This issue needs to be settled, dispassionately. It is important on a number of counts, especially as it now reposes very much in a “growth sector”, as the different races find that opposites attract and that there is real magic in difference. Some are even mooting the proposition that the World’s populace will sooner, rather than later, be a nice shade of honey brown. Last year babies from ":mixed race" couples were the majority in the US.
It is important also because, in microcosm, it is a touchstone on which propositions of social justice are tested. These range from tribalistic attitudes to broader matters of social engineering.
“Since Coloured people are neither truly white, brown nor black, a government obsessed with colour as a basic criterion in the treatment of human beings, is tripped up and confused about what to do. So it resorts to makeshift and unprincipled solutions like artificially defining all "non-white" people as Black. The consequences for us Coloured people are organically induced challenges, ever present, hardly acknowledged; in a minefield of obfuscation”. [Book extract]
In May, 2011 a film was screened titled “I'm Not Black, I'm Coloured”, Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope” by Mondé World Films depicting the plight of Coloured folk in the new South Africa, on account of an inherently racist Affirmative Action transformational model.
Monde Films was quickly vindicated when it was revealed that chief South African government spokesman, Jimmy Manyi, had insisted there was an “oversupply” of Coloureds in the Western Cape and suggested they “spread in the rest of the country”. He said their “over-concentration” in the province “is not working for them”. The comments were made in April during a debate about affirmative action that appeared on KykNet’s Robinson Regstreeks show.
At a stroke this chief government spokesman gave the lie to the pretence that Coloured folk were regarded and accepted as Black. He let the cat out of the bag. Claimed government policy was a hypocritical lie. This was confirmed when government then signed off on a Bill that would have had the effect of forcing employers to dump an estimated one million Coloureds in the Western Cape, on the basis that they were not, in fact, Black.
So we know that it is a legitimate issue. Like all such issues there are consequences if mishandled, sometimes dreadful consequences. Is the issue being mishandled? The answer is Yes. It is yes as regards Coloured folk being labeled as Black, and pressured into acceptance of the label by societal attitudes and verbalization. South Africa is a quintessential example in that, amongst other things, Coloured folk are being denied the attainment of social justice, under its transformational model, unless they claim and prove that they are Black, even if they are visually "snow white" white green eyes.
For rejecting this classification I have been roundly condemned by even my most trusted and respected of Black friends. A Namibian judicial officer, who I hold in the highest regard, said he just could not believe that, especially as I was a judge, I could/would not accept a now internationally accepted social norm that there is no such thing as “Coloured”. You are either White or you are Black. This was more or less repeated just yesterday by a revered Face Book friend who assured me that this was most certainly the situation in Europe.
To these of my friends, and all others who understandably hold to this view I have this to say. You have unwittingly joined a world in which dealing in “convenient untruths” is a now a norm at pandemic levels. There are innumerable examples of this. We have witnessed them being listed on our site, lies dammed lies, ranging from historical distortions to blatant propaganda, whether it be about why Iraq was invaded to Ian Smith saving Rhodesia from communism.
You see the statement that nearly all Coloured folk regard themselves as Black is simply untrue. If you accept that a Coloured person is anyone who also has Negroid blood in his/her veins, you will quickly realize that there are millions of human beings on this planet who have the now notorious “one drop of black blood” in their veins but do not regard themselves as Black for a nano second. Neither are they regarded as Black. It is an open secret that many White Afrikaners in South Africa fall into this category. Facts are awkward things, when you are sucked into accepting lies.
I am not Black. That is a simple fact, that even a five year old child will confirm to you without the slightest hesitation. More importantly I am anthropologically not Black. Genetically I am Euro-African, anthropologically 50% Caucasian and 50% Negroid. That is a fact. It is the reality. It cannot be denied, wished away, obfuscated or rationalized into something else!
To say or pretend otherwise is to propagate a lie. Lies are bad. I was first taught this by my Black grandmother, Mafulela Thebe.
