#FeesMustFall – on the importance of diasporic solidarity

When #MikeBrown was murdered in Ferguson by a white pig by the name of Darren Wilson, I was studying abroad at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

The news broke and I didn’t what to do with myself. I considered organizing with fellow students because I felt so alone, so hopeless. But even though the students around me weren’t discussing it, if I had gone to twitter I would have seen over a million tweets from all over the world, including South Africa. But there was little to no international footage on the few channels I got in my apartment.

I was a Black American living in a country with some of the worst white people you will meet, attending a prestigious, historically white university, and I just wanted to march in the streets with my friends and family. What was going on in Ferguson was disgusting. And then seeing the photos of how the police brutalized folks in Berkeley and Oakland broke my heart in a very personal way. I knew that being out there meant potential arrest, teargas, and fractured bones in this Black body of mine. I knew that even if I was home in Oakland, I might not have marched for fear that my mom might get a call in the middle of the night saying that something had happened to her son. But even if I didn’t march, I just wanted to be home. So I was there. In Cape Town. Isolated. I had a twitter account but I wasn’t active during that time and even my Black American friends at the university weren’t talking much about Ferguson. I had this burning desire to be back in the country where my blackness was so reviled just so I could be with my people. All the while living in a country where my blackness was equally reviled, but at least I was surrounded by people who looked like me.

Needless to say, I needed to talk. But I also knew that talking wouldn’t bring Mike Brown or anyone else back. Even the notion of organizing a march or protest in South Africa felt useless.

Looking back, I don’t know if I would have done anything different now, except for go onto Twitter. It took days for Ferguson to truly reach the news and even Facebook, but twitter covered it as it happened.

What I do know, though, is that I’m happy to stand with the #NationalShutdown, to stand with #FeesMustFall, to stand with #EndOutsourcing. Not just because I felt so alone during Ferguson—felt is key here, as I definitely wasn’t alone, I just didn’t know the proper channels at the time—, but because white South Africa has deprived Black South Africans of food, shelter, and education for too long. The ANC devolved from a revolutionary organization to a money-hungry political party that has aided in the deprivation of Black South Africa. All Black lives matter, not just those who have been murdered, not just those in Western countries, and definitely not just those with the rand or dollars who can afford a formal education.

Education is a right, not a privilege.

Educational opportunities should not be decided by the color line.

Educational opportunities should be be decided by class.

Educational opportunities and white surpemacy should be go hand in hand.

If white South Africa truly wants transformation (spoiler alert: they don’t), then they need to listen to the voices of those who have been historically marginalized: Poor. Black. People. Poor. Colored. People. Poor Indian people. Poor immigrants. Does the white devil and the Black ruling party think xenophobia sprung up out of nowhere? No, it’s the result of capitalistic white supremacy that the ANC once fought against.

Europeans created artificial borders, competition for low-paying jobs, and conditions that drive people out of their homes into a new unwelcoming country due to globalization and capitalism. Why do Black folks themselves now uphold and extend these systems?

I write all this to say that the women leading #FeesMustFall are right: we must strive for free education for all. A 6% cap in fees is not enough of a “compromise.” To create a more equitable South Africa, a South Africa that adheres more closely to the Freedom Charter, access to quality educational opportunities is one of the best ways paths.

Moving from personal to political–although these are intertwined–I’d like to speak to those on the ground. To those who are at home for fear of deportation, out in the streets fending off rubber bullets and tear gas, and to the mothers who worry about their children: thank you for everything you are doing. Even if these are just words I type that only one person sees, I’ve helped somebody. I’ve made somebody feel less alone. During Ferguson I clung to the articles I read, the Facebook posts that brought tears to my eyes, the firsthand accounts of my friends. If their words helped me–and I say this with the utmost spirit of service and humbleness–I hope my words can help you. Thank you, South Africa, for your support of Black America. I hope we can help you further.

Amandla!

