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[Opinion] Its costly to deny racism by Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya

August 28, 2014

Only in South Africa do historic beneficiaries of racism demand that their victims change their ways. The absurdity of it all boggles.

I generally do not like repeating column topics. South Africa is awash with interesting stories crying out for comment.

The response to a recent column left me certain that some white South Africans simply do not get what apartheid was about. Their condescending attitude of “get over it” suggests that they think it was just an inconvenient political system rather than a structured dehumanising and impoverishment project based on the sandy foundation of people of a certain skin colour being more human than others.

That is why so many of them feel like it is a discussion best left unattended to.
Seems to me that some assume that black people raise the racism topic to make them feel guilty about the past when the reality is that this is done to recognise the elephant in the room.
Many of those who responded to my column repeated the same lies of political parties founded on and sustained by the idea of whites being an endangered species, such as that whites are targeted as crime victims.

Their insulated lives made them think that unemployment among white men in particular is the highest of all population groups when it is in fact the lowest.

Post-1994 society has not asked white South Africans for much.

Standards of life are exactly as they were when the country was white-ruled. In many other ways, the white standards of life and wealth have improved.

Even the rugby that some whites foolishly believe is their exclusive possession has benefited from the new South Africa project. The Springboks have been world champions twice when in the past they could only play against mercenary types who would do anything for a buck, if you will excuse the pun.

Carrying a South African passport is no longer like the carrying of a skunk it used to be.

Why then do so many whites who make time and effort to comment online and heaven knows how many others in their private spaces, emit such bitterness and naked racism?
Black South Africans did not create racism. They suffered under it and many continue to suffer its effects even though it is no longer legislated. If anyone needs to “get over themselves” it is the racists and racism denialists.

Whether it is arrogance, ignorance or both, racism continues to grow in spaces such as online comment sections. There all sorts of idiots suddenly find boldness they know they do not have in real life.
Many comments betray a people who have absolutely no grasp of South African reality and carry on as if this was 1982.

Almost without exception, online commentators do not fail to mention how they cannot believe that the writer they are responding to holds the position of authority or is as qualified as they are. This is no different from how black talent is questioned in the workplace, the political corridors or the sports field.
It is remarkably ignorant to equate employment equity and economic empowerment with reverse racism.
Not only are statistics showing that newly graduated young whites stand a better chance of finding employment, but also that it would take decades to achieve the desired fair representation of all South Africans in the workplace.
One only need take a drive through any township or village to get a glimpse of the destructive effects of white racism in the form of apartheid and its chief intent of impoverishing a people on the whimsical reason of being born with the wrong colour.
The streets of black South Africa have a phrase: Akho bari ezongcengwa – (We will beg nobody).

Those whites who continue to deny the reality of racism must internalise it and its long-term effects or hope that they will not live long enough to see the fruit of their indifference – a radicalised black majority that will find a leader who will make Julius Malema look like a Desmond Tutu.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is the executive editor of the Pretoria News

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One Comment
  1. natasha permalink

    How do you drive a car when you keep looking in the rear view mirror and never ahead of you.Success for individuals is never attained when one holds onto the past and never moves past those huge mistakes and failures you made.Any self help book teaches these fundamentals as does the bible . Always hanging onto the past makes you a captive of the past not a solution to the present ,ask a holocaust or genocide survivor or a rape victim . Does this undermine the horror or the trauma of the experience or the wrongdoing of the perpetrator.No of course not!!!It however does allow the victim to move forward and enjoy the good and blessings they experience now in the present! !!Clinging to the past has never benefited anyone however learning from the past does!!!!The same with Apartheid. So if you feel whites have the mindset that it is time to move on, then instead of assuming it undermines the wrongs of what was done see it that perhaps they as do all people of all races know there is a time to move on.God provided the human spirit with a great tenacity to overcome and forgive great injustice and trauma .Imagine if every time you had a discussion
    with a survivor of the Holocaust, or a genocide or rape victim and all they ever kept discussing for 20 years after their horrific incident was their ordeal.That they kept going on and on and on about it. Initially you would feel great sympathy and compassion and respect and admiration for them having to endure and overcome such tragedy and injustice.But within a number of years of their continual rehashing and reliving their ordeal to you time and time again would eventually wear you out and tire you. You would expect them to move on and to discuss the other awesome things in their lives presently surely? . The good things, the blessings such as their jobs, their families, sports etc . Sometimes they might refer to that painful trauma but they would move on. If however for the next 20 years that is all they would ever discuss, wallowing in their misery your initial sympathy would fade and you would grow somewhat weary and annoyed of hearing of all they have been through. Does this ever undermine the experience! ! No. Is the listener less empathetic.Yes with time they are . What has been done was wrong, restitution needs to be made to a point and then to move forward we need to forgive. The problem is perhaps you don’t feel whites are sorry enough for what they have done and they haven’t paid enough? So on their behalf I say we are sorry it was horrible it was awful it was inhumane. It was unexhuasable.I am sorry for the pain and cruelty my race inflicted on you. But I then think it is your turn to forgive us and stop looking back .Not looking back doesn’t mean we forget the past it means we use our past as experience and wisdom to guide our future journey but we don’t let us imprison and we don’t ever let it go and move on. Twenty years is a long time to remain a prisoner to your past. We need to look forward, so we can move forward as South Africans.And one day i hope you can look around and see not the past ways white South Africans have sinned but the present.And take note of how many ordinary white south Africans take their time and their money and their resources to help out black South Africans who still bear the marks of apartheid in their poverty.They do this in the ordinary course of life and you would open your eyes and realise yes they stuffed up 20 years ago but they have been trying ever since to put their past behind them and to serve all people of all colours in this beautiful country so we can all move forward and all reap the rewards.I see it every day.The ordinary white south Africans who help and serve their fellow black South Africans and I am proud. I hope one day you will see it too! !!

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