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Friday, 2 December 2016

We are talking at rather than to each other

Marx was right, modernity is mirrored by the inherent contradictions in capitalism. Capital moves in ways that both dazzle and menace, jerking us into complex, often challenging realities to navigate. With this understanding, Marshall Berman in his classic All That Is Solid Melts Into Air correctly raised the question “[h]ow can any lasting human bonds grow in such loose and shifting soil?” If we are to formulate meaningful political communities in the Trump era, we must consider this issue.
Nowhere does Berman’s question ring more true than in the realm of truth. We live in an era wherein our understandings of reality vary to the extent that we no longer share any sense of basic actualities. Accordingly, Donald Trump embodies a pathos-heavy truth fueled by rage, disaffection and chauvinism. Meanwhile, an elitist political class has taken stewardship over a different kind of truth, one perceived to be cold and objective, reflected in the boom of purported fact checkers. Jason Hannan correctly notes our unusual paradigm; as many disregard conventional factuality, others are fixating over who is fact checking the fact checkers?
The failures of this self-professing rational or empirical truth in its universality echoes in the shock many are feeling after recent successes of reactionary politics. Countless other-wise insightful people have been rocked by Brexit, the rise of Filipino President Duterte, the failure of Colombia’s peace referendum and most recently, the election of ignoramus-at-arms, Donald Trump. The polls were wrong, how could so many people be irrational enough to support such dangerous jingoism? These sentiments reflect both a false consensus of an overly technocratic sense of truth as well as the fractured nature of our (political) communities; for many Americans this reactionary wave could happen there, not here.
The fallout of disbelief has resulted in many establishment Democrats accounting for Clinton’s loss by playing the blame game with a host of actors from Bernie Bros, to James Comey to as Politico correctly noted everyone but themselves. While this certainly reflects the hubris of the Clinton campaign, how could the Democrats, perceived to be "the party of facts," have such a poor understanding of the contemporary political context? It is simple, as a society we are talking at as opposed to each other. This has left many Democrats asking how so many Americans missed the memo; Hilary, as the first woman to almost be President was inevitably supposed to be next in line, the logical realization of Progress.
The seemingly seismic and irrational shift towards Trump and his ilk the world over, cannot simply be explained by its appeal to our worst (and deeply rooted) sensibilities – chauvinism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism or the like. We certainly cannot ignore these elements as they have always existed in our societies. However, highlighting them as the sole reason for the recent anti-democratic surge is insufficient and irresponsible; these elements are energized by pain, rage, suffering and a lack of hope in more traditional politics.
Centrist leadership has been ineffective at engaging with and speaking to the struggles of everyday people, a purported objectivity (which as Fanon taught us, is never neutral) is a culprit; raising the question, what does a singular truth look like in a world of “…different collectivities with different conditions”? In other words, how could the Clinton machine, with a platform predicated on the professed universality of rationality and empiricism, conceive of respectable alternative visions for society other than their own? Embodying a perceived inevitable Progress Clinton was paradoxically producing truth while intellectually reliant on its independent nature.
            As efforts to stop the Trumps of the world are failing we must recognize that orthodoxy in otherwise conventional realms such as truth are destabilised if not collapsing. As our dominant institutions fail to reflect and produce consensus, perhaps we should problematize them; to what extent do they (continue to) reflect foundational tenants of dignity, fairness and justice? Moreover, are they sustainable, at least in their current forms? Such institutional inconsistencies generate disaffection, disillusion and rage; reactionary winds caught by the sails of demagoguery. Meaningful resistance requires that we address such cleavages.
Sisonke Msimang makes a compelling argument for the collapse of compromise in South African politics reflected both in student movements as well as reactionary politics. Key to Msimang’s argument is that compromise has vacated political discourse, a trend recognizable in the American political sphere. Within the polarisation that is American politics, there is a progressive movement viewed as holding political correctness as the finality juxtaposed with a reactionary right viewed simply to be jingoistic mouth-breathers. While undoubtedly such actors exist in both communities and it may be expedient or easy to simply label the other side, ideologues do not make up the masses. Looking upon large segments of our societies with condescension reflects that we no longer understand each other nor do we care to; perversely, we are more isolated in an increasingly interconnected modern world.     
In trying to regain a common language we must actively seek to understand how competing social actors conceive of notions we all hold dear; truth, compromise, dignity, agency and prosperity. For without this, we cannot articulate a coherent alternative to the reactionary backlash facing us in the age of Trump. Our times are marked by contradiction, meaning we must accept that our grasps of reality are not the only ones. If we want to put forward an effective resistance platform, insularism and a perceived ownership of truth must be abandoned while humility, reflexivity and empathy must be adopted.



