When i saw these online ponderings by my friend Sindile, i had to ask for permission to share this on the blog – as huge as the obstacles to true transformation in South Africa are [and Americaland actually – different context but similar scenario], and they ARE huge, i have no doubt that this point in itself is absolutely vital and probably the biggest piece of the whole puzzle:
I have come to realise even more that at the heart of this non-racial, non-sexist and post apartheid project some call ‘the rainbow nation’ is the need for all of us to build relationships with people who are different to us.
There are a number of reasons for this:
1.) It helps us have a more accurate perception of reality. If all we ever do is view things from our own perspective, we will privilege our own(group’s) perspective over everyone else’s, at times to the detriment of ourselves as well.
2.) It helps us see people rather than just labels and we are precisely dealing with flesh and blood people. It is frighteningly easy to dismiss other(group’s) people’s pain when you have no social or emotional connection to them. I have come across black people who dismiss out of hand the pain of people who have had family members killed on farms with glib and horrifying statements and I have come across white people who dismiss clear cases of very painful racism with stupid comments about BEE or AA…..
It is both dishonest and nonsensical for us as a nation to honour the ideals of fairness and merit and other things when we can’t even reach across to a neighbour and have basic and respectful human interactions.
3.) It helps to guard against prejudice. All of us at some point will experience racism of a breathtaking magnitude and develop biases based on this. What this does is that it makes us suspicious of other people and suspicion ultimately begets what it suspects. Diversifying our lives(so to speak) naturally stops us from immediatedly assuming the worst about a person based on a label.
It gives us an emotional basis from which we can talk and work out our many and varied issues in this country.
Yes we have to be robust about the need for justice, yes we need to be honest about our experiences, yes we need to talk about the pain that comes from living in a country that is still deeply scarred in it’s collective soul, yes we need to talk about frankly about racism and sexism and homophobia and all other asshole dispositions……. But unless we learn to humanise each other, to see each other as people, with hopes and dreams; with desires to get good jobs, to feed our families, to get married, to have children, to be safe and be able to live freely and love whomever we want……
We cannot do that if we do not take the time to get to know people who are different to us.
No system can compensate for a lack of humanity.