As my non-Azanian Southern African South Asian brown crippled voice matters little on this issue, I’ll only write on what I have not seen discussed (with what I have in mind) such as, predictably, the yoga instructor’s photo by #FeesMustFall activist Wandile Kasibe. On social media I have been boosting voices around #RhodesMustFall #RememberMarikana #OpenStellenbosch #FeesMustFall #EndOutSourcing #DecoloniseLabour #Brixton142 #Justice4Zola among others – I mention the hashtags so I can can use abbreviations, and for the unfamiliar reader (who can look them up), I have not being writing on these protests as this was the time to listen more than usual. I’ve been listening to many on social media, while wishing that this was at the time when I was dealing with UCT’s institutionalised racist ableism and rape culture, with only one SRC’s support. Reading the fierceness of some black womxn has given me hope and strength.
I should ask a few more protesters if there was no disability justice movement at universities. There is now (23/01) UCT for Disability Justice talking inclusivity. Before, I saw tweets from black or mixed-race students with invisible illnesses but I don’t see how these protests could’ve been accessible to many disabled people who wished to join, solely because of institutional and police violence. There are many ways in which the disabled excluded can help abled protesters such as to direct protesters via social media when there were cars from another university, in solidarity, picking up students at one in the middle of police violence; providing shelter or skills; or community care; of course, social media is a great tool. As someone who is overseas and unemployed, and not black or indigenous to South Africa (=NIBPOC hereafter), I felt all I could do was boost voices. In contrast, the safety of #ZumaMustFall march shows how institutions and the SAPS contribute to ableism (1).
Who were #ZumaMustFall? Overall white racists, not only Madiba-face/blackface and those with apartheid flags, but those who know where their financial interests lie and do not care at whose expense it is. Those white people have appropriated Fallism regardless of what is said(2). When Zackie Achmat said he supported the #ZMF march and a woman of colour commenter said #ZumaMustGo, why didn’t that become the preferred #? WOC have to be ignored? It was very intentional I’m sure from the WOC and from the campaigners (as Wandile Kasibe and others calls the #ZMF “protesters”) to ignore voices on their side and not. Writers who are white and not among the campaigners may disagree with the campaign and find it hypocritical but don’t go as far as to speak of it being the appropriation of black struggle. Remember that this march was organised on a public holiday (Reconciliation Day) when people who live at great distances from the city due to exclusionary urban planning policies for mixed-race economically oppressed people too, had no transport to come to the march if they had wanted. Assuming there are DA supporters among them who wanted to go (like a 67 y o woman who called me ‘one of her children’), did any of the ZMF campaigners offer transport?
I imagined every South African was learning something from #RMF, #FMF and #EO, I was quite surprised when it seemed white liberals and anarchists in iKapa, had not even learned to self-censor on social media. Some white people I have known for years and they could’ve been mistaken as being ignorant before, except who think they’re always entitled, but they have gone full racist with the campaign. Not only calling BPOC reverse-racists, but also calling white people who are listening not oppressing, racists. Sometime before the march, some of them had been clearly micro-aggressive with me if not on the fence i.e. oppressive with their silence. There’s been a culmination, I found the spoons and mental strength to speak out this year about racism and ableism, I fell back to reality with in-private microaggressions and online friends complete ignoring me; also when I looked for white allies to step up after Amelia Mulder (#ZMF campaigner), Justin Goro and Karen Johnson were racist to me in a forum I created, white people who upon joining read guidelines against racism put since years. I can name them or I can make the group publicly viewable today and link to their comments. So I had allowed racism because it was only directed towards me (never that simple, but to white folks it is – we have to know and care about their fragility, right?). A space dominated by such or hippie/yoga-type white South Africans. I have to write something bc a white woman unduly called a white reporter racist and we have over 50 white friends in common, from all countries. On some other similar rant of hers, a racist responded with a diluted “anti-racism” – a straight white enabled cis man firmly against identity-politics, who tokenises and gaslights for “intersectionality” performance. There are white people who are listening since long but for the wrong reasons, the more ally-performance speak they know the more they can trap or use you. I’ve experienced something similar to what Kamanzi refers to:
To Adam Haupt’s article, Brian Ihirwe Kamanzi said “Eish Adam Haupt as you might expect I’m not so on board with where this is going. For me the central question is not collaboration on marches it’s “What is the political project” This question goes to the heart of what corruption “is” and what is to be done to “power” but it also helps us locate power so we can be clear about who to direct our efforts to. Depending on your vision for tomorrow collaboration with certain groups and collectives maybe be just unprincipled at best but disastrously counter productive at worst.”
