Friday, February 24, 2017

Unemployment and Entrepreneurship in South Africa

According to Investopedia unemployment is a phenomenon that occurs when a person who is actively searching for employment is unable to find work. The most frequent measure of unemployment is the unemployment rate, which is the number of unemployed people divided by the number of people in the labor force. Investopedia identifies three categories of unemployment; frictional unemployment when a person is in-between jobs; cyclical unemployment usually occurs during recessionary periods of economic growth; and structural unemployment due to technological advances causing individuals to lose their jobs because their skills are outdated. The working age population in South Africa includes individuals age fifteen to sixty-four. From January 2015 to March 2016 the unemployment rates in South Africa have increased by 2.5% bringing South Africa’s unemployment rate to 36.3%. (Statistical Release ,page 15) Specifically the City of Johannesburg’s unemployment rates stand at 29.8% while the City of Cape Town currently holds a 21.1% unemployment rate. (Statistical Release, page 16) Figure 17 on page 19 of Statistical Release shows unemployment rates by sex in South Africa from January 2010 to March of 2016. According to Figure 17 the unemployment rate for women has increased every year since 2010 ranging from 25.9% to currently standing at 29.3%. Too many South African women are unemployed to date.
In the novel Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton,  Theophilus takes time to discuss some of the problems in South Africa. Theophilus states that some women in South Africa are offering up their daughter or themselves in order to cover debts owed. One of the biggest problems Theophilus sheds light on is the fact that people from other towns are migrating into cities like Johannesburg taking what little job opportunities are available leading to members who live within said communities to be unemployed. The effects of the members in these communities being unemployed include poverty, unsatisfactory health conditions, unstable income within the homes,  and even increased crime rates.
Reportedly, In 2016 there are 18,456 women that make up the South African population. Out of the 18,456 woman reportedly living in South Africa 2,826 are unemployed to date. (Statistical Release, Page 24)  The available labor force categories offered in South Africa are Formal sector, Informal sector, Agriculture, and private households. According to the Statistical Release Appendix 1 Table 2, about 1,313 of the unemployed women are listed as discouraged work-seekers. While participating in this Social Change Trip my intentions are to reach some of the discouraged job-seeking and unemployed South African women attending the workshop. The goal is to create an environment where they are able to imagine themselves as entrepreneurs in their communities. I intend to reach these women by encouraging them to identify a skill that they do very well while brainstorming ways to capitalize on that skill. In 2016 women entrepreneurs in the United States are owning more businesses and producing more income simply because they understood that they could be making money by offering a service that they do really well. Women entrepreneurs own 10.6 million businesses according to Entrepreneur. These businesses account for $2.5 trillion in sales.
By the end of my worship the expectation is that the women have  1) built up enough confidence and courage to be their own boss 2) identified and begun planning the logistics of their new business venture and 3) built a unified supportive and interactive network of women who attended the workshop and myself. With the number of “discouraged job-seekers” being so high I think it is very important to help the members of these communities see that they do not need a boss other than themselves.

Works Cited.
Paton, A. (1948). Cry, the beloved country. New York: C. Scribner's Sons.
R. (2014). Investopedia, Unemployment. Retrieved December 11, 2016, from
Statistical Release (2016). Quarterly Labour Force Survey. South Africa
Women Entrepreneurs - Women Business Owner Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved December

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Impacts of Historic Trauma: Creating Spaces for Healing Mind, Body, and Spirit

Historic trauma has been imposed through structural, institutional, societal, and individual racism and there is a generational impact it has had on the mental health of specific populations. All my life I’ve always had a curiosity of the continent of Africa and the culture of Black/Colored folks that live in the many different countries. A place where Black/Colored is not the minority. I often believed that internalized oppression/hatred could not exist where there is extensive knowledge of your bloodline. What I’ve come to learn and understand is that the historic psychological trauma that African Americans experience is also what our African Diaspora brothers and sisters experience.  I want to be a vessel to provide tools, exercises, and examples to what spaces of individual and collective healing can look like. Healing that is needed for all in a post-Apartheid/Jim Crow era.

