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It's not racist when...

23 September 2012, 12:53

Something interesting happened at work the other day.

You see, being a white South African, thanks to the legacy of the long dead (thank goodness) apartheid regime, you automatically carry the yoke of the racist, even when you're not one.

My Canadian co-workers didn't realise that coloured is a race in South Africa - not a racial slur. So when I referred to my former colleagues in SA as coloured, they thought I was being a racist.

I took the time to explain that coloured IS a race in SA, and that calling a Cape coloured anything BUT coloured might get you a good old fashioned snotklap.

It made me realise though, that the need to do the whole disclaimer thing before you speak still exists. It's my cross to bear as a non racist white South African. (Thanks National Party for that.)

Anyway, it raised another issue in my mind.

If I call someone of another race stupid because they are being stupid, that doesn't make me a racist.

I can say: that stupid black, indian, Afrikaans or coloured oke or chick, without being inherently racist.

The difference is that I am not saying that they are stupid BECAUSE of their race, but in spite of it.

Personally, I think that race is an arbitrary and pointless measure, and I tend to try to ignore it.

I like to judge people on what they do and how they act - not on an accident of biology that they have no control over.

Which is precisely why, when I talk about SA's race based political cesspool, you won't find me talking race - you'll find me talking ANC supporter or otherwise.

Maybe one day everyone else will realise that that's the case, and I can finally stop prefacing everything I say with 'this is not a race issue' and all the rest of it.

Until that day comes - if I call you an idiot, it's not because of your race, your gender or your shoes (or any other arbitrary measure.) It's because you're being an idiot.

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