busi

As a nation we are celebrating 20 years of democracy and while there is still a lot that has to be done in this country of ours that bears the horrible scars of Apartheid, I am still proud that we are here. It means something because at least we are not where we used to be.

There are still many conversations that still need to be had, of course and the sooner we get talking, the better. Like with the whole race thing. I’m glad we are talking about it. We need to because quite frankly, I get peeved by South Africans hiding behind their Twitter handles and the comment sections of News 24 articles to air their views about race. If you want to say something, say it now because after 20 years, we really should not still be here, where race is still a thing that divides us. I don’t want my children to grow up in a place like that.

So, here are a couple of things I would like to say about race. Yes, I am one of those people. I talk about it freely, not to be racist but to show that I’m not going to be held captive by something that stupid. This is not for one particular race group but for all race groups, hence I don’t want it titled “Things I want my white friends to know.” These are things that everyone should be aware of and start working towards.

With all of that said, I would like to state that I am no expert on race so some of the things I say, you may not agree with and that’s fine. The reason we’re doing this is to get a conversation started so let’s do it:

1) There has been much said about white privilege and people saying that white people must agree that it is indeed a thing. And then of course, there have been white people who have been hurt and offended by these comments, taking it as a way of trying to make them feel guilty. You’ve read all those and honestly, I think we all need to sit around a fire and have that conversation soon. Right now however, I’m going to put a different spin on it.

I am not so much bothered by the fact that many white people are privileged because of Apartheid as much as I’m bothered by people of colour who treat white people better because they are white. I don’t know how many white people are aware of this, but you do know that the colour of your skin generally gets you better service/treatment right? And this is not your fault. I don’t want you to feel bad about it.

What I am trying to say is, people of colour who treat me like I’m less of a human being and then jump to help the white person hurt my feelings. The security guard in the super market or clothing store who follows me around when I’m just looking around. The beggar who treats me like I’m not there while asking my white friend for a R2. And the guy who rings the doorbell and when Mrs Radebe goes to open the gate, asks her where her madam is when it’s her house.

I get that it is a mindset, but I hate it. Maybe you want to talk about white people needing to admit their privilege, but I want the mindsets of people who still regard the white man as “baas” even though they won’t verbalize it to change.

2) The reason I started off with wanting to challenge the mindsets of people who are not white is actually because I am also just sick and tired of the belief that only white people are racist and black (or all non-white) people thinking that it’s okay to say racist things against white people. It’s not. We must never tolerate racism no matter which side it is coming from. Honestly, I feel like we as non-white people can sometimes let a lot of negative things said about white people slide when we would probably speak up if a white person said the same things about a black person.

3) This one is linked to number 2. Hey, white people, you are not racist! Okay, wait, what I mean is that you’re as racist as all other race groups. You, just like everybody else, are allowed to say, “black people.” You may think that calling us African is more politically correct, but it’s kinda not… because most of you reading this are probably South African…born and bred and that makes you Africans… Yeah.

4) “You’re well-spoken.” I can take that after I’ve just done a class presentation or speech. I just can’t take it when I can tell that you’re trying to work out if I’m adopted or wealthy. By the way, I’m neither.

5) While we’re on the topic, what is with black people hating on black people who went English medium schools and therefore speak English differently and have friends of all race groups? We don’t actually think we are better than you and we hate how you are always making us feel like we are not black enough. We are not trying to be black nor are we trying to be white. We are just trying to be ourselves.

6) And to the same people, I would also like to say, my dating a white man doesn’t actually mean I’ve achieved something great.

And also, what is with people who think that someone dating outside of their race is breaking some code? They are not. They are following their heart.

Too often I hear about things like black women saying mean things about the black guy who is dating a non-black woman. Like, why must you do that? He loves her and he is under no obligation to choose you. So nicely, I ask you, please get over it.

We need to stop looking at people from different race groups being together as something special or worse, something disgusting.

We need to stop looking twice or feeling the need to comment.

7) There is a colour hierarchy and it needs to become a thing of the past. I’m not going to write further on this point. You know it. You just pictured it in your mind.

8) Here’s another thing that needs to stop: associating certain accents with stupidity. There isn’t one South African accent, there are several and I don’t see why we should think it funny when someone doesn’t speak like a white English-speaking South African. Why should they?

9) Question: How much longer are non-black people going to avoid going into townships?

10) Finally, I would to say that, while we engage in this conversation of race, one thing we must always remember is that there is always someone who has to go through hardships because of the colour of their skin.

As much as white people need to be aware of their privilege, so should non-white people be aware of the fact that poor white people exist and are often ignored and unreached by the government.

Non-black people must be aware of the fact that it’s sometimes tough being black because even people from your own race group will assume you’re a criminal.

We should be aware of the fact that there is a coloured guy out there who is trying to prove himself to his white girlfriend’s family because they assume that all of the negative things associated with coloured culture are his lived reality too and therefore he cannot be good enough for their daughter.

We need to be sensitive to one another and realise that this conversation is not going to be an easy conversation to have. Some things will hurt because the truth hurts and some will hurt just because they do, but just because it’s not going to be comfortable, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

We are a country that avoided civil war in the early 90’s. We stepped into freedom through a blood-less transition. We can get through this.

 

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