TO Molefe
TO Molefe

‘I’m not racist but…’

The defence of the indefensible. This is how George Orwell described political speech and language. But such is not the sole domain of politicians. The verbal gymnastics used to justify bigotry often reminds me that within us there exists a potential muddier of thought against whom we must guard steadfastly, lest we defend or commit the unconscionable.

Like political language, the language used to mollify bigotry avoids the imagery created by clear and descriptive words. Instead it opts for the abstract, vague and euphemistic. Homophobe, sexist and racist are too strong … and unfair, it says. Why not douche bag?

“Capetonians aren’t racist. They’re just douche bags.”

Yes. This was an actual argument put forward in defence of the many instances Cape Town’s institutions and residents have been accused of racism. Disclaimer: I have been one of the more vocal accusers — and with just cause, too.

For the uninitiated, a douche bag is the apparatus used to deliver a stream of water or other liquid into the body though a cavity — often the vagina but frequently the anus — to cleanse or to treat an infection or a blockage. Moving from this 1930s medical usage the phrase began its journey along the semantic treadmill. On American college campuses in the 1950s, douche bag became a sexist term employed by collegiate boys, who likely were no James Dean lookalikes either, to describe female peers who they deemed unattractive or undesirable. But the pejorative turned relatively quickly to become a term used exclusively to describe men who others deemed obnoxious — because, as everybody knows, the worst way to insult a man is to associate him with anything related to women. By the late 20th century, the phrase had lost much of its sting (and some of its gender specificity) and is now frequently used, even among polite (and unknowing) company.

Last week the phrase was used to defend white Capetonians, who according to the author of this ingenious defence, are generally more prone than other South Africans to make sweeping assumptions about you and treat you accordingly based on your accent, origins and social status. But instead of concluding that these prejudices make these Capetonians accentists, xenophobes and classists, the author obfuscated. Ag, no, he said, don’t mind them, they’re just douche bags.

He also came to the illogical conclusion that because such people are mere douche bags, they don’t employ race as the basis for the fact-free value judgments they use to decide on how to treat people. It’s highly plausible in South Africa that race — given how it has been used and how immediately discernible it often is — is the first basis by which these Capetonians discriminate.

But this isn’t the only recent example of using language to bury meaning. See, I suspect Brendon Henry Shields will be quite surprised to read that he is racist, which is what anybody literate read when he wrote “I am prejudiced and stuck in a comfort zone”.

From an experience Shields had as a Yeoville resident in 2003, he began to notice “differences between ‘us and them’ “. Whites like him were conscientious and cleaned the common areas while blacks dirtied up the place. This one experience marked him, he said. It made him prejudiced and opened his eyes to more “differences” between whites and black South Africans, which is why he no longer attempts to make black friends.

As it seems this needs spelling out, I shall. Racism is the prejudice by which someone, the racist, makes assumptions of and changes their behaviour toward other people based on the colour of their skin. I’m not making this up. It’s in the dictionary. Implicit in Shields’ racial assumptions, all of which are negative, is the view that black South Africans — the messy, noisy, fiscally and parentally irresponsible louts that they are — are inferior beings.

Brendon, you aren’t merely prejudiced, as apparently innocuous as that may sound. You aren’t stuck in a comfort zone either. You are racist.

I could be gentler on the guy and commend him for his “honesty”, as others have done. But that would be doing him, and us all, a disservice. The genesis of his confession was a tweet posted by Ndumiso Ngcobo that said it must take effort not to have close black friends in a country that’s over 80% black. The effort Shields has made to achieve this amazing feat has been through linguistic subterfuge. He is not racist, because that would be bad. He is merely prejudiced. This self-deceit has allowed him to stew unperturbed in his prejudice instead of challenging assumptions that he surely knows are false. His missive was honest only in so far as it was an accurate narrative of his dishonest thoughts. His not self-identifying as a racist, and thus doing little to change, is the reason he does not have black friends, not whatever past experiences he had with black folk.

