Crime in SA

Dear South Africa,

Why do people commit crimes when these people know the consequences? This is what I wanted to analyze, but specifically in the black community in South Africa. It is easy to label someone a “criminal”, but are some of these people deserving of this title? Also, why is only one group critcized? I believe that the government is equally at fault for violence in the communities, and I plan to discuss this in my research paper.

Maybe this wouldn’t occur if the government implemented policies to eliminate economic inequalities. Carl R. Rogers describes a mtual conversation as a means to solve problems. If this definition is applied to South Africa, mutual conversation has not occurred between the poor and the government. It is unfair for millions of black people displaced during apartheid to the townships to still live in corrugated tin houses. Apartheid ended in 1994; however, people still deal with the effects and black people still suffer the worst.

In Johannesburg, I was told to watch my bag and pockets because some locals frequently steal from tourists. I heard these people be called “thugs” and told they were wrong for their actions. This rhetoric displays a lack of understanding for some people’s conditions. Moreover, calling someone a “thug” removes a persons humanity, contradicting the Ubuntu philosophy. I would challenge outsiders to consider the conditions that others face. This would lead to less judgement and more productivity in eradicating inequality. Clearly, South Africa still has issues; therefore, the people need more open dialogue to overcome these problems.

Sincerely,

 

Diyonah

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End of the Road

Dear South Africa,

I remember the night before I boarded my fifteen hour flight to South Africa. I’d never traveled to a country with people I didn’t know. Would the locals like me? Will I be satisfied with the course? I came to this country with high hopes and high expectations, and I’m glad to say that this country exceeded my expectations. This was truly an unforgettable experience because of the people I met, the relationships I built, and the knowledge I gained.

First, I love this country because I feel like I belong. I am not an outcast. Back home, everything is catered to white people. White people see themselves represented as the majority in advertisements, governments, management, etc. Because of the lack of diversity and inclusivity, black people are rarely considered in these setttings. Recently, companies have tried to have finally attempted to include minorities in advertisements; however, some offend the black community (ie. Dove). So it seems like black people either aren’t represented, and if we are, the company will make a fool of us. Also, the government’s diversity doesn’t equate to the poplation’s diversity. As a result, it is a challenge to propose laws to benefit black people. Where are the laws to circumvent police brutality and mass incarceration? We have the Voting Rights Act, but Voter Identifcation Laws, mass incarceration, etc. lowers black people’s representation at the polls. Affrimative Action at univserities…Trump doesn’t like that either. In South Africa, I see advertisements with majority black people. Here its evident that blackness is beautiful, blackness is accepted. Though South Africa has some problems, achieving equality is a primary goal in this country. The people of this community have fought for their rights and continued to fight together, America is and has always been divided.

Moreover, the interactions I had on this trip made this life-changing and eye-opening. The locals were friendly and open to discuss their experiences and was very accepting of me. The women in Soweto came up to me and hugged and told me I was their sister and that they loved me. I had only know these women for a couple hours and I already felt a part of a family. I don’t get this from strangers in America. It shocked me and made me become emotional because I felt the community and love, I barely get this from some people in my own family. Even when speaking with the student activists I felt a part of a community. We shared personal lived experiences an spoke politics. One of them even wants to keep in contact! Though I had great conversation with locals, I can’t say the same for some of the students I’m here with. I don’t understand how this trip was about Social Movements, including Apartheid, but some managed to say comments that could offend minorities. It definitely offended me. I’ve documented thirteen comments on my phone that I found offensive and insenitive toward commnities of color. I was disappointed that I couldn’t relate to most of the girls (or want to talk to them) because of this; however, this did not hinder my thoughts of this trip. I still enjoyed myself, and will return to South Africa.

Overall, I’m glad that I was a part of this study abroad program. It changed my life, how I view things, increase my awareness of other black communities, and positively influenced my goals in activism. I know I want to return, I may even live here at some point. Thank you South Africa for the experience, the people, the scenery, the fight, the empowerment, and the inspiration.

Until next time,

 

Diyonah

Talking with Students Activists

Dear South Africa,

Talking to the student activist last night was a great ending to an amazing experience in South Africa. As a student activist, I appreciated conversing with my peers about their experiences in South Africa, comparing the conditions of black people in South Africa and America. I normally can’t have conversations like this with people my age back home because not only is racism a controversial topic, but some people in my community are not as invested in dismantling racism like me. Therefore, speaking with someone in South Africa who shares my same goals and opinions warmed my heart.

