Racism here to stay. Deal with it

2012-12-05 07:36

David Moseley

Admittedly, we're a bit like pre-World War II America down here in the Western Cape, enjoying our splendid isolation from the rest of the country and only feigning interest in the nation's comings and goings when we're forcibly dragged into the conversation.

Such an occasion occurred last week, and has carried over to this week, with two pieces in the Cape Times by the self-styled urbane voice of black South Africa, Khaya Dlanga.

Feathers were ruffled and throats were harrumphed after Dlanga tormented Capetonians with tales of a white ceiling in the city (mines a kind of Humpty-Dumptyish eggshell), mixed with the musings of a German tourist who'd clearly mistaken Durban for the Mother City when asked to offer an opinion on the pros and cons of visiting Fortress Zille.

For those who missed the brouhaha, the gist of the opinion was that racism exists in Cape Town - stop the presses - and black South Africans would only find their place at the head of the table if they moved to Joburg (which is probably true for all South Africans, considering the only job options in Cape Town are fisherman and ad agency creative - and you actually need some talent to be a fisherman).

Prepare to be shocked, but I wholly agree with Dlanga's assessment of the city. I've long referred to the European Capital of South Africa as a friendly seaside resort with just the tiniest hint of industry else to explain the "rush hour" traffic at Cavendish Square around noon every day. If you want Africa, get to Joburg.

What I don't agree with, however, is Dlanga's sloppy generalisations in describing the schizophrenic city of Cape Town, and his follow up piece (a mea culpa in my eyes) where he implores us to not trivialise racism and the race debate. I say trivialise it to death. Make it so the ignoramuses out there can't use it as an unfair criticism. Make it a laughing matter, so that the power of racist words are diminished.

As above, I also don't concur with his views that to beat racism we need to talk and constantly write about racism (certainly it might help in some small way, but not when it's written in a way that Dlanga knows, full well, will only get the backs of citizens' raised quicker than a kitten's when dropped into a puppy pound of starved ridgebacks).

The sad truth is racism is going nowhere. It's here to stay. And no amount of opining and whining about it will do anything to help make it disappear. People will always fear and hate what they don't know.

How do we change that - I don't know. I'm not clever enough to solve the one problem that's been plaguing the world since one group decided they were better than the next. But I do know that opinion pieces like Dlanga's are the heat that further melts the glue we all so desperately want to bind us together.

I see no point in opinionistas airing their views on racism, because those views fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Sure, Dlanga's piece has got some airtime amongst media types. But now what? Where's the change? Where's the evolution of the Eastern Cape resident who happily calls black South Africans kaffirs without batting an eyelid. Because if you want racism that's still brutal and blunt, and not merely hinted at (not that that's okay either, serious types), why not try the country's forgotten province, the beautiful but angry Eastern Cape.

It's my honest belief that the people who consume this kind of media (Dlanga's opinions or mine) are simply looking for someone that they can agree with, or someone they can argue with. They don't care about change.

As much as people like Dlanga and me would like to believe it, the people (the wider bulk of a nation, any nation) don't take their cues from clowns like us. They might read us, enjoy us, agree or argue with us. But that is it.

I'd even go so far as to say that racism isn't even in the top five things we should be worrying about in South Africa. An uncertain future for all, yes. Declining standards of education, yes. Violent crime, as ever, yes. Government corruption, yes. Job creation, yes. Getting people out of townships, yes. Let's solve those issues.

But racism. I think that's a lazy out for tired columnists. It happens, and it's awful and one day we'll all sit around hugging each other (and I know I'm going to get "but it doesn't happen to you" and I'm well aware of that), but if it's based on something someone said to a friend who heard it from a tourist who wanted to go to Joburg because they fit in and a cashier in Cape Town winked at me funny because the black man behind me had a All Blacks hat on. Come on, guys. That's not good enough.

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  • jacquesdutoit21 - 2012-12-05 08:48

    Well written David, as usual.

      thando.gqabaza - 2012-12-05 15:01

      Rubbish article from Moseley. This is a totally insensitive response. You don't see me saying "Farm attacks are here to stay - Deal with it" ? No because I understand that it is a sensitive topic and in any case murder is murder. Also your list of problems that you want to solve before racism - if you solved all of that but we still had racism not a single black would be happy living in this country. You don't see our view because you haven't walked in our shoes. I will understand though if you wrote this nonsense just to get hits.

      tert.lepa - 2012-12-06 02:11

      thandi stop feeling sorry for yourself and your kind, roll up your sleeves and start working like a real man never mind racism for f#cksakes the topic is getting effen old man.

      thando.gqabaza - 2012-12-06 09:13

      @tert im not feeling sorry for myself, just disgusted at how the author is trivializing racism. Your answer seems to be the standard response though. I have 2 degrees so yes i know what hard work is.

      jeroen.vissers.52 - 2012-12-06 10:33

      @thando The main aim of the article is to help people understand that we need shift the focus from apartheid/racism onto bigger issues in South Africa. If you fail to see that, I guess you got your ‘2 degrees’ at the same place as where most SA taxi drivers get their drivers licences...

      roelf.theron - 2012-12-06 13:42

      Thando, are you trying to say that only black people are victims of racism?

      thando.gqabaza - 2012-12-06 20:27

      @jeroen - did you even read my comment ? I KNOW he's saying move on to other issues , and I'm saying that he is trivializing racism and we cannot ignore the issue. Like arguing with a retard in here ...

  • mike.bundy.73 - 2012-12-05 08:52

    A lazy out for tired columnists indeed. Enough already.

  • 286ADC8D - 2012-12-05 09:08

    Gud article. I agree. Most blacks don't want change. They stil think the whites owe them. And thus wants everything on a silver platter. Now they c what its like living in a white world. That's why they r toy toying and burning everything 2 the ground. We need 2 educate these people so that they can get with the program 2. My heart goes out 2 them. Realy.

      marc.moon.10 - 2012-12-05 10:48

      reading your comment is quite ironic... for someone advocating education and how important it is for us to "educate these people" i find your style and creative use of spelling quite intriguing... did you complete primary school? my nephew is 7 years old and in grade one and he could have strung a more coherent, better written comment with fewer spelling and grammar errors...

      Michael - 2012-12-05 13:21

      And just for the record 286DC8D (You dropped something on the keyboard and randomly selected a username didn't you), most whites don't want change either, not if it means making sacrifices. We're ok as long as change happens around us, and doesn't adversely affect us. fear of change is a species-wide fear amongst humans, and yet you insist on pointing your finger directly at blacks.

      Diversitas - 2012-12-11 22:07

      I would LOVE to be educated by you, my good sir. You writing is bedazzling! And thank you for speaking on our behalf. Of course you spoke to most blacks and we confirmed your statement. Have a good day.

  • danievdlinde - 2012-12-05 09:09

    South Africa, my country, my love history....... now I live in New Zealand and can only giggle when I read about the old drum still being beaten to strum together another boring column only to have the crowds post wildy late into the night. Sometimes even having "bragging rights? for their clever comments. Racism is now nothing more than a childish tantrum used by the ignorant. For every one person using the "K" word there is a thousand shouting "Kill the Boer". Get over yourself South Africa and grow up the world is in trouble and SA is in CHAOS!

      thando.gqabaza - 2012-12-05 09:21

      SA is only in Chaos because you're looking from across the sea.

      duane.low - 2012-12-05 10:02

      oh that is why?....dam i thought it was because our leaders dont lead they look after themself and we (majority) allow it? dam thanks for the simple solution ..... please all people who moved away please come back, our country will be fine then????? lol

      thando.gqabaza - 2012-12-05 14:59

      @duane - went totally over your head didn't it

  • achaava - 2012-12-05 09:11

    well written bad so many will fail to get the actualy interpretation of what u saying

  • paul.penzhorn - 2012-12-05 09:27

    Moseley...what is the difference between racism and culturelism?

  • xoli.mabiya - 2012-12-05 09:47

    Racism, corruption and all the other social Ills we are facing is not just gonna go away unless we do something about it, we can only blame apartheid for so much...

  • binarycape - 2012-12-05 09:47

    Spot on the nose as usual, David. Racialism in some form or another has been around since before man became man [or woman] and it still exists in the animal kingdom even if they don't/can't verbalise is as such, so what hope do we have? None. These days it is considered a black on white thing for the most part, but 'racialism' in some form or another will always exist, no matter the colour, species etc.

  • JohncarlosBiza - 2012-12-05 10:35

    I don't like Khaya and called him racist more than once before. I have also quit reading his opinions altogether. However, Cape Town is not perfect. I have heard the same about career stagnation from different people. I've also heard black friends say they felt more welcome when living in Germany than Cape suburbs. Doesn't necessarily translate to racial bias but these are opinions a handful of intelligent, liberal people hold and I believe there's something to it. Saying 'racism will never die' is stupid. It discourages society from improving. It also leaves people like Gill (first comment) feeling entitled to share their bigotry and rudeness. All in all, I found this article an enjoyable read, and am fortunate enough to be a youth who will probably live through a better Cape Town in a decade or two. The younger people are a lot more racially modern.

