To be young, black and proud
It’s no secret that South Africa has so many young activists looking to write their own narratives and ensure they put in the work to create a future that is inclusive and can address societal ills. One such person is Amonge Sinxoto, founder of Blackboard Africa. Her mission is to empower young people so that they too can be confident in their respective spaces and take charge of the problems affecting them on a daily basis.
Tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am Amonge Sinxoto and I’m a 19-year-old International Relations student, Activist, Speaker, Content Creator and most importantly, the Founder of Blackboard Africa.
What led you into social entrepreneurship and creating Blackboard Africa?
My experiences as a young black woman led me here. I started questioning certain parts of my identity while in high school and why my identity wasn’t celebrated. The fact that it was normal for black girls to be treated the way that they were, was such a wake-up call. And I could only imagine how many other black girls were going through the same thing. That journey helped me deep dive into understanding my blackness within the spaces that I was. I want to change that narrative not only for myself, but for other young people as well. Blackboard Africa helped make that a reality for me because it provided a platform where young people can have conversations about African identity and morph that into action through leadership. It was only when I attended the Social Entrepreneurship Forum in Ethiopia, that it opened the door to learning about making Blackboard Africa more sustainable from a business point of view.
With the current global pandemic that is racism, why are movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement particularly important?
Movements such as Black Lives Matter are important because they help people understand the need for change and that people need to start realising how important black lives are. We’ve had countless conversations on why black lives matter and that it’s not a trend. Aspects of our culture have been accepted and adopted because people find it cool globally, so why is it hard for people to acknowledge black lives? It’s appalling that we still have to fight for our place in the world. We are however grateful that movements like BLM have helped us expose all sorts of discrimination and prejudices and use that to emphasise the need for justice everywhere in the world. It’s even more inspiring to see many young people at the forefront of fighting racism.
Of the young people you’ve worked with, how common is the discrimination across this specific demographic?
It’s very common because everyone has a story. A story that speaks about the discrimination of one’s race and gender. I find it particularly scary that black women’s struggles specifically seem to be increasing and it’s also reflective in our society when you look at the many gender-based violence cases that we’re faced with daily as a country. I think that’s why it’s important for organisations such as Blackboard Africa to help young people open up about their experiences and work together to challenge structures and systems in order for drastic changes to be made.
What is the cornerstone of your purpose?
This journey has made me realise that I want to make things better for everyone. To help people realise their power to conquer whatever problem they’re facing. I also want to help shape experiences for the greater good and make young people feel proud of themselves, and ensure that they’re heard.
What leadership tools do you equip young people with to realise their potential?
We emphasise the need for self-development because this helps them find their purpose and identity. Once this has been established, we help with skills such as presentation skills, putting together strategies, and understanding principles of teamwork.
How can South Africans help combat the many social ills in society?
There’s no single solution, but rather multiple ways of eradicating these ills. We need to identify what these problems are and dissect them to focus on one particular issue surrounding whatever cause we’re trying to solve. Placing objectives with each problem also helps us put action behind them. For instance, Blackboard Africa has recognised the rise in gender-based violence cases, and to tackle this problem, we’ve identified the need to educate young boys on GBV so that they too can be allies and educate other boys about this problem. Find what you care about and focus on an area where you can best implement some form of action. If many people do this, the impact becomes greater.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope to leave a legacy where young people can embrace their identity as a result of black pride or African pride in general. I want to see people unleashing their confidence to do better not just for themselves, but the communities they live in and the world as a whole. I want them to know how valuable their voices are.
Editor: Nombulelo Fox for The Change Collective Africa