What is colour? Is it a definition of being or something we like to see as pleasant to the eye. When one talks about race in particular, a lot of us let our past define us. I am a young black woman, who still has a lot to learn about the world and it’s so called complex elements. I am far from being a mind reader but I have a strong sense of who I am and how people think. I still can’t figure out why our black brothers and sisters think the world of white people and this is brought about my day to day experiences and interactions with different people. During the apartheid era black people were made to feel inferior but now times have changed and some of us still have the same mentality. The most recent example could be that of Mshoza, who bleached her skin so that she could feel more attractive. I think skin bleaching has nothing to do with enhancing your beauty it’s about not loving who you are and not embracing the colour of your skin.
What we need to change is our mindsets and attitudes, our background or history shouldn’t stop us from becoming who we want to be. The term previously disadvantaged makes me cringe whenever someone uses it because most of the time it is used to refer to a black person. The word isn’t glamorous nor should it be a synonym for black people, we will never be fully empowered if we continue to allow it. i’m digressing. Here is the thing; There I was at a shopping mall in a queue when I overheard a young black sister by the till greeting a white woman with a smile and so politely you would swear they knew each other from somewhere. When it was my turn she just stared, pushed my items aside and asked “U funa I plastiki”? I know some of you are probably nodding at this because it has happens so many times that it has actually become a norm. The incident never really bothered me then but the more I thought about it, the more i realised that this is the a huge problem with a lot of Black people. This is one example that we need to treat each other with respect and dignity if we want to get some where as a country.
18 years into democracy race is still an extremely sensitive issue. My husband and I had a discussion about it, he said it will take the country at least 18 years to experience a complete change. Yes, but shouldn’t we be the change we want to see? I don’t want my kids to grow up with the mentality that they are inferior, I want them to be proud of whom and what they are- and that has to start with me. A 3 year old i know is already showing disturbing signs; she prefers any light skinned doll to a darker one Why? Because the people around her believe that light skinned dolls are prettier than dark dolls. This clearly applies to people as well. Chances are that she will have a lower sense of esteem or regard for black people as she grows older, and so the cycle continues.
We see flashes of this attitude when people look down on people who did not go traditionally white private schools or who do not speak English well, even our government seems to have this attitude as they want to eradicate African languages being taught in schools beyond Grade 3. If our rulers don’t even respect our language, what example are they setting for us?
As different as we may all look I think the colour of our eyes or skin is a reflection of being individuals but in all true sense of the word we are human and we all the same. Here’s a simple example; Take a green and a red apple take a bite off on each, you will find that they each have a different colour but yet they are the same inside. Change starts with all of us, time frame doesn’t matter, we just have to move forward and make it happen. It is as if we were all programmed to think that we can’t be better or do better than the other, who is to blame for all this confusion in society- the system? I guess we all have to seek answers as we go along. We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay when everything is still just in black and white?
I’ve opened up the comments section. What are your thoughts?
Palesa Matlebyane is a lifestyle writer for JucyAfrica. She loves fashion, writing and traveling. She is the shy type but can be loud! You can follow her on twitter here: @palesama