Derogatory words were quite audible. Clearly mouthed and spat out venomously. Beetroot red blood began to coagulate and the sight was indeed heart wrenching and gruesome. One tender touch on the wiry shoulder accompanied by a single question. “Why do you accept this treatment?” Like a stone that leaves a catapult I get the answer. ” I could ask you the same.” Agh —that hurts. This was my first tastes of racism . Silence would mean tolerating but a kind gesture gave in to ostracism. Ostracism and racism — a fine balance. We walk the tightrope each day. Like conjoined twins beating with a single heart. This disease of humanity is woven into the fabric of our society. Jodie Piccoult in her novel, The Storyteller describes it as “a root growing beneath the concrete still capable of cracking the pavement.”

The humiliation that a victim endures is quadrupled when there is an absence of structures to successfully eradicate it. Racial slurs when armed at the target does not take life but gives life an added burden to handle, loss of dignity, diminished self—esteem and injured ego in one go. The new global trends gravitate towards a new phenomenon where people find ways and means to keep the groups together bound by commonality . Those that do not have the requirement are not accepted and spurned. These victims develop a huge vacuum within themselves and as human beings become desperate to fill it. Unfortunately, the easiest ingredient is hatred, animosity, rebellion and sometimes murderous intent. The human in the being craves to be seen as he is no matter how he presents himself on the surface.

Food for the human is praise. Praise can lift the spirit to unimaginable heights and lack of it can drop him into nadir. A victim of racism feels bleached when he becomes a subject of taunting. In order for one to reach new heights, one must study different subjects, travel the world, take endless exams and groom himself to reach the zenith but he fails to recognize the fellow human beings around him. For this, there is not institutional learning. It must come from within. There are numerous world bodies lobbying in campaigns to do away with racism. Critics say that awareness on the negativity of racism has made remarkable progress in making the world racism free.

Racism can singlehandedly destroy patriotism, comradrie and true spirit in a country especially in ours that boasts a multiracial flavour, the vulnerability of its people working together can be jeopardized. Even if all efforts are put together and all differences set aside just one hint of racism can topple the spirit of togetherness. Nelson Mandela quoted ,” We, the people of South Africa have made a decisive and irreversible break with the past. The rest is up to us to maintain.” It seems that the struggle to maintain is almost equal to the struggle to set us free.

Many victims of racism are no more. Their plight, we read, their obituary still fresh in the archives. The least we can do is to keep the flight on and continue with the struggle. This is the least they may have expected from us, the living. If the content of racism is so bad and the outcome so violent, then the continuation of the struggle is needed. If we don’t continue then it means that we tolerate racism and this makes us racists.

The big question is, how not to tolerate racism ? An eye for an eye ? This will not work. Instead of galvanising people the method used to curb racism is of utmost importance. Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, “The future depends on what we do today.” Tackling racism can be tricky , the injured party suffer wounds that don’t heal with medicines. It is cancerous. Therapy, counselling, patience, building confidences can ease and repair the wound. It can take long, maybe decades. It will heal but leave a scab. No matter how deceptive it may be it remains a blemish.

In order to address racism, we need to take up cudgels and work with people concerned most often the smallest slights can shake its foundation. Setting up centres for educating the people to live in harmony is a solution. Many have carried racial bruises like an array of medals. Racial slurs are voiced and then it is gone but it can weigh one down even in its absence. Animosity grows between the races like yeasted dough. If not kept in check, racism can chisel a society into a monster.

Every day, there are racial confrontations. The bystanders of racism have different attitudes. Some pay no attention , others pretend to pay attention while some feel a great need to retaliate. It seems like an ongoing process and mankind seems to keep finding new ways to keep out people who do not confer to their own group out of society. Anne Frank, in her diary wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Having a world free of racism is possible. Ground breaking policies have been issued. It only requires adherence to it and off-course follow ups. Whether we believe in it or not racism affects us all in one way or the other.

Racism causes a division in people and in between appears a tug-o-war rope. Abrahan Joshua Heschel quoted, ” racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”

A hungry man when in the throes of hunger can he heard. The rumblings in his stomach gets loud. Food can make him happy and calm his pangs. An angry man in the throes of anger reaches boiling point but in his heart there is no decibel and the silence grows into knots. Even the thought of food can fuel his anger. He walks around like Mount Vesuvius ready to erupt and disrupt. He is angry and hungry too. Angry at his plight of being a victim of racism and hungry for revenge or justice, This is a natural reaction. Preventing this scenario takes time and patience. Collective assistance is required. Rooting out racism is the anecdote.

The Mercury, June 6th 2018 headline read, “Modern World lacks truly equal multiracial society.” Soccer star, Neymar Junior, is reported to have said,” Incidents are occurring less and less. People are changing. The world is changing.” The Soccer World Cup is a wonderful event, showcasing the best in human achievement on the sports field. A perfect place to advertise slogans example ” Say no to racism.” The entire world is watching and hopefully learning. All over the world, incidents of racism are mushrooming. It is hoped that over time and constant reminders, people learn how to love and tolerate each other unconditionally. Nelson Mandela believed that we love naturally but we are taught how to hate. To root out racism requires e very trick in the book especially when dealing with vulnerable people. In such a free society human beings will prosper wholly.

In conclusion, victims will always be looking down the barrel of a gun in racial conflicts. As perpetrators ply their past time taunts, victims walk the tight rope each day dealing with their bruises. As of recently, perpetrators too have become victims as in case of the air line passenger who was suspended from her job for using derogatory words on a fellow passenger. Incidents like these mushroom throughout the world. Thanks to anti-racist bodies for they are the beacons of hope in the fight against racism.

CONTACT US

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South Africa

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.