SEGOMOTSO PALESA MOTSUMI
I have never ever tried to explain racism to anyone, especially white people. I would just resign and walk away. That’s just me. It’s hard because then you end up being the black woman who never takes instructions or listens or is included in very important decisions or being in leadership roles (I recently found out by accident that I was recommended to be a chairperson for a committee and to my surprise, that didn’t happen) and that means you are ‘disruptive’ or ‘uncontained’ – that affects your performance at work or in your business. I have faced both instances and at a very tender age with nobody there to articulate what that meant. It meant being overlooked for work, being misunderstood and also not getting paid work for months (and relying on my blood, sweat and tears) but when advice was needed or any help was required or participation in a certain programme from Africa, my number would be dialed or an email would pop up. No problems, there. Oh and then, there would be the requests to speak at events to a predominantly white audience. I would agree but soon realised that it was a performance and it was not when we had just finished judging a particular Art Prize that I was asked to give an overview of the works and I refused. I refused because minutes before then, the conversation was in Afrikaans and of course I can understand the language but my premise was simple, what was so important that it needed to be expressed, then, in a language that we had not started with in the beginning of the meeting? I point blank refused to say anything after that and refused to judge again the following year. I reflect on this because that’s how gatekeeping and racism is sustained. Get one black person in there and make it seem progressive but the system in which it is operating in is wrought with a thick layer of discrimination and inequality.
Also, when white people tell you to work harder at something but you know you have given it your all and you have checked with other black people. But there is a particular way it is said to dismiss the racist credentials they have accumulated through gaslighting and years and years of experience in running down black, young and bright minds.