Re: [xmca] A woman sat down, the world turned arounde

From: Mary van der Riet (
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 05:41:33 PST

Some not so old folks remember segregation here in another part of the
world. Growing up in a small East Rand town in South Africa, I remember
(less than 40 years ago) different entrances in the post office for
black and white people; different toilets for black and white people. On
the drive to the Cape from Johannesburg, in another small karoo town, I
remember going into a toilet with a women's sign and being shooed out
(age about 8), and not understanding, was I not a woman? Yes, but not a
black woman. I remember white shop owners at corner stores serving me, a
young white child, before black people old enough to be my parents. As a
student at Wits in the 80's I remember a bus driver refusing to let a
black person board a bus - I walked out and felt shame. Shame for being
part of being white, and angry not to be able to do more

I also remember a phase beyond that, I remember campus protests,
watching police beat black students in front of my eyes, me, a white 19
year old, bewildered at their aggression. Also at Wits, I heard a young
friend's account of his solitary confinement. How he used to talk to the
person in the cell next to him through the toilet bowl. He was eighteen.
My age, but black, and poor. He had not been able to finish school. I
was already at university, I was huge steps ahead. Another friend had
left home at the age of 16, and taken an assumed name, because the
police burnt down his house, killing his grandmother who was inside.

I'm going a bit off on a tangent, but the impact of these indignities
sits deep, and for black people in South AFrica they did so so much
more than the small stuff I experienced, and they lead to huge change.
thank goodness, and thank goodness for people like Rosa Parks, who acted

Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209

tel: 033 260 6163; fax: 033 2605809

>>> 2005/11/01 04:09 AM >>>
Some of us old folks remember segregation. When a Black person could
ride in the
front of a bus. When, as a new grad student in Bloomington Indiana
were cross burnings
on the lawns of the fraternity that allowed a great basketball player
become a member and
Woolworths served colored folks in a special section When a Jew could
own a house in La Jolla. When Nelson Mandela
was imprisoned and Steve Biko was killed.

Today, for the first time in the history of this country a Black woman
died a few days
ago lay "in state" in the nation's capital. All sort of people
what a wonderful
moment it was.

Myself? I remember that Rosa Parks was an NAACP activist long before
she sat
in the front
of that bus. She had read *The souls of black folk*. Perhaps, at
history is made on the whim of the moment. But don't believe
it about Rosa Parks. She knew what she was doing and HAD BEEN DOING for
long time.
That this government in this time, became the first to act decently
when so
many went before
without recognition is shameful. And, I fear, it is getting worse,
Shame on
me. And not only me.

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