An economy of self hate

2012-06-30 08:32

Black people hate themselves. Black people hate each other.

This tragic psychological disposition, though historically constructed, is the present landscape upon which blacks find ourselves. There is no dearth of instances where upon this is displayed. Any person in this country has, either: experienced it themselves or has witnessed it. A tragedy of history can no longer be the problem that whites bestowed upon blacks but is a problem blacks continue to perpetuate and give impetus and significance to.

This thinking is passed on, consciously or not, from one generation to the next. An engineered ideal has become not a colonial myth but an ideal made true through interactions with each other. Can such thoughts be made malleable through education or are they a psychological anomaly unable to bend to the dictates of education and information?

Knowing that something is irrational cannot possibly stop you from harbouring feelings of self-prejudice. Perhaps you will be made more aware of your self-loathing and its debilitating consequences for the next generation but surely you cannot change it. Maybe you would need to check yourself every time you made historically constructed assumptions about fellow blacks but this does not change the ingrained feelings you harbour.

Education elucidates your self-hate but it cannot undo it. What are the economic consequences then? What does this mean for black people when, essentially, blacks need to pull themselves and each other from the grimness of unemployment and poverty to actuate any significant structural change?

Historically, when a racial, ethnic or religious grouping has found itself in an economic quagmire, it became necessary for them to build businesses of their own and thereafter, employ one another. This is true of the Jews and, more specifically, within the South African context, Indians. I have been in many Indian owned stores and everyone working there has been Indian. Through this, Indians have been able to become better off. The problems confronted in living through this model are twofold for blacks: 1. A skills and an educational deficiency and; 2. An embedded self-loathing.

Sure, the state of education does little for the majority of blacks and does little to alleviate major socio-economic ailments. While this requires the utmost attention, the deep rooted issues of self will continue to rear their head should quality education be delivered to the doorstops of many black people in this country.

Will entrepreneurial blacks be able to persuade their counterparts to be employed within their businesses with the same sense of urgency, finesse and efficiency displayed when working for whites? Should the structural barriers towards attaining skills and educational backlogs be adequately dealt with, will blacks be able to pull each other from the doldrums?

Psychology cannot change at the instant it is recognised. Perhaps by recognising the effects this mind-set will have on the economic wellbeing of the majority and, in turn, that of South Africa, a clearer recognition of what we are doing and how we contribute towards or digress our society can be grasped.

This can be done by recognising that constraints on blacks are not merely external and structural but also internally harvested.

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