Tag Archive: BlackLivesMatter


Dom Helder Cavara quote

The past two weeks have been an incredible time.

Yes, some of the conversations on Social Media got a little aggro, but there were also some really incredible interactions, both online and off and it feels like the #FeesMustFall movement and events really got a lot of people thinking. And introduced many new people to some of the conversations we have been having on Privilege and Restitution and Racism and more.

There were a number of exciting “AHA!” moments i got to witness. Someone posted on my Facebook wall, “I finally get what white privilege is all about. Thanks for persevering.” and there were also a couple of moments within back and forth arguments where suddenly the light seemed to go on. I get it. Which is really encouraging for those of us who have been bravely soldiering on [And it is bravely sometimes as people who don’t yet ‘get it’ when it comes to privilege and race conversations tend to for the most part respond quite defensively and at times personally] calling on our white friends and acquaintances in particular to take a step towards Being a More Effective Ally and realising that as long as one suffers we all suffer.

BEFORE YOU RUSH IN

i attended a workshop run by Caroline Powell from the Warehouse the other day and found it extremely helpful.

She spoke about how we tend to rush towards formulas and yet where people and complicated situations are involved, formulas don’t often cut it.

She also pointed out that whenever there is an AWAKENING [that Aha! i finally get it moment] we usually want to jump to IMPLEMENTATION [What can i do? i need to do something. Let me do something. Surely doing anything is better than doing nothing? On that, no, doing something bad, hurtful, oppressive, damaging is not as good as doing nothing]. Then shared this chart, not as a formula that is always going to work neatly and comfortably from one space to the next, but that gives a helpful idea of some other steps that might be really helpful once the AWAKENING has occurred.

AWAKENING – AHA! moment – i finally get white privilege, see the racism in me, etc

LISTENING – before jumping to action, let me listen, to really try and hear what is being said

DISCERNMENT – i’ve noticed something, i’ve listened, let me try and understand the bigger picture of what is happening and what is necessary and perhaps what my place and role in this can be – this process will often happen with other people who better understand the context and situation and have more wisdom to offer

PLANNING – Instead of rushing in with some action, let me come up with a plan, and do the necessary and important groundwork to that will lead towards that plan being effectively achieved

IMPLEMENTATION – Do you see the difference? All of those steps between AWAKENING and IMPLEMENTATION which all increase the likelihood of my IMPLEMENTATION being effective and sustainable and relevant

REFLECTING – Follow IMPLEMENTATION with REFLECTION to ensure that what you did actually achieved the hope for results or was what was needed or helpful. This step may lead you towards more:

AWAKENING

As Caroline said to us, this is not necessarily a smooth one leads to two leads to three cycle. But the different steps there can be really powerful in terms of making sure that any involvement you have, is a positive and hopefully powerful thing.

If you were someone that had an AHA! moment in the last two weeks or so in terms of this conversation, please share it with us and give us a glimpse into what you think helped lead you to that point. Which of the steps above would you say is a current weakness of yours which you need to work a little harder at?

[For some Practical Suggestions on getting hands on involved in Restitution, click here] 

oscar

Oscar Romero

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So this past week a picture appeared on my Twitterer of a white girl with a statement written on a board that made me cringe:

iams

Suddenly more and more of these pictures were popping up all over Social Media and turns out there was an #IAmStellenbosch group inviting students at the University to write statements about themselves which challenge the stereotype of a typical Stellenbosch student and highlight the differences and individualities of each student.

Their vision statement reads: To create an awareness of the thousands of individual identities that are housed in this university and bring them together into a single identity that is Stellenbosch University. 

iam

To those who have been keeping some kind of eye on recent Stellenbosch events, this seems to be a response to the Open Stellenbosch movement, much of which was capture in the video ‘Luister’ that was put together by Contraband Cape Town in collaboration with Open Stellenbosch which you can see over here linked to an article by Layla Leiman in which she writes, ‘The documentary shares the testimony of the lived experiences of black students at Stellenbosch University and the culture of racism, discrimination, exclusion and violence that continues at Stellenbosch University 21 years after democracy.’

What is quite interesting to me, reading the vision and mission statement of #IAmStellenbosch [which you can find in their Facebook group] is that line one of their mission is: To create a platform of communication in which students listen to each other this not being through dialogue but discourse.

Whereas their poster campaign seems to be a knee-jerk reaction doing quite the opposite.

And it becomes quickly clear from reading some of the response comments to #IAmStellenbosch that there is some deep listening that needs to happen:

Nkosikhona Rabu Ntshiqa: This is all silencing fam. No real issues are on this mission statement; there’s nothing about the curriculumn change or anything hard core as that. Please take Black people serious; these are baby answers to very old and martured problems. There is no decolonization or anything of such form in this mission statement; this is all Mandela politics
There is no systematic change or anything of such. Students won’t take each other serious if this is all that you guys are planning to do. The same system that was undermining Black people is the same one used even now; this will cause conflicts and more frustration amongst Black people. We demand true decolonization; not just pictures of people with no problems writing shit and smiling for the camera; this is a serious issue please treat it with such seriousness and energy. Don’t waste our time.
Ruwayne Williams: This #iamstellenboschcampaign is the same as the stupid#whereisthelove event which was used to silence black voices and ignore black pain.#Furious#
Bonunu Ditshego: Is this something like#AllLivesMatter campaign that followed#blacklivesmatter? You people should take your patronizing BS and F yourselves. Try to#StopKony while you at it.
Sandile Mzilikazi Khumalo: This is the kind of institutionalised racism pandered by liberals who want to the existence of class identifiers, in particular the experiences of the black working class, at the expense of superficial individual identities.

