Thursday, April 30, 2015

#RhodesMustFall, #Xenophobia, and #Baltimore

We're four months into 2015 and racial tensions are high.  Now, you American readers are probably very familiar with the Baltimore situation, but likely less familiar with the xenophobic attacks and outbreaks in South Africa and even less so the Rhodes situation.

Those of you who are familiar with all three are likely asking why I'm lumping them all together in one post. After all, they're in two separate countries; how much similarity can there be?

A lot.

South Africa and the USA share a common history. Both had colonial governments who endorsed slavery; both had racial freedom marred by state-instituted and -enforced segregation; and both are still experiencing backlash abd racial tensions regarding dissatisfaction with the lack of change since the establishment of equal rights and "true freedom".

Earlier this year, students at the University of Cape Town protested the presence of the statute of Cecil John Rhodes, South African governor under British colonialism, smearing the statue with filth and working towards its eventual removal. Rhodes was an effective governor, bringing much progress to the region, but he was also a product of the colonial mindset, which led to the protests that he was a racist abd led indirectly to the establishment of apartheid.

First cropping up in 2008, many black South Africans began raiding and looting small refugee-owned shops and businesses, as it was perceived that these foreigners were taking all their jobs. Earlier this year, those sentiments rose with added vengeance.

Last week another young black man was shot and killed by a white policeman. In a case similar to #Ferguson, and #Trayvon, many African-Americans rose up to protest a fairly well established sentiment of unequal treatment and perception and, as in Ferguson, rioting broke out in the wake of otherwise peaceful protests.

All of these events are linked by common action and perception. We have violent protests and vandalism. We have members of the aggrieved party seeking peaceful protest and reconciliation, even going so far as to help repair damage abd protect the attacked, urging others to abandon the violence and seek true restitution through peace.

My thought as a white resident of both countries is this: these events keep occurring. They won't stop until we treat the root cause.

So, what's the root? Disempowerment of the black community. Unfortunately, it's less simple to treat than state. You see, part of the problem is caused by the state and non-blacks, but part of the problem is also caused by the black communities in both countries. In both countries there is a trend of self-victimisation and entitlement, the mentality that, as the previously disadvantaged, recompense is deserved. This is partial exacerbated by policies such as affirmative action and BEE. Such a mentality, in any population, also leads to a welfare state as individuals wait for what they deserve to be given to them instead of seizing the opportunity now granted to pursue actively what was previously unavailable.

Freedom, you see, is not about equal results, but opportunities and I realise that, as a straight, white male, the opportunities are a little easier for me to obtain and that is the true fault off the system, the true issue being protested, that when all animals are equal, some are still more equal than others. We can only combat this, however, through coming together across communities, meeting one another where we are, and talking about it.

That is my challenge to you, reader. Step outside of your community, your associations, and start a relationship with someone different from yourself, be they black, white, Hispanic, Arabic, or some other racial or social group. If you already do this, excellent, now encourage others to do the same.

Church, now is the time to act. We follow a teaching of equality under the same God, that regardless of background, we are all still sinners equally in need of grace. So, let us come together across boundaries and worship as one body, setting the example for others in reconciliation.

I have been informed Mr Gray posed away from injuries sustained while resisting arrest, not from a gunshot.