Stop demeaning other races
RACISM is a crime in South Africa.
Coming from our brutal history of apartheid and into our new era of freedom, we would hope that all people would cease spouting remarks and innuendos demeaning of other races, ethnicities and genders.
However, this is not the case – and we still have work to do, to educate and change the mindset of our people.
Even among the same, so-called groupings, there is also a scourge of colourism.
Colourism is when some people, regard fair or lighter skinned individuals to be of the greatest beauty, and to be of a higher intelligence and superiority – as opposed to darker skin individuals, and who they regard as of a lesser value and worth.
From a young age, I was taught that you should never have a preconceived opinion of any person or any group. You should never treat people differently based on superficial values and I have found it important to truly get to know people, to spend time to understand their circumstance and background. That would then inform how you interact. People are people, regardless of their economic conditions, environment or shade of their skin.
The concept of “white is right” and “fair is desirable” appears to emanate from colonial times.
These colonial “masters” and gunpower carriers enforced slavery to serve their greed, corruption and immorality and while they were in the minority.
They did this by creating fear, using lies and torture to form a false sense of superiority for themselves and a false sense of inferiority over the majority indigenous people that they had oppressed – to many of us, these are our forefathers.
This, in turn, conditioned the thinking of our people – white/light/ fairer had more resources. Darker were slaves.
Therefore, the conditioned thinking was the lighter your skin, the closer your resemblance to the colonials, the more resources you would have.
Even years later, we still find our women and men sometimes using dangerous products to lighten their skin, often leading to permanent damage and health issues.
Our community, ward 71, was once a volatile place and with extreme racial tensions.
Two years ago, we had set out on a task to form relationships and bridge gaps.
Today, we see for the time, different groupings of people engaging – from business leaders to formal and informal dwellers – we interact and stand together for common goals.
I am at home – whether in the flats, the ownership homes or informal settlements.
And I was elected to serve all people in our community.
While I accept that there are constraints, I undertake and maintain my duty to the best of my ability and every day.
A few days ago, I came across a conversation on a WhatsApp group called “Shallcross Community Chat”.I will not use real names.
“R”, in response to a message from another person that was awaiting a telephone call from me, stated: “… he is just useless to our Indian people.” “Q” responded: “It’s sad, really sad.” “R” stated: “True but he is always with the blacks.”
Then “T” who is the administrator of the group stated: “He looks like one of them so I guess that’s the reason.”
What followed were emoticons of faces of laughter and responses such as “cracker”.
Although, I would normally brush off or ignore messages of this nature, on another group and in response were messages of outrage.
One of which was “Admins are responsible for the content in their groups. We are looking into ways to hold this group responsible. ‘T’ and ‘R’ need to explain what is wrong with associating with black people and what is funny about the colour of a person’s skin?”
Maybe it is time that we shine a spotlight on these persons and remarks.
I am sure that the employers, employees, customers, trade unions and government of our country will be interested in hearing their views.
As for me, I remain a South African. I am a descendant of indentured labourers, I am a product of my parents and who have raised me to earn respect, play a role to bring about change and face adversity with dignity.
I have been fortunate to have visited other countries for short stints, but I will always return to the land of my birth and my community of Shallcross.
Yes, I am one of them. I am one of the people of the land, with various cultures and traditions.
Yes, I refuse to live in a narrow-minded society and I remain proud of my associations.
And yes, I am one of them, I am one of the people who will be turned to when someone is in need and in times of crisis and I will never give up on helping to change destructive views and ensuring equality in society.
PREVIN VEDAN ANC councillor