Random Thought #66

May 27, 2010

If you have to ask me if I am talking to you then I am probably not. I am not big on passive aggression. If I am talking to you, I will talk to you, and you will know it.

But if you are trying to figure out if i am talking to you because something I am saying is speaking to you, feel free to ask yourself, “Is he talking to me?” and use what I’m saying in the way that best fits your situation.

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Township Tours…

May 26, 2010

Ok, I’m just going to say it… Township tours really freak me out! I used to be more torn about it; on the one hand I was seriously disturbed by the patronizing and intrusive edge they have to them, but on the other hand I could see how it’s good to bring money, jobs and positive attention to the townships. And I believe when they are tastefully done, through community participation and inclusion, they can expose tourists, who might have otherwise been shielded from the poverty that affects the majority of South Africans, to the bigger picture of the realities in South Africa. But that is if they are tastefully done.

All too often they remind me of some weird kind of urban safari. One day I was walking in Site C, Khayelitsha, and I rounded a corner to see the tiny township street flooded with white, camera-wielding foreigners, all snapping away, maybe trying to capture that perfect “smiling-with-a-random-black-kid” photo for their Facebook profile pictures. As I approached them they looked at me in shock and annoyance; I don’t think I have ever been glared at so intensely by any other group of people in my entire life! They thought they had paid for the right to be the only white people in the township and I was ruining that magical ideal for them!

As I walked by, I cringed at the incredibly loud ignorant comments made by the tourists (comments that would really insult a resident), them posing with random children they have never seen before and will never see again, them speaking down at the people of Site C as if they were not on the same plane of intelligence, and so on and so forth. The whole scene made me sick to my stomach.

As the FIFA World Cup approaches, and the entire world will be on South Africa’s doorstep, I can’t help but think about things like township tours. I want all the tourists to experience the fullness of South Africa. I want people to be able to experience the amazing culture in the townships, and also not be shielded from poverty, but I do not want it at the expense or exploitation of people. Let’s look at it in another way… Can you imagine the reaction of residence of Bishops Court or Constantia if tour companies began doing tours through their neighborhoods; neighborhoods which were also established and enabled through Apartheid with potentially just as much interest as the ones on the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.

Imagine a tour bus stopping on a street in Bishop’s Court, followed by a bunch of foreigners flooding out of it, filling the street; stopping little white kids riding their bikes past so they can get a picture with them, taking pictures as the fancy cars drive by, climbing up the tall barrier walls to get pictures of the large mansions and yards, and making comments like, “Man, can you believe people still live like this?!” I do not think the Bishops Court residents would be all that happy about it. I don’t think those tours would last that long.

So yeah, I just wanted to get that off my chest. I guess it’s not the township tours per say that bother me. It’s probably, more specifically, the township tours that are done distastefully that bother me to the core of my being.


Crime Does Not Perpetuate Racism. Racism Perpetuates Racism.

May 26, 2010

Last night’s Sidewalk Talk show topic was racism. It’s quite a heated topic in South Africa at the moment, with recent events stroking the headlines, but in general, I find many South Africans do not want to speak about racism anymore. They feel it’s a tired and worn out topic. They want to “move on, forget the past”. They don’t feel it is necessary to speak about racism anymore because we are a “rainbow nation” in a “new democracy” and racism is “no longer a problem”. But then (say for instance) a political leader gets up and sings a song about killing a white guy, and then a famous racist white guy actually gets killed… you see those very same people, who said racism is “no big deal” totally freak out; the equivalent of hitting a hornets nest with a baseball bat.

You see clips of people on the news, black people lined up on one side with white people on the other, shouting, screaming, threatening, trying to get at one another, smacking and hitting each other if they get close enough. “It’s just better if we live separate! Let them stay that side, and we will stay on this side!” one white girl said, quite frustrated. These feelings and emotions, to that degree, cannot be caused by one event. No, no! Those feelings and emotions are there, maybe only appearing in subtle ways, or coming out in the safety of same-race-company, but they are there. These type of events don’t cause these feelings and emotions; they merely stir them up.

And that’s why it’s important to keep the dialogue about racism going, whether we feel like talking about it or not. And that’s why I did a show about it last night.

So… last night on the show there was quite a bit of input from the listeners, which I am always happy about. One listener sent a text message saying that he felt crime perpetuates racism. I both partially agree and strongly disagree with his statement. The part of me that partially agrees, sees that people allow crime to perpetuate racism. I have personally spoken to several white people, just after they or someone they know has been a victim of crime (the perpetrator being black or colored), and the racist things that came out of the white people’s mouths after that experience were totally mind blowing to me.

They even make excuses and say things like, “I am not normally racist but…” with a terribly racist statement to follow. But the thing, maybe they don’t realize, is those feelings (about the other race) were already there. Maybe they were hiding, or not even known to the person, but they were there. And that negative experience just stirred them up and brought them to the surface.

