- Press Statements
- 2010 NGC
- National Congresses
The Youth must free themselves and their nation from the Chains of Racism!
22 July 2000
One cannot but continue to be struck and flabbergasted by the short-sightedness of the ideology and practice of racism.
Sadly, the greatest failure yet has been that of the advocates, apologists and high priests of this ideology to realise and acknowledge its short-sightedness, and hence abandon it.
At all times, it has been these that have concocted and propounded all manner of excuses, apologies and motivation for this practice of defining our people by race, colour or ethnic group.
It is them that have mobilised the white community, and continue to do even to this d continue to do even to this day, around race, propounding a notion that white people are superior and different, and their interests are different from and actually opposed to those of the rest of South Africans.
White racism has been organised around the absurd notion that in South Africa there are people and non-people. The people were all white and the non-people were all black. The non-people were entitled to wealth and a better life, while the non-people were mere objects of cheap labour and slavery, mere beasts of burden entitled to no rights at all.
This problem of the colour line, racism, was to pre-occupy the entire twentieth century, and dominate the struggles of this century.
It constitutes a sad indictment to humankind that we have to enter the new century having not resolved this problem.
Regardless of the escalating human offensive against this crime, racists continued to defend this false castle of racism.
It was no wonder that as delegates converged at the National Conference Against Racism, white supremacists were poised to defend racism and fight anyone that dared to allege that there was still racism in South Africa.
Racism in South Africa has produced the type of people that benefited socio-economically and others that acquired their political leadership positions as a result of the system of racism.
The latter could remain leaders for centuries precisely because they thrived they thrived on the racial, gender and ethnic divisions that apartheid engendered.
For centuries they had the mandate to speak and act on behalf of and lead the white community. As its spokespersons, they articulated the most backward, divisive, racially venomous and indeed sectarian ideas and opinions.
Generation after generation, some were trained as ideologues and themselves as spokespersons of the white community, and each white generation was born, bred and nurtured into this tradition.
They were taught that black people were sub-human; that unity, democracy and racial harmony, or non-racialism was antithetical to the interests of the white community. Black people were portrayed as a problem and a threat to the survival, proliferation and prosperity of the white community.
Accordingly, besides the fact that being black on its own was criminal enough, those that fought against white racism for non-racialism were declared criminals, and any talk of non-racialism, democracy, unity and prosperity for all was painted as a threat to the survival of white people as a race.
In response, those that fought against white racism regarded their struggle as against racism as a whole. They refused to succumb to the temptation to posit black racism as a substitute to white racism. Instead, they struggled for non-racialism, unity, democracy and prosperity for all.
Racism is an expensive, unsustainable sustainable and short-sighted project itself which is a threat to the survival of the human species. It is predicated on the most ridiculous and perverse notions of human beings and their differences.
This constitutes a challenge to the white youth of today, first to break ranks with the past and rebel against that which they were, and are still being, taught. They must realise that it is not non-racialism that constitutes a threat to the survival of the white community, but on the contrary it is the very persistence of racism in our society that continues to pose a threat to our common survival as a nation.
Instead of remaining at the posts of apartheid, manning the false fortress of racism, they must take drastic steps and move closer towards their black compatriots.
Surely, none wants to continue blaming the white youth for the crimes of their forebears. But, they too must know that the scars of apartheid run deep and we all have the responsibility to act to heal the wounds.
Certainly, if they remained, as we stated above, manning the fortress of racism, the black youth would receive the signal that their white counterparts believe in the failed adventure of racists. Accordingly, as we condemn racism, as we move as humanity to punish the crime of racism and those that personify it, the white youth would receive our universal condemnation and punishment too!
Those of us that are young today constiday constitute the forward troops of the process of change towards the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic society. We are at the cutting edge of change, and are expected to be at the forefront of the noble human effort to create this type of society.
Great responsibilities are placed on our shoulders to become the architects and constructors of a better life for all. This is an entirely new endeavour and a huge historical burden.
White youth have a greater responsibility to free themselves from the chains of racism, to rebel against all that they ever learned to believe in, to elope into the future and leap forward into a new set of beliefs and values!
It is important that they learn to understand the legitimate interests of their black compatriots who demand affirmative action, reconstruction and development.
They should desist from continuing to look at these questions from a sectarian angle which then leads them to conclude that they have nothing to contribute to end the pestilence of racism, reverse the blight of poverty and accelerate change to create a society based on unity, equality and social justice.
Surely, for the black youth, while it may be legitimate to allege that affirmative action has disadvantaged some white youth, this charge often sounds like an endeavour to balk change and the creation of equality in our society.
From them, it evokes a negatokes a negative sentiment about their white compatriots whom they begin to regard as reactionary, selfish, unappreciative of the genuine immense socio-economic plight of the black youth, ungrateful of the distance the black youth have traversed to forgive the crimes of the past meted to them by some from the ranks of the white youth that served the apartheid army and refused to defy conscription!
The latter, then as now, claimed to be victims either way. There must come a point where they must make a principled stand. Perhaps, that time is NOW!
From our experience in the world of sports, education and work the white youth continue to benefit enormously from racial sediments that continue to stalk these fields and define access by race!
Perforce, our society expect of the white youth that they will be more progressive than their parents and that they will supportupport the creation of a non-racial society.
In some instances, sadly, we witness practices in the opposite direction where some white youth display a tendency that they either still believe in racism or in a multi-racial society where black people are still subordinate!
No! This must end! We must move forward to a non-racial society where we will all be equal and will have equal opportunities to life and social benefits, where will all work hard for their socio-economic rewards and none will be entitled to what Dr. Pallo Jordan called the "unearned rewards".
In the non-racial society our diversity will neither divide us nor coercively effaced, but will become a national strength and edifice for our unity!
To reach there, a new set of coscientious whites like Braam Fischer, Dr. Beyers Naude, Joe Slovo and others must emerge from the ranks of the white youth and assume the role of spokespersons of the white community.
And, to reach there, we must defeat the current ideologues, spokespersons and leaders of the white community who look backward to find solutions to the problems of today, who believe that the best way forward is to move backward and that our future lies frozen somewhere in our past!
ANC Youth League