A Class Divided

“Treat everyone as though they were your brother!”

Today my colleagues and I were at it again, debating the state of racism in our country and how it subsequently affects the economy at large. And while we tried to argue the reasons behind why black people are still struggling, how they have a sense of entitlement and how they won’t support each other – one colleague mentioned a particular experiment that one class teacher conducted many years ago.

In this experiment, the teacher is able to split the class onto two groups by eye colour. She then continues to explain why the kids with one eye colour are better or greater than the kids with the other eye colour. She also gives certain privileges and rights to the one eye colour group while removing them from the other eye colour group. The results are life changing!

A Class Divided. (video from YouTube)

It’s a relatively long video so for those of us with less time, I’ve noted some statements that stood out for me:

  • Teacher: “Do you think that you would know how it feels to be judged by the colour of your skin?…No you wouldn’t unless you experienced it yourself.”
  • Boy (voice over): “It seemed like when we were down at the bottom, everything bad was happening to us.”
  • Teacher: “What’s wrong with being called ‘Brown Eyes’?”
    • John:”It means that we’re stupid, well not that but…”
  • Teacher: “Why didn’t you call him ‘brown eyes’ yesterday?…Were you doing it to be fun, funny or were you doing it to be mean?”
  • Teacher (voice over): “I used Orton Gillingham findings, we used the card pack and…The brown eyed children were in the low class the first day and it took them five and a half minutes to get through the card pack. The second day it took them two and a half minutes. The only fact that had changed was that now they were superior people.”
  • Teacher: “It’s not funny, it’s not fun, it’s not…pleasant! This is a filthy nasty word called Discrimination. We’re treating people a certain way because they are different from the rest of us. Is that fair?
    • Group (blue eyes): “No.”
  • Teacher: “Does it make any difference whether their skin is black or white…Is that how you decide whether people are good or bad?”
    • Whole Class: “No….No!”
  • Susan (older): “I’ve seen white people do it. I’ve seen other people do it. It’s not just the blacks…Everyone acts differently it’s just the different colour that hits you first.”

And so I ask: Is this not what happened to us? Is this not still happening today? Is this not what we’re doing to each other through xenophobia? The Apartheid system was and still is a simple but well executed psychological regime with a simple message – “Treat them differently because they are different to us and thus are inferior to us”. That system was so well executed that to this day black is still not as beautiful as white. In this country, you’re more likely to get more compliments purely because you’re “Yellowbone” than if you weren’t.

So how do we change this? How do we execute our own psychological regime that will empower the inferior without discriminating another?

From the video we can clearly see that discrimination is imprisoning. But it imprisons the mind first and everything else becomes a result of an imprisoned mind.In other words, if someone has imprisoned you psychologically, then there’s nothing you can do physically which will ever liberate you. In fact, the more you struggle externally for liberation, the more you’ll prove the idea that you are indeed inferior. The only way, is to liberate your mind!

We must strive to raise our children differently! We need to raise liberated young minds!

The question is, how?

Perhaps we can build on what Bantu Steve Biko started through his Black Consciousness Movement. We need to change the bad connotations that are associated with being black or dark skinned. And it’s in everything we say and do- who we compliment and why? How we esteem to look. It’s in how we treat ourselves; it’s in how we treat each other – does complexion really matter?

We, us the average Joe (not the government), have the power to make a change! This is an idea we need to communicate in every way possible –  at home, in schools, through media (most importantly music), as groups of friends, societies, sports clubs, churches…in everything.

We must live out the idea that black is just as beautiful, as good, as superior as any other race!

A Class Divided has changed the way I see myself as an individual. It has opened my eyes to how I have acted as a result of how I see myself and what I have believed to be my possibilities as person. I hope it has made a change in your life as well!

#ChangingMindsets

Black is still Beautiful

Bantu Biko

Bantu Steven Biko

One of the people who started the “Black is Beautiful” movement in South Africa was Bantu Steven Biko. I think he would be disappointed in us if he were alive today because now we live in the age of the “yellow bone” is beautiful. Isn’t it sad that we still measure ourselves on how close we are to being white? The straighter your hair the prettier/classier/hotter/richer you look.

beauty

The quest for wanting to be more lighter in complexion has become so bad that many more people are bleaching their skin. Celebrities included. It’s a trend and soon becoming a desired lifestyle – especially among women.

Apartheid really pulled a number on us as a people. Think about the kind of things our parents (those that got affected) used to say to us – “Wuuu…..she’s a dark beauty!”, “You know light kids are naturally beautiful”. Our parents have always grown up raised and taught to think that “white” in all forms is better and always will be. This mentality has filtered down to us and now we’re sitting here talking about “yellow bones”. Why do we classify ourselves according to complexion?

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t contend the fact that some “yellow bone” individuals are indeed unanimously gorgeous. That’s fine. What I don’t like, is that just because you’re “yellow bone” you’re considered beautiful by default.

Black is Beautiful

Black is Beautiful

I think the concept that the late Steve Biko was trying to teach us was that “Black” as a people is beautiful. That means, I need not measure myself to how close I am to being “white” but rather to love and appreciate my God given colour and hair. If you really think about it – we’ve become shallow, vain and quite honestly sad – we’ll never be “white”. Almost/close/nearly/“yellow bone” – it’s still not “white”. Back in the day we were all in the same boat. Now that we have freedom the darker you are the more “we” hate you.

One of the great commandments stated by Jesus was “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. If you live by this then you know that you cannot truly love someone else unless you love yourself. So what does it mean if I hate you for being “darker” than me? It means I hate the “dark” in me first. I hate that I’m black?

Lupita Nyongo in 12 Years a Slave

Lupita Nyongo in 12 Years a Slave

If Lupita Nyongo was an ordinary South African, I wonder how she would’ve experienced this country, at the hands of fellow black people.

Lupita Nyongo

Lupita Nyongo

We need to actively change how we see ourselves so that we can change the way we see each other and in effect change the way we treat each other.

Let’s live liberated of the “apartheid/slave” mentality.

ACTION: Apart from wearing my natural hair – I resolve to tell everyone I know and their cousin that “Black is beautiful”.