Article was originally published by Daily Maverick.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Environmental Racism in the Post-Racial Era

Videos depicting the senseless murders of unarmed people of colour have given birth to a new social movement, #BlackLivesMatter, while bringing to light a reality incomprehensible to white communities; the lives of people of colour have systemically been deemed disposable.
To collectively realise the inherent value of black life we must think locally and globally, symbolically and institutionally. One realm to address these concerns in is that of environmental racism.
Consider that across the globe, predatory capitalism has held the lives of people of colour with little value as it externalises excesses, often resulting in long-term illness, cultural displacement or death. Further, consider how increasingly visible executions by the state are directly correlated to perceived disposability of people of colour marked by silent, structural predations. The right to a life of dignity is a modest demand exceeding relative safety vis-à-vis state forces; it also embraces the urgent quest for environmental justice.
A call for environmental justice should not be equated with a call for policies that formally affect all the same way, or are neutral. Insofar as (environmental) racism is concerned, neutrality may not be as objective as we would like to believe; Frantz Fanon’s statement that for the marginalised “…objectivity is always directed against him”holds true both domestically and transnationally. Fanon’s insight is key towards understanding a problem in the liberal state; we are not all treated the same and even if we were, without the necessary correctives, sameness would not result in meaningful equity. As I have written about previously, neutral positions/policies neglect the fact that different communities have had distinctive relationships to the state, but this extends also to climactic devastation. Conceptually the physically, loss of a community’s land best exemplifies this; while we all (consciously or not) interact with climate change or environmental degradation, not every community has had the same relationship to these issues.
Understanding that historical and climactic legacies persist serves to refute postracialism or the idea that we have moved beyond the problem of race. For instance, access to basic tenets of dignified life such as clean air to breathe and water to drink is not universal (even in the Global North). Largely, the faces encountering the most hazardous effects of environmental exploitation are those of colour; Fanon’s call indeed rings true today. 
The centre of the world’s economy, New York City, can be characterised as a fountain of globalised wealth; a constant stream of finance maintains while workers and elite ebb and flow. The former come in search of a modest middle-class life while the latter has transformed the city into the rich’s playground (often based on the exploitation of people of colour) and a place to foment power, an embodiment of the excesses of modern capitalism. Meanwhile working-class people are faced with the worst, often toxic effects of modern urban life; areas in the working class, largely Latin American and black South Bronx, have some of the nation’s highest rates of respiratory illness. Unsurprisingly, toxic industries often find their home in this borough. The persistence of these communities is a form of resistance as they are viewed as the problem gentrification seeks to solve.
In the Canadian context, some of the world’s dirtiest oil is extracted from the tar sands in Alberta -- in the 2013-14 fiscal year this generated revenue of $5.6-billion. While the tar sands are politically regressive as well as inevitably environmentally dangerous, the effects of their exploitation are more direct to certain communities. Studies demonstrate correlations between the rise of the tar sands with increased rates of cancer and other health complications in local indigenous communities. Moreover, the increase in toxins found in local wildlife has forced nearby indigenous communities towards purchasing more of their food. The tar sands have created both adverse health effects for local communities as well as an attack on indigenous ways of life.
Environmental exploitation often melds with exploitation of its labourers; in South Africa mining companies have been found to have inadequately protected miners. Facing the victory of a class-action suit against the mining industry, capital has responded by appealing; undoubtedly the final ruling will be too late for many of the silicosis-infected miners. An industry foundational to the development of the colonial and apartheid state has continued to wrong its largely black labour force.
Globally, people of colour lead resistance to environmental exploitation and associated abuses as leadership faces the greatest consequences. In South Africa this is most evinced by the Marikana Massacre, green-blanket cladded Mgcineni "Mambush" Noki has come to embody an ethos of resistance both within South Africa as well as internationally. More recently, the assassination of Amadiba Crisis Committee chairman Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebedemonstrates the frontline interaction communities of colour have with environmental exploitation. Such situations demand a livedresistance rather than a passive or weekend activism. 
