a note to black boys

jordan edwards was killed by a police officer in texas two days ago. he was 15. innocent. eric garner was strangled by a police officer almost three years ago. mike brown was murdered by a police officer two years ago. tamir rice was gunned down by the police two and a half years ago. he was 14, and brilliant.

you probably knew all of that, because you have to watch your back. i know that with every step you take, you have to protect your neck, and i know that you are tired. i know that checking your words and tone so carefully to avoid death is tiring. i know that fearing for your life every time you put on a hoodie in cold weather is tiring. i know that no matter how small, your mistakes don’t grant you the privilege of being taken into custody alive, like dylann roof.  i know that you know that this is wrong, and i know that you know we’re trying to fix it.  baby boy, we are trying. it is a fight, and we are fighting.

first, i’m sorry. i am sorry that you live in fear because of prejudiced notions of those sworn to protect. i’m sorry that your existence is treated like a crime worthy of capital punishment. i’m sorry that you have to have living down to an exact science to be successful. i’m sorry that you grow and live in a world where #rip(insert black boy’s name) pops up every three weeks. i am sorry.

next, i want you to know that despite those who seem to devalue your life, you are worth everything. black boy, you are magic and melanin. black boy, the resilience of your mother, the fight of your sister, the adaptability of your father – you have it in you. you carry worlds within you. hold fast to the fire in your stomach, and live. live as activism. live because it is not promised. live because you want to. live because terrible people seem to yearn to take the chance from you. live and learn and love and be, because black boy, i don’t know how long you or i have. i don’t know if you’ll go for a walk tomorrow and be killed for walking while black. i don’t know if you will be the next hashtag. i know that jordan edwards should have woken up today. i know that you should tomorrow.

with this in mind, flex your black boy joy. remember your dreams, and chase them with abandon. remember your struggle, and acknowledge it. remember what makes you happy, and do it. live. live. live. put flowers in your beard if you want to. cut your hair how you want to. wear the sneakers that you want to. win three grammys without selling a record if you want to. create a film that explores racism like no other if you want to. live, because you are worthy. chase, because you can. be, because your life matters.

black lives matter. god help us, they matter. you matter, and i will never stop screaming it. not when i graduate from college, not when i run for office — never. i will never stop fighting for our lives to matter. i will never stop.

black boy, you matter. you matter. you matter.

live.

love,
shalom


 

love is out there | 2016

i spent the post shower hour (that weird space where you’re clean and naked and have more than enough time to think) watching the google zeitgeists from 2016 all the way back to 2010 & had a good cry. more than the average 5’8 girl, I am ready for 2016 to end. i am ready to be done. so, gang; a look back.

in 2016 we were made aware of how cruel time can be. we saw wars go ignored, we lost heroes, we witnessed bigotry on a 1945 scale, and tweeted for peace in berlin, baltimore, aleppo, lebanon, and so many more because we couldnt pray faster than our thumbs move.

2016 decimated my morale. 2016 completely broke my heart time and time again, and gave me no chance to put it back together before it crushed me again. 2016 & it’s robber friends ended up stealing 18 000 rands (!!!eighteen!!!) worth of stuff from me – not to mention my health: i came down with my 6th & worst case of malaria on christmas day and i’m trying to get my body to repair itself. i have beem exhausted from the fight against sexual violence & the fight for human rights every single day. i have sang and shouted and cried that black lives matter. i have put all i have to put on the line for equality. i have hit, and 2016 hit back. it’s been a trying year.

“And it has been
one hell
of a year.
I have worn
the seasons
under my sleeves,
on my thighs,
running down my cheeks.
This is what
surviving
looks like, my dear.”

– Michelle K., It Has Been One Hell of a Year.

despite this all, hope has prevailed in the strangest way. i wouldn’t say that 2016 was a fiery beacon of hope that restored all of us, but i think it ,forced us to hope simply because of how dark it became. 2016 was an incredible year for music, and an amazingly powerful year for the arts. (suicide squad was trash. don’t @ me.)

in 2016, i must have tumbled out of a plane, because i freefell all year (walk the moon, quesadilla). i went on some pretty cool dates. starbucks came to south africa! i went to university in a weird fluke of events and met incredible people who turned my world upside down every which way (thanks ashvini). i had a lot of arguments that tested my character & my faith, learned from the coolest philosophy lecturers to ever exist (shout out to shaun stanley & philosophy of religion [but no shout outs to st. anselm who confused the hell (heaven?) out of me]), hosted students who changed my life (bekah, cid & laura – thank you so much for everything), got into trouble for standing my ground on some ‘controversial’ issues (they’re not controversial so much as they are issues of human rights but anyway) and felt so proud of myself for not betraying my heart.

i introduced SO MANY people to Hamilton: An American Musical (maybe the best thing since november 2015), bought okayshalom.com, ran from police officers & rubber bullets, took being party mom to a new level by ubering people everywhere on my own account, realised when i’m being manipulated  (and as such, no longer uber people everywhere), i touched the atlantic ocean,  i told people i loved them, I got a new nickname (it’s panda, thanks phil), and i loved. this year, i loved so much.

i spent 2016 mostly crying over the astounding amount of hurt that there is in the world – over hate crimes and a lack of humanity, the cruelty of death and heartbreak and the terror of tomorrow.

reasonably speaking, 2017 won’t change much. the world will not stop freaking out because we changed the last digit of the year. bad people will not all stop being bad. those who crush hearts without remorse will continue to have stained hands. it’s a pity that a new year doesn’t provide a fix, but it is a joy that our being part of it does provide love.

over and above anything, commit to love. do not betray your heart. keep your word. believe in people.

believing in people has an unprecedented power. love is out there, somewhere, and joy comes in the morning. search for it. if you can’t find it, make it. celebrate every tiny victory. every one.

