I’m really mad that racism still exists. Plain and simple. In a world so full of religions, cultures, and colors that are distinct by themselves and just as unique when interbred, how does an intolerant attitude still have a place?
Case in point: a white man looked at my Xhosa coworker like she had just eaten a small child, simply because she got to the parking spot he wanted before he could take it. My mouth dropped, and I felt like that moment lasted years as we, unblinking bystanders and unwilling participants in his racist game, watched him drive slowly past.
Was he mad that a black woman had the balls to park in a space available to whoever got there first? Was he shocked that a black woman could have a white friend? Was he scared that the New South Africa allows black women behind the wheel in the first place?
I understand where this attitude, and I understand that it’s difficult to change. A society so embroiled in hatred, in ignorance, in unfounded distrust can’t and won’t transform overnight. I used to think that, for this very reason, none of us could blame the other: I can’t blame the white person who grew up in Apartheid-era South Africa for their racism, just as they can’t blame me for seeing a person before I see a color.
Now I call bullshit on that one. Tolerance never hurt a soul; intolerance has killed a million bodies and a trillion souls.
In legislation, racism is dead. Apartheid is dead. In reality, it is alive and well. My coworker told me about having to leave school early because of the riots, the tear gas, the dead bodies on street corners. Are you shitting me? She was in fourth grade at the end of apartheid. Police gassed a child because that child was black.
Racism isn’t dead. It is the beast that keeps on breathing, no matter how you try to stamp it out. I asked my coworker if I could get her story, write it out, hear everything from beginning to end. For that is the only way to suffocate the beast: to cram its lungs and its mouth and its nose so full of the words of people who refused to lie prone before it that it must stop breathing altogether.