Losing the race


AS TIME GOES on, I’m noticing that this country’s racial obsession is far from receding. In fact, I fear it’s getting worse.

Have you ever noticed how so often you are required to write down your race on forms? I had to at school – and in my application for college. I left the space blank.

Sometimes on the forms, they list categories to help you out: “African”, “Indian”, “Coloured”, “White”, “Other”. I always feel insulted that only one “race group” is listed African.

The constant reference to exclusively blacks as “Africans” by the government is a sign that it is attempting to de-Africanise whites – whites who have just as much right to live in this country as anyone else. Whites, coloureds and Indians are Africans. So are blacks. All South Africans are.

At the University of Cape Town and other institutions, race can determine the level of marks required for acceptance. (See ‘The importance of being equal’ 5 March).

To differentiate between a coloured and black, does UCT use the pencil test? And what about the fruits of miscegenation: does a computer formula calculate the requirements for the daughter of black and an Indian, for example? Perhaps, in cases like these, they request the “mixed-race” applicant draw a family tree on their application form!

If Verwoerd, master of race ideology, were alive to witness UCT’s admissions policy, he would be ecstatic in knowing that his poisonous legacy lives on in our universities.

Because obsessive racialisation is exactly that: a throwback to apartheid. Race is an artificial construct – a barrier that was erected to divide us. Of course everyone is different. South Africa has a wealth of ethnic, cultural, religious and language diversity. But that should be harnessed as a strength, not as means of separating us.

Many people – often those who lived through apartheid – still let race colour their perceptions and judgments about people. This is not going to change while government pulls the race card at every turn.

Its hypersensitivity to criticism is well known. Black critics such as Rhoda Kadalie have been branded as “coconut intellectuals” – because they dared to censure what the Arts and Culture Spokesman feels is a “black” government.

It was only a few weeks ago that the government branded a BBC documentary on crime in SA as “racist”. According to Mbeki, whites who are afraid of crime are racist. And Lynne Brown, the Western Cape’s Finance MEC, feels that whites and tourists afraid of visiting black townships must be racist too.

When Thabo Mbeki established his Native Club it was open to blacks only – implying that he believes whites in this country are settlers and not natives. I am as much of an African native as Mr Mbeki is – albeit a paler one.

South Africans need to protect their identities. We need to speak out against the endemic racism spouted by the government and invariably accepted. It is undeniable that whites benefited from apartheid but that does not justify racial discrimination to continue. Our constitution forbids it.

The fight against apartheid was a fight for equality and rights for all – not for black domination. The ruling party has clearly forgotten this.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Losing the race

  1. Sean

    Unfortunately, racial injustices in our time need to be amtched economically. However, our government has implemented the process in the wrong manner. Empowering the rich, elite simply furthers their own aims for a short while- however(as we now see with factions within COSATU) complains of inequaliteis within the ANC’s own ranks emerge. BEE is a flawed system- flawed in the sense that it can be manipulted and, as we shall see with time, balck businessmen can make money by selling their own shares bought under ‘BEE’ status- thus, the original company is detramented and it’s own BEE system compromised. Cyril Ramaphosa knows this all too well!

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