Hope In Love

Posts Tagged ‘racism

When I wrote about unity in diversity yesterday, this is kinda what I was trying to get to. That differences are good. Differences have intrinsic value. We need only to honor/celebrate that value… Whatever. This piece is taken from Teju Cole’s Open City – which is a legit awesome book.

Farouq: “He knew then that difference is never accepted. You are different, okay, but that difference is never seen as containing it’s own value. Difference as Orientalist entertainment is allowed, but difference with its own intrinsic value, no. You can wait forever and no one will ever give you that value. Let me tell you something that happened to me in class. A question was asked during a discussion of political philosophy. We were supposed to choose between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and I was the only person who chose Malcolm X. Everyone in class was in disagreement with me, and they said, Oh, you chose him because he is a Muslim and you are a Muslim. Yes, fine, I am a Muslim, but that is not why. I chose him because I agree with him, philosophically, and I disagree with Martin Luther King. Malcolm X recognized that difference contains its own value, and that the struggle must be to advance that value. Martin Luther King is admired by everyone, he wants everyone to join together, but this idea that you should let them hit you on the other side of your face, this makes no sense to me. This is not an idea I can accept. There’s always the expectation that the victimized Other is the one that covers the distance, that has the noble ideas; I disagree with this expectation.”

Julian: “It is an expectation that works sometimes, but only if your enemy is not a psychopath. You need an enemy with a capacity for shame. I wonder sometimes how far Gandhi would have gotten if the British had been more brutal. If they had been willing to kill masses of protesters. Dignified refusal can only take you so far. Ask the Congolese.”

In the following chapter he goes on to touch on representation in media…a topic that has been big in the US, not so much in South Africa…I feel the circumstances are different on our local media, but worldwide media wise, it is very much relevant to us well.

Farouq: “The American Blacks, are they really as they are shown on MTV: the rapping, the hip-hop dance, the women? Because that’s all we see here. Is it like this?”

Julian: “Well, let me respond this way: many Americans assume that European Muslims are covered from head to toe if they are women, or that they wear a full beard if they are men, and that they are only interested in protesting perceived insults to Islam. The man on the street – the ordinary American – probably does not imagine that Muslims in Europe sit in cafes drinking beer, smoking Marlboros, and discussing political philosophy. In the same way, American Blacks are like any other Americans; they are like any other people. They hold the same kinds of jobs, they live in normal houses, they send their children to school. Many of them are poor, that is true, for reasons of history, and many of them do like hip-hop and devote their lives to it. But it’s also true that some of them are engineers, university professors, lawyers, and generals. “

Farouq: “They are victims of the same portrayals as we are.”

Julian: “But that’s how power is, the one who has the power controls the portrayal.”

THEN…THEN…he gets political…

Farouq: “If we talk of portrayal, Saddam is the least of the dictators in the Middle East. The least – the most moderate. They killed him only because he defied the Americans. But in my opinion he should be admired because he stood up for the right of his country against imperialism. How many thousands more have died under the Americans now that under Saddam? Saddam was convicted of killing only 148. The king of Morocco is worse, I can tell you this: Gaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt, you can go all the way across like that – the whole region is full of dictators, and not only dictators but terrible ones. And they remain in power because they sell the national interests of their countries to the Americans. We hate the king in Morocco, some of us really hate him. This man, when the communists were ascendant in the seventies, he appealed to Islamism, but when the Islamists started gaining political strength, he catered to capitalist and secularist factions. Thousands of people died under his rule and thousands disappeared. How is this different from Saddam? But one thing I can tell you: I support Hamas. They are doing the work of resistance. (And Al-Qaeda), it was a terrible day, the twin towers. Terrible. What they did was very bad. But I understand why they did it…

“Let me tell you a story from our tradition. A story amount King Solomon. King Solomon gave a teaching once about the snake and the bee. The snake, King Solomon said, defends itself by killing, but the bee defends itself by dying. You know how a bee dies after a sting? Like that. It dies to defend. So each creature has a method that is suitable to its strength. I don’t agree with what Al-Qaeda did, they use a method I would not use, so I cannot say the word support. But I don’t cast judgement on them.”

DEEP! All this from a work of fiction…and that’s just parts of two chapters…there’s a whole lot other shit he deals with in this book. Highly recommended.

I read J’Something post yesterday on race (Black. White. Human.), and it got me thinking about some things.

I agree with him – racism is bad. It makes me sad. It utterly breaks my heart every time I hear of another racial attack. It breaks my heart that in 2015 we are still facing the same issues, fighting the same fight…still dealing with the same problems that we’ve BEEN trying to get rid off.

