Archive | February, 2019

We’ve Had Enough! Now We’re Hitting Back And Hitting Out At The Ruthless Attacks On Black Sportswomen Bodies By Cheryl Roberts

20 Feb



To be a champion and great black sportswoman is to have your black woman body incessantly interrogated by those who falsely assume a superiority gaze to constantly harass black women’s bodies. Ask athlete Caster Semenya, tennis player Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles
If its not about the clothes they choose to wear, or their muscular and physical strength or natural hormone levels, then its the misogynystic remarks and comments thrown at black sportswomen, especially the black women global sports champions like tennis player Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles and athlete Caster Semenya.
It’s all seemingly okay when black girls and women participate in sport at grassroots levels but the moment a black woman emerges a global sports champions, then the vicious attacks against her body are thrown around.
This is particularly rampant in sports that are accustomed to having white, North American and European sportswomen champions. But when the black woman arrives to claim titles and dominate sport like Serena and Venus Williams, Caster Semenya and Simone Biles, boxer Claressa Shields, then the misogynistic and insulting arrows are thrown.
It’s not only the racist, misogynistic fans doing the attacks, it’s also the mostly white male officialdom that shows up with intentions to dehumanise champion black sportswomen. It’s happened to Serena Williams, Caster Semenya and Simone Biles. Yet, such scrutiny of a sportswoman’s body doesn’t happen to white sportswomen.
Now comes the attack on women athletes with ‘higher testosterone’, a resolution propelled and accepted by a majority male and European exco committee governing international athletics that is the International Amateur Athletics Federation.
Outside of the IAAF, the public response to the IAAF’s ‘higher testosterone ruling’ in women athletes is overwhelmingly in favour of the naturally born women athletes competing in their natural body states. But there are those who are pushing for a ‘higher testosterone ruling’ to be implemented and those in this group are mostly European, white and male.
There’s now also the open accusations appearing, again from mostly white and European people in sport, about Africa’s champion women athletes being able to win world and Olympic titles because ‘they are doping’. Such accusations linking achieving and successful African women athletes to doping, is of course associated with racism, racial prejudice and the white superior belief that black and African women don’t have what it takes to be champion sportswomen.
For a long time, black and African sportswomen have had enough. Serena Williams hits out with more tennis victories and choosing her attire on her terms. She bows to no racist attack on her body. World champion Simone Biles retaliates in similar fashion. She doesn’t hear the racist noise directed at her. All she does is win, win, win and be best global woman gymnast.And now World and Olympic champion athlete Caster Semenya ain’t hiding in a corner waiting for men officials to decide on the state and status of her natural body. She is responding with a challenge in the highest court representing sport. This is because black woman athlete Caster Semenya, backed and supported by all who believe in her natural body, knows her black woman’s worth and she ain’t afraid.
Social media is powerful when support for black women is required. We are utilising social media to roar against the arrows and attacks aimed specifically at black women in sport. And we are roaring in unison, drowning out the misogynistic attacks.
Get this! The attacks against black and African elite sportswomen ain’t going to stop. They are likely to intensify as more black women achieve in sport.
Today’s generation of black sportswomen role models have lit up the stage for black girls to believe they, too can achieve. And many more black sports girls are maturing into champions sportswomen. For those who choose to define the achieving black and African sportswoman as being unnatural or a doper, they will continue with their misogyny and body attacks directed at black sportswomen. And such people are not only the fans but they are also represented in the commentators and media, officials, corporate sponsors.
It’s no easy journey on your way to being an elite sportswoman. And it’s a tough one when you are making your way through sport as a champion. When a black woman achieves in sport, we can’t and don’t want to stop the applause knowing that theirs was no easy journey to the top.
There’s no way we going to stop firing arrows at the misogynists in sport, at the conservative, heterosexual controlling officialdom, at the racial prejudice and the attacks on black women’s bodies. We are going to disrupt all attempts at controlling black women’s bodies in sport and roar for black sportswomen!

Photograph: Caster Semenya
Photograph By: Cheryl Roberts

Black Queer Activist Funeka Soldaat Writes Her Story For Black Queer Women By Cheryl Roberts

13 Feb




It’s a life story of a black, queer activist and its written for black queer girls and women to not only know the story of another’s life before them but also a black and queer life that has a human right to exist.

