Why pretend that racism doesn’t exist?

2010-05-14 00:00

RACISM will always be a sore point in our country because there will always be those people who believe that they are superior to others. What makes it even more controversial is the fact that we pretend that it does not exist and that we do not see colour. I see colour and I see if I’m being treated differently because of the colour of my skin.

I was chatting to my younger brother because he was born in the nineties and I wanted to find out what his thoughts on the racism issue are. We believe­ that the younger generation does not experience it. He attends a private school where there have been various incidents that he has told me about. It’s clear to me that racism is rife there, but what is disturbing is that the school is supposed to embrace Christian beliefs and values.

It is a pity that these schools were forced by the Constitution to accept children of all races as it is clear that they would prefer to remain lily white. A case in point is the issue of head boys and head girls at this particular school. Since the school was established, there has not been a head boy or girl of colour. Are all the pupils of colour not good enough, or is it a race issue?

I have lost count of how many times my brother has got into trouble at school. The principal has the audacity to question discipline at home. One wonders how many white pupils have been in the sort of trouble where it has turned into a big deal. I understand and appreciate that all schools have rules and regulations that all pupils should adhere to, but the question is, are they different across the colour line? Once my brother got into trouble because he had given himself tattoos. He was not the only one, but unfortunately for him he was the only black pupil who was caught. I wonder if the other pupils who were caught with tattoos were made to remove them?

We want to create a South Africa that does not see colour or race but is it possible if we still have schools that have teachers who allow some pupils to insult others by calling them kaffirs? Parents must not be made to suffer because they want what is best for their children. I had thought that by the time my son reached school-going age all these issues would be a thing of the past. Instead, now on top of worrying about crime and him being bullied, I still have to worry about him being treated differently because of his colour.

Shame on all those teachers and principals who let issues slide if they are committed by white pupils. If there is a problem with a pupil of colour, the parents must be called in to deal with their son or daughter. It cannot be denied that at times children can be troublesome, but I understand this to apply to children in general. Is an offence any worse if committed by a pupil of colour? I have often felt sorry for my mother when she has had to rush to the school once again to hear how undisciplined her son is. As a parent, your main concern is to keep your child in school and you find yourself apologising on behalf of your child so that he or she is not kicked out.

Should pupils of colour be apologetic because their parents can afford to send them to so- called private schools or pretend that they are being done a favour so that they can be treated equally to other pupils? The last time I checked, education was a basic right for all.

I believe we should refrain from pretending that we do not see colour and concentrate more on learning about each other to create a country that is all-embracing. Let us build schools that teach our children to be independent and responsible adults, no matter the colour of their skin.

 

• Nandipha Ngomane works for the Department of Land Affairs and writes in her personal capacity.

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