#AntinAfrica – Black Panic

“Southern trees bear strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”

Strange Fruit

I honestly feel so insignificant and powerless. Not in the sense I have been feeling here in South Africa when I look at the structural problems that have led to the creation and the maintenance of the townships. But on a very different level. Viewing what I have in South Africa is one thing, but seeing what is going on in my country is quite different. With the Darren Wilson verdict I feel so…at a loss. I’m not here to go into an analysis of what is going on, as many articles do that very well, but I am here to share my feelings. This morning Melissa asked me if I had heard the verdict, which I hadn’t, just like her. But she looked it up and we had a very normal conversation about how Darren Wilson was not indicted. I did not feel the fire burn inside me or feel my eyes well up. I didn’t talk about how fucked up this whole thing it. It didn’t hit me until a few hours later when I went on Facebook and looked at my feed that:

1. I was not surprised.

2. I was in shock.

While I’ve been here in South Africa I have gone through a lot of emotions and tons of introspection.  But this morning I just accepted what my friend said to me without any outrage, without any Black rage. I accepted it, and it wasn’t until I saw there cries of others in the world that I really realized how sad it was that I felt so unaffected this morning. But it wasn’t that I did not care. I was truly in shock. Not the diagnosable shock that someone may experience after a traumatic event, but a more subdued kind. I have become so accustomed to this system and I am so far removed—being physically out of the country—that the news this morning did not hit me in a way I expected it to. But the more I stewed, the more I realized that I need to work. The more the photos of Darren Wilson showed the utter injustice of what happened to Michael Brown, the more I realized that we really need to figure out how to fix this shit. The more I got mad at the Facebook statuses that chastised people for their anger in light of other news events, the more I thought that I need to figure out how I’m going to change this fucked up system.

I’m no fool, changing my profile photo and my cover photo are not doing anything to change the system. I’m quite aware of that. Reading Biko—which is what I came home to do instead of going to the used book store like originally planned—is useful for my thesis and for brainstorming but not for practical solutions. But at the same time, it is frustrating to read the dismissals of this lack of an indictment. I see people, particularly some of my fellow Black people, thinking unilaterally. I do not sit well with people telling each other to be silent and be quiet when outrage is a natural reaction to this bullshit. I’m a 25-year-old Black male, and the sad thing is that that is an accomplishment in itself. Making it to 25. Alive. What the fuck kind of world do we live in where making it to 25 is something to be celebrated for people of color? For anyone? This is something that my White friends do not have to think about because their lives are rarely threatened in the ways that mine, my brothers, my sisters, and all of those in-between have been threatened. Outrage over Darren Wilson does not mean that we are ignoring Black-on-Black crime, LGBTQI-targeted crime, gender-based violence, or any of the other atrocities of the world. But can’t we have this one day, at-fucking-least, to discuss how the system is jacked up? This one day to reflect on how there is a PATTERN in the murder of young people of color by White police officers? We can be mad about this and be mad about gang violence within our own communities. It is not an either/or situation. But at the end of the day, if those who are meant to protect and serve us are those killing us, doesn’t that trump everything else? If you want to talk about rape or murder within our own communities but the cops we call to handle the situation ignore our calls or are so militarized that we are afraid to call them, what is the next step?

