“Racism is taught in our society, it is not automatic. It is learned behaviour toward persons with dissimilar physical characteristics.”
From the moment I could understand the human language, I was taught that race was one of the greatest factors that defined people in South Africa. When I was in primary school there weren’t many black children around, every class had about 3 to 4. I grew up with the mentality that because they were the minority in my physical surroundings that they were inferior and added less value to society. This is just an example of the type of mind sets children and even adults are taught to have and grow up with. It does not however only restrict itself to only coloured areas, as I am classified as a coloured. It exists in almost every institution in the country.
Black people are fighting for decolonisation and want their land back from the people who took it from them (whites), which has created a sense of hatred inside of them. There are many examples that prove this statement to be true such as the incident involving Ntokozo Qwabe and Ashleigh Schultz. Qwabe and his friend Wandile Dlamini made Schultz cry when they said that they will only tip her once she returns their land. There are white people who also discriminate in racist ways such as Penny Sparrow.
“These monkeys that are allowed to be released on New Years Eve and New Years Day onto public beaches towns obviously have no education what so ever so to allow them in is inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort to others. Im sorry to say I was amongst the revellers and all I saw were black on black skins what a shame. I do know some wonderful thoughtful black people. This lot of monkeys just don’t want to even try. But think they can voice their opinions about statute and get their way dear oh dear. From now I shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys as I see the cute little wild monkeys do the same pick drop and litter.”
– Penny Sparrow
There are also damning statistics that show how unequal the society we live in is. This is all as a result of historical racism. The unemployment in 2016 among black South Africans stands at 39% compared to only 8.3% among white South Africans.
As much as I would like to rant about the many other racist incidents I’d rather just leave it there. It is clear that South Africa is nowhere near to being an anti-racist society. If we are not in the middle being taught that one race is more superior to the other, we are being taught to fight the battles our forefathers suffered for. This is wrong in my opinion!
The root of the problem however is that many of us are very good at calling out racists such as Penny Sparrow and Ntokozo Qwabe, yet we hate talking about the bigger picture and how we will deal with racism in South Africa. I believe that is one of the first steps to take if we want the fantasy of an anti-racist South Africa to exist. The place to start is home. The problem with this is that the very institutions such as schools and homesteads that are supposed to be contributing to changing the mind sets of young people are the very same institutions teaching them racist tendencies.
The very first time I was exposed to an accepting diverse group of people was in 2016 when I became a first-year journalism student at CPUT. Individuals are not born racists, they are brainwashed by the institutions they trust the most and the environment they feel the safest in. The sad thing about this is that growing up, young people are forced to go to separate schools and be racially segregated. This means that they are forced to feel safe and trust without using their own instinct. That is something we can’t really control unless we as a people decide to change our ways and what we teach our children. Once this happens then we will have the ability to rewire and unlearn that which we have been taught.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The times we are living in now depict a generation that is slothful and careless. Many do not take the initiative to unlearn and rewire and that is why South Africa is far from being an anti-racist society. The phases we find ourselves in as young people seem to overpower our ability to think beyond. This is disheartening; especially because of the fact that we are the ones who want change. We need to be the change before we can see a change.