And he is not alone. A golden oldie in the linguistic repertoire used to soften bigotry is “I’m not racist but … “, which betrays many of the same fallacies in Shields’ reasoning. Whatever follows that statement is guaranteed to be racist, but because the speaker has distanced himself or herself from being labelled anything as repugnant as that, they’ll likely continue to believe that they’re not racist. And they’ll do nothing about it.

Other forms of bigotry, to which none of us is immune, have equivalent examples, which is why I implore vigilance of the language we employ. To borrow from Orwell: the language used to soften bigotry — and with variations this is true of all bigotry, from ageism to xenophobia — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

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  • 38 Responses to “‘I’m not racist but…’”

    1. Stephen Browne #

      I find this surge of racist accusation against Capetonians really weird. Sure, a lot of white Capetonians are racist arseholes. However, isn’t 60% of the population coloured? Or are these the racists being referred to? Most of the commentators seem to be getting their opinions after going to a Mango Groove concert at Kirstenbosch. Any enlightenment appreciated …

      December 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm
    2. Albertus #

      You stated that “Racism is the prejudice by which someone, the racist, makes assumptions of and changes their behaviour toward other people based on the colour of their skin.”

      Your opening line in your Black Anger and White Obliviousness article reads “White people don’t get it.”, which sounds to me that you are voicing a prejudice based on the color of someone’s skin.

      I therefor conclude that you are a racist by your own admission and definition.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    3. pongoland #

      Yeah, talk about double-speak.

      Is “Capetonian” a euphemism for “white person” TO? Have you ever been to Cape Town?

      December 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm
    4. Brendon Shields
      Brendon Shields #

      Good article and adds greatly to the debate,

      Just a small snippet from my own article is needed to show you how that massive chip on your shoulder has clouded your judgement:

      “Today I generalize as if all black people in all living complexes would act the same way – which of course is not true – yet the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.”

      Now read that again and tell me which part suggests I am trying to hide – or is in any way proud of my prejudice.

      I am a racist and writing the letter made me realize it. What now? Must I commit suicide?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm
    5. Mr. Direct #

      @TO

      I commented on that blog that we all take race far too seriously, and we are so very sensitive

      He mentioned that the black/Indian people he met in his Yeoville home, and at his university did not yield friends, because their actions did not match his morals and ethics.

      You have taken this, extrapolated it to a generalisation “that black South Africans — the messy, noisy, fiscally and parentally irresponsible louts that they are — are inferior beings”.

      If you could, please consider some of the elements in your statement:

      - “Irresponsible”? I guess you relate this to the car versus child’s schooling comment, although I would have taken “priorities” as what he was trying to portray.

      - “inferior”? Not sure where this comes from at all. Not mentioned or insinuated as far as I can tell.

      Have a second look at his blog, read it again, and tell me you did not over-react in your statement above?

      He has explained why he has no black friends. Not that he never will, or that all the blacks in the country are bad. Just he has stopped looking, and that he has different standards.

      I asked an employee once, after being caught throwing rubbish out of his car into the street, why he did this. I tried to explain that it was bad for the environment, but he told me: “If I do not throw rubbish on the street, my brother the street sweeper will be out of work”. So, different standards, not better…

      December 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm
    6. Mary #

      THANK YOU for this post. I was jut about to unsubscribe from thought leader.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm
    7. Momma Cyndi #

      I remember that conversation well and why you take what he says so to heart is beyond me. I do, however, stand by my belief that the Cape has got a vast over supply of very unfriendly people. Maybe it is okay if you live there (never have and wouldn’t want to) but I have no idea at all why someone would go there on holiday.

