White people of South Africa. The time is now!

watch

Yesterday i shared a status by my friend Sindile which is pretty much going viral which is excellent to see as it is such an important prophetic word especially for the white people across South Africa to really get. This is the summation extract from that post:

What has been most upsetting about today is that white people on FB, even the ‘good ones’ missed the fact that this isn’t really about just the racism or how disgusting Penny Sparrow is, It is about the dehumanisation of black people and in particular, poor black people. I saw a lot of angry posts from white people, but I don’t think I saw a single post about just how heart-breaking today has been, because that is the insidious power of #whiteprivilege, that even the most caring, compassionate and sensitive white people around could barely wrap their heads around the dehumanisation; the lessening, the othering and the diminishing of other human beings.

i wrote a response to Sindile and in it i used the tag #NotOnMyWatch which really resonated with me.

Later i crafted some tweets on the matter:

Because that was the realisation for me. This can become a QUICK HASHTAG that we get excited about and rally around and tweet up a storm, for what, a week, and then we move on to the next flavour… or it can become a MOVEMENT.

And it has to…

NOT ON MY WATCH

Because #NotOnMyWatch is an ideology. And it is a lifestyle choice. It is a value.

So this CANNOT just be something we do for a moment and then move on to the next thing. i need to commit to standing up against racism when i see it online, when i hear it in my friends and family, when i am out in public and witness an event that is happening in front of me.

i need to engage. i need to call it out. i need to draw a line and say, ‘This far and no further.’ i need to grasp opportunities to educate where necessary.

“You know what dad, it is NOT okay for you to refer to a fifty year old man who works in your garden as ‘boy’!”

“Excuse me. That ‘joke’ is racist and that is not okay!”

“When you say ‘those people’, what exactly are you meaning?”

And so on.

#NotOnMyWatch is a vital life trajectory that more of us need to get far more serious about.

But then my friend Johan posted this short status as his response:

I am Penny
I am as privileged as she is
I have been shielded from sharing in the deep dark pain of black South Africans all my life
And the most painful admission – I carry her racism in my bloodstream like a virus.
I had malaria once. They say it never leaves you but can flare up particularly annually at the time of the original infection.
My prejudice is like that. It knee-jerks. I hear the names my father had for blacks. I struggle with the difference between you and me. I have to fight off superior attitudes when dealing with shop assistants. Showing respect is constant hard work because the assumption that you are – or should be – just like me is not hidden very deeply.

Blame Penny. But blame me too. And bring your scalpel and help me become human.

To remind us that before we rush out to sort out all the other racists in the country. that we best start with the one we have most access to and hopefully the most sway over. i’m talking ab0ut that racist who keeps staring back at me every time i look in the mirror.

mirror

So who is in? How about adding a comment with one example of a #NotOnMyWatch scenario that you have seen and will commit to engaging with/speaking up about/stepping into the next time you see/hear it…

[For more South Africa Race Vibe conversations, click here]

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