Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Cape Town is Racist

I followed the #CapeTownIsRacist hooha on twitter. I watched it with the usual dismay. Nothing like a sweeping statement to draw the lines between, around and through the general masses and get tail feathers ruffled. And then it got personal, and people started name calling, and dredging up articles that proved their point and rallied to make sure #CapeTownIsAmazing became the toppest trend.

And, I have to say, I got so completely sad; particularly from the most common white response, which was the usual absolute denial and defensiveness. “Cape Town is Not Racist! Eva!” “Not us! You!” “How dare you generalise?” And more, and worse.

This got me thinking. Why would anyone say Cape Town is racist if it wasn’t? What would be the point of that? Surely, it is safe to assume that if someone said it, that was what they felt. And how could any single white Capetonian get all high and mighty and declare it ain’t so? How the hell would they know? Now I am not claiming that it is or isn’t true. I just think that the decent thing to do would be to shut up and listen, take notice and care deeply that a black person would feel that. Then, I would try my hardest not to try and convince the world on twitter that it wasn’t true, but to understand, care and change things. It is our problem, whether it is a perception or an action. And shouting about it being not true doesn’t make it so. I am deeply afraid that the defensive bleating might end up proving the opposite; since that’s what it sounds like. It sounds racist to me.

There is a better way of making friends and influencing people, white Capetonians. Know yourself.

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12 Comments

  1. Nicely said. Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

  2. Tracey

    Very well said Megan .The knee jerk reaction is as sad as the fact that a senior politician has time to engage in these spats which just deflect from all the really important work that needs to be done .

  3. Diva

    Except for the part where people generalised… If you have 1 bad egg in a box, do you throw out the whole box because “the eggs are vrot”? No, you get rid of the bad egg & keep the rest.
    By shouting “Cape Town is racist” because you have had 1 bad experience, you are generalising massively & calling everything about the city into question Instead of calling out the racist responsible for your bad experience.
    Ms Dana had a bad experience & instead of addressing the offender she accused a city of racism & would not explain what happened. If she wanted something done then she should have complained to a higher power where she experienced it; instead she goes on a twitter rant & expects Zille to wave a magic wand to fix things… How I ask you, when Mrz Zille is not even told what the offense was?
    I have never been the victim of racism in Cpt, maybe because I am coloured & the most racist things said against coloureds on twitter are oft said by our black brothers & sisters. But when someone does say something demeaning I take them to task about it & don’t milk it for publicity. That is what Ms Dana should have done.

  4. megan

    Diva, you miss the point. It doesn’t matter what the incident was. It matters that Simphiwe felt like that and then people started ranting at her, trying to say that that wasn’t what it was. I am saying that we would be so much better off showing concern and love than defensive denial. That is all.

  5. Diva

    But to me it does matter, because by going “Cape Town is racist”, she called me & everyone I know here a racist. Baseless generalisation which she then would not define! I never even met her, but she can say my city (and by extension me) is racist?
    I understand your point (yes, let’s fix this) but I am very irritated by her attitude.

  6. megan

    You are doing it again. See beyond your irritation and reach out to understand and change her perception instead of telling her off. I am convinced it will work better, and more effectively, and give all us Capetonians a better name.

  7. megan

    I am suggesting that we have an opportunity to take the moral high ground here, instead of stooping to gutter shit slinging. Unfortunately, some big wigs went that route (on both sides) and it is so stupid.

  8. Simon Cooper

    I haven’t read the stuff cos I am away with my head in the sand – do Egypt and Syria still exist? But for what it is worth I think that the best we can all (and that means all people of all hues, religious & sexual persuasions, gender and views – this is reciprocally across all those sort of lines) is to make sure that we, and that means me, act and talk and behave with tolerance, and at least attempted understanding of different points of view of people who differ from us. To dedicate 2012 to that would not be a bad thing.

  9. Odidiva

    Loved it! Finally White Capetonians had to face their own denial of an experience Capetonians who are not white get everyday in so many subtle, unsubtle, sometimes brutal and nuanced ways. Deal with it and get you head out the sand. It was criticism well deserved, but then again you prefer close your eyes or keeping them blinkered on Cape Town is so amazing! Wake up before an Arab Uprising/ Arab Spring situation takes you by surprise. ENGAGE with the criticism and the argument and help find a new path or a solution, please get your head out of the sand! PROFESSIONAL BLACK

  10. Linda

    As a black female I do not care for racism if your are a racist that is of your own choice problem for is when you deny what u are. I am originally from PE and have lived and studied in CPT/stellenbosch for 7yrs and I can honestly say that place is really racist , there is a way that white and the colored folk ( since they are 2nd rate citizens and we the 9th after the dogs and cats) look at you. They note your accent , colored people hate our so called rara accents and white people assume we’re trting to be more like them . I mean if only after less than 25years of democracy we’ve mastered what is a 3rd language to most black south africans and everything non black is lagging behing , are we really these n*ggers and monkeys that we get made out to be? Cape Town is so racist bt what Lindi and Simphiwe Dana is use their well deserved celebrity status to highlight an ongoing issue , which needs to be addressed. Zille will never ever get mine or my great gran children’s vote my father did not rot away in Robben Island for 12yrs to have this white supremecist power still be whipping blacks.

  11. Dear, oh dear.
    I see we all have a lot of growing-up to do. Megan, you make an entirely valid point and, as if on cue, a number of commentators crawls out of the woodwork to illustrate your argument.
    I agree, we need to listen to each other’s point of view and truly engage if we hope to move forward. But I’m afraid the blogosphere in general, and twitter in particular, is not designed to facilitate such engagement. Truly listening requires empathy, a fundamental human capacity that cannot be stimulated in 140 characters.
    To really appreciate your experience(or Ms. Dana’s or Ms. Zille’s) I have to ‘feel’ some of your feelings in addition to being told what you think.
    The anti-social networks favour the inflammatory statement and the knee-jerk response. Remember the old strap-line ‘If you can point a finger you can play a Lowrey’? Well, that can be updated: ‘If you can point a finger, you can tweet, you twit’

  12. Cape Coloured

    White south africans and black south africans, please, get a grip. You all are making it racist. I say that all blacks and whites should leave cape town and leave it for the colourds, since it is our city and not yours.

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