South Africa is a country extremely sensitive to race. Race is what divides us according to who we associate with, where we live, who we vote for and our immediate first impressions of people that we deal with.
All South Africans carry the baggage of a devastating shared past that continues to be a huge stumbling block to the success of an incredible nation.
For decades we were conditioned to think in terms of our skin colour. Apartheid preached that persons of colour were inferior. Such was the iron grip of the Nationalist Party on the media that privileged white South Africans were not reminded on a daily basis of the crime happening in their own neighbourhoods – job reservation, inferior education, economic hardship and daily persecution of our fellow citizens continued in a mad rush to certain ruin.
It was state television, during the 16 June 1976 Soweto riots, that allowed ordinary South Africans a glimpse of the groundswell of resistance against an ever oppressive government and which could have been the opening of the door that led to the release of political prisoners, the unbanning of the ANC and Communist Party, the release of Nelson Mandela and, finally, true democracy in 1994.
We, as citizens have been a little bit tardy since then and have allowed our politicians, media and business to slip back into undemocratic and divisive ways.
We are now constantly bombarded with divisive language as politicians try to score points by calling everyone out for being racist. The number of taboo words increases and the media have rushed to the party by further increasing the publicity that these politicians crave as we rush towards another crucial set of municipal elections in 2016.
We need a movement, a groundswell of ordinary citizens that will say; “Enough – I love my neighbour, I love my country and I refuse to allow anyone to continue promoting this artificial division.”
The first part of the pledge to go Race Free is; “You pledge to not divide the people of South Africa by mentioning, writing or thinking in terms of race during the Month of February.”
The second part of the pledge to go Race Free is you pledge to ask one question only in your daily life; “Is what I am about to do now going to benefit my country first?”
Race Free Month is a movement that challenges:
- The media to stop using racial identification in any article or broadcast for the month of February,
- Politicians to stop using racial divisions to score points,
- Everyone to stop saying or writing any racially divisive thing,
- Everyone to reach out and counsel the racists amongst us – only by engaging can we change – and
- Everyone to put put South Africa FIRST in all that they say and do.
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