This started out as a Facebook status but got a little long:
A bunch of people have been asking me what they should do tomorrow or for advice on what to do and let me straight up say, “i don’t know!” i certainly am not someone who gets this as much as i want or need to and i have a whole lot of learning to do – i just talk about it a lot because i know there are still so many people not engaging at all and i can at least give them a few steps or a nudge…
i do suspect it’s a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” tomorrow and whatever decision you make – march or not – someone is going to think you are wrong and probably say so and maybe not in the nicest of ways. Expect that, deal with it, move on. Don’t let it dictate your decision.
i am not marching for a couple of reasons – the chief one being that the biggest pain i see associated with this march is “Where were you white people during #FeesMustFall and Marikana and sanitation issues and and and…” Which to a huge extent and for a lot of people is valid and true and yeah, a lot of us have some confessing and repenting to do… i know there are black people and other people of colour who are marching but it’s the voices of the ones who aren’t who have affected me the most and i am trying to honour that.
Having said that, as i just said to my sister in law, if you never marched at any of those things then you can’t go back in time and march at them and so your first march has to happen sometime and maybe it is okay that this is it, but then don’t let it be a once off march and returning to life as normal – the next thing you need to do is order a copy of Robert Sobukwe book ‘How Can Man Die Better?’ and then maybe Biko ‘I Write What I Like’ and a bunch more and start informing yourself more deeply about the country and be consistent with the life you live after this.
If you march then let it be a catalyst for deeper conversations, deeper learning and changed lifestyle as you continue to grapple with these things. There are some helpful articles on my blog, especially on this page, but it’s quite easy to find things to read and educate yourself with and i’m sure you know someone – or i can connect you with someone – who can help you with that.
i am not going to be joining the march as i said, and i am definitely not going to be joining the hand holding human chain [that feels like it was devised over a hipster meal of vegan proportions, which i’m probably wrong about but just not my vibe] but what i am going to be doing is engaging in what i hope will be a deep and significant conversation with a number of people at our house in Diep River on the topic of Biko and Theology. My friend Wayne Eaves is going to be hosting it and i am quite excited at some of the people who have said they are going to be coming. It is a conversation that started when i posted this Steve Biko comment after seeing it on my friend Jessie Lerm’s wall:
“We must agree also that tacitly or overtly, deliberately or unawares, white Christians within the Churches are preventing the Church from assuming its natural character in the South African context, and therefore preventing it from being relevant to the black man’s situation.”
Someone commented and then someone responded to the comment and then it went back and forth for a bit and then we decided we should take it offline and meet and discuss further and then suddenly people from all over were jumping in saying, “I want a piece of this” etc and so we tried a few times and then settled on friday BEFORE we knew about the march… but once we’d committed to it and once i’d heard some of the dialogue around the march we decided to go ahead with it and see who will come and converse with us – i could not be more excited…
Which brings me to my main point on this:
DO NOT LET APRIL 7TH, 2018 NOT BE SIGNIFICANT!
Should you march or should you not march? Honestly, do what you’ve decided in your heart to do, but hopefully after much consideration and thought and having dialogued with at least a few people and preferably some who do not look like you. Or if not then be like the one church i heard about who is calling all their members to instead of marching, engage in acts of restitution for the day. Or if not that, then grab a Biko quote and some friends and go wild. Or if not that then something. PLEASE DO SOMETHING.
If you spend tomorrow lying in bed watching Netflix, i’ll be seriously bummed… unless you’re someone like [insert at least 100 names in here pretty easily of all ages, races and genders] who spends so much of their time engaged in country-transforming stuff. Maybe the best thing for YOU to do is take a day for yourself and lie in bed and watch Netflix. So that you can return to the fray refreshed and ready for more.
It has been monumentally exciting to watch so many more South Africans than i think ever before [since 1994 at least] engaging with these things. A lot of people have said this week has been completely frustrating and chaotic from the cabinet reshuffle to #BlackMonday to the SA1st meeting to the Kathrada Memorial this afternoon to the march activity tomorrow.
But people have been engaging and sure there be trolls, but more than that i’ve seen people asking genuine questions… in my family, in my inbox, on my phone – people have been trying to figure this stuff out – people have been signing up for race dinners in durban with a strange dolphin-bearing white guy they don’t even know – people are wrestling and IT IS EXCITING. And it cannot end tomorrow! Please, for those of you who tomorrow is your first action step… don’t let it end there… there is so much to be done…
i would LOVE to hear what you are doing tomorrow and what got you to that decision and i would love to hear how it goes and what is going to be next for you…
As a little p.s. i do think it’s helpful if we maintain our humour about this. i posted a satirical piece on my wall this week and someone accused me of mocking white people, who let’s be honest, can use a fair bit of mocking and still be ahead of the game. But i wasn’t trying to do that. i think these things we are wrestling with are deathly serious [and literally life and death for some people, while most of us will head back to comfortable homes and expensive coffee] but it can be a saving moment to be able to smile in the midst of it.
This helpful piece on what to take to your first protest is a gem, as are these signs…