It’s not enough to be non-racist, we need to be anti-racist

5 months ago 95

“Humiliating and degrading,” is however activistic Zulaikha Patel describes immoderate of the racist experiences she and chap students of colour endured astatine Pretoria High School for Girls successful South Africa.

Pretoria High is simply a erstwhile whites-only Government schoolhouse based successful Pretoria, a metropolis considered the bosom of the erstwhile apartheid regime, the superior with a predominantly achromatic population.

While apartheid whitethorn beryllium portion of the past program for born-free students successful South Africa (those calved station 1994), Zulaikha says that the apartheid mindset is inactive entrenched successful the hearts and minds of immoderate of the educators and institutionalized successful the schoolhouse policies.

Some of these policies and experiences included:

  • Dreadlocks and afros were not allowed. Hair needed to beryllium neat and tidy by being pinned astatine the nape, which is lone imaginable with consecutive hair.
  • Black girls were not allowed to congregate successful groups of 3 oregon much due to the fact that this was considered arsenic ‘conspiring’ and ‘intimidating’.
  • Being made to beryllium connected the level portion achromatic students sat connected their chairs successful a fewer past lessons to marque the acquisition look much ‘real’.
  • Educators telling Black students that they were “lucky and privileged to beryllium successful the school”.

In effect to these racist attitudes, Zulaikha and her friends decided to embark connected a soundless and non-violent protestation astatine the schoolhouse successful August 2016. They wore achromatic outfits with cards emblazoned with the words: No to racism!

The schoolhouse responded by hiring further information officers who were aboriginal accused, on with respective educators, of manhandling demonstrating teenage students.

The students past took their origin to societal media. In nary clip they realized they were not unsocial successful their combat against what they saw arsenic institutionalized racism.

In effect to exclusive policies and discriminatory attraction by educators, much students organized connected protests. The ripple effect of their demonstrations caught the attraction of the Department of Education which past led to an probe astatine the school, arsenic good arsenic media attraction crossed the country.

Prior to the Pretoria Girls High incidents, Zulaikha had experienced her just stock of racism astatine erstwhile schools, including successful mundane beingness portion buying with her interracial parents.

“When I was unsocial with my begetter successful a buying mall, radical would question whether I truly was his daughter, due to the fact that helium is Indian and lighter successful tegument code and besides due to the fact that his hairsbreadth is consecutive arsenic compared to mine.” she explained.

The young activistic  graduated from precocious   schoolhouse  successful  2020 and has finished her archetypal  children’s book, 'My Coily Crowny Hair', which follows a 7-year-old miss  named Lisakhanya connected  a travel  to clasp  her earthy  hairsbreadth  with the assistance   of her mother, grandmother, and an African queen.

Photo courtesy of Zulaikha Patel

The young activistic graduated from precocious schoolhouse successful 2020 and has finished her archetypal children’s book, 'My Coily Crowny Hair', which follows a 7-year-old miss named Lisakhanya connected a travel to clasp her earthy hairsbreadth with the assistance of her mother, grandmother, and an African queen.

Now a well-known anti-racism activist, Zulaikha has written a book, My Cowly Crowny Hair, targeted astatine young African girls. The book, she says, reflects “the communicative of young girls of colour increasing up, thing I ne'er experienced adjacent though I’ve been speechmaking since the property of four.”

Zuliakha hopes that by documenting her experience, she has fixed anticipation to different young girls similar her.

As for the future, Zulaikha aspires to go a quality rights advocate, fiercely advocating that it’s not capable to beryllium conscionable non-racist, beryllium anti-racist.

This interview, produced by the UN Information Centre successful Pretoria, is 1 of a bid of multimedia features and podcasts produced by UN News arsenic portion of the worldwide commemoration the twentieth day of the UN’s Durban Declaration (Durban +20), considered to beryllium a milestone successful the planetary combat against racism, radical discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

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