Though at times, staying informed and exposing systemic racism is emotionally-draining, especially when a lot of people oppose your beliefs, one student activist said that her mom told her that if she is met with opposition when challenging the status quo, then you are doing something right. I will always remember this, because what I am doing and what I am trying to achieve is for the betterment of my community. And because I am passionate about social justice and activism, it will take a lot for someone to stop me from doing what I know is right

Sincerely,

 

Diyonah

Cape Malay Cooking

Dear South Africa,

In 2013, Beyonce released “Run the World (Girls)”, an anthem for all women who historically have been overlooked by men. Men have dominated almost every aspect of society since the beginning of time, but the women have seemed to maintain control over the kitchen. Though, feminism is challenging this tradition, because society shouldn’t limit women to domestic responsibilities.

In Cape Malay culture, the entire family (men included) help prepare meals. Not only does it strengthen family bonds, but it gives men and women an equal position in a familial setting. There are some occasions in America, where men and women cook together or the roles reverse and men will cook, but this is unlikely.

Cape Malay cooking traditions reminds me of the idea of Soul Food in the African-American culture. Cooking traditional soul food is more than just satisfying an empty stomach; cooking is endearing, loving, and builds a sense of community and family. Soul Food is cooking food from the soul.

Though in my family, cooking as a team does not usually occur, with the exception of Thanksgiving, a more tedious meal. When I have my own family in the future, I will encourage cooking as a family. It will bring our family together, and I will not have to do all the work!

Sincerely,

 

Diyonah

Authenticity

Dear South Africa,

I’m nearing the end of my trip, and I’ve pondered whether I have recieved an authentic South African experience. Through the activities I’ve participated in, I believe that I have received an authentic experience.

I came here to study Apartheid and the effects the apartheid governent has on the black community, more specifically, I want to research the root causes of crime in black communities. Theft is a common crime in South Africa, and I want to know why. One of the first days in Johannesburg, driving through Sandton, I noticed that white people drove in cars and all the people walking were black. Even walking through townships, I see no white people. Only black people live in these impoverished areas. This seems unfair to me. This can only mean that crime, like theft, is an act of desperation–the need to survive.

This would not have been easy to realize this had I only visited the touristy areas and never communicated with locals. That being said, attractions with heavy tourist populations is not less authentic than visiting places with less tourists. For example, people from all over the world hike Table Mountain, but it doesn’t make Table Mountain less African. However, just visiting places like Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront, or the beach will only offer half of South Africa. In order to experience all sides of South Africa, one must explore.

So yes, I have recieved an authentic experience. I’ve seen the beauty of Africa and I’ve seen the ugly. All of which are equally important to me.

Sincerely,

 

Diyonah

Resistance

Dear South Africa,

I never knew that slavery existed in South Africa, I only learned about the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas. Despite enslaved Africans separation by continents, the acts of resistance were shockingly similar to each other. Slave owners may have thought they possessed complete control over enslaved Africans; however, slaves found ways to defy orders to take back control of their lives, bodies, and minds.

One of the most well-known forms of resistance was escaping the planatation. The people who boldly ran from the plantation risked worse punishment for leaving without permission. Then slaves would be flogged repeatedly leaving permanent scars on your bodies. Furthermore, the most dramatic form of resistance was suicide. On the Middle Passage slaves, Africans would throw themselves off the ship out of fear of the unknown and to deter slave traders from benefitting economically off their bodies. Committing suicide attests to the harshness of slavery, because the torture slaves endured influenced them to believe that death was better than living with the realities of slavery.

I like to learn about the forms of resistance because America has removed this part of the story, making the black community appear weak and accepting with their conditions. However, this is false. I am proud when I hear the various acts of resistance because it reveals the resilence and the determination of Africans to defy oppression from colonialism and still to this day. This inspries me to be a fighter. Regardless of obstacles, like my ancestors, I resist.

Sincerely,

 

Diyonah

Lionel Davis

Dear South Africa,

Meeting Rehad was inspirational for me as a young activist. In America, talking about racism is taboo, but in South Africa people are more open to talking about race relations and its effects on the community. Nevertheless, Rehad’s unfiltered, raw responses to the questions the class asked inspired me to be more outspoken about controversial topics such as race back in the US, because justice will never exist in a community to shy to acknowledge oppression.

People claim to want to end racial oppression in America, but overall, America doesn’t want to discuss racial issues. As a country, how can we progress if we can’t discuss complex topics in an diverse and inclusive environment? Rehad’s dedication to creating the film “Miners Shot Down” focuses on the harsh treatment of the black miners killed after protesting low wages. This film was difficult to watch because Rehad added graphic footage, like showing police opening fire on protesters and medics attempting to resuscitate a miner after being shot. Though, it is important to create and show honest films such as “Miners Shot Down” to make the masses more aware of what’s really happening and not half the story.

Sincerely,

Diyonah Contee