When I was fourteen years old, I was the same person I am today – with less vocabulary, admittedly. I subscribed to the same ideals that have shaped me today. Yes, some sentiments I expressed back then have changed, but the core never shifts. It's really disgusting for a child to explicitly use language that is discriminatory on any level, and on a social media platform, at that. As a parent, I find it appalling that any child can engage in such behaviour. Bianca Schoombee's tweets at that age are reflective of how this nation is inherently unequal. As Black kids we grow up knowing our place, racially – while our white counterparts get to plead ignorance, apologise for it and move on.
Wow, Karma is a bitch hey. I went to school with Bianca from grade 8 until matric and I can confirm that she is racist. Bianca and her squad always called us names like Kaffir, told us how we dont belong as Gim, how our parents should be domestic workers and how we stinked pic.twitter.com/0sfyIwzBCh— Empress Ree (@Ree_mayisela) May 20, 2020
Many of our parents had to send us to schools far from our homes, in order to get a decent education. We commuted long distances, from our homes ko kasi, to get a better education in the 'burbs. We got to these schools and certain white kids would ridicule us, call us names and recite things like, 'I made you look, I made you poop, I made you kiss a kaffir's koek'. Racial integration is a joke, if your children don't understand the impact of their little 'jokes'. I am tired of white people in South Africa, who refuse to learn anything; and expect Black people to help them become better people.
The explosion of Bianca's old Tweets left me wondering about the world I am raising my Black children in. My children don't see themselves as Black; they see themselves as caramel, chocolate and coffee-coloured (a little trick we adopted from a book called Chocolate Me). We identify across a spectrum of colours, but I try to keep it real with them – to protect them in situations where they might encounter racism. I affirm their Blackness (as a concept). I also have to affirm other aspects of their identity, such as their intellect, looks and abilities. It's a lot of work, and it's disappointing to note that some of our white counterparts are not putting in the effort. Instead, they just continue to raise bigoted white kids.
At the age of fourteen, you have formed a personality. You can fucking read a book. You know enough about yourself, and a good portion of history, to know that using the word kaffir or nigga or my nig nig is wrong. At the age of seven, I knew exactly what apartheid was, why we lived in a certain part of town – and I hade seen my mom crying when Chris Hani died. My mom helped me to read Angela Davis' Women, Race and Class – shortly after I turned fourteen years old. Our house was littered with literature from the Drum era; addressing apartheid issues. My mom also had back issues of magazines produced by cultural activists, like Staffrider. My favourite authors were Lewis Nkosi, Casey Motsisi and Nat Nakasa. I had already watched movies like Sarafina and Cry Freedom multiple times! My identity has always been against the backdrop of my history as a Black person, in South Africa.
I am not particularly fond of beauty pageants; however, I support Bianca's withdrawal from Miss South Africa. Her initial apology insisted that she has resolved her issues through prayer. And I have to wonder whether prayer alone will help, in this instance. How is she actively decolonising her worldview, from those perceptions of Black people? How is she addressing the trauma she inflicted on her Black peers? Clearly, someone took over the PR nightmare and issued a second apology. If I understand the point of Miss South Africa correctly, it's a representation of the nation's ideals. If someone is about to represent us at that level, the bare minimum is not being a racist. She does not represent the nation's ideals, and she will have to do a lot more than pray, to truly embody our nation's ideals.
White fragility truly annoys me, I am tired of white people pleading ignorance when it comes to their harmful actions. The sea of outrage at Bianca's old Tweets is a symptom of a collective fatigue that has built up over years and years of so-called integration. Abelungu baya dina! They need to act right.