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Using Objects of Intolerance to Teach Tolerance

31 January 2013, 13:02

Firstly, some kind of disclaimer will be in order I guess: I acknowledge the fact that there are probably a good many Caucasian brothers and sisters who live decent, hard-working lives, some who treat their workers with a measure of fairness, and perhaps even respect. I can understand why these people sometimes feel they’re being bashed around, their voices, (though mostly all the exact same) muffled, made to feel  as if they do not belong in the country of their births, made to feel worthless, like evil beings from whom no good is expected etc  

I know some online Caucasian friends who seem like good, kind-hearted, down-to-earth souls so it never brings me any joy to let them know that for my entire working life, all I’ve seen and experienced from most of their kind is pure racism: Yes, I’ve said it, I’ve tried very hard to get inside these troubled minds, tried my level best to understand where all that evil and hatred comes from.  I’ve spent many days and nights trying to understand how a person could blatantly pay his own less deserving kind hundreds of thousands of rands more than more deserving people of colour, often for doing far less, how such people can think nothing of simply overlooking more deserving Black, Coloured and Indian candidates for posts because in their sorry minds, we are perpetually in need of “skills and up skilling” while they are born ready. How does such a person sleep at night?

I know what you are thinking, what about Affirmative Action? Is that not the same? No, Affirmative Action seeks to narrow the vast apartheid-created inequalities by employing a sufficient percentage of previously disadvantaged people at all levels of business SA – the candidates must obviously be deserving and able to fill the positions with all the support that Caucasian workers get in order to succeed. But Alas!! We have Affirmative Action alright, and it is Still to uplift our Dutch and English descendants, so much so, that there’s even more British & other Europeans flocking to our shores every month, repatriating billions out of Africa in exorbitant and totally unbelievable amounts of what they call “executive pay” , their fellow countrymen give these lowly-skilled foreigners “projects” worth billions each year, another year or two later, they are gone.  Government and Business leaders have been of no help, that much I Must admit – good luck and well done to you if you understand all those convoluted directives of BEEE, BEE scorecards and the like – these requirements could be jotted down in a single sentence:

“Blacks, Coloureds & Indians to make up at least 70% of ALL senior Staff across all industries by 2018 – Government Inspectors will be sent out quarterly to ensure compliance - a review and/or a set date for the end of Affirmative Action will then be decided upon”

No Excuses about not finding the right people, no compromise, no begging anyone for permission, just pure and simple clarity for everyone to know and understand.

Racism is a mental sickness that has been around from before the days of slavery, the media served it up in truckloads in their movies etc nowhere depicted more accurately than in the coon caricature: To understand it you need to go back in time:

According to:

“The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. As with Sambo (from the Sambo movies), the coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon. The coon differed from the Sambo in subtle but important ways. Sambo was depicted as a perpetual child, not capable of living as an independent adult. The coon acted childish, but he was an adult; albeit a good-for-little adult. Sambo was portrayed as a loyal and contented servant. Indeed, Sambo was offered as a defense for slavery and segregation. How bad could these institutions have been, asked the racialists, if blacks were contented, even happy, being servants?

The prototypical movie coon was Stepin Fetchit, the slow-talking, slow-walking, self-demeaning nitwit. It took his character almost a minute to say: "I'se be catchin' ma feets nah, Boss." Donald Bogle (1994), a cinema historian, lambasted the coon, as played by Stepin Fetchit and others:

Before its death, the coon developed into the most blatantly degrading of all black stereotypes. The pure coons emerged as no-account niggers, those unreliable, crazy, lazy, subhuman creatures good for nothing more than eating watermelons, stealing chickens, shooting crap, or butchering the English language. The coon caricature was one of the stock characters among minstrel performers. Minstrel show audiences laughed at the slow-talking fool who avoided work and all adult responsibilities. This transformed the coon into a comic figure, a source of bitter and vulgar comic relief. He was sometimes renamed "Zip Coon" or "Urban Coon. His use of bastardized English delighted white audiences and reaffirmed the then commonly held beliefs that blacks were inherently less intelligent. The minstrel coon's goal was leisure, and his leisure was spent strutting, styling, fighting, avoiding real work, eating watermelons, and making a fool of himself Fetchit's coon characters were racially demeaned and often verbally and even physically abused by white characters. In David Harum (Cruze, 1934) he was traded to Will Rogers along with a horse. He was traded twice more in the movie. In Judge Priest (Wurtzel & Ford, 1934), he was pushed, shoved, and verbally berated by Will Rogers; even worse, his character was barely intelligible, scratched his head in an apelike manner, and followed Rogers around like an adoring pet.

The pioneer study of racial and ethnic stereotyping in the United States was conducted in 1933 by Daniel Katz and Kenneth Braley, two social scientists. They questioned 100 Princeton University undergraduates regarding the prevailing stereotypes of racial and ethnic groups. Their research concluded that blacks were consistently described as "superstitious," "happy-go-lucky," and "lazy." The respondents had these views even though they had little or no contact with blacks”.

80 years on, It’s time to change.

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