Ping into my Whatsapp.
I respond, I got my instructors last year and have taught between Joburg and Cape Town, if you’re not comfortable, you’re welcome to find someone else.
Unbothered I stand to make myself my midday tea thinking I’d send her Riaan, my Instructors details because he is way more qualified than I am and has the best vibes, or Charl as the coach who helped strengthen my diving or Nelson, who is not only incredibly thorough and experienced but is also deeply aware of societal issues, this is important to me, mid this thought, my brain says, you’re quite qualified in Scuba and have never asked the question of any instructor… I've also never heard the question asked, so I go on to do a dip stick. The dip stick that has responses that varies from what? No never? If the person is qualified to teach I assume them competent? Who asked this? Thats something I've never thought of… is it a thing?
And later with a very experienced Scuba Instructor, he says its a funny thing how I’ve been teaching Scuba for years and have never gotten that question, you’re a better Freediver than I am on any day, and if I qualified as an instructor tomorrow, you would still be a better and stronger Freediver than I am cause the standard is lowered for me already being a dive professional in Scuba. But also, no one would question my competence, I'm a white male.
In Sodwana, many people will go out with one day old Dive masters and learn from one day old Scuba Instructors without that even being a thought, because competence is assumed. Ofcourse.
Black… shoot through hoops and double up just to stand inside. Prove your know.
The endless proving... when buying gear, when making inquiries on dive dates, when hiring gear that’s when I'm not being asked where my Instructor is or if its my first time and if I'm excited - existing in my skin as a Freediving Instructor is labour.
Climbing into bed I thought about stopping open booking teaching and only doing what I’d initially set out to do - get more Black people in the water, so teach more in schools, find a way to supplement the time, and maybe with friends but no one else because I would not be doing this again.
Screenshot from wildgina
I cringed at the ideals of not being myself because I wanted to stand in the shoes of my teachers so I'm palatable or accepted when in their shoes, they were being themselves.
Was there room to be myself even after this question?
What remained was this,
I was not going to be subject to the old colonial that includes the tattooed in my brain to work twice as hard just to be equal.
I would also not 'suit up' acceptable normatives, that are white because being myself could be perceived as Black, synonym for not quite the standard or you don't look like the standard. And perhaps not as professional when in THIS industry, deliverables are set and topped with YOU.
Probably part of the reason why I struggle with help, particularly white help is because if there’s no accessible whiteness to vouch for your competence and the pillar of white grace, as a Black person, do you even exist? The requirement to kiss the ring and for you to be ‘grateful for the missus or sir next to you’ as you stand on the ground you are on today almost as though your dreams were never valid otherwise.
Earlier this week I had a call to the UK speaking on some of the racist encounters I’d had and one of the responses was ‘I can’t believe your boss was so openly racist’, and I agree, but I'm certain she wouldn’t have perceived herself as racist, only speaking of her preferences and normative that included not wanting k*ffir hair in her team.
Whats my close?
The instructor prerequisites are set. Mastery is a prerequisite. It is earned.
The mastery standard is not lowered for anyone, this must be said with Black in white South Africa tending to peg on assumed lowered standards, lets. I was not a Dive professional before, so there were higher qualification standards to meet.
I am not a safe space for the old normal.
I therapied in the water yesterday. In my truth, coming up from a deeper free immersion, tears flowed into my mask. Church.
I wonder when we get to exist without the constant need to prove ourselves.
Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose.
This weeks live was with Nique Miller, a legend that probably requires no introduction but just incase you don't know who she is, read more about her below, and listen here.
Dominique Miller also known as Nique is a Professional Surfer based in Waikiki Hawaii.
@nique_miller has such an incredible story, coming from a family that didn’t swim, her mom took her for swimming lessons from a young age because she didn’t want the fear of water to be a factor in her life, she then went on to teach herself how to surf and took on the International Surfing Stage!
Her story is of perseverance and resilience from having to worry if she pays her rent or goes to a surf competition, the hardship of finding self in her skin from having gone to a school of over a 1000 pupils with 4 Black students and she was the darkest person in the school with everyone else being lighter.
In her battle of finding herself was considering bleach creams and staying out of the sun.
As I did my research on her, I cried a few times because I don’t think the deeper hardship of her rising has fully been understood nor recognized, particularly as a Black Woman.
She’s spoken about the hardship of securing funding and sponsorships as a BIPOC person, we’re gonna jump into this as well.
When she’s not in the water she’s in the water lol, looking for shells she uses to create her jewelry- check out her page @nique_jewelry 💙