Last week, I got the opportunity to be a guest speaker at the Ikageng Career Day in Orlando West for Grade 10-12 high school pupils. I immediately accepted but I started to worry if my contribution in moulding young minds would be good enough. I have conversations about creating space with colleagues and friends, particularly for young black females, and how one actually turns these conversations into blueprints for others to follow.
I find myself asking the question: how can I, as a young black female, change the status quo in a way that dispenses purpose and creates space for other black girls? Creating space for black girls affords them the prospect of standing up to mediocrity and turning black excellence into a baton to be passed on to future generations.
Standing in front of young faces that exuded warmth must have been intimidating for the Sun because all I could see were radiating souls that shone despite the circumstances they inherited. Speaking at this career day, I realised creating space has to be about the sum of the parts and not just about the whole. I form the foundation for younger ones to stand on my shoulders and if I do not create the space, I would be doing them a massive disservice. The 4-hours I spent at this Career Day turned into 4 lifetimes for a 17-year old black girl to inhale the affirmations she needed to be magic.
The dynamics of being a pupil or a student today are becoming increasingly complex. For example, students are fighting a different battle now to the Apartheid era and these students are being branded as radicals, menaces and obstructers of the status quo that has been neatly tucked away in the crevices of a false sense of security. I have a problem with this because when I’m asked about my opinion, I get labelled with some of the same tags that describe the #feesmustfall students and that I need to calm down.
When this country needs to face its own demons, protestors are labelled as nation destroyers but it is the deafening silence from ‘non-protestors’ and ‘fence-sitters’ that actually destroys the nation from their acceptance of an oppressive culture. Lauryn Hill touches on this in her song ‘So much things to say’ in her album, Unplugged.
Creating space is the needle that sews growth and transformation together but space can be seen as a luxury by those who have been told too many times that they do not belong in the room, or that your opinions need to live in an abandoned place that is not conducive for you to air them at all. The young minds I spoke to last week taught me that existing for the sake of my own happiness is fulfilling yet short-lived but existing towards what you may deem to be your purpose IS happiness.
I got a glimpse of what this felt like when a grade 11 pupil stopped me at my car to read to me some of her written material she kept safe in her notebook. That moment felt like she had planted sunflowers in my heart because whenever I think of that moment and of her, the sunflowers in my heart turn to face the sun and I am energised.
Please note: Featured image taken by Mosa Mahlaba.