THE dictionary defines racism as: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
Twenty two years into our democracy, incidents of racism are popping up sporadically and not diminishing. The coffin incident in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, which became a social media phenomenon, is a case in point.
The two white men responsible are the ones who filmed and later posted the video. Even Afriforum leader Kalie Kriel, twitted: “Disgusting to say the least. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
What is clear is that our country still has a significant problem with racism. An even bigger issue for me is what made the two feel so comfortable sharing this despicable act?
What does it say about the community they grew up in?
What do we do? Do we continue with the rainbow nation vision of Nelson Mandela and appeal to the good side of the white population so we can have a society free of racial discrimination?
Do we come out all guns blazing like the EFF? Malema recently said, “They [white people] found peaceful Africans here. They killed them.
“They slaughtered them like animals. We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now.” He was condemned by the DA and even the Bishop of Johannesburg, Dr Steve Moreo, said: “It has no place in our beloved country which our former archbishop, Desmond Tutu, so rightly dubbed ‘the rainbow nation’ when we celebrated our liberation from our institutional racist past in 1994.”
Do we criminalise racism? The ANC spokesperson in Parliament Moloto Mothapo said last year the ANC would investigate creating a specific law or amending the existing legislation to ensure that acts of racism and promotion of apartheid were criminalised and punishable by imprisonment.
I’m afraid these measures are knee-jerk reactions to a deep- seated, systemic problem.
Until black people benefit significantly and their lot is significantly improved, many of these acts will continue.
Until they become significant players in the economy, such acts will continue. Until token policies like BBBEEE are revamped no progress will be made.
There is no dignity in poverty. The political victory in 1994 has become pyrrhic without economic advancement.
This is the lesson the Afrikaners learnt soon after the Anglo Boer War and in less than two gene- rations they had both. Unfor- tunately, their path to economic power was gained at the expense of others – something Mandela sought to avoid.
The question is, can you reach economic emancipation without depriving others different from you? I do not know, but if the present trajectory is maintained, that may become inevitable.