The great pretenders: Blacks can be racist

2011-03-12 11:33

Why blacks can be racist Before South Africa’s momentous first democratic election in 1994, arguments were being made – and taken by many to be gospel truth – that blacks could not be racist because they did not have political or economic power.

This myth was perpetuated despite our daily experiences and the numerous examples reported in the media that left very little doubt that certain black people could be as racist as any white racist.

I suppose if one followed that logic, one would have to argue that blacks can now be racist because they achieved political power in 1994 and many of them, beneficiaries of BEE, are now also economically empowered.

Clearly such an argument is untenable since there are still many blacks who have yet to taste the fruits of political freedom and who wonder why they are still poor.

Andile Mngxitana continues to perpetuate the falsehood that blacks cannot be racist “for the simple reason that racism was created by whites to oppress blacks”.

He argues further that “only blacks have suffered racist oppression from slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Therefore, racism defines a specific act of oppression against a specific group who have suffered as a result of their skin colour.”

If one follows this logic, then one has to conclude that blacks who never lived under apartheid, were never colonised and were never enslaved can indeed be racist.

It is very wrong to lump people into groups and then conclude that they have all had the same life experiences.

Black people are human beings and they must have all the good and bad traits that other members of the human race have inherited from the beginning of time.

Indeed, blacks in South Africa were brutalised by apartheid and enslaved by colonialism, but why would these bad experiences somehow cleanse them of any trace of racism?

In fact, there are those who argue that precisely because of these negative experiences, black people have to be racist. This is simply because they would have learnt the evil behaviour from their colonisers and oppressors.

One could even take this further and argue that to fulfil the natural human instinct for vengeance, black people would have to be even more racist than those who put them through racist hell.Clearly, this conclusion is false.

For instance, many people in this country have been victims of crime but they do not go about committing crime themselves.

So where does this leave us regarding black people and racism?

My position is that although colonialism, slavery and apartheid were evils inflicted on black people in this country by whites, our suffering at the hands of our tormentors does not cleanse all black people of the capacity to be racist.

Racism is an evil human failing that must be fought with all the might at our collective disposal, like all maladies that humanity has had to eradicate over the years.

Because of colonialism and apartheid, many white people internalised superiority while black people internalised an inferiority complex.

Both groups have to deal with these ghosts from their past for them to be truly liberated South Africans.

I believe that racism is neither a colour nor a power thing. One does not have to be black or white to be racist.

Nor does one have to be politically powerful or economically endowed.All human beings have the capacity to be racist, just as we all have the capacity to be good or evil.

» Motau is a DA MP Black people are human beings and they must have all the good and bad traits that other members of the human race have inherited from the beginning of time

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