Do I wish that we could all stop talking about race and move on? YES! Will ignoring it change anything? No, because talking about race, seeing race (or colour) is not the issue. I love my brown skin #MELANIN. When you look at me, before I even speak to you, you see two things:
- I am female.
- I am black.
So this colour-blind ish is problematic. I want people to see me. I want them to see my brown melanin enriched skin. I am black but that does not make me more or less of a person. We all see colour, it’s beautiful. Whether you are iNdoni yamanzi or nawe Phuma langa sikothe. The issue is when people look at you, see your colour and then arrive at an arbitrary conclusion that you are either
a) not good enough
c) a criminal
f) like curry
g) are in a gang
h) sell drugs
i) are in the oil business
j) are really intelligent
k) listen to rap or
Race should not be an indication of any of these things. We should all know by now that, scientifically, race does not exist. It is a social construct. Social constructs are supported and maintained by society. We are society. It’s our fault. We, as a collective, are the problem. So, realistically speaking, race is totally a thing. As long as lines can be drawn between black and white, as easily as they are between rich and poor, we will always revert back into this way of thinking. We cannot break the “us vs them” complex if at every given opportunity to address it (and hopefully move onto addressing classism) people deny the very real and uncomfortable racial issues that exist and dismiss the possible solutions.
Some topics may seem personal and deep but when they are brought to the surface people are too quick to get touched. If you cannot see how people were (AND CONTINUE TO BE) unjustly enriched or how the scales, even after so many years of (failed) B-BBEE, are still in favour of the privileged minority, then you are not living the reality of this country or the world.
White people: (I say this with love) STOP! STAHP! YEKANI telling black people what racism is. You never feel the negative effects of it. You never have to question whether or not you have been condemned to live a cursed existence. Yes, in the previous regime it was easier to spot the racism because that ish was legislated. Now the subtle or covert racism REQUIRES us to call it out. Even if you never meet a black person, your mere existence maintains and perpetuates it. This is the world we live in. This is the world we have created. You can only claim to not be racist if you are working against the system. If your aunt says something ignorant and you let it go you are guilty by association, call her out! Don’t let these things happen in your presence.
Colonialism and apartheid lasted a heck of a long time and do not, for a second convince yourselves that either of these things were solely brought down by white people. Were there white people in the struggle? Hell yes! Shout out to all of them but voting “YES” in the referendum didn’t end apartheid. If it was that simple and easy wouldn’t you have done it at least 50 years ago? Years of struggle, negotiations and sacrifices brought the shameful regime to its knees. The referendum hold its significance because it indicated that most white people were over apartheid. Some were over it because they genuinely saw the evil, others held economic interests, and others wanted the Springboks to play in the world cup… Whatever the reasons, white people were over it. If you are willing to learn and if you are willing to listen then you are on the right track. If you think race doesn’t affect you then that is privilege in itself. As black people we are not afforded that luxury… Not yet anyway. Give us a few years to get #WOKE
Whether you accept this notion or not is up to you. Until you have been a part of an oppressed group, you do not know what oppression is. You may think you do. You may sympathise at times but empathy is a learning process.
Ma-Afrika amahle, anikakhathali ukuthathwa kancane? How much longer will we be satisfied with mediocrity? A matric and an undergrad mean very little these days. Popping bottles and the latest kicks mean nothing. Where are the Honours, the Master’s and the PhDs? And for the people that are more technical or skills-based, where are the success stories from FETs? What are successful black people doing to give back to their communities? Where are the bursaries and scholarships? Where is the funding? Where is the support? Where is the support for entrepreneurs?
If we are to take back this country, from the self-serving capitalists who are hiding behind a socialist manifesto, why are we not doing enough? It is one thing to point out the obvious privileges that we don’t have but it is another to actually take steps to ensure that, even if the scales are not in our favour, we still stand a fighting chance.
I know that black tax is a real thing and sending money home to educate and support the sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, gogos, etc is an obligation (because UBUNTU) and we should always Khumbul’Ekhaya BUT… we should ensure that we also invest. It is not enough for us to strive to get out of the “lokshini”. Our mission should be to change our OWN communities into districts that thrive and compete with the CBDs. Why should people waste 45 minutes every morning travelling to work in the city when our own communities could provide job opportunities? Why can I name the kasi “hotspots” like Mzoli’s, Max’s Lifestyle Tavern Eyadini Lounge? Why aren’t there more? Why do we feel the need to take our money elsewhere?
I tend to ramble when I am upset but if you refuse to engage or at least entertain the idea of certain privileges being given to people from birth then the long walk to freedom is even longer than we anticipated. We claim to want a rainbow nation but when it comes to practicality, do we even know what that means? Do we even want the same thing? It seems that some colours or shades seem to want to dominate or even erase the next. There is no teamwork because we can’t even agree if we are on the same team. Race, religion, class, sex, gender, sexuality, age etc are all concepts that we created. We continue to let these things get in the way of our common humanity because those in power flourish when the subjects are divided.
This is a tiresome and frustrating journey, Inde le ndlela, but it is one that the Constitution demands of us.
See you in 2016