As some of you might know, I am currently at university and one of my majors is Anthropology. We just recently started a module on ‘Race and Ethnicity’ and it kind of took me by surprise that I found this topic to be such an interesting and touchy one. Being someone who had grown up with and around white people my entire life, I had never really been a racially considerate person regardless of the contrary that I received from a lot of my white counterparts. Yes, we used to laugh with each other; hug and play together; and even share food, yet one still got a sense of there are just some things that will never change and there will always be a racial boundary that will prevent people from obsolete to the concept of racial difference. Once I got to Rhodes University (where I am currently studying), I genuinely thought I was at a place where all racial boundaries had been transcended and there was no such thing as racial division. It gave me a sense of pride; warmth and happiness in seeing black people interact with other races in a matter which was of brotherly love in my eyes there was no hindering on one’s body colour so as to decide what kind of interaction was appropriate and what wasn’t.
Yet once I attended lectures on the issue of ‘Race and Ethnicity’, it got me thinking and seeing in a different perspective. It started to become visible that in this place that I considered ‘racial neutrality’- racial division was very prevalent in a manner which was both extremely tactful and subliminal. I started seeing how the people racially grouped themselves in the dining halls of the residencies; at society socials; and even the insipid use and preference of the compute laboratories. It was like my eyes had been opened up to a new world that wasn’t as rosy as I thought it was. It also was that a lot of the racial division was subliminal and that a lot of the people weren’t even aware that they were doing it such as in the case where a lot of the blacks who sit together and a lot of the whites sit together and a lot of the Muslims sit together in the dining halls with very little people sitting in racially mixed groups. It even extended to the point where some computer labs are used by whites and some by blacks!
One of the more subtle ways of justifying the racial divisions for of the students was in the preferences regarding party spots . Black people partied at certain spots and white people partied at certain spots and it was at a few places where everyone came to union and partied together. This is casually blamed on the difference in ‘music taste’ where-by if you as a black person privately why they don’t party at ‘Friars’ (A dance club where they play dance electro music), they will tell you it’s too white; and if you privately ask a white person why they don’t party at ‘Equilibrium’ ( a night club where they play House and Hip-Hop music), they will tell you it’s too black! All of these revelations have reinforced in me the belief that there will always be racial issues in our country. As sad as it is to say- racism has been embedded into the DNA of all South Africans and we will all fall victim to it throughout our entire lives. We might all laugh, play, love and connect with each other- BUT THERE ARE JUST SOME THINGS THAT WHITES WILL NEVER DO WITH BLACKS AND SOME THINGS BLACKS WLL NEVER DO WITH WHITES