Racism has become an extreme familiar and persistent problem within the society. It can thus be said, that most people have an idea of and are aware of what racism is. There are variety of definitions regarding the concept ‘racism’.
Some people define racists as those people who by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against another group in the South African society based on race. Historically, racism has mean the subjugation and oppression of blacks by whites. The term black is not necessarily all-inclusive because we are not white does not mean we are all black. Non-whites do exist. If one’s aspirations is whiteness but his pigmentation makes attainment of this impossible, then that person is non-white.
As proven by the statistics South Africa, majority of all different racial groups argue that racism is associated with prejudice and discrimination against someone of different race than yourself on the concept that your own race is superior.
Black people are in most cases the victims of racism. This is was the case under colonialism and apartheid that have lasted for decades, the effects of which are still felt after South Africa was declared a democratic country in 1994. White monopoly capital continues to be an issue yet be resolved as more black people live an economic system where justice cannot fully be provided. This is just one of the clear examples that black people remain the victims of racism economically and socially. It is difficult for white people to be affected by racism due to the privileges that are entitled with from birth. In a way, it is very difficult or even impossible for blacks to be racist against white people.
Racism is caused by arrogance, fear, our history, white supremacy, ignorance and lack of affection for humanity as a whole as stated by Steve Biko saying “the fact that apartheid was tied with white supremacy it makes the issue more complex”. When it comes to arrogance people tend to bring out self-importance in a manner that is offensive to a point where there is lack of acknowledgement about the fact that being arrogant along with being racist is not natural but a form of behaviour that was only taught from one generation to another. Racial arrogance and racist can be acquired from various sources such as the family, church, school, communities and role models within the media industry. As the late Biko mentioned that “one can only adapt to a system they live in”, this is what happens with white people. Blacks on the other hand, should resist and rebel against adapting to their own oppression by seeking black liberation.
Moreover, with ignorance being mentioned as a part of “tolerating racism is racism”, it turns out that majority of ethnic groups residing in South Africa tend to show ignorance for the black culture without even noticing. Based on my background, it was important for one to think before imparting any form of word and always put into consideration when people negatively preferred how a black person should sound when speaking any relevant language. It was transparent that racist people created an ideology of how blacks should live their lives. It was evident that the words of Steve Biko was true mentioning “how can a black person be free when he is told where to go and what to do”. In a racist world, black cannot be truly free.
It is important to confront people and address them directly when they are communicating negatively towards a black person. On the issue of white supremacy, it is clear that it still contributes to racism in such a way that white people are brought up with the psyche of being above blacks due to their privilege over black people. White privilege, also rests on a reality that each of their lives, from birth, their lived experience as a whole is to be served by black people. Racism has increased in huge percentage than one can count leading to statistics that indicating that eighty percentage of black majority are facing racism within every five minutes.
There is a massive demand which is fundamentally about one’s perspective and how to stop stereotyping what people’s perspectives are due to the fact that humanity is slowly losing its value and essence of living.
Hatred of people due to their skin colour is unethical and on the other side racism must also be addressed for both black and white people. That assumes a favourable view of white and paternalistic view of blacks. People need to understand that “one need to understand the basis before setting up the remedy” as Steve Biko urges us.
It is quite unfortunate, what should or should not happen is different from reality on a daily basis which includes incidents which may involve taking one’s entire life into consideration. Not to forget that where tolerance is lies inequality at its best in the sense that people tend to think they are better than others is seemingly due to lack of consideration and low morals. Creating an excuse to trample, over misuse, abuse, enslave, control, murder another for being black and still expect individual undergoing such hardships to end dealing with unpleasant conditions is ethical. There is a wrong perception that one is better than the other within the society. The absence of considering other people creates an idea that others are inadequate or not equally human at all.
There is a large number of individuals who considered themselves as better because of the possession and privileges. The reason this belief goes unnoticed, is mainly because people are particularly aiming for an unconscious goal is the ‘desire to feel superior’. Psychologically individuals strive to become superior in one way or another. Some people manage to become successful and to also achieve that unconscious goal in a healthy way while others take strange and twisted paths in order to prove their superiority.
Everyone is human in the ideal sense that everyone can suffer, lose, be thrust into circumstances they cannot control or other random events that one does not choose. All white people that do not think race is not an issue using “We are all just humans” surely do not know what it takes to be black and are not aware of the experiences to be black in a predominant white world. Just as Biko said that “mountains of obstacles have been created for black people to live in”.
You can’t always change what others are doing but you can change what you are doing and how you look at things including the world within the surroundings. Mostly stop dividing the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’ whether you are on the receiving end of racism or are a witness to one, there will always be three things you can do; say something or say nothing and lastly tolerate not what is intolerable.
Who is doing the tolerance of racism? In most cases, it is the black people who are the victims, however, blacks cannot be racist. Which means that for blacks ‘tolerating racism, it is not racism’. However, whites also tolerate racism, they exercise it and sometimes look away when another white person mistreats a black person. In this sense, when whites tolerate racism, it is racism because their tolerance of racism ultimately sustains the status quo in which blacks are abused on the basis of perceived racial inferiority while whites enjoy white privilege. As such, the idea that ‘tolerating racism is racism’ only applies to whites in my personal view.