A racist attack on a young black student whose ‘crime’ was to attend a city night club with a white girl. He was beaten up by half a dozen white thugs who also insulted the girl; “monkey-lover,” they called her, a visitor from the USA.
Politicians and others play the race card in this country every time they need to deflect criticism. As a result we often hear the complaint, “Can’t we move on already? Seventeen years into our democracy, are we still crying about race?”
Clearly we are, and clearly there is much to cry about. Fortunately thuggery like this is relatively rare and condemned by all. More pervasive and insidious is the racism that fuels our generalisations and lack of respect for each other. Someone pushes in front of us in a supermarket queue or on the road and, if he or she happens to be of a different race or culture, we generalise the rude behaviour to all of that race or culture. We don’t call people “monkey lovers” of course; our words are “they” and “them”, which are just as effective in keeping us apart.
I hear it often and it’s easy to criticise; then I hear myself say it. Oh, no, I don’t say it out loud; I’m not like them…..
And the thought in my head is just as loud, just as destructive, and just as effective in keeping us apart.