Friday, February 29, 2008

Racism and Political Correctness

For multiple reasons, I cannot get online. And I am feeling low, too low to do anything worthwhile.


I needed my fix, the internet, and I have been frustrated for the last 4 hours. That is how long I have been trying to read material online.

OK, so my internet provider is having problems. Sometimes it is hard to remember that I am only one of the 4% in Africa who have access to internet services. Makes me feel like I have not eaten breakfast when I fail to access my email!

There is this story about racist, apartheid South Africa that I have been following. Just a few choice quotes.

“This is the real South Africa
White and black are shocked to discover how little the country has changed.”

“The surly white students, dressed in their uniform of tight shorts and rugby shirts, gathered at the entrance of the once exclusively white hostel and cast hostile glances at the visitors.

Black students hastened their pace or crossed to the other side of the road as they passed the main entrance of Reitz residence, named after a premier of the Orange Free State, one of the early Boer Republics.”

“a day after a home-made video showing male Afrikaner students forcing black domestic workers to eat dirty meat and drink soup into which they had urinated”

“Students and staff on the campus said that the incident, although the most extreme in recent times, was far from unique”

Billyboy Ramahlele, director of diversity at the university, said: “This is the real South Africa. That is what has shocked people about what happened here. The tragedy is these white boys don't even think they have done anything wrong.”

Pretty horrible stuff, isn’t it? And by the way, that account is sanitized. Made to do physical work indeed! The BBC account was more 'graphically descriptive' but I cannot get the text.

One of the things which I do not want to blog about. The reason is that I find myself very uncomfortable when I accuse white people of being racist. Fact. In Uganda, in Africa, we are so ‘xenophobic’ that this kind of denigration of another person because he or she is different is very common.

Yes, maybe I am an apologist. That is would be the charge, maybe 27th Comrade will raise it immediately. But I do like to extend my logic to embrace all that is in the world, not just a few instances. For example

A brother of mine, on being asked what a girl who had finished university was going to do, says, derisively, ‘ She is going to get married. She is a woman, what else is there for her?’

In school, I had two friends, from different ethnic groups. One used to inform the other sarcastically, at least once a day, that in days gone by, his ethnic group could not sit down to eat with the others. I am afraid to say I used to laugh with the others. It was a ‘joke’ to us. But in retrospect, what a terrible joke. A terrible insult. (When the Church of Uganda said they could not sit at table with the American church, I knew the Anglican Communion was doomed. Cultural considerations.)

In Uganda at the moment, when one speaks about ‘westerners, northerners,’ etc, everyone understand what you are talking about. Our faction-ism is so deeply entrenched I bet some Ugandans reading this are wondering what the hell I am doing relating a deeply, disturbingly, and severely racial incident to these day to day issues.

I will invite you to remember what happened in Kenya. Is it any different when one rapes another man, or kills and burns children in a church, or forcibly circumcises a person- simply because that other person is different from you?

It is normal to demonise and look down on another as subhuman if you can identify a particular difference between the self and another person. Is racism any different from sexism? I bet you all African males have been guilty of sexism one time or the other. I have. It is not 'politically incorrect'. But racism is politically incorrect. So it may be the bigger sin.

And the reason for this self assessment?

Don’t have to look far. I am gay. I wonder why I am so different in the eyes of others when I inform them that I am a homosexual. Those who would want to spit in my face because it is politically correct in Uganda to demonise a homosexual, I think that is the same attitude to the white boy who urinates on food and forces an elderly black woman to eat the food and piss.

Anyway, what do you think?



kissyfur said...

Im sure you wont be suprised at the multitude of people who believe the two incidents are as different as Night and day.This is what happens when people feel threatened in some way, the can do the most dispicable things.

Phoenix said...

I think that most of the time we are comfortably wrapped in our own lives, we forget there are people who are treated differently, poorly because of the way they are born or the way they choose to live thier lives.
If it helps, I would never spit on you or join handsa with the ignorant who would.

gayuganda said...

True Kissyfur,

thanks for the good intentions Phoenix.


DeTamble said...

I think racism is weird. Particularly if it's "colour" based. Technically there's only four races and they have nothing to do with colour. It's just so depressingly stupid.

When I was little a Chinese boy spat at me and called me a "dirty white". I didn't know what he was talking about but he had just spat at me, so I head butted him. I asked my (step) daddy why he did that but my dad said "never mind, some people are just mean" Btw my dad is half Chinese half Dutch, mixed race, and handsome.

I remember learning about racism in school, we studied Apartheid. I was 13. My best friend was from Ghana. I was disgusted that people could treat other people badly just because of something as stupid as skin colour or race. My cousins all look different to me, my dad looks different to me. My cousins are olive with brown hair and brown eyes. I have fair skin, freckles and grey eyes. Should I hate them for being different to me?

Xenophobia sucks.

Sorry this didn't really have much to do with your post. Just makes me sad and angry is all.

gayuganda said...

Hi DeTamble,

I think your experience does illustrate this 'racism' thing. Or xenophobia.

For some reason, we are taught that those who are different, in any identifiable way, are inferiour, or bad, etc. Weird and illogical, but fact. And it plays out in many, many ways.

Thanks for sharing.

It does make me sad and angry too.


DeTamble said...

Imagine if you were racist and told me not to read your blog, or if I was racist and refused to read your blog. I would totally miss out on all the great things you say. That would be so stupid. So luckily for me you're not and luckily for me I'm not.


gayuganda said...

I will accept,

if we follow the American way and you are the VP on the ticket!


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