So, back to the work. I’m really not sure what is next. Truly unsure and properly frustrated by this sense. But let me tell you, I’ve been reading “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodsoon and the parallels are terrifying. I won’t go so far as to say “ain’t shit changed,” but I will say that there has not been enough change. Period. If you choose to ignore the everyday interactions and laws, you can at least choose to look at the statistics and the science that show us that people do not believe that #BlackLivesMatter. I’m on a track to get my PhD in Sociology because I want to teach, I enjoy sociology, I am interested in research, there are not enough people of color in academia, there is the potential of power that a doctorate can lend me in making change, and ultimately because I think I can inspire small changes in the people I teach that will have a ripple effect. But until I’m teaching formally, I will continue to educate informally. My friends, my coworkers, people I meet. I want to make people realize the reality of our situation that is much more than just this case. But outside of these small acts of education and resistance, I’m not sure what to do. The protests in Ferguson have definitely raised the consciousness of some, but looking at this final verdict? I can’t help but wonder how I really make a change as one person, or even as a collective unit. Until then I will do what I do in academia, write—so that others can see through the eyes of another and so that I can sort out my own feelings—, and create art that hopefully awakens people to issues that may be new to them. If you have any suggestions for what else I can do, let me know. Seriously. While my PhD track is pretty set—meaning I do plan on working within the system—, I am really looking for ways in which I can DO more instead of theorizing about it. Because at this point I am at a loss and I am so disappointed that all of this has happened and that none of it is shocking. For my friends who are reading this who may not be people of color, please be an ally. Don’t be complicit in the slaughter and mistreatment of people of color, of anyone.

Just remember that the jury found no probable cause to indict Darren Wilson. No probable cause. Buckets of money and support for Darren Wilson. No trial. No probable cause. No probable cause.

#AntinAfrica – “White Ignorance” and “Black Rage”

Yoh,

South Africa is doing a doozy on me. As you might recall in my first #AntinAfrica post, Post-Apartheid Thought, I discussed how South Africa has made me feel some type of way. The best way to describe it has been Black Rage. I do not embody “The Angry Black Man” outwardly, but if you have talked to me recently you know that the injustices I learn about and experience myself have definitely made me both very introspective and outspoken (ask my “Race Class and Gender” classmates). Keep in mind that I pass a statue commemorating the infamous Cecil John Rhodes on my daily walk to campus. Why? Because he donated the [stolen] land to build the University of Cape Town. Keep in mind that this was a former Whites-only institution. But to be fair, UCT did admit POC during the 1920s before closing off admissions to new POC at a later date. Keep in mind that I’m in South Fucking Africa, the home of Wouter Basson and apartheid.

Today’s post was inspired by a discussion I had with two White South Africans, one male, one female, both around the same age as me. We had just met on the day of the discussion and quickly got into a friendly conversation. Another friend was involved, but his contributions were not what woke up the sleeping giant that is my Black Rage. My friend, a fellow American, wanted to know more from these two people just like I did. And to be clear, this has not been my experience with all of my White South African peers, just these two. I left out their names because they aren’t important and they were genuinely speaking their minds, but I took issue with some things that were said (and I made it clear to them). I don’t want this to be misconstrued as a representation of my whole experience here in South Africa. That being said…

While discussing the differences between South Africa and America we stumbled upon the topic of race relations and White privilege. I have to give it to everyone involved: our honesty created a great conversation, albeit uncomfortable at times. But back to race, as many of the conversations here eventually become. A few months ago I wrote a small piece about White privilege (Black at Cal) after the Tal Fortgang debacle. For reference, when I brought Fortgang’s article up, my male peer said that the article was really good. Alright. Now this was after we had been discussing privilege and I shed some new light on my female peers understanding of her privilege. She cited Black Economic Empowerment, the Black majority government, affirmative action, and UCT’s current–which is potentially changing soon–admissions policy as ways in which she is not privileged by her Whiteness. And she is correct, there has been a shift since apartheid toward Black empowerment in the largely Black South Africa. She is correct in that Whites are the minority and that they are discriminated against in many ways, much like Blacks are still discriminated against and disadvantaged. She is right in that for some students of color it is “easier” to get into UCT because of programs that exist. If one listens to Patricia Hill Collins, no one ever the only oppressed one, instead we must shift the axis because there are privileges within all groups. But what I did not hear in her assessment, was an acknowledgement of her privilege, instead I heard a lot of statements that essentially meant “it’s not my fault.” True. It isn’t her fault, especially since a majority of people of all races in South Africa opposed apartheid. But that does not change the fact that Whiteness is still a privilege, even in 2014 with institutional ‘Black empowerment.’

