Brackenfell, what is going on?
Of all the things you could choose to be famous for, you’re choosing racism? Seriously!?
Lots have happened since last week, when I shared my views about Brackenfell High School’s alleged “whites-only” matric ball.
Being one of the perennial race stories, it has naturally become the political equivalent that a flame has for a moth.
Curiously, I have heard about black and coloured residents and former scholars who swear by the school’s complete and total lack of prejudice.
And then I have heard blacks and coloureds speak passionately about the scars left from how they were discriminated against at the school.
I have read about the racial imbalance in the school’s staff complement and justifications for the party.
I have also heard some tone-deaf comments from our education MEC, whom I consider to be fairly woke most of the time.
Everyone seems to have forgotten about the subjective nature of prejudice.
Discrimination is largely about how the “victim” is made to feel, instead of the intent of the “perpetrator”.
Understand that what is racist to one black person, may not be racist to another.
Last week I spoke about unconscious prejudice, because that is where we find ourselves these days.
Prejudice, and racism in particular, is getting so much media coverage these days, that it would be a show of wilful ignorance to openly discriminate these days.
In this climate, most reasonable people have had to interrogate their own convictions and belief systems, even if it is simply to not appear racist; or to keep earning money from companies that won’t tolerate racist employees.
The motivations don’t really matter, as long as there’s an awareness that hopefully leads to change.
Hopefully with awareness comes understanding and even empathy. And this is really the problem.
A lack of empathy and care that leads to tone-deaf statements about tone-deaf activities.
And by that I mean as a white person, you cannot defend or make definitive statements about whether something is racist or not.
Whether you’re a Sans Souci, a Clicks or a Brackenfell High, given South Africa’s history, your racial sensitivity game has got to be superior.
And if it isn’t and you slip up, that’s OK.
Don’t defend your actions. Rather acknowledge that you don’t know enough about what constitutes prejudice and then do better next time.
After all, schools are supposed to be places of learning.