Racism Remains in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Apartheid, Photo by UN Photo
Apartheid, Photo by UN Photo

SOUTH AFRICA - The World Hates me Because I am Black... Thus I will Love the World Because I am Black.

I will always remember this moment: my mom and little brother coming into the house with mail. She hands me a large envelope with the biggest smile. I quickly glance to see Howard University in big, bold, blue font with 'CONGRATULATIONS' on the bottom.

I didn't know at the time that I would be attending a premier HBCU and one of the leading research institutions in the world. My reality soon became engulfed in Black pride, Black beauty, and Black history. Professors continuously remind the student body of the academic, technological, and cultural contributions by African people to the global network. Because of my experience at Howard University, I learned to appreciate my skin color.

I am currently studying abroad at the University of Stellenbosch in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The town is racially and economically segregated. Walking on one side of Eikstad Mall, a shopping centre, I mainly see students, the white middle class, and employees. However, the other side of the mall reveals a different story. Blacks and Coloureds fill the area while White tourists enthusiastically take pictures. The university itself is notoriously known as a racist university because of its history as an Afrikaans-only school. Even the architect of Apartheid taught at this university. So as a young Black woman, I am defying the slowly dying Apartheid-schema:

WHITE = GOOD & SUPERIORITY; BLACK = BAD & INFERIORITY

Stares continuously confront me as I walk through the streets of Stellenbosch. They range from genuine curiosity to a loaded question of “why are you here?” However, I must mention that the stares vary by the perpetrator's color (I am using color to make a claim and demonstrate my observations; I am not aiming to generalize nor to negatively portray South Africa and its people). White people look with curiosity, fascination, objectification, lust, and a complex, deep-seated hatred and contempt. Coloureds glare at me as if I remind them of a Black perpetrator in their past (Blacks and Coloureds do not have an amicable relationship mostly due to the systematic marginalization of Coloured placed slightly above Blacks - similar to the history and relationship between Blacks and Latinos in America). Black Afrikans stare at me with … well... I would argue curiosity, disgust, and confusion.

Does my natural Afro, American accent, and African-Native-American-European mixed features evoke a 'stop-and-stare' reaction in a non-American country?

Of course.

That would definitely be the acceptable explanation if these stares were solely genuine curiosity.

But they are not.

The actual is not the main issue. I do not favor staring because of my experiences in childhood. Staring is a natural phenomenon that will never disappear; I accept that. The main issue is what lies behind the staring that is not spoken, but clear: a covert global campaign promoting Black inferiority.

Everywhere I turn I see Black women destroying their natural hair with non-stop weaves, wigs, and braids. The Afrikan cultural traditions of decorating one's head with flattering hair-dos and wearing clothes that demonstrates one's roots and status became replaced with conflicting European standards of beauty. Like diamonds in the rough, I see Black people retain their heritage through their language, dancing, and the undying dedication towards Ubuntu. But this is overshadowed in Stellenbosch. Even if I travelled to Afrikan places that fought against the damaging effects of colonialism; like a mouse, it silently scurries in and conveniently leaves droppings as a reminder of its presence.

Ultimately, I travelled from an HBCU bubble, Black pride island back into the real world. A world that constantly reminds me that it loathes my skin color and anything associated to it. At every restaurant, I am confronted with “you don't belong here and should never belong here.” At a club, I am asked for extra identification. At the bar, several customers are served before me. In stores, I am monitored but not helped. From tourists, I am greeted with a traditional Afrikan language. To others, I am worthless until my American origin graces their ears. These experiences have truly influenced my study abroad journey. However, there is one that moves my soul to tears: the contempt for Black Americans from Black Afrikans.

Howard reminds me that I have brothers and sisters in Afrika and in the Afrikan diaspora, yet I believe the feeling is not mutual. A Black-American girl from Boston told me that in her conversation with some Afrikans, she mentioned that she identifies herself as African-American. To her surprise, she was met with laughter and a firm “you are not Afrikan.” We can always debate on 'what is Afrikan,' but the disregard of our historical bond disturbs me. Clearly the definitions of Afrikan, Black, isiXhosa vs. isiZulu, Zimbabwean vs. South African are significant to most. Yet, all hope is surely not lost.

One of my best days spent in South Africa was at Mzolis in Gugulethu, a township. My flatmates, Christine and Alyssa, and I were chilling in a lounge with Afrikan men watching a soccer game . Our passionate, young 'tour guide' stopped all conversations to remind us that our ancestors were taken from Africa for the slave trade; however, everyone in that room are brothers and sisters. The men instantly agreed and jokingly identified our African origins based off our physical appearances, mannerisms, and speech. Apparently, I am undeniably South African, but it is a debate between Xhosa and Zulu origins.

In coming to South Africa, I was reminded of the world's hatred for Blackness. But I also experience the community's love for me. South Africa presents me the challenge to love my existence. It shows me the remarkable diversity of Africa and Africans. As I prepare to return to America and Howard University, I shall remember this:

The world hates me because I am Black, Thus, I will love the world because I am Black, I love the world because it is Black, And that will never change.

Follow Chrycka on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

This post is dedicated to my Black sister, Christine Smith, that shared the experiences described in this post in our semester spent in South Africa.

The Natural Rebellion

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Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 01:57 a.m. DST, 28 February 2014

Baby Panda, Seven Star Park in Guilin, Photo by BageltamSunshine's rays gleam off the cold metal cage of the world's favorite baby panda, Bao Bao. Nestled within fake vegetation resembling a panda's natural habitat, the baby panda willingly participates in the scientists' daily lesson plan.

