2016 has reared it’s head, full of promise and opportunities. As 2015 left the harbour I looked back over the year and it’s challenges and must admit, the gains outweighed the losses, at least in my life.
We entered the new year celebrating the arrival of our beautiful little girl, aglow with smiles and covered with a sense of excitement. My house has never seen the colour pink, but it has certainly been attacked and bares the battle wounds of this stereotypical girlie colour.
So all is good? Well yes and no! As the HMS 2016 began her maiden voyage, it appeared that the waters would be filled with both adventure but certain danger as well. The danger, at least in the context of South Africa, came in the form of a social media storm that dared suggest that perhaps we haven’t come as far as we thought on the race front.Between thoughtless comments around beachgoers, public figures sharing a little too freely and an expression that NAZI tactics should be employed to curb the problem of paleness, it seems we haven’t become that country that once experienced racism. Added to this are the numerous calls for various entities, costs and leaders to fall. We have been hijacked by the #FALL movement. Interesting how we have become so good at labelling what is wrong that we know what/who must fall but we have focused attention on destruction and not creation in our attempt to achieve a country that will #RISE.
Ordinarily, I’d say it’s another day at the office for a pubescent democracy but the problem is that we aren’t in our late teens, we are an adult, supposedly out to change the world, educated, full of hope and determined to fashion reality out of our dreams and not our dreams out of our reality. Yet we find ourselves tripping over the ills of our past unable to break free due to various factors.
My greatest concern in all this is trying to foresee a brighter future for my now 3 children, 2 being brown and the other peach. My challenge is to see a country where the store bought kids aren’t expected to adopt a culture based on their colour and the home grown one need not feel guilty forever based on his. Black/White are colours, not swear words and I’m worried that during the discourse, we become so sensitive to the discussion on colour that we put an embargo on actually discussing it and as a result find ourselves in the same place 30/40 years into our democracy. This is a place where we have no understanding generally of other culture/race groups and so default to racial stereotypes.
Truthfully, we do have racists in SA, we have stupid people who say things that can be seen as racist and then we have people that grew up in a racist society and haven’t actively changed their thought processes and vocabulary. Obviously we also have people who see colour but don’t let this inform their belief around the value of these colours.
I am asking myself, will I raise children that will benefit from pigment more than others, will I raise children who will need me to explain why some people just don’t accept them because their skin is darker. How will I comfort my child if he/she is called a sellout because they don’t speak the language of their accuser’s ancestors? How do I raise children who are not blind to colour but who’s hearts are not manipulated by it, who’s opinions are fashioned by their beliefs and who’s value comes from their Father and not their race/culture group?
I am not ignorant to the past and I am definitely not so foolish to believe that the answer is for both groups to just “move on” or “get over it”. There are deep wounds and more than that, there are remnants that won’t be removed with the wave of a wand or the shake of a hand. I am privileged! Is it because I am white? I suppose you could draw that conclusion albeit a little too simplistic for me. So what now? Must guilt arise and all that privilege be borne as our cross to bare and will that solve the challenges we face? I’m afraid not!
When I look into the eyes of my beautiful brown children the only words that come to mind are that “YOU ARE MINE”, the same is true for my vanilla pod. But honestly, I’m a little scared, because South Africa doesn’t want them to see themselves as children who belong, South Africa, or at least the current climate, wants them to see themselves as soldiers in a war they never created, signed up for or quite frankly have any chance of winning. My children are expected to fight a war that has as it’s goal destruction. Destruction of a race, privilege, differences and perhaps the past.
Sorry folks, this will never happen. What I would like to see is a change in heart and mind towards the idea that we need to #RISE. Rise above the past, not the memory of it, above selfishness not selflessness, above financial gain not financial growth, above differences not unity.
Perhaps we all need to give a little so others can gain much more. Maybe then we will see each other as I see my beautiful children. Not the same, not perfect, but unique, from different backgrounds, with different strengths, with varying degrees of privilege in their pasts, but now, part of one family, working towards something that will be theirs and will be handed down as an inheritance they can be proud of.
#SOUTHAFRICAMUSTRISE, let me know your thoughts.