An experience that moved me as an afro-descendent is when I did the Put Foot Rally through the 6 Southern African countries (from South Africa through Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and back into South Africa) in 2012. To see so many people wanting to explore their continent, people and cultures before the rest of the world ment so much to me. I think that it is so important for people to understand where they come from and for us to experience what goes on in our own country and in our bordering countries to truly understand who we are and how we fit in as Africans. I am a #RepresentationMatters ally an I am amplifying melanated voices by photographing real African people and documenting their stories by submitting them to Pichastock. It is important for me to be a part of telling the real and raw story of all Africans so that people around the world can see what Africa and Africans are really like.
Growing up, I didn't see many females who looked like me in the media I was exposed to. I remember playing in my parents bedroom one day, I must have been about 4 or 5 years old, standing in front of the mirror and covering myself in baby powder to make my skin white while playing make-believe. Because that was what I wanted to be because that was what movies, cartoons and even picture books said leading ladies looked like. I work at PICHA now, dedicated to #representationmatters so that other girls can look in the mirror and see themselves as heroines, princesses, adventuresses and pioneering engineers. Just as they are. Curly haired. Bushy haired. All shades of beautiful. Because they have seen proof of this in the media they consume.
From a very young age I was bothered about the wrong perception of Africa. I decided to use my phography skills to capture Africans and african landscape and landmarks in a way that i feel represent us best. To showcase our beauty, faces , who and where we are in an authentic way. I also work with Pichastock which stood for the same cause to advance the same objective to the mainstream world.
i have my own little hashtag #NotOnOurWatch which is my [and others] daily commitment to interrupt racism wherever we see it - online and off - and so i am absolutely loving this space that amplifies black and hopefully coloured and indian and other groups that call Africa home. i have learned that i cannot self-identify as an ally because it means nothing coming from me - my words and actions and thoughts have to show to others that i see them and am fighting for them and want to make the world better for them. i try to use my platforms to raise the issues and host many conversations [predominantly on Facebook or YouTube] around race and privilege and inviting white people to do and be better. #RepresentationMatters for sure!
We were driving and my son pointed out a guy driving a very fancy sports car. He said "Daddy, that guy looks like Uncle Roy...i mean its not an old white guy" - he articulated what I had been struggling with, that even we though we have a great constitution in South Africa...the majority of our people from black or mixed heritage are still ignored and misrepresented here, our achievements, contested heritage, spaces and people are not recognised. #RepresentationMatters
Everyday life as a Black South African woman moves me to do better and be better. Most importantly I am reminded that I deserve better.