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.