Racists are not born, they are made.
When we are born into this world, we come into it as individuals with no preconceived ideas or opinions. As we then grow older, these ideas and opinions are then formed. You put two little kids together from different racial backgrounds and the biggest surprise to them can be that there are people with different skin colour.
To them, these people that look slightly different are only that, slightly different looking people. They are not inferior people. They are not superior people. They are just people. So, how do we get to the point where ultimately these people are divided by race?
I was driving in start stop traffic this morning on a single lane road into Cape Town when I noticed a taxi passing cars behind me by making use of the emergency lane. This set me off and I moved my car close to the emergency lane so that the taxi could not simply pass me. When he saw me move, he nudged the passenger in the front seat and the two laughed.
The rules of the road are the rules of the road and apart from that, common decency (which is not common) is that you don’t push past people in a queue. After a few more movements heading forward, the taxi again tried to slip past me in the emergency lane. I again moved my vehicle so that it was not possible. I knew this approach of mine would be futile as there was a parking area coming up on my left and there would be no way for me to prevent him from passing me then but I stood my ground none the less.
Moments later, the taxi came past me on the right, heading into oncoming traffic, over a solid white line. He stayed in that lane, passing twenty or so cars, all over the white line. So, what is the result of this mornings little event? In my mind, I look at those damn taxi drivers and there blatant disrespect for the law and their disregard for their passengers and other road users safety.
My resentment towards him, which ultimately overflows to taxi drivers who generally fall into a specific race, grows. I am being made into a racist. The same thing happens every single day when I drive like a normal road user on my way to work and dozens of taxis drive like absolute idiots, endangering how many peoples lives on this country’s roads.
The roads are however only one example. There are many others. Look at the disruption that was caused on our roads during last years transport workers strikes. Look at the mayhem that is caused when informal settlements strike and protest (not peacefully) on our main roads. All these actions when isolated seem inconsequential. Put the whole picture together and stereotypes are formed and racial divide happens.
Human nature is that you will always spend more than you earn. This ultimately means that irrespective of how much you earn, you will always have debt that levels your status. So, the computer support technician that is rushing to work in his corsa bakkie that he has financed, has a net worth that is not actually a whole lot more than the informal settler that lives next to the highway.
Why is it then acceptable for the settler to disrupt the technician on his way to work? Both individuals are fighting for their daily survival, caught up in their own lives with their own encumberances. Difference is, for the one person, it is acceptable to impede the other whereas that is not the case in reverse. End result, the bakkie driver builds up racial tension. The same thing happens with the de Doorns farm workers and the people in that area.
So, whats my point? I always say, what is acceptable today is directly dependant on what was acceptable yesterday. If it is acceptable today to stand on a street corner and accept handouts from passers by, the same will happen tomorrow. If it is acceptable to throw a brick through a passing by car window today, it will be acceptable tomorrow. These actions however, have consequences.
Not perhaps to the people doing it due to poor law enforcement, but certainly to the people affected. We are making our own racists and unless somewhere in the link between generations, something happens, we have no hope. Unless I set the example for my kids, nothing will change. Unless government starts delivering on their promises but not at the cost of others, nothing will change.
Unless those people giving, stop giving and the people that are taking, start making instead of taking, nothing will change.
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