Do not tell me who I am

The day has to come that I address the issue of race in my musings. So it might as well be now.

Here goes.  I’m white. I’m female. I’m English-speaking.

That might be important to you.

Here’s what’s important to me:

I’m a human being. I’m an individual.  I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a grandmother. I have family and friends whom I love and who love me. I’m an African. I’m a South African. I’m a writer.

Now many, many people will tell you I’m talking nonsense and that, in fact, the first three descriptions are high up there in my head, that they matter a great deal and that I’m in denial … bleh, bleh, bleh.

They’d be wrong. Full bloody stop.

I am very tired of other people defining me and telling me what I think, based on those first three criteria. Understand that I am not necessarily talking about people who tell me this on a personal level. I’m talking about the generalisations made about people all the time, whether they be black, Zulu-speaking men or white, English-speaking women.

And I say to these groupies: If that’s how you feel about yourself, that YOU are happy to be judged by your colour, language group and sex, I think it’s sad, but only that. Do NOT paint ME with YOUR brush.

I’m a creature of the universe. Whatever created me, blessed me with an independent mind and brain of my own and I tend to use them (most of the time).  I am supremely confident that I know myself well. I am not confused in the slightest about who I am.

I reject the notion of placing people in groups or boxes with every fibre of my being. Every single “rule” in this regard is destroyed by the exceptions, every single day, in every way. There is absolutely no point in generalising about people because it never, ever works, never provides solutions or answers, never plays out well.

I’m also told by academics, radio talk show hosts, political scientists, et al, that this personal “ideology” of mine is naive and that, in the South African context, it cannot apply. They say  we have a history like no other, a social system that was founded on group politics, and that people like me are trying to wish it away. They maintain that I suffer from “white guilt” and that people of my ilk (yes, white) portend to be colour blind because it suits our beleagured consciences.

Without being simplistic about it, that is simply not true. I will not be guilt-tripped into dealing with the present by those apartheid ghosts. They are dead and gone, if not literally, then figuratively. I will not be convinced that the only way to deal with their legacy is to perpetuate their thinking and modus operandi. I will not play by those old rules.

The old adage about righting a wrong with a wrong has found its mark.

There are disadvantaged people in South Africa. There are wealthy people. There are corrupt people. There are noble ones. There are criminals. There are law-abiding citizens. There are teachers and truckers. There are pastors and perverts (in some cases, one and the same!) There are honourable politicians. There are dishonourable ones. Whatever people are, it has absolutely nothing to do with their colour.

Am I colour blind? No. I see the colour of people’s skins.

Do I care? No.

So that’s where I stand and nothing that I have witnessed, read or personally experienced in all my 58 years, has served to persuade me otherwise. If this standpoint makes me a Liberal, with a capital “L” or not, classic or not, Libtard or not, is absolutely irrelevant.

I don’t care to be placed in yet another box.

What I’ve written here is the basis from which I operate as a human. Without an ounce of arrogance, I maintain the world – and importantly, South Africa – would be a much better place if this is how everyone operated.

All I can advise is that people recognise prejudice in themselves, take it out and interrogate it like a witness in the dock, shake it up and down, prove it is unfounded and baseless, then banish it completely for life.

It will set all groupies free.

It is only when we all do this and then elect a government that represents this quality, that we will set South Africa free.

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