Letter: Bigotry is alive in new SA

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national school of arts INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A man walks past the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, where a teacher accused of making racist remarks has been placed on cautionary suspension. Picture: Itumeleng English

Let’s not pretend any longer that South Africa is this special country that has overcome racist thinking and behaviour, says Johannes Vogel.

Johannesburg - The article “Outrage over teacher’s alleged racist slurs” refers (SEE RELATED ARTICLES ABOVE).

I think it is great that people are exposed for any racist behaviour, attitudes, or language uttered.

The fact that a teacher was allegedly involved in this instance makes it especially bad.

Children must be treated with respect and we need a new generation that can help to rid the country from racial slurs, acts or even thoughts.

Teachers can play a huge role because most of them deal with the complexities of the issue daily.

We know the history of apartheid too well and its racist ideologies that were preached from the pulpits of Afrikaner churches, fostered in schools, entrenched in the SA Defence Force and commonly experienced in social circles.

Our society was rotten to the core in racist thinking and behaviour. So we need to condemn any form of racist behaviour.

It alarms me to see how many young people in this country, including black people, are becoming blatantly racist in their use of language and actions.

The openly racist comments about especially coloured people are mind-blowing.

And, yes, coloured people also use similar derogatory and racist language, just as many white people do.

When people realise I’m an Afrikaner, they seem to feel free to tell racist jokes openly, make racial comments, and use the K-word.

They assume that because I’m an Afrikaner, I am a racist. I find that offensive and extremely patronising.

I spend so much time speaking to all races of all walks of life and visit different townships frequently and it amazes me how quickly conversations will take on a racial tone. Racist thoughts, ideologies and behaviour are common.

I believe that people sometimes hide or disguise their racism because they know that there will be severe consequences if they are caught or exposed for doing so.

However, in private conversations racism is as common as our daily bread.

Social media are infested with examples of racist invective.

Let’s call a racist a racist here.

Let’s not pretend any longer that South Africa is this special country that has overcome racist thinking and behaviour.

What has worsened the situation is that black, coloured and Indian people, who have all suffered so much under racist ideologies, have now also become openly racist.

We need a moral revolution as much as we need an economic revolution.

And, it is all these thoughts and words that eventually explode in the public domain, when a certain situation unfolds. At some point racist behaviour or thoughts will spill over into the public domain.

Whether it involves teachers, politicians, journalists and sadly even our justice system.

Magistrates and judges have been guilty in the past and even now when they deliver judgments.

They walk on eggshells not to offend and there is a perception that judges’ verdicts are sometimes clouded by race issues.

There is one part of the article that worries me. There is no comment from the teacher or the school.

If they chose not to comment, it should have been stated.

Johannes Vogel

Joburg

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

The Star



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