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

From: David Preiss (
Date: Tue Nov 01 2005 - 12:25:11 PST

How close, how far away are these memories, Mary! Thanks for sharing them.
Similar feelings in Chile towards Pinochet's dictatorship, although in a
different dimension.

David Preiss
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Escuela de Psicología
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860
Macul, Santiago,
Fono: 56-2-3544605
Fax: 56-2-354-4844

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Mary van der Riet
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] A woman sat down, the world turned arounde

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 not
ride in the front of a bus. When, as a new grad student in Bloomington
Indiana there were cross burnings on the lawns of the fraternity that
allowed a great basketball player to become a member and Woolworths served
colored folks in a special section When a Jew could not 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 who
died a few days ago lay "in state" in the nation's capital. All sort of
people trumpeted 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 times, 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 a 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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