Race is still the elephant in the room

2011-03-05 12:33

South Africans have, in the name of ­reconciliation, chosen not to address the reality and the effects of racism in modern-day South Africa.

The ­discourse over Jimmy Manyi and Kuli Roberts in the past week has been an acute ­reminder that race remains the elephant in the room. We can pretend not to see it for as long as we wish, but this will not make it go away.

The discourse has been robust, as it should be. Inevitably, many have used this past week’s events as an opportunity to feather their political nests.

While South Africa’s history of racism is well ­recorded, seldom has it been about the racism of the historical victims of racialism, which is ­probably why it has enjoyed the amount of
airtime it has.

The spectre of comrade against comrade has made for great entertainment to the public.

We have all been taken aback by the rare sight of ANC and government officials tackling each other as Trevor Manuel lays into Manyi.

Many of those praising Manuel and salivating at the prospect of Manyi being put to pasture have themselves refused to discuss the reality of ­racism.

They have been the first to accuse those who recognise racism by accusing them of “playing the race card”.

Manyi’s own infamy in some quarters comes from the very fact that he has being gnawing at the conscience of corporate South Africa over the ­misrepresentation of blacks and women in the country’s corporate boardrooms.

Contrary to what some have sought to make us believe, discussing race and racism means living in the present and not in the past.

If we can ­discuss Manyi and Roberts so heartily, then we should not be dictated to by the likes of AgriSA, which last year walked out of a summit in Somerset West because it was not prepared to discuss the brutal treatment of farmworkers by farmers.

We should equally not countenance commercial terrorism by the likes of AfriForum, which waged a campaign against Absa for asking ­pertinent questions about transformation in rugby.

We need to stress that we can find no ­mitigation for the obvious racism displayed by Manyi.

But we should be careful not to forget the ­everyday victims of racism in South Africa. A lot of this racism is covered up by a new and ­sophisticated language of exclusion.

As unacceptable as Manyi’s racism is, it is no better or worse than the forms that black South Africans in general have to contend with every day, and in every sphere of their lives.

The ­criticism by some that Manuel is advancing a rightwing agenda by admonishing Manyi in public will have merit only if we never discuss other forms of bigotry, especially the most pernicious, white racism, whose effects are felt to this day.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.