Redress seems to have found its home comfortably in documents, government corridors and rhetoric. It has not become the significant healing and transforming action it is meant to be. As an apartheid survivor I find myself being constantly rewounded and wanting REDRESS.
Please don’t head for your wallets, lock up you homes and businesses, move your money offshore! Im not after any of your things. I want to give practical examples on turning redress into a verb and share some of my experiences.
I had the privilege to spa at Mount Grace recently and one of the wonderful staff talked to me about their products. I’ve had many women over the years try to sell me stuff, but this time I bought and I will always buy this product. The product is a Proudly South African Product range , Six Skincare and Spalicious. The young therapist waxed on about “Marisa” and what she teaches and how she treats the staff when she visits them. I don’t know Marisa Dimitriadis but I can see through her actions, that she practices Redress everyday in a couple of ways. She treats staff that do not speak english as their first language, as the intelligent whole human beings they are. She treats all the staff in this way. She offers the use of her first name as equals. (You can allow people to use your first name as if they are saying “Missies”, you know!). Marisa has not given herself permission to treat others as less than, like they don’t matter because of the colour of their skin or their command of the english language or their accent.
Another great example of REDRESS is a remarkable young woman, Wiebke Toussaint of Engineers without Borders, who is turning an industry that has and continues to dehumanise each other, their employees and communities. It dehumanises by holding onto a belief that their particular qualification, entitles them to make decisions that impact peoples lives (sometimes/most times negatively), without consulting them, without including them. To add insult to injury they respond to those who speak out by saying that these people are “ignorant”, “ungrateful” and many other slurs. Wiebke and her Comrades are changing the industry by making sure that big irresponsible companies, consult and include communities impacted in the decision making.
I get rewounded through language. Consistently white people translate what I am saying. I am a South African with a great command of the english language(despite my Eldos accent). I find myself in forums/meetings/conversation where through sheer carelessness (as my business partner Bongani accurately names this behaviour) people will say “What Ad is saying…..What Ad is trying to say is ……”. They don’t even realise that my command of the language might be superior. The colour of my skin, my accent, my paradigm – drives them to automatically hold onto their prejudice. They act out on preconceived notions that I am not equal, actually I’m less than and therefore constantly deficient. Hence they have every right to take away my power to speak for myself and in fact “know”, that they can represent me better.
I get rewounded when my husband and I are out and about in the world. My husband gets many power points because he is a MAN and he is WHITE. When I am in a queue and he joins me, the teller will automatically asks if she can help him. Previously at work, my husbands’ word, opinion and assumed “know how” was sought after and my word, opinion and definite “know how” disregarded. Information from me was overlooked when my husband has given partial information with the justification “Why would he lie?” The assumption being that because I’m black or a woman or both: I lie. My word is not be trusted, despite the fact that I show up everyday doing my part.
I get rewounded when new legislation gets instituted with carelessness. The legislation I am referring to, is about being recorded without your knowledge. I assumed that based on our history, legislation would take into consideration, that many South Africans grew up in homes that were bugged, with phones that were tapped, with friends turned into spies, to record them even at play. The legislators forgot how these recordings were then used to torture us. I have recently been made a victim of being recorded without my knowing and the recording sent back to me in exactly the same manner as the security police, spliced to serve a foreign agenda. In my trauma, I expected to have a legal framework which would guarantee REDRESS. Instead I found a cavalier law which questions why,” I “, would object to be being recorded. A law that assumes that the only objection to being recored is because “I am” doing something wrong? I am traumatised by a fellow South African who has completely forgotten our history and violated me in a wound not yet healed, now compounded by a legal system that has failed me by forgetting.
I get rewounded by all media, repeating and validating the constant, careless, complaints about “the” government. I hear you tell me all day, everyday, how your prejudice is true and real. I too, am outraged by the individual actions of corrupt, irresponsible politicians and their patrons. You in your constant, careless, complaints never or rarely talk about the money behind the individual actions assigning blame only to “the” government because “your” government “was better”.
I get rewounded when you shame/beat/break down our beautiful, courageous, intelligent, hard working youth. Every careless or damning word against them negates the freedom we fought for. The freedom for our youth to act . When we said “Never Again”, we meant it! Fuelling the public space with your limited paradigm has ensured that our kids have been brutalised on our watch.
REDRESS is the action of making sure you see where others are coming from. It requires being careful with yourself and others. It is the action of detaching prejudice from skin colour, accents, gender, age, language, status, power (the list is endless) and showing up knowing that as human beings, we are all naturally intelligent, creative and whole.
Shap and Aweh!