Con­fused racism

Finweek English Edition - - Letters - JOHN D

I SYM­PA­THISE WITH Al-Ameen Kafaar for en­dur­ing “un­fair, bi­ased and prej­u­diced treat­ment be­cause of the colour of his skin”. He de­scribes how a white wo­man be­comes anx­ious when a black man gets into the lift alone with her, and then how she al­most in­vis­i­bly breathes a sigh of re­lief when a white man en­ters. His ob­ser­va­tion is 100% ac­cu­rate and does re­flect an ex­am­ple of the re­al­ity of prej­u­dice against skin colour.

How­ever, he is wrong to as­cribe the re­ac­tion only to white women. All gen­ders and races have sim­i­lar re­ac­tions. I of­ten run along the Braam­fontein Spruit in the evening af­ter work. When black women hear me approach they look around, slightly star­tled, but when they see a white man, they re­lax. Andrew Young, a black man and the cham­pion of black rights in the USA, once ad­mit­ted that, if he was walk­ing down a street at night and heard foot­steps be­hind him, if he looked around and saw a white per­son, he au­to­mat­i­cally re­laxed too.

So, how­ever sad it might be for so­ci­ety to re­act in this way, one must be care­ful not to as­cribe racism to the nat­u­ral self-preser­va­tion be­hav­iour of in­di­vid­u­als.

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