6 February, 2016

The reality of racism

We are witnessing in our public discourse a desperate plea by the beneficiaries of anti-black racism that their hegemony must please, pretty please, never come to an end.

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Part A: Oh my word, guys, isn’t South Africa, like, just the most awesome place to live in now that apartheid is over? So many bad things don’t happen any more. It’s totally cool.

Racism, for example, doesn’t exist anymore. Ja, sure, we like have cultural differences and stuff, and poverty and unemployment are bad. But racism was last a big deal way back when Verwoerd and them were in charge. Not anymore.

Nowadays racism is fortunately as rare as food that doesn’t cause cancer – good luck finding an example. Obviously a couple of darkies are race obsessed and pretend racism exists.

Picture credit: exinator.deviantart.com
Picture credit: exinator.deviantart.com

They are so annoying. There’s that McKaiser guy for example. He is not even really really black and he keeps banging on about racism. People like him divide us. He peddles racism. Does he have nothing else to write about? Bloody hotnot.

Then there are all these black kids on Twitter. What the hell is “black Twitter” anyway? Every day we have to hear about their pain. They hate ideas and arguments. It is all about their pain and feelings and everything is “Me! Me! Me!” Professional blacks. Professional victims of racism. Haters of white people.

But they do not speak for the majority of the country. Most black South Africans just want to get along with everyone else, and we should not be distracted by the racial baggage of this vocal minority of victimhood-peddlers.

They even invented a whole new discipline with the help of some self-flagellating whites – whiteness studies. Whiteness? Pass me the Oscar Bucket!

There’s only one enemy in this country and that is this disgusting, corrupt, thieving ANC government led by the worst one of the lot, sex-obsessed Jacob Zuma.

Part B: I have taken part in at least 10 book discussions over the past two weeks, including on various talk radio platforms. And, being a social media junkie, I continue, as I always have, to monitor closely how debate plays out on current South African social and political debates.

The sentiment I depict in Part A of today’s column is, sadly, one that is peddled by a number of white South Africans who refuse to face up to the continued racist realities in this country.

They include senior DA leaders like Gavin Davis who mock the identity politics of black students on Twitter, making light of the pain of institutional violence that is inflicted on many black students on our campuses every day.

People like him perform this mocking with zero regard for the effect it has: Trivialising the accounts of the lived realities of black people excluded from opportunity purely because of systemic discrimination based on arbitrary social facts they have not chosen.

What is most chilling about these trolls, who otherwise (some of them anyway) pretend to be leaders in their political parties, leaders who want us to vote for them next year and in 2019, is that they exhibit this callousness without fear of consequence inside their organisations.

What this lack of fear tells us, of course, is who still has institutional control in a party like the DA – unreflective white men whose sense of ownership over the party is as natural as it is not for some of the senior black leaders who, privately and off-the-record, are at pains to point out to me that the party isn’t homogenous, but that it will take time for a different set of values to be associated with the party.

But the sentiments in Part A aren’t restricted to the DA. One caller called into a late night talk show I was on the other day, and suggested, “we should all just chill out man”. Ah, the luxury to just “chill out man”.

Here’s the brutal truth: Not talking about racism is not the solution to racism. Just as not talking about rape won’t make South Africa a place that is safe for women.

This noxious attack on identity politics, and first person articulation of pain, are not convincing exhibitions of perfect rationality by older white male trolls.

What these straw person responses to identity politics, and emoting, are proof of is something far more tragicomic, I’m afraid.

We are witnessing in our public discourse a desperate plea by the beneficiaries of anti-black racism that their hegemony must please, pretty please, never come to an end.

Have I got news for you: Sure, the hegemony of straight, older white South African men is still strong, but it’s necessarily declining. That isn’t a bad thing.