THIS IS NOT JUST A SOUTH AFRICAN PROBLEM

During our time in Americaland, i became very aware that the story of people of colour over there mirrors that of those living in South Africa in so many ways. Even though the chief narrative is quite different for a number of reasons, many of the same themes and similar experiences and mindsets seem to pervade and so i believe there is a lot to be learned from studying both.

Earlier this year #BlackOutDay started trending on the Twitterer as a means for black people to celebrate black beauty and fight against the kind of negative images black people were used to seeing in the media:

You Tube personality Franchesca Ramsey told ABC News:

“Unfortunately, in most popular media talking about black people and our bodies, it’s mostly of us breaking the law, being killed or mistreated,” Ramsey added. “So it’s nice to combat these negative images and stereotypes with positive representations of ourselves.”

i found this blog post written by Akilah Hughes titled It’s Not About You which highlights some of the same issues that the detractors of #IAmStellenbosch are seeing and feeling:

During the wildly successful Blackout Day of March 6, black people posted and reblogged selfies on social media to promote community and the acceptance of features less visible in popular media. It was an uplifting day meant to remind black people, “you’re beautiful, too.” Some white people took offense. It wasn’t long after #BlackOutDay started trending worldwide on Twitter that the ‘whiteoutday’ hashtag became a thing.

Blackout Day did not claim that non-black people are immune to body image issues, or that others don’t face societal pressures. But, without fail, any time a historically oppressed group asserts their equality by boldly denying any inferiority to someone outside their group, some member of the un-oppressed majority takes it personally. Well, when oppressed groups take the initiative to lift themselves up, it is not an invitation to victimize yourself. Would you go to a toddler’s birthday party and kick over their cake to announce that you, too, have birthdays? The answer should be “no.”

Akilah ends off her post with this statement:

It. Wasn’t. About. Me.

Since that conversation, I’ve learned to listen before I follow my knee-jerk reaction and take offense at movements about which I’m not educated. It isn’t always easy to stop the instinct to be defensive, but it is necessary if things are ever going to get better. After really hearing the other side, ask yourself if anyone loses rights or status when that group gains theirs. John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s important to remember that sweeping progress benefits us all, so let others do what they must to finally achieve equality.

HOW DO THOSE IN THE KNOW DEAL WITH THOSE WHO AREN’T?

Which brings me to a question i posed as a status on Facebook yesterday and want to dig a little more deeply into:

Brett Fish Anderson: So ‘‪#‎IAmStellenbosch‬‘ – ridiculous right? As is ‪#‎YesAllPeople‬ response to‪#‎YesAllWomen‬ and ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬. i was thinking about it today and it comes i think out of a place of ignorance. So my thought is that it belongs perhaps to the privileged (and not the marginalized) to sit and explain to those in ignorance. So they can know. If then, they choose ignorance after being informed, well then they’re on their own. Those are thoughts that have been running around my head.

As friendlyly as is possible, what is your response to that? i know many of my informed friends are just exhausted from explaining and that for too long it was expected that the marginalised should explain so that is my light bulb moment for today. What think you? ‪#‎IAmFacebook‬

To which some of my friends responded:

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Nick Frost: The marginalized can’t explain because the privileged don’t listen. That’s what the whole thing is about, the inability to shut up for once and listen. Stellies students think they can slap a hashtag on a half assed “upliftment initiative” and sing their problems away.

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Bruce Collins: Yeah. I looked at that #iamstellenbosch stuff and all I could think was “what is the point?”

It seems like a way to minimise what people are really experiencing by saying that others do not have similar experiences. It is also, in my opinion, an attempt to justify all that’s wrong at Stellenbosch. You see, just because some people are ok with the status quo that doesn’t mean that the status quo is right.

Furthermore, #iamstellenbosch is all about speaking and very little about listening.

What bothers me most are all the “I’m not a racist” statements. Instead of saying that, live it by listening.

Nick Frost: White guys listening to rap music does not equal the end of racism. Sorry #iamstellenbosch

Bruce Collins: Word! That was so ridiculous. “I am Afrikaans and my favourite artist is Drake”
Noddy badge? Hell no!

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Alexa Russell Matthews: Opportunities to be allies is what went through my head…. [This is a reference to a piece i am working on putting together with some friends of mine over here]

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Beben Cadman: It does not end anything but it highlights stereotypes. Doing something is better than nothing.

