Me? A racist? No way.
Are we a bunch of racists? Surely not! It's 18 years after the end of apartheid. We've moved on. As Evita Bezuidenhout told NewsNow
this week: "Some of my best friends today have black friends."
So why then does race still so often divide the rainbow nation? In its 24th issue NewsNow
spoke to 10 South African opinion makers about their experiences of racism - open and subtle.
Prejudice is common, comedian Marc Lottering told the magazine. "Like when you walk down the street and seldom assume that the oncoming white person is going to mug you." Tannie Evita (alter-ego of Pieter-Dirk Uys) said in the past it was "politically correct" to be a racist. "Everything I did in those days must have been seen as racism. I'm so glad I've been forgiven."
So what has changed? We've become more willing to tackle racism, Makhosazana (Khosi) Zwane-Siguqa, editor of Drum
, said. In 2007 she was told she was "black and too young" for a senior position. She was too shocked to react - but would not take similar insults lying down these days. Now she is "focused on setting an example for my children and siblings."
Palesa Morudu, publisher and commentator, felt racism at hot springs in 1995 and swallowed it. "Everyone left as soon as I got into the pool. It dawned on me they were leaving because of my race. As soon as I climbed out, everyone got back in again. This kind of behaviour is less acceptable today."
All of us are sometimes prejudiced. 7de Laan
actor Christo Davids told NewsNow
he's had to learn "patience". It dawned on actress and producer Nina Swart one day that many people speak to petrol attendants "as if they're a child". "I caught myself speaking like that. Now, in my daily communications, I try to be aware of how I talk to people." Rock musician Karen Zoid was a victim of racism at a performance at the Union Buildings years ago but "fought it with love". Yet she checked whether her cell phone was still in her pocket after black fans surrounded her. "I felt terrible that I'd immediately assumed they were trying to rob me, when in fact they were trying to love me."
Can blacks be racist? Editor of New Frank Talk
, Andile Mngxitima, doesn't think so. Black South Africans still make up the vast majority of South Africa's poor and are "crammed into buses and trains - like the slave ships," he said. "That's racism." But when political analyst Eusebius McKaiser had friends over for dinner, one of them said he hadn't gone to the beach in Durban because "there was just a sea of black people". "He is a black person himself. This is a form of self-hatred and shows that you can be racist towards your own race group."
At least be open about your racism, Scott Burnett, group director of programmes at LoveLife, said. "Often I think openly racist people are at least more honest - they know what they are."
Read more in NewsNow
issue 24 which goes on sale Friday, 24 February 2012. The digital edition is available at www.mysubs.co.za
from Thursday, 23 February 2012. Go to nn.co.za