… a poverty-stricken mind

Apartheid accomplished the rooting of intra-racial hatred into generational consciousness.  We seem to suckle it to our young and it courses through their veins.  You don’t believe me?  Have you seen how they use it to judge each other and put each other down? Every few days there’s a trending topic on the social networks about stereotypically “black traits”: you know you’re black whenonly in the townshipblackgirlsbelikeyellowbonesbelike

The privileged born free hides behind her smart mobile device and fires off intra-racial attacks at themselves without much recourse, as though they are protagonists in a game firing bullets at a villain. Negative talk that berates sisters and brothers of darker hues against yellow-bone ideals of perceived beauty; and brag talk about swag and financial opulence as if being born into poverty was an indication as to rot of the mind.  What have you ever done to earn the opulence you have access to?

What happened here? We have become dispossessed people.  We have been relieved of our idea of collective consciousness.  Historical events in South Africa have established a context that has influenced the perception of black people as being of inferior intelligence.  Early writings of the African people by pre-colonial and colonial philanthropists, missionaries and scientists include misconceptions and misunderstandings of the black culture. As a system, apartheid’s mission was to devalue the black experience and reduce it to nought.  Learned misconceptions of a people fuel stereotypes, which lead to prejudice and discrimination.

Stereotypes lead to prejudice and discriminations on a social level.  The word prejudice refers to the negative/positive evaluations or judgements of members of a group of people that are based on membership in that group and not necessarily on the particular individual in that group.  Stereotypes are what maintain prejudices, because one tends to have certain expectations of a person, simply because they belong to a certain group.  Discrimination is the behavioural manifestation of prejudice, where negative (and sometimes positive) actions are taken against a person belonging to a particular group.

There was a time when many mysteries surrounded African people.  Combined with the fact the black people had different colour skin and different textured hair, their different customs, lifestyle and religion caused them to be regarded as “savage” or “primitive”. This resulted in the creation of laws that made black people into second rate citizens and had many restrictions placed on them.  This segregation of the races resulted in many stereotypes and prejudices, which continue to plague us today. These stereotypes have been utilised in media and in popular culture (a review of current advertising can reveal how stereotypes play a crucial role in marketing products and services which have a cultural-bias based on basic socio-cultural differences.  See how advertising illustrates these views in commercials for food, domestic products and alcohol products.

Socio-economic factors illustrate great gaps in how people are driven, their ideals and their values.  When you are not concerned with the business of where to get your next meal it is easy to look upon the goals of others as inferior and baseless.  We can’t allow the opinions of people who are still operating from their frontal lobes to dictate who we are to be as a people.

It is important that we recognise the differences between poverty-issues and race issues.  Poverty not only relates to a financial state; when people are poor of mind, poor of emotion, or poor of empathy they do despicable things. Poverty speaks of a deficiency: so if you have a lack of humanity, you are likely to be living in poverty; and this gross lack of humanity is displayed in violent behaviour and the exacting of atrocities upon others.

When I see these kinds of negative communication I see minds full of clutter, uncertain about events and insights.  The cluttered mind cannot be trusted, we need a Spring Cleaning urgently.

We have to filter what we choose to put in our minds; what we allow there to settle, and to fester.  We should refute visitations of the negative ideas of the past and allow to permeate in our socio-cultural environment.  You are born free, your mandate is to perceive an openness of thought and of mind; be mindful about what you choose to define who you are.

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Photograher Thato Sehlabela    You can peep more of my writing on Like Water or find me on @Tebogo101

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