What really got me was not the discussion I just talked about, but two statements that stuck out to me. The first statement was in reference to my question about her domestic worker. After discussing White guilt, I asked if she felt guilty that she had a Black domestic worker who “was like a second mother” to her, in her own words. No, she replied. Her family has the economic means and it is normal here in South Africa. For her, her domestic worker was like a part of the family, she even lived in a room within their home. Cool, makes sense I guess. My issue, though, stemmed from the fact that her domestic worker still did not have ‘a place at the table.’ She would never and has never eaten dinner with them, despite the fact that she is ‘a part of the family.’ Because in my peer’s words, ‘it is still a job.’ In fact, her family did a lot, even paying for a portion of their domestic worker’s grandchild’s education. Chill, they pay her well, they treat her well, and they even help her out financially. They discuss politics and she is like a second mom. She’s one of the family members…who doesn’t eat at the table, even though they feed her. Alright. I’m not South African, I did not grow up with a domestic worker, but it still sounds a lot like how people talk(ed) about their slaves…hmm.

Let’s just leave that there to digest and move on to the next part, the statement that stuck with me: “She’d be dead if it wasn’t for us.” My peer said this statement to justify having a domestic worker, as there are high rates of unemployment. What I do understand is that domestic work is a legitimate thing out here in SA and almost all middle and upper class families have domestic workers. This includes the Black middle class employing other–often from different African countries–Blacks as domestic workers. Alright, whatever, employ people as long as you treat them with dignity, a fair wage, and everything that goes with that. But the idea that this particular domestic worker is indebted to this particular family because unemployment is so high? That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. Again, outside perspective; I am an American. I do acknowledge the huge unemployment rates here in South Africa. I do acknowledge how easy it is to replace a domestic worker because there are so many people, almost always women, willing to do the job. But does she really think that this woman could not have survived without the ‘patronage’ of her family? Hm.

Now if you’re reading this and not having the same reaction I am, I understand. But you probably will when I drop the second statement. While discussing how Black people can say derogatory things about Whites but Whites cannot do the same about Blacks I did not even have the chance to explain racism and reverse racism because I was stopped in my tracks by a word she used. We couldn’t really discuss how Blacks and Whites need to be able to critically discuss race without one side shooting down the other or making them afraid to speak their opinions. Why? I can’t think of any other way to phrase it but as profound ignorance spewing forth from her mouth:

“For example, if we call the government monkeys–” says my female peer very casually.

“–Wait, why would you call them monkeys?” I cut her off before she was able to finish. I’m not sure how my face looked at this moment, but I was definitely more than a little shocked. (The ANC runs the government, and they are Black, just for context).

“Well, they are monkeys,” chortles my male peer.

“Why are they monkeys?” I say as calmly as I can. Surely I am misunderstanding? I look over to my American peer to see if he is picking up on what I am, he is.

“Because they are,” relays my male peer, still laughing.

“But wait, explain to me why you use the word monkey.”

“That’s what they are, they’re retarded,” states my male peer, very confidently.

Monkeys, you say? I’ve heard criticism of the ANC and so I get using a term that isn’t so flattering. But monkeys? I proceed to have him break it down for me further, also explaining to him how retarded is derogatory, of which he was well aware, but I wasn’t cool with it. He says that he would use the word ‘monkeys’ whether they were Black or White. But I had to explain to him that you cannot always use the same words for different races when they have different weights. I had to then explain scientific racism, which was a new concept for them. I proceeded to explain why the word monkey is never okay in relation to a POC, despite the fact that “we live in a country with monkeys, so…” (female peer’s words).