It’s the life story of Funeka Soldaat, an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, woman in sport, Kaizer Chiefs fan, black queer activist and anti-crime community activist. It’s the life story of Funeka Soldaat from her roots in the Eastern Cape, through school, family life, her move to Cape Town and never tiring commitment of driving lesbian and queer rights and protection in a society that is at war whenever it chooses, with those who don’t identify as nor accept a patriarchal, heteronormative society.

It’s titled ‘Uhambo’ and is being launched in February with two launches already announced. And of course the first launch takes place in the hood in Khayalitsha where Funeka lives and undertakes much of her activism. Its here in Khayalitsha where Funeka has engaged police stations and justice courts, walked the streets in support of black lesbians, visited homes to give advice, protection and inspiration to young black queer women, held memorials for fallen black lesbians and founded the vibrant black lesbian structure ‘FreeGender’.


‘Uhambo’ is a dream fulfilled – Funkeka Soldaat


Me to Funeka on the phone……. ‘I’m sooooooo happy for you. I recall you saying in a convo, about two years ago, how you wanted to write your story. And we laughed because we both agreed it shouldn’t be academic and shouldn’t be accessible to only a few people.’


Funeka to me…… ‘Ay….I’m also happy. You don’t know how happy I am to have done this finally.’

The publication of ‘Uhambo’ is a fulfilled dream and passion for Funeka Soldaat, the non-commercial activist who doesn’t derive money from her activism. For Funeka, the book is about being there for black queer girls and young women especially to read and know they have a right to what life and sexuality they choose.


A personal black lesbian’s story


‘It’s not a book about someone doing research on black lesbian lives. It’s my story. Our black lesbian stories,’ says Funeka. ‘In my years of growing, acknowledging my sexuality, coming out as lesbian, I never had a book to read about another black lesbian’s life. I thought I was on my own, that the world was against only me. And then I found comradeship and lesbian activists who were prepared to fight to live our sexuality on our terms’.

Proud Black lesbian Funeka Soldaat shares all about her life in ‘Uhambo’, including estrangement from her mother when she tells her mom she ain’t straight nor heterosexual. She holds nothing back about her activism in the trenches, the violence inflicted on her body, her love and marriage, friendships and happiness.

I’m not saying much about the book’s content because you must get a copy of the book and read it. And if you know Funeka soldaat or want to know about this life story, then ‘Uhambo’ is a must read.



Why Is There Always No Money For Sportswomen? By Cheryl Roberts

13 Feb

South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy


Admittedly, over the past 25 years of post-apartheid sport in South Africa, there have been developments to advance and improve girls and women’s participation in sport and several elite, world class and world/Olympic champion emerging. But women’s participation in sport remains massively underfunded with some occasional handouts of media and support appearing now and then, here and there.
Its always about there being ‘No Money’ to develop and grow women’s participation in sport. Yet, there’s money to support men’s participation in sport, especially in sports such as golf, football, cricket, and rugby. And in sports federations that struggle to get sponsorship and funding, it’s always the boys and men that get the bulk of the money to support them.
Men officials of the male-dominated sports of rugby, cricket, football and golf always blame it on sponsors and corporates, saying stuff like ‘corporates don’t want to sponsor women’s sports’.
If it’s the corporates we are blaming for strangling women’s development and advancement in sport, then why are sports federations having business relationships with corporates who refuse to sponsor and assist the very women who are consumers of their products and supporters of their businesses.
But it’s not only the men but also women, who buy products of the mobile networks that are MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, Cell C. Yet these networks ignore women in sport and sportswomen.
Get this! Corporates are kept in business and make profits from women consumers. However, corporates are responsible for the gender funding/sponsorship inequalities prevailing in sport. Some corporates do associate with women’s sport and sponsor women in sport. But this is just a few of them.
Why are most other corporates, especially the mobile network companies not giving back to the very women consumers who reap profits for them?
As I ask these questions, I am reminded of the patriarchal -supporting existence of corporates who still thrive on a patriarchal, male-power, male-dominant society, who continue to prop up gender inequalities by relying on their patriarchal supporting behaviour. And this patriarchal support impacts on corporates’ funding relationships because patriarchal supporting corporates still believe it’s the men in sport who must be dominant even though they are mediocre and male.
Why do corporates get away with their non-support of women in sport? It’s because the mostly male controlled sports federations don’t speak out and women in sport haven’t organised their activism to challenge and call out corporates.
And then there’s the men and few women officials who negotiate the sports sponsorships with corporates and who actually do so from a position of both being patriarchal supporting with the sports federations always looking for a corporate to firstly back a men’s event.
It’s always about the men’s participation in sport with the women sometimes getting a look in now and then.
South Africa’s sportswomen struggle to play at elite levels and compete as internationals. That some sportswomen have, over the past 25 years become world class, continental, world and Olympic champions is a testimony to their resilience to struggle and beating the odds against them.
It’s only when some sportswomen have achieved at the very top of world sport that some corporates react with some sort of a sponsorship relationship. But why must South Africa’s sportswomen struggle, struggle, struggle when they help grow businesses and make profits for corporates?
Women in sport, non-patriarchal supporting sports fans and sportswomen have got to become activists and challenge corporates and their male-dominated sports federations to disrupt their patriarchal-supporting behaviours and preference of male dominant sports events. There’s now ways we want to go for another 25 years whining about the raw deals given to women in sport and sportswomen.