Indigenous peoples continue to be at the forefront for environmental justice while facing often fatal consequences, mainstream (normatively white) society is largely ignorant of such issues. This is a function of postracialism. If key loci of exploitation are not in modern (sub)urban spaces of consumption the abuse is invisible or negligible.  Spaces of exploitation are externalised, seemingly destined for transformation by capitalism; indigenous people globally are perceived to stand outside modernity. Indigenous people are framed as a vestige of the past to be absorbed into the universality of the modern, urban, capitalist experience. Indigenous communities are often conceptualised as the gatekeepers to the pre-modern, the traditional; paradoxically it is impossible to extricate communities from modernity when they are facing invasions of deforestation, mining, dams and the like. This is one reason why movements such as Idle No More are so powerful and important, by creating a new public in spaces of consumption these misconceptions are inherently challenged and thus threaten the capitalist order.
As noted previously, to attempt to intellectually extricate one’s self from a system of domination is a position of (white) privilege; to remove or isolate others from global modernity is a further act of privilege and hubris. Moreover, many of the worst environmental abuses take place in spaces previously deemed of little or no value. In the settler-state indigenous populations have historically been relegated to these spaces as they were deemed of little utility. As the earth is increasingly depleted and technology progresses, the worst of Lockean thought persists, dictating another round of dispossession. Inevitably indigenous sovereignty and decolonisation efforts as well opposition to systems of oppression writ large are foundational to meaningful environmental justice movements.
Moving forward it is incumbent on white society to recognise that like in other realms, environmentally, we have benefited (for instance in terms of access to affordable and disposable consumer goods) from both the exclusion of people of colour and their forceful absorption of the full costs of capitalism. White supremacy is largely predicated on dispossession, meaning that capital’s utilisation of communities of colour as both proverbial and actual dumping grounds is our problem too.
We must be vigilant in preventing environmentalism from being co-opted as an argument against uplift in the nonindustrialised world. This is evinced in attempts to justify environmental inaction by finger-pointing nations such as India and China as the real or sole culprits of climate change; their citizens have a right to an improved standard of life too. Toxic industrialisation is a function of the rules of modernisation, thus we need to change the global game.
Assuming that most whites would like to see a world where all (beginning with the excluded, mostly people of colour) are able to live healthy lives of safety and dignity, we must operate with an increased awareness to a different set of lived experiences, an openness to new ideas/voices as well as a shift away from a value system largely set in consumption and individuation.
Working towards a global community where existing power does not solely set the norms is vital in creating sustainable futures for everyone. This endeavour requires privileging the (racialised) poor inevitably hit harshest by environmental degradation and climate change; a situation created by the fusion of the dictates of both capitalism and white supremacy. Moreover, perhaps we need to move away from a model of simply extending or welcoming othersinto the proverbial fold -- conceptually this is a fictitious path for justice as it is contingent on continued exclusion. This narrative also lends itself to ethnocentrism embodied in the afore-mentioned mythologising and thus politically sidestepping of indigenous peoples.
Our new political project demands careful consideration of policies involving redistribution, reparations as well as the challenging of dominant, institutionalised (often liberal) ideologies. While some of these ideas may come across (and be grieved by some) as losses, they are not. Simply, these concepts are the sharing of resources white, western society was not entitled to take in the first place. Justice and healing (including for white society) require action. Abusing our environment has led (and will lead) to horrific consequences for some, but ultimately will bring pain, hurt and devastation to all. Let’s use this opportunity to collectively craft a new political imagination and paradigm birthed in humility, responsibility, respect and community.
Originally Featured by Daily Maverick

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Rejecting Postracialism: Whiteness, Morality and Decency

