Racism goes beyond lynching [racial slur here]

An article from South African writer Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya aka the F-Word aka one of my new heroes.

From Mail and GuardianRacism goes beyond lynching niggers
One Sunday afternoon the news editor at my previous paper sent me to cover a dog show at Gilloolies Farm, east of Johannesburg. When I got there the woman behind the ticket counter ignored me and routinely focused on people who came after me.

When she did pay attention to me she asked me: “What are you here to deliver?” In her mind the idea of a black guy enjoying the sight of dogs jumping through hoops was a bridge too far.

The woman and the people she paid attention to were white. I was (and still am) black. I called her action racist and people who commit racist actions, racists.

I might have been wrong. Perhaps the lady at the dog show is a nice woman who has never said an unkind word about people of other hues.

But that is where part of the problem lies.

Somehow we have developed the idea that unless you lynch niggers in a plantation or bang the heads of uppity black detainees against the prison walls until they die you are not really a racist.

Hold on, not even beating up darkies qualifies as racism. As one Pumas rugby team supporter, JR Nagel, told The Times when asked his opinion about the team fielding Gert van Schalkwyk (not to be confused with the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder of the same name) who is on appeal after he and his friends were convicted of beating a black man to death. “We all, even myself … my chommies [friends] and I have beaten up a couple of kaffirs. You are young, that’s what you do. In those days your dad told you that’s kwaai [cool].

“The only reason this is an issue is because it’s a kaffir who died and it was a white laaitie [boy] who hit him,” Nagel said.

Granted, the last statement reflects the unique idiocy of the speaker rather than a general trend of thought. Still, the unfortunate reality is that there is simply too little respect by our white compatriots for black people’s sensitivities to colonialism and racism. Or they are just too shy to show it.

The race discourse is not going to disappear because it makes some people uncomfortable to talk about it. By talking about it, I don’t mean a finger-pointing session, but a frank discussion about what the historical victims of racism perceive racism to be.

If people as erudite and sophisticated as David Bullard don’t know what racism is, what is the hope that some kids at a university residence will appreciate what being a racist means?

Unfortunately any discussion of these topics is closed down on the grounds that you are indulging in finger-pointing or living in the past. You would think intelligent adult South Africans would have a greater understanding of the nuances of what racism is in the South African context. But apparently it’s not that obvious.

I will not even deal with the notion bigots hold as a self-evident truth that the whites who got off the Dromedaris carried with them the “white civilisation” we now have.

According to this theory, were it not for the intervention of kind Mr van Riebeeck, Africans would have stayed as they were and whites would have gone on to invent the iPod.

Without making myself a spokesperson for what black people want, I am sure that many of us ask for nothing the world is not able to give. Respect our pain as you do the pain of other victims of racial supremacy.

English Prince Harry got into trouble for wearing a Nazi outfit at a fancy dress party. It did not matter that fancy dress parties are meant to allow revellers to be intentionally silly and wear outfits that they would normally not wear anywhere else.

Jewish organisations called for Max Mosley, head of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), to be sacked after he was caught on video re-enacting a concentration camp scene in which he played the role of both guard and inmate.

And in case you bought into the silly “that’s because Jews control the world” theory, you might be happy to learn that African-Americans are taking a stand too.

They forced the resignation of syndicated talk-radio personality Don Imus after he called members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos”.

Unlike Bullard, who stood his ground arguing that he called it like it was, Imus apologised and called his comments “insensitive and ill-conceived”.

These are some of the things from which even black people in this country can learn.

Whereas South African theatre practitioners have not wasted an opportunity to show off how blacks sang and danced before apartheid police bullets, you can’t imagine a Broadway musical about happy Jews in concentration camps.

A people who produced the incomparable Ira and George Gersh­win could easily come up with that, but they know that some places are sacred.

Newsflash: racism, the slave trade, colonialism and apartheid are just as evil as the Holocaust and other forms of behaviour based on the assumption that your own people are more human and thus deserving of greater respect than others. Surely even Bullard and his fans can understand that.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Racism goes beyond lynching [racial slur here]

  1. The racist mindset is so perplexing that not even those afflicted can explain or decipher its various symptons.

  2. … and I think of all the ‘unconscious’ crap out there, like the white boy in my high school who told me he was surprised he thought I was pretty because he never thought black girls were pretty … and then he thought about it and said, “Maybe it’s because you don’t have those nasty nigger lips.”

    I sat on a panel last month discussing issues of different among women, and got angry because the moderator kept trying to frame my position as being only about race, and would talk over or dismiss anything I said that didn’t fit into the neat little frame she had in her mind. I couldn’t talk about class, education, politics, sexual orientation … I couldn’t even talk about gender issues without her stepping in. Yes, I am a black woman, but I also have positions that are inclusive of other women … but not in the mind of this (progressive, rabid anti-racist) woman. As the only black woman on the panel, I was supposed to ‘remember my place.’

    Hmm … I’m a little tangential here, but reading this article was a bit of a trigger, you know?

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