The Sumo
The Sumo

My brothers, they will never let you win

I love beer … a lot. Most of my life revolves around the stuff. I have formed and broken friendships and relationships based on whether they would have a positive or negative impact on my beer consumption and its frequency. I work hard at my job, I don’t allow much to phase me, even blatant racism because I am focused on the prize, which is being able to secure myself a safe source of beer, but I will elaborate on how beer has shaped my life in one of the chapters of my upcoming (yet to be written) book.

I let a whole lot slide in order to keep me and my beer as one, therefore I do not let a lot bother me, but there is something that has been rubbing me the wrong way a lot lately and it is not that everyone looks at me as a security threat at malls these days.

(On that, I doubt a gang of robbers would include a fat guy who looks like he couldn’t run three metres. The fat guys are usually the get-away-drivers, so please, if I’m standing around at the mall you should probably look around for me first before calling 10111 and you will probably find that there is a boerewors vendor close by and I am waiting for my order.)

No, what has been really scratching my nipples is the fact that South African society will never let a black man win professionally. Please don’t misunderstand this as a racially biased rant, no it isn’t, the only part that is race-related here is the subject of everyone’s scorn and ridicule — the successful black male — the people who judge him are from all walks of society.

I was going to let this slide too, but I was reading Khaya Dlanga’s piece last week on the money triangle and I was reading it at work (therefore didn’t have a beer in my hand to calm me down) and it just tipped me over the edge.

Making his point on men luring women with money (as if this has not been the case since time immemorial); he was saying he was in a club at the bar and was chatting to a well-dressed black male who drives a German sedan and is proud of it. Khaya did not care enough for a person he perceives as such a low form of life to get his name (as is customary) but decided that this scum of the earth, probably in Armani, is a person who has benefited, however justly, from the broad-based black economic empowerment initiative instituted to right the wrongs of the past and Khaya, in his benevolence, would christen this pathetic floozy-hunting dog “BEE Guy” because he thought that is how the man came upon his wealth and status — not hard work, not sharp business acumen, no his riches were handed to him in the form of a tender or maybe by being fast tracked up the corporate ladder because of his skin colour, not his talent, skill or execution of his business agenda.

How progressive of Mr Dlanga to slap on such labels on people he did not care to even talk to for two minutes, as he affirms.

I only lock in on Khaya because what he says is an obvious example of how all successful black men are thought of these days. They are looked at as beneficiaries who are wealthy merely because of their skin colour and having had their success shoved up the colon at the end of a spanking brand new silver spoon.

I say “not quite”. Yes there are some black men who are who they are directly because of a BBBEE system that has been corrupted. Note that I do not say the system itself is corrupt, but has been compromised by some corrupt elements for their and their associates’ personal gain. This is not new either. These individuals exist, granted, but they are probably a small percentage and not representative of the whole of successful black men.

And don’t even speak of the AA part of BBBEE — if you are a black male and are moving up the ladder, your talent is never considered when people who do not even know you see you in a Paul Smith suit and label you an AA beneficiary. They do not know your history, education, talent, skill, work ethic etc. All they see is a black male making it in the private sector merely to make up numbers for his employer’s scorecard.

Well, all my black male friends could testify here about how AA worked (not) out for them at some point or another in their lives. We are still looked over unto this day, we have to work at least twice as hard to get the same credit as our blond, blue-eyed counterparts and even then, with solid performance results — there are no guarantees. My point here is that it is not our God-given right to succeed, far from it, we have to struggle even more for every step up and at every step our success is questioned, ridiculed and put down as reverse or systemised racism. Frankly, I’m sick of it.

The majority of us are more than just capable and we are where we are probably because the company’s we work for ran out of excuses why we weren’t good enough, not ready or lack attention to detail even though we provided not before seen record performances in our spheres. It is still very difficult for us and I would hate it that when I finally break through at the back of much sweat and tears, that someone would turn around and say it is merely because I am black.

And don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of those blacks who reject and remove themselves from the BBBEE agenda, saying that the system is uncalled for and should be scrapped. No, I’m not that simple-minded, but I reject that a blanket-statement is placed upon every successful black man, however distasteful you may personally find him, that his success is not of his doing or deserving, but rather systematic.

Not that we should need affirmation from anyone, by the way, but it just pisses me off that people — all people — ACI, white, male or female see a black male driving a Cayenne GTR, pulling a trailer with a Ducati, a jet-ski and a golf cart going on holiday and immediately assume that he obtained all those assets after a fat payout on a tender he worked on (or not) and that his way of life is totally undeserved and is a result of a corrupted system based on racism.

There are corrupt people everywhere and in all shapes, colours and sizes including black males — I get that, but just give the successful black male the benefit of the doubt. Envy him, but envy him without judgment or prejudice, because trust me, this is about envy.

My brothers — they will never let you win, whatever you do, not that you should need anybody to LET you do anything any more.

Khaya, I read in one of your replies to a blog that you also live in Fourways, as I do. Let me know when you are available and maybe we can have a beer at that fancy Design Quarter place.

I rest,

The Sumo