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We are human beings, racial classification does not matter

Brian Isaacs writes that the concept of ’race’ is a construct by people who want to divide human beings, and how in SA racial discrimination is almost a daily experience for many. File picture: KIM LUDBROOK/EPA

Brian Isaacs writes that the concept of ’race’ is a construct by people who want to divide human beings, and how in SA racial discrimination is almost a daily experience for many. File picture: KIM LUDBROOK/EPA

Published Mar 19, 2021

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The latest “racial” issue in the US is the one where sports commentator Matt Rowan criticised the girls who took a knee before the start of a basketball game, to protest against discrimination.

I agree that action must be taken against people who discriminate against people on the basis of skin colour. Action must certainly be taken against this racist commentator, who now says he made this statement calling these girls who went down on one knee n**gers, because he has type 1 diabetes.

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Unbelievable in 2021.

However, people are subjected to this kind of discrimination worldwide.

Of course, in South Africa, this is almost a daily experience for many of us. We are required to put down our “race” on so many government documents because government says they can then deal with the question of equity more effectively.

I was brought up – and I thank my parents for this – being told that we are human beings.

My mother cared for five sons with a standard five education and my father was a carpenter with a Grade nine education. Yet they had the common sense to raise us as human beings.

Their words were: “Let no one refer to the colour of your skin!” I thank my working-class parents for instilling this concept into our minds. It has certainly stood the test of time for me.

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In teaching, many times I had to confront colleagues, and especially officials of the Education Department, about the issue of “race”.

The concept of “race” is a construct by people who want to divide human beings. If a person is poor, the person is poor – be the person “black” or “white”. I remember that I refused, when I entered the matric students for their final examinations, to put down their “race” group, the department would classify the students for me. The school received less money from the Education Department because it refused to classify itself in its ”ethnic“group.

In a principals’ meeting, a so-called “white” principal got up and said: “As a white person, I changed the school.”

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I got up and said what rubbish! If he had said that he changed the school as a human being, then that would be a different matter.

There is a biblical phrase which says “gird up your loins”. That is what we must do, as the young girls did before the basketball game started, by going on one knee. Take a bow, girls, I am proud of you.

I am an avid lover of tennis and enjoyed coaching students and taking them to their matches. Now, the school I taught at had no tennis courts yet still we played tennis. I would tell my students to engage with the schools to ask them how they acquired these courts. We must encourage debate amongst our students.

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The government is aware of the areas in our country that are impoverished. They do not need to know the race of people. It is just a smokescreen to say “can you see we are doing more for certain disadvantaged groups, whereas much more needs to be done for the poor in our country”.

I am grateful to my worker parents, who instilled in me that I am a human being and, in their very simple way, debunked the concept of race. I thank you mom and dad. You are the true non-racial South Africans.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

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

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