Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Remnants of racism

I have been enjoying my forays into the blogging realm. But as usual get so into reading that I forget to write. There are some really amazing ideas and thoughts to connect with every day.
Recently, (perhaps due to the historical outcome of the US elections?) the issue of racism has come up. This word fascinates me. It is wielded with the power the word "witch" once held in contemporary South Africa. and yet each person has their own, usually deeply personal, interpretation of the word.
I'm sure there must be an easier way to do that - but didn't want to just cut and paste. Too close to plagiarism?
That definition allows for quite a broad range of experiencing The Other in a negative manner.
In my reality I have met people who react with anything from a benign sense of inherent superiority to a blind hatred that enables them to bludgeon and burn young children to death, zen-uh-foh-bee-uh.
The term racism however; seems to usually be used in a 'black' and 'white' relationship. Bearing in mind that in the current affirmative action criteria of most institutions in South Africa, black includes most of our rainbow nation.
I have lived through a struggle of liberation in a country governed by racist laws and propaganda. It was horrific. I struggle daily with the fact that by default I happen to have been born onto to 'baddies' team (as I perceive good and bad which I appreciate is highly subjective) although the game's not over yet.
I have been indoctrinated into accepting that it is only white people who hold racist beliefs, no matter the magnitude of their transgression.
I had a wonderfully refreshing experiencing the other day. A young girl at school and I were chatting and she looked up at me with her big eyes and said "All white people do such and such, hey?" I can't remember the specific generalisation, but I suddenly realised that she was getting to experience the other in a familiar and nonthreatening environment. That we had a couple of minutes of openly exploring the unfamiliarities of the other was a blessing I have carried with me for weeks.
It was aslo a relief to discover that other races have some completely barmy interpretations of whities.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Bias, particularly racial and gender bias, is so ingrained into every aspect of culture and language that it is almost impossible to speak or act in a non bias way. Everything we label we are setting apart and making some level of judgment about. Teaching kids to be able to judge, distinguish between things, etc, without it growing into a negative racist attitude is one of the greatest challenges we face. Keep up the great work.