‘Intersectionality’ – my body in gauteng - job market
I am a black woman born and - for 12years - raised in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal by both parents. My family moved to Gauteng, the big city, over 10years ago where I was raised by my mother as a single parent after my father’s passing. I have throughout my life attended a private school where I was in the minority in a black majority country. However, this ‘helped’ me develop a lovely white accent. I am ‘plus size’ and my style is influenced by trends found on the internet which range from ‘body appropriate’ clothing to racy statement clothing and when visiting extended family in Kwa-Zulu Natal, my dress sense is always accompanied by a dash of ‘respectability’ to avoid the ‘this is not your white friend’s house’ comments.
My self-introduction has elements of a typical post-Apartheid ‘born-free’ middle class individual. The introduction was not purposefully made to highlight race, class and gender but these are categories relevant in South Africa and global society and because of socialization I battle with seeing myself outside of these socially constructed categories. These social categories grant me access and at times, denies me opportunities in different contexts, for this piece I want to focus on my job hunting experience early in 2017.
Youth unemployment in South Africa currently sits at 38.2% (StatsSA, 2018) so I’m sure you’re thinking I shouldn’t have taken the whole experience so personally – I did. This was possibly be a millennial characteristic creeping it head yet I couldn’t help but feel that as a black, educated woman with a twang I was the ideal candidate. Too often did I hear, and sometimes promised, that my unemployment would not last long because of these characteristics, the triple oppressed – Black, Woman, previously disadvantaged. I was layered in struggle, layered in AA/EE and BEE eligibility goodness.
The AA/EE and BEE employment Act speak to equity for equality for those previously disadvantaged. The act is intended to encourage transformation by including black people in the economy. The Act covers aspects such as equity ownership (shares in the business), management of the business, skills development, employment equity (staffing) etc. (Friedman, 2006).
In that short time of job-seeking, through telephonic and face to face interviews I felt the need to perform my intersectionality, the white HR women were anyway marking the employability checklist according to those oppressions but also the perceptions of who I was physically and what my b...