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Wed May 25 20:52:20 SAST 2016

‘Vast majority of whites don’t think like Penny Sparrow’: Maimane

TMG Digital | 19 January, 2016 11:38
Mmusi Maimane. File Photo
Image by: Veli Nhlapo / Sowetan.

Most whites don’t share Penny Sparrow’s views‚ the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) leader told an audience at the Apartheid Museum on Tuesday morning.

Mmusi Maimane seemed to suggest that social media had the potential to “interrupt” the important conversation the country needed to have about the “structural inequalities of our society”.

South Coast estate agent Sparrow resigned her DA membership after the party threatened disciplinary and legal action against her for a Facebook post that described black holiday makers as “monkeys”.

That post went viral‚ drawing widespread condemnation and a barrage of racist social media posts.

“I know that the vast majority of white people don’t think like Penny Sparrow does‚” said Maimane.

“All South Africans – black and white – must talk about the persistence of racialised inequality 20 years after the end of apartheid. And‚ if we believe this government has failed to redress apartheid’s legacy‚ we must say that as well.

But‚ added Maimane‚ “this conversation is interrupted‚ however‚ every time a racist incident hits the headlines and explodes onto social media”.

“Suddenly‚ we are back to square one. The injury of racial inequality is compounded by the insult of racism. It is like pouring salt in a deep wound.

“No wonder so many people are angry about racism. I am one of them.” The politician drew courage from the knowledge that “there are many people in South Africa of all races who truly believe in non-racialism”.

“But I also know that‚ for every racist incident that makes the front pages and trends on Twitter‚ there are hundreds that don’t‚” he added. “I know that there are people who talk to each other around the braai as if they were still living in the 1970s.

“And we all know somebody who is fond of starting a sentence with ‘I’m not a racist‚ but…’

“Because‚ for every incident of overt racism‚ there are thousands of instances of casual‚ everyday racism: Talking down to people‚ laughing when people pronounce an English word incorrectly‚ not bothering to acknowledge people‚ believing somebody’s accent is a sign of their intelligence.

“These are all subtle forms of racial superiority‚ and it is time we all acknowledged how damaging they are. Repeated over time‚ they erode the goodwill that once existed between us.”

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