by Shaudzirai Lowe Mawunganidze
Born of a white mother and black father, I am glad to say I was only awoken to the idea that black and white were different when I was twelve. It was a stupid and childish question that shook me to the core, waking me to the realization that indeed minds could be this fickle, that unfortunately changed me forever.
The definition of racist in the New Oxford American Dictionary is a “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
• prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief : a program to combat racism”.
Not a week goes by without reading or hearing something racist, thus I have decided to air my own two cents about how I feel about it all, especially after the Red October marches that took place in South Africa.
Racism seems to be an ever- present state of mind for many of my African kin. A symptom of our colonized backgrounds that we still carry on our backs; whether we carry pass books to move through space or simply live in it. Race pulsates through every vein in our bodies until it culminates in melanin of all varieties. It’s quite poetic, until we start to think about how fair skinned humans are more entitled to one thing and darker skinned humans entitled to another – both guilty of feeling they are better than another. Not to mention physical attributes of a certain nature being more desirable to others thus resulting in half the world trying to mimic the other and no one ever being satisfied. Racism is one issue that will gnaw at our hearts and minds until the end of time it seems, continually transforming in presentation in order to remain ever lasting within us.
I was amazed to see pictures of so many people participating in a march to once again trivialize an otherwise bigger problem i.e. the high prevalence of crime by making it about race. Not just that white people are being killed, no, it had to be taken a step further by noting that black people are killing white people. Nothing stops this nation, of which I am a part, from breaking down any statistics ultimately into a comparison by race.
I read opinions to the effect that when blacks kill white people it is referred to as crime, but when it’s the other way around its racist – the official website claiming that white people are being slaughtered (because all other races are simply dying from breathing, or poverty, or whatever else affects anyone who is not white). It is disturbing that in this day and age, protests are still race based. Somehow I thought that ended in the 80’s? I was clearly wrong. Reading through some of the comments under a lot of the stories I am wondering whether people actually want to move from the mindset of black on white or white on black?
In one sense, I can understand why many white people would feel threatened, after all, with centuries of known oppression of black Africans, and knowing exactly what whites did to blacks, who wouldn’t be afraid when blacks suddenly now have title and political power that they may decide to do the same thing in return? At the same time, I would hate to see that happen because it hinders progress completely, and am more of the opinion the struggle is for black people to stop feeling inferior themselves. Many of the people who defend Red October say that it has nothing to do with race, and yet it is blatantly said- to stop crime against white South Africans. In this case, I would be marching to stop crime against my mother and her family, I may have to think of creating a rally for my father and his family, and then another one for my siblings and I to attend for our own safety. South Africa, enough is enough. Race is always the easiest thing to harp on about simply because of the history that the country has endured. I don’t claim to believe that we truly are a rainbow nation- I am not that naive, I do however maintain that the more race is thrown into the works, the easier it is to fall back into patterns unknowingly.
Crime is crime, regardless of who perpetrates it, and who the victim is, the fact is that taking a life is not right unless sentenced by a jury. I understand that Red October is about hate crimes, and I fully believe that people must air their views, I am just saying get the wording right. If it is about crime, keep it about crime and don’t throw things like BEE and affirmative action into the mix alongside the deterioration of infrastructure- that’s not a race issue, that’s a management issue.
It amazes me how issues such as crime become entangled in race wars so as to continue to play victim. A few years ago I attended a not so successful million man march on crime just after legendary South African reggae musician, Lucky Dube, was gunned down. There, it was not about race, people of all walks of life made their way to the Union Buildings to fight crime- not racially profiled crime, just crime. Why divide it?
If people are so uncomfortable living in a country where all races are embraced, I would like to suggest a move to another country where there is only the race which you approve of, so the rest of us can get on with the matters at hand. Job creation, combating human trafficking, fighting child abuse and exploitation, advancing education and improving health delivery; let’s build our society and spend our time usefully.
To the participants in marches like Red October, you may want to pick a more prolific day to march, rather than one commemorating a defeated war hero whose story was found fitting of Nazi (also read RACIST) propaganda. Just like Oom met his end, so should defeatist, divisive marches like this…
To my fellow Africans and world citizens, though it seems like more words in the wind, let us strive to look at issues for what they are- more than just making them about the color of our skin. Speak for justice, not special or targeted justice. The color of our skin ceased to delineate where we came from the minute ships first touched water. Much as we like to think one is better than the other, there is no better, there is no worse, there is just human and that is the only fact.