Cape town is racist

260 views

Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Cape town is racist

  1. 1. Source: Media Flaws“Cape Town Is RacistUnathi Kondile 13 January, 2012 09:08 Ezisematheni Permalink Trackbacks (0)Well.Firstly, this entire country still features sprinklings of racism that often peak in ruralcommunities or the northern provinces – where white superiority pans out unquestioned.Nonetheless such instances of overt racism (such as the Wavecrest / Wild Coastresorts in the Eastern Cape which aren’t shy to say “No blacks allowed!”) are mucheasier to digest as well as address. Such that we cannot say such places are the mostracist. The most racist places would have to be those that don’t know they are racist.Like Cape Town. Cape Town takes the cake where racism is concerned because itsracists amble about unconsciously offending here and there without so much as battingan eyelid. Such is unconsciousness.Who are these unconscious racists?They are faceless and could be white, could be coloured and black even. They aremostly experienced, not seen, as they are deeply institutionalised in the fabric of CapeTown. Their trademark feature is how blacks experience them. There are no “No blacksallowed!” signs in Cape Town and that is what makes its racism far worse than that ofthe rural areas I mentioned earlier.To understand this racism we have to understand that blacks are a minority in CapeTown, majority of which lives in townships and primarily moved to Cape Town for meniallabour way back then. To this day, the great majority of blacks migrating to Cape Townstill do so for menial labour. Their role in the functioning of the Cape has always beenmenial, such that inferiority complexes were easily adopted. So inferior are Cape blacksthat even Cape coloureds see themselves as superior to them. Afterall Cape colouredsshare Afrikaans with many a white person and former oppressors of this country. With
  2. 2. language alone we are able to already see the barrier. There begins the exclusionarynature of Cape Town. People who have something in common, like language, oftennever see how their commonality locks others out: They tend to employ, advantage,prefer or relate better with those who have something in common with them, almost bydefault. This explains the seemingly preferential intake of coloured employees overblacks of equal qualification. It seems qualified or black professionals are a riskemployee in the Cape – they’re seen to be race-obsessed, nuisance-ical anduncomfortable to have around if they’re assertive and can raise race matters. It’s betterto employ the coloured employee with whom it is easier to bond (via shared socialimaginings borne out of this cultural common ground foregrounded by the language ofAfrikaans and English).Where does this leave the Cape black?Well, it beats the Cape black into submission that indeed “I am of a lower being!” Havingaccepted this means that Cape whites become accustomed to obedient/subservientblacks who rarely raise concerns nor assert their being as equals. I draw this conclusionbased on an elderly Cape white friend who travelled to Swaziland and came back a bitshocked saying, “the black people there are different! The way they speak to us whites,they don’t look down – they look you in the eye. They don’t pull child-like smiles orlaughs when talking to you, they just talk to you as a person.” To her mind or from whatI gathered from our conversation she was acknowledging that indeed something’swrong with the Cape black she’s grown accustomed to. I am surprised many a whiteperson has yet to admit that Cape blacks allow themselves into positions of inferioritythat enable whites to walk all over them without so much as feeling guilty about it.The Cape black inferiority complex has become the norm in Cape Town. Such that it isunquestionable. Any black not born nor raised in Cape Town will immediately feel thisinferior treatment by whites, coloureds and Cape blacks even. The ones who exert themost racism on behalf of whites are in actual fact coloureds and Cape blacks. Neverhave I seen so much self-loathing in my life. I’ve been here for 12 years and it still
  3. 3. baffles me how coloureds have come to treat blacks with such contempt. Perhaps it’sthe insidious nature of whiteness that prevails over Cape blacks and coloureds. It isunacceptable. When a people has been beaten into submission by their master theytend to turn and take out their frustration on one another, rarely on the master. Hencemaster doesnt see this frustration. It explains why white people, like Helen Zille, willimmediately jump to say there’s no racism – show us the racism, where and when ittook place. Because in all honesty her experience of blacks is premised by theprecedence set by Cape blacks – that her mannerism as a white person is acceptable.All is well. “Mavis-the-maid understands me and I understand Mavis” whiteinternalisation.I will further go on to state that I personally do not expect any white person to seecontemporary racism. I mean how on earth do we expect a people that claimed itcouldn’t see racism when it was active pre-94 to suddenly see racism when it has beendeclared inactive post-94? If you couldn’t see it when it was in front of you, you mostlikely won’t see it when it has passed you. We’re being way too optimistic in ourexpectation of white South Africans to see neo-racism. Way too optimistic.Sadly, I am reducing my argument to black versus white. This is borne out of the onlinediscussions where this entire “Cape Town is racist” was produced months ago. Thewhite stance online is to deny there’s racism in Cape Town – they even ask forevidence. The black stance asserts there is racism in Cape Town – they just aren’t surehow to pinpoint it or resolve it. What makes these online discussions even harder is thefact that white South Africans tend to speak from positions of privilege on the matter(i.e.: they honestly aren’t affected nor were affected) and as such it’s common to findthat privileged people tend to hide behind other people’s stories or other places ofreference. Hence you will find them saying “That happened in Germany…” or “Mydomestic worker had a similar…” it’s never really personal engagement – if it is it’sprobably gender or something else related. Never race. We rarely hear the white side tothis claimed racism. We rarely hear admissions and a “What can we do as whitepeople?” all we hear is “There’s no such, Cape Town isn’t racist!” or at times you will
  4. 4. hear, “Can we stick to the facts, stats and tangible aspects? And put race aside!?” or"Lets talk about class and culture, not race!" all in the name of sorting out theirdiscomfort with the subject of race.For as long as we run away from race, it will continue to catch up with us. We cannotcontinue to devalue difference in this country. We cannot continuously enforce diversity– put people together and expect osmosis of sorts. Intergroup dialogue is needed,blending won’t just happen naturally. Why are we not engaging one another on thesematters seriously?What can be done about Cape Town’s racism?One has to ask themself these questions:1. Would Cape Town be less racist if it had more black professionals or blacks fromother provinces settling in it?2. Would Cape Town be less racist if the predominant language were a blacklanguage?3. Would Cape Town be less racist if the ruling Democractic Alliance (DA) and other political parties stopped capitalising on black versus coloured rifts come votingseason?4. Would Cape Town be less racist if it had fewer tourists? (the tourists’ question israrely ever considered in this debate – I imagine tourists enter South Africa oblivious to the sensitivities of race, they spend and rub in white conspicuous consumption,which for the lay black man simply means white people are still rich in this country and are unrepentantly spending their riches).5. Is it possible that Cape Town is racist because white people are free andcomfortable to
  5. 5. be in it and shamelessly flaunt their known-as-inherited-or-stolen good life in front of blacks?It’s possible. It is further possible that all that we interpret as racist behaviour is nothingbut fear and self-preservation of a white race that has found itself Cape Town. In theinterests of this fear it will resort to infectious cliquey behaviour – stick to own kind,ensure spaces are more frequented by own kind without making it overt, pass onopportunities to own kind or (as mentioned earlier) coloureds they are more comfortablewith – all in the interests of self preservation. Even the geography of Cape Town clingssteadfast to apartheid ideals – whiteness lives comfortably alone (around convenience),blackness lives far away (around the airport). Hence it’s common to hear white peoplesay “I love Cape Town!” or “I’d love to move to Cape Town” – trust me, it’s not themountain calling, it’s probably the need to be around more of your kind in an idealsetting, that privileges them further, like Cape Town. Such is human – we’re more free,comfortable, with ease and similarity than with difficulty and difference.” 7 comments | 0 Trackbacks

×