Racist card or valid question?

I saw a post on a Charity facebook page that had posted several photographs of children receiving presents, and opening them – the children all (I assume all, I did not go through them and do a tally) were non-white.

After a particularly lovely photograph of a black South African young boy opening his gift with a smile that could light up Cape Town, Jane Doe had posted the comment: “sal ons ander raskinders se glimlaggies ook sien asb.”

The English translation is loosely “Will we be seeing the smiling faces of children of other races please” – my translation skills are not on University level, but that is sort of the gist of it.

Clearly some people made a poop in their pants – others just went befok!

There was the standard response of “a child is a child no matter what their race” …. and that is true, but that was not what she was asking.

I saw further comments about the original comment on other facebook status updates.  I did not make the connection until I saw the original comment and where it was posted, and then the penny dropped.

I am not sure if the person who posted the question was asking because she felt that non-white children had only been featured on this facebook page.  

Or whether she really was curious where the white people were.

Or that she was taking issue – or just making a comment – that there seemed to be very little in the way of white faces being presented.

Or that she felt that unless she saw a white child now, she was going to rethink why she had “liked” this page.

I am not sure – what her frame of reference was for the question.

The children registered are probably representative of the population of South Africa as a whole.  My guess is that there would be far more coloured children in the photographs from the Western Cape, than say for the Gauteng area.  

I would suppose.

Whites are the minority – and make up less than 10% of the South African population.  And based on this, one would expect to see far less white faces in the photographs than say of children of colour.

The question did not rile me that much.  It does (for me) bring back the issue that race is a very sensitive topic in this our rainbow nation.  One has to tread very carefully with what you ask and how it is phrased.

I think is the “lesson” when reading posts, comments and pretty much everything on the interweb is that you really don’t know the tone that the person was using, what they actually meant or anything more about her other than these 9 words that make up this comment/post.

I have interviews with candidates who for the most part black South Africans or black foreign nationals.  I am often taken aback when one of the candidates starts a sentence with “You know how black people are….” or “You know how those people are ….”

Clearly the right answer from me is “er, no …..” – it seems dangerous to have any other reaction.

On non related news I took this photograph of Isabelle and Kate (Katelyn) yesterday in a moment where they seemed to be sharing a private joke … and no, I do not know why there is a piece of ribbon pasta lying between them.

isabelle_kate01

isabelle_kate

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11 Comments

  1. I’m not sure that I care about the context of her question to be honest. I get immediately annoyed when any south african; black, white, blue, pink… raises the issue of race. It just seems unnecessary to me. I’m also very sensitive about the fact that, because I’m white, other white’s think they can say things like ‘THEY are just like that… etc’, as if they assume I will agree with them just because I’m white. I think as a whole, I’m over anything to do with race, violence, poverty, abuse – they affect us all, whether or not that’s obvious in a photo.. does it really matter?? Just discovered and enjoying your blog 🙂

    Reply
    • My son’s friend last week commented when I said that the car behind us had their sound system really loud he commented: “It’s probably a black person,they all listen to music really loud!”

      My three kids just sat there and stared at him … and then we all looked at the guy who was driving the car – and he was white.

      But that made my son’s friend only stick to his point of all black people having loud music all the more – even though there appeared to be an example the did not match his assumption.

      Reply
      • Interesting… I was babysitting my niece and she was watching disney channel… I can’t even remember what show she was watching but suddenly there was a white princess, and she was about to marry a black prince… and she, at the tender age of 8, was not impressed by this. How can she marry a black prince she said, she’s a princess, that’s not the right colour prince!… what concerns me is why she would be offended by this at such a young age. Makes you think of what is being said in her home…

        Reply
  2. The Blessed Barrenness

     /  November 14, 2013

    Celeste, like you, I’m not exactly sure in what context she was asking the question, but on first reading, it does come off as a rather passive/aggressive racist remark.
    I would also like to add my own personal observation on your post – I hate the term “non-white”, for me, its ranks up there as highly racist, implying that being white is the be all and end all and that all other race groups are “non” if that makes sense. I know you meant it as an all inclusive statement but it is for many of us, myself included, a fairly offensive term.
    Race is such a sensitive issue for our rainbow nation and I’ve never been more aware of it than I am now as a parenting raising too “non-white” or coloured children.

    Reply
    • When I was trying to write this post — I kept stumbling over the right term to use …. everything looked wrong …. I cringed at using the word black — coloured was agonising and nothing worked.

      I can happily refer to someone’s eye colour or hair colour and there is no issue – I may be describing someone and using a physical feature as a reference point, but if I have to mention someone’s skin colour I blanch —-

      I do take your point about the term “non white” ….. thanks for pointing this out.

      Reply
      • The Blessed Barrenness

         /  November 14, 2013

        I think that is the irony of the racial tension in our rainbow nation, we’re all so terrified (well some of us) of being racist or offending others that we’re afraid to call people what they are… black… white… coloured.
        It’s been an interesting experience for me, with my girls being mixed race, such a stupid technicality, they are in fact coloured and people’s reactions to that.

        Reply
  3. One Parent Short

     /  November 14, 2013

    Actually having re-read, its the slightly passive-aggressive asb. on the end that makes me uncomfortable for some reason.

    Reply
    • It does me as well …. but I tried to read it without putting the tone I hear in my head to it ….. I really tried to read it as an innocent question …

      Reply
  4. One Parent Short

     /  November 14, 2013

    You make a valid point though. In this (loving giving) context is she asking “Where the hell are the white children?!” or the slightly less aggressive “Are there any white children? (just inquiring purely out of interest really. Doesn’t this little one look a dear?…)”. Personally internet commenters, FB and News24 in particular, take the prize for uncovering a very dark anger in me that I didn’t know existed, and that no -one and nothing else can elicit. I try not to go there.

    Reply
  5. KennithB

     /  November 14, 2013

    Also the adoption demand for white babies is so high in relation to the ratio of the population that enter the system that it is highly unlikely that they will be evident in these care facilities…

    Reply
  6. My general understanding is that there are far fewer white kids in need of charity and Xmas gifts than children of some other races in this country, due to historical reasons of privelege etc. and also due to the fact that there are very few white orphans – white people tend to use birth control or abort? So I don’t really understand the lady’s comment in this context that we are all pretty familiar with. But anyhooo…

    Reply

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