BLM from my white perspective
If I have ever written anything noteworthy, let it be this.
Don't get me wrong, I am extremely nervous, because in these times there is no longer such a thing as 'free speech'. You have freedom of speech as long as no one's personal feelings are hurt, or else you will have to deal with the 'cancel culture' we live by.
As nervous as I am, someone has to say this, so let it be me.
Let me start off by saying that I really do not wish to offend anyone. These are my views and my personal opinions that I very well have a right to. I also do not want anyone to feel like I'm saying 'I know how you feel', if I don't ACTUALLY know how you feel as, for example, a black person.
Here where I am sitting today, I'm at a boiling point, and I am tired in every way possible. I go onto Facebook and I see untrustworthy, untrue articles and posts being shared thousands of times. I see people arguing about things they clearly know nothing about or haven't even bothered to go and do research on. Now remember, I said that I don't know everything, but I might just help someone and myself for that matter, understand what is happening in our beautiful mess of a country.
The Black Lives Matter movement - my two cents
"#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives." -blacklivesmatter.com/about/
The BLM movement started in America as a response to continuous acts of racism and violence inflicted on black people (which also includes many other marginalised groups - I suggest you have a look at the website if you don't know). The movement was not started as a way of saying ONLY Black Lives Matter. It was a way of saying black lives should matter just as much as any other life. So, by saying 'All Lives Matter', you are in fact saying that all is equal and right in the world, and we all know that is far from true. Everyone knows all lives matter and that God created us equally, but that is currently not the reality in our world, hence the start of BLM.
Then of course, the BLM movement gained traction all over the world, South Africa included. It became a narrative that not only says black lives matter TOO, but also so does black culture, black dreams, black traditions. And the response? "How dare black folks say they matter". Do we realise how ridiculous that is? That a group of people, oppressed in many ways for many decades, still today, do not have the right to say 'enough is enough, we are worth more than this'.
Why is that such a major issue? Why do we have people blaming major names in the sports industry of 'worshiping another god' because they dared to go on one knee before a cricket match in solidarity, to say 'we see you black brothers, and we commit to being better'.
I thought about it a lot, the 'why' part. Is it because we, as white people, still somehow feel guilty and responsible for many racist structures that were designed to keep black people at the bottom? And don't know how to fix it? Or do we honestly think that the day FW De Klerk and Nelson Mandela shook hands, all was forgiven and set straight in our country? Can we say with full confidence in our hearts that we have changed our hearts, our way of seeing and treating black people? Have we transformed our minds and actions and taught our kids to be better?
If you can honestly say you have transformed yourself and our next generation, and that you keep up with the issues of modern-day South Africa - remember Justice Langa said that transformation is not a destination, it is a continuous journey, then I applaud you, then you have done your bit to be part of the solution.
Let us not forget that the word 'democracy' does not solve racial tensions and valid issues in SA. Not even after 26 years. Should government be better? Absolutely. Should they stop stealing and feeding their fat-cat ways, most definitely. Should WE be better? Should we see black people for what they are - human beings with the same equal social standing, the same valid dreams and goals, the same rights as us? Yes.
Surely, sporting greats won't speak out against institutional racism, risk their careers and expose themselves to a lot of criticism, if it was not a reality. Siya Kolisi said in an Instagram video how until 2018 - TWENTY-EIGHTEEN - they spoke Afrikaans on groups, in meetings and at practices. Is that fair? Is that a language everyone in SA understands? Is that inclusive? It took ONE man with a bit of insight and understanding, the great Mr Rassie, to change a simple thing like not only speaking Afrikaans in order to include everyone, and that liberated an entire team. The very team that won one of the greatest sporting events in the world. The same goes for Makhaya Ntini and Lungi Ngidi. Have you gone through the trouble to read what they've said? To listen to their stories?
BLM is a great opportunity for us all to learn and to be BETTER. Better than those that came before us. It is time that we listen and actually see what is happening in our country, not only in sports teams but everywhere - schools, companies, wherever. Apartheid will always be a dark cloud above our heads, it is time we accept that. It is time we realise that the effects and the ways of Apartheid did not end when democracy began. It is something we have to work on EVERY DAY until that dark cloud becomes a little lighter and more bearable for every South African.
Farm murders is a great concern - does BLM take away from that?
Okay, please don't stone me for feeling like I have to put 'farm murders' in the same article. There is a reason I am doing it and it is important.
I have seen many people respond to the BLM movement with 'what about farm murders?', making people out to be traitors if they show support for BLM. I find it highly problematic that one narrative somehow is made out to nullify the importance of another.
Is farm murders a worrisome and growing issue in SA? YES. It is extremely troubling to think young and old farmers and their families are being attacked and tortured every day. In my opinion it amounts to hate crimes because of the severity of the attacks. I mean if the sole purpose was to rob and steal, why cause all the hurt and suffering? Why hasn't government done anything to address the issue? Then again - what have they addressed?
You see, this is my point, I can actually understand BLM and be concerned about farm murders at the same time. That is what I am trying to say with this blog.
The experiences of people of colour and the attacks on farmers should not be weighed against one another. They can be parallel narratives, they don't have to be opposing.
In conclusion, with regards to BLM, I am deeply concerned that sporting greats have to, in 2020, say how they are still struggling in top South African organisations. I am deeply concerned that instead of having adult, insightful, respectful conversations, we are tearing up our Springbok jerseys and calling people out for having different views from yours.
This is NOT the SA we fought for and dreamt of. It is not the SA I want my kids to grow up in. Not just because of crime stats, but also because we are constantly forced to pick between 'team black' or 'team white' - and that is the truth, the sad truth.
I want to remind you today that it has in fact never been a battle of different skin colours but of different spirits. If we start addressing these problems in the right and the same Spirit, we should be able to solve it and get through it.
Let's not lose sight of the importance of these conversations and some decent introspection. Not screaming-matches - peaceful talks, that's how we learn and that is how we are going to be BETTER SOUTH AFRICANS.