I commissioned a 75-year old teacher from the Eastern Cape, my former English teacher actually, to write a piece about white patriarchy after countless discussions we had had about general patriarchy over the years. I recently saw her at the East London Youth Conference where I was invited as key note speaker. I was pleasantly surprised by the youth’s response to some difficult conversations that our country needs to have about racism, patriarchy, sexuality, classism and how these issues are currently manifesting themselves at former Model C Schools. The girls and boys were super receptive, especially when it came to issues of race and gender. We went an hour and half over time because the kids were so eager to talk and were grateful that my talk had opened up the opportunity to delve into ”controversial” matters. They are way ahead of my generation when we were 17 and are able to articulate quite well, a consciousness about the disparities in our country. One of the best moments of the day though, was when Carol spoke about the insidiousness of and silence around white patriarchy in South Africa and how it plays itself out within the education system – a moment that allowed the white girls in the room to open up about their experiences of patriarchy, both at home and at school. This is one of the main reasons I wanted this piece for the M&G’s Friday section this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Naturally, because she’s always marched to the beat of her own drum, Carol hand wrote the piece instead of emailing it, and had her son scan it to me.
This article was first published in the Mail & Guardian on Friday 22 April. It appears on page 7.