You hear someone blurt out: “I don’t see colour, I just see human beings and that is it.” Honestly, is that all you see?
The colour of poverty in this country is black. Sadly it is black, and for almost a quarter of a century, it has been black under a black-led government that could have made it look less black if they had focused on that. However, my writing to- day isn’t about the black-led government.
I want to talk about the colour of my skin and how if anyone fails or chooses to be visually impaired for a minute, they offend me for my entire existence.
The idea of seeing only “human beings” is very idealistic, but far from reality and very condescending. It is a direct insult to me as a black human being.
I understand all those sentiments that glorify humanity, but it is the inhumane sufferings of a black person for hundreds of years that makes it so difficult, almost impossible, for us not to see the colour of our skins, what they represent and present to us on a daily basis.
I personally did not live through the apartheid years, but they haunt me. Their pain seems so genetically and hereditarily transferred from generation to generation in the black race.
Every day, on social media, in the trains, or taxis, black people talk about how they are paid less than their white counterparts who do the same job. Yet, you expect me to see humans before I see my skin colour. How insensitive is that?
Our skin colour, no matter how much many blacks remind themselves of how excellent they are, how capable they are, the majority still suffer from black unconsciousness that says: inadequate, below par, useless, inferior and more.
All of this suffering and the perceptions were institutionalised during the times of a bad system called apartheid. It was designed to strip naked a black child of his or her identity and dignity.
The late leader of the Black Consciousness Movement Steve Biko’s ideologies and movement to help emancipate the black child is a vision that is not complete, thus not accomplishing its mission.
But it encourages people to remember and embrace their skin colour.
He said: “Merely by describing yourself as black you have started a road towards emancipation. You have committed yourself to fight against forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being.”
Therefore, you lot should stop not seeing our skin colour, because that means you do not recognise us at all. Failure to see my skin colour is an insult to my entire existence.
I am a black human being. Identifying me as just a human being is a continuation of marking and stamping me as a subservient being. It is a crime against humanity.
Stop making us feel worse than you feel about us by denying and discouraging us to acknowledge the colour of our skins. This pigmentation is a daily, conscious and unconscious reminder of how far a black person comes from and how far a black person wants to go.
It should not offend you that I identify myself as black.
I hope that your not acknowledging your own skin colour and all the advantages it carried in the past and continues to carry now is not a conscious decision to underplay the crucial role race plays in the democratic South Africa.
So the next time you want to talk about how we can fight racism, remember this: you have to see me beyond being just a human being.
You acknowledging me as a black human being means you acknowledge my entire existence, nothing less.
I’m tired of explaining institutional racism.
* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. Email: [email protected], Twitter: @KabeloJay, Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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