By: Sandy Nene
The picture above has been making rounds on social media. Take a look at this hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh which has been trending this whole week. Zulaikha, a 13 year old student of PTA High School for girls and fellow black girls have decided to make a stand and fight against racism at their school. We contacted some of South Africa’s Top influencers and asked what are their thoughts on this issue and racism in this country and this is what they had to say;
How do you address the issue when so many people tip-toe around its existence? We cannot address the issue of racism if there is still a problem of people accepting that there is an actual problem, and owning the issues that come with accepting it. Black South African’s have taken that pain because they have for most of their lives had to fight to either be accepted as they are, or have had to challenge the stereotypes that come with being black. The truth is, white South Africans do not want to own what their ancestors did because if they did, they would have to knowingly admit the fault that is indirectly theirs. Would it also require giving up some power? Yes. And we live in a world where people do not want to give up the power – even if it is for a progressive system. Black people are always justifying their pain to white people (I’m saying it as is because we need to address it) It is always black people explaining to white people that our pain is valid – but it’s not our job to explain to white people why our pain is valid – white people need to fix that within themselves. Someone said to me the other day, “This racist man is not yours to handle. He is mine because these are my people and I need to call them out on it.” And for the first time in a long time, I watched 3 white people actually call out racism within their own people. I think there is something there, but it’s for us to support those few when they do call out racism.
Every school has its own set of rules, rightfully so, however, they need to take all races into consideration. Rules shouldn’t feel one-sided or targeted at one particular race. With regards to hairstyles at school, I strongly believe that the pupils should wear their crown with pride. In the same breath, let’s keep it uniform i.e if your hair is too big you should plait it or do a safe hairstyle which is age appropriate.
It’s disgusting, it’s unacceptable. If that was my child… I’d rather not incriminate myself on such a public platform, just fill in the blank. I cried all day yesterday reading the news and statements on Twitter and various other social media platforms. I see this in two ways… the first being the fact that these poor children are shamelessly being discriminated against. It is the most delicate stage of a young girl’s life, high school is horrible enough in it’s own, but to have to face discrimination over your natural hair? Over hairstyles that have been in your culture for hundreds of generations? To tell African girls to straighten their hair? WHAT THE HELL??? That’s like aksing me to dye my 6-year olds hair because her blondness offends you – it ridiculous. How is this still happening in this day and age? It needs to stop! My second point of view is that of a concerned white parent… I actively try and teach my kids that we are all equals, that they must be kind, love one another. My kids do not see colour… you are not born a racist. I am petrified of my kids ending up in a school like this, to be exposed to such narrow-mindedness… How are we supposed to move on as a nation if there are people holding us back. People like principles and teachers, who can make or break a child? At the same time, I am so proud of those girls for speaking out and taking a strong – yet peaceful – stand. No-one should endure the blatant racist bullying that they are experiencing. Well done girls… you give me hope for our future.
Constantly in the media we are being bombarded with stereotypical images of “what is beautiful” and “what we need to look like” . These messages need to stop as we need to promote body positivity and as well acceptance and tolerance of others. The current situation is on that is stopping people from accepting and embracing their true self. The young lady in middle of all this is an example of a strong young woman who is proud of who she is and is not afraid to stand up for what is right.
The conversation is still going on – online. What do you think should be done to fight racism in South Africa? Comment below or Tweet using #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh.