Blackness is a state of mind

2018-05-06 06:00

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Far too many black people suffer from a self-imposed inferiority complex because they pay too much attention to what others have, especially white people.

They feel inadequate because they are looking at others’ houses, furniture, clothes, cars and positions.

Bhek’indaba zakho manje! Focus on yourself.

What the next person has or does not have has absolutely nothing to do with you. Just stop this envy, competition and rivalry.

You have what you have. Enjoy it. It belongs to you. Don’t use your blessings or curses to compete and compare yourself with others.

When you are competing and comparing you are going to struggle and feel bad about yourself. You will not be happy.

Not all whites own large pieces of land. The white next to me owns a matchbox just like me.

Other whites are trapped in flats, apartments and small suburban houses, just like the increasing number of blacks in the so-called middle class.

What I mean is that we cannot generalise. The material condition of some whites should not be a lame excuse for not owning a farm.

Skin colour should not, necessarily, make blacks feel robbed or dispossessed.

Even in the townships and rural areas there are people with bigger houses. They have much more.

But this should not make anyone feel inferior.

We are not born inferior to anyone. In fact, all men and women are born equal.

What people accumulate in the course of their lives does not make them superior. People are not small or big because of what they have or don’t have.

You become small because of what you think of yourself. It has got nothing to do with the next person, be they white or black.

I know men and women who have raised families in matchbox homes. The offspring walked out of their poverty with confidence. You would think their parents owned mines. These children went on to overcome their challenges to become global icons. Look around and you will see many blacks who have attained this position.

It is all about attitude. It is what you think of yourself and how you carry yourself.

Blacks must learn to be comfortable in their own skins. They must forge closer relations to come up with what can easily pass for a black African agenda. They don’t have to overreact to every so-called racial provocation.

But there is too much focus on what people have and what they don’t have. There is too much energy and time wasted on the opinions of ignorant whites.

What is worse is that there is a misdiagnosis that poverty is a priority problem in the country.

The poor will always be among us. The material condition of the majority of black people is not going to be transformed overnight, or in the next 50 years. We are in for a long haul.

We have to teach people self-love and respect. In the meantime, they must learn to live and love themselves.

You can be rich, but if you don’t respect yourself it means you lack self-love. This is an embedded inferiority complex.

Steve Biko died trying to teach self-confidence to black people.

It is either they got it or they did not.

We cannot call self-disrespecting and inferior people black people. Blackness is a matter of mind, a state of self-consciousness.

We can’t be wasting time defending people who compete and compare themselves with others.

The real blacks must critically look at themselves. Each and every one is unique. Incomparable.

So why are you looking at the next person? Just deal with your inferiority complex.

Don’t make it a national problem.

You have been given everything you need. It is your responsibility to appreciate it and make it shine. You will shine and be radiant.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for redistribution of the land – to those who want it – and sharing the country’s wealth to improve quality of life.

In fact, the resolution of the land question and economic inequality is the biggest challenge facing this country. Unfortunately, there is no leader who wants to deal with it head-on. It is too explosive and divisive a matter. Yes, the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters talk about it. They talk about it, but that is different to action.

But this will not matter if people are full of anger and resentment brewed by an inferiority complex.

If you are going to be competing and comparing yourself with others, it simply means you are suffering from a deep-seated inferiority complex.

You can be rich and looking down on others because of what they don’t have. You can be poor looking up to rich people because of what they have.

You can be black and envy whites. You can be white and psychologically crippled because of guilt over your so-called people’s history. Or you can resent and be mad at blacks because they now have access to what was previously exclusive to whites.

It all boils down to an inferiority complex. Get over it now. You are dragging this nation down. We are free now. And we have been free for over two decades.

Some did not wait for apartheid to fall before they were free. Some black people have always been free in that they have not been preoccupied with having white neighbours or gaining access to white institutions. They have been doing their thing and rested satisfied with that.

Freedom – just like an inferiority complex – is a state of mind. It has got nothing to do with what you have or don’t have. One is not too sure if ownership of the land will mean anything to blacks who will not own farms.

As for freedom and confidence, it is either you get it or you don’t. Stay true to yourself and strive for the goals you have set yourself.

Memela is a journalist, writer, cultural critic and civil servant.

Read more on:    race  |  freedom

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