“I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey.” The same term you have so often used to insult me an African “native”, I now reclaim. I do this because I refuse to give you any ounce of power over me, dear racist. I’ve let you have this false sense of superiority for far too long.

I’ve tried on so many occasions, to make sense of your racism in my head. Or maybe my brain, the same brain that is one degree removed from the animal, is too substandard to comprehend your contempt for me.

I’ve even tried to be empathetic to your disgustingly hateful and misplaced feelings towards me. But now, at 26, and having experienced so many versions of your bigotry, I am left with no other choice but to reciprocate and be insanely critical of it. How can I possibly continue to empathize with a group of people who feel that they are justified in their treatment and perception of us?

If I am a baboon, then please permit me to be a PROUD monkey.

I posed a question on Twitter once, asking why black pupils were not taught about Mahatma Gandhi’s racism towards South African black people in school, because I grew up revering the same man who made no secret of his contempt for black people – simply because this fact was omitted from my history textbooks. I’ll be damned if my kids suffer the same ignorant fate.

Reconciliation did not help either. What the TRC proceedings said to the predominantly Afrikaner face of Apartheid and racism was “Hey, listen. We are fully aware of the injustices and brutality you demonstrated to us on a daily basis, but it’s cool, we get it. It wasn’t all that bad anyway. Go about your life, pretend like we’re not even here and we’ll forget about the countless people that were tortured and slain in your hands.

We’ll forget about what you did to Bantu Steve Biko, to Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu… and we’ll definitely erase the thought of the massacre of hundreds of Sowetan students in 1976. Oh, one small favor though; could you kindly help us locate what’s left of all the struggle heroes who mysteriously disappeared while being held in police captivity – we know their shallow graves are spread all over the country and we can’t possibly expect you to recall all of them. But can you at least try and help us find them for the sake of the kaffir families who still seek closure? Are those reasonable terms for you?”

This is why the pompous racist believes he’s well within his rights to call a black woman a kaffir bitch in traffic before speeding off. Twenty years after our democracy. He knows that, as always, he will get away with his malicious acts of crime.

Yet, I’m the animal…

No, racism is not a sickness. It is not a mental disorder. It is a decision an individual takes to be cruel towards another human being because they are different to them. Do I now choose to continue turning the other cheek for the sake of forgiveness and solidarity? Or behave as I am regarded? A savage. Because being humane is a concept that is incomprehensible to an animal such as myself.

 

Onique

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