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

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THIS IS WHY #FEESMUSTFALL | SOUTH AFRICAN STUDENT PROTESTS

October 2015 will sit comfortably at the top of the “young people taking action in South Africa in 2015” list. If you’re not from around here, get a drink at sit down, because you’re about to be schooled. Like South African students will not be able to next year because of fee hikes.

source: nehandaradio.com/tag/feesmustfall

In South Africa this month, fee hikes for all major tertiary institutions were announced. Some of these went up to 12%. The bottom line: fees for 2016 reached a record unrealistic high that the vast majority of students would not and could never be able to pay, for various reasons. [UPDATE: Minister of Higher Education claims that fee hikes will not exceed 6% across the board. This is unrealistic as fees are not standardised at South African universities. Students still claim that the fee increase is too high.]

Now, many people have their views. Some believe that the protests (which have spread to almost all universities resulting in a national shut down tomorrow) should not be happening. When the fees fall and benefit all, they won’t be on that side of the fence.

Let’s make this short, yeah?

The majority of students affected by the fee increase are black students. Why? Because of demographics. Now, white students, and other students of colour are certainly affected by the irrational increases, and will benefit in the same way as other students when the fees fall. I commented on the demographics issue (that most are unaware of somehow????????) last night on a new blog, and this is what I had to say:

Em,

I understand your perspective. I also understand why the generalisation [that white students can afford the fee increase] is somewhat offensive to the white students who will not be able to afford fees. What I don’t understand, is the idea that the protesting students are turning away fellow white students who want to join the protest. I have seen the protest, and been there today when I saw my sister, and I don’t believe that is the case.

Also, the fact that the generalisation exists comes down to demographics. 75% of the student population of Wits, and South africa, is black. Of those 75% (students), 75% cannot afford Wits fees as it is, due to the fact that their parents, much like your mother, cannot afford to send them to university as they work the jobs that 60% of black citizens work, i.e informal jobs, domestic labour & security guarding.

The matter of privilege is different entirely. Privilege refers to where you stand socially, and economically amongst other criteria, based on your race, gender, or social status. This isn’t something you can change. White privilege exists and it doesn’t mean that whites are financially privileged, but rather that as a population group (demographics, again) and due to injustices that will never be “fixed” regardless of BEE and “twenty years!” cries, and the vicious system of capitalism, every white person has and will continue to benefit from the colour of their skin. It’s factual, and nobody is wrong for having this privilege, because as I’ve said, there’s nothing to be done about, except being aware.

Being aware of your privilege is extremely important as you look introspectively at South Africa and further at the world. It is the only way we, as global citizens, and as the children who will grow up in the mess our parents and grandparents never had to, will manage.

Now, I’m going to get white people telling me that they are not privileged because they are not rich. *sigh* I’ve dealt with enough insults regarding this today, so I’m going to leave this here:

White privilege can be a tricky thing for people to wrap their heads around. If you’ve ever called out white privilege before, chances are you’ve heard responses like “But I’m didn’t ask to be born white!” or “You’re being reverse racist.”

The next time that happens, just show the nay-sayer this succinct comic by Jamie Kapp explaining what white privilege is — and what it isn’t.

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-http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/white-privilege-explained/

White privilege doesn’t mean you have more money than black people. It doesn’t mean you are financially privileged! It can include financial privilege due to past inheritance systems that POC have been systematically excluded from but it is not only that.

And finally, the the great Apartheid debate. It’s not a debate. The facts remain that the repercussions of a system that lasted from 1948 cannot be reversed in twenty one years. Systematic oppression of the past cannot be fixed if generations afterwards, the cycle of poverty still continues. Capitalism works that way. And THAT IS THE REALITY OF THE COUNTRY IN WHICH WE LIVE.

I’ve done so much fighting today. You would swear my finals aren’t in five days.

LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF SOLIDARITY, LONG LIVE

Love and light
Shalom