“I loved being at my granny's village, comprising a cluster of pole and dagga huts with thatched roofs. However I was extremely resentful of the fact that all those around me were black and I was brown. Also my hair was almost completely straight. This induced a serious identity crisis. When my mother arrived to fetch me she called me by name Vavie. I protested bitterly and tearfully in isiNdebele - "I am not Vavie ... I am Ndiweni ... me I am Ndiweni…" My grandmother was not impressed. From then on she would always stress to me that I was not"umuntu um'nyama" [a black person]- that I was "umlungu" [of Coloured/White status] - that I should never forget this and be proud of what I was, otherwise she would have to use a switch to get me to understand”. [Extract]
However my friends are right. All over the world Coloured folk are referred to as Black. Millions refer to themselves as Black. President Barrack Obama, Euro-African like me, is also referred to as Black, even though he was actually brought up by a White grandmother. It is symptomatic of the extent to which our world deals in lies. This one is understandable. It is called a “social construct”.3 Social construct is a convenient label. Packaging is everything. It clothes the thing in legitimacy. It makes the lie acceptable, even desirable, as my friends insist.
So why do I reject the thing? Why do I seemingly refuse to accept reality? Why swim against the tide? Why be stubborn? Why be unrealistic? Why do I refuse to accept the label "Black"?
Might I ask all of you to put the following statement to any competent psychologist or criminologist.
“Judge Chris Greenland claims that self image is deeply embedded in the human psyche. It is critical to human development. Confusion around issues of self image are inherently dangerous and can, in the longer term, stunt development, induce personality aberrations and inhibit the realization of potential. There is a direct correlation between deviance and criminality, on the one hand, and such confusion, on the other.”.
You will not find one reputable psychologist or criminologist that will disagree with that statement. So there you have it. If you want to bugger up your children psychologically, go along with the lie. Children can absolutely differentiate between lies and truth. The experts will also confirm this. Children know when you are lying. They have eyes. They can see themselves in the mirror. They do not appreciate the fact that it is not regarded as a lie because it is packaged as a “social construct”.
The experts will also confirm that what is actually needed is acceptance of what and who you are in a culture of self pride. To influence a brown child that he/she is black is to force a lie on the child, induce confusion, destroy such acceptance and inhibit self pride. It is very dangerous business.
It is, of course, quite obscenely ironic that the social construct is a product of racism. It is a legacy from an era in the United States when all non-white folk where forced into one camp, on account of rejection by the dominant White group. You were to be labeled black, whatever your actual skin colour, on account of the fact that you had just “one drop” of black blood. Since anything black was so bad you were to be cast into the larger black pool of the rejected, despised, humiliated and abused! It is this diabolical legacy that now informs the so called social construct. We have embraced the infamous “one drop” rule and made it our own. Wow!
A friend on Face BookTendai has said –“I am in a relationship with a white girl and you need to understand that our children are not going to be brought up as anything but Black!”
Tendai you are red carded … voted off the island … for firstly displaying typical Black male historical chauvinism and secondly, racism. Yes – racism, with respect!. You see the definition of racism includes not according another human being full recognition on account of their ethnicity. To accord your wife’s ethnicity absolutely no value in the ethnicity of your child is racist. Worst still you will seek to impose this perspective on your child! A racist culture is going to added to the confusion the child will be already experiencing. The child needs to be imbued in pride about each of his/her parents, and pride in his/herself for being part of both – not one!
Miss-identification with one parent can have a very profound consequence. For instance, if a male child adopts a father image of its mother before the age of six, this can cause it to become homosexual.
So can I invite you to be concerned with truth, not lies and not play dangerous games with your children. This does not mean that your child will not grow up to regard himself/herself as Black or identify with Black causes. Conversely the child may grow up to regard himself/herself as White … or Brown, like me.
However it will be a choice made by a child imbued with a sense of self acceptance and pride. It will be an informed choice shaped by other societal factors that present in its environment. It will do so in its own interests, especially on account of what gives him/her the greatest sense of belonging.
A sense of belonging is important. Personally I have always felt that I belong to the larger Black community. This is understandable. Like millions of other Coloured Zimbabweans I was welcomed into this world by the Black community and given love and comfort. Later I was liberated by mostly Black freedom fighters. The fight against racist oppression was captained by Blacks, like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I therefore have been drawn into that community by real life experiences. I can belong there without lying about who and what I am.
When I look at my life I am happy with it. I think I did good. I am forever indebted to my Black grandmother for having given me a very good start in life, by insisting that I accept who and what am.
Minority groups, all over the World, need to find the label that best fits their self image and accords with truth. They should not accept what is conveniently forced on them by dominant groups. They must insist that they are accepted for who and what they actually are! . In Zimbabwe we are referred to by the Black majority as “makhaaradis”, (Coloureds). Wonderful!!!!