      I do congratulate Brendon on his honesty (to an extent). It is past time that the false smiles and the nervously political correctness was done away with. Until such time as we can all have an honest conversation about the racial prejudiced, we will never move forward. I don’t agree with Brendon but at least he has got us talking

      December 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    8. Granny Weatherwax #

      The people who keep calling Capetonians racist need to sit down and interrogate themselves as to why they think this – after all, a recent UN study found that Cape Town is actually the most ‘equal’ city in SA… in fact, Joeys was one of the most unequal cities in SA! I suspect it is sour grapes because the DA is in power, when most of the accusers are unapologetic supporters of the ANC, regardless of how much corruption and incompetence is exposed. If CT were suddenly to vote ANC, then would it equally suddenly cease to be racist? They are so blinded by their own racism, that they would rather have a corrupt, heavily racialised ANC in power than the honest, hard-working, multi-racial (which includes white people – gasp!) DA. Their own racist points of view are so deeply entrenched they don’t know which way is up… so it’s hard to take anything they say seriously…

      December 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    9. Neutral Observer #

      Very good article with many good points. I strongly support the exact logic of ‘Racism is the prejudice by which someone, the racist, makes assumptions of and changes their behaviour toward other people based on the colour of their skin.’ Based on this, Shields invalid and sloppy generalisations about all black people being untidy based on a few isolated examples most certainly is racism. There’s no getting away from it, it’s a fact. Generalising about people based on skin colour, age, religion, height, whatever it may be – is prejudice. By the way, you may well be right about Capetonians generalising about people based on accent, origins and social status – but don’t forget the other big one – which suburb people live in !………………

      December 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    10. Richard #

      I don’t really see anything here that Brendon hasn’t said himself, apart from a bit of moralising and analysis. You will find that African migrants and their descendants who live in Europe and the US (though I am more familiar with Europe), who are minorities there, as whites are in South Africa, tend to have few friends from other groups. That has been my experience, anyway. In my time in London, which has a very large number of black immigrants and their descendants, I don’t think I ever saw one at an art-gallery, excepting for some at a Nigerian bronzes exhibition at the British Museum. Ditto with public lectures or classical music concerts. And I must have attended at least fifty exhibitions and a similar number of concerts and public lectures over the years. In other words, people can live in the same environment and have nothing in common; cultural difference and skin colour overlap, since they indicate different origins to which different cultures attach. Being born in a stable does not make one a horse, as the saying has it.

      By the way (and not wanting to sound condescending) the sentence in your last paragraph, “Other forms of bigotry, to which none of us are immune..” should read “to which none of us is immune…” since none means “not one of”. No PC slagging-off please, from the peanut gallery, I am simply pointing out a common error. No doubt I make errors too. I know, for instance, that I don’t dance very well.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm
    11. Kullid Dooshbag #

      People will always create stereotypical images of other groups that are different.

      For example – the reference to “Capetonians are douche bags”

      This blanket statement proves that even our beloved blogger is a person who is biased to some degree.

      Yesterday on the gautrain bus, two black kids spoke about a tour to bangkok and how the guys who ordered courtesans were Capetonian – so you “know how they are”

      Who cares?

      Humanity is icky and gross. The sooner this is realised, the easier life becomes.

      Only those obsessed with their own color, or the color of others give a damn.

      fin..

      December 6, 2012 at 9:08 am
    12. Lena Joseph #

      I think that many of the shops, bars, restaurants, clubs in Cape Town are white owned and these are some of the places where one experiences incidents of racism. I have had countless experiences where, when going out with a group of friends, we have been treated incredibly different based on the racial make up of our group. When I was in a predominantly white group we were treated a lot better than when I was in a group of only other races. If it happened once or twice it would be one thing but this has happened enough times for me to establish that race was a factor. One night I went out with a group of friends of which only one was white. When we tried to gain access into a club our group was refused entry because our white friend did not have identification. We decided to go elsewhere but our white friend decided to return on her own to see whether they would let her in by herself. They did. Without the ID they had required just 10minutes earlier.
      Despite the demographics in the Western Cape, when I am at many of the restaurants in the city, when I am at the best beaches, when I visit art galleries or shops the clientele and often the owners are white.

      I think this was a very well written piece and I couldn’t agree more: there is power in our choice of words and the way that we use them.

      Its infuriating and upsetting when my very real and very frequent experiences of discrimination are dismissed as just being an experience with snobbish/cliquey Capetonians.