I disagree with him, however, on the colorblindness and human race being the only race that matters… hear me out…

I am a human, yes. But I am a black human. My race is not the problem. Being black is not the problem. Being white is not the problem. Noticing someone’s race is not the problem. The problem is when we try to derive someone’s worth/intelligence/success based on their race. The problem comes when we think we can know a person – their entirety as a human being – based on their skin tone. The problem is when you put races on some kind of hierarchy – making some races superior to others…

In short, race is not the problem, racism is. Discrimination based on race is.

“Reformation needs to occur. Projects and systems that are focused on achieving a balancing act around our country need to do their thing.” Very true. Oh so very true. But this is not the solution to racism…the solution to inequality maybe…at the very least the solution to race-based inequality…but not to racism.

I saw someone commenting on twitter about filling the world with bi/multi-racial babies as the solution to racism. I feel like that solves nothing. I am in no way against multi-racial couples creating multi-racial babies, I am however against the erasure of races…the creation of a mono-race world…because truthfully, unless we get to the root of the problem – the heart problem – it’s not gonna solve anything… I see an attempt at a mono-race society ending in a fight between the “pure breeds” and the “mixed breeds” (I realize how problematic those labels are, better phrasing anyone?)…same problem we’ve always had… And within this new multi-racial society, you’d still have different features – like today, bi-racial people have different skin tones, they have different facial features depending on the parental pairing (Black + White vs Black + Asian vs White + Hispanic, etc)…unless you tend to the root of the problem, it will never go away…it might look a little different, but it will be the same problem…

Diversity is a good thing…a great thing even. God created diversity…it’s all around us in nature. How many different species of flowers are there? And within that, how many subspecies? And then within that there are also different colors… The diversity adds to the beauty.

We tried the whole rainbow-nation-we-are-all-one-we-are-colorblind-simunye business, and yet the problem persists. Because we didn’t address the root of apartheid…at the end of the day, racism might not be sanctioned by the government anymore, but we didn’t get rid of racism…the same people who were racist then, who believed in the superiority of one race over another, still feel the same way today.

My solution for racism: unity in diversity*. (Ok fine, it’s not my solution, I kinda jacked it off our coat of arms…just rephrased it a bit…))

Unity in diversity (also commonly rendered asunited in diversity) is a concept of “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation” that shifts focus from unity based on a mere tolerance of physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and/or psychological differences towards a more complex unity based on an understanding that difference enriches human interactions. – Wikipedia

Learn about, acknowledge, respect, and appreciate our differences within races, cultures, and even down to individuals. Stop thinking you can know a person simply by their outward appearance…get to know them on an individual basis…get to know their likes, dislikes, background, culture, the environment that has made them who they are…grow an appreciation for diversity…for the great big colorful, wild, mishmash’d tapestry that makes up this human race…different, yet intertwined and interwoven – creating a whole new thing… Only then, I believe, will we see the end of racism.

I’ll just end this off by saying that I also realize that I’m not a saint. I mess up all the time. I judge people by their appearance. I’m trying to rectify this. So I join the movement with reservations, not in the erasure of races or being colorblind, but in the races working together to end racism and move forward together with true humanity.

*sidenote: found this little bit of info kinda interesting: “When the Apartheid of Republic of South Africa celebrated 20 years of independence on 31 May 1981, the theme of the celebrations was “unity in diversity” as a cynical attempt to explain away the inequalities in South African life.” So maybe I haven’t found the solution after all…

I am a South African, born and raised.
This is my home.

Sometimes though, my home doesn’t feel very homey.

South Africa has had quite a history. Intolerance, racism, blood shed.

We are rebuilding. We are building something new.

Others aren’t quite on board though…enter Red October.

Apparently, according to a certain group of people, white people are being killed off in South Africa.

I’m a big fan of human rights, and if I truly believed that a minority group was being killed off, I’d be in the trenches with them fighting against their oppressors.

White people are NOT being killed off in SA. There is no white genocide. All this movement is doing is causing further divisions and scratching scabs off wounds we are trying to heal.

It scares me sometimes when such happens…I start thinking, what if Apartheid did come back?

I’d like to believe it can’t. That people grown past racist bullshit…we’ve fought too hard for too long to ever let our country go back there…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this link to this video that displays what most South Africans believe regarding White Genocide in SA.

 [this post is written as part of the Blog Action Day 2013 – visit the site to check out more posts on the theme of Human Rights]

Continuation…read part 1 here

3. Why I believe the term was racist:

The fighting in Grabouw was between black people and coloured people. The DA says it is caused by too many people moving from the Eastern Cape and using up the resources of the Western Capers…now which people do you think those are? I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking about white people. Because let’s face it, when white people move to the western cape, they generally move into the suburbs where schools are not overcrowded, and no one is going to accuse them of using up western cape’s resources.

