Good Morning Friends!
I hope you’ve had a stunning weekend that included lots of laughs and rest - so interesting how as I'm writing this Blog post am wondering if I should move the weekly Blog posts to a Wednesday because we sometimes visit some hard topics and maybe that might be too hard for a Monday… but also, maybe gives us time to ponder and process?
So last week Friday I did an Instagram live sharing about the focus for this platform for 2021, what I am looking to collectively achieve as a community and this also included a conversation about South Africa and its challenges facing the old and the new/current, you can watch here.
This is the gist of the State of mind of a small part of the South African population, caption is important.
I say small part because its not everyone, however, the ugly pull sits in many spaces unspoken and that's why it must be addressed.
So South Africa is currently under Lockdown level 3, which has included beach closure - so no surfing/swimming/diving, and this, is the overwhelming view largely found in surfing communities.
So somehow, in the greater sense, Black people have stayed out the water as per governments request, and in larger parts, white people have sought to find loop holes to be in the water, because they MUST surf, and this is ‘Oppression’, and a Violation of THEIR rights because the Ocean is THEIRS, and it always has been... so the police must go get THEM, the ‘Blacks’ in full taxis going to work, or in long lines waiting to buy food for their families, while 'we' have broken no rules on our 'peaceful' 'socially distanced' morning surf that has nothing to do with survival but leisure.
There is context to why this is a problem. The entitlement to the beach. The lack of access to the beach posing as 'oppression' and in the lottery draw, ‘minority racism’.
South Africa has a horrid history of Apartheid.
Where people were dispossessed of their ocean facing homes to be placed in ‘less desirable’ places that were further from the ocean, in order to make space for new white owners.
Where Black people were not allowed on the Beach, and in the Water - people could get arrested for being found on the accessible and safe beaches - it was a Whites only area, read some history on it here.
The apartheid government gave white people rights to the beach when it was never theirs to give.
And so today, the beaches in South Africa continue to be largely, white, at least for most of the year, recreationally that is.
An inheritance that has continued to pay dividends, as seen in the above post.
So why beach closures?
Because as much as the beach is largely white in the recreational sense of the ocean that meets the beach, Black people will often be at the beaches in December, with certain dates being more important than others for different reasons, see this post.
So the government in looking to curb the spread, has closed the beaches, like they have closed all places of leisure gatherings, and somehow in this closure is apparently an ‘oppression of the minority’, this phrase a definer on WHO is at the beach, and to whom the beach belongs.
So in the white people fighting for their ‘rights’, a new pain has arisen in the previously oppressed - read Black people, the observing of this entitlement where... there we are again, at ‘whites only beaches’, accept its a new generation.
So Ocean facing Whatsapp groups uncover the elephant often in the room, with racial discrimination, where Black people are reminded that they are minorities in the Ocean spaces as we observe the classical story of undiverse spaces where dominance, power and privilege come together to stir the witches concoction…hurling insults to THIS government and arrest THEM (them being people in taxis going to work), THEM is also people who look like us. me.
And so new violence on our bodies ensues, and the great hardship - if you should ignore it because this is a passion space, but also, how do you stay in the midst of people incapable of holding space with the nation because their comfort comes first?
My Blackness keeps me grounded before any Privileges I hold in the water.
Because everyone who looks like me, in the greater numbers have less resources and can often only access beaches on days like Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years - when everyone is not at work,
We are then snapped by privilege and circulated in Facebook and Whatsapp groups with posters of ‘stupid’ ‘them’ ‘their government’ attached to our faces without consent or knowledge of our circumstance, and yet.
It means the only relational is the water and not my full humanity.
I know my skin is seen because of commentary directed to it.
Any yet the circulation of images and lack of empathy continues, charged by dominance, privilege, power and an inheritance that the oppressive government ‘gifted’.
My skin carries history.
My skin is the reason why the only chance when we can afford, and physically can, we congregate here to celebrate these waters and beaches that are still not our own.
My skin is the reason why it is hard to swallow films using titles like Ubuntu in telling stories and yet the same Ubuntu is not extended to us, Black people.
So, perhaps only parts of us are for pecking at will and symbolic at benefit to white people, but not us.
And in the constant violence you again pack your bags to exit these groups, and unfollow the humans that trigger the pain of the past and present oppression because you thought it would be different this time.
So why am I writing this piece?
Because I don’t want consideration to only be granted to me in isolation.
I am every person in that picture that is mindlessly circulated to meet an end premised on privilege.
What's my call to action?
Stay off the beaches (and the water),
Tell your friends to not try steal a surf/swim/dive
Discuss with friends and in places of influence why you feel entitled to the beach and why even though this rule is hard to make sense of, is in place,
Discuss the meaning of Ubuntu and how that can be extended to everyone not just pecked at,
Explore the question of what privilege means, and what holding power could look like in spaces where you are also dominant,
Recognize that apartheid being 26 years ago doesn’t mean any part of its hardship or pain has been forgotten or magically wiped away, Black people still bear the scars of the old ugly, we have work to do, and its going to take each one of us to create a world that values humanity first over race, and the large part of the start is speaking up, and holding space, and being aware of our privilege and reaching out when we are uncertain but also, continuously doing the work on ourselves.
Each moment we decide who we want to be in society.
*This blog uses the term Black including all people that are not white, BIPOC would also be appropriate, in a South African context expanded to Black, Indian and People of Colour.
Last weeks Instagram Live was a share on the vision for 2021, watch here, keen to hear your feedback on it and if there is anything else you would like to delve into,
Have a stunner Monday friends, see you on Thursday (load shedding has started again in South Africa but i'll work to ensure the live happens!)