An audience of thousands venture to the National Zoo in Washington, DC to watch Bao Bao's progressive learning process. With brochures illustrating the daily lesson plans, the audience engages with the scientists on teaching Bao Bao how to be a panda.

When Bao Bao walks left, necks follow in unison. When he goes right, necks follow in unison. When Bao Bao sneezes, in unison, everyone reacts with “bless you.”

On this particular day, numbers of the audience reached an all-time high. Humans representing diverse backgrounds and cultures are in the National Zoo watching the baby panda's interaction with a soccer ball. A man unfortunately becomes an open toilet for a blackbird above him. The blackbird and we shall call her Eboni, lands on a tree within the lions' exhibit.

The lions are resting their heads because of the human attention towards Bao Bao. Eboni swoops down towards the King of the Jungle, a black lion that was strangely found within Ethiopia, then propels upward into the clear blue sky. Then the King rises onto his paws and unleashes a proud roar. Eboni flaps her wings to the rhythms of the roar. She spots her flock near the Washington Monument and joins them for a brief meeting. The birds diverge to meet with other species of the planet to relay one message:

THE TIME IS NOW!!!!

Birds representing the iridescent spectrum deliver the message to creatures of all forms, shapes, and sizes. From the algae in the Pacific to the elephants in Africa, all domains of life receive the pertinent message.

Back in the zoo, members of the audience slightly shift their weight on their feet and stretch their backs while watching Bao Bao attempt to shoot a basketball into the hoop. A second roar erupts from the King's mouth then Eboni soon returns to move a switch that unlocks the cages.

Children remember their parents' warnings on public crying so they keep their growing hunger a secret as Bao Bao rolls around. Suddenly, the baby panda stops in action as the King erupts in a third roar- the loudest of all roars that the Universe has ever heard. Startled humans turn around to see nature surrounding them. Kings and Queens of the savannah, exotic plants of the rainforest, and tropical fish of the deep blue seas are silently staring at the human population. No one notices that Bao Bao leaves his cage and joins the King on his right, while Eboni rests on his left shoulder. No words need to be spoken to explain the purpose of this confrontation: nature is rebelling against the humans.

For centuries, nature received brutal treatment from humans. It remembers the baby stage of human civilization where all creatures lived in harmony and unison. Yet, events and circumstances that are not discussed in schools influenced the progression of humans' harsh manipulation, subjugation, exploitation, and oppression of nature.

Animals quietly laugh at the humans' idiotic view that they can rule the majority while they slowly plot their rebellion. Nature will never forget about the obstacles of organizing the creatures, but this day marks the heavily anticipated confrontation. No more excuses and no more silence. The time is now for Nature to demand better treatment from the humans.

This meeting serves as the Ultimatum. Humans must change their ways in order to live in harmony with Nature. Otherwise, Nature on Earth will end the Universe's experiment with human evolution, once and for all. This is the Natural Rebellion.

Follow Chrycka Harper on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

FBI Arrest 159, Rescue 105 Child Prostitutes in Largest Anti-Trafficking Operation

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Dario Macieira, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:02 a.m. DST, 31 July 2013

FBI Bust Child Pornography Ring, Photo by Children's Embassy Megjashi WASHINGTON − In a three-day nation-wide sweep, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with other local, state, and federal officers, arrested 159 pimps and rescued 105 juvenile victims of forced prostitution. The action, named “Operation Cross Country VII”, has been the largest yet of the bureau’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. For comparison, a similar action in 2012 netted 104 arrests and 79 children rescued.

Ronald Hosko, who one year ago was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, spoke to reporters at the FBI headquarters in Washington. In addition to the arrests, the operation included “129 seizures of cash, drugs, firearms… estimated to have a value of $165,000.”

The prostitution sting, which was conducted in cities all across the nation from Miami to Seattle, focused on several different venues for prostitution, both physical and digital, including: truck stops, casinos, motels, internet sites, and social media platforms. Websites such as backpage.com offer easy avenues for the advertisement of sex with children, despite the website’s stated cooperation with police. Raw footage from the operation shows police consulting these websites, including advertisements for escorts around the ages of 20 and 21, who are in fact much younger.

The children that become victims of forced prostitution often come from broken homes and impoverished backgrounds, making them very vulnerable to a pimp’s promises of money or affection. Many pimps began as victims’ boyfriends. Others help girls gain illegal entrance to the United States. Offers and affection the pimps give are quickly used to emotionally control their victims, to isolate them and prevent them from escaping. Some girls do not even come to see themselves as victims, despite the physical and mental abuse they suffer.

Alexandria, as a sixteen year old living on the street, was recruited into prostitution by an abusive boyfriend. At the time she believed she had no other options, remembering, “I called everybody, I need help, I called my family, I called my friends, I called everybody I knew and nobody picked up.” It would take her two years to find the courage to contact the FBI.

Despite the success of recent operations, the number of victims rescued pales in comparison with the number of children at risk of forced prostitution. The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children estimates the number of children annually at risk to be close to 100,000. Many come from states’ foster care systems, and have weak or non-existent ties with their families. Arresting pimps and freeing their victims only treats the symptoms the wider disease. More must be done to help vulnerable children avoid falling victim to sex-trafficking.

Follow Dario on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @dariomacieira