Editorial: Everything’s gonna be alright
There is a particular injustice in watching young men dancing in the afternoon traffic in the hope that someone will be sufficiently entertained to part with a few rands. It’s not that young men dancing for their supper is unjust. Indeed, for those who choose to do so, it is art. Rather, the injustice lies in yet further evidence of another generation of young black people in South Africa who still struggle to be free.
We are a hurt people. We are an angry people. We are a people who have lost the will to hope. We are hurt. And we are angry. And, unlike Beyoncé, we didn’t just wake up like this.
We began 2016 in froth about Penny Sparrow and her crude racism. As we reeled from one racist outburst to the next, we understood as well that the racist utterances, in themselves, were not an isolated problem. Rather the
systems that birth these statements into existence deep inside a human being, and then allow it to be spat out like the venom of a snake defending itself from some imagined attack, are what we continue to learn to interrogate.
2016 continues to show us the many, many ways in which we perpetuate injustice against each other. The historians tell us this was not the worst year in the history of humanity. They say our own shit show is nothing compared with 1348, for example, when the Black Death took hold. Plague certainly sounds sufficiently grim for us to be more circumspect about our sentiments of this as the worst year ever.
Yet it has been a particularly terrible year. Certainly not on the level of plague, but from drought, arson attacks on schools, terror attacks abroad, more war, still more conflict, the rise of the Trumpenreich in the United States, fake news, the death of Prince and Fidel Castro, the utter mess of the second iteration of #FeesMustFall and, hey, for those keeping score, President Jacob Zuma is still president.
But if we are to take hope from history then we can perhaps rest assured that the Black Death spurred a golden age of humanity — sharply reduced inequality, a spending boom and a flourishing of the arts.
As we navigate a way out of 2016, we must find the energy to navigate out of institutionalised racism and its various intersections with poverty and inequality, in the hope that from our dismantling a more just world emerges. We must ultimately be prepared for the hell that is other people. We cannot afford to retreat into silos in frustration with each other. As we continue to dismantle the systems of injustice, what we need is to find compassion for each other. We need to learn to guide our activism with love.
In an age of egoism, demagoguery and hate, love is an act of revolution. But for us to love, we must learn again to hope. We must learn again to hope that another world is not only possible, it already exists in us. And we must somehow find the confidence to love, to learn and to be free. And then everything will be alright.