Why Didn’t Gary Player Protest Against Apartheid And Support Black Golfers During Apartheid? By Cheryl Roberts

6 Feb


He’s at it again with his opinions that irk and irritate me. That’s
Gary Player, apartheid sport’s white golf messiah; always wanting to be seen as a messiah for black golf’ when all he really is, is apartheid’s white golf messiah.
Now Gary Player says, according an interview, he really wants South Africa to have a black golf champion, someone like aTiger Woods golf champion. Say what? You want to see a black golf champion in SA?
But why are you Gary Player erasing our anti-apartheid era of playing sport, the era when blacks (all people not white) were oppressed by the apartheid policies of the apartheid regime? Because that is the time, over 60 years ago and more when blacks were playing golf in our
country, when blacks were caddying for you and other white men on the golf course, when blacks were yearning to test their golf skills just like you, when blacks were participating with you in some golf tournaments and same time being restricted (because of apartheid policies) from participation with you in golf tournaments and when
blacks were not only beating you but also becoming the champion in
tournaments you featured in.
What does apartheid’s white golf messiah mean by wanting to see a
black golf champion in SA? Has Gary Player’s memory failed him, after all these years? South Africa has had black golf champions. Does Gary Player not remember the champion player Papwa Sewgolum, who finished
ahead of him Gary Player in some tournaments and won a tournament ahead of Gary Player?
Why I go back to the 1950’s and 1960’s to recall our black golf
narrative is to remind Gary Player and all else who think like him,
that quality black golfers surfaced and became champions. They wanted to participate in golf as pro players and earn money, just like Gary Player. But apartheid policies restricted them from playing in
tournaments and using golf facilities.
And what did white golfers like Gary Player do? They responded with opinions that they ‘don’t talk politics and sport’ and ‘get involved in politics and sport.’ Yes, South Africa had talented black golfers but their golf passion was strangled and crushed by the apartheid regime. And white golfers like Gary Player never spoke out when apartheid crushed black golf. They never did!
But they continued playing golf on their lush, green courses and
benefitted from the horrendous apartheid policies that provided the best of sport for whites and deprived the oppressed blacks. Black golfers like Papwa Sewgolum and Vincent Tshabalala won tournaments in South Africa and international tournaments abroad. How much more black
golfers could have surfaced had they been supported and given the
facilities to play on, just like white golfers like Gary Player?
And now you want to have a black golf champion? Why didn’t you want to applaud and honour a black golf champion when he emerged in the 1950’s and 1960’s? Why did you disrespect a black golf champion and stand by when the black champion couldn’t be in the clubhouse to collect his
trophy? Why didn’t you protest the indignation and inhumanity suffered by the black golf champion and black golfers who were refused entry into tournaments you were playing in? Why didn’t you Gary Player speak out against apartheid?
It’s because white people and yourself Gary Player were lapping up all the benefits and proceeds from apartheid. It’s because you believed in white superiority. What points are you trying to claim now in your lifetime by stating some desire of yours to see a black golf champion in SA? Your non-protest at apartheid and acceptance of a horrendous apartheid regime will always be our remembrance of people like you Gary Player who suffocated, strangled, erased and hurt black golf.
Membership of black golfers would have grown had they been given the same opportunities you had because you were white.
First ask blacks to forgive you for accepting an apartheid system that
strangled black golf growth in South Africa. Own your acceptance of the horrendous apartheid system. Its 25 years of our freedom from apartheid but we will never forget those who accepted and supported and benefitted from apartheid. And you Gary Player are one of apartheid’s beneficiaries. No how about you learn from your distasteful apartheid past and disrupt white privilege in post-apartheid SA.