Sunday, March 18, 2007

Deeply dehumanising racist stereotypes

Thabo Mbeki makes some telling statements this week in his ANC Today weekly online brief. (which also shows and interesting development in that many of the articles now have individual bylines. Anton Harber points out what a paradigm shift this is, here.)

As we celebrate Human Rights Day, it remains to be seen
whether we have the will to know one another and to debate with one another; whether we are willing to spend more time listening to one another, educating ourselves not be too quick to judge as illegitimate the concerns and expressions of any group; and whether we have the courage to engage in a truth and reconciliation process even with regard to the challenge of openly confronting the cancer of deeply dehumanising racist stereotypes that developed over many centuries.
The resolve to educate ourselves to not be too quick to judge as illegitimate the concerns and expressions of any group must include not being too quick to judge as illegitimate the concerns and expressions of the African people, the historic victims of racism, who remain deeply disturbed that some in positions of power still think it is normal to speak of them as "kaffirs", and others among our white compatriots think that it is natural to ask the question - since they are Black, how do we know they are not criminals!

I find myself almost wholeheartedly agreeing with Mbeki's article having been confronted first-hand with many of the second-hand anecdotal examples of racism that Mbeki refers to. Rapport, with its Sunday sensationalist headline of "Mbeki Kap Wittes", (Now a dead link as at Jan 2016) of course, concentrated on his thesis that white racists are responsible for our perception of crime. Taken in the context of the entire article, maybe they are.

We fight shy of properly debating this topic, as if racist attitudes are personal matter akin to our sexual or religious persuasion. Not to be challenged or tampered with. Best left alone. Well stuff that! Let us unload the dice and confront the issue head on. Let it hurt a bit to talk about it. Let us (try to) understand what it is really like to be black and white in this country.

And on a happier, but as serious, note I'm loving the way that David Bullard  (UPDATE : Jan2016_now too a dead link - seemingly the Sunday Times has seen fit to get rid of all references to Mr Bullard!) is bouncing back from his own terrible experiences of 2 weeks ago.

Anyway, it’s nothing that a good Cohiba and a glass of Glenmorangie Madeira cask- matured can’t cure.
We live in the most beautiful country and are blessed with the finest people you could imagine, therefore good must eventually triumph over evil. If I can believe that, then so can you and you must — otherwise we are all lost.

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