Once again, #FeesMustFall

This isn’t Fees Must Fall Reloaded, like Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad with three new tracks. This is a new year, and a new look at the struggle for affordable if not free education that started long before last year. Let’s talk about the fees, again.

I got exhausted writing this and made this video instead, so watch this, and read my last year’s #feesmustfall post. Fighting is tiring.

I’m so tired. I can’t imagine how my fellow students who have been wrongfully beaten and teargassed and arrested by police must be feeling. Kubi.

Love and light,

shalom xo

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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

Sea Skies| Blogmas Day 8

Oh, Shalom, it looks like you missed day 7! You are a bad blogger! Why bother continuing?

Well, I took a day off yesterday. That’s what happened. I made cookie dough, and ate too much ice cream, and listened to my favourite CD, and burned Sandalwood incense. I’m doing a lot better today.

Today, the sky looked like the sea. At 7pm, the sky was the most magical sea blue; cloudless and glorious. A little earlier on, it was overcast and swirling with blue-grey anger. It was glorious.

I believed in magic tonight. Not Christmas magic, I don’t think, but maybe! The sky was so encapsulating, and I was just whelmed by how brilliant everything was. I think the perks of a summer Christmas include post pool pot bellies, FESTIVE CROP TOPS ( the order is really up to the individual), and seeing the fake snow in kids’ displays that I totally don’t fight to enter. Totally. I’m not a fan of the heatwave and the 38°C mornings, nor the mosquitoes that DEVOUR ME DAILY. In any case – I’m whelmed.

whelmed

I guess I’m just grateful today. Grateful to myself for having taken my meds, for my South African Christmas, for lukewarm showers and citrus hair conditioner, and for my person for having feels about me. I’m working on Christmas cards tomorrow, and I think that I’ll become a 100% stereotype and listen to a Christmas special album version next to the tree.

Good luck to everyone writing finals! I hope you make your own luck & that you trust in yourselves.

What’s your plan for tomorrow? AND DO TELL ME, ON A SCALE OF 1-10, HOW FESTIVE ARE YOU FEELING?

Love and light,
shalom x

 

 

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.

white-privilege-1

white-privilege-2

white-privilege-3

white-privilege-4

white-privilege-6

white-privilege-7

white-privilege-8

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white-privilege-10

-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

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: ALUMNAE

As of this moment, I am a Parktown Girls alumnus.

It all seems very fancy and strange, and while I thought I’d be an emotional wreck, I’m not doing much but revelling in the fact that I received flowers, and the fact that it’s over. I am SO glad.

Finals start next week for most schools, and I have the entire week off exams…so I’d best start studying. Or something.

In any case, this is the culmination of moments of my last week of high school. I hope one day it’ll make me cry. Seriously. I think I have the emotional capacity of a teaspoon.

Thank you, Parktown. It’s been a time.

love and light,
shalom

Helen Martins – AKA my Senior Year History Task

Hello friends! Today I’d like to (as a part of my History assignment) share some things about Helen Martins with you.urBriefly: Helen Martins was a crazy, glass-crushing-glass-eating-glass-sculpting-outsider-artist-with-no-baby-toes from Nieu Bethesda is South Africa AND SHE WAS WONDERFUL.

Miss Helen herself.

In more detail:

Between the years of 1941 and 1945, Helen Martins began the intense decorative project that consumed her until her gruesome caustic soda induced suicide in 1976. She began to “express the brightness around [her]” by using the materials at her disposal – cement, wire and coloured glass- to transform her dull and limited reality into a world that she saw fit to live in. Helen created the now famous Owl House and camel yard of Nieu Bethesda in from a desire to create a world defined by light, colour and symbolism. She created her own world.

The Owl House today.

(feel free to drop me an email if you’d like to read my project!)

 All in all, the essence of the project is to create a monument, or memorial of some sorts. In South Africa recently we have had much debate about what monuments are important, who should be commemorated, where these monumenets should be and whether they are still relevant. It seems as though statues are losing their place in our society. I decided to create (or conceptualise, rather) a bridge, for these reasons:

Bridges usually serve the purpose of connecting two places, and in my opinion Helen Martins was the bridge between the fantastic, magical world that she created, and the reality in which the rest of us live. Hence, my belief that a bridge would be an appropriate way to remember her.

Part of the Camel Yard

The bridge is located in a fairly busy area and provides a moment of seclusion, similar to those that Helen so enjoyed. It is fenced in on all but one side, to emphasise the trapping nature of solitude, but also the soothing and gentle products of some “alone time” in a world as busy as ours.

