Racism writ large on pages of uncomfortable read
Run Racist Run by Eusebius McKaiser Bookstorm 211 pages R210 at takealot.com
White liberals will take issue with Eusebius McKaiser’s newest book, Run Racist Run: Journeys Into the Heart of Racism, which is not surprising – it’s a fierce critique of their privileged position. And seasoned political readers and angry young activists will decry its pop political approach.
But I’m neither of these people. I’m a regular, young, black guy reading one of the well-known political commentator and broadcaster’s books for the first time.
Run Racist Run resonated with me – I’d even call it a page-turner.
It provides a raw and, at times, cynical account of the culture of racism and the challenges of life in a postapartheid society that still seems to refuse to acknowledge race as a problem as prevalent today as it was during apartheid.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the myth about us “bornfrees” who have apparently not been around long enough to know what lived racism is. McKaiser says there is a perception that today’s youth need to chill out, as race is not the issue it once was. I’d find this easier to accept if I weren’t black.
He uses the student movement as a point of reference throughout this collection of essays that tries to rethink some of the assumptions made in his first book, A Bantu in My Bathroom. Cross-class solidarity was one of the many positives in these protests and McKaiser says this is long overdue.
He ambitiously tries to get inside the mind of a racist to figure out how such arrogant narcissism works. He argues that apartheid racism was so overtly and visibly violent that our perceptions of daily racism are impaired – racists might not even be aware of being racists in today’s society because they aren’t being violent, but more subtle and subliminal with their hatred.
In his view, there is no difference between violent racism and “non-bloody”, “attitude-based” racism.
Racism is a daily grind for a black writer, he says, while white writers have the luxury of being able to focus on lighter issues. Biko lied, he says. Black writers cannot write what they like because of the urgent need to focus on dismantling the culture of racism.
Run Racist Run cleverly navigates its way through problems that rarely get the public attention they deserve: black women in academia, the “apartheid geography” of our towns and cities...
Yes, McKaiser is an aggregator. He takes the existing ideas of a new generation and expertly repackages them. But it works. There are talking points on each of his very well-written pages. Some people will find Run Racist Run an uncomfortable read. Others will find it as eye-opening as I did.