February has been declared Race Free Month and every day in February we at MyPE will be combating the subtle racist nuances that hamper our thinking, cloud our judgement, restrict our development and increase the tension in South Africa.
Today I thought to myself; “Is the fact that I am promoting Race Free Month racist?”
Am I making a concern of mine (and most like minded citizens) more of a problem than it really is? By focussing on something and giving it voice are we allowing people to further split into pro and against camps? Should I be apologising every day for the fact that I live in a country with a vile history of institutionalised racism, should I pretend it never existed or should I be only speaking about the good?
Why should I feel wary of using a word or celebrating Chinese New Year* just because a formerly innocent word now has racist connotations no matter what context it is used in? A mate on Twitter recently pointed out all the monkeys that eat at NMMU – in the days before Penny Sparrow we all knew that monkeys were cute furry creatures with long tails – today we need to pause and judge when hearing that word. Has anyone ever considered how the monkeys feel about all this stuff and nonsense?
Mixed up with all that are government and other institutions all eagerly seeking to be the ones seen to be taking the moral high ground (and votes).
This past weekend Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said; “Government is ready to break the back of racism completely.” But the solution offered was not a nuts and bolts one but rather political speak as follows; “… in order for us to build a united South Africa we must extend our hand, and work with various structures and organizations – and this we should do to provide leadership and to build the South Africa of our dreams. It is when we do this that we will be able to teach a lesson to those who still harbour racist notions, those who are still racist and those who want to classify black people as monkeys. We propose social cohesion by working with everybody.”
CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang says until racism is dealt with in homes, it will never change. “All organisations that have something to do with discrimination, particularly racism, should pull together their efforts and say what can we do to change this… and one of the initiatives by the ARNSA is the anti-racism week which starts on the 14th and ends on human rights day – and during that week we will have different activations around the country,” says Hatang.
‘Organisations’ Sello – what about individuals?
When people work towards a common goal and the greater good in an atmosphere of harmony then we realise that we are all the same – I don’t see any politicians actively promoting a common goal, the greater good and harmony. Do You?
* Today – 8 February 2016 – is Chinese New Year and we welcome all our readers to the year of the Fire Monkey by saying; “Gong xi fa cai!”. Fire Monkey because each year is associated with one of 12 zodiac animals AND with one of the five elements which rotate on a ying and a yang basis, this year being FIRE.
Much like your star signs are said to influence your behaviour so too do the elements and zodiac associated with each Chinese New Year. So you can expect the monkey traits of sociability, curiosity, cleverness, suspicion, selfishness and bad temperament to be amplified this year as Fire Monkeys are the most active and aggressive of all the monkeys.