Kerri-Leigh Wayne: Exactly, it reinforces stereotypes

Beben Cadman: I don’t think it does. I think the more we say who we think we are the more it creates dialogue, the more we can be challenged, the more we grow. It’s the pretentiousness for a long time that culminated in these realities in this crucial year of 20 years of democracy. Yes we should be listening but talking tells us where we really at. I welcome any dialogue as long as we as people are challenged, reconciled and unified. Even us who might think we standing on the right side of human rights.

Tanisha NishNash Schultz: I feel “I am Stellenbosch” is trying to reinforce unity amongst students.

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Wayne Eaves: Good ask – we are at the beginning of a rise of a new wave of black consciousness in SA (or one just more public, I admit my ignorance), a conversation to which we are not invited at this juncture. Speaking into something uninvited is in many ways the quintessential essence of postmodern privelege. We need to learn to listen, to dig into our own history, deconstruct and restructure various paradigms – which facebook does not give me space to deal with – love the question!

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Megan Furniss: I have a new take. A brand new one. I will no longer be embarrassed by these ignoramuses. I will not care about them.

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Kerri-Leigh Wayne: It definitely isn’t the marginalised who should be explaining. I try to be listening more, like Wayne suggests, that’s been something I really have to work towards. But I still talk to white people around me, even if they remain ignorant and my views are unpopular, because I was, and still am, ignorant too. Being called out is what helps me to see that. I am not embarrassed by these people – they don’t represent me and many people have been socialised quite heavily into believing what they do, so it does not even reflect on the type of person he or she is. I also try not to ever take a conversation (or its derailment) personally. Having said that, I cringe intensely when I see an album like the #IamStellenbosch one but I am glad to see that some of the heaviest criticism of the privileged views espoused by the photos are being tackled by white people in the comments section.

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Brett Fish Anderson: i will blog further on this cos i think it is a helpful conversation to do a little deeper in. i think one of the big problems is that those of us who are somewhat informed – who have walked a bit of a journey in this – take for granted the informedness we have and then assume others have it and are making those same choices. i think we need to give more grace to uninformed and ignorant so that they have the opportunity to become informed and norant? Okay that’s probably not a word but it should be.

i doubt a student in Stellenbosch was being malicious, they honestly did what they thought was a good thing and so there has to be some moment of that opportunity happening to change that. i look back on my journey and at 41 I have been digging into this stuff more deeply for the last five years and so i could quite easily have been that student. I didn’t do so good. So it feels necessary for me to be prepared to take time to coach other people through.

Megan Furniss: You know what I think Brett? You are clever and kind and norant, and brave and full of energy. Spend it on those who need it most, and who can use you best. Others can get in line. There is work to be done and we need to act fast. Just went to witness Lingua Franca and I was totally humbled by them. It’s not about ‘us’ (read white people) anymore.

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Picture of South African Flag

What about you? If people around you [or online] seem ignorant about something which you have learned/studied/lived through/experienced do you believe that it is worth taking time and energy to school them with the facts so that they can understand and have a chance to ‘get it’? Or should the focus and emphasis be on those who do and moving forwards with them? Play nice in the comments but i would LOVE to hear some conversation on this…

[For some Creative Ideas on How to Become a Better Ally, click here] 

Not too long ago i shared a list of 10 Things i struggle to get my mind around

This was quite a varied lists of topics and included such items as pineapple on pizza, litter [special mention to cigarette butts out car windows], people’s confusion with regards to four way stops, recent Adam Sandler movies [bonus cameo by Will Ferrell], the ‘joke’ insult, make-your-best-friend-look-and-act-like-a-tit bachelor party vibes, the difference between adopted children and real children, why it seems so important to everyone else that tbV and i want children [when we don’t], the amount of homelessness in South Africa compared to the amount of golf courses we have [1047 apparently], and the fees that soccer/football players get paid [with honourable mention to movie actors, singers, politicians, CEOs etc etc].

But turns out there are some more things i don’t quite understand [who would’ve thought?] and so here is my list of 10 More Things i Don’t Quite Understand… Which one do you resonate with the most? 

[10] Pickles

Burger with pickles on

Urgh, please stoppit! i know i gave cooked pineapple center stage last time but this one is probably actually worse for me. i could maybe queasy myself through a cooked pineapple if there was something to be polite about, but pickles are a much harder one. STOP PUTTING THEM ON MY BURGER. And possibly even # gasp # worse than raiSINs in this regard cos once a thing has had pickles in the taste is there for life – you remove the pickles and give me the burger and it still tastes disgustingly like pickle aka gerkhin. Please, for the love of food, STOPPIT!

[9] Hating raiSINS but only in things or out of things.

Now if you have known me for any length of time, there is a huge likelihood that you will know of my hatred of raiSINs. Yes, you may think you hate them, but not as much as me. Oh really? Did you write and record TWO anti-raiSIN songs? [Or notice that the word SIN is very obviously nestled there right in the middle of the word] Or have an evening raiSIN-burning ceremony in a back garden one time? Okay you get it, i lead that race.

garfield

i LOVE that Garfield hates them too. And actually a decent amount of other cartoon characters as well, do some research.