Kamanzi added “I worry we are quickly reaching the day that making intersectional spaces becomes a Trojan horse for white involvement.”
The 2nd photo below is by Wandile Kasibe, the 1st seems unattributed.
Then there are white people who are honest like Megan Furniss who admitted she had been jealous of the student movement, she was also tweeting from the march feeling embarassed about what she overheard from other white people. She laments that it’s a hard and quite lonely path but she and white folks unlearning should be challenging other white people, calling them out which quite frankly is their job, not mine or IBPOCs’. I have a hard and lonely task myself, with POCs, when it comes to black struggles or certain others and like others IBPOC a daily task with entitled white people, and some of us, another added task with ableists, and so on.
Moving on to Alta Lourette’s photo which annoyed people, and her condescending words about it as she went on to appropriate slang from the Cape Flats, turn a common expression (among indigenous and mixed-race descendants of Khoi/ San and others, who by the way have asked to stop using the word ‘coloured’ which is akin to ‘k…..’) into a laughable acronym. Alta looks white, she’s completely white-passing (+ she’s been displaying a lot of white privilege). The photo shows her wearing a Nelson Mandela tshirt (that upset black and brown people) and leggings, in a lotus pose on the road in front of the crowd of white participants facing Signal Hill, their backs turned on her.
I’d tweeted “Ignorance of their bigotry/ appropriation of Fallism is bliss & she is unaware of the African origins of yoga too I bet”
You can see Lourette’s words and photo here on twitter too. On Facebook there were a few good comments, here’s one
Nadine Angel Cloete said: my bru, i didn’t even want to acknowledge this craziness….i mean even the appropriation of ‘aweh’..nee gazzie ek kannie
Dannielle Gordon: “Pity you were not doing your downward dog asana wot wots at the marikane[sic] protest marches nor the marches where kids are getting caught in gang cross fires….or wait how about sevice delivery protests?? Why were you not posing there? This a more aesthetically pleasing march ….more naval gazing to be done? More of the stunners and the hippies around to see you…oh please!!! White bourgeoise hipocrasy us white brethren are fraught with!!” Dannielle means Marikana and navel gazing, and probably stoners. What I have to say wasn’t in any of the comments.
I saw that this is yet more black appropriation and erasure although, yes, this erasure has first been done by Brahminism in India and the fact that yoga originated in North/East Africa is overlooked or ignored. There are google results about that however, more than about origins in Latin America too. At this point even all the research I can do does not confirm what role Dalits played in yoga instruction because their culture and history that has not been erased is only being documented now. We only know there are ‘temple prostitutes’ called yoginis, to this day some Dalits are forced by religious heads to give their girl child away into (state-condoned) rape slavery; and commonly Dalit women are not allowed to report rape. A religion was built around oppressing them within a hierarchy, before among other injustices, any Dalit woman was forced to uncover their breasts and pay taxes depending on the breasts size!!! Now they are not given the human right of reporting a rape, this is not what one sees discussed around the Nirbhaya/Jyoti case, these women are not included in those talks, I suppose like hijras and transwomen who are included by Dalits, but also discriminate against Dalits.
Lourette’s “The more you are grateful the more life will throw things at you to be grateful for.” means with oppression, corruption & power, you’ll get more.
