By BO Staff Writer
Yesterday two tragic but interconnected events occurred (well, tragedy may not be the right word to use here, isn’t black life a tragedy in and of itself? Wasn’t blackness created from tragedy?)
The first event, a black journalist who is affiliated to the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) radio station, Gagasi FM, was labelled a racist for posting on his Facebook page that South Africa belongs to black people. He said white people should be “[necklaced] as they did to our freedom fighters”.
These statements landed Andile Moshoeshoe in hot water, resulting in him apologizing and deleting his account.
The furore got right wingers and liberals hot under their armpits ready to take Moshoeshoe to the Human Rights Commission for hate speech. Moshoeshoe’s rush to apologize reminds one of the sad case of the proposed Hate Crimes Bill which seeks to criminalize racism without taking into account the fact that black people cannot be racist. If the Hate Crimes Bill is made into law, Black people like Moshoeshoe, whose justified black rage pushes them to write such statements, will end up in jail. This is why the Black First Land First’s alternative Anti-racism Bill is so important. Contrary to the Hate Crimes Bill, it clarifies, amongst other things, what racism is, who can and can’t be racist, and who are considered ‘black’ people under Black Consciousness.
The second event was that of a 12 year old black boy being shot dead by a man who “mistook” him for a monkey. Bongumusa Duma was killed while climbing a tree in search of fresh guavas. A couple of weeks ago, a 23 year old farm worker was shot dead by a white man who “mistook” for a warthog. A black woman was driven inside a cage in the back of a bakkie driven by a white farmer. A black man was stuffed, alive, into a coffin by whites. Black women were made to eat food which white boys had pissed on. There are numerous other cases, reported and unreported, where black people have been killed, ‘mistaken’ for dogs, baboons or some other wild animal.
The two cases speak directly and indirectly to the question of structural racism in South Africa. When black people say that “blacks can’t be racist” the proof becomes manifest here. The black man simply utters a well-known truth that white people do not belong in SA, and he is already labelled a racist, his financial well-being jeopardized and he is shamed and forced to apologize publicly in order to appease white fears of a white genocide. But, white people’s words, feelings and disdain for black people have actual material consequences. When, like Penny Sparrow, they imagine us as monkeys – they actually see us as such, act on this (by killing, caging us, peeing in our food) and are protected by the law (one white man stayed in jail for six months for shooting at a man who he “mistook” for a baboon).
The racist structure of South Africa allows for white people to continue “mistaking” us for wild animals, without the simple task of labeling that racism, while black people who express their rage at this racist structure are labeled racist and are publicly humiliated.