Hope you guys have had an awesome start to the week and managed to spend some time with friends and family over the weekend!
Sooo… I’m still in Cape Town, I was supposed to have been in the Eastern Cape according to my travel plans but I ended up staying and have been so beautifully rewarded with super amazing visibility, crisp 10 degree clarity and the most diverse church gatherings I’ve ever experienced – in my life.
I want to talk about the changing face of water... for me.
My scuba diving life has been largely filled with dives where I was the only black person on the boat as a diving customer – in South Africa, Egypt, Bali and the Maldives. The same is true for my freediving. The 2 times I remember BIPOC people was in Mozambique 2 years ago where I met an Indian man and naturally buddied with him, he was from Sri Lanka and had the most beautiful buoyancy on scuba - I giggled the whole time! And second, was last year in Sodwana, an Indian lady who lives in South Africa but had been based in Mauritania for a while.
Am I always thinking about representation? no, but I often wonder how it’s possible that with over 4 years of diving with over 70 scuba dives logged, I can only count 2 encounters of seeing people who look like me.
This means in the friendships that stemmed from my water places, they often failed at one of the following,
1. Colour blind humans, conveniently or unintentionally so,
2. Lack of association with black struggles thus, I could exist in the space in my blackness but could not cart the daily worn into those spaces,
3. Language, in that, my ability to learn at the same rate as everyone else was diminished because English is secondary to what the majority spoken tongue is, and past my communicated discomfort, an interpretation almost though I’d paid less to be on the said course.
4. And the reminder that the industry was small, so in my existence, to be careful. I’m still triggered by this statement, aside from comments about my hair in the many spaces it found itself. Hoods or not, norms or not, no one else’s hair is commented on in relation to diving. I digress.
The past few weeks in Cape Town however, have been different. In all the ways possible, in my musings I wrote,
‘The face of water people is changing, it is becoming more inclusive. An overflow of black and brown people too. In the water too. Mermaiding and Mermanning too. An overflow of my hearts deepest desires.’
Why is representation important? Because even in our deepest pursuits of normalizing our own normal in our heads, there is nothing like your norm, being fully, a norm. This is what dominance is about, in predominantly white spaces, is a requirement to tone down your blackness, to a level, an unspoken request to assimilate in order to fit in, and then, the ideal that we can only be one thing – saving sharks or saving oceans, but never humanity, not injustices, not get political... when being BIPOC means you can’t only be one thing.
At any and every point in your existence, is all your passions, pursuits, conservation and the one part you can’t take off conveniently so you can be, just one thing. Your skin.
The norm was black and brown too.
This is important.
Photography by Shamier Magmoet
The most amazing Instagram Live happened with Shamier Magmoet last week, he is a Film Maker (Rise From the Cape Flats), an Underwater Photographer, Conservationist and Water Human, listen to our conversation here.
Have a stunner week friends!