Race, leadership, learnings and unintended consequences.
Not so long ago I came under attack for my misguided remarks on the Sparrows / Monkey / Twitter debacle. I unwittingly, and unwisely, commented on black racism at a time when my focus should have been on condemning white racism. I spoke from emotion and out of context and landed myself in a very uncomfortable position of being attacked repeatedly for 2 days on social media by people I thought were my friends and allies, I am sure they felt betrayed too.
I went into hiding, deleted my fb account and I am now happy to express my opinions on this not-so-much-read / not-read-at-all blog, however I did learn one or two things which I would like to share with the open minded reader who has managed to find my words.
Learnings on leadership:
First learning, a leader must know and understand the context in which he or she is working.
Second learning; a leader must not add fuel to the fire.
Third learning; a leader must not expose his underbelly to his enemies because they are armed with red hot pokers.
Fourth learning; never ever speak out of frustration or emotion, it will only lead to misunderstanding and the emotion will be matched.
Fifth learning; mediocre leaders will protect their own position of power and will pander to the crowd rather than defend injustice.
Sixth learning; we are all learning here so don’t be so hard on yourself or on others.
Learnings on racism:
Racism is the best way to mobilise anger in South Africa.
Racism is the de-humanising of one to another based on race. Thabo Makgoba, current Archbishop of Southern Africa
Most whites have no idea of the reality blacks live through.
Most blacks have no idea of the reality whites live through.
Coloured, Indian and Immigrant peoples do not have a voice in the media.
Racism is still born from ignorance and fear and always will be.
Race is used to divide people and is still being used effetely by global powers as well as leading government figures in South Africa.
President Jacob Zuma effectively silenced discent from his own people by establishing that any criticism leveled against him is racist.
President Jacob Zuma is very clever and very manipulative.
On a personal note.
When I was 16, half my life ago, my friends decided to give the nickname Monkeyboy. I hated that nickname with a passion, one because it dehumanized me and two because it emasculate me. The name evolved to just Monkey but it stuck and even after 7 years of absence and I was still called Monkey on my return to South Africa 2 years ago. I have been trying to ask them to stop calling me that name but old habits die hard and the name seemed like it was here to stay. But then came along the Sparrows/Monkey/Twitter debacle and suddenly they stopped calling me that name, it seemed as if my nightmare had finally ended. It had become dangerous to call me Monkey and most of them wouldn’t dare to call me Monkey in public for fear of being misheard. With one stupid and racist tweet Sparrows has done more than 2 years of my pleading ever could.
I know that we as a nation are very ignorant of each other and hopefully one day that will change. I am just waiting untill President Jacob Zuma is out, then the conversation will change and we will be able to move forward. Untill then let’s keep dismantling ignorance as best we can. Let’s keep loving one another and lets start offering free hugs to those who frown on the buses, trains and taxis, thumbs up will do for those stuck in traffic. :)