Agony of the racially rootless

2008-05-09 00:00

When you are born in South Africa you are assigned a racial classification and put into a figurative box that has certain distinct traits attached to it. As a person who likes to categorise difficult concepts I call this a “host race”, and as much as it is assigned to us by nature sometimes it is by nurture and is essentially a comfort zone. It is obviously similar in most parts of the world and despite the political incorrectness of the term in places like the Rainbow Nation where there is extreme polarisation of the races, the concept of a “host race” can have real benefits. This is despite its obvious limitations to freedom.

The second scenario involves a situation where you are born to parents of mixed origin and the one side prefers you more than the other side. For in-stance, a lot of bi-racial people do not have the luxury of a “coloured” race group and community like many South Africans do. An American friend of mine who was of mixed race spoke about how she and her siblings would alternate races when it was time to be classified in school and work situations because there aren’t “coloured” people in the United States; it’s either black or white. Of course, you will get those who eventually find the “host race” from one of the two races their parents belong to. So, in this case, they will call themselves black or white, or at least gravitate towards a stereotypically black or white particular way of life. They will subscribe to the chosen subcultures. Make sense? We all need to fit in.

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