Monday, 22 June 2009

What do I believe? What do you believe?

This is the kind of post that people either love or hate...but this is another of those topics that has been building in my mind, but due to the nature of the topic, I have attempted to smother it for weeks.. The time has finally come where I feel strong enough to post it..

Yesterday I received an email in connection with the brutal beating of an elderly man in one of South Africa's prisons. The elderly gentleman in question was caught stealing a chocolate bar from a shop. Upon investigation, it was uncovered that the man suffered from Alhzeimer's Disease. Apparently he was not aware that he was stealing, and could not understand what all the fuss was about - this was confirmed by his doctor. At some point between his arrest and incarceration, he was severely beaten. I refuse to upload the pictures to my blog, but lets just say that the wounds were horrific.

The commentary on the e-mail that accompanied these pictures is (rightly so) highly outraged at the treatment of this old man, who was clearly a threat to no one and yet he was beaten as if he may be the next Terminator - Needless-to-say, the gentleman passed away shortly after this beating. At this point in the commentary on this email, the author shouts, "Racism" in fact, "Blatant Racism" was the term used... Do you see yet where I am going with this post?

It has been 15 years since the fall of Apartheid and yet still, we as a country, feel the need to shout racism at every turn. Racism is now a card that is played by all the cultures - the moment someone of another culture steps on our toes we insist they must be racist.

Now lets just clarify a few issues...

Yes, there are still many racists (from all cultures) existing in South Africa, and indeed the world.
Yes, how we were raised will largely determine the outcome of our values and morals. This is the nature vs nurture argument.
Yes, many of the people in my world today are racist - to some degree - which means that they may use derogatory terms or fall to the extreme of hatred.
Yes, I was raised by a community which was 90% racist.
Yes, this is the way I was taught to think.
Yes, I have struggled all of my life to find the path which I believe in my soul to be true.
Yes, I have used derogatory terminology in the past.
Yes, I have had racist thoughts in the past...


No, I do not believe in racism
No, I do not believe that the teachings of my youth are the correct ones.
No, I will not tolerate any kind of hate speech or derogatory terminology around my boys.
No, I will not carry over the hatred and "chip-on-my-shoulder" attitude that I learned from a young age to my boys.

On the other hand..

What makes one a racist? If you can successfully answer this question for me, then you will put so much of my questioning to bed.

You see...

I do not believe I am racist...If I look into my soul, I honestly believe that I have an "all cultures were created equal" philosophy. However, if this is the case, then why is it that I don't vehemently condemn any person in my world who makes racist comments? Why is it that I stay quiet when friends or family use derogatory terminology? Having said that, I never stay quiet if it is in front of the boys - everybody in my life knows this. I will not tolerate any kind of hate speech in front of the boys. I will not have them raised with the same hatred in their hearts that I was taught. Carrying on...

Why do I not stand up and shout from the rooftops that I do not agree with your way of thinking? That I refuse to be a victim to my past teachings? That I will cut from my life any whom I cannot convert to a liberal viewpoint? Why do I put on any sort of laugh when you tell me a racist joke?

Why indeed..

What does this make me?

Who am I really?

Am I really as "equal" as I like to believe?

If my soul could take a polygraph test, what would be revealed?

The truth.. what is the truth?

The truth is that, from this moment forward, I will stop letting others say things in my company that offends me.

The truth is that, from this moment on, I will stand up for what I believe in, no matter how unpopular it may make me.

The truth is that, from this moment on, the race card does not exist for me - I have wanted to bin it for so long... and just like that .. it is finally off my back..

The truth is that I will begin to verbalise the values and morals which have been changing and realigning in my mind for many years.

The truth..

is that I strive, every day, to be a better Mum for those sweet little boys who depend on me to teach them about the world and their place in it.

I do not believe that I have suddenly become a saviour or champion of human rights.. but I do believe that every choice I make in this regard.. every single one... will make me into a better person.. it may not be the person you wish it to be.. or to be associated with, but it is the one I see in the mirror every day.. and I love her.. and will continue to do so as long as she continues to grow.


Ninnles said...

Good for you! You are going to have a wee battle on your hands. I'll be fighting in your corner!

Samibabe said...

Racism is an intolerance or discrimination of another one's culture,to me this means that a person does not share the same upbringing, values and morals as you have mentioned, but this does not mean that people can't learn about other cultures. It could even prove to be fun. The intolerance is lack of knowledge, don't get me wrong, I do believe that there are motivated racist attacks, but there I blame the very society they have been brought up in. You do have wrong from right and some people choose their own paths, just as you have. Many people aren't as lucky as you or I, to have a "push" in the right direction, to have a positive influence or that of hope in their lives, thus making them very bitter people, turning on other people, not only from different cultures, but also on themselves. In short racism is a non understanding. You are very brave for posting such a blog, and that my fiend makes you the person people aspire too and want to be around. You are a strong woman who has chosen values that many only dream of having.

ABCDE=Party of 5 for ME! said...

Good for you! :) Sadly, but I dont think its a South Africa issue anymore than I think its a USA issue. But on the flip side of that coin, I'm also tired of people shouting Racism just because someone is black, brown, or purple. Can't a hate crime simply just be a hate crime? Beating any living being is a crime and horrific no matter what the color of the skin (in my opinion) and I think it's wonderful that you're teaching your sons different!

Kuddos to you! :)


Kristin said...

Not anywhere near the same degree, but I get exactly where you are coming from. Because I live in the South of the United States, people automatically assume I am a backwoods, redneck racist based on the attitudes that were present in this region in the past.

My parents raised me to not look at color and I can say that I don't believe I do.

I have been the only white person in numerous settings and I'm fine with that. Perfect example is the inner city school kids I volunteer with. I'm the only white person in the entire school.

I would say I have had many parents be cautious of me in the beginning. They wonder what my motives are. But, after some time of being in the school and around their children, they understand my heart and that I love their kids and want to help them succeed.

How wonderful for you to take a stand.

Mort said...

How did we get from 'beating' to 'racism' ?
I missed that link.
White prisoner, black guard?