*** Please note this piece was originally featured by Daily Maverick.

Beginning with the contention that most white people view racism conceptually as bad, evil or at least something that is undesirable to be associated with, it is disheartening to see so much support for reactionary #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and similar postracial rhetoric from ostensibly decent people. White America must seek to understand our own existence and its relation to the lived realities of both others and ourselves.
#BlackLivesMatter is a step towards the fulfilment of the modest ethical idea that all human beings deserve dignity and have an inherent right to life; something that the vast majority of #AllLivesMatter supporters (given the benefit of the doubt) may be trying to get across.
The problem with the #AllLivesMatter position is that it stems from a postracial imagination that assumes we have somehow moved beyond race. Unfortunately postracialism does not bind with reality  the legacies of slavery, convict-lease system, lynchings and Jim Crow breathe life into the lungs of contemporary police brutality and the prison-industrial complex, among other issues. 
Evidently black life has been systemically deemed disposable. While individual whites may be treated brutally, such abuse has never been institutionalised in our policies and structures of power. This reflects the fact that normatively black life is pathologised while white life is individualised. The interrogation into the personal lives and criminal records of murdered people of colour combined with the relative silence on that of the officers’ reveals this.
The kind of formal equality achieved by the Civil Rights Movement has not stopped historical circumstances that continue to shape the lived experiences of communities of colour profoundly. Increasingly, race has been viewed as a problem of the past for (primarily white) postracialists. At the heart of this confusion is that equality does not always amount to equity; political equality alone may not create an atmosphere of fairness and opportunity for all. Without addressing existing disparities, universal or unspecialised initiatives are empty, thus in terms of protection of human life #BlackLivesMatter.
It is difficult not to view the rise of the #BlueLivesMatter concept as highlighting both an intellectual flaw as well as a gut-wrench reaction to black liberation in some with internalised racism; standing for an idea or community does not necessitate the devaluation of another concept or group. Defending the lives of black citizens does not mean wishing ill upon police officers – it is actually what most people want the latter to do. 
A potential product of #BlackLivesMatter could be the improvement of Blue Lives, as pressure from civil society is needed to reform institutions of power and thus create conditions conducive to the formation of relationships with communities of colour. However, while that would be a welcome result, the inherent value of black life must remain primary and is not contingent on the depreciation of any other community.
Perversely, postracialism exists among some white supporters of #BlackLivesMatter intent on showing solidarity. White supporters of #BlackLivesMatter must understand that police brutality, racialised poverty and similar issues are not simply stemming from individual racist whites or cops; we are all racist, it is impossible not to be. When living under a system of white supremacy it is impossible simply to extricate oneself from the system or proverbially stand outside of it. 
The belief that one can step outside of this context is itself a position of privilege, reinforcing a system of domination said person is opposed to. Intellectually rejecting a phenomenon does not prevent benefiting from its existence. This country was birthed in the dispossession of indigenous peoples and nurtured in the bondage of Africans; racism is built into the fabric of the settler-state. 
For many of us from ethnic white backgrounds, recognising our own privilege and internal racism can be especially challenging given our own families’ histories of oppression. Understandably it can be very painful to reconcile the fact that the Americanising or whitening of our communities was contingent on the exclusion of black Americans, as highlighted by scholars such as David Roediger. While our families may not have been present during slavery or colonialism, in the American context we have still benefited from its occurrence. 
For white Americans writ large, moving forward we must re-evaluate how we look back on our history while changing our perceptions of current events. Far too often we relegate historical themes and events as well as modern phenomena led by people of colour as theirs and thus something over there. While we must respect the ownership of experience of oppression we need to begin to question how being on the other end of oppression has affected us. 
Inaction in this regard is both a manifestation of privilege and a poverty of understanding; self-criticism is one of humanity’s strongest tools, use it. In conversation with Margaret Mead, James Baldwin hit the proverbial nail on the head: “ …somewhere, something happened to white people one day, I don’t know what it was, which dictated their sense of reality”. In others words, the enforcers and benefactors of white supremacy have been morally damaged, implicitly recognising the fallibility (and thus humanness) of whites. Part of coming to terms with our own history and privilege is understanding the perversion of white supremacy; a system so toxic it even serves to denigrate its benefactors.
Working towards ending white supremacy should be a political project all white people support. Genuine participation stems from a sense of justice and should not require Pavlovian reinforcement from self, other white people or people of colour. When actions against white supremacy are done for self-congratulatory reasons or to alleviate white guilt, integrity and merit are lost from the act; this expectation is itself form and function of privilege. 
In order for white people, all of us, to work effectively towards dismantling white supremacy we must first recognise and attempt to expunge our own internal racism and privilege, transform guilt into action and mobilise away from a politics of apathy and towards a politics of responsibility. 
These steps must be taken both internally and in our actions in collaborating with and listening to our family of colour. Vital to this process is a humbling; white people need to stop expecting to be celebrated for being decent.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Why the Traditional Leadership Bill will Entrench Corrupt, Rural Political Atmosphere

