Saturday, 26 May 2012

"I Am A Racist" She Rants



I thought I knew how to really rant. In fact, I have been accused of being the master at ranting. Today someone sent me a link to an article on the News 24 website titled, “I am a racist”. It is ancient history because it was published on May 23, 2012 already. Having now read it, I must graciously acknowledge that, when it comes to ranting, I am clearly an absolute amateur.

As for my opinion on this article: Well, there are parts that I agree with and there are parts that I don’t.

I, for example, agree that the painting by the South African artist, Brett Murray, of President Jacob Zuma with his naked penis clearly visible, was not a racist statement. I think that Brett Murray was making a completely different statement through his painting, which was named “The Spear”, though I am not sure what, despite the various interpretations I have heard. This does not of course mean that I consider the painting acceptable. In fact, my personal opinion is that it was particularly distasteful and that it should never ever have been permitted to go on display in the gallery. I think there are many other less distasteful ways in which Brett Murray could have communicated his message, whatever that message was supposed to be. Be that as it may, the painter cannot be described as a racist because of the painting. I think it would be more apt to label Brett Murray as vulgar, offensive, crude, or other similar labels because of his painting! But certainly not racist!

I do though agree with the general sentiment of what the article is trying to communicate. That is, as I understand it, that the word racist has been abused and is lately being used in an entirely improper manner most of the time. It is used more frequently to unfairly stir up emotions rather than to accurately describe a particular behaviour. In doing so, it serves to continually open old wounds and slow the healing process. Let's keep the word to describe and condemn racism, not as an emotive tool to unfairly sway peoples opinions. If we don't, I think that we run the risk of true racism being ignored when it is actually identified.

The writer of the News 24 article does sadly blow it with some of her closing lines in the article. She writes:

"You Mr Zuma and your ANC are a bunch of CANTS!
CAN’T let go of the past
CAN’T stop operating from a place of revenge and hate for what’s happened in the past"[i]

In these few lines, she shows a lack of understanding of what it must have been like to be a non-white person during the apartheid era of South Africa. I don’t know but I am sure that it is far easier to say, “let go of the past”, as the writer suggests, than it is to actually do so. I don’t think that I would find it very easy to just 'get over it' if I was aware of how different my life could have been had I been given equal opportunities when I was growing up, being educated and beginning to work. Imagine the incredible anger and hurt one must feel to be living in a shack, without electricity and running water, to give just one example, and then realise that you could also have been living in your own home with electricity and running water, if you had been given the same opportunities that a white person was. To say, “let go of the past”, as the writer does, is to say ‘I don’t get it’ and ‘I don’t care either’! I don't think that is fair! The writer misses the fact that true charity demands that we place ourselves in the other person shoes and look at life from their perspective. On the other hand, true charity does also require that we forgive, even if we can't forget.


[i] I am a racist, News 24, May 23, 2012

4 comments:

  1. I read the article on News24 where the central message, for me, is:

    "If a black person is ever corrected or chastised for bad behaviour,theft,rape, etc then the whiteman is labeled a "racist" which words then puts the black person onto the moral highground, thus making the white person more guilty of an Apartheid legacy even though that whiteman may have had nothing to do with the Apartheid crime."

    Of course, this attitude is ridiculous. It cannot go without a challenge.

    Also, while the point that black people lived in shacks in the Apartheid days was somewhat inhibiting, there is also the point that Black people live in shacks today. In fact, most of Sub-Saharan Africa lives in shacks.

    Should living in shacks be the cause for bad behaviour, not going to school, not striving not working at self-improvement, robbery, theft, corruption, etc?

    I get the impression that Jesus Mary and Joseph may also have lived in a shack without electricity, running water,etc.

    Yet look at the influence of Jesus. Nothing held him back.

    We also know that Jesus had a good and holy family where they also read and studied the scriptures, obeyed the laws, worked hard, etc. Seemingly, there was something also human and greater that motivated Jesus. We know, surely, that Jesus he was not limited by a shack-type life.

    It seems that the big theological question may be: Should we teach people to have a continuous revolutionary grumpy miserable social outlook? Or, should we teach ourselves to take up our bed and rise and make good of the day through hard work, study, learning, praying, doing good, cultivating faith & hope, performing miracles?

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  2. I have learnt to ignore the insults from our white brothers. Racism still is a reality for many black people. It is unfortunate that white people believe they can determine for us what is racist, and what is not.

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  4. Tseko

    Everyone can also echo your comments, but each according to their experience.

    Like you, your white brothers have to learn to ignore the insults from their black brothers.

    It is unfortunate that black people try determining for white people what is racist and what is not.

    So? So what? What do you propose we do about it?

    Is your proposal going to be one of irrational belligerence or one which tries to understand where we are coming from and our common objectives?

    To understand something important, we need all remember something: The civilised white people have initiated and constructively contributed towards every bit of development in this country, now and in the past e.g. when the whites arrived in South Africa, the black people did not have: the wheel, universities, schools, western / eastern protocols, standards, marketing systems, exportation of resources nor imports, etc.. The white people introduced these benefits. The whites also brought certain civilised industrial standards, international law & ethics, even the famous time piece.

    Unlike some black people today, white people as a rule do not label standards which oppose laziness, theft, robbery, murder, corruption, etc. as being racist. Whites know the meaning of the word racism. They do not twist words to justify negative behaviour. When a white commits crime, he calls a spade a spade. When he steals, he does not call this wrong racism; same for murder, corruption, etc.

    Personally, I think black people need to learn how to apply and differentiate between the meaning of words and not label every criticism and apposition as being "racist".

    Since black people have the privilege to be in political control of the country, have the majority of the power, if black people want to join the real world; want jobs; want to grow, they must CHANGE their attitude and not vice-versa. The same applies when it comes to thinking accurately.

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