'You people’

2014-03-07 07:59

Every now and then I get really personal in my blog. In response I get a lot of personal attacks. This is one of those times. However, as always, these consequence won’t deter me.

A conversation that I had with a security guard in my building is what set this in motion. He was talking to me about politics. About how important it is to register to vote because we need change in South Africa. Both valid points, to which I agreed. The problem arose when he uttered “one thing I noticed about you people…”

With a semi-consideration for my response, I stopped him and asked “who is you people?”

Jarred, he squints and says “you white people.”

Now it’s at this point that I question whether this track is worthwhile. I mean, what’s the real value of this conversation? Perhaps it was the intensity of my week thus far but I wasn’t going to let this one slide – as not too much earlier that same day my race was an issue perplexing the people responsible for servicing my car.

So I decide to engage. “So you think I’m white?” I pose.

By now the gentlemen is seriously squinting. Confused he asks “are you coloured?!”

Needless to say my affirmation of this threw my partner in conversation but only just a little. He was soon back to making his initial point about how few white people were registered to vote; as well as how white people complain but don’t vote. Up to this point, I felt that correcting him would be enough to imply an alarming point. Yet, when he merely continued his thought, I realised that I wasn’t hitting home here.

Contrary to the previous value judgment, when I had to decide whether to pursue why he felt he could make sweeping generalisations based on race; I no longer saw value in this track. I heard him out, thanked him for his opinions and was on my way.

As I left I was teeming with thoughts and questions. Most striking was that I had spoken to him before. During which time, he asked whether I am registered to vote. I said yes. If he thought I was white but also knew I was registered; what does he base his conclusion on, that white people are not registered to vote?

Is it just me or is his bigotry getting the better of him. Since even when faced with evidence for the contrary; he chose to stick to his race-based causal links.

Second to this was the question of my race and the level of importance that it has when people are deciphering my doings, comings and goings. Furthermore, why assume I’m white? I know most people are confused. However, many just assume I’m white. Should I pull my teeth or get a gold slit and chap ‘n nomer on my duf so you, the receiver can be comfortable as you go through the checklist:

• Expensive takkies

• Gold teeth

• Black citi golf

Okay cool, this must be a coloured…now that that’s established; I can treat her accordingly.

It’s nonsense! Sure, there is great cultural significance to race in South Africa, especially – I think – in the coloured community. But it’s the sheer extent of how much people are clinging onto this classification; beyond rhyme or reason.

Thirdly; is this notion of ‘you people.’

Is it just me, or are we stuck in a time warp here? Is that not a pre-liberation sentiment that HONKS of a separatist mind-set that we are utterly refusing to depart from?

Yes I am coloured bra. And yes I look white. Klaar wat dit so is. But wat wou jy gemaak het? Waar brand dit?

Why so attached? Wouldn’t we bebetter suited to judge people by the content of their character, rather than the colour of their skin?

As individual entities.

Persons.

Not ‘you people.’

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