**Please notice this was originally featured by the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader platform.

At this very moment, government efforts to enact the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill are advancing; it is up to civil society to stop this. The legislation would entrench power and further legitimacy to undemocratic structures in traditional leadership operating within an often violent and corrupt rural political atmosphere. Even if the bill were conducive towards creating a more just society, it would be useless as institutionalised criminality is able to reign freely in many parts of rural KwaZulu-Natal; basic laws are flaunted. In effect, this legislation would serve to further dispossess the already dispossessed of many abilities and channels to democratically challenge power.
While institutionalised leadership in the rural context at times may be effective, mechanisms for accountability and legal implementation are absent. Even in cases where traditional leaders have been found criminally liable, many among their ilk have rushed to their support; instead of bad apples being dealt with, attempts are made to protect them. Traditional leadership does not seek to root out abusers within its ranks; this is again evinced in the relative silence associated towards accusations of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s alleged Afrophobic hate speech. Moreover, in rural KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), traditional leadership and Ingonyama Trust, as previously discussed, is a vestige of the apartheid era – previously a tool for stability during the transition towards democracy. What is the political function, beyond symbolism, of such expensive, publically funded structures in the contemporary democratic period? Is traditional leadership in its current state the best way to institutionalise indigenous value systems and forms of governance? How do we indigenise institutions in such a way as to collapse the dichotomy between customary and constitutional law?
The aforementioned questions are all the more prescient as rural communities and activists often face violent political intimidation when challenging power, as the devastating case of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe highlights. Unfortunately, Rhadebe’s murder is not an isolated incident. In rural KZN there are community-based activists on the run; in March, one woman told me and a group of activists that she and others from her community (some matric-aged) have had their homes burnt down as a result of their challenging the expansion of nearby mining. They suspect the complicity of police and traditional leadership, whether this is founded or not demonstrates an atmosphere wherein institutionalised power has fostered tremendous mistrust.[1]
Intimidation is not necessarily lethal or transparently violent, but still includes criminality and intransigence. In one community just a rural stone’s throw from Ladysmith, the courts ruled against a traditional leader in 1999, recognising the property as communal land, purchased by the community’s ancestors in 1823. To this day, he continues to exploit the community by selling their privately owned land without a collective decision. Last month, the self-imposed leader did not show up to a community meeting of roughly one hundred wherein they decided he must step down; unsurprisingly he has not respected their decision. This is not traditional leadership but raw criminality.
Near Swaziland, in Umkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal, local traditional leadership reportedly held a meeting for the community at a municipal office. It is here where they informed the community that they must give up their apartheid-era Permission to Occupy in exchange for forty-year leases, increasing 10% annually; in effect traditional leadership has tried to transform land rights into land leases – possibly in collusion with local authorities. Again, evident is the re-dispossession of the dispossessed, this time at the hands of traditional and by virtue of the hall used, perhaps local leadership.
In much of rural KwaZulu-Natal there is also a problem of fraudulent land sales wherein rightful landowners or leaseholders discover that their land has been sold without their knowledge – by those who do not own the land. Landowners may visit their land only to discover strangers building or living in homes that did not exist before. This has happened to the organisation I am involved with, the Rural Women’s Movement, which was granted a lease by the Ingonyama Trust Board. Upon visiting the land, we discovered strangers building on it. After meeting with the occupiers, we learned that a traditional leader “sold” them plots of this land, which was to be administered by the trust and not by individual traditional leaders. Additionally this land was intended for agricultural, not residential use. In such situations, both the rightful leaseholders and those fraudulently sold the land are put in a bind; the former must come to an agreement with parties they are unfamiliar with (often disrupting an organisation or individual’s plans for the land) or attempt to evict individuals who invested much of their savings in the scam.
A similar situation also happened to Simphiwe Ndlovu (name changed for security reasons) and his family, who had their land returned (originally dispossessed in 1913) through restitution initiatives following the transition to democracy. Ndlovu relayed to me that they soon discovered nine families living on their land, having paid someone unrelated to the family for the opportunity to build homes. Ndlovu continues to battle for a resolution, though this is proving difficult; the municipality recognises the family’s ownership but supplied those living on his land with water and electricity. Furthermore, Ndlovu has been unable to track down the original fraudster. Once more, a resolution is challenging and the perpetrator (remaining unknown) has not been taken to justice.
Lastly, high-level consultations related to the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill involving all relevant stakeholders have been unequal and perhaps not conducted in good faith. Last November I attended a policy dialogue involving traditional leadership, representatives from the department of justice, academics and members of civil society. The process was flawed; firstly, civil society was underrepresented, as some of the transport arranged for rural people simply did not arrive (others have told me this is not the first time this has happened). Secondly, reception of the myriad voices was not equal; traditional leadership was able to speak for long periods of time – even keeping a government representative from departing to his next engagement – while rural women were frequently harangued after speaking for five minutes. The entire process appeared to be a charade rather than an attempt at open and productive dialogue. Perhaps this legislation is less about improving the lived realities of rural people (specifically in historically IFP strongholds) as the EFF and DA continue to gain support; why else would the current government empower corrupted, and at times criminal institutions as well as its actors unless they have something to offer the governing party?
In order to see a healthy path forward, institutions and policy must be guided by principles of justice, equality, empathy and accountability. The appropriate mechanisms for implementation must also be in place. This cannot happen without the voices of South Africa’s most affected being heard. The Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill seeks to further engrain the power of a relatively functionless or at least deeply corrupted structure in an atmosphere already conducive to injustice and abuses of power. Before instituting new laws, let’s implement the existing ones codified in the values aspired to by the South African Constitution.
[1] For the safety of the community, the district name has been withheld.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Commodification and Consciousness

