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Black on black

05 February 2014, 19:30

Would you respect blacks, if you weren't black?

This is the question that I woke up to one morning this week, and posted it on Facebook, and immediately, a white friend on Facebook responded;

“That's the weirdest question of the day. Of course u would respect some Blacks; u won't respect some others that act stupid. Just like with the rest of the world.”

But unfortunately to me, this is not so obvious. I think as black people in this country we suffer daily from inferiority complexes emanating from our lack of cultural understanding and also the history of our peoples. Mostly, we doubt ourselves since we don’t see or know or rather learn of any positive role models. And in light of our current times, the political climate also is not helping.

To further illustrate this, my black friends responded with; “I’m not sure”, “I don’t know”, or “what is blacks?”, so it’s obvious that this “simple” question according to my white friend isn't so simple after all. Could it be that our social upbringings, us being products of our environments, maybe influences on how we view and understand identity?

I've also being in debates where black people themselves are left pondering whether or not they’re a cursed people, some even pointing to the stories of Ham in the Bible. Others get irritated at the mere discussion, on the imposition of race on people;

“The point is that race is even relevant. Or interesting. Or the kind of thing you discuss before you even know someone. It's exhausting.”

But if race wasn't really relevant and a useless exercise, then why do African people in China, South American and even from the European peoples face racist abuses daily? Or should we ignore all this and pretend like science says that were a single people from under the same branch? Going further, if race wasn't such a big thing why do we have uproars when a Jesus is painted as black and African?

So, I’m my opinion the question of blacks respecting black is a very important one. We need to continuously asses how we view ourselves and why we do so. We have Miss SA beauty pageants where only black women in weaves are deemed worthy of being finalists, and we have parents that we meet daily that speak to their children in only the English language at the expense of their mother tongues, even when research shows that a child can easily be multilingual. Afrikaner peoples fight for the preservation of their heritage, even building enclaves like Orania yet we debate the merits of being enrolled in English medium schools.

In light of all this, if I didn't know of a Chinua Achebe, a W.E Du Bois, a Diop, would I respect myself as a black? I fear the answer maybe not so simple.

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