Racism’s best antidote

2011-02-28 12:28

Sunday World’s Nomakula Roberts caused quite a stir with her latest column: Jou ma se kinders – Eish, I miss daai lippies vannie Kaap (loosely translated to “Your mother’s children – eish, I miss those lips from the Cape”).

The column, in which Roberts pokes fun at the coloured stereotype, was viewed as offensive by many.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee spoke to News24 via email to share her views.

1. Why the reaction to the Kuli Roberts piece? Surely she was being tongue-in-cheek.
I looked hard for the tongue, the cheek and thought perhaps my humour had escaped through the gap in my front teeth or that the GHD I use to relax my nappy locks was impacting my brain. So I read again.

I couldn’t find satire or a piss-take on Jimmy Manyi’s views that coloureds should take themselves into the sea.

All I found was shocking stereotype and vicious racism. If I’m wrong on her intent, I would still be offended though this time less as an anti-racist and pro-womanist, but as a wordsmith.

2. Don’t you think that with all this attention it’s getting via social networks and the media, it’s giving the column more attention than it would normally receive?

Perhaps. My mission is to develop consciousness that racism’s best antidote is anti-racism, not reconciliation. And the social networks are great at doing that.

I love the speed, the debate and the consciousness-building – we shouldn’t leave racism to grow in its self-reinforcing little corners or we’ll all end up talking to ourselves in enclaves where our most base beliefs go unchallenged.

3. Should action be taken against Roberts and the newspaper? Should she and her editor be fired? Or will an apology merely do?

Nope. I think we should be given the right to reply, that she should go on an anti-racism course (not the namby pamby diversity training stuff) and that the editor should apologise to offended readers.

4. Why do you think this piece caused more of an uproar than any of her previous columns which were arguably as controversial if not more so?
Because we live in a Twitterverse that amplifies a national conversation.

5. Heat said via Twitter: We’ve just spoken to a source close to Kuli Roberts who says “she’s shocked by the reaction and didn’t mean to hurt anybody”. What is your response to that?

I think Kuli should have the courage of her convictions and debate me or us publicly or she should apologise rather than speaking through acolytes in the tabloid magazines where she is an uber-queen but one who is never called to account.

Follow Ferial on Twitter.

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