**Please notice this is a slightly adapted version of my piece originally published at www.consciousness.co.za under the same title.


Having arrived in South Africa from Canada this past August in order to become involved with the Rural Women’s Movement, many questions have arisen. More specifically questions around political consciousness; what does it mean to be a conscious person and how does that look in contemporary South Africa and the world in general?
One observation that continues to make me uneasy is the blatant commodification and appropriation of an image representing the ostensible Aboriginal authentic, specifically the logos used by fast-food chains Spur and Mochachos. Presenting static images such as these can be insensitive or insulting at best, while damaging to consciousness vis-à-vis indigenous or traditional peoples in general as it makes these groups appear outside of modernity or as a vestige of presumably simpler times.
The ubiquitous presence of these images may correlate to the existence of both negative and stagnant perceptions of South Africa’s rural, indigenous communities. This situation is as one commenter on a previous piece of mine correctly alluded to, paradoxical as most of the country has roots in rural communities.
Perhaps the normalization of these images (even in some activist circles) reflects a shift away from transnational activism and internationalism in general, truly absurd in an increasingly globalized world. The hyper-localization of consciousness appears antithetical towards solving our era’s most pressing issues such as climate change. This is also dangerous in the neoliberal age as the relevance of borders has decreased except perhaps in terms of the militarization and exclusion encouraged in reactionary, populist circles. Unfortunately, simplistic conceptions of the world’s indigenous populations deludes and prevents us from linking the battles for cultural, environmental and spatial preservation and empowerment of indigenous peoples in places as widespread as New Mexico and KwaZulu-Natal; battling resource-based abuses or conflict driven by contemporary capitalism should also be framed as a reaction to modern environmental racism.
As a newcomer it is also disturbing to see the commodification of South African symbols of resistance, including the use of Steve Biko’s image in bars and nightclubs, particularly unsettling given his ideological emphasis on aesthetics.  Moreover, in many of these circumstances the environment conforms to dominant (or white/western) norms. 

Cultural or symbolic misappropriation is not limited to South Africa, in North America; the sight of traditional indigenous garb at raves or parties is all too common. Again, here symbols of resistance (the refusal to conform to western norms of fashion and the brilliance that is/was Biko) or of identity, are co-opted as symbols of de-personalization; the identity or idea represented is broken down into one base level component while furthering personal and/or commercial excess. If we are to build cohesive social movements we must retrieve our existing images of resistance in order to create the foundation needed for new ones to flourish.