For the shortcomings of our fathers, we will be hated. By them.
My father is not an educated man. I mean he’s finished school during the apartheid era – he’s gone to trade school and like 99% of fathers in that generation, as started a job 30 years ago where he still works.
In that time he has done various courses, diplomas and such and this is where he has drawn his knowledge from.
I’m 29 years old. I’ve been educated at a good previously white only school, I went to a liberal but predominantly white university, and I have worked in previously white only jobs. I have travelled and I have experienced life outside of the confines on the mind set and physical constraints of South Africa. This sounds like the story of many POC of our generation and it is often a story of success and pride for people outside of the family. But for the son of the father who lives this life, its a constant fight.
For recognition, for acceptance.
Lemme give you a real world example of this, as these are always the most relatable. So during my tertiary education career, I have studied economics, business science and law. Now as we know, these are not essay based courses, rather understanding and theoretically technical subjects. Which once learned, shape the way you do the daily tasks you need… the informational does just that, inform your life and choices and interactions. Having studied for a large portion of my life, I have also understood and become comfortable with my learning language – is needless to say, diametrically opposed to the learning language used by my father 20 years ago in a different education system and at a different level.
The reason I tell you this is because at the minute I am doing a diploma for a possible job position in China. And the learning I have to do is once again, theoretically challenging – I thrive on this. I understand how to approach it.
My father does not.
Heres the part that the rest of the male community can relate to – my father, who knows nothing about what I am doing, has no vested stake in the form of payment or result in my accreditation – wants to dictate the process I am using to complete it. My attempts at explaining to him how I am approaching it and the methods I am using for completing it, are met with disgusted facial reactions and questions of ‘Why are you doing it that way, we never did it like that?’ referring to the way he did things.
This is something you could never tell a person of this generation of you wanted to live another day.
The way that things were done in the previous generation were informed by a methodology taught to them with the goal of enforcing inferiority and submission to white men who ruled the country at the time. They were given a level of education that was designed to keep them at a disadvantage to their white counterparts.
All of this means that their learned experiences are informed by that. And that has been reinforced by the working life they endured, where white people were promoted above them – where they were deliberately kept in the dark with regard to advancements in the technical and educational systems.
Now – he sees his son as the embodiment of the system. He sees his son sit on a laptop and perform tasks with a coffee and croissant like he has seen his white bosses do for years prior. He sees his son apply for jobs that were previously marked ‘Whites Only’. How is he to react to this?
We grew up raised by a generation of fathers who were taught to hate themselves. We were raised by a generation of fathers devoid of any dreams outside of becoming office workers who work for the weekend – a generation of father who had no idea that just because you studied law doesn’t mean you have to work in a law office and give family free advice, that the skill set is transferable and a commodity and not a plaque to be displayed in the living room framed.
When we (try to) live the way white people lived and aspire to to same heights that they do, our fathers see that we are the thing they fought their whole lives.
I dunno. Seems messed up.