This post is slightly different from my usual content, but I feel like it needs to be shared.
Last night I attended the book launch of one of my friends for his new book Butterfly Man and for a while I was reminded of the inherently good nature of human beings.
At one point, John (my friend and author) mentioned that this is what Africa is supposed to look and feel like, a statement which perfectly summed up the atmosphere: People of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and walks of life singing, dancing, laughing, smiling, and coming together to celebrate a special occasion.
John told a beautiful story of how Sine, a young black boy from Langa, the suburb in which John lives and the venue for the book launch, had once tried to describe him to one of his friends, failing to mention the obvious fact that John was the only white person around. Sine could easily have just said ‘the white guy’, but instead chose to describe John by his character and personality.
This illustrates the point I want to make: We’re all just human beings. Yes, we may come from different cultures, traditions, and backgrounds, but at our core we are just human. Nothing more and nothing less.
See, there is no them and us, there is only we. We are all people with the same wants and needs, dreams and ambitions, flaws and insecurities. Why, then, do we keep seeing ourselves as different groups?
You would never judge people based on the color of their hair, so why do we do it based on the color of their skin (or other differences)?
Of course, this division isn’t limited to South Africa. All over the world, we remain divided into ‘our people’ and ‘their people’ (whether that’s race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc.).
To some, ending racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. means to acknowledge and accept other groups as equal to our own. This is the core of most campaigns out there.
But there’s a level beyond that that we’re completely missing.
True equality means that we stop thinking about ourselves as separate groups, and start treating everyone as just other people.
One example of this is awards. We have separate categories for performers, innovators and pioneers based on the color of their skin, gender, or sexuality. Instead, we should be celebrating the best performers in their industry because they’re the best. Period.
Indeed, when I look at the people who inspire me and who I’d love to work with, I don’t care about what they look like, where they come from or what they believe in. All I’m concerned about is how they see the world, how big their vision is for what they want to create, and whether or not I could support them to make that desired impact.
The bottom line is this: Until we transcend the notion of black people and white people, straight people and gay people, men and women, and come to a place where we just see them as other people, we will never experience a truly equal, peaceful society.
Perhaps I’m a dreamer, but I believe in and choose to contribute to a world where we no longer put people in boxes or groups.
We are all just human beings. Nothing else matters.
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