Cape Town Explained: Helen vs Simphiwe

2012-01-02 08:41

This Cape Town racist thing online has involuntarily gotten me interested. It’s true people don’t like these topics but the fact that it became such a big deal proves that there’s something there. Watching all this twitter action from the side line a tweet caught my eye. It was something like “In SA we are encouraged to talk about things except race.” I am paraphrasing of course but it was something along those lines.

The point is that talking about these issues is important. I never had anything good or bad to say about Helen Zille but her “professional black” quip was pretty hard to let slide. It reads like a euphemism and is akin to saying: “Don’t be a k****r”

I’m not saying that’s what she meant but that’s how it reads, in light of the subject matter that was being discussed I think that reaction was entirely wrong. It took an already divisive topic and cut a deep gash down the middle of it all.

I was on the side-lines as all this unfolded and commented here and there but wasn’t aware how it had all started. None the less I couldn’t dismiss what people were saying, people feel Cape Town is racist. If that’s how someone feels it’s a bit daft to turn around and say: “No it isn’t.” That’s like a woman saying she’s been raped then guy says: It wasn’t rape; it was just rough. Disregarding someone’s feelings like that doesn’t do much to help.

As you know whenever someone says something about racism people shoot off at the mouth about playing the old race card or having a chip on one’s shoulder and so on. The thing is we know this country’s history and we know that racism is rife so why say things like people have a chip on their shoulder? Some people consider BEE reverse racism, but then again what is reverse racism? Furthermore considering that racism is something that gets taught at home and is often part of someone’s ideology, identity and view of the world how can we assume that racism just vanished? I never heard of anyone going to anger management or therapy because they have a problem with racism.

Like it or not there is lots of residual animosity in SA and incidents of racism are not few and far in between. It was interesting to observe how when the topic of Cape Town is racist came up some white people came out defensively. I’m more curious as to why these people felt the need to do this. For example: Cape Town is racist and White Cape Townians are racist are two different statements.

The most interesting comment I saw came from a person who said: “Being coloured I can tell you that coloured people are the most racist of everyone.” Even I can say that the bulk of racism I have experienced in CT was at the hands of coloured people. At least some from that community have the guts to own up and say it’s true. Also how soon people forget that there were xenophobic attacks on Somali shop owners not long ago; committed by blacks nogal. So then why did so many white people take Cape Town is racist as an attack on white people? Since when did Cape Town mean white people? I can’t help but feel as if that reaction or interpretation of a simple statement is somehow infused with guilt or something.

It was even more fascinating to see Hellen Zille on twitter saying she wants evidence of this racism in the mother city. From apartments that suddenly become unavailable when a person of colour wants them, to getting chirped by some coloured dude for no reason to being told it’s a private function when you get to a club then the guys behind you who happen to be white get in hassle free. These things happen in this city so why deny it? What is Helen intending to do with this evidence and why is she acting like this is new news?

As a politician I am sure she is well aware of these problems and playing dumb is well, errr dumb. Secondly for a person of her profile that “professional black” comment was out of line, vexed reaction maybe? I don’t know. Cape Town has long had these accusations levelled at it so there has to be an element of truth to it, I don’t understand how there can be so many racist dorpies in SA then Cape Town people think CT is immune to it.

The first step towards sorting anything out is admitting there is a problem; instead Helen has learnt how to deny things or deflect with retorts like: It’s not as bad as other cities. It’s important for us to know that unless the people who used to be openly racist in the past have sought some kind of help there is no reason for their racism to have waned. Telling the victim of racism that they are imagining it is just wrong but most importantly we must keep in mind that anyone can be racist.

This whole nonsense could have been easily resolved with a simple acknowledgement. Being a leader means you should be aware of such and saying CT is racist was in no way an attack on her administration. It referred to the sub culture that so many of so many races have subscribed to here. In conclusion for pleading ignorance then throwing that quickie slur Helen Zille gets a fail, being the leader of the caliber she is she should have known better.

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