I wanted to start this on a rather light note before delving into the trickiness that is this particular blog. Here is some light heartedness for you to watch.
There has been a lot of noise that has been made about this particular image above. I am going to give you a quick glimpse into a WhatsApp conversation I have with a few friends regarding this picture shortly. If you don’t know what the picture is about click here to read The Mirrors article about it. To give you a quick two minute break down of the story, it goes like this. Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend released this photo (conveniently on Martin Luther King Day), got shat on, apologised and then removed it. It’s very odd how it went up on such a relevant day.
Below is an extract of part of a conversation I had with a group of friends about the above photo:
Now there are a few things that need to be clarified once and for all. The image itself can be viewed as being offensive by some. Other people can’t really see what’s wrong with the photo. I think that it was tasteless of Dasha to put the photo out on Martin Luther King. It may have actually been intentional because maybe she is ignorant or possibly racist. I don’t know. I’ve never met the woman.
The person I am more annoyed (replace with upset) with is the chick who is acting as the chair. Why did she agree to be portrayed like that? Of course here there could be a million reasons for that. It could have been desperation, stupidity or possibly choice. What do you think?
This tends to be a difficult topic to approach as there ends up being a lot of people who jump back and get all defensive. It’s not meant to be a finger pointing exercise, but i will finger point a little bit. We are in the year 2013 (according to the world calendar), and still there are people who are stupid enough to still make racist comments and think it’s all but normal.
In a country where the majority of the population is black, it’s really mind boggling that there are still white people who will speak about black people in a demeaning way. Now I can almost all but accept some of the older generation of white and people. They grew up in a different time, and they don’t or maybe can’t accept that black people are people as well.
The white people that confuse me are the ones who went to the top private schools with black people, some of these guys were lucky to then go and study in SA, America, Australia, the UK and Asia, and were forced to integrate with people of other cultures and races but STILL refer to some of the black people they went to school with as “My black friend Michael; My black friend Thomas; My black friend John.” Is it necessary to specifically mention “My black friend….”? Is this to try make it seem to other black people and white people that they are progressive and open minded? It makes you think that on their bucket list they have “Have a black friend”. Is it necessary to point out that your friend is black or white for that matter? Is there a specific reason for that?
I have a few white friends from high school who i know do not see me as “My black friend Tongai”. They just seem me simply as “Tongai/Tongs/Tongi”. There is no reason for specifying my race. Neither do i think that if they wanted me to come to a house party/braai/gathering that they would invite me and tell the host “No he’s an alright black guy”. Maybe that’s why I only have a few very close white friends from high school. We all considered each other to be friends. I know the people who I was friendly with when it suited me and also them. They are some of the ones who I am not worried about what they are doing in their lives. The few white people you see at my wedding (if you are lucky enough to come ha ha ha) will be the ones who are my actual friends.
I hate racism. It’s stupid. It makes me wanna spit at someone in disgust. It also makes me wonder how intelligent some of these people are. I am not saying that only white people are racist. There are some black people who are racist as well.
As far as I am concerned there are a few kinds of racists.
1. Blatant racist
I don’t really mind the blatant racists. They come out and say “I don’t like white/black/coloured/Jewish/Indian/Somali/German/British/Afrikaner/Arab people.” Full stop. That is their position. You can try debate with that them if you have the energy. Alternatively you can do the smart thing and LEAVE THEM ALONE. They may be a little ignorant, or they may have their own deep rooted reasons. The fact remains; you know exactly where they stand. They may be polite with you, but they won’t try act friendly.
This kind of racist only becomes difficult to stomach when they are now preaching about what is so wrong with the race they hate.
I’m not saying that the monkey chants done by the Spanish, English and Italian football fans are acceptable. It doesn’t get any more blatant that that. That is FUCKED up (sorry for the language). Its worse that the television channels that are broadcasting are simply turning the volume down so that we at home can’t hear anything.
2. Polite/Passive racist
This is as far as i am concerned one of the most infuriating kind of racist. I can only speak for myself, but the one thing i realised about being in the UK, was that there were a lot of polite racists. These are the people who ask certain question, or make statements and cloud them in polite conversation. I lived in a little “village” on the outskirts of London and Essex called Buckhurst Hill. It was typically a leafy suburban area, predominantly white, with typically a working husband, house wife, 2.5 kids, home-owners and dog for good measure. I remember one night I was on my way home from university on the tube, and this rather drunk guy looks at me and asks:
Him: Where you getting off?
Me: Buckhurst Hill
Him: No… You don’t live here…
Me: Ummm yeah I do…
Him: Really?? I’ve never seen you around
Me: Well I’ve never seen you around
At this point I turned around and put my iPod back on and acted like nothing had happened. I walked home from my stop and kept replaying the conversation in my head. It was when I got home and called one of my friends that he actually said to me, “Dude that guy was being racist.” My only thought was “Damn that’s the most polite racist I’ve ever met!”
Don’t act like my friend if you don’t like me or accept that I live in the same neighbourhood as you.
Group think racist
“My friends are speaking about another race a certain way. As there are more of them than me, I will have to agree with them regardless if i don’t agree with them, or if a friend is there who may feel offended.” We went to high school and university to grow up as adults who have some sort of sense of individuality. We don’t need to always agree with the group. If all you can do is agree with the group, for fear of being looked at differently, then you haven’t actually grown up. The group think racists are the ones that are 100% spineless. They are neither blatant nor polite. They just go with where the wind blows. Stand for something or fall for anything.
The ignorant racist is the one who acts like everyone is equal and will fight against racism but only when it serves their purposes. Sometimes the ignorant racist is someone who you went to school with, you played sports with them, you may or may not have met their parents and vice versa. However this particular racist continually makes comments such as, “You black people” or “All blacks are”, or ever worse what was recently said to me in a random conversation “Water world wouldn’t make money because hoeties (black) people can’t swim.” Now this last statement that was said to me by a white guy I know, someone who I have known since primary school.
The reason why I think he is ignorant is because he feels that it’s OK to make what I would consider as a derogatory term, regardless of how long I have know you, and it be OK because “I’m not like other black people”. I told him that I deserved an apology, and he looked at me and asked why? I was speechless. I asked him in which world he thought that was an OK thing to say? He said because he knew me, then it was OK. I asked him what if he didn’t know me. He said if he didn’t he wouldn’t have used that word. I asked him why and he couldn’t give me an answer.
Ultimately everyone has to honestly just accept people for being people. In Zimbabwe we like to talk up the whole working together, one nation, together we will prosper. One of the reasons why we are not progressing as fast or as far as we should be is because of that fact that people think they can’t work together regardless of race or religion. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this is a capitalist world. Money makes the world go round.
What’s the point in me being racist to someone, if at the end of the day i am going home in my Mazda 323, to a cottage in someone else’s yard, when the person i am being obnoxious to (who by the way did nothing but walk into the room and try order a drink) is going home in a better car, has a better job and clearly is more intelligent than me? I don’t know these days….
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. – Oscar Wilde