• Michael Potter

2016: The Second Summer of Love

Every generation has its claim to fame. That moment in which the crowds are divided in two. Those with their boots laced to the past and the other marching towards a progress that future generations will praise as “the moment”. It’s no mystery that as I gaze through my various newsfeeds, my different coloured windows to the same world. That something is happening here. The old paint of stagnant lifestyles and unsaid tensions are peeling off the walls. And in my mind it couldn’t come sooner. This world is due for a revolution.

In the 1960’s the normal sitcom family that the powers -that-be made you believe you should aspire to was the ice berg in a sea of dark and tumultuous counter culture, and it is my belief that the same is happening as we speak. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that 2016 is the third summer of love, after the 1969 flower power revolution and the social consciousness movement of the 1990’s. I say this based on the parallels of social consciousness.

In the 1960’s the newspapers ran rampant with those fighting for a change in their unfavourable circumstances. The Black Panthers left their villanized paw prints on the pages of Caucasian tabloids while newly liberated feminist queens swung by their armpit air through the scenic pictures of the status quo. Two fights that are perhaps one of the most important in our history and sadly still ongoing. But there’s no doubt about it. Throughout the haze of Tie-Dye and wool suits, massive (bell-bottomed) steps were taken in the fight for equal rights during the 1960’s.

In 2016 these same fights are being taken up by the millennial generation with the realisation that those who are not white males have been offered a crumb masquerading as a cake in the way of equality. This was never more vividly displayed as it was during the events of the Pretoria High School Hair-Gate of September 2016. For those of you under various rocks at the time. Here are the facts:

-A young girl of about 14 ( who’s name will be omitted as she is still a minor) was told that her natural hair and consequent hairstyle was “ugly” and looked “like a birds nest”.

She was then asked to either cut her hair off or use relaxant to make her hair straight. You know, like a white person’s.

Understandably, there was an uproar from the public on the basis of severe racial discrimination.

Now for those of you who are of the school of thought that she should’ve cut her hair due to school policy or just used the relaxant, let me use a contrasting hypothetical example. Imagine its 2006 and I a, young ( and presumably pimply white guy with the voice of a canary left in a tumble-dryer) went to school and was told that my natural hair was messy and unsightly and as such I should either cut my hair off or turn them into corn-rows. A process which is painful, time-consuming, expensive, unnecessary and is a look that really works for people like Xibit and Snoop Dogg. Sound ridiculous? It should, because that’s basically what this girl was asked to do. Much like the toxic statuses made by the likes of Penny Sparrow and other biggots of the social media jungle, these actions don’t create a culture of racism or discrimination. They merely reveal them for the monster they are. Although things are better after Apartheid and the liberation movement the Pretoria Girls School revealed a very sad state of affairs. Africans are not allowed to be African in their own country.

The black-empowerment movement is one that has been gaining massive resurgence in the pursuit of equal rights in terms of free University Education and the end of outsourced labour. You may not agree with their methods of doing so but you can’t deny that for the first time in a long time a group of disadvantaged people are shaking off the hang-over of our liberation celebrations and saying “Hey! There’s still work to be done!”.

On the other side of the liberal coffee shop sit another revolution that is long over due. The feminist movement. Women have the power to vote. Women have the freedom to pursue the all the same opportunities as men all while earning 1/3 of what the average male does for the same job . All of which they get to view through a newly polished and buffed glass ceiling of the new age. Its’ funny that for the first time in history we have the power of limitless knowledge and the ability to connect with anyone at any time through our cellphones and it has ironically made us two things. Stupid and un-empathetic.

Women of the feminist movement have had a massive year campaigning for matters such as the the de-stigmatizing of breastfeeding and lesbian relationships while also breaching social media conventions with matters such as “free-the nipple” a campaign that hopes to allow the exposure of female breasts on social media and in popular media. All of this however is an awkward dance to a song of cat calls and degrading online trolling.

The problem I believe is a mis-step in education and knowledge amongst my brethren, the heterosexual male whose only history of discrimination was when one of us got picked last in P.E. And sadly I have to inform my fighting liberators that this is going to have to be part of their struggle, to educate us. We currently live in a world where two of the most followed men on Twitter are two known misogynists Donald “ Dead Ferret on my Head” Trump and Dan Blizerian. Two men that hold the view that if you flash enough cash all women become objects for your sexual desire and if they don’t you should call them a “ugly dyke” and move on. And if that gets boring men will move on to the online plethora of porn in which “take that you dirty bitch” is the catchphrase of sorts.

If my ranting has any point ( and if you’ve actually made it this far without checking for a new cute kitty post on Buzzfeed) it’s this. If anything is going to change it’s not the institutions that need changing, it’s the people and their thinking that need to change. Instead of wasting countless hours trying to engage with a person whose screen name is “@womenarebitches666” in a heated Youtube comment debate, spend time educating, those sincerely want to help and move this cause forward.

Whether we like it or not millenilas, we’re being called up to action and there’s only two sides of history. Be on the right side of it. The love aint free like it used to be. It’s probably a shitty in-app purchase or annoying pop-up ad. But its our time now.


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