Hilton College stand in solidarity with peaceful anti-racism protest
We are tired – by Motheo Makwana (Portfolio Head of Transformation and Diversity) and Hlumelo Notshe (Head of School)
“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson
We are tired.
We are tired of our throats running coarse as we preach words of equality and justice, only to have them fall onto deaf ears. We are tired of feeling afraid or being made to feel inferior. We are tired of having our hearts broken, time and time again, as we watch the slaughter of our brothers and sisters.
We are tired.
Tragedies like George Floyd or Breonna Taylor are symptoms of the same disease. It is a disease that silently infects us, crippling us from the inside-out. What is scariest, is that we cannot protect ourselves against this disease by, simply, wearing masks or sanitizing our hands. This disease is engrained in the minds of people and entrenched in the systems of society. Therefore, it is a plague that touches us every minute of every day.
Like any disease, we cannot cure it by simply addressing the symptoms. Rather we need to look at the problem holistically. Firstly, we need to understand that race discrimination and police brutality are not only American issues. It is as widespread as COVID-19. It affects almost every crevice of the world — let us not forget the South African struggle.
Secondly, we need to remember that when treating a disease, we need consistency. We are dealing with structural discrimination. The suffering of people does not end when the Instagram challenge has stopped trending. Therefore, our continued activism and support cannot end there.
Finally, we need to realise that this is not simply a race issue. This disease affects our women, the LGBTQIA community, the poor – all those oppressed by the systems of our society. Humans are complex beings. We are not defined by one aspect of our being. We are not simply black nor simply men. Intersectionality dictates that we are both and so much more at the same time. Therefore, to truly cure this disease, we must not only focus on one issue at a time but rather challenge injustice in any way, shape or form.
There is no true liberation for one, without liberation for all, everywhere.
This may appear to be an overwhelming task. However, we believe we are all capable of affecting change. It starts with a fundamental mindset shift and liberating the mind. This only, truly, happens through education. Think for yourself. Educate yourself. Read, watch, listen, discuss and learn. Information is everywhere and is easily accessible. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
It is time to live the equality we so desire. George Floyd’s murder did not just happen. It was borne from a prejudice that has been nurtured and slowly grown over time.
You have the power to stop such future tragedies by stunting them at grassroots level. Educate those around you, challenge their prejudice and confront them when they tell a sexist joke or make a racist comment. In situations like this “neutrality” does not exist.
We understand that it can be uncomfortable, it can be hard and emotive, however that is precisely what transformation is. Now, more than ever, it is clear this disease has run rampant – our world is sick. Discomfort is no longer an excuse.
Although circumstances may look grim and our bodies and minds feel heavy, saturated in our exhaustion, we must not, we cannot stop fighting. Call us naïve, but we wholly believe in the inherent kindness and love imbued in the human spirit, reinforced in the African soul. It is time we let this love shine through.
As a school, we are tired. Nonetheless, we will continue to fight, for we are hopeful. We are hopeful that one day our voices will be heard. We are hopeful that one day we will not be made to be afraid or inferior. We are hopeful that one day we will not feel oppressed by our differences but rather empowered by them.
Ike ixarra ike (unity in our diversity).
Forever standing with you.
The End Of Deafness – by Paul Venter (Staff representative on Hilton Students’ Transformation and Diversity Committee)
Four years ago, Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner in silent protest at the death of African American people at the hands of the police. His actions while lauded by many were criticized by others as being unpatriotic and offensive. His NFL contract was not renewed. Kaepernick followed in the tradition of a long line of courageous figures from Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Martin Luther King Jr speaking from the Lincoln Memorial, and the African American athletes who raised the Black Power salute, in solidarity with the Black Power Movement, during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. In all of those iconic events the protestors were vilified as being un-American, whereas in truth the were being the epitome of patriotism by attempting to make the United States of America stand true to its founding ideals of liberty and freedom from want for all.
The tragedy is that Kaepernick’s protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement fell on deaf ears and one of the terrible consequences of that deafness was the murder of George Floyd last Monday. Both in the United States and around the world there has been an outpouring of grief, anger and outrage as thousands of people have taken to the streets in largely peaceful protest. In far too many cases that protest has been met with baton charges, rubber bullets and tear gas. The response to the looting that has occurred in certain areas has been an outpouring of criticism on social media, but not a critique of what has led to the looting. Trevor Noah best summed up many peoples’ deafness when he said that people get angry about the looting but never acknowledge the fact that black bodies are being looted daily.
In our own country, the spirit of the Freedom Charter flows through the Bill of Rights which underpins the South African Constitution. Within the Constitution the Right to Life is sacrosanct, yet since the lock down began, Collins Khoza, Elma Robyn Montsumi and others have died. In a country whose past is littered with massacres from Bulhoek, Sharpville, Boipatong to Marikana, the silence about these tragic deaths has been telling.
Peoples deafness is no longer tenable. No longer can any of us use the words “Yes but” when engaging with people who are speaking out in pain, grief, frustration and fear. We have to call racism and violence for what it truly is: namely an attack on our shared humanity.
We stand in solidarity with all those peacefully protesting around the world, we reaffirm that Black Lives Matter and that violence by those who are entrusted to protect all the citizens of the world must end.