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MK marching in Soweto on the weekend of Nelson Mandela's death

Soweto (Lockdown Day 82)

Welcome to Day 82 of the South African lockdown. It’s both freezing-cold and raining in Joburg — a very rare occurrence. It’s also Youth Day, a South African public holiday commemorating the 1976 student uprising in Soweto. For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking constantly about racism. Soon after I woke up this morning, I found myself having a bit of a mental meltdown over it. I’m not sure why (probably because there’s not much else to do on a dark, freezing-cold, rainy public holiday during a pandemic), but after I woke up I scrolled deeper than usual into my Facebook feed. I was appalled by the number of racist posts — some subtle, some flat-out hateful — that I came across, today of all days. In a recent blog post, I said I want to use my platforms to speak out against racism and racial injustice. I am still committed to doing this, but I also can’t help thinking: What’s the point? Speaking out on racism in South Africa — or America, for that matter — feels like screaming into a gale-force wind. Institutionalized racism is woven so deeply into the fabric of our societies. It’s […]

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Thoughts About Racism, Anti-Racism, and White Supremacy (Lockdown Day 66)

It’s Day 66 of the South African lockdown. I don’t normally blog on weekends and today I was supposed to work on another task. But I’ve decided to do that task tomorrow and blog today, because I can’t stop thinking about racism and white supremacy. I should have written this post long ago. As America is literally on fire this weekend in response to the brutal killing of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police — the most recent such killing in a trail of many — I suddenly don’t know what’s taken me so long. So here goes. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * I am a descendant of slaveholders. My grandmother‘s family was part of the Southern aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia. One of the first books I can remember reading on my own was a biography of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. The book was written for children and it portrayed General Lee as a hero. My family is related to Lee’s family, a fact I was raised to be proud of. I am no longer proud of this […]

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