MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Nicole Beardsworth
Comments: 56
Article views: 1825
Latest Badges:

View all Nicole Beardsworth's badges.

Can we talk about our everyday racism?

20 February 2014, 15:25

In the wake of events such as the Reitz residence incident at the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2008 and the recent alleged attempt by two white students to run over fifth-year economics student Dumane "Muzi" Gwebu, South Africans recoil in horror at the unexpected racism that still lingers amongst us. What goes through their minds? How could they possibly justify driving over another human being with a bakkie? To see the reasons for this, we don’t really need to look too much further than ourselves.

In order to avoid sweeping generalisations, I will attempt to speak from my own experience. I’m a white middle class South African, I went to a good government school in Johannesburg where I interacted every day with people of other races. But ten years later, most of my friends are white and middle class. And most of us still live in socially-segregated neighbourhoods and communities in post-apartheid South Africa. Outside of our workplace, shops and petrol stations, we hardly interact with people from other racial groups. Social functions tend to be an almost entirely lily-white affair. It’s not useful to blame anyone for this, we all have a post-1994 hangover – where race and class interact in subtle yet brutal ways, dividing us along both lines and ensuring that our social realms rarely meet.

But can we start to talk about our everyday racism? Can we talk about how, in rush hour every morning that little six letter ‘k’-word pops out of our mouths when a taxi cuts us off? Can we talk about how we refer to our domestic help as ‘girls’ or ‘boys’, infantilising people who are often much older and who are providing services that we would rather not do ourselves? And what about why we become so uncomfortable at the thought of interracial relationships, of loving someone with a different colour skin? Why it seems natural to talk about ‘us’ and ‘them’? We become so immune to these insidious comments, the dichotomies we perpetuate.

Twenty years after apartheid, we need to start challenging and questioning our own biases. We sustain racism on a daily basis, through making jokes about parking attendants, domestic workers and checkout assistants. It is this culture that validates the behaviour of people like those at UFS, whose actions we abhor. With every comment, every sarcastic remark, we perpetuate the division of our society and aid those whose prejudices run deeper, reinforcing their retrogressive views.

It starts with us, and it has to start now.

[1] Nicole Beardsworth holds an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Peter King
On War

There was a time when those who declared war were actually present on the battlefield.  Read more...

0 comments 120 views
Submitted by
Ohna Bouwer
Ability to fly

I do not only have the ability to fly, but also the qualifications.  Read more...

0 comments 35 views
Submitted by
John Beadon
Residence confusion

I am a seaman, so I spend a lot of time outside SA, often returning by air. I hold a British passport, and have been a Permanent Resident in SA since 1967. Read more...

0 comments 957 views
Submitted by
Vincent Phillips
EFF Threat to Occupy ABSA banking...

Okay, so now the EFF suggests introspection before ABSA takes the decision of disassociating itself with rugby and by extension, sponsorship of the Springboks.  Read more...

0 comments 313 views
Submitted by
Ian Jarvis
Not in court?

Herschelle Gibbs knew nearly a year ago he had to be in court today but obviously had more important things to do. So a day in court wasted by how many?  Read more...

0 comments 76 views
Submitted by
Kdoggy dog
Miners shot down. Are the ANC art...

First of all, I would like to congratulate the Rehad Desai and his producers for winning the Emmy awards on the documentary Miners shot down. Read more...

0 comments 333 views


E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2015 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.