Life can be hard sometimes and some of us learn really fast that the world is not always cupcakes and rainbows. You may have seen a friend being bullied for being different or you may have been bullied. We had a chat with Terry-Ann, a girl who had to stand up for herself and people just like her.
Terry-Ann told us her story:
I come from a township in Johannesburg called Eldorado Park. Eldorado means the place of gold in Spanish but it didn’t feel that golden when I was growing up. See, I look different. I am a person with albinism, a genetic condition(I was born this way). I have no melanin in my skin, hair and eyes. Melanin is what gives our skin colour. The more melanin you have, the darker you are. Having colour in your eyes also helps you to see better, having very light eyes means that I can’t see very well. I was often bullied by kids in my street for how I look. They would throw stones at me and smear charcoal on my body. I didn’t do much about it because I was scared of them.
Having a disability also meant that I couldn’t get into the school that I wanted. They refused to accept me because they thought that I would require more attention. I had to work twice as hard as the kids in my class, and when I got to university, I had to fight to get treated just like everyone else. Everyone either bullied me or felt sorry for me but I didn’t let that get me down.
I realised that the kids who bully me are also being bullied by something bigger.I learned that when people are being oppressed, they want to reclaim power by oppressing others.
That is why I started talking about my disability on TV, I became an ambassador for Casual Day (an organisation that helps people with disabilities) in their honour.
I believe that every child deserves the chance to a future regardless of background, race, gender or ability. I wanted people to know that everyone is equal.
I now go around speaking about the injustices of ableism- the discrimination against people with disabilities and how we can make the world a fairer place.
Here are three tips from Terry-Ann on how to speak up for what you believe in:
Confidence is key. When standing up for yourself or others, you need to be confident. People are less likely to take you seriously if your voice isn’t clear or you stutter over your words.
2) Practice makes perfect Practice what you are going to say before you have the opportunity to speak out publicly - you can even practice with your friends or family.
3) Don’t give up People might not listen to you the first time, they may even try to put you down. Don’t let that be the reason you give up.
Did you learn anything from Terry-Ann’s story?
Tell us what you think in the comments.