1. Introduction

In an all black party suddenly a greenish man walks in, although dressed in black everyone continues to raise eyebrows as they try to figure out what his business is there. Top criminals are sitted in the same tables as top police officials. All kinds opposites are rubbing shoulders. “Sorry this sit is taken”, is what everyone mumbles every time the alien tries to get a chair. Although on their best behaviour, everyone is annoyed by the greenish man, They wait for mysterious guest of honour and hope to make the best impression. Without any luck of getting a chair he matches on to the only empty chair at the top and gently riches for the mike, says “good evening everyone, my name is Molokai”. What would have been your reaction?

Some of you would understandably be somewhat threatened by how different Molokai looked. Some of you might even understand why all the guests felt he wasn’t worthy to be sitted at their table. But why did the watch man let him in to the ‘who’s who party’. And why wasn’t anyone accommodative to this fellow. The guests might have been a different race to that of Molokai but if we think of it did they really all feel he should not have been there because he of the green race?

2. What is racism

Racism is what Molokai experienced at the party, he was discriminated against because of his colour. Although he dressed the part, mastered the languages spoken by every guests they all thought were superior to him and wished he would not even look their direction.

Discriminating, ill treating and forcing people to treat you as their superior is but a few of the words that can describe what racism entails.

In the olden days racism was more obvious, with one superior viewed as superior, clear marks/notifications at public places such “only blacks “ and/or only whites. Other races must have felt left out, imagine being multiracial in those it could not have been easy. I would think that the only worst thing than being treated unjust is been treated as if you do not exist.

3. Tolerating Racism

Racism is something that most South Africans have given such an importance that they even think it’s part of their legacy. The incident that took place at a well known university a few years back left some of us shocked. Four university young men had decided to spice things up by urinating into food and then commanding the cleaners who were of a different race to eat that. They were commanded to eat so they did. They were further instructed to race, they did that also.

Although these workers knew those young men were not their superiors, they still followed their commands as they had imprisoned their minds and assumed the position of inferiority. The government preaches about the rainbow nation but the citizens still don’t know any better. The young men laughed and thoroughly enjoyed watching the workers obeying their ridiculous commands.

Tolerating racism can come from both the oppressor and the oppressed. the videos that showed the abovementioned story did not show the oppressors holding any weapon. In fact, the “oppressors” casually gave the instructions and the they followed. They tolerated that behaviour being perpetuated on to them. It shows some psychological damage to certain people’s way of thinking.

The other day went with a friend to my son ‘school with a friend. while there I asked the assistant teacher if my friend could look around the class. The assistant reluctantly agreed and she kept saying she hadn’t cleaned the class yet. She showed my friend around carefully explaining what every poster and gadget in the class was for. Explained all activities that took place from day to day. In her voice was an unusual stutter and a little tremble on her hands I noticed. When she concluded her “presentation” she asked my friend so are you thinking of starting your own school?

We almost burst out laughing because I actually just wanted to show my friend the difference between my son ‘school and her son’s. As we left the school she asked me, how anyone could think she had any ability to open a school when she had not even completed her high school education. “You can do anything you put your mind to, even become a doctor. You just need to believe and work hard”, was my response. Although there was a light in her green eyes as I said this, she quickly tossed my suggestion just as swiftly as she threw her silky hair over her shoulder.

The assistant teacher immediately assumed was a superior figure based on her race. You may be thinking it could have been the way she dressed. However you would be wrong as my friend was in her ill-fitting jeans and her dreaded pink sneakers completed with a baggy top she herself termed ugly.

While there are racists who do not know any other way of life there are equally responsible members of societies who are too quick to place people of different races above them for no reason at all. They assume it’s a natural way of being therefore before they get oppressed they themselves assume positions of inferiority. They tolerate the racist behaviour when it finally comes and seldom do anything about it.

4. Tolerating Racism is Racism

When an injustice is done and people just watch on they are somewhat as responsible as the perpetrators.

A young lady working as a cashier recently told me that she was looking to join a certain political party that she believes can help her fight the injustice she endured at her workplace. She claims that her manager had suggested she prostitute herself to her business acquaintances. When she refused the manager expressed that she (manager) did not understand what the young lady’s problem was as she would be getting good money. Furthermore the cashier was told that people of her race slept around anyway” therefore by prostituting to only one guy she would actually not be that bad”. She tried reporting to the superior but no help came instead spread the news of her “loose character”. Her stepfather who belonged to the same race as the manager was not much help as he was seen looking too friendly with the perpetrators.

While only one person made racial comments and did this young women wrong in a number of unthinkable ways the others also participated in injustice that was done by choosing to turn a blind eye.

All races can be racists and all kinds of people can participate in this traumatic act by simply choosing to ignore the problem.

If you know better but do nothing to improve the situation you are just as bad as the perpetrators. You can be a racist by your own choice or by your lack of positive reaction to other people’s choice. Tolerating racism is racism.

5. Conclusion

Studies have shown that individuals only vary in external features, such as skin colour, height and internal features such as blood type or susceptibility to diseases. Where it matters most we are the same. Which means the treatment our friend Molokai received at the all important party he had so glamorously organised was uncalled for. When the guests were dressed in black they accepted each other, despite their different backgrounds and way of living. But they let themselves fall into trap of discriminating against one of them just because he was a different colour. Imagine their surprise or should I be saying the embarrassment when they realised he was the guest of honour.

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

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