  • marc.moon.10 - 2012-12-05 10:43

    guys, i don't see how venting your views on here on how "black culture has nothing to offer the modern world" helps anything or anyone... I just think that if its not constructive and not helpful its better left unsaid, regardless of whether its true or not. I am not getting into that debate, but just think about it... it upsets people and makes them angry and if i were them it would make me angry too.

      JohncarlosBiza - 2012-12-05 11:14

      It should make you angry simply because it's arrogant/ignorant, not because you are 'one of them'

      Ntarts - 2012-12-05 12:31

      I agree Marc. To make a comment like that on African soil is a clear indication of the patronising, uninformed opinion that some whites have, and it does nothing for reconcilliation. Whatever happened to being tolerant, it's this kind of thinking that got us in this mess in the first place many moons ago.

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2012-12-06 08:15

      "I agree Marc. To make that comment like that on African soil is a clear indication of the patronising, uninformed opinion that some blacks have, and it does nothing for reconciliation. Whatever happened to being tolerant, it's this kind of thinking that got us in this mess in the first place many moons ago". took the liberty of correcting a couple of things for you ;)

  • Gill McCain - 2012-12-05 11:11

    As I wrote earlier I am not proud to have become a racist since living in Africa, and if such honesty is rude then I am rude too. I sincerely believe that my racism comes from an exposure to black culture that I had previously not had, and the resultant disdain for that culture. Would it be better not to express my opinion? Possibly. Would it change the very fact of that opinion? Not at all. I suspect I am not alone in feeling the way I do, and my hurrying back to Europe anytime soon will not change matters. As the writer of this article said, racism is here to stay, so lets not get too het up about it. By the way I'm not too keen on the Vietnamese at the moment but that's another story.

      Dave - 2012-12-05 12:02

      I agree 100% Gill - same for all my friends. Was not racist at all in my youth but the last 10 years of living with this corrupt culture along with BEE / AA has made racists of us all. Fck them - learn some honour and the value of good honest work and maybe people will have more respect for you.

      buhle.mthethwa - 2012-12-05 16:15

      1) No one asked u to come here. 2) this is a black country, if the issues we are dealing with are too hard for you to wrap your racist mind around, please DO hurry back to Europe. why did you leave anyway?? 3) its so easy for people looking from the outside in to judge and cast stones. People like u make me sick really.

      jakkie.jvr - 2012-12-05 21:22

      Buhle, I agree with your post except;, this is not a black country, this country belongs to all who is born in it...

      solo.mathe.5 - 2012-12-06 14:47

      Strangely enough I don't find your comment offensive, its just honest about your feelings. Nothing more annoying than a racist in denial about their racism.

      karlheinz.sittlinger - 2012-12-06 17:26

      Buhle: you just proved the authors point.. People like you make sure those racist flames are fed. So i will repeat: this country is for ALL south africans, no matter the color, you racist!

      Diversitas - 2012-12-11 22:35

      While I see your point about becoming racist since moving here, I am very curious about why you stayed. Dont get me wrong, I am not for 'dont agree therefore leave' attitude, I am just seriously interested seeing that you are not even from here. I would not ask the same for a white South African who said what you did (simply because this is as much his/her country as it is mine), but it sounds to me that the option for you to leave wont be that hard and yet you chose to stay. Why? It just doesn't make sense to me that you would move to a country, discover that you hate the culture of about 80% of the people in that country (and I still don't know what black culture is, however you define it), and then stay (seems to be bothering you). I would imagine with the growing Muslim population in your country - most of whom essentially hate your culture (having moved there willfully just like you did here), and demanding that you all change to practice sharia law and stop wearing revealing clothing, and encouraging honour killing your kids for having a boyfriend you did not choose, you must be ecstatic? By your own logic, they have the right to do so right?

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-12-05 11:38

    Is and should racism be the priority of concern? I worry less about the guy who thinks because of my colour there is some negative quality than the guy thats actually trying to rob and kill me . I worry more about the security gaps in my home than whether my race is going to effect my promotional chances.I'm less concerned about thought policing than actual policing. My list of people of concern is 1. Murderers 2. Rapists 3. Thief 4. Racist.

