#YouthMonth – Systemic discrimination
12 Jun 2020 KAYA VOICES
By: Natasha Archary
It’s not that the world needed another Collins Khoza or George Floyd to take notice of the unfair discrimination decades post-apartheid in South Africa, or years after the first black President of the USA.
But it served yet another reminder that it’s still there, festering.
Viral videos of racist encounters flood our timelines daily. Isolated incidents though many are, that this is still occurring today is unacceptable. One such video shows three generations of African American men, a 16-year old, a 31-year old and a 46-year old. The video taken during one of the protest rallies held in George Floyd’s name, sees the emotional 31-year old encouraging the 16-year to find a better way to change their reality.
“I was where you are at 16, he was where I am now and there was another in his place who may not be here today because he has fallen. Like George Floyd. And if you don’t find a way to fix the way they see us, that’s different to the way we’re doing it now, we’re all just going to die. They’ll kill us all. We’ll die. So, you find a way. You fix the system. You find the solution that we couldn’t. You do that. You and your friends.”
And it’s not that what is happening in America takes precedence over the race issues we have in South Africa, it’s just that this 45-second video painted a vivid picture of systemic discrimination. Because the protests are not enough. Meeting violence with violence is not the answer. The desperate call for a better solution, echoes throughout the world.
“An eye for an eye leaves the world blind.”
The flawed system
South Africa observes Youth Month in commemoration of the youth of 1967, who took an active stand against the Apartheid government and laid down their lives to fight for the right to equal education.
And if this is not an indication of what the underlying problem with racism is, then what else can define it? Equality is still such a far-fetched ask.
If social media is anything to go by, then yes, it appears too tall an order. Despite some racial integration in residential areas, schools and workplaces, social media rants still paint a picture of a very disconnected world.
Experimental research and surveys don’t provide sufficient evidence of racism, however. But perhaps the disadvantages that class presents can depict a clearer narrative. Circumstances that are heightened by living conditions, poor schooling, weak footholds in the workplace, a lack of financial capital. And while the country has made great strides in bridging the disparities, they will always be there, won’t they? For as long as we have people living in squalor, eating scraps and earning minimum wage.
This is enough to get tempers flaring because it seems to be the biggest defense in social discussions on public forums. There seems to be a firm belief that South Africa has somehow flipped Apartheid on its head by including equal opportunities for people of color.
Because in so doing, according to the arguments, this isolates white people and treats them unfairly. We’re able to shop at premium stores, now aren’t we? And have our children attend the schools we’d like them to? Or further our education at inclusive universities? We don’t have to walk further to make use of separate bathroom facilities, do we?
Racial discrimination is a common occurrence in the lives of children of color. Despite more inter-racial relationships and people advocating that we are all equal, the negative beliefs, attitudes, actions, and behaviors of people in social settings speak volumes.
The effects of systemic discrimination
Sadly, the effects of discrimination have been found in people from many minority groups including Muslims, Asians, Indians, and Coloured too. Ethnic affiliation moderates relationships between the belief that race is a major barrier to social standing.
With a disregard for anything and anyone different we don’t grow as a country, continent nor globally. Transformation will continue to fail as long as we have the President of the “free world”, encouraging force to contain situations of unrest.
Calling on young people to change the system and find a better solution, a safer world is premature. If we haven’t by now made headway and paved a foundation for them to take over from.