Interest Convergence in Lockdown:

Interest convergence is a theorem coined by the late Derrick Bell, law professor, and spiritual godfather to the field of study known as critical race theory. In Bell’s (1980) words, “the interests of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of Whites.”

How does this relate to SA?

The Total Shutdown nationwide march against gender-based violence was a March in which white women marched with black and brown women to highlight the unacceptably high levels of abuse suffered by women of all races. 

As one who marched, I was overwhelmed and felt that finally, we had achieved a unity that people the world over would envy and emulate. I was wrong. The unity never lasted and though there were white women that were true activists a lot of them weren’t. I was deeply disappointed with some of the white women. 

Now, under lockdown, we have white people, mostly males on social media who feel the need to agitate for “freedom” under lockdown as they put it. They want to be able to cycle, run, walk, and smoke their brands of cigarettes. While I agree with the ludicrousness of banning cigarettes I can’t help but feel a tremendous sadness again as interest convergence comes to mind. 

Here’s the problem I have:

Before Dr Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma banned cigarettes after President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the go-ahead for it to be unbanned under lockdown, these same people were silent when pictures emerged on social media about the brutality black people were facing under lockdown. Instead, we had to watch these silly egg and alcohol challenges white people were doing on social media.

Black people were ridiculed and told that they were “stupid” not knowing how to implement social distancing. The pictures taken of old black people waiting in line with no masks for their pension exposed every loudmouth racist and troll and very few white people shut them up. 

Interest convergence reared its head last night on Twitter when Gareth Cliff basically told the President of the country how “we” would revolt or there would be pushback if this continued and the banning of cigarettes. Black Twitter was abuzz with black people telling him that he is on his own, that white people are on their own so they asked him not to use “we” because they were not standing with him. Some white people also called him out for his “performative activism” and I agree wholeheartedly.

Gareth Cliff and a few white people never uttered a word while black people were being brutalized not only during Apartheid but during lockdown. Now that they don’t have cigarettes or can only run during the hours of 6 to 9 am, suddenly they are ready to arm themselves, grab the privilege they’ve always had to be heard and march to Parliament or the Union buildings. Such is their blindness to how callous their behaviour is that they were shocked when black people pulled the brakes and said, “No, we aren’t following!” 

Now black and brown people are known as dividers, as ignorant and as spoilers.

Where were you with your letters, marches, and pots and pans a few weeks ago when black people were being evicted?

Where were you when black and brown people cried that Strandfontein “concentration” camp was not as they purported it to be?

Where were you when black and brown people were waiting in queues for food parcels?

Where were you when we cried for help to pay staff members their wages so they could live? Instead, we had the whispers that we should stop “breeding?”

So many times we called you and you never came. Instead, you turned your channels so you wouldn’t see the suffering and meditated so you could find inner peace.

Black and brown people are tired of your performative activism and so drained from you only being interested in joining with us when our interest converge with yours.

Should there be civil disobedience it will rise from black and brown people because they are tired of your lacklustre performance and tired of a Government that failed them when it comes to their issues.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.