As far as we’ve come as a country, racism and preconceived stereotypes are alive and well. In fact like any virus or disease they have mutated into subtle innuendos and snide little comments. And as with any mutant bug there is no known cure for it.
As an open minded society who use words like ‘colorful’ and ‘rainbow’ to describe our diversity we’re still entrenched in our ways of thinking and seeing (or not) other people.
While on holiday in Knysna, where there aren’t a lot of black people bar the holiday makers, I was once again reminded that we still have a very long way to go. We think because we don’t use the ‘K’ word or because we allow ‘non-whites’ to use public beaches we have progressed as a nation. What a lot of crap! As long as there are those stereotypical thoughts swirling around in hundreds of empty heads we haven’t changed. All that’s changed is that we no longer say it out loud…
I am left speechless more often than not by someone’s rather insensitive comment regarding my toddler. I have been told, to my face, that ‘Emma is so clever…for a black child’. I have had a mother tell her child to put sunblock on, “anders sal jy ‘k***** brand” and I’ve had a family point at Emma and I playing on the beach and comment on the ‘rooinek met haar swart kind’. People have no boundaries and even worse, no regard for other people’s feelings.
I’ve been asked by strangers whether Emma’s ‘healthy’ because obviously all black babies have HIV/AIDS. I was also told time and again to check Emma’s birth mother’s background thoroughly in case she drank, drugged or smoked during her pregnancy because the long term damage on an ‘already challenged (black) child’ could be disastrous. Of course no white women do any of the above while pregnant.
At the time we were in the process of bringing Emma home there was a white baby available for adoption, her mother a heroine addict. Nobody seemed concerned about the long term effects that that would have on the little girl, already an ‘ex-addict’ going through withdrawal. All that mattered was she was white and available to adopt.
We’ve adopted Emma in a supposedly tolerant country where we are all equal IF you speak a certain language, look a certain way, do certain things. And we’re still subjected to people’s stupidity.
We can take Emma everywhere we go. We can live in suburbia with our daughter and send her to the best schools. But just because no one’s saying it doesn’t mean it no longer exists.
Democracy and our new South Africa are sugar coatings on a shit tasting pill called discrimination and as long as we judge people based on their appearance and the stereotypes associated with them its always going to be a hard pill to swallow.
Of course there are advantages to having a baby of colour. If she ever misbehaves in public I can pretend she’s not mine. And should anything ever go awry in her life I can put it down to the fact that she’s black!