So I looked it up, and she’s definitely not the first to use words all willy-nilly and most definitely will not be the last. But it is experiences like this that make my Cape Town experience…I’m not sure. On the one side I have an amazing backdrop in which to study. Cape Town and South Africa in general is gorgeous–except for when it’s not, like the extreme poverty of some of the townships–but then I also have the Black Exhaustion that comes with the Black Rage and the White Ignorance. I have to exert a lot of energy to explain these things back home, and as friend of mine once said, I have to be careful. It shouldn’t always be my duty to explain why what you said was wrong, as eventually I’m just going to get tired of it. I shouldn’t have to think about the fact that these two White students almost hold a grudge against some Black UCT students for getting in. Regardless, I’m glad that I had this conversation today because it gave me an honest look at two individuals (who grew up Johannesburg) that I hadn’t heard before. Up until this point I had only had a few extended conversations with White South Africans and they weren’t about race. I talk with many Black South Africans as well as other Black expats about race all the time, so hearing the one of the other sides is interesting. Next time, though, I’d like to be pleasantly surprised instead of dreadfully disappointed.

And since I no longer have a Facebook, I’d love to hear any thoughts, responses, questions, or corrections below or on Twitter @anthoknees

#AntinAfrica – Belated Introduction

Exploring San Francisco before leaving to Cape Town, South Africa, July 2014.
Exploring San Francisco before leaving to Cape Town, South Africa, July 2014.

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post about a month ago and never published it, but I’ve since added a few recent details.

“So, why South Africa?”

This question comes up in almost every introductory conversation from the cashier at Woolworth’s to my fellow [North] American and international students.

I knew I wanted to study abroad at some point in my undergraduate career. I stepped down from my full-time job in 2013 to begin my junior year at University of California, Berkeley at the age of 24. And just recently I celebrated my 25th birthday. By no means am I much older than the majority of students in their junior year, but I had specific goals when entering Cal. One of the benefits of taking the long road to university was my coworkers, who encouraged me to study abroad and take advantage of the opportunities that are available, despite my limited time as a transfer student.

I walked the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time before leaving for South Africa, July 2014.
I walked the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time before leaving for South Africa, July 2014.

The first step towards studying abroad was deciding my country of choice, which was a daunting task. With at least 35 locations in the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), I had to set some guidelines. I knew I only wanted to study for a semester, and I picked the Fall of 2014 as the goal. This narrowed it down a bit, but not enough. Then for countries I decided early on that I only wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country, an African country, or Brazil. I took two years of Spanish in high school and an immersion program sounded exciting. But after reviewing the programs they did not seem like a great fit in terms of classes I was interested in. I think a large part of me was terrified of venturing into the unknown with my rusty and frankly, lackluster Spanish skills. Brazil took it a step further, with limited English options. I do not consider myself a linguist, and the thought of trying to learn my subject and Portugeuse at the same time was a bit intimidating. Finally I looked at the African countries and was drawn to Ghana. The potential classes sounded great, it was on the African continent, and language was not a large issue.

My going-away party at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA, June 2014.
My going-away party at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA, June 2014.

Now if anyone is interested in studying abroad, make sure you do your homework. UCEAP requires you to take a course that somehow relates to Africa if you want to study in the continent. And because I started in Fall 2013 and wanted to leave in Fall 2014, I needed to have it done by Summer 2014. But summer was not an option, as I needed to work. Instead I looked at the classes for Spring 2014, of which there were few options. I ended up going with South African History, promoting South Africa as the logical choice. While I could have studied South Africa for a semester and gone to Botswana, I figured I might as well put a face to the name and explore race relations, sociology, and sexuality in South Africa. It actually worked in my favor as well, as South Africa is the most accepting country of homosexuality in the continent of Africa, according to polls (I’m definitely dedicating a later blog post to this discussion).

