Anybody driving into work yesterday and listening to 5FM was treated to Gareth Cliff in fine song, with race being a central topic. The only problem is, his humour is misdirected.
To anybody who didn't listen (skip two paragraphs if you did), the skit started off with Cliff mocking white people for getting too uptight about everything, which apparently statistically put them at a higher risk of blood-pressure related health risks than black people (while black people are apparently more statistically likely to suffer from nutrition-related illnesses). The message was that white people need to chill out, or face 'extinction'.
Then it moved onto a lady who called in, complaining about how her plasma televisions had been stolen several times and were being watched in 'the townships'. When Cliff asked her whether she wasn't aware that the majority of the country was black and therefore the majority of victims of crime were black, she retorted (to ridicule from Cliff and his team) that 'my plasma screen isn't in my neighbour's house'.
Ok, so what was Gareth Cliff advocating? His 'accepted message' appears to be that it's ok to tease whites about being stressed, but it's not acceptable to imply that whites are the victims of crimes perpertrated (mostly) by blacks.
But Gareth, we all know that's rubbish, right? The reasons white people are more prone to heart attacks than black people isn't because they are innately stressed (remember that race doesn't exist as a biological condition?), but rather because whites are predominantly in higher-skilled and higher-stress job positions.
Similarly, I believe it's actually quite likely that a disproportionate amount of crime is perpetrated by black people against white people, NOT because there are obviously more black criminals, but because white people as a group are still statistically wealthier than black people and therefore more alluring high-value targets than black people. That caller was quite right in pointing out that her plasma screen wasn't in her white neighbour's house, in much the same way you know that if your car is stolen it's taken to Alexandria and not Lonehill for dismantling (probably the latter would be a good location for a chop shop - nobody would expect it).
Gareth, should you read this, let's just drop the charades around race, ok? I don't want to hear on the one side that yet another report has been released that proves that white people earn a lot more than black people (damn those whites!) and yet on the other hand that white people are not disproportionately better targets for crime in this country than black people (damn those white people for thinking that!).
Let's also stop mocking white people for things which are not innately white, but are rather just very different from the 'black experience' (not that I even think you can talk about such a thing, but let's refer to your example on the radio about that white woman complaining about her favourite rolls not being available in the shop).
I for one think it'd be fascinating to see what the heart-attack statistics are around management-level black South Africans - the smart money is on the fact that it's equitable to white people's averages, all other things being equal. Remember Vuyo Mbuli?
As for the racial profile of crime, I'm sure the SAPS could solve that issue in a heartbeat. They record the race of all the victims of crime in South Africa, but they're not about to release 'victims of hijacking in urban areas by race', for example, because of the obvious persecution from people like you. I don't think most other white people will be too surprised by the results, however.
DON'T GET ME WRONG: I'm not saying that black people are not victims of crime. I know that people living in shacks are far less able to protect their cars and flat-screen televisions from theft than the average white person living in a security village, and that definitely distorts crime activity on that end of the scale. Then again, that's counteracted again by vigilante action in townships, where thieves are hunted down and beaten to death by angry mobs by so-called informal 'community policing' arrangements - white people just file insurance claims.
The real message here is this: there is no such thing as white or black behaviour. We know this, it doesn't have to be debated. All behaviour is learned (or not learned) through education and social interaction, and that's where differences appear on a macro level - you really have to dig below the outer appearance to get to the truth, however.
And once you do find the truth, no matter how inconvenient, don't shy away from it. Embrace it, because that's South Africa: a screwed up country, with a boiling under-current of racial tension and unresolved bitterness from all sides. Laughing at convenient scapegoats on the radio isn't cool, or intelligent, or helpful.
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