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Part II. Apart-hood: Light Emerges

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

Happy Reconciliation Day, South Africa!


A collection of anecdotal stories sharing positive experiences, transgressing the past and powerfully pushing you forward to the future:


📷 Daniel Thurler


ANECDOTE #1

Be Kind To Others Even If It Hurts (And You Don’t Feel Like It!)


Visiting #Dublin for pleasure rather than business this time around, I was looking forward to grabbing a pint and settling in for a proper dose of craic¹ at a local Irish pub. Having frequented this vibrant city, I was well acquainted with their endless friendliness (twice voted Europe’s friendliest city!), lively humour & irresistible Irish charm.


Our expert pub crawl guide – ‘21 Pubs in Ireland You Must Visit Before You Die’ - led us to one of the many places reputed to serve the best #Guinness in Ireland.


Nothing sobers you up fast like awkwardly standing at the bar waiting to be served for what feels like an eternity, as the bar staff seemingly ignore you.

I raised my hand slightly to get their attention – and still, nothing!


And no, I wasn’t struggling to make myself seen through crowds of people and no, they were not politely ignoring me because they were busy – they simply chose not to serve me.


One of my (white) friends approached the bar to see why it was taking so long to buy a round of drinks?! One of the bar staff immediately approached her with a broad grin on his face, asking ‘What would you like to drink?’


Hoping that I’d got the wrong end of the stick, I decided to try again when it was my turn to buy another round (of drinks), only to be refused service twice and having to recruit my (white) friend once again to guarantee speedy and friendly service.


I took a deep breath and smiled through the (silent) pain instead of reacting to the overwhelming urge to hit out at the unfair treatment and quite frankly, clear and sharp racism.

Deep down, I knew this was not the first time, nor the last time this happens!


THE MORAL #1

'Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn't measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It's not winning battles that makes you happy, but it's how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction.'

~ C. JoyBell C. | Leading Female Thinker & Writer


¹ Irish translation: enjoyable social activity; a good time

ANECDOTE #2

The Importance of Keeping An Open Mind & Being Positively Present


📷 Jon Tyson


"Why won’t the dirt come off, mum," asked the little girl as she rubbed my hand gently at first and then vigorously, as she desperately tried to get rid of the ‘dirt’.


She had never met anyone who looked like me before, and when she was very little, she was afraid of my dark skin colour but these days, she seemed to be intrigued by its rich, dark tone. She simply could not fathom why I looked ‘dirty’!


How do you explain – to an impressionable toddler (with such an inquiring young mind!!) - why my skin colour was different from hers and everyone else’s in her village?! Add yet another layer of complication - try explaining this to her in German (dialect)!! I was so tempted to tell her that it was because I ate too much chocolate (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)!


I believe it’s never too early to cultivate a healthy awareness of our wonderfully diverse and beautiful world, so I actively chose to talk openly about differences explaining in simple language:


"My skin isn't dirty, it's just not like yours. People have different skin colours just like people have different eye and hair colours – isn’t that great?"

THE MORAL #2

In the words of French philosopher, Henri Bergson, 'The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend'. Learn to view the world around you with an open mind and every situation on your path from multiple angles. Encourage honesty, open-mindedness and clean-thinking by walking away from the perils of certainty.


ANECDOTE #3

All The Difference in the World


From the corner of my eye, I saw him gesture toward me. My heart was pounding. Although I tried to look away, he made eye contact. He walked over and casually sat beside me. I pretended to be busy on my phone to avoid interaction and to appear unfazed by his presence.


“Is that a Durban accent, I detect?” I nodded stunned as Michael Johnson – American sprinter and once the fastest person ever to run the men's 200 meters (!!!) - looked at me intently, grinning with confidence.


I was so taken aback that I spurted the words in my head out loud, "My mum absolutely loves you ... and eh yeah … yes, I’m from Durban!" He burst into a big smile and told me he had just returned from a trip to South Africa where he had been working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.


Fast forward 30 minutes and we had shared stories of South Africa, its people, and the lasting impact of Mandela’s legacy. MORAL #3

It has been said that we cannot know the light without experiencing the darkness. Darkness and light are both great teachers. It is through darkness that we grow and transform. When light expels darkness - this is the triumph of the human spirit!


AFTERWORD


Once again, we have reached a fork in the road with two different possible futures for design:


A #progressive #future where people of all races are more tolerant and accepting of each other, fostering a fairer and more equal society;


#2 A regressive future where #racist behaviour persists creating disadvantage for some and conferring privileges onto others, widening the gap instead of levelling the playing field.


This time, something feels different – change feels inevitable. The energy in the air all around us, is positively electrifying; in fact, it feels very similar to (and eerily reminiscent of!) the period that led to the dismantling of #apartheid in #SouthAfrica.

People and organisations (the world over) are stepping up, standing up and speaking out against racism. Those who were once silent are turning up the volume and amplifying the voices for #equality, opening the possibility for improvement and real, long-term changes.

Stopping #racism is everybody’s responsibility and this moment right now - yes, this one, right now - with all of it’s chaos and inconvenience, feels like the perfect moment to move forward in a positive light.


Turn on your light and let it shine - and the darkness will disappear of itself!


Peace, love & light always:

Melani Nair-Mason

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