The “Big Debate” on Racism

On Saturday a number of media personalities and journalists took to twitter to express their deep sadness at the fact that the “rainbow nation” as envisaged by Nelson Mandela is not quite so rainbow. Presenter Siki Mgabadeli was first to voice her dismay in the build up to the

recording of the programme at having to deliberate over such a discussion. Yet, what all of them seemingly missed is their own hypocrisy and irony when it comes to debating racism in this country. The hypocrisy and irony that says SA’s rainbow is only black and white.

A debate on racism will yield no new truths; it is known that far right whites hate blacks and far left blacks hate whites. Whether its red balloons or red berets with a splash of white and black liberalism, they are sides of the same coin, they offer no new arguments. The red berets and balloons will shout out their radicalism while the liberals will look down their sanctimonious noses believing their own opinions to be the only sane ones in the face of chaos.  They will produce the same sensational drivel that captures headlines day in and out, it’s old. However, what is surprising and should by all accounts cause deep dismay, is when the very platform that seeks to debate racism sees only a two dimensional argument. But to remain “politically correct” invites other shades of black a.k.a the blacks in general without the intention of including their voice in the debate in a meaningful way.

When accolades for former President Nelson Mandela was  pouring in during his memorial, one of the most notable qualities of this great statesman’s character was his ability to recognise and give a voice to the voiceless. He took time to listen to even the faintest voice. Yet some personalities and journalists, who’ve hailed him for this quality, are the ones who drown out other voices on their very own platforms. When the Kullid Foundation was approached by the Big Debate to contribute to the conversation on racism, the invite was extended in its capacity as a voice of Coloured people in South Africa. Why then would “Jacob Zuma” tenancies of majority rules be invoked on a show like the Big Debate? Is the Coloured voice not important enough to be taken as seriously as their black and white counterparts? Are black Africans and whites the only ones affected by it and therefore have an opinion on it? Why debate racism when all the factors of racism in this country are not taken into consideration, including the ticking time bomb of black on black racism?

There is a consistent prevalence of excluding other races in the public debate and discourse of South African issues that affect their lives. A debate on racism can never totally uncover the depth of the problem when it fails to be inclusive of the diversity of this country. Coloured people are classified as a separate race in South Africa; it’s pointless stipulating it in EE and BEE documentation but denying it on public platforms. So why not give it an equal platform as its black and white compatriots in voicing its issues relating to the challenges it faces regarding racism, not only by white superiority, but now by black superiority too.

Issued on behalf of:  The Kullid Foundation               

Ronald Dyers

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