But I must add that South Africa was not my first choice. As a Black man, I wanted to visit the massive continent of Africa at some point in my life because some part of me most likely lies somewhere within. As a human in general, I wanted to visit the continent of Africa because it’s the motherland. But with almost 60 countries and no clue as to where my lineage lies, it felt slightly inaccessible. What I did know, though, was that South Africa felt too close to home in many of the historical parallels and race relations. Why go to Africa to see a very similar composition and even language to what was at home? This was my naiveté speaking, as South Africa is not the same as at home and while there are parallels, the United States has a very different history. After studying for a semester I actually became really excited to see what South Africa had to offer and I’m glad I realized the error of my judgmental ways. As a side note, at least a brief history should be required before studying in another country, particularly in the social sciences. While I’m a huge fan of the arts and happy that some people could take some form of African dance as their requirement–word up to my African dance cohorts here–it has given me such a better understanding. All of my classes reference events I learned in my history course, and one course in particular required that basic understanding of events and apartheid legislation to truly move forward. Coming to study within the social sciences without a background in any of this would have put me at a great disadvantage in comparison to the South African or other students of African origin. That being said, it is completely possible to keep on trucking without this knowledge, but the background put a lot of things in context for me.

So after over two days of travel from SFO to Heathrow, Heathrow to Joburg, and Joburg to Cape Town, I finally arrived on July 5th, 2014 and I won’t be leaving until December. Throughout my time here I hope to continue to blog about my experiences, my impressions, and all of the wonderful things I’m learning both formally an informally. Until next time!

Cape Point, South Africa, July 2014.
Cape Point, South Africa, July 2014.

#AntinAfrica – Post-Apartheid Thought

“In January 2004, Nelson Chisale, a black farm worker, was tied to a tree, beaten unconscious and then fed to a pride of lions by his former white employer, Mark Scott-Crossley. Another black worker, Simon Mathebula, was an accomplice in this murder” (Erasmus, 2008: 173).

As I read the above quote in my Race, Class, and Gender reader I gripped my face and exclaimed “no!” out loud, within my quiet apartment at 11:35pm on Friday the 15th of August. On that same Friday I participated in a Marikana march from 2pm until about 5pm, impromptu Marikana protest theatre, and saw Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creatures before going back to my apartment to read. And of course we have the infamous Mike Brown case back home, spurring the hashtag: #iftheygunnedmedown. Abroad we have the Gaza conflict on one side and recent Ebola outbreaks on the other. Needless to say, I’ve been in a very emotional state of being recently and I’m not quite sure what to do at the exact moment but write.

You know that phrase, ‘knowledge is power?’ Knowledge is also pain. The more I learn, the angrier and more powerless I feel sometimes. How do I effect change? Where do I go from here? Without being too melodramatic, what the fuck can I do?

I have the privilege to study abroad, and I chose South Africa. The parallels to the United States are many, but what has been most stimulating for me has been my response. Since arriving I have been on my own a lot. And I like it, it gives me time to process. I have thought about the privilege of my American passport. I have thought about the privilege of being able to actually leave my country and enter another with relative ease. But mostly, I have confirmed what I already wish I didn’t know; the world is depressing. From learning about the sordid history of European colonialism in my South African history course to humiliating tests such as the pencil test or the 1950 aptitude tests, I find it hard to take it in stride. It would be one thing if this history was just that. Then I might be able to separate it and think “well I’m glad it isn’t like that anymore.” And yes, South Africa and the U.S. have made progress in many ways, I do not deny that. But the more I read, the more I learn, the more oral history I receive, the more I realize that it is a very slow process. And just like Michelle Alexander asserts that the prison industrial complex is ‘The New Jim Crow,’ apartheid still rages on powerfully within South Africa today, despite many attempts to deny it.

I’m not being an idealist, though. I realize that 20 years of democracy make for a young country, but it [irrationally] upsets me that I constantly have to be both shocked and unfazed at the tragic events I read about. What is going on with the Mike Brown case is not surprising, given the history of countless other incidents. It is sad that I, like many of my fellow Black Americans, expect it. Reading about Nelson Chisale’s beating was not surprising. Reading about him being fed to a lion, on the other hand, I mean…what the fuck? The physical reaction and accompanying tears gave me a tough time. I know this was an ‘isolated’ incident and that there are some sick people in the world, but the way we treat each other is sometimes really hard to process.