But that person was already racist, and that situation merely validated feelings they already had, and put them deeper into their mindset, and more outward with their opinion. Because frankly, when it really comes down to it, who cares what color the person was that robbed you?! A stolen laptop is a stolen laptop, no matter if it was stolen by an albino Nigerian midget, or a white person who stained his skin dark brown using coffee grounds. The laptop is still gone, and you will more than likely not get it back.

Some (white) people come with the rebuttal that most crime is done by coloured and black people. Fair enough, most crime is also done by men, but you rarely hear a lady talking bad about men all of the sudden after being robbed by a man. And we know women don’t need an excuse to speak poorly about men! And yes, if we look at the South African history, and the current social issues that are directly linked to the past, and the lack of true repatriation that has occurred, then yes, let’s talk about the link of race and crime, but I guarantee you the conversation will not go the direction you (white person with that particular rebuttal) would want it to go.

So yeah, when the listener, and other people say that crime perpetuates racism, I hear what they are saying, but I actually strongly disagree, and tend to even think that statement in itself is slightly racist. Crime does not perpetuate racism unless you allow the race of the victim and/or perpetrator come into play, and unless it is a race-based crime, the race of either person is insignificant. Crime does not perpetuate racism. Racism perpetuates racism.


Random Thought #65

May 26, 2010

I was told I look good in orange, which is great news if I ever become a Buddhist monk, Oompa-Loompa, or prisoner!


Random Thought #64

May 26, 2010

Shew! What a relief. Al-Qaeda says they have no intention of doing a terrorist attack at the FIFA World Cup. That was nice of them! I love it when terrorists are so agreeable.


Popular Dead People…

May 25, 2010

Ryan Brown Dalton If you could hang out and chill with 5 people who are no longer living who would they be? Mine: Martin Luther King Jr, Judas, Malcolm X, any member of the original Dalton Gang, and Chris Farley.

That was my Facebook status not too long ago. I was interested to see different people’s responses. Michael Jackson came in number one with five votes. Jesus, Elvis and Tupac might have gotten more votes but the status was about dead people, not living ones. In case your curious, here are who people said they would like to spend time with (not including their relatives):

Michael Jackson 5

Jesus 3

Mother Teresa 3

Hitler 3

Frank Sinatra 3

Elvis 2

Gandhi 2

Tupac 2

Moses

Capone

James Dean

Muhammad the prophet

Hedrick Verwoerd

Martin Luther

Martin Luther King Jr.

Mary Magdalene

Lucille Ball

Walt Disney

Aaliyah

Mr.F.A.T

Mr. Devious

James Brown

Kurt Cobain

Helen Keller

Dr. Seuss

Adolf Hitler

Winston Churchill

King Solomon

John Lennon

Van Gogh

Jung

Freud

Leonardo Da Vinci

Benjamin Franklin

Babe Ruth

Teddy Roosevelt

Himmler

Lucky Dube

Kgetcha Sebotja

Frukwan

If you haven’t taken part yet, feel free to leave your top 5 as a comment.


Fathers’ Rights…

May 25, 2010

I am helping a young man apply for his passport. It has been a little more tricky because this particular young man has lived in different institutions for most of his life and, because of human trafficking, Home Affairs make it a bit more difficult for a minor to apply for a passport. At first I was really happy about this, even though it was extra trouble for us, because I think being more stringent and minimizing the chances of young people being trafficked is a good thing.

So yesterday, after being told on the first visit the legal court appointed guardian has to sign if the young person is not under the parents’ care, I took the young man’s grandma (she is his legal guardian though he does not live with her) and him to Home Affairs. They took the papers, did everything that needed to be done, and we were on our way. This morning I got a call from someone at Home Affairs saying that they need the letter from the court (an official document) saying that his grandmother is his legal guardian, or both parents signatures. I was annoyed that they and not told us that when we were there.

I asked about just getting his mother’s signature, because the father is, and has been uninvolved for the child’s entire life. The lady told me that because the father signed the birth certificate, he also has to sign consent for a passport. “Even if he has never been involved in the kid’s life, and doesn’t even know what the kid looks like?!” I asked, kind of aggravated at the concept. The lady said yes. I said it was a bit ridiculous, in my opinion, and she told me that it was because of new laws the government has made to “protect fathers’ rights”. I laughed and said, “I do not believe fathers who make babies and don’t look after them have any rights as a father.”

The lady, maybe sharing my sentiment but more just wanting to get off the phone said, “Yeah, well they do now.”

I wanted to shout and scream. I wanted to tell the lady that having a penis and the ability to make babies does not make a person a father, or even a “real man” for that matter. I wanted to tell her with rights comes responsibility. I wanted to tell her her stupid rules were…well, stupid. But I realized I would just be shooting the messenger and she really has nothing to do with this bigger picture that makes me so angry. So, I had to vent somewhere!