By now, you must have heard about, seen, retweeted, posted on Facebook or been made aware of the speech delivered by the Deputy Headmaster of Jeppe High School for Boys, Kevin Leatham. He delivered this speech a few days after a Freedom Day assembly at the school. If you have not read the whole speech, you really need to. It is a powerful, thought-provoking and challenging unpacking of the term white privilege. The speech was co-created with his wife, Tammy Bechus Leatham, and sets forth a careful explanation of white privilege and its manifestations in every day. I have never encountered anything that explains white privilege so well and evocatively. Powerful!
Mr Leatham ends the speech in this pivotal assembly for Jeppe boys with the words, “My challenge: do something.”
These words resonate with one of the ex-pupils we interviewed. Nabeel attended a school not too dissimilar to the one Mr Leatham addressed a few weeks ago. Listen to Nabeel’s words.
Did you hear his plea? See his frustration? Hear how he differentiates between acknowledgement and action?
Words can be powerful, but ultimately it is our action that transforms our world.
And then there is this…
As part of the school’s Freedom Day assembly, Ms Lovelyn Nwadeyi was invited to address the boys. By all accounts it was a speech that challenged the audience. Mr Leatham was asked by the school management to unpack her talk for the boys at a later assembly. Hence his powerful talk.
But we need to remind ourselves that as long as it is needed for a white man to have to explain the words of a black female in our boys’ schools, there is still much work to do.