I think that the bridge, being interactive, is (1) more accessible to the wider public [like history should be] and (2) really able to be appreciated more. As an act of sculpture (of sorts) to remember a scultptor, and because of the intentions and purposes of the bridge, I honestly love to create something like this one day.

I invite you to look up Helen Martins – do your research on the finest creator of Outsider Art that South Africa had the pleasure to play home to. Again, please send me an email if you’d like some information on her or the full progression of my project!

In essence, this project was a joy to do – I got the chance to dabble in the late 1800s and early 1900s and I guess it’s just things like that that tickle my history nerd fancy.

Today, I leave you with a quote from Miss Helen herself:

 “…we must live our lives passionately and to the full…life with its happenings flashes past my eyes so quickly”

Love and light,
shalom

On Teenage Suicide (Prevention Week)

This week has been South African National Teenage Suicide Prevention Week.

Granted, some of you will be wondering why I’ve been such a twit and haven’t spoken up about this earlier, seeing that the SATSPW started on Valentine’s day – and I assure you it’s not because I was too busy with my valentine – and why I’m posting this so late.

The truth is, I don’t know what I want this post to be. I don’t want it to be just alarming statistics and frightening facts, and motivational quotes and sad stories. So, as expected, this post will be a complete mess of everything.

  1. Around the world, the third leading cause of death in teenagers is suicide. 20% of teenagers  suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and countless other mental disorders.
  2. I have been and am part of that 20%.
  3. I’ve written an anthology on mental disorders in teenagers which I can send to you if you comment your email address!

Seeing that it’s suicide prevention week and not mental disorder awareness month (when is that?), I’m going to fill you guys in on some suicide facts:

IT’S TERRIFYING.

Not only for everyone who is affected by it but also to the victim of suicide. As someone who has been through some rough patches, and someone who wishes she didn’t have the suicide patch on her sash, let me tell you something:

Suicide isn’t always something that happens after you notice you’re once smiley friend retreat into themselves and the darkness that consumes them. It isn’t always forecastable by looking at the scars on someone’s wrists, thighs, calves, shoulders, hips. It isn’t always recognisable by a smile that you think is false. It isn’t funny, fun, or anything of the happy variety: its death. It’s awful and untimely and terrifying, and it’s not a good experience to be on either side of the suicide line.

I don’t know how to make it better.

I know that psychologists are EXPENSIVE and that therapy doesn’t always work, and that people aren’t always there for you, and that sometimes it feels like the darkness in the world is big enough to swallow you whole, and anyone you reach out to will be swallowed along with you, and the last thing you want is for anyone else to get hurt so you may as well just erase yourself from the catastrophic picture you may not have even drawn, but even something as small as sharpening the pencil seems like a big enough offence.

This, friend, isn’t always the case.

I used to be suicidal. I used to want to die, every day. I used to hate getting up, and I despised the fact that my lungs were still working in the morning. I tried to die. Often. And the experience is something I wouldn’t wish on any being or creature in the universe.

But friends, I’m still here.

If you’re looking for a sign not to kill yourself, this is it.

If you’re looking for someone who will miss you if you die, I am them.

I found myself in a hole of darkness and I won’t even lie and say I’ve climbed out. Because I haven’t. I’m still climbing and I climb every day. I can tell you that it’s far more difficult than I would have ever imagined, but also, far more worth it.

Regardless of where you are in the world, here you can find the number to call if you’re feeling suicidal.

In South Africa, we have SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) and they’ve helped me tonnes. You can contact them on 0800 567 567.

Please don’t ever hesitate to send me an email if you ever need any help. We’re all survivors here, and I’d be so, so honoured and willing to help.

I leave you with some lyrics by my favourite band:

Friend, please don’t take your life away from me.”

Love and light,
shalom

 

Scoot on ~ 11th first day jitters

So the school year in South Africa starts tomorrow, and I’m going to be in eleventh grade.

ELEVENTH GRADE!!!

If there was ever one first day I was afraid for, it’s this one. Apart from my first day at my ballet studio, this probably takes the cake.

Yes, I know, most of you probably think that I’m mistaken. I went through first grade like a kid on steroids. I could not wait to get away from my mom and dad and finally get into real school where my big sister and brother were. I seriously thought that all the other crying kids were SO petty, and needed to get over themselves. I loved the idea of school, so much. So much! And first grade wasn’t awful, but being the only kid in the class who could read fluently, it had its setbacks. I had a lovely lady as a teacher though, and met some cool people who I’d meet again in 8th grade – which is the start of high school in SA.