When black people move to the WC they move into the already overcrowded townships, and their kids enroll in the already overcrowded schools, which is why people were fighting for lack of service delivery. Cape Town is flippin expensive to live in, and the average South African person cannot afford to live in the surburbs.

4. Why I’m angry with white people:

“I don’t see why it’s a racist remark” “I don’t see why black people are offended by it” “Cape Town is not racist, Cape Town is a city – a city can’t be racist, people are racist”

Of course you don’t understand why a black person would be offended because YOU ARE NOT BLACK! Go live in a country that restricts your movements to only certain places because of your race then come and tell me you are ok with the new “democratic” government doing the same thing. For years, black people were told where they can and can’t go and where they can and can’t live, and now that we live in a new democratic country we are still being told to stay in our designated province? And y’all don’t see a problem with that. Ok.

A city is not a city without the people in it. If the majority of people in the city are racist, then I deem that city to be racist. Also, I believe the City of Cape Town enables racism. When the majority of white people live in comfy houses in the surburbs and the majority of black people live in overcrowded squalor in the townships, I deem that city to be racist. When the lovely surburbs get better service delivery than the poor people, I deem that city to be racist.

I should also add, I think most racist Cape Tonians aren’t intentionally racist. They honestly don’t realise that they things they say/do are offensive to black people. So we tend to cut them some slack…but then when does it end?

In conclusion: No one, not even people in the Eastern Cape – not one South African citizen that I know of, disagrees that the Eastern Cape education system is in disarray and something needs to be done about it. The province is known for it’s corruption, and the government can’t afford to sit back and do nothing about it. However, pretending Cape Town is a republic unto it’s own, and telling Eastern Cape people to stay where they belong, is wrong…it is definitely not the solution.

And to be honest, if the DA had just apologised for the use of the word, or better yet, thought about the implicatiions of using that word and selected a different word to use, they would have had a lot more support for their cause, but they didn’t. They just tried to justify it.

As the twitter famous Khaya Dlanga said, Helen Zille (and I would add the rest of the DA, and those unintentionally racist Cape Tonians I was talking about), aren’t necessarily racist, they are just really insensitive towards black people.

This comment on yesterday’s post was long enough to be a post on it’s own, as was the response to the comment. So decided to make it an actual post.

And thanks, Sterrekind, for the comment. Dialogue is always good, even when we disagree.

The comment:

“Hey, I have read a little bit about this now, because, as usual, I came in at the backside of the news…

I usually agree with your blog and we think the same a lot of the time. However, not this time, and that is why I feel the need to comment and voice my opinion, even if we disagree. Maybe we just misunderstand each other, but I feel the need to give my two cents.

As a white, South African woman, spending a bunch of time in the community, openly debating issues, defending people when others are being openly racist ect. I see my self a quite open-minded. But this time I am on the “white” side of things. Firstly, I think the race-card is just being over-played. Why do people not debate the issue, debate why using the term “refugee” is wrong, but immediately call race? Only when it is said by a white politician. But when the ANC retaliates by saying the DA is a “white, racist party” or that the DA uses blacks as “window dressing” (both statements from the Jackson Mthembu, spokesperson of the ANC, no-one claims their statements as racist.

History shows that black politicians can say pretty much what they want, but when Zille makes a comment about a term that is inherently non-racial, everyone is up in arms. Basically, the eastern cape has crap services and people come to the western cape to get those services. What on earth is wrong with saying that? Zille has proven herself time and again as being a strong leader who works hard to make a positive change in the western cape, and now people crucify her for making this statement, which was pulled entirely out of context. Frankly, I am tired of racial debates, tired of people blame-shifting, finger-pointing and voicing one-sided opinions only when they benefit. Not saying this blog, talking about politicians and the media.

I was at the Cape Town carnival on saturday and it was amazing to see the integration of different races and cultures. There were very little white people in the carnival, but that’s fine, as we are the minority. I don’t see anyone pointing out racism there. It was great to see how we can work together to celebrate our different heritages, learn by seeing each others dances, clothes, languages, music ect. I really was so proud.

I feel we should celebrate what we have, rather than reverting to name-calling and finger-pointing in every situation. This whole drama has lead to articles in international news like this one:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/world/africa/in-cape-town-many-black-south-africans-feel-unwelcome.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all

The article is biased, only quotes one-sided sources and is being sensationalistic. Often issues that are to do with education, community development, financial inequality ect immediately get turned into race. Somewhere we have to look to the future and start to change things, not go back and keep looking for excuses why things don’t get better.

Turned into a long comment, but hey, that’s my opinion.”

The response:

I have never claimed that the remarks the ANC makes aren’t racist. In fact, most of the time they are FULLY racist…and, unlike Zille’s faux pas, intentionally so.

I did not disagree with the Zille’s message. The Eastern Cape is in disarray, and something needs to be done about it. I, however, am offended by the use of the term “refugee”…educational or otherwise.

