising and movement building. 

We are a community, we are in community with each other first, before anything else. 

More often than we’d like to admit, we often see organisations as adjacent to movements, as structures that are in aid of movement work and movement building, but not necessarily as part of the movement itself. What happens when we think of the organisational structure itself as intrinsic to the movement? Our initial instinct may be to protest this idea, and why? Because we’re creating, enabling and perpetuating [organisational] structures that are in direct opposition to [our] movement politics. We are too often allowing rigidity, donor obligations and money (and many other things) space, for organizational sustaining, management and development, at the cost of love, compassion and each other. 

In these times of pandemic that have upended our natural ways of working, it seems that the theme of this issue is even more pressing. What to do when lockdowns and restrictions have created constraints on how we do face to face organising? How do we talk about wellbeing when being well, for some of us, is being in community? How do we reimagine spaces for healing in the digital realm? 

2020 for us at CAL has been a huge awakening and reckoning with who we are, who we want to be and how we treat one another. This reckoning has been a long time coming and the lockdown, the restriction on travel and on most of our lives has strong-armed us into looking deeply at ourselves sooner than we may have otherwise. Issue 3 is an opportunity for us to highlight a growing concern for feminists and the work we do, as well as an opportunity to put into practice,and flex, our own love muscle - contributing to a growing discourse on what it actually means to love, to care and to be in community with one another. 

And we have some amazing contributions to make! 

In this issue we have personal essays, podcasts, blog pieces and poetry from a range of contributors all bringing themselves and their experiences to offer us an opportunity to better understand each other, to better understand care, healing and the ways in which structural oppression puts in place barriers to our healing and our wellbeing. 

TS and Nawiri, and a few of our contributors, explore what it means to be a ‘bad woman’ in society and how bad women are not only punished for going against societal norms and expectations, but are also seen as not deserving of care, and as asked by TS "Do 'bad girls’ even have the right to heal?"

Botho and Nozizwe explore what feminist praxis has looked like during the Covid-19 pandemic. They explore notions of care and community, physical and emotional intimacy and proximity and the barrier we have faced, during the pandemic, in how we ‘show up’ for one another. 

Melissa and Varyanne speak to the hurts that exist within feminist movement spaces and organisations. An incredibly important exploration as feminists cotinually chart feminist realities and feminnist futures - how do we heal and embody the kinds of people who can not only build the kind of world we want to see, but can also sustain it.

Tshegofatso and Fadzai and Amanda explore traditional healing and its links to feminist activism. Very often traditional (anything) and feminism can be seen to exist not only in different books, but perhaps even on different bookshelves. These authors chronicle their own journeys and the ways they have been able to integrate these healing practices in aid of feminist organising and movement building. 

There is so much experience, analysis and creativity to explore in issue 3 of the African Feminist Standpoint. We hope this issue can be a living resource that you return to, and add to, as we do the very real and hard work of healing and taking care of one another. 

So much love

The AFS editing team 

Our wonderful cover was designed by Naadira Patel. IG @studiostusioworkwork 

/om-re {breathe}: Healing from culture & sustaining community as LBQ feminist activist and organizations

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