I’m not here for your #BlackMonday

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It’s been an incredibly bad few days for South Africans. Not only did one of the last struggle heroes, Ahmed Kathrada, die last week,  but on Thursday evening, President Jacob Zuma announced that he was reshuffling his cabinet, firing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and generally causing uproar from members of the public and political arenas.


There was a lot of talk about the kinds of disastrous effects this would have on South Africa’s economy and, true to form, the Rand nosedived shortly after the announcement.

This led to a group of “ordinary concerned citizens of this nation”, as they call themselves on their website, to launch a movement called #BlackMonday in an effort to “dispel the myth that these irrational actions have and will contribute to our economy.”

The movement has moved to social media as these things do and there’s been a lot of divisive opinions.

I saw the call to wear black today, but I decided not to join in.

Why?

Because I don’t want to.

I don’t want to wear black now with the same people who think that #FeesMustFall isn’t important and is just about young people trying to get things for free.

What I do want is an acknowledgement of the lives that have been ruined or lost because of our government’s inability to effectively govern our country through open dialogue and actual action, not just wearing a different colour for one day.


I don’t want to wear black now when I’ve been angry about the race and gender pay gap for years.

I don’t want to wear black now when no one wore black after all those deaths at Life Esidimeni.

I don’t want to wear black now that it’s been made okay to be angry that our president is failing us and that our country is broken by the masses who weren’t here for the other big issues that matter too.

What I do want is an acknowledgement of the lives that have been ruined or lost because of our government’s inability to effectively govern our country through open dialogue and actual action, not just wearing a different colour for one day.

What I want is an answer to why there wasn’t a #BlackMonday to highlight the struggle of students who were shot at and arrested because they were fighting for free education.

Why was there not a day of remembrance for Fezeka "Khwezi" Kuzwayo? Why was there not a #BlackMonday when those four women silently protested and were removed  forcefully by the president’s bodyguards? When the ANCWL failed Khwezi and millions of other South African women by supporting him?

Even if somehow wearing black as a protest against the president worked and he was impeached because you decided to wear those new skinny jeans today, would this solve our bigger problems?

Why is economic anxiety the one reason that is galvanising people into pseudo activism? No one is saying we shouldn’t care about our country’s economy, but money isn’t what makes a country. People are.

So why is this the final straw? It’s not like there weren’t enough problems, enough corruption before.  

And will it even make enough of a difference? I don’t think so. I’ll bet Zuma is laughing at the thought of millions of people wearing black to show their opposition to his rule.

Is wearing black going to make him stop dead in his tracks? Recount his actions? Or pay back the money? No.

Even if somehow wearing black as a protest against the president worked and he was impeached because you decided to wear those new skinny jeans today, would this solve our bigger problems? Would it make racism, the denial of white privilege, hate crimes, land reform, unemployment and poverty go away? No.

Let’s support those who are vocal about the problems they face and their fight for it. Let’s create support groups for victims and advocate for them. Let’s give voices to the voiceless.


But talking about these issues in open, honest conversations where we admit our faults and our prejudices and acknowledge that our president will never help us solve these issues might. If we do more than participate in a superficial protest and add our names and email addresses to an online petition we could actually solve the issues we’re currently facing.

Let’s actually talk about these issues and think of tangible ways to solve them. Let’s create things like committees who will be responsible for helping to solve problems like poverty. Let’s support those who are vocal about the problems they face and their fight for it. Let’s create support groups for victims and advocate for them. Let’s give voices to the voiceless.

Yes, accuse me of keyboard activism. Yes, say that I’m probably not doing enough to actually change things. After all, I can tweet about my feelings today, but it might be forgotten tomorrow, right?

I don’t think so. I’d rather be a Social Justice Warrior (SJW) and make my voice heard on social media by writing columns like this one instead of hoping that wearing black for one day is going to create an open dialogue that can actually change the future of my country.

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