Something just hasn’t been sitting properly with me since reading my Disco Pants blogger friend (link below) whose passionate opinion and brave heart I value, along with our Chardonnay lunch, but I haven’t been able to nail it …until now.
Because I feel that that it goes way beyond a mere beating up of ourselves for our white racist attitudes as South Africans and trying to ease the pain of dividedness with the ball and chain of guilt that we drag around daily through random acts of kindness and sharing Boerewors rolls with car guards. We all do these things in our small way and yet …and yet… nothing different is going to happen – whether we berate ourselves or not because people the world over, I believe, the human species, seeks to protect its own kind as yes, as you say, Susan, have a DNA of prejudice. But that’s OK is what I’m saying provided you are able to relate to others in a respectful and harmonious way and simply understand that, yes, there is a world of haves and have-nots and differing skin colour, belief, and dress, food or music preference, even choice of life partner and whatever and our earth contains us all – though heaven knows for how long if we keep messing it up with our incessant consumption and greed and disconnectedness with nature.
Because it’s not just a white/black , black/white thing though of course this is a big part in our country…it’s an “us and them” thing and an inherent comfort in the “soort soek soort” philosophy which I know you will understand. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot and then poo got thrown on the statue of Rhodes at UCT and this really bothered me and now I’m ready to write.
Because you see, there is a lot of prejudice and antagonism in this country (sure others too) but we have to be able to conduct ourselves in a civilized way and be able to discuss and debate and negotiate (and especially on campus because that is the seat of learning and thought) and I know it’s just a silly small group of people and I don’t want to say any more about this except that change takes time and it’s just not possible to haul down every single vestige of white symbolism and heritage in one foul swoop and pretend that it had absolutely nothing to do with how UCT got to be there in the first place, or much else in this beautiful country that we all have to share together. It’s only just over 20 years. Be tolerant. Be constructive.
I want to talk about prejudice in general : how it happens that there is even black on black prejudice and the uproar over the use of white advocates by senior politicians including Zuma and the Speaker when they could have instructed black advocates – because it goes to prejudice.
And how it happens that black and white women still do not get sufficient recognition that they are doing a good enough job and are criticized about the judgments that are made in court (Masipa and Traverso)- because it goes to male AND racial prejudice ( and a touch of ignorance of the layperson regarding the weight of evidence).
And how it happens that I’ll be sitting in a group of people that I have known for a while and they will suddenly say, “Oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish?” I mean, what the hell??? What…I didn’t know that you were shrewd/have a holocaust history/prayed to the different God , though is actually the same one and may go to hell some day (as I was told at the Convent and at my gewone, government school which I loved)”- because it goes to prejudice.
And how it happens that I will overhear something about being gay and “imagine if you had gay child or something awful like that !” and my heart stings because I have gay family- because it goes to prejudice.
And how it happens that someone that lives in a different area can even think about the fact that God is punishing the Noordhoek residents with fire destroying their homes because they are “rich snobs” – because it goes to prejudice.
And how it happens that at athletics events, even young school boys (DNA and societal pressure mounting) from private schools can sing derogatory songs about children of government schools like “your dad works for my dad” when they have no idea that perhaps it’s about a rationalized choice and wanting to be around the rainbow nation and perhaps nothing to do with money (“Oh, I’ve heard that it’s such a great school though, says the parent…)- because it goes to prejudice.
It just happens.
And though I am often confused about why at dinner parties/book club/whatever, we are a generally a homogeneous group of lighter skin people and I really wish that Redi Thlabi ( yes I know you are famous and fabulous and busy and live in Jhb but I have invited you remember?) or even a few of my bubbly bright beautiful black students (won’t name you but you know who) would liven up our dinner party conversation (hey even an artist, philosopher, astrologer , would change the dialogue) I know the answer. Soort soek soort. It’s really more about class and shared interests and comfortable conversation and simply that.
And though I am often saddened and scared and concerned about this beautiful country I call home, I have no idea where I could be happier.
But understand and read these beautiful first few lines of the preamble of our constitution:
“We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
So, yes Discopants Queen, we are extraordinarily privileged and lucky and we can admit all of this racism and understand how it plays out subtly every day on every level, but more than this, so much more than this, we actually do now ALL have a voice.
And we ALL need to use it properly and carefully and with respect for ALL of our diversities.
Here is the link to the DISCO PANTS BLOG- http://discopantsblog.com/2015/02/18/on-coming-to-terms-with-our-arseholery/.
Hope to be back on the blog soon,