Permission to be Woke?
It is really unlike me not to hold an opinion and even more unlikely for me to not share it publicly. So, as the days of Zuma’s tyranny keep unfolding I find myself in a really difficult position and wondering what the right opinion to hold is. According to Facebook posts if I am calling for Zuma to fall, I am losing touch with my people (black people) and am showing the extent of my brainwash from attending Model C schools. On the other hand, it seems like if I ignore what has been labeled the white middle class’ narrative, I am acting right according to my people and am not at risk of being called an Oreo or a coconut.
These are really confusing times for South Africa and as a young, black, Model C educated woman, living outside of the country these are even more confusing times. On one hand, there’s the physical and emotional distance from my country and as a result, I have no choice but to rely on the media; but which media? As a journalism student I know that all media is owned and I also am very well-versed with the practice of agenda-setting. And, as a ‘Model C’ I have come to realize that I subscribe to the same media as most white South Africans out of familiarity — that is to say these are the views I grew up hearing around me from adults.
Although, my twenties are making me more woke (as the cool kids say) about my country and also the imbalances in our society which disadvantage black people on the daily, I still feel that I am not woke enough to have a publicly-known opinion about the current affairs in my country. A back and forth with my oldest sister yesterday — which saw me screaming ‘the sky is falling’ and her saying ‘you only feel like it’s falling now because white people are saying it’s falling’ — made me rethink my whole stance on the current happenings in my country.
Right now, I feel like I don’t deserve to have an opinion because I’m too brainwashed by my Model C education and the continuous subtle racism I let seep through the cracks of my consciousness in order to make white people feel less intimidated by my mere skin color and/or presence in their ‘peaceful’ spaces. Or that, the one I would like to hold will be torn apart by social media’s woke committee. But, then I ask myself is advocacy (because that is really all our mutterings on social media can be narrowed down to) a competition between the most woke or is it about allowing people to stand up for what is right and also speak up for the voiceless. In addition, should we not respect each other’s opinions and not blatantly laugh at them or shame them on social media? — I know someone will say I am too idealistic.
So, I would like to throw this to my friends who believe they are woke enough to hold the ‘right’ opinion: above I have laid out my circumstances and my shame and I’m asking you almighty woke ones whether this Zulu girl is woke enough to hold a public opinion on the current issues in South Africa? Don’t get me wrong, I know I have the intellect and the skill of writing to share my opinions — that much I am not doubting — I only doubt my qualifications in being woke enough to share them publicly and I ask you because apparently someone set the standard for what being woke in South Africa means however, only a few got the memo about which opinion is ‘right’ and even fewer got the authority to pass their opinion around.