And it is not so much raiSINs that i don’t understand – i just hate them. Do you let an apple go black in the sun and then proclaim it the kind of food worth sticking into every dessert? Urgh, you probably would, hey? But where my confusion lies is in the two kinds of people you get who say they hate raiSINs, but… Those people i don’t understand.

“I hate raiSINs, but I can eat them by themselves.”

“I hate raiSINs, but I can eat them in things.”

i have met both types of people on many occasions and i just do. not. get. it. Pick a side. Stop straddling the fence. i’ve even met someone who said they hated raiSINs but could eat them with peanuts. WHAT? Mind blown. Just stoppit.

Oh, and i also started the ‘i hate raiSINs’ group on facebook and if you’re a true believer then you should really join. But none of you “I hate them, but…” people.

[8] Lateness without alert.

i must admit that i struggle to not be late sometimes. Someone pointed it out as a character trait of an extrovert in a sense of trying to cram as much stuff into the space of time available as possible, which really resonated with me. But it is not cool to be late and i am trying to be better at not being late

But Capetonians [in particular] seem to take it to another level. And my not understandingness here is more along the lines of possessing the knowledge that you are going to be late and doing nothing with it. So being late is still rude and i own that and need to do better. But if i am going to be late i will send a Watapp or drop a text or send out one of my carrier pigeons or something to let the person being lated upon know. Does that make it okay? No, unless you’ve been in a  car accident or just helped someone give birth on the pavement, it is still generally not okay. But it makes such a huge difference when you have the courtesy [cos it is just plain and complete rudeness to not] to at least let the person who will be waiting for you know, that they will be waiting.

Some people i know are serial laters and just seem to have absolutely no clue or care at all. i was at the party of a friend where we waited for more than 40 minutes for a booked meal and the people didn’t even pitch up at all [some came really late but some didn’t even show] and gave my friend absolutely no warning or message to say “Go ahead without us.” It feels like absolute rudeness to know you are going to be late for something and not to tell someone.

This is an area many of us can do better on. So lets. And work on the lateness as well.

late

[7] Technology Abuse

Last night tbV and i popped into a restaurant for a quick snack after a long day and she drew my attention to the table behind me. Four people and three of them were deeply engrossed in their phones. i don’t get that and both tbV and myself have worked hard at reducing the negative impact that technology has on our relationship, especially at home and in the bedroom. i understand how easy it is for people to get caught up in that stuff but it is important to get to a place where you control technology and it does not control you.

When we have held our Deep Dive Conversation Dinner we have introduced the idea of the Phone Basket [which we have used at other family events as well to good effect] where everyone mutes their phone and sticks it in a basket as they arrive and gets it back when they leave. Intentional focus on the conversation at hand and removing distraction.

i love the idea i heard about of people in a restaurant putting their phones in the middle of the table and the first person who reaches for their phone any time during the meal foots the bill. A few rounds of that and some people might learn. If you are choosing to be with me [like you meet me somewhere for coffee] then be with me. If you have something more important to do or someone else you’d rather chat to or a wrong number you will even give preference to then rather go somewhere else and be with someone else.

[6] Phone light in the movies aka Technology Abuse II

This could be a whole post in itself. i don’t get to see as many movies as i used to and so it typically is a bit of a special event when it happens. Advert time is okay because get your stuff done. Trailer time and things are starting to get dangerous cos anyone who knows me well knows i proclaim trailer time as the most important time or as important as the movie. But once the movie has started you had better have your phone closed, muted and tucked away in your pocket, because if that thing lights up and i have something throwable [i am not advocating violence – i’m talking soft and bouncy more than likely] it will be aimed at your head and i am not the best shot so think of those sitting two rows behind you!

This makes me really mad. i paid a lot of good money to be in that movie and i assume you did as well so if you would rather be on your phone then save yourself the money and if you don’t want me getting verbally aggressive on you then keep it off and away and for the love of the movie experience make sure you have turned all the bits that make sound off. And if you don’t know how to mute your phone then you don’t qualify for being able to watch movies.

i once had a guy sitting next to me in a movie answer a call from a friend loudly in the movie where he was sitting. It was between Baptist Summer Camps and we were in Kimberley and he was a huge farmer type and it was a Leon Schuster movie so no great loss. But in any other movie just no.

[5] People who talk or text on their phones while driving

phone

This is a bit of a tricky one cos, being a guilty villain, more so in the past, i completely understand the why of it. But having witnessed accidents and near misses and people on phones driving ridiculously and realising myself the lack of concentration that goes into a phone moment no matter how good you think you are this one should be a no brainer.

Know that if you are caught on your phone anywhere in the vicinity of a peppermint green coloured Hyundai Getz there is a HUGE likelihood that either tbV or myself will let you know that we are not a big fan in a variety of ways that might involve LOUD HOOTING, Angry Fist, Shake of Head or a combination of those and more.

i have really tried to cut it out completely myself. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. It is dangerous and it costs lives. If, in some rare moment, where i deem the need to shoot off this quick text and you catch me, i more than expect and welcome and encourage you to LOUD HOOT, Angry Fist, Shake of Head or a combination of those in my direction. It is not okay. This one freaks me out. Whatever excuses you are giving yourself, STOPPIT STOPPIT STOPPIT. It can wait. It can always wait. And if it can’t then pull over as i often do, send off that quick text and then carefully get back on the road again.

