Wednesday, November 11, 2009

White or black prejudices keep racism alive

By William-Mervin Gumede

Shouting “racism” to sideline rivals, for self- enrichment at the expense of the public good, or to deflect attention from our own wrongdoing, is wrong.

It will not help the fight against racism one bit – it undermines it.

It is obviously very naïve to think that, given the more than 300 years of colonialism and apartheid, racist attitudes in South Africa will disappear in just two decades.

Until we acknowledge that racism is embedded in South African society, instead of living in denial, arguing racial incidents are “isolated” events, solutions will only paper the deep divisions.

Racism has infused the DNA of almost every institution in society and racist practices have often become so much part and parcel of habits and routine, and social and professional interaction, that it is often not even recognised as such, and sometimes even individuals and institutions guilty of racism presumably have no intention of being racist.

Take for example, the electricity blackouts. Some white South Africans are tempted to blame the failure of Eskom as a failure of all blacks, rather than seeing it as a specific management failure. Another case in point is incidents of government corruption, which is sometimes often viewed as a general failure of blacks .

What we should not do in our bid to debunk outrageous racial generalisations is to defend incompetence, wrongdoing and even corruption, just because of the person is black.

We should not hide behind racial solidarity to support often very undemocratic practices. For example, should the appointment of a black judge be applauded just because he or she is black, even though they for example act untransformed.

A case in point is the fact that in many rape judgments, many black judges’ values were as conservative as some of their white colleagues.

Many black and white judges and magistrates still astonishingly blame the victims of rapes for being responsible for being raped.

Surely, in such cases, a black magistrate and judge cannot be supported merely on the basis of his or her blackness if thei r judgments are blatantly against the letter of the Constitution.

Furthermore, to argue that achievement is only a white preserve – if blacks do well, it must somehow be to do with their “political connectivity” is equally outrageous. White instances of incompetence should not be ignored.

The American scholar of race, Cornel West, warns against the pitfalls of what he calls a resort to black “authenticity” politics, whereby the issue is reduced to “racial reasoning”. He argues rightly that we must “replace racial reasoning with moral reasoning, to understand the black freedom struggle not as an affair of skin pigmentation and racial phenotype but rather as a matter of ethical principles and wise politics”.

There is no simplistic solution to the intractable societal, political and economic problems we inherited from previous white governments, and which is now being compounded by the selfish actions of our black government.

We need to get a healthy dose of pragmatism, common sense and commitment to act in the widest public interest. To effectively tackle racism will also demand honesty, courage and, importantly, social justice.

Finally, there should be no place for easy stereotyping, generalisations and prejudices – whether one is black or white.

8 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

A quote form the post:

"Take for example, the electricity blackouts. Some white South Africans are tempted to blame the failure of Eskom as a failure of all blacks, rather than seeing it as a specific management failure. Another case in point is incidents of government corruption, which is sometimes often viewed as a general failure of blacks."

One does tend to take this view, when you happen to notice that in every single instance where blacks have been appointed to positions of power with executive ability, they normally do so with disastrous effects for the company that employs them.

This is why in private enterprise the token black manager has effectively no power, because the wrong decision could effectively bankrupt a company. Blacks view this as racism, but white managers call this being wise, because the wise black manager has been proven to be the exception rather than the rule.

In state parastals it is different, because the losses are passed on to the tax payer and don't say that you have not noticed the billions and billions of rands of losses that have been passed on to the tax payer. If the state was a private institution without the taxpayer as a resource it would have been totally bankrupted a long time ago.

These are facts. If you think they are racist, ...hahahaha, then the truth has become racist.

I politely request that you name the state institutions under black management that are not running at huge losses. It should be fairly easy, because out of the thousands of state run institution there will be less than a handful.

....and SARS is not under black management.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 3:46 - you are quite right. The government (all governments actually) have a captive audience in their tax payers so they know they'll be paid nevermind the disgusting management they foister on their customers. That's why you take you tax dollar where you'll at least get something in return. Hence me moving from SA and donating my tax to a country that at least looks after its citizens and are accountable to their electorate. Alas, this does not apply to African states where the dumb lead the dumber.

Anonymous said...

"debunking outrageous racial generalisations"... Heh, heh, hee, hahaha.

Good luck with that. Please let me know how it pans out for you.

I believe #2 below applies:


1. an idea or conclusion having general application; "he spoke in broad generalities" [syn: generalization]
2. the process of formulating general concepts by abstracting common properties of instances [syn: abstraction]
3. reasoning from detailed facts to general principles [syn: generalization]
4. (psychology) transfer of a response learned to one stimulus to a similar stimulus [syn: generalization]

Islandshark said...

"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor" - Albert Einstein.

This author seems to write with a lot of elegance and very little truth.

Anonymous said...

"debunking outrageous racial generalisations"...

Black and White?

The head of the Chinese Business Council in Luanda, Xu Ning, said yesterday armed robberies, rapes and even murder were affecting the Chinese community, especially those living in the capital, Luanda.

“In the past we would hear about a Chinese national being robbed once a month, but now it’s happening every day,” said Ning, whose organisation represents 40 companies in Angola.

“These crimes are turning violent now. Obviously, this is bad for business between Angola and China.”

Last month, three Chinese workers were robbed by a gang in Cacuaco on the outskirts of Luanda. Ning said the robbers poured boiling water over their victims.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 6:38, good referral. Will post tomorrow. Is there some school somewhere these black crims go for lessons on how to torture their victims? The MOs are the same. Must be genetic.

Anonymous said...


The reality is that blacks are a dangerous bunch. The should be on their own at all costs. Now some will come and shout rascism. I shout reality.

Viking said...

I am with Islandshark on this one - looks good at first glance but some of the author's word are very telling - judges who act "untransformed"?
"many black judges’ values were as conservative as some of their white colleagues."

In other words, not only are "white judges" inherently "conservative" (big racial generalisation there), but if they are "transformed", they will give, what, more leniant sentences??