Lizette Louw
Lizette Louw

If you’re racist and proud of it, try this on for size

Right, here it is, I’m issuing an acknowledgment of defeat – arguing with you on the rights or wrongs of racism has gotten us nowhere and so I am withdrawing from the discussion. Both of us have clearly remained unswayed in our opinions and are standing ever firmly in our convictions. Maybe we have just been wasting our breath and ruining perfect sunny social gatherings around the swimming pool by attacking each other’s racial viewpoints. That’s it. It’s over.

There’s just one last thing I’d like to say to you – you who are so proud to insist on your human superiority because of the colour of your skin. But also to you who are convinced of your moral superiority owing to your sexuality, religion or your political stand.

Just one last time I want to present to you my point of view. But this time around, let us move away from debating the issue and approach it from a different angle. If you please, follow these two simple instructions and try this on for size:

1. Stand in front of the mirror in the privacy of your bathroom. Imagine the times in your life where you have felt the most loved and valued. Think of the people in your life that make you feel most worthy and accepted. Breathe in deeply and feel the comfort and contentment of being loved. Hold on to that feeling.

Now, snap out of it. And then…

2. Think of the group of people that you detest and resent the most. Is it a racial group? Is it the gay community? Is it the Muslims, Jews or Christians? Let loose with the derogatory statements. Yes, just do it. Cut them down to size and remind them how ridiculous their point of view is and how lowly it rates in terms of you superior reasoning skills. Look at your face in the mirror and breathe in as deeply as you can. Listen to your body, what are you feeling?

When you leave the bathroom to continue with your day, you will be faced with all the challenges of your personal story. Many of us face difficult battles. I can see in your face that you, too, are going through a rough time, that you are fighting your own anxieties and insecurities. Remember the emotions you experienced during step 1, shall we call it Self-worth? And the emotions of step 2, perhaps we can call it Superiority. Which of these emotions would you like to accompany you on your epic journey, which will require you to climb steep mountains and fight fire-breathing dragons? Which will be your ally and which your foe, Worthiness or Superiority?

Like you, I have been hurt and betrayed by enough individuals from a specific group to justify a firm hatred of the lot of them. I have indulged in the resentment and loathing only to learn one of the underlying principles of the human journey: Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies. (Nelson Mandela) I have seen it and I have felt it burn within my own skin – people who are most judgmental and angry towards others are usually equally so towards themselves. Along with this, we can only be kind to ourselves to the extent that we are kind to others. We can only have grace and compassion with our own faults if we are so with other people’s faults.

I have plenty of shortcomings and face tough mountains to climb in my life; I simply cannot carry the burden of hatred and superiority. Behind the constant cloud of cigarette smoke that engulfs you, I see the personal struggles that you are trying to hide. Do you really need to carry the heavy load of hatred too?

I am not saying we should not allow ourselves to remain critical of the injustice and the wrong that is out there … and in ourselves. It does not mean that I’ve given up on being an activist that calls out the evil showing up on my radar, out there and in me. What I am saying is that if the cogs of compassion and love are missing from the moral compass, we will be led into the dungeons of judgment, where every one of us will be found wanting.

Remember your reflection in the mirror. What will you choose to guide you on your own journey, the heavy load of Superiority or the firm ground of Self-worth? I have made my choice and it is now your turn to decide. Choose wisely, I say, because life is not a picnic and you will need every bit of strength for the road ahead.

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