It is just not worth it. Ever. Think of yourself as a potential murderer, cos there is every likelihood. If you do it with a child in your car, that makes you an unfit parent right there.

Wow. That escalated quickly.

[4] The amount of pee on the floor around public toilets.

Seriously people, or at least guy people, that’s a lot of pee. How about we pretend we’re at your house for a moment. Or your friend’s house. Or a public toilet. It works the same. Aim for the hole.

Toilet signs

[3] People who make their minds up before asking the question.

i enjoy meat, but have also felt uneasy about a lot of what goes into getting meat to my table. Recently i invited a number of my Vegetarian friends to share their stories of why they became Vegetarian and challenged some friends to join us in a week of meat-free-ness as tbV and i were much challenged by the stories we read. i don’t have a problem with people who ask the question [Let me take a look at how meat gets to my table] and then chooses to continue eating meat as much as i do with people who never ask the question. One reason we didn’t ask for so long [and there are still some questions we are probably too afraid to ask right now] was because we feared the answer would mean us having to give up meat, but if the answer was for us to give up meat then we really needed to ask the question and see. As opposed to burying our heads in the sand.

This is just one example – when it comes to conversations about ‘White Privilege’ so many white people have a strong negative reaction before they take the time to really hear what we are talking about [and often have a completely different understanding of the term and idea than the one we are talking about] and it is so confusing for me to see conversations end before they have even begun. Ask the question. And then stand by your answer.

Is there a God? Is Christianity the way to connect with Him? Is religion important or necessary at all? At least ask the question. I can deal with your atheism or agnosticism a lot easier if i know you have gone there. And for many people who are Christian because their parents were or cos you’ve always gone to church, you need to be asking the question too. Believe what you believe because you believe it, not just cos it’s always been there.

[2] How you can be South African and not know an African language [preferably the predominant one in the area where you live] at least in part.

This is a tough one. i think i’ve known it for like forever but couldn’t say anything cos i was chief guilty party. And still am. BUT am working on changing it as this week tbV and i signed up for Xhosa classes finally. i have also always known enough isiXhosa to get by in the initial “Hi. How are you? My name is… Where are you from?” moments of conversation, but as someone wanting to explore having a voice in the present area of Race and Reconciliation and Unity and Restitution, it is essential that i look to educate myself in this area, at least a little. It is terrifying [fear of failure – what if i don’t ‘get’ it?] and exhilarating all at once. It is worth both the time and money investment. Do it! Check out Xhosafundis.co.za if you are in Cape Town and want to learn. There are many other places too.

[1] An immediate response to posting this really helpful piece on the #BlackLivesMatter movement:

blacklivesmatter

which was from a person i don’t even know first hand [cos you know, Facebook!] who simply responded with the words:

All Lives Matter.

And then proceeded to argue with me about why she was not completely missing the point by saying that.

In a nutshell, the idea is that all lives do matter. BUT no one is suggesting or has ever suggested really that white lives do not matter. Whereas History is full of ideas, systems and laws that express or work out the idea that black lives do not matter. So when there is a campaign and a movement that rallies itself under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter it is pretty much asking the question, “Can we say that black lives matter as well?” Jumping directly in with a response of All Lives Matter refuses to acknowledge the hurt, racism, onesidedness of the past or to suggest for a moment that maybe it’s good for us to spend some time on raising up black lives to the same level that white lives have been viewed/experienced etc.

When Cecil the lion was killed, no one was holding up signs saying ‘All Animals matter.’ All animals do matter but at that moment, it was not the point.

#BlackLivesMatter [as i see it] is about taking time to listen and really hear and try to understand [as best as it is possible for someone who doesn’t live it] and about being an ally to a group of people whose lives have not mattered as much as white lives in the media or entertainment sphere or politically or just in the day to day.

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i would LOVE to know which of these resonated with you the most [if the last 10 list i did is anything to go by it will be the Pickles] and which one you disagree with and what, after 20 things, you think is still missing in terms of something you don’t understand. Leave your thoughts in the comments section under this post. Thank you. 

Also a lot of the points had links to blog posts which describe aspects of the post more deeply so when you have some time go and explore some of those as well.

[To check out my first list of 10 Things i Don’t Understand, click here] 

This is the last post in a series of four Tandem Blog posts where Dave Luis and Megan Furniss and myself have each picked a title and the three of us have written whatever it has inspired in us. So far we have done That Nagging Feeling… followed by 37 Million Miles… and lastly Boundaries. The fourth and final title was opened up to the Facebook and the most popular suggestion was by Valerie Anderson aka tbV [the beautiful Val] and it prompted the following piece. Be sure to read Dave and Megan’s pieces once you have finished with mine and if you like them, please leave a comment and tell us why…

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twit

The Age of Outcry

It was the best of crimes. It was the worst of crimes.

