Verder geluister – Paasfees – Handelinge 10:34-43

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Preekstudies, Verder geluister

Christus het die mure wat ons van ander skei soos die kleur van ons vel, die taal wat ons praat, ons agtergronde, die werk wat ons doen of nie het nie, die geslag waaraan ons behoort, afgebreek (Ef. 2:13-22).

Begryp ons werklik en aanvaar ons ten volle dat ons geloof in Christus die enigste voorwaarde is om deel van Sy gemeente te wees? Hoe kan ons enigsins geloofwaardig wees as ons die “nuwe mensheid” binne rasgebaseerde gemeentes uitleef en steeds natuurlike verskeidenheid of regstellende geskeidenheid verabsoluteer?

Daar is een goeie rede waarom die kerk van Christus nie onderskeid tussen wit en swart maak nie! En dit verskil van Andile Mngxitama se dun rooi boekie…

One simple reason why blacks can’t be racist –  Suntosh Pillay

A short little booklet caught my attention recently. On its red cover, the bold title “Blacks can’t be racist” appeared. Curious by such an absurd claim, I parted with R20.

Indeed, it was a 23-page explication on why black people cannot be racist. CANNOT. This argument, written in July 2009, was put forward by one Andile Mngxitama in his self-published pamphlet “New Frank Talk”. Beyond the emotional drama of his tone, inappropriate profanities, really bad editing and confusing referencing, it’s worth considering his defence, which is very different from the one others on this website have made.

It’s a simple point – “conceptual fidelity”. Andile reckons the definition of “racism” must include the ability of one group to subjugate another, and since black people have never had the social, economic or political power to subjugate white people, they cannot be racist, by definition. He sees racism as “discrimination by a group against another for the purpose of subjugation or maintaining subjugation” (Biko, I write what I like).

Does this mean black people cannot be racially prejudiced against whites? No. Does this mean black people do not utter racial slurs? No. Does this mean black people do not commit nasty acts of atrocity against other race groups? No. Black people are fully capable of doing unsavoury things to other race groups, but Andile maintains that we must call it something else, just don’t call it racism.

“Racism” is a concept that is historically rooted in the oppression of blacks by whites (slavery, colonialism, apartheid, imperialism etc.). Find another conceptual equivalent to “racism”, says Andile, but please don’t rob the term of its core meaning by extending  it  to the racial discrimination of white people – it just isn’t “racism”.

Properly conceived, Andile argues that racism “locates white power and privilege on the historical reality organised upon white on black violence … to make the concept of racism elastic, as to include whites as victims, is to render it useless, and more importantly, to make it susceptible to appropriation by the very beneficiaries of racism”.

Andile was responding to that 2008 incident where the Forum for Black Journalists (FBJ) stopped their white colleagues from attending a blacks-only meeting with Jacob Zuma. The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) ruled it unconstitutional and the FBJ was branded racist. Andile wrote in the Mail & Guardian: “Let the historical record reflect that the FBJ was the first black organisation to be disbanded by law in post-apartheid South Africa.” He also noted the irony of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging being relaunched at the same time, without a scolding from the SAHRC.

Andile draws on radical Nigerian scholar Dr Chinweizu, who defends blacks-only groups by claiming “the right to racial privacy”. (Is this the same as Steve Biko’s notion of “black solidarity”?). It’s an interesting view. It does seem logical that in order to overcome a historically rooted oppression a group should therefore organise efforts on the basis of the very thing that marks them out for oppression – skin colour.

There is a small explosion of “whiteness” studies in South Africa following international trends of critically reflecting on the condition of being white and the privileges that accompany this lack of melanin. As Peggy McIntosh wrote in her essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible Knapsack”: “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I remain oblivious.”

White privilege continues unabated largely because the “myth of sameness”, “non-racialism” and “the rainbow nation” has obscured the continuation of racial hierarchies in post-apartheid SA to the point of normalising black suffering and masking ill-gotten white benefits.

Andile says this is why the FBJ incident was so shocking for white journalists – their invisibility was made visible. They were “raced”. And whites can’t bear being raced, because being a privileged white has become such a normative state of (racial) being in SA and the world. Professor Melissa Steyn from UCT has done extensive work in this arena. As the title of her key work sympathetically, critically, and reflexively notes “Whiteness just isn’t what it used to be”. But blackness also isn’t what it used to be. Though Andile elaborates at length the reasons why black subjugation is still a blatant psychological and material reality in SA, he fails to acknowledge that white privilege has considerably decreased in the political arena. Blacks now have the political power to subjugate.

The conspicuous consumption of wealth and tenders and big bonuses has placed an elite group of black bigwigs at the centre of social, economic and political power. And yes, they do not by any means represent the hungry, powerless, dirt-poor black people who have all but lost faith in the government’s promises. But they are black. And they are powerful. And they can subjugate. And if we use Julius Malema as the exemplar of this new black elite and use his public utterings as further exemplars of the potential for black racism, then some holes start forming in Andile’s thesis.

At the very least, “conceptual fidelity” and “the right to racial privacy” may refine the question of “black racism” to a more clearly defined problematic.

Suntosh Pillay is a clinical psychologist who writes independently on social issues. http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/mandelarhodesscholars/2010/03/23/one-simple-reason-why-blacks-cant-be-racist/

Aan al die  voorstanders in die kerk met soortgelyke weird argumente as Andile s’n: “God se genade is groot. Wonderwerke kan gebeur”. “Rein Petrus”, “suiwer Paulus” en die verhaal van die etnosentriese Jona dien as enkele Bybelse voorbeelde van God wat ingryp. Jy het dalk self God se inklusiewe verlossings aard een of ander tyd op jou geloofspad ontdek en toe bely: “Ek sien nou dat God almal se God is. Hy het dit tog lankal gesê!”

Ek het terwyl ek hier skryf die volgende sms gekry: “Bid asb dat Julius Malema ‘n Damaskuspad ondervinding met God sal hê, soos Paulus wat as fanatiese Saulus Christene vervolg het…

Daar is geen regverdiging vir aparte kerke nie, watter naam jy dit ook wil gee en hoe jy dit ook al teologies probeer boekstaaf. Paasfees word kleurryk gevier.

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