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The Iconoclast FEB 2018

TO A NATION IN DENIAL:

TO A NATION IN DENIAL: MUSINGS ON RACE KUTEMBA SONDWAPO discusses life as a minority Where to begin…I suppose you are wondering what exactly we – as a nation, people or country; however you define yourself, are in denial of. To be fair, there exists plenty of things; however, in this insistence, I am talking about racism – social, economic and political. We are all victims of this illness, albeit – to varying degrees depending on ethnicity, class, gender, sex, orientation, religion and disability/or lack of. Racism affects everyone Obviously, a straight white male does not experience the same victimhood compared to a disabled queer black or Asian male. However, racism affects them all - albeit in different ways. The straight white male is ‘victim’ to BLACK LIVES MATTER RALLY IN MINNEAPOLIS 2015 a system that profits him, and in return oppresses anyone that is not him. Anyone out of this standard is victim to not belonging to the norm with varying consequences. Naturally, it is a simplistic way to look at racism, therefore, everyone – no matter your geography, race or class should venture to educate themselves using the numerous credible resources available. There is no excuse that justifies conscious ignorance or deliberate nonchalance to this issue. As products of history, we live in societies that are deeply entrenched with many prejudices - racial stigma being one. It is a structural problem that has influenced and regulated the very fabric of societies – this issue has taken on different forms and even birthed unjust behaviour within minority communities. Issues of colourism have pervaded these communities as byproducts of oppressive social constructs, that have been facilitated by notions of inferiority. Society teaches whiteness Although, scientifically race is not legitimate, sociologically it is very real. I mention this because people who look like me are subjected to be victims of this. Society teaches to be White is to be human; to be white is universal, to be white is the norm. When white people pick up a magazine, scroll through the internet or switch on the TV, it is never rare to see people who look like them in positions of power or authority. The notion of white-

ness is so widespread that many white people don’t even notice it. I only know of this because I am not. When minorities speak out about the lack of representation that is of the media, I hear and see people say, “why are you always complaining” it is as though our concerns are such an inconvenience for whiteness. We must recognise privilege It is as though minorities should be grateful for their existence being acknowledged. To expect more becomes a burden – an inconvenience for those who have never had to worry. We must recognise and acknowledge privilege – to deny or say otherwise, is not only false but also destructive because many of us have privilege of some form ; white women have more privilege than women of colour, the same applies to men, who also have privilege over women in many areas of life, rich people have privilege over people who are less fortunate, etc… My example here illustrates power relationships and accountability. If we can acknowledge these basic facts, why can’t we recognise the other spheres, such as race, that is a prominent factor? Pretending that everything is fine helps no one. It’s dismissive. We should learn to acknowledge uncomfortable truths; it’s not conducive to ignore systemic issues just because they don’t directly affect you, or you don’t experience them. We need to improve the human experience, ignoring these issues creates environments that facilitate regressive behaviours. How to do this? Educate ourselves and practise what we preach. NATIONALISM AND FAR RIGHT RACISM HAS CREEPED MORE INTO SOCIETY RE- CENTLY