• A time to listen

    As a white Afrikaner, I’ve come to understand why it’s important to step back to just listen, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.

    The past two weeks have been draining, to say the least.

    Since I wrote a piece on how Michael Holding told the world what the Black Lives Matter movement means for him, I’ve been struck by the genuine disclosures of what people of colour have to endure on a day-to-day basis, more specifically in sport. But I’ve also been confronted by the toxic opinions that permeate our societies.

    Opinion: Cricket’s rude and delayed awakening

    As a white, Afrikaans guy I have tried my best to fully grasp the  personal experiences shared by former South African cricketers and coaches.

    Admittedly, there were times when I didn’t  fully understand what they have been upset about and there will likely be more of this in future. But I also understand that this is a process and the most important thing right now is that I listen and learn.

    Holding’s testimony had a profound effect on fellow Sky presenters Nasser Hussain and Ian Ward. Their openness to listening allowed them to not only hear Holding’s pain but feel it too. This transformed their minds. It certainly did mine.

    Watch: Holding breaks down in #BLM tribute

    Sadly, in South Africa, these sorts of accounts have often been met by counter-attacks from whites who feel threatened, personally attacked and neglected.

    For example, on Tuesday my Facebook page was swamped by people who have begun tearing up their Springbok rugby jerseys, because they are unhappy with the comments made by SARU CEO Jurie Roux about giving black players the platform to share their stories.

    Similarly, I saw a great deal of unhappiness due to Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis taking a knee in solidarity before Saturday’s Solidarity Cup.

    It appears that these people feel their plights are being trumped by the black pursuit of equality. I understand this, and it is critical that the South African government takes the saftey and well-being of all of its citizens seriously. However, I’ve learned that when listening closely, and with an empathetic ear, the BLM movement doesn’t want to diminish the importance of other causes in favour of theirs. They simply want equality in key areas of daily life, specifically equal opportunities.

    Holding emphasised how important education is in our way forward so that younger generations can be taught how and why certain racial issues are presented. But, if we aren’t even prepared to listen, then how are we supposed to learn?

    READ: Racism’s roots run deep

    My experience is that there is a genuine gap in our education system. While I had an awareness of it, I was never purposefully educated on the wrongs of the past. So, I had to educate myself.

    There will be times where I don’t fully understand what is being said. But I’ll always be open to listening. It is the only way we can move forward.

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    Andre Huisamen