Race...White, Black – it’s not only about colour, but culture.
At the ripe old age of 20, the predominant question on all our minds is ‘Who am I’, and for the gifted few who’ve managed to solve that conundrum, ‘Where do I fit in?’
In South Africa, the colour of your skin affects not only the way you look, but your preferences, who you hang around – it’s a lens through which the world is presented to you. A prejudiced lens. As a white man, someone’s lens could classify me instantly as privileged, detached from the human condition, beer-oriented and focussed only on making money. Alternatively, that same lens could view a black man, decide he must be a foreigner, fundamentally religious, yet at the same time looking to hook-up with as many “yellow-boned” girls he can find. In most cases, these first impressions are not far from the truth, but what becomes of those of us who don’t fit into any of these bias boxes?
We’re stuck in the middle; the “coconuts”, the “top-decks” – betrayers of our own cultures. Personally, I’ve had my fair share of slanted glances when I tell people I have a black girlfriend, that I think rugby is a boorish sport or that I have few white friends. It just isn’t ‘normal’ for someone not to be what the lens assures us they should be. What’s sad is that the idea that we’re all people at the core, all the same, is a lie. Even surrounded by my friends, I’m isolated from them by their language, and can’t relate to the inside jokes about strict cultural demands. But, I’ve no way of engaging with my fellow ‘mlungu’s’, they too have their own language – “Hundreds bru’, shot – I just shagged a chick I met at ‘Tiger” ... huh?
There’s no answer to this problem...I’ve no advice to impart. As long as we’re wearing our lenses we will always be prejudiced, perhaps more so towards those who we can’t read or easily classify. People will stick to what they know, what they can connect with. And I don’t blame them; life is just easier that way.And so I remain stuck in the middle – watching people live surrounded by those they’re comfortable with. Waiting for someone to take off their lenses, and open their eyes