05/04/2017 03:57 SAST | Updated 05/04/2017 03:57 SAST

Why The Phrase "It's Not A Race Issue" Needs To Sit Down

The world we live in, especially the middle class South Africa, always feels a need to tell black people how they are to use their voices.


After the debacles of 2016 with racists considering public domains a safe space for them to engage in hate speech against black people, we incorrectly assumed that this year would be a year with less of these incidents. What has started happening instead, is that people have stopped merely descriptively typing out what they are observing in their communities and are rather posting videos, of the incidents whilst they occur. This year has therefore been ushered in with it's own fair share of interracial violent incidents in South Africa, to the dismay and heartbreak of the many who believe in the practicality of the rainbow nation theory.

Whether the violence subjected to blacks by white men in this era is a race issue or not, is a non-issue for the purpose of this piece. What is an issue for me, is that people still feel they have the "right" to dictate whether other people can feel these are race issues or not. We cannot still be trying to decide for one another whether the past is still here or not when we all live in different economic brackets and social circles.

The abolishment of apartheid (a mere 23 years ago) and the methods utilised to bring about democracy included the African National Congress (ANC) having to strategise ways to convince a large majority of the population that there was nothing to be gained in not forgiving white people for the systematic and direct oppression they had subjected black people to for many generations.

The coming into power of the ANC included a transition phase that had to depict "umlungu" as a friend of the black community and no longer the foe he had been since 1948 till 1994.

A good majority of black South Africans forgave white South Africa for the trauma inflicted by apartheid and even had the capacity to turn a blind eye on the financial security that the regime afforded them, but this does not mean that the black community of the 90s and even it's children, trust white South Africa to protect them from the injustices of those who still do not treat black people with respect within white South Africa.

This aspect about the transition to a democratic State and its effects on black people is hardly ever looked into, and this plays a large role in why so many people do not see the trouble in dictating or "suggesting" that people see beyond color where violence is involved, when color still very much remains a factor over a considerable number of issues in our country, especially in smaller towns and rural/semi-rural communities.

Now if we look at these select few headlines:

" White Male Cages Black Women In The Back Of a Van"

" White Male Violently Threatens Black Woman In A Restaurant"

"White Males Put Living Black Man In A Coffin"

"White Male Shoots and Kills Black Man In Broad Daylight"

Somehow, though none of the above-mentioned incidents are connected, all the perpetrators seem to share the same physical description (average sized white men). With this fact in mind many of our friends (both white and black), have personally decided it is important to "correct" the masses and most especially the youth whether an incident has been caused by an issue of race in comparison to a plain criminal act with no racial motivator.

People are even willing to get amped up and emotional about why others should not label certain violent acts as racial issues...well I guess unless They first agree that they are.

Whenever black people are at the receiving end of violence from white people a good undercurrent is always created about whether or not the issue can be looked at for what it looks like on the surface.

Race is a surface issue. Race will continue to be a surface issue. A select few being "colour blind" does not extinguish the existence of Real Life problems that are created and fueled by race in South Africa. Black people have to, at some point, be afforded space to decide independently if they are willing to see beyond the surface issues. At our own time.

The world we live in, especially in middle class South Africa, always feels a need to tell black people what they can and cannot use their voices to articulate themselves. The world always feels a need to decide for black people whether they can or cannot feel disrespected by it. No one else has to ask for permission to be angry but black people. Even in Africa.

Some were raised in communities where white men continue to treat blacks as "other" for no reason, and that disrespect, is nothing but what white men do around black people in those communities.

Our opinions on race and on what amounts to a race issue do not have to solely be informed by the opinions of those who were raised wining and dining with white people...both opinions are valid, and both can have their day, on the same day, at the same time, without devaluing the Truth in the other.

We cannot bully one another into the rainbow.

The rainbow must happen organically.

And it will.