BASETSANA MABELANE

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - REAL LIVES -

‘We live in a world of prej­u­dice, and while it’s of­ten a re­sult of our cir­cum­stances, at some point we have to own that prej­u­dice as a choice. I’ve spent my life in Model C schools, and al­ways in­ter­acted with the same kinds of peo­ple. I judged oth­ers based on their abil­ity to speak English.We were all like that in high school – I re­mem­ber hav­ing a black teacher who bat­tled to pro­nounce a few English words, and a room of learn­ers would laugh at her. In my mind, a per­son’s lan­guage use was a mea­sure of their in­tel­li­gence – and as a black per­son, the bet­ter your English, the bet­ter you were. It took a long time be­fore I got woke to how aw­ful that is. Af­ter school, I shared a res room with three other black women, all from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. At rst, I looked down on them be­cause they didn’t sound like me. Then I got to know them, and un­der­stood how wrong I was. I was re­ally judg­ing my­self. We have to learn to stop sham­ing each other, in any con­text. I don’t think it’s naive to be­lieve that one changed mind­set can shift the whole coun­try. It’s hap­pen­ing right now.’ @Basie_Ma­belane

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