So today was The Day of Reconciliation in South Africa and as long as you stayed off the comments sections of anyone posting anything about any of the marches it felt a little bit just like that.

This was my Facebook status at the beginning of the day:

Trying to get my head around the marches with good friends thinking they’re the best thing ever and other good friends thinking they’re the worst thing ever and even other good friends about to go and watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens with me in 100 minutes time…

Which side do you fall on and give us an idea of why? Also for anyone who may be reading this from any of the marches, are there more than just white people there? What’s the makeup of the crowd?

Star Wars was AMAZING and the right decision for me on this day at that moment. But i kept my eye on the marches and the comments and the feedback and here is some of it that i felt was extremely helpful or insightful.

Firstly this set of pictures which tells such an important story which i fear a lot of white people are still not getting. Try get it.

The disparity of treatment of black and white lives:

march

Then a comment from my friend Amy Benn who i think gets a lot of this stuff:

Rich, white South Africans (particularly those marching today), next week when South Africans live and die in poverty, when people live in their own rubbish because no truck comes to take it away, when a girl has to stay home from school because she can’t afford sanitary products, when children live in hunger, could we march then too?

(I appreciate that people are finally making a real stand against the corruption of this president but I am weary of their reasons).

We are so quick to protect the little we may lose instead of fighting for the little others have.

My good mate Bruce has some really good points to make in this piece titled Why I didn’t march or chant #ZumaMustFall – go and read it and then come back!

My mate Craig gave this speech at the march in Cape Town today [which due to bandwidth i sadly haven’t heard yet but knowing Craig and seeing the multiple shares and comments on it know that it is worth checking out].

If you would like to read the transcript of Craig’s speech, check this out.

This post from Disrupting Whitness: UCT on Facebook:

Dear white South Africans at the ‪#‎ZumaMustFall‬ protests

When you hold a banner that reads “Save our national parks from corruption” (while these national parks remain inaccessible to many black South Africans) what you’re giving voice to is how cruelly limited your perspective on the problems facing South Africans is. Where was your voice when poor black South African students spoke up against their exclusion? Where was your voice when black workers stood up against their oppression at South African universities? Where has your voice been on the service delivery crisis in Wolwerivier, the day-to-day violence that people living in Khayelitsha face? Regardless of your intention, what you are communicating is that the only problems that exist for you are those that affect your privileged material circumstances.

When, during “protest action”, you ask a policeman to take a photo of you and your family, posing with beaming smiles and thumbs up, what you’re revealing is how the police and the state, at a deep level, serve you. You’re revealing how, regardless of corruption and your talk of white victimisation, it’s completely natural for you to ask a policeman to take a family portrait for you at a protest, and for the policeman to happily comply.

When you find yourself at a protest with an overwhelming majority of white middle- and upper-middle class people you need to reflect deeply on who is missing from the space and the issues you’re speaking to. The problems facing South Africa go much further than one man or party’s corruption: they go as deep as the system in which you choose to see only as far as your ivory tower, and the conditional empathy that in the midst of massive human oppression allows your greatest concern to be one of land, an abstract idea of natural beauty.

Until you step outside of your comfort zone to understand the structural oppression facing black South Africans and the need for radical change there can be no true solidarity; events like #ZumaMustFall will remain empty rainbowisms.

Photo credit: @Wandile Kasibe

Whereas i was just like let’s subvert the whole day and make it into a regular traditional thing…

Another great read was this piece that my friend Megan shared the other day titled, #ZumaMustFall: A reconstellation of racist myths whites tell themselves.

And on her own blog she shares her raw, rough, real, honest, teary experience of events.

Whereas this article focusing on the EFF gaining victory by not even pitching up had some helpful thoughts to consider.

My end of day Facebook status looked a little like this:

It is sobering reading largely white opinions and response to the marches today and largely black opinions and response to the marches and I think I am hugely privileged in terms of the variety and diversity of people who make up my Facebook feed cos I have to imagine that there are many people out there who are only getting one side of the story and not even hearing or recognizing that there is another side.

When will we learn to listen, really listen to the other side and realise that our narrative might not be the only one or the correct one… And what to do when people I strongly respect appear on both sides of the opinion table…

Listen some more I guess. Wrestle.

 [For a whole range of other thoughts, articles and conversations around South Africa, click here]

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