There are three sources of “alternative facts” we need to be wary of: the devil, Donald Trump and the ANC War-room. And right now, I’m not so sure the last isn’t the first in disguise.
Last week, a lot of ANC comrades on my Facebook echoed President Zuma’s explanation that the planned march against illegal immigrants, and the subsequent violence, weren’t a manifestation of xenophobia but of people’s frustration at crime and a stagnant economy.
This presupposes crime and unemployment are a relatively new thing in South Africa. “South Africans don’t really hate foreign nationals; they just hate the ones who are responsible for this recent explosion in crime and unemployment — which makes their enemy not foreign nationals, but crime and unemployment.” For if crime and unemployment have been around for a long time, contrary to this explanation, it would mean foreign nationals are being punished in government’s place for government’s failures.
If a local and a foreigner committed the same crime, we’d be more likely to notice the foreigner doing it. We’d even believe the foreigner invented this crime. This is especially the case when said foreigner is darker skinned; then we’ll credit him with running the whole “black market” of vices and crimes that everyone, our own included, are implicit in. Because black is the colour of evil and criminality.
Nowhere is this double-standard more revealed than in the complaint, “We tried reporting them to police, but the police were bribed.” Were these bribable police one of “them” or one of “us”? If one of us, then the difference between “them” and “us” only exists in our head so we can shift responsibility. Our police took the bribes. They took the proceeds of the crimes; this alone proves that “their” crimes are our crimes. Furthermore,
We have two white men who own half of everything and a white populace who own almost everything else.
We have a black Zulu president with 783 corruption charges hanging over his head and a questionable cabinet behind him, which is also quite black South African.
We have done very little, collectively, to make this cabinet do its job and enforce the letter as well as the spirit of the legislation we have in place. On paper, we have every reason to be a prosperous nation. Why aren’t we?
We recently had an Indian family leave, peacefully, with the proceeds of alleged state capture.
Any relatively light-skinned race can get away with murder here. But the split moment Africans of blacker skin tone are perceived to be running some “black market” of crimes and vices, we sanction marches against them that we know will turn violent. If this isn’t a xenophobic-Afrophobic double-standard, then please tell me: what is xenophobia? What would something have to look like to be Afrophobic?
Would Moses have to come down from the mountain to tell us, “Yes, this is Afrophobic”? Would God’s voice have to boom it from heaven? Please.
A dark-skinned vendor I used to buy fruit from at a street corner in Durban told me that whenever xenophobic attacks were happening, people, fresh from hunting foreigners, would glare at her and strike up conversations in Zulu — and she’d make sure to reply in the strongest Zulu accent she could pull off. Because she knew she was being profiled. She was being tested.
So yes, we, black people, are racially profiling other black people. That’s what’s happening. That is why people in Nigeria hate our guts.
If #AllLivesMatter is how many have denied the reality of structural racism, we are doing exactly the same thing when we say, “It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia.”
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