i hope the holidays have been peaceful for you. i hope that if you’re waiting for admissions decisions, like me, you’re a little bit calmer than i am. i hope you believe in people, in yourself, in hope, dreams, and love. keep your head up & your heart strong.

thanks for coming along with me this year. let’s grow.

love and light,
shalom xo

RACE RELATIONS! REDRESS AND REFORM! RACISM! (and other scary r-words)

This post has been cross-posted from my Facebook. I think it’s important to talk about.

on what’s been happening recently (and really, for almost ever):

there are many questions that i’ve been asked over the past couple of weeks concerning various issues, including student protests, why black history month is okay but white history isn’t (same with black anything vs white anything), why i’m so racist, why i don’t encourage black people to “be colourblind” or “stop living in the past” why i’m “such a damn elitist” (?) etc. i’ve been thinking about this all a lot, so i’m going to address them now. please, feel free to leave respectful comments if you want to have a discussion. this is a long post broken into three sections. you can read them all, or read one, but i’d appreciate if you read them all.

on colourblindness:

guys. GUYS. you can’t tell me it has nothing to with race if race is the reason we’re here. come on. you can tell me that you want to be able to move past the injustices of the past, but not without being willing to work through them or acknowledge them. pro-tip: if someone tells you that you’re racist, the correct response isn’t “what! how could you! i have black friends! my sister goes to saint teresa’s with black girls! what does this have to do with race! this is reverse racism!”. if someone calls you out, listen. “okay, i’m listening. tell me what i said that was wrong, and what you think i should have said instead. i apologise for offending you.” colourblindness is avoiding the issue, and it’s going to keep making thing more difficult if we do. the fact of the matter is that race relations all over the world are tense. saying that “we are all human” or “i’m only black and you’re only white because we are divided, come together ‪#‎onelove‬” is not going to help.

on living in the past:

this probably annoys me the most, but i’m being civil here, so here’s an explanation of why. in 1994, a miracle happened. black people voted. mandela was made president. apartheid was over. magic. so, in essence, everyone went and lived happy lives and were equal, and south africa was perfect. hooray. no pals. the people who were living in impoverished informal settlements (thanks to apartheid which we’re supposed to magically forget now that it’s over) went back to their settlements after voting. 1994 did not bring running water to them. the people that were earning next to nothing – i’m talking domestic workers, gardeners etc (99.9% of them people of colour) – went back to their jobs after voting. the black parents who had no education, and as such, uneducated children (thanks to apartheid) continued being poor and uneducated after apartheid ended. you see where i’m going with this? the effects of apartheid are still extremely prevalent in today’s society. to think that mass injustice would be repaired after 20 years of faux forgiveness, that is, before even addressing the situation that apartheid left in its wake, is foolish. injustice and privilege is a cycle. those who experienced injustice then had children that experience it now; and those who were privileged then continue to have the privilege of remaining as such. “okay, shalom, but what about quotas, BEE, and the fact that a black kid with two distinctions got into engineering instead of me, a white kid with six?” okay. this black kid got in and you didn’t, and you believe it’s because you performed better academically, and that it’s unfair, and that they got in on the grounds of race rather than merit. two things, mate: (1) someone who cannot do engineering, or doesn’t meet the requirements will not be admitted. i wouldn’t get into engineering. i promise. they got in because they are capable. (2) it’s safe to say that universities are striving for diversity, for their campuses to look more like the country does. could it be that there are other criteria that get looked at? (there are.) perhaps, whether the other person’s parent’s had an education at all (thanks apartheid), or whether they have performed extraordinarily despite their living situation, the standard of the school they went to, and just how they managed to qualify for engineering? don’t worry: they look at the same for you. it’s an issue of redress, friend, and it has to happen. i’m not sure if i can explain this better, but i can direct you to the admissions counsellor that provided me with this information. you best believe i did my research.

on black history month,black girl magic, for black girls only, black lives matter etc:

“shalom! this is racist! how can you exclude white people from all of these events! we need a white version!” okay. i get your confusion. i feel like you don’t understand why these things exist. black history month isn’t to say that white history is unimportant. the concept of black girl magic doesn’t have anything to do with saying that white girls aren’t magic. same goes for things like BET. black history month is important simply because black people have been erased. black girl magic is important because black girls have been taught to hate their blackness. look at this for further details: (http://blackgirllonghair.com/…/meet-the-model-whose-lips-c…/). a black model had racist comments flung at her because as the face (lips?) of a new lipstick of the cosmetics company, her lips didn’t match up to the perceived standard of beauty. they’re “too thick, too dark, take up half of her face, are ugly negro slave lips” – i follow mac on instagram. i saw this happen. i felt ashamed. i felt as though being black, having bigger lips than the white girl next to me (hi simone) made me ugly, inferior, and ultimately not worthy of being called beautiful. that’s why‪#‎blackgirlmagic‬ is a thing. to tell young women of colour to appreciate and love themselves, in spite of the projected white standard of beauty that almost 80% of the population will never match up to. black lives matter is an important movement. all lives matter is not a thing. this is why: all races are not being killed brutally by police officers for no reason. all races are not arrested on the grounds of walking while black (this actually happened). all races are not strangled by police officers after screaming “i can’t breathe” eleven times. all lives will matter when black lives matter. dylan roof (killed members of a church in charleston, south carolina last year) was taken into custody. tamir rice was 12 and was shot for no reason (none given by police) and the two white police officers that killed him were not charged. all lives will matter when black lives matter.

these are my thoughts. as i said, i’m willing to have civil discussion in the comments. if i’ve said something problematic in this post, let me know. i’m learning and unlearning the same as you are. thanks for reading this if you got this far. stay woke.

love and light,
shalom