      December 6, 2012 at 9:38 am
    13. The Creator #

      Cape Town was the only city which was deliberately designed to exclude africans (the Coloured Labour Preference System) and was also the last big city to undergo serious efforts at forced removal (the attempt to destroy Langa, Nyanga and Gugulethu and move the inhabitants to Khayelitsha) so it’s understandable that some people single it out.

      There is also, however, a sense in which white Capetonians love to pretend that they are liberal whereas Gautengers are awful right-wing racists, and there’s a lot of resentment about that. Plus, I may be wrong, but it seems to me that there’s more of a geographical divide between rich and poor in Cape Town — Sandton is just across the Jukskei from Alexandra, isn’t it? Meanwhile, the richest areas in Cape Town face out across the sea and you can pretend that there aren’t any blacks in the world at all.

      Meanwhile, the article is actually about white racism in South Africa. Which is something that hasn’t been properly discussed, at least in the white community, since — well, since about forever.

      December 6, 2012 at 9:40 am
    14. Lennon #

      George Carlin had some interesting comments on this and I’m inclined to agree with him:

      There are a couple of terms been used a lot these days by guilty white liberals, first one is “happens to be”. “He happens to be black”, “I have a friend, who happens to be black” ..like it’s a f#cking accident – you know. “happens to be black ..yes, happens to be black.. yeah”. He had black parents. Oh yes, he did, yes. And they f#cked? Oh indeed they did. So where is the surprise part come in? I think it would be more unusual if he happened to be Scadinavian. And the other term is “openly” – “openly gay”. They say “he is openly gay”, but this is the only minority they use that for. You know, you wouldn’t say someone is “openly black”. Well, maybe James Brown or Louis Farakhan. Louis Farrakhan is “openly black”. Colin Powell is not “openly black”. Colin Powel is “openly white”, he just “happens to be black”.

      December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am
    15. beachcomber #

      Sticks and stones … Yeah … racism in South Africa seems to be conveniently divided into whites who feel superior to black Africans and black Africans who feel they are oppressed socially by whites.
      Forget about the Somali traders who get burnt to death, the black lesbians raped and murdered because of their being “different”, the straight haired green eyed “coloureds” who despise the “korrelkoppe”, the inter-tribal political infighting, the “makhwerikhweri”, etc etc.
      The fact of the matter is that we are all “racist”, as an expression of our anthropological roots.

      December 6, 2012 at 10:09 am
    16. Zeph #

      So Mr Molefe – what is your perception of white people? I would like to gauge your honesty. I suppose they are racist?

      December 6, 2012 at 10:20 am
    17. Sarah #

      Some good points, but yes, I also don’t get the “Capetonians are racist” rant. As a Durbanite living in Cape Town, I experience 100 times as much racism when I go back to Durban than I do in CT. Capetonians may be douchebags, but they mostly don’t give a hoot about your skin colour.

      December 6, 2012 at 11:34 am
    18. GrahamJ #

      This whole thing would be history if someone could just ‘prove’ that whites and blacks are equals.

      Nothing so far. Anyone got something to show?

      December 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm
    19. Tofolux #

      @TO, personally I think that Brendon has shot himself in the foot. He has exposed himself so gloriously and he is now trying his utmost to backtrack and save face. I hope he decides to emigrate and go and live out his bigoted life far from blacks in general and certainly Africans in particular. But clearly we need to deal with these people harshly, the time of forgiving and forgetting is over. We are simply gatvol of this arrogant behaviour and I am glad that you have shown leadership on this issue. I mean, these people think that insulting us is normal behaviour, it isnt.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm
    20. The Critical Cynic #

      intertestingly I did follow your link to the definition of racism and it says
      a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
      and
      racial prejudice or discrimination
      not that I’ve ever been a big fan of merriam-webster but feel free to google away to some of the other big sources of definition.

      so, unless you got your narrow definition (down to skin colour) of racism somewhere else (as in a respected dictionary) it appears that you did in fact make up your own definition. That’s like shooting yourself in the foot dude!

