In her poor excuse for an apology, Penny Sparrow said her racist comment wasn’t meant to be taken personally. She missed the point entirely. It is precisely because her comment about people being ‘monkeys’ was not directed at a particular person acting in a particular way but at a whole section of the community, that it was indeed racist. Those who have defended her with talk of freedom of speech also miss the point. This type of language and attitude should not be acceptable anywhere, but in this country, with our history, we cannot afford to continue this type of hate speech.
We have to show the next generation that there is another way. Perhaps it’s too late for us. In that case we must, at the very least, shut up, get out of the way and allow the next generation to discover each other for themselves. Black and white, rich and poor, powerful and neglected, stop poisoning the minds of others with our own prejudices, hatreds and inability to see people as people.
And, just by the way, we have never had pristine beaches in this country. Durban beaches have always been a mess after the holiday makers. It’s not race, it’s numbers. There were fewer holiday makers before, so the mess was more manageable. Black and white, rich and poor throw litter out of car windows and mess on the beaches, just as there are bad drivers of all races, religions and social standing – it’s not just the taxi drivers, it’s all of us.
Let’s make conscious decisions every day to take race out of our casual language, so that it can start to become irrelevant in our national dialogue as well.
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