Racism’s incompatibility with freedom
TO view oneself as a member of a particular race or ethnic group is incompatible with 21st century identification models. Globalisation is an equaliser in breaking down social barriers and geographic borders. The result is that identities have become a matter of individual choice more than being determined by collective notions of tribal or racial affiliation.
This has not prevented some people from believing in, and acting out, ideas about alleged race and ethnic differences.
The recent cancellation of the television sitcom by the ABC network is laudable. It defies rationality how the star of this hit show, Roseanne Barr, can send out a racist tweet that equates perceived human physiognomy to social group identity. Science has proven that there are no black or white people.
Such characterisation is used simply to include and exclude others, in order to gain certain privileges. Race is used to entrench inferiority and superiority complexes that find political expression in discriminatory social engineering projects such as Nazism and apartheid. This is a reason why progressives everywhere should promote individual human rights as a counterweight against acts like those highlighted in the deplorable Ashwin Willemse episode.
In addition, the ascendancy of Trumpism and Brexit – based on national superiority – should spur even further the importance of reviving Madiba’s non-racialism project. As we build the humanity of all beings on earth, the struggle should be strengthened against ethnic affiliations that are described by the apartheid chronicler, David Welsh, as infantile “politics of ethnic outbidding” where some people identify themselves primarily as Zulus or British.
As history has taught us, those who use these social markers will be prone to use whatever means, such as violence or slaughter, to defend the privileges that come with seeing oneself mainly as a Hutu or Tutsi.
The whole apartheid enterprise was built and practised on the notion that the so-called whites were superior to others in intellect, physique and being.
Tribal, national or even religious identification is responsible for more bloodshed than any other notions of human characterisation.
If we are to systematically defeat what Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa terms, in his latest book
along with generating awareness on the futility of racial classification, we need to re-purpose reconciliation projects such as those begun by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for the benefit of this century.
Such a TRC-like project would deal with the trauma that causes some people to rely on racial markers to defend apartheid, such as Afriforum, and others to depend on apartheid attitudes as excuses not to exercise their responsibility as citizens. Regarding the latter, Marcus Garvey was correct that a refusal to assert one’s individual citizenship beyond affirmative action programmes is tantamount to betrayal of the need to recognise that self-reliance hinges on selfreference. As Garvey said, long before Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko: “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.”
The TRC-like projects would also be useful not only in sourcing the causes of racism, but addressing the normalisation of social ills such as violence, poverty and inequality. As a society, we cannot be nonchalant about the persistence of our high annual homicide rate (estimated at 18 000), rape culture (50 000) and enormous wealth inequity.
Therefore, racism is not only incompatible with individual freedom, but individual human rights. This makes it all the more important that we popularise and implement, where possible, Amartya Sen’s capability approach. This sees societal development as premised on the expansion of people’s capabilities and their ability to overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Quite clearly, apartheid and Nazism were geared towards systematic denial of certain people’s capabilities, with Nazism deeming some as or sub-human. The available platforms we can use for such TRC-like programmes would be social compacts or covenants which emphasise that sacrifices are needed to overcome conflictual situations and consensus can be reached if compromise is made by participating stakeholders.
Hence the National Development – Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane urging law enforcement agencies to work around the clock to prevent the recurrence of cash-in-transit heists in the province. Plan has to be implemented, even as contentious sections of this visionary blueprint are being renegotiated. The ideal of building societies without discrimination or prejudice has to constantly engage with the fallacy of race and expose the absurdities of racism, while acknowledging that, as social scientist Ambalavaner Sivanandan said, “You cannot do away with racism by rejecting the concept of race.” WE’LL obviously be setting all your papers straight and, if you wish it, we will start the process of naturalisation so that you can become French. – President Emmanuel Macron to Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from
Mali. On Sunday, he had climbed up four floors to the balcony of a Paris building to rescue a four-year-old boy, who was clinging to a railing and glancing at the ground below, while horrified onlookers watched. The boy’s father, who had left him in their flat to play Pokemon Go, faces charges of failing to look after his child. Macron gave Gassama a medal for courage and said he would be offered a role in the fire service.
Former Springbok rugby player Ashwin Willemse, at his old high school, Swartberg Secondary, recently. He walked off a Supersport live show, accusing his colleagues of undermining him.