A future free of racism is one that we all look forward to and we anticipate such a future. However, attempting to create an anti-racial future is quite a challenge because acts of racism in our society have been practised over a long period of time.

The first step to creating an anti-racial future is to fully understand the meaning of racism. Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another – it is believing that one’s race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities. It includes prejudice, discrimination and/or hatred directed at a particular person or group because they are categorized under a particular racial group and believing that their social and moral traits are predetermined by their race.

Understanding what contributes mostly to racism is something else we need to take into consideration. The first is hatred. The first place where one would learn to hate is at home. Children are very malleable at a young age and that is why it is important to raise your children in a household free of racism. Another factor is hierarchy which declares the races of those in high social classes as superior and these are the people who benefit most from such systems.

Building a nation free of racial discrimination requires a community’s united effort to eliminate any acts of racism. Racism reaches far beyond the acts committed by one person towards a certain racial group. Your thoughts, ideas and opinions on racial groups could also be considered racist, which is why creating an anti-racist future also requires a change in mindset. Changing people’s mindset means encouraging them to possess a willingness to think and to understand the basic dignity of all people. Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, once stated that it was important to “de-educate people from their myths and re-educate them”, which emphasizes the importance of changing one’s mindset.

Ahmed Kathrada once said that “the fight for non-racism, equity and equality is not short term work, but generational work it requires a United effort and lifetime of commitment.” I agree completely with this statement because the roots of racism run deep and it will take more than one generation to root it out. It is quite important that individuals understand the root causes of racism and how it has shaped the DNA of our society over the centuries from slavery to colonialism to apartheid.

Throughout the life of an individual school is one of the most influential experiences that one goes through, therefore it is of utmost importance that anti-racial strategies are explicit and vigorous in all schools, as no individual is born with the desire to hate another hence Nelson Mandela’s wise words state “no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite”.

If one can be taught to be racist then they can most definitely be taught to accept one another despite their racial differences. “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation” – Nelson Mandela. Same applies with ‘feeding’ children with racist knowledge, you are in the long run weakening our nation. This emphasizes on the importance of an anti-racial education system in building a future free of racism.

Along with our school curriculum, other individual organisations have been formed to contribute to the elimination of racism in our communities. E.g. ARNSA (Anti-Racism Network South Africa). ARNSA aims to ultimately bring about a South Africa free of racism. The organisation encourages all South Africans to get involved in rooting out racism. They have created an Anti-racism week, which was implemented for the first time in the year 2017 from the 14th to the 21st of March. During this week, they challenge all South Africans to take on racism, to learn, speak and act against racism. They encourage individuals and organisation’s to do something within their own means to eliminate any form or act of racism.

The idea of an anti-racism week is to create mass awareness of racism. In creating mass awareness, individuals or organisations could host sports events against racism, acts against racism could be taught in church sermons, schools and businesses could also host any events that raise awareness on racism. During this week, the input should be directed towards ensuring that’s post-apartheid racism is challenged in all it’s forms.

Racism thrives in terms of economic uncertainty and instability. The stability of an economy is the responsibility of the government and the citizens, which means that the quest for a racism-free South Africa is equally the responsibility of the government and the citizens. That is why it is so important as a nation to focus your attention on nation-building and national unity. The South African Barometer indicates that persistent socio-economic inequalities continue to affect the progress made in building an anti-racial nation and reconciliation in a post-apartheid South Africa. This indicates the importance of knowing and understanding the root causes of racism and only then can we work towards creating an anti-racial future.

Racism is far more than a personal hatred for an individual or a racial group, it is a mindset that has been allowed to subsist because it is fostered and maintained by institutions that have instilled it. Even if individuals or groups of people were determined to bring about change , it would be a difficult mission because majority has subsided to racism but only we can emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and free our minds from racism and that is a commitment of a lifetime.

In an anti-racial future, every individual’s rights and dignity are equally respected and valued. It would be naive to think that even the best drafted laws could eradicate centuries of oppression and institutionalized discrimination in a space of two decades but that is no reason for South Africa nor the world to be distracted from building a non-racial nation and believing in a future free of racism.

“You can create laws to change a racists actions but you can’t change a racists mind. That’s why fighting racism is and always will be a continuous battle” – Brenda Cherry. I couldn’t agree more with this quote because racism starts in the mind and the most effective way to decrease racism is to stop teaching racism.

Thank you.

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ABOUT FOUNDATION

In pursuing its core objective of deepening non-racialism, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation will:

Promote the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;

Collect, record, promote and display, through historical artefacts and contemporary material.