Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - SHERLIN BARENDS

NOT ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one should be wel­come in your 2019. The start of a new year is the per­fect time to re­flect on the year that was and en­vi­sion what you’d like the next 12 months of your life to look like.

You have the power to de­cide who and what stays in 2018.

Here’s my top five #ThingsToAvoidIn2019.

R Kelly, and what he rep­re­sents, tops my list. A num­ber of women have ac­cused the Amer­i­can singer-song­writer of “sex­ual, men­tal and phys­i­cal abuse”. Hit­mak­ers John Leg­end, Lady Gaga and lo­cal artists like Jimmy Ne­vis have all de­nounced the Ig­ni­tion singer. How­ever, you might still hear that very song if you switch on your ra­dio.

We can­not sep­a­rate the artist from the art, the same way sur­vivors of abuse can­not sep­a­rate the per­pe­tra­tor from the act.

“He ain’t a mon­ster by him­self, it took some help,” notes one of the woman in the trailer for the six-part docu-series Sur­viv­ing R Kelly.

We need to hold R Kelly and those who sup­port him ac­count­able. The prob­lem is big­ger than one man. We need to stop pro­tect­ing the “R Kellys” in our com­mu­ni­ties, churches, schools and those seated around our din­ing tables.

Com­ments sec­tions and key­board war­riors. We’re not even two weeks into the new year and al­ready South Africans have been di­vided by a few race rows: the Clifton beach saga, Spring­bok cap­tain Siya Kolisi’s com­ments around trans­for­ma­tion and, most re­cently, Laërskool Sch­weizer-Reneke’s “al­leged racial sepa­ra­tion”, where black and white pupils were pic­tured seated sep­a­rately in a pho­to­graph.

Yes, is­sues around “The Rain­bow Na­tion’s” race and class dy­nam­ics are im­por­tant. We need to in­ter­ro­gate these sto­ries and ask ques­tions.

Why are there two tables? Why not just have one big ta­ble or sev­eral smaller ones? Why are the white chil­dren sit­ting at the big­ger ta­ble? Why are the black chil­dren seated at the smaller ta­ble in the cor­ner?

Yes, when en­ter­ing for­eign spa­ces peo­ple tend to grav­i­tate to­wards the fa­mil­iar. How­ever, teach­ers should un­der­stand the com­plex­i­ties of South Africa’s racist past/present and help cre­ate in­clu­sive spa­ces. On the other hand, com­ments sec­tions are too of­ten spa­ces that per­pet­u­ate ha­tred and ig­no­rance.

So, for the sake of my gen­eral well-be­ing, I’ll no longer read or en­gage with com­ments sec­tions.

Work­ing for free is also a thing of the past. I’m ob­vi­ously not re­fer­ring to char­ity work or col­lab­o­rat­ing with up-and-com­ing brands and per­son­al­i­ties. Yet, I’ve had enough of big, es­tab­lished brands and com­pa­nies who want to “pay” you with their re­spec­tive prod­ucts and/or ser­vices.

You shouldn’t be afraid to charge peo­ple just be­cause you en­joy do­ing it. Know the value of your work.

The fes­tive sea­son has come and gone, and with it, the ques­tions some of my fam­ily mem­bers in­sist on ask­ing ev­ery time I see them: “You are prac­ti­cally 30. When are you get­ting a hus­band and bless­ing this fam­ily with a grand­child?”

This year, I’m not in­ter­nal­is­ing other peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions of what my life should look like. Cre­ate a life that is au­then­ti­cally yours, not one that is mod­elled on so­ci­ety’s ideas of what suc­cess and hap­pi­ness look like. Lastly, I’m done not mak­ing a fuss of my birth­day. This year, I’ll truly cel­e­brate the fact that I’ve been blessed with an­other year.

What are you leav­ing be­hind in 2018? Who are the peo­ple you want to keep? You have the power to de­cide.

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