Black­face is only the begin­ning

CityPress - - Voices - Chester Miss­ing

Black­face is a huge prob­lem in South Africa: Con­rad Koch has me, Leon Schus­ter has Mama Jack and Lon­min has Cyril Ramaphosa. The prob­lem is that black­face con­firms the un­fair so­cial hi­er­ar­chies that marginalise peo­ple in so­ci­ety. It’s the “hu­mour” equiv­a­lent of e-tolls: only the rich ben­e­fit and it af­fects you least if you live in Sand­ton.

The white Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria stu­dents who dressed up as black “do­mes­tic work­ers” for a party need to be very se­verely dealt with, and also need to be un­der­stood in a larger con­text. South African hu­mour is rife with peo­ple go­ing “eish”, “aweh”, “hawu” and “cown­tree” – and that’s just the white dudes.

In fact, work­ing-class/black/fe­male/gay co­me­di­ans don’t need to make funny stereo­types to make mid­dle class au­di­ences laugh be­cause the chances are mid­dle class/white/male/straight co­me­di­ans al­ready have it cov­ered.

Some­times it seems as if in South Africa “speak­ing truth to power” is re­ally just to be found in the Eskom com­plaints line be­cause we are so used to laugh­ing at peo­ple who we deem as “other”.

Steve Hofmeyr reck­oned that black peo­ple us­ing skin­light­en­ing cream is the same as black­face, which con­firms that you don’t need a brain to win an SA Mu­sic Award. My guess is that Steve’s the­ory on the earthquake was that it was tar­get­ing white farm­ers. The thing is that the Steve Hofmeyr/Tuks stu­dent bri­gade are the po­lit­i­cal ex­treme. For me, the larger prob­lem seems to lie else­where, un­less you are a black stu­dent at Tuks, then the “rain­bow na­tion” must seem like some kind of elab­o­rate prac­ti­cal joke.

As with all racism, it’s the fluffy bunny, of­ten white, English nor­malised and Model C mid­dle class who con­dones the most per­ni­cious big­otry be­cause, like Ebola, you think you are fine, but ac­tu­ally you are deadly. The prob­lem is that we are so ac­cus­tomed to prej­u­dice that we crave it like a Sun­day news­pa­per edi­tor craves a scandal.

Ap­par­ently, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa dissed Ad­vo­cate Dali Mpofu’s English dur­ing the Marikana Com­mis­sion of In­quiry be­cause, when you are try­ing hard not to be the pup­pet of white im­pe­ri­al­ism, cor­rect­ing peo­ple’s English is a must.

Pallo Jor­dan did “aca­demic­face” for 30 years, and Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng lied about his ma­tric. Yes, it’s bad, but you know you’re a bas­tard when you force Bantu ed­u­ca­tion on peo­ple then de­mand to see their qual­i­fi­ca­tions af­ter­wards. That’s like not let­ting peo­ple near the beach then laugh­ing at them when they can’t swim.

This week, a child dis­ap­peared from Ramaphosa in­for­mal set­tle­ment. We have nor­malised prej­u­dice to the ex­tent that we have an in­for­mal set­tle­ment named af­ter a bil­lion­aire. Dr Miss­ing is South Africa’s top po­lit­i­cal pup­pet and win­ner

of the Comic’s Pen Award. Twit­ter: @chester­miss­ing

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