David Moseley

No country for old racists

2015-01-19 08:32

David Moseley

There I was, having just settled into a groove with the extended family, enjoying my Christmas lunch a few years back in Port Elizabeth when my usually polite dog started barking at some birds in the bushes. 

The commotion went unnoticed by most except for one family member who started encouraging my amiable, colour-blind pooch to "catch the k****r". I choked on my gammon and glared at my wife, who turned red and shrugged her shoulders, "what can we do?" the movement said. 

The moment passed without comment from anyone present, including myself. 

Last year I was driving someone from my side of the family around Cape Town, someone who doesn't live in South Africa anymore. Heading down Hospital Bend, which is buzzing with a wide variety traffic, this person asked, with taxis of all types zooming by, "does South Africa still have k****r taxis?".

Jarred from my driving routine, I turned and quietly said, yes, we do and we call them taxis. In fact, I continued, I don't think we ever called them k****r taxis.

Certainly when this family member lived in Cape Town I never heard the words "k****r taxi" come from her mouth. I left the matter there.

"These" people

At some stage between those incidents I was sitting at a dinner with some friends, when a friend of a friend started telling a story about cycling in Natal (as he calls it).

It followed the usual narrative of cyclists battling motorists until he came to his theory on why the roads in "Natal" are so hazardous. Naturally it was because "the m**nts" don't know how to drive. Taken aback, but not wanting to create a fuss, my friend and I let the comment pass and quickly changed the subject.

And then just yesterday I was standing outside my house, waiting for a plumber to arrive. He did, but pressed the wrong number. My (much older) neighbour came out wanting to see who had buzzed her bell.

"Oh, a plumber. I actually need some work done. Won't you let me know how he works out." Sure, I said. "And isn't it nice that he's white," she added.

I turned without reply and walked inside, despondent that I was deemed worthy of such insight into my neighbour's thought-process.

Before yesterday I had already decided that I was no longer going to keep quiet at these racist interludes and intrusions into my life.

Most of the time it's easier to keep quiet and let the moment pass – things can get awkward, can't they? That, I now realise, is the problem.

All of these comments have come from people well into their fifties. This is not to justify what they are saying, simply to note that it's certainly not my peers who talk and act like this. I would hope that people my age are beyond this.

But age can't excuse these buggers anymore. And my resolution for 2015, my small part to play, is to speak up when confronted by this idiocy.

I don't care if you're family, or friend, or someone I’ve just met. It’s not on. It never was on.

No matter how uncomfortable a situation might turn, I will have my say in 2015. I encourage the rest of you to do likewise, because this really is no country for old racists. Their time is up.

- Follow @david_moseley
on Twitter.

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