He stared at the newspaper headline, unable to believe his eyes. Although ‘newspaper headline’ felt like a bit of a misnomer as this barely 60 word information snippet had been buried all the way back on page 9, opposite the local entertainment page, where non stories came to die. Or began their mere breath-of-a-life relatively stillborn.

Yet there it was. ‘Another cheetah killed by hunter’. Another cheetah? Poor bugger didn’t even get a name.

One of the lost girls coughed anxiously behind him. Poor children. Ever the eternal optimists. But it was his turn now and he wasn’t going to hand over the newspaper so quickly. They could drink in their disappointment later. He hadn’t even attempted the chess problem yet.

But the front page? The opening page of yesterday’s newspaper was announcing Woman’s Day – the one day in the year when men were supposed to treat woman as people, or something. Get their own damn coffee for a change or something equally as life-transformative.

He glanced across at his Twitter feed. #AllAnimalsMatter. He liked that one. It was good to see the #BlackLivesMatter movement using his moment to refocus the world on them. He had even chuckled out loud at the meme. COL. That should be a thing. He made a mental note to start using it.

Clicking yet another tab to see how Facebook was faring, he quickly noticed that all the rainbow-faces which had given way to pics of him [or one of his ‘kind’] were now largely filled with an assorted arrangement of pictures of statues with women’s lingerie hanging off them.

Cecil sighed a deep sigh. “Must be cancer awareness time again.”

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Be sure to check out the other amazing posts with this same title with:

If i was a pastor in Americaland this coming Sunday, my sermon would definitely contain the words ‘If i die in police custody’ which is a trending hashtag on The Twitterer right now.

TAKE A MOMENT WITH THAT. #IfIDieInPoliceCustody

sandra

Last Friday, a black woman was returning home from a job interview in Waller County, Texas, when she was stopped by police after failing to properly signal a lane change. Two days later, she was dead in a jail cell, and Black Twitter wants to know why. [Dexter Thomas, Black Twitter demands answers: What happened to #SandraBland?]

In fact, just take five minutes to log in to your Twitterer account and search for the hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody and read what is going on there:

don’t let them tell the world who I was. You tell the world who I was.

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it had nothing to do with my pants sagging, rap music, or black on black crime. Don’t let them derail.

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is a trending hashtag.

Let that sink in.

#IfIDieInPoliceCustody IS TRENDING.
People are afraid. Change is needed.

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don’t try 2 use my background and education to say I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t deserve it without degrees either

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And on and on it goes… with this one by Michaela Angela Davis perhaps coming closest to summing it all up.

I actually can’t take the realness of right now so many young Blk people prepping for that possibility is so painful

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BLACK LIVES MATTER

Next thing you know, people are once again adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and it won’t be long before a ‘well-meaning’ white person jumps on to reinvigorate #AllLivesMatter as a direct response.

Of course all lives matter, that should go without saying. The reason #BlackLivesMatter keeps coming back is because white people are not feeling the need to write tweets under the hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody.

LET THAT SINK IN.

We don’t need to. Because, for the most part, if a white person is arrested and put in prison, the likely scenario is that we deserved to be there. We weren’t put behind bars [and whatever else might follow and need to be ‘explained’ or justified later] because of our whiteness. People of colour don’t have that luxury.

So yes, All Lives Matter, but the ones that seem to be needing more fighting done for them in Americaland right now are the black ones [and other minority groups] and so #BlackLivesMatter – deal with it.

tell the media to use the 1st pic and not the 2nd

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King Fee speaks to the reality of pictures used by the media whenever a person of colour is arrested, put in jail or killed. It is far easier for us to feel like he deserved it when we see the drug smoking ‘thug’-image poster on the right than if the story of another death is accompanied by a guy wearing a suit looking all cleaned up.

The hashtag is also filled with tweets talking about people struggling with depression or being a veteran [don’t let them say it was my PTSD] begging not to let any of those reasons be used as the reason for ‘my suicide’. In fact tweet after tweet down the line echoes the cries of black people saying ‘if I die in police custody, know that i didn’t commit suicide.’

THERE BE ANGER

Then there are the angry tweets. The ones calling for violence. These are harder to read and take in. My gut reaction is, ‘No, you can’t do that. You have to show them you are better. You have to respond peacefully.’

Yet week after week as yet another incident happens, typically involving white police officers and people of colour and a new hashtag trends to be replaced by the new one before it has even grown cold, then even though i absolutely don’t condone the violence, i start in part to understand the anger and the calls for it.

blow up the nearest police prescient.

: do everything possible to make them wish that I didn’t, and bring all nine circles of Hell to their doorstep.

don’t cry for me, comfort my mother and father, and burn the city to the ground. Tell to go to hell.

YOU STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND?

If there are any white people who have gotten this far and still don’t understand [i imagine if you don’t then you likely haven’t gotten this far], this excellent article shared with me by my friend Megan Furniss, is one of the best pieces i have read on this, especially the powerful last paragraph:

Risk the Truth: There was a Suicide – by Abe Lateiner

Seriously, read that one, and there are so many other powerful posts around that if you realise the seriousness of this all and the need to catch up a little, here are two more powerful pieces worth giving yourself time to really digest.