      @Tofolux – it must be normal behaviour, you do it constantly. And when someone starts sprouting rubbish like no longer being forgiving it’s time to play spot the tyrant. Hey, you’re it! – or at least you would be given half the chance, and just how harsh is harsh enough hey?

      December 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm
    21. Run away #

      @ Tofolux – what a silly, childish response! “These people?” Really? Do you live in lala land? Racism and bigotry are our national past time. The pot is calling the kettle black. It’s quite a fall from that position on top of the high horse.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm
    22. Paul S #

      What a poor response to an open and frank admission by Brendon. Did you bother to note how many blacks actually respnded positively to what he wrote ? And spare us the gory medical definitions of douche bags etc is, if you would. The majority of us have a pretty good idea and if not, they’re easy enough to google.

      December 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm
    23. Richard #

      @Tofolux and @Dave Harris sound suspiciously like the same person.

      December 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm
    24. Karney #

      Poor Brandon, you stuck your toe into the water and the great shark of pent up race hang ups got you . You made the cardinal error of thinking you could air your white opinion about race and get away with it. No matter what you had written , the haters would have jumped on you. What is it with race? So what if you have black friends, white friends or no friends. People mix with whoever they feel comfortable with and one day, hopefully race will not enter the equation.

      December 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm
    25. Zeph #

      @Creator – yes you are correct about the divides in CTN; they are glaring. One has to look at the Geographical uniqueness of CTN coupled with what money can buy to get the complete picture…
      If i had money I would like to buy a place with the mountain as my back yard, the ocean as my view and sheltered from the wind. Unfortunately I am more to the flats where the soil is good only for moles and trees seem to want to lie down…

      December 7, 2012 at 8:40 am
    26. jandr0 #

      @Lennon: George Carlin is great! Give him a spade. He calls it a spade. George Carlin: “I like people. But I like them in short bursts…”

      @Kullid Dooshbag: Like your approach to life. Hang-ups, what the aitch is that? Stay cool, dude, do good things and have a wonderful life!

      @Richard: Tofolux usually makes more sense than Dave Harris. While Dave Harris is just plain bigoted and blinkered to any facts inconsistent with his world view (our own Archie Bunker), I have at times enjoyed debating an issue or two with Tofolux (yes, we do disagree on a quite a few things, but in all fairness, there have been times that I’ve agreed with Tofolux).

      @TO: I respect you for engaging with the issue (some things you say I agree with, others not). I am saddened that everyone keeps on painting themselves in one corner and others in the “You are WRONG!” other corners. Life is not that simple. We are complex human beings. I know you are likely to be very busy, but if you can find Paul Bloom’s (Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University) “The Psychology of Everything” on YouTube (and your bandwidth allows it!), I highly recommend it as one of the most open, objective psychological views on a few very politically sensitive subjects I have seen.

      Unfortunately it won’t necessarily fit with Dave Harris’ world view, so it probably must be wrong.

      ;-)

      December 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    27. jandr0 #

      @Tofolux: “But clearly we need to deal with these people harshly…”

      “I mean, these people think that insulting us is normal behaviour…”

      What is “harshly?” Who are “these people,” and who are “us?”

      You seem to be revealing a lot of suppressed hatred here. While one could say there are racist tendencies in the Shields guy’s comments, I didn’t detect racial hatred. Your comments, on the other hand… you seem to be worse than him.

      Please go and take a very, very long look at the person looking back at you in the mirror, because:

      “We see things NOT as THEY are, but as WE are.” – ascribed to H.M. Tomlinson and to Anais Nin.

      Clearly there must be deep pain inside you somewhere, so for your own mental health, I really hope you can conquer your internal demons and free yourself from your emotional shackles.

      PS. Nobody can do that for you. It is one of the hardest endeavours in the world, and it is only the person him/herself than can do it. I suspect (though I may be wrong), that the Shields guy is trying to do exactly that (face his internal demons). If so, I wish him luck, because it appears he’ll be getting no support in this hardest task of all from the likes of you.

