Observing most commentary around the recent much publicised Spur incident of a fight between a white man and black woman, I found myself struggling with this question: is it possible for two people from difference races to disagree strongly or even fight without either of them being racist?
This question is obviously informed by my observation of what is an almost natural and reflexive phenomenon of attributing every altercation between people of different races to racism.
While this is unfortunately understandable, it is lazy thinking and very limiting.
I call this phenomenon “unfortunately understandable” because of our past history where skin colour set pretty much the then national agenda, influenced every human interaction or lack thereof, and determined who was regarded as human and sub-human.
But I also call it “lazy” because it easily gives a superficial diagnosis to some of the deep social ills we are facing.
All you need do is notice the skin differences and you have got to the heart of the problem.
Third and last, this phenomenon is chronically limiting.
This is the natural corollary of “laziness”.
Falling prey to the understandable temptation of seeing racism behind every difference that exists between people of different races discourages us from asking other pertinent questions.
This is not in any way meant to deny the presence of racism in our society, nor minimise its influence.
But it is a challenge for us as a society to refuse to settle for superficial answers to our society’s deep problems.
Going back to the Spur incident, simply dismissing it as “racist” robs us of an opportunity to raise other issues, such as how violence robs children of their innocence and how much of these public displays of violence and lack of self-control are an index to what is daily happening at home.
Sivuyile Kotela, Port Elizabeth