Black Child You Are Not The Problem
After spending the entire day with the learners at Pretoria Girls high school this week, listening to their individual stories of alleged victimisation at the hands of their educators I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth.
I kept an open mind and remained as impartial as I possibly could as I watched fellow journalists wipe the tears from their eyes while refraining from comforting the learners who sat weeping while relaying their stories.
With such detailed reports of incidents which took place at the school I was hoping that when the schools management was given a chance to respond they would have valid explanations that would allow for a balanced story with both sides being told fairly.
The response given by the schools management was one that made it very easy for all those present to side with the learners. According to the school this was the first they were hearing of the issues being raised therefore they would need time to look into it.
Maybe I was hoping for a little compassion from the men and women tasked with protecting and cultivating these young minds. Maybe part of the schools response needed to portray a clear commitment to getting to the bottom of some of the alleged racial labels that the educators were easily using to describe and call these young girls.
An important question was posed to me during a wrap up interview on this particular story. I was asked if I would send my child to a school like Pretoria Girls High in the future after witnessing first hand the happenings and tensions which played out this week.
As a parent, your natural instinct tells you to protect your child from any kind of harm at all costs. When looking for a school for your child you try and search for the best possible environment for which will help your offspring to reach their full potential. The school needs to be a safe and secure environment with educators who love your child and try to bring out the best in them.
With all that being said Pretoria Girls High ticks all the right boxes except for the one that is most important to me. The learners do not feel safe, nor do they feel loved or accepted by their “second parents” i.e their teachers.
If a thirteen year old can openly say that they know that they cannot change what is in their teachers hearts and that they know they cannot force their teachers to stop seeing their blackness as a threat, then who am I to believe that government intervention will create a better environment for my child to be in.
I don’t know about many of you but I am just not willing to take that chance with my child.
Meetings will be held, consultations will take place but once all that dust has settled and the spotlight is shifted to another scandal I am afraid that things will return to what has always been “normal” at this particular school.
As we wrap up womens month, I want to applaud the young ladies at this school. The bravery it took to stand up and raise their voices against what has been deemed as acceptable by society for so long makes me question what kind of difference I am contributing towards to create a better South Africa for my own child.
The truth of the matter is that the black child is not the problem in this fight for the freedom to wear their hair the way they want to, the problem is that the black woman and the black man remained silent about similar issues for so long that the child is left to fight a battle which is far bigger than them.