Most of the people in my primary school went to Northcliff High for grade 8; and all I wanted to do was get away. I went to Parktown Girl for grade 8, and that was when I made the official switch to Scoot from my actual name, Shalom. (This thing keeps correcting that to Avalon which would have been an awesome name too :P) I made it my goal to talk to everyone, hoping that they wouldn’t all hate me as much as people in 7th did. Lucky me, most of them just did it in terms open so I wasn’t confused. 😛

I think that grade 8 was the time that I started noticing people for what they really can be, and I stopped being so foolish XD It was an interesting ride, and I left that school too, funnily enough.

I then moved to Northcliff, and met some people, and went about the same 8th grade strategy for 9th. It worked, more fake people, though. I guess some of them were alright, like Jess . And so I carried on, through 9th and 10th, so why should this be any different? Here’s why:

In South Africa, your report in 11th grade determines whether or not you get accepted into university. I need a bursary. So this year means endless work, and I have dance on top of that – I’m going to be trying to do the Cechetti Intermediate foundation exam, after a grand total of 7 months of dancing. XD The future for me is now, and it’s affecting me so hard that I cleaned my room.

WHAT
WHY

It’s funny, I suppose I have a habit of not doing what I have to unless I’m scared or anxious. Bring on the panic attacks!

I’ve never been able to sleep the night before school started. For 10 years, this being the 11th. Well, at least I’m consistent in one aspect.

All my love, especially to that one amazing viewer from the Russian Federation who I’d love to leave me a comment or something!

-Scoot xx

Scoot on ~ The Beautiful Craziness That Is My Home

DEAREST INTERNET HOW I’VE MISSED YOU

MARRY ME

NEVER LEAVE ME

Beautiful beings, I’m back! Huge huge huge shout outs to my dearest dearest Jess – this girl is my the left boob to my life and I really did miss her! (‘Left boob’ being an affectionate term, and contrary to popular or unpopular belief, Jessica Rachel Craven is not a breast.) Then to Miss Beckensträter: JENNA YOU’RE LOVELY AND I HOPE YOU’RE DOING A-O-GOOD PIE! And lastly, to anyone and everyone out there who reads this, to beating hearts all around: I hope I get to come in contact with your beautiful soul someday! ♥

Now, the question at hand: Where the hell have I been, and WHY ME NO UPDATE????

To be frank, *takes deep breath*, I went to Ethiopia for 2 weeks because my dad now works at the AU and I sat in the lobby of the apartment we were staying in because the wifi was there and at every available moment, so was I, and I wrote posts and published two of them and also stayed indoors of the Furnished Diplomat Apartments, Addis Ababa, for most of the time except during the last week when I went to the AU (African Union) Headquarters and the National Museum of Ethiopia partially because I had to take pictures or my friend Rebecca would kill me with fire and then I packed up my stuff and headed back to South Africa for all of one day and then re-packed and hopped back on a plane to Nigeria where *ANOTHER DEEP BREATH* we’d be denied visitation rights to my mother’s insanely amazing familia and forced to go to y father’s village where everything village like exists including evil witches who use you don’t want to get on the bad side of and I got malaria and then flew back and I am now in Johannesburg in my house on a couch updating.

In brief, that’s where I’ve been the past month. 

I’ve been on 4 planes and in 3 airports, and I’m tired as hell on a stick (I do wonder how tired hell really can be if there are people burning in it?I I guess burning is rather tedious.) and right  now, I have some serious appreciation for South Africa.

Today, at 3am, I watched a sunrise from a South African Airways plane seat. I watched the sun rise from above the clouds. I saw my home unfold – and I was silent, for a while. I mean, it’s not every day, or even every second day that you see something like that. And I’m sure I could have been flying to Tehran and seen exactly the same thing, but there’s something about coming home that changes the way everything is. 

I guess it’s been difficult to orient myself with a specific nationality, just in my eyes though. My mom and dad are Nigerian born and raised (HUGE stigma in South Africa) and I was born rather patriotically on July 4th in Prince George’s County, Maryland, USA. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. 3 passports makes it difficult to identify yourself. I’m an American born South African with Nigerian parents. WHAPOWOWOWOWOW!

After a month away from my own house, I can tell you one thing: Tonight, I may not sleep well. What’s certain, however, is that I’m here in SA, and it is my home; I love it.

I love this country, and I love these people, and I love this place.

Spend a month in the rest of Africa -or even just 2 countries- after living comfortably in Joburg, and you would too.

This pampoen is getting her SOUTH AFRICAN I.D tomorrow 😀 somebody drop a whoop! Stay wonderful now. 😉

All my love, all the time

-Scoot xx