One week ago I read an open and honest confession on Facebook: Hi, My name is …. I am a recovering racist, I need time and grace, be gentle with me as I uncover my prejudice, let’s work together to build a just future for all, etc… This reaches the newspapers and becomes a thing.
Since then, every week the very same ‘recovering racist’ who asked for grace takes it upon himself to name and shame any racist he can find on Facebook. Or at least he latches on to people the general public decided to pick on. I see he demands she lose her job. I assume this is part of him saying sorry for racism, showing how he will fight in solidarity with black people and be uncompromising in ‘standing up for what is right’. If you want to shame racists on Facebook, please do a better job. There are currently thousands of extremely rude and aggressive, blatantly unapologetic racist statements out there. Somehow the most hardcore ones are ignored. Is it because all these enlightened activists can’t read English?
Search Facebook for ‘boere’, plaasmoorde, swartes, soolore, K4, etc, and follow a few threads, there are thousands of very shocking statements.
My question is: Where is the grace you asked for? What is the strategy of engaging and winning over a person? The approach and the results of the ‘Facebook Racism Police’ shows to me that people are not after reconciliation, but both ‘sides’ like to dig in and fight each other. If your end-goal is getting rid of racism, then your strategy should, according to me reflect that desire to ‘win someone over’. Does being black or having confessed give us the right to throw arrows?
There is definitely a place to confront racism, to tell someone: “You cannot say that.” Yet, we know if we want someone to change or learn, we must engage them and to that purpose asking questions can achieve way more. We need to find similarities, where we share a humanity, then work on our challenges. Are you willing to journey with a person and help them to work through their racism, or do prefer to just put a sticker on them? The sticker wont make them different, just smarter about where they reveal their hate.
Racism is one of the problems in South Africa. Materialism and greed is according to me the number one challenge in South Africa. Should we shame every person owning a Ferrari on Facebook? Should we shame every resident of Dainfern and Steyn City? Men are constantly patriarchal, should we start a Facebook war shaming them? SA is the rape capitol of the world, where is the daily Facebook outrage? Fifty people are murdered every day in South Africa, where is the outcry? As much as we have to solve racism, there is something in the national conversation at the moment that smells off.
Hi, I am Schalk. I am a human being with many problems and shortcomings. I spend too much money on myself, I miss the beauty in others around me, I watch too much TV and don’t read enough. I waste money on clothes, food and drink. I have judgemental thoughts about assholes and try to see beyond the negative, although it’s difficult. I don’t visit my parents enough. I have to learn how to recognise and share my privilege and I try to get rid of hidden prejudices against black people, Jews, English, Americans, Chinese, Indians, Australians and Nigerians! I have many things I have to work on, but I also have many good things in my heart and character. If anyone gets to know me, they will discover an interesting person with many different stories and dimensions. I hope to encourage my friends to be better people, but I commit to never join the Facebook Morality Police that pick who the Racist of the Week is, to be slain by South Africans using Twitter and Facebook.
Note: the above does not mean it’s ok to write stupid things on social media. I don’t ask for less engagement with racism, I ask for more, way more.