Recently, I’ve been seeing this video being fervently shared by my peers on Facebook.
South Africans, stop it. Stop trying to apply this Liz Wheeler’s line of logic to our very specific predicament.
Before anyone starts nodding their heads fervently at the points she makes in her video, please understand that this woman is not South Africa. Her show, The Tipping Point, an American show is not aired on a South African network to a South African audience. Why would we believe that her statement in this particular monologue is valuable to us.
The Americans struggle with opportunity equality, but our histories are different. Our political context is – and always has been – different. She cannot possibly understand what it feels like to be a South African living in South Africa right now.
In fact, I’d actually like to take this further. There are so many people living in this country that have no idea what life is like for their fellow South Africans. It’s such a swell idea to live under the sparkly banner of a ‘rainbow nation’, but it counts for nought when South Africans do not take the time to empathise with people whose experiences are nothing they could imagine living through.
I’d like to appeal to the South Africans looking from the outside to stop talking and stop sharing supercilious posts from people in privileged contexts. Start listening. The people who are desperate, scared, frustrated, suppressed, voiceless and angry are talking. How else can they communicate other than protesting? No other way is being listening to. I truly do not believe people who believe their actual voices will be heard will burn paintings. Not unless you truly want people to start listening. Say what you want about it – though protests in Europe are never described as savage? – but it is working. We’re talking about it, aren’t we?
You are not desperate.
You are not scared.
You are not frustrated.
You are not suppressed.
You are not angry.
You have no right to look down on how people whose feelings have been marginalised for centuries choose to express it.