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What happened when I tried to interview a black man who hates white people

QINISO MBILI discovered he had no choice but to nod along to the vitriol – because there is some sense to it.

It is exhausting trying to engage with someone who has decided to hate an entire race of people. Besides trying to understand where the hatred is coming from, I also had to give so much of myself just to keep the conversation going. He really seemed to believe he is always right. He certainly didn’t think his views could be questioned.

So in order to draw him into conversation, I had to keep nodding my head to things I know are absurd. After all, it was hard enough to actually find someone like him to open up to me.

I quickly found however, that  nodding along is what you need to do to validate a racist, in a group, this attitude authenticates and endorse racism. If anything, this shows how tawdry and insecure racial-based prejudice really is.

“These people hate us, there is no good white man. Believe me,” he said. “The more we continue letting them live on our land, things will only get worse.”

This made me feel like he was trying to assemble an army that would evict all white people in the country. I also felt like he was trying to recruit me to the front lines of this army.

And while this conversation was meant for work, I’ve encountered this kind of prejudice socially as well.

I am not sure which is better between avoiding public space interactions about race with prejudiced people or continuing to engage with them, in the hope of letting them see reason. In some cases when you ignore their warped sense of view, you feel unjust. But sometimes, when you engage them, you might find that the conversation bears no fruits as it just entrenches both parties’ respective opinions.

For black people who are prejudiced there are often a number of flimsy excuses for disliking white people, but what seldom gets left out is the legitimate anger at the remnants of the apartheid regime. The abuse, lost opportunities and murders are all at the heart of discontent with white people.

And the way it’s going, it seems it will be a long, long time before we can say we have entirely shed the legacy of apartheid, and colonialism.

These attitudes are perpetuated as they are passed on to the next generation. When racists talk racism they do so loudly and proudly seeing themselves as heroes to those who feel the same way but cannot speak up. This is what Penny Sparrow was doing what she did without knowing that her status message would reach people who don’t agree with her. When she posted that update on Facebook, she intended for it to be seen by her kind of people, for whom she would be a hero.

But I also think racial-based prejudice could be closely linked to self-esteem issues.

There is however a difference between racial-based prejudice and pointing out the entrenched inequalities in the country that are fundamentally racist.

The economy is thought to be controlled by one race while the majority of the country struggles to overcome poverty. Let’s not forget that there are racial trends throughout our social class system.

I wonder though if we can overcome hatred. Our country does not have a shortage of bigots. Some are more unapologetic than others but all of them are consciously or unconsciously eroding our opportunity to build a cohesive society. But until we remedy the structures of our society, and economy, some black people will continue to hold a deep seated prejudice against white people. And I don’t think we can actually blame them for that.

Featured image via Flickr.
6 Comments
  1. Guy White says

    “But until we remedy the structures of our society, and economy, some black people will continue to hold a deep seated prejudice against white people. And I don’t think we can actually blame them for that.”

    lol lol lol. What’s this *we* stuff? I blame racist black prejudice against whites on racist black people so your “we cant blame them for that” remark probably shows you’re a bit of a white hater yourself, pretending to be above your own superiority complex. I love being white. Why dont you go move to uganda where the whole country is black and the political shit hole they live in is a black utopia with not a single white suburb in sight. What do they blame their shit lives in that country on? Let me guess white people? Why didnt black put up a better fight when europeans arrived? Was it because africans were technologically and culturally several hundred years behind europeans? Blacks will blame whites forever, even if whites leave and they see their new white-less person country fall even more to shit but they will still blame white people. Blacks hate white people because of apartheid, aka separate development, but blacks fail to recognize the ultimate separate development if whites never arrived here. Then how would you have broadcast your poor article on the internet dark friend?

    1. Over White Racist says

      Move to Europe first! Pink pig!

      1. Lore says

        I&l7812;#l take advantage of this post for the following off-topic comment: It seems to have been a while since I last saw regular commenter Toni. You still there?

  2. Charles Nankin says

    qinisi. was it racist when europeans met the central african bantu and the europeans had writing, ships and the wheel and the central africans did not?

    no.

  3. TheRealMidnite says

    There is no point in trying to make a bigot see reason… it’s “reason” that have led them to their bigotry, and anything you do or say will simply enforce said “reason”. Engaging them will simply result in two things – they will either view you as a naive and misguided fool, or a dangerous traitor. If they opt for the latter view, I suggest making yourself scarce. Especially if there’s more than one of them.

  4. Chris says

    I’m white, never lived in apartheid SA, left SA because of crime (I have 2 daughters), and the corruption. I don’t let “white” define me because I know that race is used to divide people – not unite them. This is why I believe that SA will only progress from the shadow of apartheid when we stick up for the rights of women, the poor, the disadvantaged (again no mention of race needed). Honestly, I understand why those that define themselves as blacks are still feeling aggrieved. My country had 700 years of occupation and terror. It doesn’t go away overnight. Letting race define you is not the way forward. Ignorance and intolerance are what they are – stupid – and the primary contributors to racism. Once South Africans define themselves by their values and morals – whatever their religion – as in my experience they have shown themselves to be good people, once they hold their government to account (whether blue or yellow) once they hold people accountable for their crimes and insist on ONE set of rules for everyone, racism will wane. Until then, call yourself black or white and you’re not really part of the solution that we want for our children. Then we will be able to see that raceless corporations are exploiting us, diverting thought to the colour of your skin when the banks own whatever colour your backside is. It’s convenient diversionary tactics like this that divert our attention from the modern struggle of the 99% v the 1%.

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