CEO Sim Tshabalala of Standard Bank sent out a statement in a online company newsletter, The Rand Daily Mail. In the comments he made, he said that in order for the economy to advance, racism in South Africa has to end. He made the comments after company economist Chris Hart was suspended for making comments on Twitter that said there was a “sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.” The comments have been interpreted largely as being racist, and so Hart was suspended.
According to Newsweek, Tshabalala has distanced himself from Hart for the comments because he said they glorified apartheid.
“…black South Africans are in fact fully entitled to a decent quality of life and to redress for apartheid. To suggest that this means that they are ‘entitled’ in the negative sense is simply wrong and often amounts to racism.”
So the “Penny” drops. Yes racism is alive and well in this country and we need to acknowledge it and deal with it….
In addition to these comments, real estate agent Penny Sparrow is under fire for comments she made where she called black South Africans “monkeys” for when they appeared on the beaches in South Africa on New Year’s Day. These comments have prompted the current government, under the African National Congress (ANC) to push for legislation that would make racist comments a crime.
I am in no way defending Chris Hart. I believe that companies need to consider carefully the use of social media when creating content because it’s important to put the best foot forward in the marketplace. However, consider that the biggest minority in South Africa right now is white. Under the current governmental system, whites have been barred from the marketplace because of the policies of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). As early as 2013, publications like South Africa Today were publishing stories that said whites had been barred from the job market.
As far as Hart’s comments go, they could be intepreted in many different ways. For one thing, he wasn’t specific about who was “entitled.” According to Sim Tshabalala in the Rand Daily Mail, “entitled” is a key word in racist thinking. But is it really?
This is the turning point in the South African Democratic History. This landmark speach will be quoted from in school…
Entitlement is largely subjective. As an American I can honestly say that in my country, many believe that Social Security is something we are “entitled” too. The same thing with welfare. Now the difference between the two programs is that one we pay a special tax for and the other comes from the general funds for taxes. Both work together to form a social safety net in the United States. Neither is a policy based on racism because these programs are available to all Americans. In many ways they are considered a right, and that’s where the problem comes in because social welfare programs were never written into the Constitution. Instead, the ninth and 10th Amendments to the Constitution left powers not specifically outlined in the Constitution to the people and the states.
Is Penny Sparrow guilty of racism? Yes. Her remarks were outright rude, and they made an analogy of human beings that was clearly ignorant and wrong. Still, racism is only a belief system. It is not a practice. What the African National Congress is doing is creating a law that allows for thought crimes, and the free speech of South Africans is in jeopardy because the application of the law would be subjective.
As a former U.S. Army soldier and now a U.S. Army veteran, I pledged my life to my country and made an oath to the Constitution of my country to protect and defend the Constitution. That included protecting and defending the right to free speech of others, even when I didn’t agree. If the Constitution of South Africa really is one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world, then why this step back on racism?
Although I may not like what others say sometimes, all are entitled to an opinion regardless of how putrid it is. I am insulted by the comments made by Penny Sparrow because it demonstrates a clearly ignorant mindset on the issue, but even though it is clearly racist, she expressed her opinion. Chris Hart expressed his opinion. If South Africans really want to change the world’s opinion on racism and then get rid of racism within South Africa, then South Africa needs to be free for all, and all South Africans deserve freedom of opportunity.
Programs like BEE are discriminatory, which is racism in practice, and will never address inequality. Either all South Africans are equal under the law or they are not. It is impossible to create equality of outcome when there are 48 million people in this country with different skills and abilities. Giving someone a job based on the color of the skin is a recipe for failure. Hire the best person for the job and make quality education available for all.
BEE clearly makes some South Africans more equal than others since it excludes citizens from the job market for no other reason that the color of their skin. So, who is guilty of racism now since discrimination is nothing more than racism in practice?
[AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin]