Georgina Guedes

Beach bigotry

2014-01-06 07:33

Georgina Guedes

I wouldn’t be on a crowded beach on New Year’s Day for all the taxpayer’s money in Nkandla. In general, I try to seek out beaches with as few other people as possible. Being on a deserted beach is one of life’s great pleasures for me.

So, like many other South Africans this festive season, I’ve looked at the photos of the crowds at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Muizenburg over New year, and I’ve shuddered. But as these photos continued to do the rounds on Facebook and Twitter and the mainstream media, I’ve begun to shudder for another reason.

I think that a lot of people who are looking at and forwarding those images and saying, “look at those ghastly crowds”, actually mean “look at those ghastly crowds of black people.” Because, let’s face it, the majority of the people in those photographs are black. And no one’s posting photos of the multiracial crowds at malls at Christmas and saying, “Look at those ants.”

The comments speak the truth

The beach photos are the most viewed story on News24. Comments underneath reflect that the race of those in the photographs is the problem for many readers.

Solutions to this “problem” have been put forward: one way to keep the crowds off the beaches would be to charge an entry fee. Now, in South Africa, in general, the economic divide is a racial divide. The suggestion to charge an entry fee tacitly expresses a desire to keep people of a certain colour out.

Really, this is a roundabout way of saying that we should bring back the “Whites only” signs, with the addition of “And blacks who drive BMWs or better”. That’s the New South Africa for you.

Realistically, why shouldn’t all those people be there having a good time? It’s not my kind of a party, so I avoid it, but it certainly doesn’t bother me that other people are there. It’s not a problem that needs to be addressed.

And yes, people get hurt and it’s taxing on emergency services, but the same thing can be said of all the affluent people driving around drunk in their luxury vehicles at 01:00 on 1 January.

The burden of bigotry

Whether people have been communicating their aversion to the colour of the crowds on the beaches in bold headlines or subtle subtext, it’s definitely there and it’s definitely ugly.

Rather than entering the new year with the same burden of judgement and bigotry as they held last year, these people should let it go, move on and accept that the world is full of people who are different and who view the world differently.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24


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