My journey to the dawn of my ignorance began with UC Berkeley and has continued here at the University of Cape Town. I don’t know shit. And to generalize, a lot of people don’t, and that’s okay. Except that so much of what happens on a daily basis, primarily to “non-White” people, is not okay and much more attention needs to be paid to it. It is clear that there are systematic issues back home in the U.S. and here in South Africa. And when you factor in Gaza, and all of the horrible things going on that are not even being discussed, it gets overwhelming. I’m truly at a loss of what to do.

On this same Friday I’m referencing, I skipped my lecture to attend a Marikana march. I stood outside of the Cape Town police station with around forty other protesters in solidarity against the police brutality that seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. Two years ago, on August 16th, 2012, 34 men were killed in the Marikana massacre. I’m not sure if I was busy getting ready for my birthday that year, if I wasn’t reading the news very diligently that week, or if the news just never made it over to my side of the world. But the sad fact is that I did not learn about this massacre until I landed in South Africa. Much like I have only recently been learning about many events and key players within the Black Power movement. Much like I didn’t learn about HeLa cells or the Tuskegee Syphilis study until about four years ago. This is not to blame anyone, as I am a 24-year-old Black male. I can choose to educate myself with the power of the library or Google, but it does not make me feel good that many of these life-changing events are not taught in school, at home—in some cases—, and definitely not discussed enough in general. I’ve taken to reading more because I’m behind. I need to catch up. I shouldn’t have to be an African-American Studies major to learn about Solomon Northup. I shouldn’t have to be a Chicano Studies major to learn about Che Guevara. I shouldn’t have to…you get my point.

But then that brings me back to my question from earlier. What is the next step? As I consider the fact that the contracted unemployment rate in South Africa is over 25%, but obviously much higher when you factor in discouraged job seekers, I can’t help but think: fuck. The cost of living is lower, yes, but still. R7 for a U.S. citizen is cheap, but doing the math as a South African domestic worker is a little different. When you consider than a taxi from Rondebosch to the city is R7, times two trips a day, times five days a week, you come out with R70. Multiply that times four weeks in the month, and you have R280 going to transport if you do not have a transportation subsidy. And that’s not only if you have a job in the city, but also if you are just seeking work. I’m not even sure of the costs from the townships to the city, but I do know that many workers come from the townships to the city to work. Whether that is in the factors, as domestic workers, or as the taxi drivers themselves, commuting is not easy, fast, or cheap [relatively]. So what do the citizens of Cape Town do? What do I do? For now:

I write.

I talk.

I [try to] listen.

I hope that the plan to pursue my doctorate is the right decision.

I hope that feeling wronged, powerless, mistreated, misinformed and under informed continues to leave me pissed off and generally disgruntled until I start the cycle all over again and do something about it.

I learn that I cannot take every issue personally, and I cannot be Superman; I cannot solve all the problems of the world. But the anger I feel sometimes can be cooled to passion, and that passion can act me to move. Outside of the money I have donated, strikes I have participated in, and theatre I have hoped made a difference, I’m hoping that my future scholarship will spark ideas. I hope that the protest theatre I was involved in on Friday brought out some curiosity, courage, or fighting spirit in someone else. I hope that among my friends and colleagues we have another Angela Davis, Bayard Rustin, or Fannie Lou Hamer.

To quote the famous philosopher J. Cole, “STOP FUCKIN KILL US.”

If you’re curious about my adventures, follow me on instagram under the hashtag #AntinAfrica. Reference for the first quote below.

Erasmus, Z. 2008. Race. (In Shepard, N., & Robins, S. (eds). New South African Keywords. Ohio University Press: Ohio. Pp. 169-179)