Friday, March 02, 2007

Please Send Martin Luther King (or his Replacement)

Surprisingly, the most dangerous aspect of South Africa isn't its astoundingly high crime rate. It is ignorance and intollerance. Living in this country has given me a whole new appreciation for the American civil rights movement, and the people that dedicated their lives to making those monumental changes. How did they do it? What was their secret? And where are those people now? Would somebody please send them to South Africa?

Last night I heard someone say that "Black people are stupid." This same person used the South African equivalent of the "N" Word, then asked me what the word was that we use in America. I answered that words like that aren't used in America anymore, except by ignorant people. This same person has a black maid, who's worked for the family for years, but is treated like no more than a servant. She looks miserable, but she lives with them and continues to work for them, because she's very poor and comes from a place several hours from here (so she doesn't have a home nearby, and can't find work in her "home town"). In essence, slavery is still very much alive here. Most black people in this region work as maids, or in manual labor. If they work in manual labor, they are generally picked up from their ghetto by the truckload, and one generally sees them huddled together, covering their heads and/or ears with whatever they can find, trying to shield themselves from the cold, wind, and sometimes, rain. Animals are transported in better conditions here.

But to get back to the subject, how are things ever going to change here? What needs to happen to make life better for the indigineous communities? It can't go on like this forever. It's hard to do nothing, and yet one doesn't know where to begin or what to do. The changes that have to be made are so dramatic, so huge, that climbing Mount Everest seems a more realistic goal. And yet something must be done. It seems impossible, really, to change the minds of some of these people, when they have had such racist thoughts ingrained for years, but it happened in America, so why couldn't it happen here?

Any ideas, dear friend(s)? I would love to get my hands on a good book about the American civil rights movement. We learned quite a bit about it in school many years ago, but it has a whole new significance for me now. Those people were truly amazing, and I wan't to know all about their amazing feats, and the incredible lives that they lead. The changes that America has undergone over the past half century is proof that where there's a will, there's a way.

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