NO. 8 : HOW HAS CLASSISM IN JOHANNESBURG AFFECTED YOU?
LOCATION: JOHANNESBURG, South Africa.
“I’m seeing alot of Black youth that come from middle class homes that use possessions to measure each other and measure their success. So if you’re hanging out in an area like this, like Maboneng, you need to carry a certain phone, you need to have a certain car and you need to dress a certain way for people to even respect you before you even greet them and for me that’s sickening. It doesn’t allow people the opportunity to meet real people. Like people are not real with each other and they’re not real with themselves. I’m not speaking for anybody else. This is my experience.
Like four years ago, I didn’t have a damn thing. I was broke as hell. We didn’t have money so our company wasn’t making money. So I had two pairs of shoes that I wore for like 24 months and before that I had a job which afforded me alot of luxuries which came with alot of friends; which came with alot of social currency. And not having stuff showed me that the people that I had brought into my life were not about me. They were about what I could give or what I had or what they thought I could give them and for me I see alot of people – if you look at the social media and the spaces where we hang out – that’s how people group themselves.
The kids with the Jordans, they hang together on that one side. The kids with the True Religion jeans or G-star jeans, they have their own fashion and that’s how people associate with each other and for me I don’t think that’s really going to move us forward as a people. I don’t think the youth get to learn about each other because if I hang with the people who wear the same sneakers as me, it kind of says we are all narrow-minded.
No one is saying, “wait guys hold on, how about we start walking bare-footed.” I like the idea of being different. I like hanging with different people and different mindsets because then I get to learn from those guys. If a friend of mine likes going to the art gallery, he can tell me why the art gallery works for him. I can tell him why Alexandra works for me and we can share. I don’t want all my friends to be from Alexandra because that’s like narrow. We can’t grow. We can’t teach each other anything.
There are a few things that I already knew about the working class that I really did not want to entertain. I saw what it did to my mother. She worked all of her life but never got anything out of it. So she was serving the man for as long as I can remember. Like memories of my mother and her going to work and her coming back from work and on weekends she had to do the chores at home like cleaning the house. She never had time to herself. She never got to really express herself or got to be who she wanted to be. She was working to take care of the rest of us and that consumed so much of her life and I know she was getting paid well, but it never did anything for her spirit or for her soul. She never had goals that had just her in mind, like selfish goals.
So this system is vicious. You only get December as your holiday month and that month you spend more money than you have, which increases further debt next year. So it’s a terrible system and I didn’t want to be apart of that system. I didn’t care how much I was going to get paid. If I had to work every freaking day, Monday to Friday and for the entire year and then get one month off just to come back in January and service that whole system that wouldn’t work for me and I also hate the fact that somebody else gets to decide when I get promoted.
I don’t like that and that’s the reason why I’m forging my own path. It’s not working out as I hoped in my mind. But we’re growing and we’re learning and we’re disciplining ourselves as we go, but I feel like having that power is worth more than what money or whatever office or whatever corporate could pay me.”