I’ll stand up against racism any day, any time…or at least that’s what I thought

I’ve always thought myself to be one that’s prepared to stand up for myself and my people as and when called. upon. Particularly on issues of racism. And I have. I’ll give you an example of something that happened just last week.

Those who know me know I’ve been. uncharacteristically sick for some months now and they also know I’ve characteristically read up on my illness inside out. Why? ‘Cause that’s just the kind of person I am. So when I was at the doctors’ last week, I was having quite a medical conversation with the doctor and his colleague and needless to say, they were impressed.

The problem arose when one of the doctors said “I’m very impressed. Most people who come here can’t even sign their names”. Now we all know who the “most people” being referred to here are. So I say to him: “it’s not their fault though, most of them probably are a product of Bantu education, thanks to apartheid. And kak education continues for most black people today”. I didn’t even think twice about saying it, ’cause I’ll stand against racism any day, any time. Or at least that’s what I thought.

Last weekend I was in a KFC in Centurion. I was the only black customer in at the time, the only other black folk were the employees behind the counter. Centurion can be quite white…I guess it’s no wonder it was once officially named Verwoerdburg. One customer was waiting for a meal he’d ordered. I think he’d been waiting a little while, when one of the young ladies behind the counter told him the gravy would be another 5 minutes because they’d forgot to make it.

Honest mistake I thought but no, not this burly mountain of an Afrikaaner man and his equally gigantic pal. He flipped. Started screaming in a mixture of English and Afrikaans about how long he’d been waiting and how he wanted his money back. As expected, his rant soon turned to how the “government is useless”, how us “black people want to run the country but can’t even run a KFC”. I just stood there and watched.

I mean these guys could definitely take me down in a fight. Sick or not, they’d MOER me. But does that justify my silence? Should I have said something? I always have stood up against racism, but never in a volatile situation. Only in calm, “civilised”, settings where logic, more often than not, prevails.

But this young woman at KFC is the real heroine of this story. She is being showered by a barrage of Anglo-Afrikaaner insults and she is standing up for herself and screaming back in Sesotho. She’s not insulting him, only telling him to stop screaming at her, that it’s not her fault, and that he can take his money back if that’s what he wants. She stood up to these bullies and wasn’t prepared to be abused by pernickety racist thugs for a plausible mistake. And where was I? Cowardly absent from the struggle, that’s were I was. Smh.

9 comments on “I’ll stand up against racism any day, any time…or at least that’s what I thought

  1. polymisfit says:

    Wow i wonder if the ANC Branch knows that their Centurion KFC runs out of gravy sometimes -__- I would have said something, I hope

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  2. There’s a TV show in the US called What Would You Do? (You can find a lot of it on youtube) and it basically sets up situations and secretly videos them to see how average passerbys will react. I’m surprised that no one has ever gotten physically violent. There are a couple of cases where I would have slapped someone if I had been an unknowing participant in these scenarios.

    One of the situations was a sports coach abusing a kid in the park, pushing him far beyond his physical limits, yelling abuses, etc. They were noting that of the people who intervened, there was a far greater number of men who stood up for the kid than women. They said it had to do with the whole ‘sports’ thing and men would understand.

    I think they missed something, though. A grown, stronger man was being physically and verbally abusive. It is TERRIFYING for a woman to intervene in such situations when there is no telling that the man might not become physically abusive toward any woman who tries to get involved. It was *safer* for men to stand up for the kid than it would have been for a woman.

    I agree, it’s frightening how often we don’t even realize what our mindset is, when we are racist or sexist or something without realizing it because we were conditioned that way. But when a man is being verbally abusive to someone, it really can be harder as a woman to get involved because it can be downright frightening what the outcome might be.

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    • blackdialogueblog says:

      I’ve just looked up this show on Youtube. Interesting.

      You are right when you use the term “safer”. For most people, we consider our own safety before we tend to the safety of other people. The funny thing is, most people tend to avoid confrontation. So at times if you intervene, nothing happens to you. But at times, you get the worst of it.

      The question is; shouldn’t we be a people that leaps to the defence of the weak regardless of our own safety? Shouldn’t we build our society on such selfless valour?

      This is my conundrum

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      • We should… but too often we don’t.

        It’s also tricky depending on the laws where you live, some places you can be criminally charged for not intervening (say, if you witness someone being mugged and you do nothing), and in other cases you can be charged if you *do* intervene instead of, say, calling the police. So even legally it can be difficult to always know what to do. And it is always frightening to put yourself into a dangerous situation when you don’t know if the person has a weapon of some sort…

        But I’d say, shouldn’t we be able to live in a world where we don’t judge someone based on their skin color? I never knew anyone who refused to own, say, a brown cat instead of a white one. It seems ridiculous we ascribe meaning to people’s skin colors and yet we never consider animal colors to mean anything.

        I know we’ve come a long way, but we still have *so* far to go, and it can be exhausting living in that middle where it should be equality for all but it isn’t yet.

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  3. Jean says:

    Maybe safe to say something…if you weren’t too close to him. People in anger can do strange stuff.

    Don’t feel too guilty..already you speak up on racism in other areas of your life.

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  4. sarahyeung says:

    You are definitely not alone in having been awe struck by the situation and it is intimidating to take a step into a situation that had not involved you in the first place. we’ve all been there, but I am glad for your recognition and bravo for that brave young woman (:

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