Warning: – I must state upfront that I will, in this post, be calling a stick a stick and a spade a spade. I will also be referring to black, white, coloured, indian and asian population groups purely because this is the easiest way to refer to people when discussing race groups and I’m not going to erm an aah around any trees this morning. If you are offended by this, please go ahead and close the page; the big “x” at the top right of your browser will save you (and me) the trouble of further ado.
It doesn’t really matter where you work, there will always be those people who think they are better than you because they think you belong to an inferior race group. I’ve never understood the rationale and I’m here to break open the misconception that this is the “domain error” of the white population. It isn’t.
Cliques based on racial segregation exist in every single race group. I’ve been at corporate events where for some reason the black staff group together and go and sit elsewhere. I’ve also been at events where for some reason coloured (mixed race) people sit together and talk about how “white” or “black” the event is. Lastly, having grown up in South Africa I’ve also had to stand up to my share of white supremacists who think that their skin colour gives them some sort of right to do exactly what those other groups did; be separatist.
There are unique cultural aspects to each culture; but this does not mean that a “culture” is always a race group, or that one is above the other. People are different. I’ve had Jewish people who won’t give up the “anti-semitist” card and play it every chance they get. I’ve also had black people who give up the “race” card and will call each other all sorts of names that would not be allowed from a “whitey” or a “coloured”; not only this they will think nothing of starting a “Black Accountants Association” (for example) but take great offense at a “White Accountants Association”. I’ve also seen Indian women who group together against someone because that person is white, thinking that they are proving that person to be “racist” when in fact all they are doing is showing that they themselves are segregationist and trying to be elitist because in truth they feel very inferior to the person they suddenly have to deal with.
It doesn’t matter which way you slice it, every group (Yes, even the white group) has some chip on their shoulder which can be played, some ground they want to leverage, or someone they want to blame for their own fortune or misfortune on whatever stage.
What is the root of this fruit? You may think it’s pride and there are elements of pride here. You may think it’s arrogance and maybe that plays a part. But the real truth behind the ugly face of racism is the belief, deep down that “Maybe I’m not good enough, so I’ll make someone else look not good enough and deflect that from myself in the hopes that I feel better about myself. “
Ten out of ten times, I believe, the individuals playing the race card in a group feel inferior to the person they are dealing with. Numbers tip the scales and there is a “group stupidity” that takes over where they simply try to find some reason to make the other group look or feel inferior. And ten out of ten times it doesn’t work; all it does is fuel the other person’s sense of entitlement unless they are (and yes, I am) sufficiently enlightened to understand that we are all different and that difference adds to the wondrous diversity of life and cultures. These many differences should be reasons to celebrate, but it is personal insecurities played out among small (and larger) groups that turns the celebration into a pity party. That pity party in turn becomes a “hate fest”.
Now, isn’t it all so unnecessary? I find culture fascinating. I love that in my Portuguese roots culture we use up ALL of the animal in some dish or the other, and guess what, so do the Zulu roots cultured people around me. I love that in my Portuguese roots culture we pray together as a family and so do my Indian, Coloured or White friends, even if their religion or their prayers are different to mine.
In the end, we all want a few things in life:
*to feel safe and secure
*to feel productive and part of a bigger picture
*to be accepted and wanted
*to build as a good a future for our children as we can
That common ground should be more than the many little differences like the accents with which we speak or (certainly) the shade of pink, brown, cream or otherwise of our skins, or the shape of our feet/face/nose/eyes/etc.
I believe we are made different for good reason; fruit salad is always better than eating only apples for the rest of your life. So get to know the culture of the person you think is different; it may surprise you just how much you have in common, and it may surprise you just how much you can learn from one another.
People are different. DEAL with it. LEARN from it. GROW with it. Anything less is cheating yourself.