Why I am going to keep talking about race.

I have neglected this blog for a very long time and made some mistakes about where this blog should go and what it should be and some people who were writing here have moved on to other things.

Currently I am writing alone on this blog but it is still open for other writers looking for a platform to write on – whether anonymously or not, DM me. 

So getting back to setting the tone for where I am at with my writing for 2018 and my agenda. Race is at the forefront of what I think should be spoken about amongst my generation.

I am still interested in writing about other topics like dating, feminism, motherhood, social issues, sexuality, etc however the priority and personal responsibility that I feel as a coloured writer is to prioritise the race issue— always.

Some may feel that it’s a burden on your writing, but writers of colour are almost always faced with carrying that social pressure, and I think Eusebius Mc Kaiser put this really well:

““if you grapple with race, then write about race unapologetically. I don’t think that this means we cannot or won’t write about other topics. but the history of racism and the material reality and legacy of that racism explain why we are less inclined to write a wholly apolitical novel or a collection of essays about classical music”.

We are the so called “born-free” generation as everyone puts it, so what are we really free of? Free of apartheid?

Okay so it’s over and I was not born to experience it, but lately I’ve come across so many “born-free” white people raging on social media not understanding what the fuss is all about when any “born-free”non-whites express outrage about post-apartheid racial issues.

I mean just off the top of my head on experiences in this past two weeks— at work when my white male colleagues need to affirm any of my decisions or opinions with the other white males in the conversation, when their opinions are more valuable, when I express my opinion on something and it’s brushed off until he goes and says the same thing and gets a high five for it? Or in my school applications for my daughter, because I can afford the school fees but I can’t afford the R20 000 bond to live in the surrounding area, so she has to settle for less opportunity? Or when I am on vacation in Langebaan and am the only person of colour in a restaurant and the whole restaurant is watching myself and my family eat like we’re aliens, in 2018? Or when when the guy at the Blackjack table laughs at me when I sit down and says “you’re from India, right? Did your boyfriend give you money to come play here”.

In the coloured community I see a lot of us still stuck in a bubble, existing only within our circumstances and what we are conditioned to believe about ourselves. We’ve always been the laughing stock for our accents and our cultural nuances. Adjusting the way we speak at work and around our white colleagues because we believe it’s our “professional” voice.

I am guilty of it too, I had not even realised how much the way I speak has changed in these past few years. I don’t sound that “coloured” anymore. Why? I guess I believed that to be taken seriously, I need to speak like my white counterparts. I realised early on that this is how I earn a level of equality and how to feel more “accepted” and as a worthy participant at the lunch table. Apparently coloured accents are too “plat”. And it’s the most goddamn annoying thing when you’re speaking and your white colleagues just repeat the way you pronounce things and laugh, even in my best “white” way of speaking.

We have always been our own biggest critics like when someone is doing well “moet haar mans se geld wies” or “hulle smokkel nou sieka” or my favourite “sys is nou te stervy vir ons”.

I find myself in many Facebook debates about politics and race, some people ask why I even bother with the trolls, but it is some deep hope that—within my social network in the honour of our democracy that we fought so hard for— if someone is misguided about racial issues that affect us non-white South Africans, that I will try my best to help shed light on the issue as far as I can.

One ignorant mindset change is one small step to one less painful asshole, I hope.

A lot of push back that I am faced with is this “get on with it” attitude when white South Africans start shutting people of colour up with the “can we just start talking about the solutions already?”

MOVE FORWARD.

GET OVER IT.

STOP BEING HUNG UP ON THE PAST.

RACISM IS NOT A THING ANYMORE, I DON’T CARE ABOUT COLOUR.

WHAT ABOUT THE FARMERS

Or my latest favourite – HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU, YOU WERE NOT PART OF THE HISTORY.

HOW can we speak about solutions when we don’t even fully understand the problem?

White folk have the invaluable privilege of not having to really think about race, the way they speak or pronounce things, who is judging their voices, who is not valuing their opinions, who is going to talk over them in a meeting. Whether or not they got a promotion for stats purposes. 

And we’re supposedly born-free?

We need to start at unpacking this racism. It bores me to death when all we see (even a massive chunk of the coloured community) is racism only as  grotesque racism — the outrageous, in your face, murderous racism. The battle of this side of the fence post apartheid is our deep lack of understanding on subtle racism, which is just as violating and de-humanising but less bloody. The shit that makes you feel uncomfortable and you just don’t know how to explain it or finger point it, or get told that it’s petty.

This is where I want to start. Understanding the problem and all its filthy masks but I’ll write more about that later this month.

To quote Lihle Ngcobozi Politics masters student at Rhodes: “white students on this campus still believe in the trope that racism is racism only if you are grotesquely overt in your disdain for black people”

Eusebius speaks in his book Run Racist Run saying, “saying we should just get over racism or apartheid is a disrespectful avoidance of acknowledging the past, who it has and still does affect and tossing the notion of redressing those affected, It is avoidance, denialism and erasure.”

So with a strong conviction inside of me I will keep pushing forward on a personal journey with this, I’ve lost a few Facebook friends so far lol, but I hope that it changes a mindset somewhere and I think we really shouldn’t shy away from taking on the emotional burdens of trying even if we’re told our responses become “too emotional”, fuck the ideology that feeling angry about this topic makes us unable to provide a rational debate.

Stay mad. Stay talking. I guess.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s