Racism — the poison that feeds our inability to move forward

2018-07-10 06:01

NARENDH GANESH

PERHAPS the greatest folly of all humanity occurred on the day the ideology of race was conceived.

This concept has been fundamental to the proliferation of conflict, hatred and disharmony the world over, and South Africa is no exception.

In fact, we as a country have become the focus, in recent times, of how the notion of race harvests discontent which allows it to permeate through all facets of everyday life.

However, one may want to argue the concept of race and racism, it will always remain a “Sword of Damocles” that impedes the progress towards a cohesive and peaceful society, as even the slightest intonation of some kind of racial superiority or inferiority will evoke reactions that are destructive in the end.

The uniqueness of South Africa’s diversity is not so much that we are being led by a historical past founded on colonial and racial backdrops, but rather how such influences have guided our social mentality, as we have meandered through various transitions, leading ultimately to the universally acceptable structure of a democratic order.

The very idea of race creates inequality — it is seminal to our status quo, as every day some or other racial outburst, perceived to be derogatory, finds a way of stirring emotions that deepen the chasms of mistrust, discord and even hatred.

That we exist in a highly racialised society is a given, but inherent in such an existence is a disturbing trend to use the concept of race as a means to further political ambitions, which eventually diminishes any hope for progress and social development.

While we are constitutionally protected against racism, there can be no gain saying that, at one point or another, most of us have been guilty of pointing a finger at another “race” purely because that race is “not one of us”.

There can be no question that the ideology of race is an excrescence to the social fabric of all humanity, resulting in untold misery to many, but instead of removing such a concept, we have enhanced and proliferated the value of race simply as a means to further divide us all.

The writer’s disapprobation to the notion of race is compounded by the fact that for as long as we subscribe to the idea that we are different, simply by some unwarranted classification, then we will forever be so. Yet, we are not so different from each other. We may have biological or anatomical or even phenomenological differences, but in essence, we are all the same. Therein perhaps is the basis of a solution that we all must seek.

For as long as we spawn suspicion and harbour levity against our fellow humans purely because we perceive them to be different, even when they are not, then we lay bare our own inadequacies that translate into active racism.

Racism, very often, is latent. It festers and manifests in the deep crevices of the hearts and minds of those less capable of discerning the realities of our times. We may on the one hand condemn racism where necessary, but then condone it when it suits us.

This must stop.

A radical paradigm shift, not in thought but in action, must follow as a way of unifying and creating that cohesion we so desire.

The partition that the concept of race has built over many centuries has translated into pernicious racism that is being fomented by political opportunists like Julius Malema, who seek to gain political capital by derogating from the truth and reality.

In South Africa, a symbiotic relationship between race and the zest for power has taken prominence, and this disturbing aspect is sadly rearing its ugly head at almost every opportunity.

Any narrative that does not pay deference to one’s fellow human, especially in the racial context, then becomes cannon fodder for differing opinions that are bound to lead to conflict and even anarchy.

The metamorphosis of South Africa post-1994 has been punctuated by many acts of racism as there are those still ensconced in a despicable past, reluctant to embrace a new order that lends credence to equality, fairness and justice.

The parochial effrontery of the likes of Malema must be a stark reminder to us all that no amount of racial posturing will enamour the world to a country that is so full of potential.Our diversity, if used constructively and without malice, can have salutary implications for those generations yet unborn.

South Africa can ill-afford the despicable generalisations based on race. Instead, we should complement our differences with a sense of amicability that fosters patriotic responsibility as we pass the baton on to those who will ultimately share a common humanity of brotherhood and togetherness.

After all, race is indeed a myth, but racism is certainly not.

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