I don't remember the occasion, but in 1988 some of the kids from my school had a field trip to the American Consulate in Cape Town.
I don’t remember much from the excursion, other than one specific conversation with the girl I had a crush on.
We were shown a video of the American civil rights movement, which impacted most of us a great deal.
As we were heading back to school, I remember her saying “why don’t we have a Martin Luther King?”
One of our teachers heard her, pointed in the direction of Robben Island and reminded us of Nelson Mandela and how the two men had very similar beliefs.
I’m telling you this story because it was Martin Luther King Day in America on January 20.
Like Mandela Day, MLK Day celebrates the memory of the man and the values he held dear.
And this is important because we are talking about the 1950s and 1960s here.
More than 60 years ago, this giant of the fight for liberty and equality fired up the world with his perfect logic, sandwiched in an eloquence that not only brought black intellect to broad public attention, but also gave us a loud and proud voice of reason.
Undoubtedly there were others before him, but they didn’t have the benefit of an exploding mass broadcast media eager to give him and his fluent way with words a regular platform.
Even listening to MLK today, I am struck by how articulate and erudite he was, even when put on the spot during interviews.
But all of this happened more than two generations ago, and the injustices that he fought against, still persist to this day.
If TV gave King a broad platform, then in this day of instant, global social media audiences, where are his and Mandela’s successors?
And more importantly, will they be able to affect the societal change that these men didn’t get to see in their own lifetimes?
It seems to me that social media has been hijacked by those who mean to maintain, or even reverse the status quo.
When it comes to this centuries-old and continuing subjugation of people of colour, I think we need to start asking ourselves a different set of questions.
After so many displays of obvious equality in all aspects of life, why is it that people of colour are still discriminated against in this modern era?
I believe it is fear. But what is it about us that people in power fear?
It’s not a new question, but I do think that this new generation should ask it again, in the hope of finding an answer and implementing a solution.
Personally, I have come to believe that it has got to do with our potential for collective excellence.
One of the great successes of global colonialism and local apartheid, was its ability to ideologically pit us against each other and keep us divided.
And I think that comes with a recognition that if a singular idea had to catch on and spread amongst our overwhelming numbers, it will mean an inevitable change in the world order.
And every now and again, I notice some of that excellence shining through and it hits me that some people like King have tried to make us see it and believe it.
So I want to encourage you to have a look at some of the most recognisable fields of endeavour in the world today.
From pop culture and sport, to science and academia, there’s almost always a person of colour that has reached the very top.
And if there isn’t, then there’s almost certainly a story about a person of colour that was held back from reaching the top.
And when I say top, I mean they excelled in such a way that they outshone everyone else before and after them.
The one area where you are unlikely to find it, is in economics.
I believe economics and business is the one field where we are being kept away from.
Because if we can excel at a sport or a science that was taught to us, just imagine what we will do with their economics?