In case you’re not from around these parts (or you are and you just don’t care about current affairs), there’s been a bit of a racism storm in South Africa the past couple of days. It all began (I use the term ‘began’ very loosely) with a white estate agent named Penny Sparrow and her Facebook account. She and one Justin Van Vuuren authored the above pictured Facebook posts during the festive season. Just to make it clear, Penny and Justine don’t know each other. They’ve never met. They just happen to be two white people upset at the number of black people at the beach for the New Year’s Day celebrations; something they feel, like the good old apartheid days, should still be reserved for white people only I guess.
Penny and Justin are the two that have made it to mainstream news but they are in fact just the tip (of the tip…of the tip) of a massive racist iceberg here in South Africa. Rants like this are a dime a dozen on the comments section of South African news sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The major news outlets have resorted to disabling the comments sections on their articles because of the amount of racist commenting that consistently takes place there. No points for guessing the worst culprits…yep, white people.
It seems white people really struggle to comment on, complain about, or simply discuss anything that involves black people without making it about race. If a black person does anything negative…it’s because they are black but if a black person does something positive, it’s never because they are black. It appears to be deeply indoctrinated in many a white people that “black skin = negative”. The worst thing about all this is white people aren’t just racist out here…they are angry unrepentant racists and that refusal to reform and contribute to building a non-racial South Africa is now being met with an increasing level of frustration from Black South Africans….Collision Course anyone?
The thing is I believe Penny and Justin-type racist rhetoric is commonplace in a lot of white South African households; at dinner, at braais (BBQs), offices, etc. And frankly, that’s their prerogative. My main problem (well the racism is my main problem but I can’t change what happens in their households) is the way people like Penny are so comfortable spewing such racial hatred in public. I mean, Penny had her name, name of her employer, phone numbers, etc. right there and she still had no issues with posting such racist garbage. That surely can’t be acceptable. Maybe there should be laws in place to criminalise such behaviour and rhetoric. If that’s what it will take to reduce said behaviour, then maybe that’s what should be done?
Someone once told me “the only way we’ll ever get rid of racism is if we are all turned inside out. That way we all fall under the racial classification of ‘fleshy red’.” As absurd as that sounded in my younger days (days when I truly believed we could all one day live harmoniously across racial lines), it’s something I think about more and more these days. “Maybe Mike was right” I think to myself, “Maybe we’ll never get rid of racism.”
Ps: Just in case you agree with Penny and Justine in thinking going to the beach in large numbers and leaving litter behind is a racial thing, below is an image of white monkeys….ooops, I mean white people….at the lovely Brighton Beach up in England. (courtesy of @MathewLove36)
*** just scribbling my monkey thoughts ****