Another issue is Lourette claiming yoga is accessible. In the way the march was, ironically: physical distances to hippies, fancy gyms and studios on unceded stolen land aside, it carries oppressive discourse disguised as something that will benefit all people and it has appropriated from the people it oppresses (at least in part). It’s supposed to be selfless but in fact it’s all ‘me and my privilege matters’, as Lourette’s post reads. What is the price tag to her yoga class? And yeah I know there are other yoga teachers who share freely with TB patients at Crossroads, I know, I made sandwiches regularly when they were giving those as lunch. I also know it’s only breathing exercises they taught and I know too well how oppressive they can be with chronically ill people. I’m someone who both volunteered (in other ways too) and paid for yoga classes because yoga accessibility (albeit limited) comes at a higher price. Then the new agey bullying like Lourette’s means life will give you elevators, cars, sign-language interpreters, free medication, it will throw all the bigots into a blackhole and throw at you all the access you need for a decent life? Yeah well the most basic access can be a privilege, meanwhile there is yoga for your pet in Camps Bay while you yoga?
“My POC conclusion from a long overdue call-in today is white feminists have the luxury of ignoring even general sexism when it suits them bc ultimately white patriarchy will hurt black, indigenous women, woc & [gender variant, feminine and not] poc first and foremost.” – my page
I can’t see their different oppressions separately. There is Jodi Allemeier, white woman I didn’t know but heard of, whose white privileged piece I have seen other white activists sharing lately. I recall her mostly from her 3-y-o piece in Women24 in favour of sexual violence or VAW. It’s long and a futile read, I’ll link my response to her too, I’d say read that if you must pick one of the 2. There’s also everyone we know in common, white South Africans, who stayed completely silent or apathetic. Furthermore, and I’m sure she still wants people to believe it, she mentions One Struggle 2012 as if it was something intersectional(3). It was instead oppressing along all intersections, it was the Trojan horse Brian Ihirwe Kamanzi speaks about, which one straight white cis man and one white European cis women, who had moved to //Hui !Gaeb, (he in particular) fooled me into sending into some movements. I’d really thought it was an intersectional effort for a month. Allemeier, by the way, was one of the speakers in their conference, right before she wrote that sexist wreck and I don’t know if some white and whitewashed women are thinking maybe Jodi’s still some kind of authority, now on “anti-racism”, or if she has the ally-theatre expertise they need. Let’s face it, she worked for and with the South African Vegan Society, for long it was headed by said white tokenistic closet-racist man (as were Anarchist bookfairs) and for some who know this and shared her #ZMF article, it’s clear what they are.
There are also some resources being shared by that clique that are subtly racist or problematic. I trust that people can discern and also pay attention to the white people who like, endorse or agree with them.
I’ll end with a reminder that Veganism has a Serious Racist Problem; and a request to please only share this (my) blog post (if you must, that is) with indigenous/ black people, POC or mixed-race people (because my webs got hacked into/ I don’t have time for derailing or racism).
1) “Ableism: a set of institutionalized attitudes, policies and systems which dehumanize, pathologize, criminalize and either desexualize or hypersexualize people whose bodies* do not fit into socially constructed notions of what constitutes a ”normal” human being/body.” — Edward Khanya Ndopu
2) #RhodesMustFall was from March, then there was a Namibian petition about taxes (taxes must fall/ figures must fall) but applying it to people or icons was the deed of black students who had been through the more than straining violent protests, arrests, fundraising for bail, academic exclusions. I’d say they inspired the first use I found of #ZumaMustFall, 9th day of the FMF protest, days after NMF, before the article in the Sowetan? Here is the first #ZMF I found anyway.
3) Hyperlinked is a long and jumbled post, I was in a state like post-trauma for months while writing it.
Geography lesson: //Hui !Gaeb or iKapa is the unceded land known as Capetown, demographically the whitest city in South Africa. They’re not embarassed about the name ‘City of Capetown’, it’s a city not a town so switch to an indigenous name already! Camps Bay is where Oprah Winfrey and other celebs buy mansions. Otherwise, some white people can afford to stay there.