      December 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm
    28. Brian B #

      Ah the race card !!
      A perpetually disingenuous way of attempting to justify the cracks in a fragmented society instead of bridging them.
      Actually there is much good will between South Africans of all backgrounds
      AND there is a common denominator – the improvement of quality of life for all.
      There is ample potential for exponential growth employment and prosperity to provide for those who want to move forward without penalising people for the colour of their skin or their upbringing if only all focus on the result .
      Much better than playing a blame game and watching things decline.

      December 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm
    29. Dirk de Vos #

      Hmmm, and so the debate goes on with no end in sight. Speaking of language and bigotry, perhaps it is time to introduce a new word into our lexicon: A word for the prejudice one has (based on sweeping assumptions) about a person based on that person’s geographical location – a Geographist (anyone?). We could then expand/update our linguistic repertoire thus. “I am not a geographist (using a hurt tone of voice), some of my best, best friends are from Cape Town.”

      December 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm
    30. Eva B. #

      (disclaimer: I am not from Cape Town or even South African, I am a European that has been living in CT for many years)

      I don’t think white Cape Tonians are racists. There are just too few black people with the same lifestyle as whites, therefore the little mixing in social groups. Coloureds and whites usually mix more, but it really all depends where people went to school or whether they share same social status.

      But one thing I agree: whites in Cape Town are just so self absorbed and so trapped in their (allegedly) cool bubble that they give little F*** about anyone of whatever colour.

      December 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    31. Tofolux #

      @Jandro & et al , inasmuch as you want to deny that racism exists, it does. Inasmuch as you deny that brendon’s is racist, he is. The problem with your denialism is that this very Brendon admitted and acknowledged that he is a racist. Now that you have arrogated yourself (once again) to patronise and placate victims of racism with insults its obvious your superiority complex is on high alert. Reality check, you cannot tell us what to feel when a racist unleashes his narrow-minded hatred on a group of people who has got nothing to do with his feelings of inadequacy. Personally, I think that you guys are taking too much for granted. If you open your eyes, the public space is becoming increasingly hostile and if you think that our painful past has not led to festering wounds then again you are a denialist. All this that you do, you do at your own peril. Also, I wonder at what point will you call upon your morals and principles. When something is wrong, then it is wrong. This denialism isnt just about dishonesty, it goes to the root of one’s personal norms and standards. It is quite amazing that when people are given the opportunity to do the ”right” thing, they fail themselves dismally. We have been guided by so many visionaries, true South Africans, to do the right thing. Today as we think about Madiba, is there no possibility for others to rise above their narrow prejudices? Madiba has shown us the possibilities of being honest and true to our humaneness. Wat abt you?

      December 10, 2012 at 8:53 am
    32. Potato #

      I find snobbery in CT rife. I have felt looked down upon by “coloured” employees at luxury established as much as by “peach people” as my friends daughter refers to “white” people. PS my use of inverted quotes is deliberate.

      “Rich” people do seem less tolerant, especially at the fancy places at which other races generally could not afford. Yes, it does depend very much on where you are. I like good food, so I guess I am exposed to it more often. At the lovely Cellars-Hohenhort, my husband, who drives a VW caddy to transport our furkids, was mistaken as a delivery vehicle, even though we were dressed in fancy evening clothes. We laughed it off, but it does make one think…

      We dined at The Conservatory, where we were the only SA’n guests. (it was our 1st anniversary celebration hence the very expensive dining experience). I dunno, I guess that our unrefined choice of wine (cheapest per glass) made us stand out more than the fact that we are a white & milk chocolate coloured couple-with reference to the totally yummy chocolate fondant & vanilla bean ice cream I gobbled up for dessert.

      Yes, I have had some odd experiences in CT. But I guess I have learnt to neutralise it by being totally down with being a short nerdy brown fatty who likes food & doesn’t really give a toss what other people think anymore, unless they’re agreeing with me.

      I find it very condescending when I show up at an event to surprised “I didn’t think Indians were into this”. I…

      December 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm
    33. jandr0 #

      @Tofolux: Hi there again, hope you’re doing well.