  • junayd.mohamed - 2012-12-05 11:51

    You acknowledge the presence of racism and it's persistence in our 'democratic' society and your response is to trivialize it, to laugh about its presence, to not have public discussions about it and that non-white Capetonians should just accept its existence. That is a fantastic response to highly complex problem. Thanks for that.

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2012-12-06 08:19

      The best trick the devil pulled is to convince the world he does not exist ;)

  • maria.roth.589 - 2012-12-05 11:54

    Giving credence to one racist or the other is hardly the way to throw up your hands in righteous cynicism is hardly helpful. The problem is Zuma has castigated the Cape for not having sufficient black representation in the top jobs considering the number of black graduates in the Cape. What you have incidentally pointed out is that the Cape is hardly the industrial powerhouse of SA the article you refer to is probably just a spin off from this latest misconception that just because the Western Cape is the educational powerhouse it has the infrastructure to absorb its graduates. The sprinkling of industry from my experience mostly family owned are not going to appoint BEE management and this offends the great racist leader who can't read very well, which confounds his understanding. The graduates from the Western Cape are education refugees from the rest of South Africa who have discovered 'dis lekker innie Kaap' and now complain about white ceilings. I believe an entrepreneurship initiative on the part of the government some sort of training and investment will soon quash this sort of resentment masquerading as racism. At the moment the policy is to take from others instead of building your own this is a recipe for resentment and racism. It can be said that the extant wealth of certain people is a result of apartheid and they on the other hand know it is the result of years of industry. Surely if all the wealth was the result of apartheid all whites would be equally wealthy.

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-12-05 16:48

    Racism is just an expression from people who are forced into a unity state against their will. Until this is realized and fixed, yes it will be with us. The fact that we do not correct it, is just proof of how stupid most humans are.

  • jakkie.jvr - 2012-12-05 21:33

    My take on this; we will always have racists among us (And we continuously need to fight generalising (leading to racism) within ourselves) but to continuously write about isolated incidents and blow them out of proportion does more damage than good...

  • solo.mathe.5 - 2012-12-06 14:58

    I was called a k...r once, not sure how I felt about it but my friend was very shaken. The old man was very lucky to be driving the other way... That's all I can say. I don't even want to talk about my racist x-boss...

  • sarel.claassens.3 - 2012-12-06 14:59

    I am single and on a few online dating sites and I find it that a lot of black people want to sleep with whites, men and women and if you as a white person do not want to sleep with them, you are called a racist. So just where do you draw the line for not being a racist?In that case I will always be a racist.

  • selaelo.p - 2012-12-06 22:51

    Yes it is here to stay as long as majority of White South Africans still practice it.most of you hated this country the day we got freedom the so called rainbow nation was celebrated mostly by blacks who thought forgiviness will change how whites feel about them untill they realised that a MOST whites will always call them names,specially when they are annonymous like on this forums. Sorry David as long as the act remains the Talk about remain along side it.

      pfsteyn - 2012-12-10 16:35

      The overwhelming majority of whites voted in favour of change in a referendum which paved the way for the first democratic elections in this country. Generalizing about white SA's the way you do is called prejudism. And prejudism based on race is called racism. Therefor YOU are a racist.

  • ze.don.3 - 2012-12-07 08:36

    The strange thing about racism is that the people who make the most noise about it, are the biggest racists of all. They see the world through race coloured glasses as EVERYTHING in their lives revolves around their race. It amazes me how much energy and effort people will put into changing anything and everything into a race issue. People need to grow up and realise that the world doesn't revolve around your skin colour, be it green, purple or flourescent orange!

  • byron.matthews.562 - 2012-12-07 15:07

    "Admittedly, we're a bit like pre-World War II America down here in the Western Cape, enjoying our splendid isolation from the rest of the country" correction "Admittedly, you're a bit like pre-World War II America down here in the Western Cape, enjoying your splendid isolation from the rest of the Western Cape".. where if you don't live in an affluent suburb you're subjected to the self same lack of service the rest of the country experiences and your mind boggles at the reckless statements when these affluent suburb dwellers declare at how well run the western cape is when you wake up every morning in Mitchell's Plain and look around and say "what?"

  • warrick.pumillio - 2012-12-07 18:29

    Couldn't have said it better, and I think you've exposed that pseudo-intellectual Dlanga for the clown that he is.

  • staal.burger.9 - 2012-12-10 18:52

    Always a pleasure to read your column, David.

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