This is the outcome of multiple conversations, with a variety of (different races & economic groups) friends over the past while. It’s a work in progress. The calls to protest have made me rethink what I stand for. Who I stand for. Not just what I stand against.
My heart and head have been unsettled and noisy for the past year. Which has actually led to less online engagement, more listening & more watching what is unfolding around me. It’s been liberating to realise that I have been guilty of deifying certain voices in the social justice circles. Of sometimes not thinking through why I think what I do, what filters do I carry with me and through which filters am I experiencing others.
It’s liberated me to start a journey of discovery towards the voices who challenge me to think about what righteousness and justice looks like in relationship and as a God-believer. I don’t agree with everything always. I have to sit with things often. I am still going to be too conservative for some and too radical for others, or too enmeshed and overthinking for yet others. I am going to cause offence somewhere on this journey. Sometimes for the right reasons, and other times because I have gotten it wrong and need to reflect and repent of where I have done so, not just inwardly but to the people in the story too.
I have had a lot of déjà vu watching the online postings of the current #HambaZuma, #PhantsiZuma, #ZumamustFall hashtags. On the 16th December 2015, some of us engaged with similar conversations to those which are unfolding now. Do we go march or don’t we go? We agree with the principle, but do we agree with the way the action is happening?
I tweeted something which in my spaces was fairly moderate along the lines of “hoping that once this march is over, we will continue to see mass mobilisation towards other issues of injustice”. I lost facebook friends over this, frustrated people over this and was accused of being divisive in this rather than invitational which was always the intent.
It wasn’t a judgement it was a hope. A hope that issues of injustice would be acknowledged and in our numbers, in the mass of people, addressed.
The issues of injustice that matter to me are that of sanitation (going to the toilet shouldn’t mean risking rape, murder, assault or being kidnapped); of children not being in school because of violence or because there aren’t enough support systems in place to deal with children who are struggling.
A hope that remains still, now in April 2017 as we sit in a week in which the date for the EIGHTH vote of no confidence in our president has been set.
My protest question still remains:
What happens after Friday? After the proposed national shutdown? Where there are ‘well meant’ but offensive motivational messages being circulated about make sure your ‘helper’, ‘security’ and ‘gardener’ are with you for this march?
(Q: How do you know that they share your views? These are adults, they can choose whether they want to join you or not. Maybe they want to protest in their own spaces. Maybe they don’t trust the process. Maybe they have witnessed enough protest in their lives or lived through the previous change in government to want to choose to hand the baton on to others)
One of my mentors who is black and poor asked me:
“What are people going to do afterwards”
“What will change in how people treat each other and take responsibility for things, after wearing black, after marching?”
Government can’t change our social dynamics. Zuma must go BUT what responsibility and response within our abilities are we going to explore and COMMIT to after Friday’s march.
SO, please forgive me for overthinking this if you must, but I have friends who don’t eat supper every night; friends whose children run out of nappies for economic reasons; friends who STILL can’t give their children choices like my parents could give me. Friends who lost parents because they were poor – poverty reduces life expectancy (not a liberal snowflakey vibe, this is fact). I have lost friends who didn’t have private medical resources & didn’t share how they were struggling health wise and so were on repeated waiting lists in the public health system and ended up having heart related issues on their death certificate but had it been me, would have been placed on medication and under observation.
I want to protest against these realities. These injustices.
I want to protest against power dynamics that aren’t right.
I want to protest against things that take away choices from people.
Yes, I want Zuma to go as I believe that he makes choices that removes choices from other people in order to continue expanding his own world.
I want to protest against the fact that in 2015, there was mass mobilisation for a week towards a march in the community and then it seemed that people went quiet. That the invitation (again) and call (again) to share responsibility for addressing the daily injustices in our nation wasn’t taken up by the broader white community and THIS has added to the sense of mistrust and questioning of intent and motive. The impact of our lack of action has led to some of the responses now. As a white person, I recognise this to be a recurring theme in the social media debates in 2017. I recognise and own that this is aimed at the white community. Not because we don’t have a role in this country, but because we are either reluctant or reticent, or not sure how to engage with these things.
I want to protest that people in my friendship circles live like they do, with life being about survival far too often – whether from bullets, hunger or a lack of resources.
I want to protest that our fear of what restitution is stops us from exploring what it could look like in our spaces.
I want to protest for ongoing, as has been emerging in the social media debates, dialogues around what unity really means, about what making good could look like and what seeing each other means.
I want to protest at the fact that too often despite declaring that we are called to HOLY RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, we get caught up in our own self-righteousness and own vision of what we believe justice to be. I have had to repent of this. It’s uncomfortable and necessary.
I want to protest at the exclusivity of some of the spaces I have inadvertently helped create and protest for figuring out how to help keep people going on this journey of reconciliation and restitution so that it’s not just buzz words from the ‘rainbow nation’ illusion but that we keep on doing the hard work we need to in ourselves in order to see the others in the story too.
We are in the midst of a revolution.
It can happen while we pay dignified wages & explore what it means to cap maximum wages so that dignified wages are a possibility. I am challenged by this every time I think about it. Dare I think that this could be a reality? Dare I believe that this is possible and doesn’t stop interest and investment in our economic markets and so importantly into people’s lives?
It can happen while we create relationships and figure out what generosity in this space looks like; it can happen when I choose to share with you because I know I have more than you based on my birth status and not because I am worth more. And that the way in which I share doesn’t communicate power, but sharing of resources. That there is dignity and acknowledgement that we are both givers and receivers in this process.
It can happen when I choose less eating out, less shopping, less what feels like essentials but are actually choices and choose to invest or pour that into other spaces.
Not just because you make me feel okay about myself, but because I choose to. And in choosing to, maybe I will find my sense of belonging with you. In the midst of our differences.