“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Today I was pushed to write this. I grew up in South Africa and watched the seeds of change flourish whilst multiculturalism spread its arms around every skin color we gave birth to. It was a truly unique and precious gift. But somewhere along the way things went horribly wrong. Nelson Mandela fought for peace and freedom. Not for one race, but all races. Color was inconsequential. As it should be. If you punch me in the face, it hurts. If you cut me with your blade, I bleed. My color, your color…makes no difference to the fact that we bleed the same, we need the same things to survive and we all die at some point. The color of my skin does not grant me special preference when Death bows her tresses over me. The color of my skin does not make me superior to you. It does not make me cooler than you. It does not grant permission to ridicule and strip away someone’s dignity.Seems like common sense, right? And yet…I am watching everything Mandela fought so hard for crumble in front of my eyes.
Why do you cling to your bigotry? Why do you think it’s fine to laugh in the face of someone whose culture is different from yours? Why do you sit there, men and women of a supposedly educated and advanced society, and hurl insults at your fellow human beings? Does that make you more powerful? Does skin color dictate the elite from the unworthy? Do I dare give you the satisfaction of naming my worth???
You do not define me.You have made me angry,yes. But, you do not have a say in my happiness. And you do not get to dampen my night or the night of my family or friends. You…that ugly face that smirks at people you think are beneath you. You…that filth that stains the minds of a brighter future. People are not born with hate. You…paint them that way. You paint the brown, the white, the black and the colored. You…nothing but fear, insecurity and ignorance. Childish tantrums and spilled milk. I could fight you with my fists. I could let my curses fall out of my mouth as you tell me to fuck off because my skin has no place sitting near yours. I could learn to hate, just like you. But I do not want to be anything like you. I am not y-o-u.
So I will pick up my books, and enrich my mind and soul while you
your arrogant discrimination. You and your friends took my special evening and vomited all over it. But I am not weak. I am not made of sour words and fickle thoughts.
I am made of lions and sunsets.