Colour blindness child’s play compared to race relations
Unlike my favourite brother, I am not colour blind. I can actually tell apart even the closest hues and pallets. Which is why I once refused to be dragged in to turn the house upside down when he wanted all of us to search for his pink shirt.
First of all, he does not have a pink shirt! And even if he did, he would not know that it is pink, and would have been asking everybody to help search for an orange shirt. Or red.
Hence, I sat and watched the news when the kids went through each hanger looking for a pink shirt that was probably hanging there, looking apple green.
Issues of colour and colour blindness again sprung up this past Sunday. I witnessed a racial quagmire of extreme colour blindness when we encountered those sweethearts who honestly just “…don’t see colour!”
I realised that my brother’s struggle is just child’s play when compared to race relations.
On Sunday, a few friends had chosen the most beautiful venue to meet, relax and discuss issues affecting us as blacks in the current political and economic dispensation – an open space out in the green, shaded botany that looks like it grew out of the nearby lake.
The meet ups are designed purposely for the unpacking of our identity and redefining of our position as blacks. It is a congress of all kinds of black beauty. The dark. The woke. The clever. The conscious. The lit. The articulate….
While we were still gathering and getting acquainted with those unfamiliar to us, a cute couple approached. He wore a twin set of patterned silk – a kimono type blouse and shorts. He was gorgeous. He looked like he should be in the front row at a fashion show.
But it was not his high fashion that made him stand out. Nope. He was black like all of us, and had been invited by one of the friends there. The only reason we were all stunned and staring was because his friend was white. Yes. His equally good-looking friend had no colour!
Here was a young black man who had been invited to join in on a conversation by blacks, about blacks, with other blacks, and he brought his nice white friend along.
On a goddamn Sunday, at month end – an opportune time to discuss ‘black tax’. But there we were… having to remind a black brother that “I love being with blacks” and “I love being black” can never be the same thing and that the colour in black people is not silent!
I will not attend a meeting for white farmers in Orania even if my friend Marieke promises me everyone will speak Zulu there.
Truth is, I really do not know how to navigate through a rainbow nation without telling apart the different colours that constitute it.
And I want to be free to speak about issues affecting me as a black person without having to endure the privileged scrutiny of a random white person, nor the guilt of excluding him from a space I want to occupy with my own.
Interesting enough, if we all wanted to pretend there is no colour in the people around us – and removed colour from the rainbow nation – we will be left with black and white.
Black people sometimes want to unpack issues affecting black people, without white scrutiny, the writer argues.