Unempowerment

20 Sep

One of the tragedies of the South African debate is that it boils down to people who have benefited and are benefiting from privilege telling people who have not, how to behave and succeed.

http://storify.com/thabo99/unempowerment

I put together a storify of one such tweet convo. I accept that this all very well intentioned but it needs to change if we are to succeed as a country.

Tweet:  Instead of being a ‘blamer’ (as encouraged by politicians) accept responsibility for you own future.

Now this seems to be a tweet about empowerment but it is disingenious.

1) If one cites social contexts/obstacles one is a BLAMER who is influenced by unnamed POLITICIANS (in South Africa, normally code for the ANC)

2) References to continuing sexism, racism, other forms of discrimination and their effects are dismissed as displaying a lack of responsibility or more colourfully as playing the victim card.

I challenged this and got even more of the same.
Tweet:  Is it possible you have an external locus of control?

3)This clearly shows the type of thinking behind the original tweet.  If you do not succeed it is because you have no will power and are externally controlled. The same sort of logic is used to blame poverty on the poor.

This is really not about empowerment but about perpetuating the status quo.

All agency is bounded by the society it takes place in. A wise person said that we talk about agency and not freedom, precisely because what we have is not freedom.

When we perpetuate the view that the victims of social power, are suffering from playing the victim card, we hide our complicity in maintaining the unjust social order.

If one really wants to be empowering, instead of blaming the politicians and those disadvantaged by societal operations, one can say something like

– Seize the day. Learn something new, make a new connection, act on that dream

There are like a million of these, but shifting the blame is not empowerment.

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