I, Racist by John Metta

Letter to my Son by Ta-Nehisi Coates

i don’t think we have the same story in South Africa as in Americaland right now. But i feel like there are some strong overlaps. And it has felt important to me for a long time to keep an eye on what is going on over there to somehow be able to understand a little bit better some of the principles and machinations of what is going on over here in our stories. i feel completely helpless in terms of being able to make any difference to the people of colour in Americaland, but i do want them to know that i am an ally and if using my blog can potentially help open the eyes and then actions of one more white person, and hopefully then white people, well then that is one small step in the right direction.

We need to hear the cries of our black brothers and sisters and if they don’t feel like brothers and sisters, then we need to be reaching out and seizing opportunities for deeper relationship, because perhaps the moment they move from ‘people of colour’ to ‘my friend and my family’, perhaps then i will be more urgent about getting off my butt and doing something that actually makes a difference.

it feels like there is still so much more to say, but i don’t know if i’m the equipped to say it well, so i’ll keep reading and sharing and rallying and praying and hoping… and i’ll end off with two more tweets that no doubt will punch you in the face, like they did me…

put on my tombstone, “Arrest in peace”

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Elderly White people write wills. Young Black kids tweet

[For a variety of thoughts from a number of different people on other and similar Race-related topics, click here]

sob

One of the interesting ideas that has come up both in Americaland [with the whole #Ferguson ordeal and everything connected to that and the #BlackLivesMatter movement] and in South Africa is that black people can’t be racist. i have always argued that the hypothesis is ridiculous and given my understanding of racism, anyone can be racist against another person. However, by taking time to listen to people on both sides, as far as i understand it, the idea is that racism is state or system implemented prejudice and so while anyone can be prejudiced, historically it has only been the white people who have been in the position of power in terms of creating laws etc that affirm and carry out the prejudice. So while i am not convinced that i agree [i think some countries in Africa with black parties in power have had some discriminationary actions and prejudices laid out against white people] i do think i understand a little bit more. i do feel it is a little bit semantic because i imagine people on both sides would agree that anyone can be racially prejudiced and that is what we are suggesting.

So it was with interest that i came upon this passage in the Robert Sobuke book and this is the action following his funeral where both the author, Benjamin Pogrund, and Helen Suzman were refused the opportunity to speak at his funeral:

We returned to the hotel – the Drostdy, a gracious and luxurious place, with the main section restored to its original 1806 design when it was built as the drostdy, the seat of local government, and the rooms created out of a row of cottages which were once the homes of coloured labourers, and possibly of freed slaves. The cool and comfort of the hotel came as a bizarre contrast with the dust and heat of the ceremony – and even more so because all the guests at the hotel were whites, as required by the law. Among them was the small group of whites in the town for the funeral, including Nita and Joe, whom I met for the first time [and since then, friendship with them has been one of Sobukwe’s legacies to me]; Alan Paton, the author, and Peter Brown, who had led the former Liberal Party with him and had endured years-long banning for it. [Peter was Editor of Reality, a small magazine which provided a forum for liberal thinking after the demise of the Liberal Party, often publishing articles which could find no other home in South Africa. 

On that day, the Drostdy wasn’t a totally colour-fast world so close and yet so far away from what we had experienced in the preceding hours: Neville Alexander, who was coloured and who had been a political prisoner on Robben Island while Sobukwe was there, could not attend the funeral because he was banned and restricted to his Cape Town home; but his mother came on his behalf. Moira, who was looking after her, went into the bar to get her a drink and found a black woman there. Moira discovered the hotel had been declared ‘international’ for that day: in terms of the current laws, that meant it was open to people of all races. To press home that point, Moira took Mrs Alexander to have her drink inside the otherwise usually whites-only bar.

Suzman had this to say about her exclusion. She told the Rand Daily Mail that it was obviously regretful because Veronica [Robert’s wife]  herself had extended the invitation – ‘But I respected their decision that it should be a black people’s occasion.’ She added: ‘One had no means of knowing how representative the militants were. It would have been interesting to hear the crowd’s reaction had they heard what I had to say.’

My published comment went to the heart of my outlook: ‘I feel sad about it, of course. It was a negation of the non-racialism for which Robert Sobukwe stood. It reflects how far down the road we have gone in South Africa. White racism has inevitably spawned black racism. Both are equally abhorrent.’ 

i think the last phrase sums it up – whether it is going to be called prejudice or racism or anything else, whether it is coming from white or black or anyone else, it is equally abhorrent. We must work together, not so much to fight it, but to overcome it. i believe the best way of overcoming racism, by whatever name it goes, is through genuine relationships and friendships – getting each other around the dinner table and sharing stories and living life together. i feel like that is the kind of South Africa Robert Sobukwe would be more proud of.

[For the last part in this series looking at Economic Justice, click here]

This morning i was browsing Facebook and i came upon a status from my friend Nkosivumile Gola [who has written a number of posts for this blog] that read like this:

The land question is very personal, the land includes my whole being it is the very me. The land question is very emotional its not an intellectual talk. I don’t have a nice way of saying we want the land, I can’t smile when I’m talking about land.

