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Coloureds in white masks Coloureds in white masks
by Abigail George
2010-10-18 09:15:56
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The power and the background of the thoughts of the coloured are an experiment in the making. The source of everything that is half-formed and oppressive in their belief system comes from their childhood, accidents, medical and personal trauma. The racism that they feel towards the blacks is one that is engendered since birth. They view themselves as ‘play whites’ and that black should be undermined and are their subordinates.

This perception is generations and decades in the making. So they wound the psyche, the intellect, the minds, the egos of their impressionable and innocent children to follow in their own experiences in waves of dumbing down blacks; that blacks are only worthy to be kitchen girls and garden boys, to be blue collared workers, do the skilled labour that whites and coloureds who view themselves as part of the upper or middle class or white academia intelligentsia will not get their hands dirty to do.

Who is responsible for these white masks, the existence of these glittering rituals, these warped rites of passage that have shut in the coloured people for so long? How has this prejudice been developed and examined and empowered coloureds? We only have to look at history as far back as when Jan van Riebeeck landed at the coast and when the first British settlers and missionaries landed on the African continent and radiated their own piercing, fragmented awareness of the ‘native’ into humanity and the natural environment they found themselves in.

They discovered that the human face of the ‘native’ was one of a primitive, savage beast that needed to be oppressed by any means necessary and they used aggression, racism, prejudice, God, the bible and faith as their instruments. Coloured souls in white skins find themselves as the fronting pillars in their communities as whites are in their own backyard when it comes to the shaming behaviour on their half when it comes it blacks.

They will do anything and say anything to impress upon the black man, woman and child that they are nothing, mean nothing and will amount to nothing in their lifetime. The only legacy that they will leave behind is one that is a physical posture of wasted nothingness. For too long now blacks who live in poverty have been invisible. They have mastered nothing by their approach – although valiant – to service delivery, education, better schools, roads, transport in their communities that are all basic needs and services that whites and coloureds take for granted.

It is only in their faith and their belief in God that they find the prize of their humanity.

How can the black man in a rural village be an employed righteous, conscious breadwinner, whose wife gives birth on the way to a clinic or in their village with the help of a mid-wife, how can their children be educated and evolved into worthy and responsible citizens, how can someone who is suffering from HIV/AIDS die with decency and integrity; with a connection to fellow sufferers of the disease or  in a shack on a stained mattress surrounded by secondhand things that have seen better days, visited by volunteers or caregivers? Why is there always a lack of in rural households instead of access to exploring what can be done for them?

What do blacks who live lifetimes in a shack dream about as they liberally drown their sorrows in cheap beer and alcohol in shebeens? Do liberal whites ask themselves this question? Do coloureds ask themselves this question? On the surface it appears that it seems that they have no reason to.

How can we give blacks self-worth back? The liberal whites have not earned it. The coloureds have not yearned for it. The cultural concept that exists for coloureds is that greatest gift that they can achieve is if their child is born with the eyes of a white; a pair of blue, green, grey, golden flecked eyes and if the hair is matchstick straight – Chinese hair. This is what they want with all their heart. They do not know the true meaning of what human rights and the human condition is. They long for what the white man has. Status, power; they want the money that comes with being white, the exposure to beautiful things, they want their children to speak with a posh accent. They long to be omnipotent like the white man.

Does the white man, the liberal believe in values? He has his own value system. The coloureds are not far behind. They think they are unique and that the black man must be put down in order for them to be heard. They think that the blacks do not have a voice. Even their children must be invisible for them to think that they –

the coloured – are invincible. We all – whites, blacks, coloureds still live separate lives divided by the great barriers and challenges of the rich and the poor. Only when the poor are emancipated psychically, in their minds then will a novel emancipation take place; an emancipation that is a long time waiting in the wings.

Growing up coloured in the middle classes offered me a rare view into the appearance of racism and oppression of the black who came from marginalised and disadvantaged areas. I felt a deep shame at what I had grown up with and those who went without. I was taught by my parents that the framework of giving is not a gift to the poor. You are not empowering them; at worst you are enabling them. I am still living in the system.

There is still a mass consciousness, a mass movement where rich blacks, coloureds and whites, the middle class of coloureds are also still living in the system clouded by unreasonable doubt and judgement when it comes to blacks living in rural areas. The poor remain poor; the rich get richer and more arrogant, more willful, they come with more grandiose ideas on how to the poor can survive and even more ideas on how they still further can be exploited.

There is no fair cure for the poor. How do we find a better destination, an simple approach that can be diagnosed for those who live in poverty stricken areas, families who go to bed famished, who are in need of the basics like shoes, clothes, warm blankets, medicine, medical help, mothers who worry about their children’s education, a child walking miles to school, the abuse of assumptions that something can be done if only corporates can get involved.

We live in a white world. We live in a capitalist society – the white man’s world where the liberals rule; a world tight-fisted and run on money. We are still fighting apartheid. It is ludicrous to think we live in a world that resents its complications. Lives are still complicated by it and sadly, children’s lives are complicated by it.

Those who benefit from the evil of apartheid are the ones who benefited from it all those years when the National Party was in power. It benefits the liberals. It benefits the coloureds. It humiliates and shames blacks.

Putting everything into perspective deliberately, understanding the clique that exists between the white liberals and the coloureds; they are still, both races, in the minority (thank God for that). The element of political change is slow to be fashioned into a living, freeing entity but it is within reach. For every white intellectual we must wish for and work towards creating a head space for a black intellectual and academic scholar to take their place, their mantle. This is a daily battle study; an upward struggle to win at all costs black intelligentsia.

There is an indigenous urgency for this, a myriad of more black opinion, more community work by white and coloured volunteers in black communities; developing relationships at the most basic grass roots level between all the race groups. This will take time. This will take work but it is not impossible. There will be fierce blows. There will be let downs, disappointments and expectations not met. There will be talk of revolution and it will be met with hearts that need to men; hearts filled with gratitude when they hear that word. It will not fade or melt into the world. Cognisance will be taken of that word and of other words like ‘brotherhood’, ‘courageousness’, ‘propaganda’, ‘agenda’, ‘slave’, ‘struggle veterans and heroes’.

Steve Biko’s book ‘I write what I like’ has become my bible. Words written by a wise, wise, brilliant, genius of a man who was brutally murdered, who died at the hands of men who perhaps struggled within themselves to understand this brazen intellectual in 1977; his words are still very much unique and relevant today. Yet, blacks today are still slaves especially the poor. It is thought that they have no consciousness; that they do not think or cannot express themselves creatively by Coloureds; that they are not educated like the liberals are at their ivory towers of learning, their universities.

It is time for us all to belong to something greater than ourselves. To accept that we are neither white, nor black nor coloured but something much more spirited, angelic and magical – we are African and that it is a sin to oppress other people. Coloured people have made it a religion to humiliate the blacks; liberals have gone a stepping stone further. They have examined the black, set a place for him at their table and declared apartheid null and void, poppycock and balderdash while behind their smiles; behind the blacks’ back they enjoy the spoils of the apartheid roost.


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