Historic Trauma
To understand the impacts of trauma we need to first know the definition of mental health, which is defined as a person’s condition regarding their psychological and emotional well-being. A person’s mental health determines how they live their lives and their physical health.  My definition of Historic Trauma (HT) adopted from social work refers to “cumulative emotional and psychological wounding, extending over an individual lifespan and across generations, caused by traumatic experiences.” Some symptoms of Historic Trauma include violence and suicide, substance abuse, anger, fear and distrust, loss of sleep, and anxiety.
When looking at racial trauma everyone is impacted, whether it is Blacks and Indians or White folks becoming numb and oblivious to the impacts it has had on people of color. I’ve read that trauma is remembered in the mind and the body. It’s passed from generation to generation until there is an intentional effort to treat these post traumatic stressors. Psychotherapist Dr. Joy DeGruy describes trauma as an injury caused by an outside usually violent, force, event or experience. We can experience this injury physically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually”.
A most recent example is the Group Areas Act South Africa passed in the 1950’s. The purpose of this act was to create a so called “racially segregated Utopia”. Within urban areas Blacks/Colored’s were to be relocated, forcibly removed, to racially homogeneous townships. This resulted in suicide by residents and many elders dying prior to and after the relocations, which many blamed the trauma of eviction.
Similar in the US, but now it is described as gentrification. In the US Blacks, American/Native Alaskan Indians, and other groups were and still are historically impacted by dislocation, segregation, discrimination, racism, and even genocide. This has resulted in self-hatred, mistrust of police, mental health challenges, family stress, and an extensive list for reasons of fear and anger.

Proposed Solutions
Healing does not happen overnight. It is an individual and collective process, much of a journey and it looks different to each person/community. I’ve read that race based trauma needs mindful isolation, community, discharge of energy, well-being. My intention is to look at different exercises and strategies where these forms of healing for mental, physical, and spiritual self-care practices. By using the space that we create as an example. Potentially incorporating music, writing, movement, meditations, etc.  
Trauma will continue to be here long after we leave this earth. My hope is to provide, through experiential learning, ways of self-care and mental health.

Trauma and memory: the impact of apartheid-era forced removals on coloured identity in Cape Town

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (2005) , Dr. Joy DeGruy

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trauma in South Africa

Experiencing or witnessing violent crimes creates trauma within, and while dealing with the impact of trauma cannot erase the trauma, it can help people manage the impact it has on their lives. South Africa has been referred to as having a “culture of crime” where violence is an acceptable way to deal life issues. Couple this with the rational fear of further trauma through additional violence inevitably heightens one’s level of ongoing trauma, creating a state of hyper-vigilance. 

Trauma in South Africa includes political violence, forced removal from homes and torture. People living in South Africa have experienced such a sustained level of trauma (from the many years of violence and apartheid) that it is considered to be experiencing National Trauma Syndrome (NTS). Collectively, these types of trauma have created a chronic state of stress that is caused by living in long-term stressful situations.  Trauma has been woven deep within the society and continues to generate fear in many communities.

South Africa’s patriarchal history and perspective of women being subordinate creates the violence surrounding those experiences creates gender equity trauma.

My work with participants will be focused on Trauma-Informed Care and Practice which focuses on the neuroglial, psychological, biological and social effects of trauma.  The importance of focusing on the “3 E’s” of trauma, event, experience of event, and the effect it has on a person will be emphasized. 

Trauma informed programs include:  knowing the deep impact of trauma and suggestions for recovery, recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma on the client, their family and staff who work with them, how to incorporate trauma-informed policies and procedures as well as ways to avoid being re-traumatized. 

Some of the key principles of trauma informed approaches that will be addressed includes: safety, trust, transparency, peer support, empowerment, cultural, historic and gender issues.

Sites referenced include: