I think we are the generation to fight all manner of unjust structural prejudice and discrimination, or as I love it to be called by its descriptive name, “white supremacist capitalist cis-heternomative patriarchal attitudes ingrained in our inherited systems of governance and, therefore our day to day lives.” That’s really a concert of -isms and -phobias that are social ills and counter-human: exploitative-capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia and and and. We are the generation to carry that struggle; and we are doing so by encouraging a culture that engages any manner of social injustice through a deliberate language created by us, for us and for generations of our future.
This deliberate language is rooted in social justice and its medium is words. On a granular level, it’s words that define day to day occurrences that we were either not conscious of before or could not explain. That’s what last week’s Literary Crossroads (featuring authors Panache Chigumadzi and Zukiswa Wanner facilitated by Ndumiso Ngcobo) at the Goethe Institute made clear to me; that words are the social justice ground zero for and of our time. When necessary they unfold into protest action, but they will always return to form. Chigumadzi said that when we find the right words to share our lived experiences, we breathe a little. It’s true. With the right words, we do not suffer in silence. We are empowered to stand for ourselves, and for others. We are empowered to take matters into our own hands. We have agency in how we interface the world because we can share meaning with the right words. We are the generation that, through words, is normalising the social justice fight. It will no longer be fringe, or too left, because it is elemental to the zeitgeist of our time.
This language not only captures our day to day lived experiences, but also legitimises individuality and gives voice and meaning to many a dissenting opinion. This language is the culmination of the courage of Baldwin, Maathai, Mandela, Angelou, Machel, Nyerere, Ziyaphapha-Moyo, Nkrumah, First, Nkoli and many others. This language is an enabler for our generation to live our truths and let others live theirs, to express, to commune, to fight for each other and with each other. This language affords us the courage to be. At the end of the day – whenever that will be – we would have earned the hope that our different bodies will co-exist peacefully, without undue threats, prejudice or unfair discrimination of any sort. That, is utopia and this language of our time, edges us closer and closer to it!