Racism. There it is. The dreaded word. The horrid label. A word able to explode in different emotions for different people: fury, shame, sadness and a myriad of other emotions mostly severe, but so often times it dredges up a surprising emotion: confusion. Because what exactly is racism and what is pride? Where exactly is that faint line that seems to keep shifting whenever a politician is in need of a powerful statement?
We live in a time where being politically correct is as important as was being religiously correct in the 1480’s and being confronted with the Spanish Inquisition. Have we lost sight of the difference between racism and pride? Have we gone too far with throwing around the accusation of racism in situations where it is perhaps not warranted? Following the issue of Afrikaans school under severe pressure to be more non-Afrikaans and the racism accusation hanging heavily over their heads I wondered yet again why is the South African government and many other governments, institutions and organizations so desperately trying to morph us into one big cultureless blob. Why can there not be proud Afrikaans schools upholding Afrikaner values and culture? I, an Afrikaner, would take no offense at a Hindu school, teaching Hindu values for instance. So many of us today are losing our culture, our diversity and the very essence of what makes life interesting.
We are labelled racist when we try to hold on to our differentness. Anyone who has lived in London can tell you there are neighbourhoods where certain nationalities group together. Everyone there holding on to and finding security in the familiar. It’s our identity, it’s our comfort zone. For example, where I currently live, we have a Chinese community, who would greet you in a friendly manner, at times join social events, but spend the most time with their own people. I see no reason why anyone should feel resentful of this. And the same goes for any cultural group. Why are we not being afforded the right and luxury to be diverse? No matter how liberal a person is, at some point, another person’s cultural habits will be annoying, maybe even offensive. If you study body language you will find that most of what European society find as polite body language will be offensive body language for someone from the Far East.
Instead of being able to address our differences, talk about how to get around it, we keep quiet, resentment growing, because we have been told we are all the same and out of fear of being labelled a racist we gulp down our opinions until we explode. Anyone in a co-habiting relationship will be able to tell you that homicide becomes understandable at times because a spouse might be from the same culture but was just taught a few different things in regards to family life. How much more difficult when dealing with a very different culture and not being able to talk openly about our differences? At Kovsies campus cultural warfare broke out in the men's hostels a few years back, because studenst from very different cultures were being forced to live together. And none of them wanted to. Why couldn't they give the youngsters the choice of how they wanted to live? These were kids, fresh from home, where they lived secure in their own culture. Was it not more racist to force them to live together than to have from the beginning given them the option to live as they find comfortable? I find it surprising that a university full of highly educated people were clueless as to "101 things not to do with a teenager". Try to tell a teenager he has to do something and see what happens.
The murky line between racism and pride is ruining society. All of us believe the sporting team we support is the absolute best. The same goes for culture. Of course we believe our culture, our way of life is the best way. We were taught that by parents whom we love. It’s human nature. Any self-respecting Zulu for instance should be proud of his culture and it is completely normal for him to feel his culture is better. I don’t understand why this pride in who we are and our culture should be called racism. Black pride, Indian pride and yes even white pride is something we are all entitled to and should never be denied, it’s a basic human right.
In the end you have the government in South Africa forcing us all into one group, with no space for our diversity.
As Newton’s laws of motion states: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. And this applies to basic human nature too. Right there the government made their biggest mistake (or was this their intention, one can only wonder. After all every politician needs the proverbial bogeyman to save his people from). The moment you try to force a person to do something they will pull in the opposite direction. They will resent it and find fault with it. The moment they forced integration, everyone pulled in the opposite direction. Left alone to do as we wished, at the pace we found comfortable, who knows how different things might be in South Africa today.
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