      You start off: “inasmuch as you want to deny that racism exists…”

      Please point out where I denied racism exists.

      Can we please deal in facts. If you want to postulate a hypothesis, then feel free to do so, but please make it clear that it is a hypothesis, and don’t state it as if it is a fact.

      By the way, since you started by stating something as a fact which is a complete, utter untruth, I decided that I don’t feel like reading the rest of your post.

      I would love to engage in dialogue with you, but please do not put words in my mouth.

      Looking forward to engaging again very soon…

      race (human): An ideology that assumes firstly that distinct divisions within humanity can be made on the basis of phenotypic or genotypic characteristics, and secondly that these distinctions are the cause of distinct differences in culture, intelligence, or behaviour. The vast majority of biologists agree that there is NO biological or genetic basis for race. [Valparaiso University, "GEO 101 World Human Geography: Glossary."]

      FWIW, I agree with that vast majority of biologists on RACE.

      However, that does not mean that I deny that RACISM exists.

      racism: A set of ideas and social practices that ascribe negative characteristics to a particular racial group who are mistakenly assumed to be biologically distinct. [Knox, P., Pinch, S., "Urban Social Geography, An Introduction."]

      December 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm
    34. jandr0 #

      @Tofolux: OK, I decided to go an read your full comment.

      Frankly, I am is not even remotely identical to the person you have conjured up in your head.

      “inasmuch as you want to deny that racism exists…”

      Already dealt with above. Nowhere have I ever denied that.

      “patronise and placate victims of racism with insults…”

      Nowhere have I done that. If I point out that YOUR continued references to “those people” and “act harshly” suggests something worse than Shields’ position, then clearly I have based it on YOUR words. There is no insult anywhere.

      “unleashes his narrow-minded hatred on a group”

      Let me repeat. Shields never said he HATED. Those are YOUR views. Those are YOUR words. You are the one that is making it HATRED.

      Psychology 101 says to me in conditions like these, it is highly likely that YOU are the one that have to deal with internal demons. That is not an insult. That is simply MY (admittedly unqualified) reading of psychology 101.

      Please Tofolux. I beg you. How you see the world, is how you will experience the world. If you insist in seeing everybody as closet racists, then that will become your reality.

      I don’t know you personally. It is a highly likely that you are a wonderful, caring person. Please be that person. There are similar wonderful, caring persons of ALL races in South Africa. If you look for them with that attitude, you will find them.

      In the mean time, feel sorry for Shields. He’s trying.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:00 am
    35. cheri #

      i thoroughly enjoyed the blog Brendon wrote as I, a coloured Capetonian woman can relate in almost all ways. is it racist for me to say that i agree??? i have many black friends and white but allow me to say this -even my black friends admit to these behaviour traits as being “black traits” fully and without shame. how often do i drive behind a car with a black family inside it where KFC boxes, fruit peelings and plastic packets are not thrown out the window. when i tried to throw my cigarette butt out a white friends car window i got the third degree about it from her. the difference i think is how the different races prioritise “pollution and littering”. How many times do i see my colleagues arriving at work (black and coloured) in their latests Benz but feel no shame in asking for lunch money from me? PRIORITY. im sorry but the racist card is always played when a white or coloured person expresses opionion based on true experience.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:37 am
    36. TO, as the author of the piece you alternately label both “illogical” and “ingenious” (Capetonians aren’t racist. They’re just douche bags) I feel it is my duty to point out that you have spectacularly missed the point of my argument.
      Rather than an “ingenious defence” of what you perceive to be white Capetonian racism, my point was simply that just because someone treats you badly doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump to the conclusion that they are racist. Maybe they’re just snobbish idiots who look down on everyone, including members of their own race. You seem to have completely missed the tongue in cheek, satirical tone of the piece.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. Racism ranks « Spindrifting South African seamonkey. - December 6, 2012

      [...] TO Molefe thinks that Cape Town is indeed more racist. [...]

    2. Bigotry and the English language, with apologies to Orwell « The Modular Man - December 7, 2012

      [...] post originally appeared in Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader group [...]

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