Followed by 50 or so comments [and still going on] of which i think i was the only white person engaging. Trying to listen and really hear and understand.

Having opened my blog up somewhat to conversations about Race-related themes and issues over the last few months, and having connected with some new friends and been talking about race i have come to realise that for many black people in South Africa, land reform and restitutional justice are huge topics. I don’t know of many of my white friends that even have an opinion or understanding of this. Or how deep the hurt related to this topic lies

 

land

 

AMERICALAND 

As far as Americaland goes, it is becoming difficult to keep up. Last week it was the news that Darren Wilson [the white police officer who was responsible for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson] was not going to be indicted. Today it is the somehow more surprising news that Daniel Pantaleo [the white police officer who allegedly put an illegal choke hold on Eric Garner which led to his subsequent death] was also not going to be indicted, despite there being quite clear video footage of the incident [that to my reckoning shows a blatant choke hold].

#Ferguson, #MikeBrown,#BlackLivesMatter, #EricGarner, how many hashtags do we need before significant change starts to happen?

As i have been following Ferguson pretty closely, and especially the Christian voices on it, I have noticed that the black voices are very vocal, where for the most part [and there are some incredible exceptions], the white voices are remaining silent.

Austin Channing, who is one of the people i have a lot of respect for in this conversation, tweeted this a couple of hours ago:

I need this to matter. What use have I for a Church that doesn’t believe I am worthy of justice, love and humility? [@austonchanning]

 

eric

 

CHURCH

South Africa… Americaland… i imagine these conversations need to be had elsewhere, but these are the countries i have spend time in the last couple of years and so they are forefront in my mind and heart.

The contexts are quite different in some ways [Majority Oppression vs Minority Oppression, Restitution vs Present Day Justice] but there are some eerie similarities:

# For the most part a lack of white interest, engagement, outrage, action. There are white people who are involved and are making waves and using their platforms and showing up, but they are way too much the exception.

# A seeming lack of joining the dots of what is happening in the country politically being linked in any way to what we, as the church, believe, or should believe based on
 

 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

[Micah 6.8]

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

[Isaiah 1.17]

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

[Proverbs 29.7]

 

And then Jesus aiming this at the religious ones of His day, in Matthew 23:

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides!You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

 

As white people [those who in many instances hold the power for change in both situations] it is not good enough for us to sit back and be uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around us.

In terms of the land reform conversations that need to take place in South Africa, i do not even come close to knowing the answers, but i do know that i am not informed enough, and so one thing i can do is this action based on this status i stuck on to Facebook a few hours ago:

Have decided if i truly am for unity, reconciliation and justice in my beloved South Africa, that i have a bit of reading to do. There is a lot i need to hear and understand from different voices to the ones that informed me growing up. So i could use some suggestions of good books to start with and interested to know if any of my white friends would be up to journeying this journey with me and maybe we could book club it [even if we’re in different parts of the country] so that we can share the costs of a big pile of books. My first recommendation was ‘Sobukwe led the road to Robben Island’ by Dr. Motsoko Pheko – what else do you think would be helpful?
 
I was reminded of this great quote which sums up the work ahead.

‘Freedom is not free. The price of freedom is selfless service, suffering and sacrifice.’ [Dr. Motsoko Pheko]

 

Getting involved, putting your hand up, being informed and taking action are not easy or comfortable or free things. There is a cost and it will require effort and time and buy-in and some form of sacrifice along the way. It requires us to get intentional about how we do or don’t engage with this much needed conversation.

In Americaland, the church at large needs to get involved. We need to hear outrage from white people [the black people are already there and have been for so long and are dying for us to pitch up and listen and hear and feel and cry out alongside them – they are not needing you to lead this revolution, they just need you to show up!]

 

Here are some more tweets from Austin Channing, which i found devastating, more so because of how true they are:

Are you really okay that policing for black lives is different than policing for your life?

Is it okay that our sunday school children have to split up by race to receive different lessons on what to expect from police?

Show us. Show us that its not ok. Stand with us. Let us mourn. Hell, why aren’t you mourning? Let us be angry. You should be angry too.

The cycle of systemic racism and interpersonal racism are robbing the lives of black people and robbing the humanity of white people.

Either you believe we are all created in the Image of God and should be treated accordingly or you do not.

Don’t you see, we all lose? Don’t you see why the Church cant ignore this issue? Cant you see why being “apolitical” is not an option?

Because that’s really the point isn’t it? “Oh no, church and politics shouldn’t mix.” What verse was that from again? While there might be a place where church and politics mixing is not the heathiest of ideas, this goes beyond that.

This is about justice. This should concern all of us, but especially for people who call themselves followers of Jesus, this stuff should be in our D.N.A. This is what we’re about.

 

Kimberley Brusk just nailed it – this is the point – what is your response going to be?

Justice won’t be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. BE OUTRAGED  @peaceforus4ever

 

My white friends, my white family, white strangers who i don’t yet know, but who some reason have landed in this place, we are the unaffected ones [directly] and it is time for us to be outraged and informed and engaged.

Or may God have mercy on us.

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