The University of the Witwatersrand has been riddled with student protests for the past week. The protests were sparked by the University fee increase of 10.5% for the 2016 academic year.
When I initially heard about the protest I had no hesitations about which side I would take. I didn’t think twice about whether or not I should join the protesting students or not. At this juncture I was sure – I am a student before I am a student journalist. In fact, I am a black student before anything!
As the protests proceed, the word ‘objectivity’ keeps on cropping up in my head. What does it mean to be objective in a continuously changing country like South Africa. At times I believe that our history as a country doesn’t allow us to be objective. History gnaws at our feet and begs us to remember it. Include it. Use it in our reporting.
What I struggle with the most is how objectivity is perceived and embraced. To me it seems like to be objective is to be comfortable with the status quo. It means not questioning or interrogating, in a meaningful way, the worst of injustices. It seems almost superficial.
What I think though is that even those that are object have chosen a side. They are part of an ideological framework that accepts society as is and demonises radicality.
Many, including close friends, have asked me why I have not been writing about the protests. The truth is, when it comes to certain things I choose not to be objective – in the traditional journalistic sense. In certain occasions my blackness, my feminism, my class consciousness, won’t let me be an objective journalist. And that is fine. I accept this.
So what is a black feminist journalist to do in situations of injustice? I guess… use their pen to protest – and hope they don’t get punished for it. Or alternatively they join the masses and fight for change to happen, with pen in hand. Dripping with the ink of resistance!