I do adore a spot of irony; last night’s Carte Blanche really managed to deliver.
What I came to realise is the fact that idiocy has gone from “concerning” to a full blown epidemic. The fact that we are dubbing anything from a cellphone to a refrigerator as “smart” illustrates my point. In fact the other day I saw a smart washing powder which just goes to show.
Everyone has a person who they can say, unequivocally, changed their life. The first time I encountered Dr Bill Bizley I was fresh out of IEB education with very few of my own ideas rattling around in my brain. At registration I was told that I would be in an exclusive English class because I got an A for matric. So it was that twenty or so of us bright eyed and bushytailed first years found ourselves in class, early, to begin discussing how much we knew about Hamlet. We must have been the equivalent of the “salmon-shorted boating-shoe brigade” sprouting out “key moments” from Hamlet and jostling for position.
It is something that I can never unsee; nor, I think, can the host of people who have seen it since it went viral during the course of the past few days. I read articles about the image before I actually saw it and was intrigued, because, social media, if nothing else, begs us to search, trawl and click and share. Am I seeking counselling for what I saw in the photo? Absolutely not, but it brought out a rare form of intense hot anger; the kind of rage that I cannot get through without writing it into being. I immediately took to Facebook and Twitter yesterday to write brief, considered, snippets while I collected my more tumultuous thoughts. As I have aged I have truly learnt the meaning of ‘careless talk costs lives’. If I had written this yesterday it would have been an entirely different beast… but one thing is for sure I do stand by my Tweet…
The more I unravel preconceptions and ideas about transformation in South Africa the more I realise that for the majority of the minority transformation means- ‘become whiter’. We judge the success of black people on their “coconut” status and it feels to me that we’re largely promoting a Michael Jacksonesque ideal.
Transformation also means that on a daily basis you’ll hear someone say…
I often think about children’s books and how unbelievably patronising and lame they are. I question the parents who buy these books for their kids… do they want Little Timmy to grow up to be a complete asshole? Probably yes.
I remember devouring books and the ones I enjoyed the most were the controversial ones; stories which involved naughty children, Santa Claus who hated Christmas and kids and said “bugger” a lot and obviously Roald Dahl who fills the spectrum.
The truth is I was a good child… to the point where I was quite creepy. I lived vicariously through the books that I read and they formed the foundation to my education. My new educational range of books will provide young readers with the necessary skills to cope with the transition into early life… Colour, shape and number recognition… tactile experiences, pop up surprises and an extensive vocabulary builder as well as moral lessons to help mould them into interesting humans. I want to build a generation of humans I’d essentially like to hang out with. I guess I never lost my creepy edge.
Join little Charlotte as she cruises through life in a chaotic and useless manner while causing her Nana great stress and anxiety.
Warning: not suitable for helicopter parents and neurotic mothers.
Let’s just step back for a moment and have a good look at the situation. And this is where I believe my old friend History may be of some use. I strongly believe that History should be made compulsory as a Matric subject and that it is not given enough salience. If more people understood History, we’d have more empathy, more understanding and there’d be less shit slinging… both literal and metaphorical.
I simultaneously love and hate social media. There are days when I scroll through my Facebook “newsfeed” and I laugh, and I chew the proverbial cud, and I think ‘wow there’s some interesting shit out there’. I am a big fan of thinking and I like seeing what a lot of my Friends are thinking, so social media should really be a win-win. BUT then there are other times…
Before I continue I should point out that I am unequivocally and vociferously NOT a ‘social media expert’. I get filled with moral indignation when people label me in such a crude manner. It’s as stupid as saying I’m a ‘school playground expert’ because let’s face it, Facebook is just one giant school playground filled with an array of people, all talking at the same time and hoping that the bell never rings. So let the e-marketers, e-marketeers, “e-folk” keep that title and print it all over their flash business cards with embossing.
The beauty with banning or censoring content in the age of the internet is that it has the propensity to go viral. Even before the internet, bootlegged copies of Sugarman were circulating through apartheid government firewalls and Rodriguez became an icon in the landscape of South African music. In 2013 the banning of the film Of Good Report and its subsequent unbanning saw audiences rush to cinemas in order to gain street cred. Even Julius Malema wanted to get on the proverbial banned wagon in last year’s election race when the DA’s Ayisifani advert was unceremoniously chucked out by the SABC. Julius’ response was a crudely put together, but controversial montage asking for ‘justice for Marikana’ and to ‘destroy e-tolls physically’. Needless to say both the DA and EFF’s adverts went viral which led to Helen and Julius in the friendzone… if even for a short while.
But now that I’ve got your attention I’m going to change my tone. In two days it is International Women’s Day; a day to bring out all of the cliche’s about why women are important, why women are heroes, women as nurturers, in turn ‘Celebrate Women!’ But I will not be doing any of that. I will be mourning the fact that we are living in 2015 and we still have to have a day dedicated to women. We still have to have a day to spread messages and convince the world why women matter and why equality in all areas should be granted. Why do we have to argue and fight when all the stereotypes are telling us to be passive, calm, reflective peacemakers? And let’s be honest on Sunday most people will be riding their bikes around Cape Town, or watching New Zealand and Australia in their respective World Cup matches, or just doing what people do on a Sunday. Should we even bother?
There have been a few moments this week (and it’s only Tuesday) where I have felt choked and ashamed to be white. I know a couple of people will read this and think, ‘shame poor white girl, with her white girl problems… she feels “ashamed” well cry me a fucking river… it’s not like she has apartheid to deal with.’
The thing is white people are also trying to deal with apartheid and this is a Catch 22 because I recognise how silly this may sound. Because honestly who wants to be that asshole throwing out the sympathy rod because she feels a bit kak about being white sometimes? I suppose I just want people, all people, to understand that these feelings exist; we are not just sitting here thinking ‘black people are so dramatic the whole time’. I’m not asking for sympathy, nor empathy, just acknowledgement. I acknowledge that white people can be real assholes sometimes. And I know that I am not the only one who feels this way; there are actually quite a few of us who wish white people would wake the fuck up. Because the truth is I want to be able to live in a society that I’m proud of, that we can all be proud of. I want to be able to go to a wedding and not have to play “spot the black friend”. It’s embarrassing. I am embarrassed. Multiculturalism is failing hard. But I don’t have the right to say ‘let’s move on’, because my people are British and they have a lot to answer for. And I have moments of my own where I need to wake up and stop being so “white” and more South African.