Racism is not some tragic event to get over.

2014-10-24 08:35

Funny how black people end up being accused of being racist by white people when issues of race arise. It seems as if this is tiring for white people in South Africa who want us to forget and get over it. White people accuse black people of  playing the race card therefore act racist without even realizing it as they comment on the subject matter using words like “grow up and get over it”

Until we learn to have open and safe dialogue about these issues in South Africa, we won’t grow as a society. The institution of racism will continue to permeate our culture and paternalistic “white supremacy” will continue to dominate our society. I feel we must all accept responsibility for our culture and society- especially white people who are, by colour of skin, the privileged group of people in South Africa. Until this fear of losing “white culture” is eradicated, racism will not die. It must die. The fear of losing "white privilege" needs to die. Don't claim equality with your ''white privilege" cap on.

You probably wondering what do I mean by “the privileged group”, well If you look at important bodies like the Reserve Bank, the Justice courts, or at the CEO list of major corporations, or at any other body that wields substantial power in South Africa., you will count only a few black faces (and in some cases, none).  Out of the number of black faces you count, most of them will not be representing the views of the majority of black people in this country, but the views of the white minority.

One may ask; what are some productive ways to initiate and engage in dialogue with others on issues of racism?

I think that the first thing to do, especially if you are white, is to educate yourself on what racism is, and what it isn't. Become familiar with the history of racism in South Africa, when engaging in dialogue with others on issues of racism be prepared to encounter defensiveness, denial, and strong emotional response. It is also helpful to begin with common understandings such as a glossary of terms: racism, privilege, institutional racism, white supremacy.

It might also be helpful to confront the main issues that create conflict first; definition of racism (prejudice +power), that reverse racism does not exist, The right wing popularized the term "Reverse Racism" because they were really angry at having their white privileges challenged. Anyone who uses that phrase, whether they are right wing or not, furthers the right wing's cause.  This is what I tell black and white apartheid apologists and progressives who I hear using the term. What white privilege is and how it is expressed in one’s daily life and manifests itself in educational institutions, in workplaces and so on.

In dealing with racism, it is important to first understand certain terms and their meaning as described by Tim Wise;

Prejudice is an irrational feeling of dislike for a person or group of persons, usually based on stereotype.  Virtually everyone feels some sort of prejudice, whether it's for an ethnic group, or for a religious group, or for a type of person like blondes or fat people or tall people.  The important thing is they just don't like them -- in short, prejudice is a feeling, a belief.  You can be prejudiced, but still be a fair person if you're careful not to act on your irrational dislike.

Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice.  This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation.  Or even because of their looks (there's a lot of hiring discrimination against "unattractive" women, for example).  You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you're in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against.  White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people if, for example, one is the interviewer and the other is the person being interviewed.

Racism, however, describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as "normal" throughout an entire culture. It's based on an ideological belief that one "race" is somehow better than another "race".  It's not one person discriminating at this point, but a whole population operating in a social structure that actually makes it difficult for a person not to discriminate.

Far too often you have meanings of these English words redefined to satisfy the offender because as a white person he feels discriminated against or prejudiced and therefore calls it racism, this justification is a result of white privilege.

Racial incidents happen daily in South Africa. We will not get over it and we will not stop talking about it because it somehow offends your inner racist and turn around and say not everything is about race. It's very easy as an offender to defend the indefensible and not realise that what you are actually doing is really saying racism is ok. Deal with it and accept it.

It's amazing to read or listen to white people telling black people what should and what shouldn't offend them. It's easy to say it while you sitting on the chair with #WhitePrivilege on the back.  It is very easy to not take offence when the offence is not directed to you. It is very easy to say not everything is about race when the offender is white.

How do white people come to a conclusion on deciding what shouldn't offend black people? I'm actually very curious. Maybe one of you will shed some light in the comments before telling me to grow up and get over it.

I wonder.

In a racist society like ours where white people bend over to defend racist act and tell us to get over it, it takes a special act of courage and willingness from a white person to subject oneself to scandal or danger to step outside that system and become an abolitionist. It's not the "fault" of every member of the “master class” that black people were faced with oppression and racism and some might wish it was gone.  But the fact is that ever single member of the “master class” benefits from the cheap labor of black people at every level of society. Benefited from their blood flowing in the streets of South Africa . Benefited from the destruction of families and yet say "get over it". So unless members of the “master class” rise up and oppose the Institutionalized system of racism and try to overthrow it they're going to be complicit in the Institutionalized system of racism.

It is obvious that many Whites believe that not even racism, but race itself is something that has nothing to do with them, as if White is not also a “race.” On racism, many will refer to it as “your cause” when speaking to someone Black, as if racism does not involve Whites at all. Also, there are Black people who think that we alone can end racism, or should at least ignore it. Not ignoring it is deemed “making excuses” and “not taking responsibility” by exceptional Black people (such as celebrities) using “create your own opportunities and lift yourselves up” arguments to appease whites. Whites conveniently do not have to “take responsibility” for racism though Black people are supposed to “take responsibility” for the ways racism impacts our lives, while simultaneously not mentioning racism being there in the first place.

So "get over it and move on" is the most ridiculous of positions. Racism is not some tragic event to get over; it's the ongoing tragedy of cumulative experiences that shape how one sees the world. Moreover, stereotypical imagery affects all who see it, not just the lampooned race. The negative images of blacks, whether old blackface minstrel or today's portrayals as criminal, promiscuous, and foolishly materialistic, are an equal opportunity influencer - everyone is impacted by their repeated viewing.

Go ahead tell me to get over it? Tell me again it's not always about race, tell me i'm pulling a race card. Use sill examples.  I have heard it all.

It's time to end racism and not act like a saint going around saying "I don't see colour" yet you roll up your window when black people are crossing the street and you at the robots. Acknowledge that we have a race problem. Private companies need to address racism in workplaces. There's so much racism in workplaces yet everyone is silent about it, especially if you are black because if you speak of such in the hub of racists that are in a private sector, you can forget getting a promotion thereafter. Only White Privilege allows one to speak of race issues because white privilege in a workplace means you can be pretty sure that as a white person, an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize yours...In fear of losing your job or be barred from promotions..

"You Get Over It" because apartheid did not end in 1994.

Follow me on Twitter: ThembaRadebeer

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