Attitudinal racism

But what can be done? According to Gouws "aan die kant van die bevoorregtes beteken dit om plek te maak vir die "ander", om die stelsel se verantwoordelikheid te eien en eie voorreg te erken, om verskil te aanvaar en te bevestig. Dit beteken ook om die gevolge van histories, ekonomies, en sielkundige onderdrukings te aanvaar" (2003). An important step for white South Africans is when guilt and shame begin to replace defensiveness, then can we start to become human again, not because we are taking responsibility for apartheid, but because we are aware of and sensitive to the very different realities of all the people of our country.

We need to develop a perspective which differentiates what we can be responsible for, that is, our day-to-day attitude and actions toward the people we meet from the grand plan that was apartheid (Clark, 2003). But what about those who were oppressed? They too have attitudinal racism of their own to overcome and attitudes to work on to form a prosperous future. According to Grouws "aan die kant van die slagoffers speel mense die sisteem, of blameer die sisteem (ek kan nie my lewe verander nie, want dis apartheid se skuld), of ontken hul herkoms of ontwikkel 'n entitlement syndrome.

Die afleer van rassisme is 'n proses wat met konstruktiewe verandering gepaard moet gaan. Dit beteken om selfgeldend te wees, om verantwoordelikheid vir optrede te aanvaar, en om inligting oor hul kultuur en sistemiese onderdrukking te deel (2003). Once we have acknowledged our differences, our past and our control over our own attitudinal racism we can begin to take steps of healing.

While presently our country's leaders seem lost to the war of political race-labelling and race-baiting (Leon, 2003), let us remember South Africa's own international hero, Mr Nelson Mandela whose inspirational words were first heard in 1964 and again repeated in a speech after his release from 27 years imprisonment: I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to achieve.

But if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. With these sentiments in mind let us not forget how far we have come and put to waste all that has been so hard won. Let us rejoice in our liberty, seek to mend wounds and not fan fires, let us take charge of our own attitudes and choose to re-establish our rainbow nation. All three articles are valid in that they discuss the different forms of racism and the different levels of society they affect. Gouws's article differentiates between attitudinal and structural racism.

It brings attitudinal racism to our attention and challenges us to change, however it also questions the government not playing more of a role. Clarke's article is a particular challenge to white South Africans reminding them that just because apartheid is over it does not follow that the work is done. Leon's article challenges the presidents behaviour and is frightening reminder that racism is alive and thriving still in South Africa, that unless we continually contest it, it threatens to return in full force to every level of society. It is also proof of the importance to work through attitudinal racism before it returns as structural.