Are people of colour on the brink of losing their cool or have they been tamed by the idea of a rainbow nation when it comes to the injustices of racial discrimination and abuse of power?
On the July 8, 2016, social media saw the #BlackLivesMatter vs #AllLivesMatter debate come fervently alive again during a week of uncalled-for shootings of black males by policemen in the United States of America. These debates highlighted the need to engage in this long overdue conversation about the prolonged abuse of power and racial injustice.
The police brutality that African Americans and other people of colour have been experiencing in the USA was highlighted the weekend before the recorded police shootings during Jesse Williams’ BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech. The well-known actor from Grey’s Anatomy and #BlackLivesMatter activist made the world stand up and actually play attention to how black people put up with a lot of injustices in the world.
“There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here… Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now,” Williams said.
In South Africa, we have had our fair share of racial vitriol such as the case of Penny Sparrow, who likened black people to monkeys.
Then there was the more blatant racist the owner of the Sodwana Bay GuestHouse who was proud to say he wouldn’t allow black people or government employees stay at his guesthouse.
At this point I expected that there would be a world war against all these people who chose to be ignorant about history, forgetting that black people are supposed to be experiencing the fruits of liberation.
In the weeks leading up to the municipal elections, we have seen reports of alleged election-related killings, party stand-offs with members of the public and disgruntled residents protesting over political parties’ mayoral candidates and racially offensive slurs. This is an example that shows that the underlying pains of the past have contributed to how people choose to express anger about the abuse of power.
These incidents in South Africa and around the world reflect how the world has not dealt with the reality that people are hurt and angry about what has happened in the past.
I do not excuse the use of violence towards anyone, however, I believe that movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and the voices that people have on social media allow for awareness that we are living in an era where the scars of the past are visible.
The current social structures that maintain past injustices cannot be allowed to remain.
Mexican proverb inspired by Greek poet,Dinos Christianopoulos may just as well have been referring to black people when he said; “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”