By Resegofetse Kolomote

The fear of difference is everywhere, in every form, one of those being
racism, which simply ,means the belief that different races or
ethnicities possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities,
especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one
Racism is a fear of difference, people can be racist solely because they
are terrified of the other race, or threatened by what the other race can
do. I have read the Yes Solutions Journalism article on how white
people can be scared of other races and it states that for conservative
white people, the dominant fear is of someday living without the
privilege that comes with whiteness. I can understand that the
privileges are secured jobs, education and graduation and being treated
fairly or better by people, police and the government. The article
further states that more reactionary whites are openly racist about the
threat that non-white people pose to “their way of life”. Both these
versions defend the existing distribution of wealth and power. This
article paints a picture of how racist white people feel towards people
of colour because the interviewee, a white man, continues to say that
in the institutions that adopt the liberal view, diversity is just fine (as
long as whites remain in control) and multiculturalism can flourish (as
long as white norms remain dominant).
Other people may say that racism is a mental disorder and call it white
fragility, which, according to Medical News Today, refers to feelings of
discomfort a white person experiences when they witness discussions
around racial inequality and injustice. White people may become
defensive when spoken to about white privilege and superiority. Since
2020 it has been proven to us that people in the United States have
protection from racial stress and when engaged in conversations, can
lead to feelings of defensiveness, anger, fear and silence. White fragility
may not be racism, but it dismisses white domination.
In an article from Harper’s Bazaar on silent racism, white American
activist Tim Wise explains that the n word was the term used by white
people to dehumanise black people and put them in “their place”, after
all you cannot put white people in “their place” if they own it to begin
with. Racism belongs to white people . This proves that we cannot be
silent about racism, we should speak out and share our stories because
if we stop talking, the issue becomes irrelevant and forgotten.
In South Africa, we have had a problem of schools being racist for the
longest time. Many schools here have code of conducts that are always
directed towards black people, like “a learner’s hair must be relaxed
and should be tied up in a neat bun”, “if a learner does not have
relaxed hair, they are obliged to braid it flat on the head and the ends
must not be longer than two centimetres”. That is racist because it
does not apply to white people. There was a girl that once spoke to
News24 about how her teacher told her to “fix” her hair because it
looked like “a bird’s nest”. Then in 2016 there was a protest in Gauteng,
lead by students of a school that said African hair is unruly and wild.
This shows how bad systemic racism is in South Africa.
Racism is learned by children who are around adults that fear the
capabilities of other races. An article from the 2012 Boston Globe by
James H. Burnett The Third talks about learned racism, he states that
racism and physical prejudice don’t fully develop in humans until the
teen or adult years, but around age three, children can express their
learned racial preferences and gradually develop those preferences
over time and only cement them well into their teen years. Children
who have been taught to be racist will inevitably bully non-white
children in school because as they age, they will continue to believe
that one group is better or worse than the other, based on nothing
more than colour.
Racism can be unlearned, if schools can provide real historical
information and stop whitewashing it. Learners should know the
history of slavery and who started it because when such information is
whitewashed, it’s hard to explain how traumatic racism is to people of
colour today. Learners should also know that racism is not only done by
bad people, it can be taught to innocent children, it can be promoted
by white fragility and silent racism. When teaching learners about this,
be aware of the student’s racial trauma and provide disclaimers before
starting and always focus on trying to change their mind-set, not blame
or shame.
A fear of difference also applies to xenophobic people, Xenophobia
is the fear of anyone different from you or who comes from a different
country, even if you are of the same race. Research from Verywell Mind
states that xenophobia often overlaps with forms of prejudice,
including racism and homophobia, but there are important distinctions.
Where racism and homophobia are based on specific characteristics,
xenophobia is usually rooted in the perception that people from
another country are foreign to the in group community.
Xenophobia can be a psychotic disorder, as sometimes it is based on
delusions. In South Africa, we have a lot of people who are delusional,
people who want people from different countries evicted because they
believe that “foreigners” are taking their jobs, when, in actual fact,
South Africans are sometimes lazy to work or look for work, some of
them just want grant money without working for it and then when
skilled people come to South Africa for jobs, they complain about how
they are unemployed because “foreigners” took “their” jobs. That’s all a
delusion and it falls under immigrant xenophobia, we also have cultural
xenophobia, which involves rejecting foreign objects or disagreeing
with another group’s beliefs, religion or tradition.
Differences are everywhere, even in gender and sexuality, people who
classify themselves as anything but heterosexual are homosexual, and
homophobia is the fear of anyone who falls under that group. This
fear can be caused by sexual orientation discrimination or religious
beliefs. People who have same-sex attractions are more likely to
experience discrimination and violence just because they do not meet
the cultural norms of a basic man and woman relationship. What I
know about the LGBTQI+ community is that it is a community of
different people with different sexualities who are brought together by
the fact that they are different but they experience the same
Although the general term for this hatred is homophobia, we have
specific terms for people who fear specific sexualities of the
community. The most progressive hatred among them all is
TRANSPHOBIA, I have read the Mail and Guardian article on
transphobia, and it claims that South Africa is home to a culture of
homophobia and transphobia. In South Africa, parents can disown their
children if they were to come out, religious parents or family members
can go to the extant of having exorcisms to get rid of the “demon” that
is homosexuality. These are one of the extreme symptoms of
homophobia and transphobia.
There is still an argument on whether homosexuality and transsexuality
is normal humanly development or signs of a mental illness. It was said
that these are signs of mental disorders because homosexual and
transsexual people want us “normal” people to believe that they can
change their own gender. One doctor once said that all members of the
LGBTQI+ community should know that they can’t change their gender
as much as they can’t change their age, and if they choose to believe
that they can and it is normal then they are mentally disturbed. “Just
because you identify yourself as female when you are male, does not
mean I should identify you as female because you are delusional and I
will not be part of your delusions, you have a disorder and I do not”.
This was said by the doctor in his interview on homosexuality.
Homosexuality and transsexuality is not a form of any mental illness,
people have every right to choose what they identify as. The APA wrote
that same-sex attractions, behaviour, and orientations per se are
normal and positive variants of human sexuality- in other words, they
do not indicate either mental or development disorders.
Every race is different, but non is inferior or superior and children
should be taught about the real history of coloured people. Just
because people come from a different country and live in ours does not
mean that they are any less of citizens, they have every right to be here
and build a better life for themselves.
Children need to be taught what homosexuality and transsexuality is
and that they can choose what they want to be and who they want to
love. Children should know how to see colour and it’s history, that no
race, nationality, religion, culture or tradition is inferior to the other
because everyone is different and difference is beautiful.


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

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