My friend, Rebecca, who has written before on my blog – a message to South Africa over here, and about her journey with dyslexia over here – wrote this as a status update the other day:

Dear racist old man on the Pavilion escalator.

I’m sorry you smashed your phone screen and that it’s going to cost you R4000 to fix. But you don’t have to call the salesman you talked to that [insert derogatory name] it is really not his fault it costs so much. And even if it was you still can’t call him that.

And no I don’t think i’m a disrespectful ‘little girl’ for calling you out and I WILL NOT apologise!

And i was just so completely proud of her.

notracist

It is beyond time that we start doing this South Africa – whenever racism of prejudice of any type rears its ugly head. For too long we have cringed silently when a relative has referred to a 45 year old black woman working for them as “girl” or a friend has made an uncomfortable joke with racist implications.

Referring to members of another group as “those people” or starting any sentence with the words, “I’m not racist, but…” [which can only ever be followed by a racist statement] – from blatant to subtle to intended or not, it has to stop.

And anytime we stand by and say nothing we become complicit, which if that’s too big a word for you means it is as if we are doing that very racist thing ourselves.

We need to draw a line in the sand and go, “Here and no further.”

This feels like such a small one and yet it feels like such a big one. Mindsets and behaviours need to shift so that we can move forward together. You won’t necessarily change those who you call out, but you give them an opportunity to think about their words and hopefully move towards a better place.

And we need to be having more conversations around the dinner table about race – what is okay, what is not okay. This is one of the pressing needs for us in this country to get right so how about just once you push sport, movies, food to the side and have a good old chat about South Africa and race and what you are personally involved in in terms of helping us move to a better place…

batrace

[Want to read about some other ways we can move things forward in this country, click here]

Advertisements