Martin Luther King Jr. once had a dream ‘that one day little black boys and girls would be able to join hands with little white boys and girls as brothers and sisters’. However that dream is yet to come true, and for a little black girl like myself it remains just that, ‘A DREAM’.

A past riddled with racism and a present falsely triumphant over the fight against it. Although people of different colour no longer live in segregation with the superior Race no longer in a monocracy against the inferior Race. A system whereby the inferiors are bombarded, belted, dehumanized for being a certain skin colour. A system whereby the superiors trample over the inferiors and use them as scapegoats for certain things going wrong. A system so cruel but as old as time itself. From the Bible era when the Egyptians saw themselves superior from the Israelites, taking them as slaves, reducing their population and forcing their belief onto them which in turn those who disobeyed were whipped. The most well-known event of racism (superior versus inferior) is the transatlantic slave trade where millions of Africans were sold to plantations as cargo, Negros. Also not forgetting World War II in Europe where those who were not Aryan, Pure German, (Blacks, Slavic, Jewish) were persecuted, killed and sent to concentration camps. Lastly, not forgetting South Africa’s own chilling history of suffering for centuries under despotism rule which then led to land repossession and segregation with the ones with the lightest of skin tone and silky hair having more advantages than those with dark skin and coarse hair.

Racism is all over the world. We form rules against it but never tackle it directly. We say we have solved centuries year old problem over a small number of years. We fail to see that we have just driven racism to the shadows. Sadly racism still lives. It lurks in the darkness provided by our ignorance of knowledge or the presence of foolishness. Although many battles against racism have been won the war is still in action.

People believe we are a rainbow nation. Racial diversity as one. What is a rainbow if all colors are jumbled up? We are not a rainbow nation we are merely just different colours of a spectrum who are yet to hit the light of unity and reflect back as the desired rainbow. We have to understand that you may have removed the shackles off a prisoner but you may have not removed the deeds that come with that name, convict. Like Jub Jub may have been released from prison but his name will always bare the image of the crime he committed. In the same way black people will always bare the name of being the inferior race. They will always be expected to have low paying jobs. Sadly for those who manage to break that stereotype will always have to work hard to prove their worth as they will always be underestimated. They will always be expected to be below their potential and skill. Believing that voting in 1994 has cleared the damage and stereotypes is merely foolishness. As making new rules and regulations may not always solve the problem but rather finding and destroying the root of the problem is the solution.

Many say they believe in science more than anything which in turn proves to contradict what they really believe in. The belief that the darker the dumber is an example. But is intelligence really skin deep? Scientists have proven many things may affect skin colour like melanin, exposure to sunlight and also the person’s DNA composition but have not   proven that intelligence is affected by skin colour. Intelligence is an abstract notion developed and affected by a wide range of attributes which differentiate from person to person. Like art itself can never be the same in the way its message is represented or conveyed. Take for example Pablo Picasso`s Le Rêve is different from William Henry Johnson`s Nat Turner.

Intelligence is different and maybe shouldn’t be limited by the measurement use of IQ tests. Separating the “bright” from the “dim”. Such tests may provide insight on how someone is thinking but should never be used to measure intelligence. It creates the superiority seed which is planted and will grow when people feed it water emphasising and basing life on IQ test scores. The race who passes these tests see themselves superior. They then work to “better” such tests but will pass the test as they will have the advantage of teaching their children in ways that will help them pass. It has to be the same if the race that fails the test was to create a new test. Tests like these should be dismissed in measuring intelligence as they are unfair and racist.

Being the intelligent people we are, we should find other ways that eliminate division between people. Removing the system of checking the box that determines what race someone is, is one of them. Identifying people as Black, Colored, White, Indian, Asian or other brings out that element of racism. People of colour are associated with certain behaviors and things that may not be true. Organisations and businesses may offer better services and employment to those who are Caucasian. These systems are under the guise of helping us discover and know our identity but in fact do not, as some people do not even belong in the specified groups.

We have all heard the phrase : ‘communication is key’ but in this case that miscommunication is the lock. Rumors, half-truths and (again) lack of knowledge can be a result of racism. Ideas, misconception of skin colour and what is associated with that  skin tone upon glance can be different from what is actually the truth can be hotwired into the brain and more and more things can be added by people who believe the same which results in acting as a  catalyst to someone being racist.

It is no hidden mystery that children (toddlers that is) really do not care about many things, one of them being race. When they see other children they see a friend instead of a slave, criminal, colonizer or anything inferior or superior to them. They do not see the skin color and associate it with something bad but when the parents step in scolding the child because they are playing with another child from a different race the seed of racism is planted. The child is led to believe that they are inferior or superior to another race. This is branded onto the child’s brain and as they grow up so does the mindset. This is one of the situations that led to racism. It starts with the parents and what they teach their children. Things learnt from a young age are easier than those learnt at an older age. As the famous idiom goes ‘it’s not easy to teach an old dog new tricks’.

Again with communication, as people we should learn to learn others. Get out of one’s comfort zone and break the stereotypes by asking questions and approaching them head on. Learning not one but both sides of a story can also help in solving in the problem of racism. You might just be surprised what lays under the skin may not be different from you after all. Like Beacon and Dairymilk are chocolate brands with different flavors. With Beacon having a different appearance from Dairymilk with its red wrapper and Dairymilk with its purple wrapper both still contain a common ingredient (cocoa) which makes them both delicious and likeable. Finding common factors can be key to unlocking the lock of miscommunication and also the next step to putting the racist mindset beyond us.

In conclusion I believe as the next generation it is important and up to us to understand what the problems are and how to face them head on, instead of ignoring the bitter reality, which is that the fight is not over. Remembering what Osho once said that:  “nobody is superior, nobody is inferior but nobody is equal either”. People are just simply unique, incomparable. We should then embrace our uniqueness and we will be one to many steps closer to turning Martin Luther King Jr’s dream into a reality and a step closer to uprooting racism.

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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.