10 February, 2016

Racism is no monkey business: comedians on race

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Racism is no monkey business, but after the racism debacles of January 2016, we could all do with some comic relief. And we tried to find it! We approached a bunch of comedians to talk about race, Mandela’s vision and whether our country could ever move past the race debate. Their answers were not so funny. Goolam Hassen reports.

Racism Loyiso MadingaLoyiso Madinga, 28, Johannesburg

Things are racial because they’re systemically racial. It’s systemic – businesses still pay black people less, there are still schools that don’t let black children in.

It’s not necessarily that people are racist – the system is racist. We still have the same old racist system which causes racial tensions. I think we should just put white people on an island for like three years and then let us deal with shit while we’re here, and then bring them back. We don’t want them gone forever. When I say island, I mean Australia.

Dusty Rich, 31, Earth

There is no Mandela idealism being experienced right now. There is segregation brought on by socio-economic, government-influenced dilemmas countrywide.

Racism Dusty RichRace will never not be an issue because everybody is looking at race and nobody’s looking at prejudice. People aren’t racist, people are prejudiced, and it’s a natural human thing.

Sri Lankans hate Indians but they’re all Indian in the eyes of Western, uncultured, ignorant people. Black people are prejudiced towards black people, Xhosa versus Zulu etc.

Prejudice is the problem and we’re all fighting the leaves without finding out what the roots have to say. And we don’t as a species attack hatred, we’d rather go for racism because racism is a piece of sh*t.

More older generation bigots need to die for racism to become less powerful than it is. And, unfortunately, that’s a waiting game. So we are still going to deal with racism for time to come, f**k yeah, at least two generations I say.

I am the least prejudiced person I have ever come into contact with and I pride myself on that but I am very, very guilty on this one aspect. I live in this country as a white person and I have not learnt an ethnic language, and I think that’s disgusting. I think that’s revolting. How f**king dare we, do you know what I mean?

Simmi Areff, 27, From Durban now living in Johannesburg

Racism Simmi AreffI don’t think racism is prevalent in society upfront as much as it used to be. But behind closed doors, it’s very prevalent.

We must understand that apartheid was an infrastructure that was set in place, and we haven’t changed much of that infrastructure.

I learnt more about apartheid from my parents than I did in school. They didn’t actually teach us about the structural differences, and how much even after apartheid there’s still a big gap.

Put it this way: if you’re an Indian person and stayed in Gauteng, the place the apartheid government moved you to was Lenasia. Lenz is so far that you cannot see any part of main Jo’burg. You can’t see the town of Johannesburg, you can’t see a single tower – that’s how apartheid built an infrastructure.

Same like they did with Soweto, so far out that you’re not part of their society. I don’t even know where to start with that, how do you go about redistributing land?

Donovan Goliath, 32, from Umtata now in Johannesburg

Racism Donovan GoliathSocial media right now is such a dangerous platform. A lot of people are being exposed, a lot of tension and uproar is obviously coming from social media and people commenting, starting up little fires. And I’m not saying those things don’t exist and those problems don’t exist, but there’s a lot of tension that has been created, things are being aggravated because people supposedly have a platform to speak and they don’t back it up with much.

So I think we’re trying our best to live in Madiba’s vision, but I feel like we have a very long way to go.

We still have poverty, people are still living below certain lines, there’s a lot of corruption happening in the government, there are too many aspects I think in South Africa that we haven’t fixed yet – basic things that keep a country running.

We haven’t fixed those issues, so ultimately we’re always going to blame a system.

I say we can sort out these problems if people just learn to speak a vernacular language, learn to speak isiZulu, learn to speak isiXhosa, learn to speak Sesotho, and understand cultures and people a little bit better. I think it’s a disgrace to live in South Africa and not speak one of the eleven languages other than Afrikaans.

Alfred Adrian, 33, Johannesburg

Racism Alfred AdrianRace is a problem! If you look at history – the USA, other countries, even Europe still struggles with race there as well. And I mean it’s not a quick fix, it’s years and years and years of development and education to get out of that. That’s why we’re still struggling; it’s not something that’s going to come over 20 years.

Tolerance comes from a willingness to learn. As adults we are so set in our ways, I think we should just start small and listen. Let us not impose our ideologies on our children – which is a very difficult thing to ask – but let our children play in multiracial groups.

You can see it already, children don’t have those prejudices. If you give them the opportunity to explore each other’s cultures, there will be a better understanding going forward. And hopefully in 100 or 200 years from now, we wil be closer to this idealistic state that Mandela wanted, but it’s going to come down to education and a little bit of bravery on the parents’ side to let their child explore other people’s cultures and other people’s worlds.

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