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ActivismSolution Sessions

solution sessions: black wholeness in south africa

January 9, 2019

From anti-Blackness to lack of economic opportunity, young Black South Africans are facing real problems. That didn’t stop over 50 young people from showing up and spending two days digging in to those issues during AFROPUNK’s second slate of Solution Sessions in the country.

On the first day, dedicated to gender, we heard from activists like Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, who spoke to the shared issues that both Black folks in America and in South Africa face while also honestly reflecting on the barriers that keep us from truly connecting. We also heard from groups like Our Brown, who are busy trying to break down stigmas around menstruation and sexuality that keep some South African girls from having access to education.

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A group of bold and courageous men including creative entrepreneur Frypan and non-profit leader Thami Kotlolo got real about issues around consent, which often go overlooked in Black communities.

In that same vein, on the second day  we opened up about an issues that is often ignored altogether in Black communities: mental health. From mainstream depiction you might believe there are no Black folks dealing with mental health issues, but thanks to the frank conversations happening in Solutions Sessions, we put faces and stories to the very real challenges we all face. According to a study from the University of Stellenbosch, sadly, in South Africa there is a suicide every hour and suicide is the fourth highest cause of the death for South African young people.  The conversations we have around stigma and getting help aren’t just interesting, they can save lives.

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The most hands on part of the workshop came when young people took the mic and spoke openly about the challenges they see every day.  One constant was the “Black Tax,” the burden that comes with sharing your salary with your family leaving little for yourself. The young folks in the room– budding creatives, writers, students, and artists– all felt the sting of this familiar burden and, like with most struggles we face, just having a space to talk about it openly was impactful.

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That’s the magic of Solution Sessions. When young Black creative people get together, we have the solutions right there in the room to take on some of our most pressing challenges. All we need are spaces to talk about them, spaces to connect, and spaces for healing.

Thank you South Africa for letting us bask in your magic.

 

Sango Amoda

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