Guest Column

Hoërskool Driehoek and the origin of black anger

2019-02-05 09:19
Workers protest for a higher minimum wage. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Workers protest for a higher minimum wage. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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The requirement to remain dignified and meek in the face of racism is becoming a huge ask. Black anger in the face of all this is righteous and justified, writes Zenoyise John.

Recently, social media exploded into a blaze after some black people expressed delight over the death of four white kids in the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy where a walkway collapsed at the school, killing the children

Those who expressed joy over the incident were met with floods of rebuke from both black and white people who viewed their comments as inhumane and devoid of Ubuntu. 

The Hoërskool Driehoek incident has put a spotlight on unaddressed black anger ensuing from years of apartheid and failure to have authentic conversations about its legacy and impact on black people's mental health, who are being forced to repress justifiable feelings of anger and pain. Instead of dismantling the original problem and confronting the fundamental cause of black anger, some people are reducing the situation to a lack of Ubuntu. 

READ: Mamphela Ramphele - Tackling the resilience of racism in 2019

Yes, any black person worth their salt should subscribe to the hallmarks of Ubuntu which include forgiveness and grace, but the stubborn persistence of racial disparity in the wake of democracy has left many black people disheartened with the narratives of Ubuntu. 

Apartheid was a system of white people doing bad things to black people. It was a system that bred mistrust, fear, envy, rage and hate. It stripped black people of their dignity, humanity and full control of their personhood. All their lives blacks have faced constant, relentless deprivation.

To this day, blacks are still grappling with the residual effects of apartheid and white people do not dwell within this space of black trauma. It is a measurable reality that white people are not subjected to. The requirement to remain dignified and meek in the face of racism is becoming a huge ask. It is unfair for anyone to dictate the terms on which blacks must deal with the effects of this sinful system. Black anger in the face of all this is righteous and justified.

For this anger to subside, I submit that it is necessary for black people to be afforded a safe space to have genuine conversations about its roots. I'm not encouraging violence as the answer. I'm advocating honesty, including the frank feeling and healthy expression of emotion. We need to be sincere about our own capacity to forgive.

Unfortunately, many people including blacks themselves are unprepared and unwilling to have a brave conversation about this issue. White people ought to do introspection and explore the ways in which they are cosy with white systemic and institutional power and privilege and confront them.

Since the dawn of democracy, we have been required to forgive unconditionally and suppress our emotion. This is unnatural and unhealthy behaviour. We have been forced to mask anger, pain and upset to protect the feelings of white people, who have repeatedly failed to self-reflect on their privilege and to apologise fulsomely for their inhumane deeds.

ALSO READ: Max du Preez - When will we be released from the burden of racism?

Those who have expressed anger at the status quo have suffered hostile consequences including losing their jobs, or not being promoted or hired at all. This has affected their livelihood and well-being. In fear, many blacks have been turned into snitches and stooges for white people in their effort to protect their income.

The growing frustration with the lack of progress is manifesting in the increasing popularity of the calls for radical change. As a result, there is a radical shift in political tone and rhetoric. The logic is fast moving to identity politics. Anger and pain are pushing many to even support seriously blemished and callow leaders.

The ruling party is not making matters any better. They are often hubristic and their greed and obsession with glitter and power are blinding them to the fundamental issues faced by the people who put them in power. Their sloppiness has resulted in them failing to enforce a just and inclusive society as per the party's fundamental principles.

- Zenoyise John is a journalist and a Master's candidate in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @zenoyisej

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


Read more on:    hoerskool driehoek  |  racism
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