Here’s the thing: Zille is seeking black votes…that’s not a secret. South Africa is still a black majority country, and in order for her to get the power/resources/whatever to make the changes she wants to make in this country, she’s gonna need black people to vote for her. The ANC has the black vote. The race thing is their “Ace of Spades”…their trump card. They will always use the race card where they think it benefits them. Zille keeps giving them ammo to use against her in that regard.

Black people say they’re offended by a term – not her message, just the term – and instead of her apologizing for the offence she takes to twitter and blogs and such to defend the use of the term…(the second part of the post goes up next tuesday and speaks more on this.)

And about that article you linked: I’m pretty sure most black people would agree that they see cape town as a “white” province and the DA a “white” party – not saying they’re right, but that is how they perceive it. And as much as apartheid is over, the effects are still very visible, and we cannot run away from that. The economic divide in SA is a direct result of apartheid, and until the divide is eradicated, unfortunately it will always be tied back to race

Having said all this: I am not a member of the ANC, never been a member of any political party…I try to vote on merit and the issues at hand (service delivery, etc) as much as possible, so I am not justifying the ANC’s racist remarks, I am simply saying that I, as an individual, am offended by being called a refugee. And I am also offended when, instead of being asked how I feel or why I feel that way, I am told that I shouldn’t feel a certain way and am told how I should feel instead.

And now I’m even more offended by Zille implying that by being offended by the term refugee I am xenophobic.

This blog was supposed to be about my Christian journey. But recently, it has started to become about my journey into what is referred to on twitter as “bad blacks.” Yea, I was fully against that term as well when I first read it…and I still think it’s a bad term, but the more I move to that side of South African twitterville, the more I find myself identifying myself with it.

What is a bad black? you ask. From what I’ve read (and I could be wrong on this), a bad black is a black South African who lives in the surburbs, got a good (private/model-c school) education, most often than not speaks with a twang, but is still more likely to vote ANC than the DA, and will call Helen Zille racist and be offended by terms such as “Professional Black” and “Refugees” and add to the CapeTownIsRacist twitter hashtag.

The reason I decided to write this post is because I found myself infuriated by the majority of white people in Cape Town this past week. A whole lot of them were saying that Black people are overeacting with this refugees thing. They justified the use of term. They defended Zille’s use of the term. They said that they don’t see why that term is racist. And they felt that the outcry over the use of term was just taking the attention off the real problem – ie the education system in the ANC-run Eastern Cape.

I am not from the Eastern Cape, but I was offended by the term. Let me tell you why:

1. The use of the word refugee:

Some definitions from the web: a. “A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” b. “One who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.”

White people across twitterville said that Zille was using the second definition, and that makes it ok. No it doesn’t. As a South African citizen I have the right to live anywhere in South Africa without having my reasons questioned. There is a huge difference between relocating, and fleeing. Last I checked, the Western Cape, while run by DA, is still part of the Republic of South Africa, and any South African citizen had the right to move for whatever reason they see fit.

Are black people who leave Cape Town to move to Joburg to find jobs also refugees? Cos I know a lot of them. They moved, not because they didn’t like Cape Town, but because they couldn’t find work in Cape Town. Joburg isn’t crying foul and calling them refugees. Why? Because they have a constitutional right to do so.

2. Context of the use of the term:

As I mentioned, a lot of white people felt the outcry was diverting attention from the Eastern Cape’s educational system. A lot of black people, however, felt that the term had been used to divert attention from what was happening in Grabouw. People take to the streets because of lack of service delivery, and the DA claims that it’s because people moved there from the Eastern Cape…really???

So, this post is becoming a little too long, so I’ve decided to make it a 2-part-post.

This is a follow-up on the post I wrote last week concerning the DASO poster.

One of the comments I read on twitter after the poster became twitter-famous, was something along the lines of “the DA has lost the plot. the fight against racism is not about who you can or can’t date but about equality” – can’t remember who it was by.

Which is the truth. Mandela et al didn’t fight and spend time in prison for interracial dating. They did it so that I’m not forced to live in Kasi because I’m black, so that I can choose the career I want, I can go to the university I want to, I can get that job ahead of others if I’m the most qualified…so that I have the choice to live the life I want to…or at least that I have the opportunity to strive for that life.

Get rid of shacks and give people proper housing, get employment to a point where BEE is no longer necessary (which I think starts with basic education – get those kasi/rural schools up to scratch), make sure race is no longer a determining factor in where I work, what position I hold in the company, where I live, where my kids go to school, how a person is seen/treated…and that will be good enough for me.

I couldn’t care less if people take a second look when I walk by with my white/asian/coloured/indian/etc boyfriend, as long as I know that at the end of the day my basic needs and those of my loved ones are taken care of.


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