Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane today gave a speech about South Africa’s racism problem at a fitting venue - the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. We've highlighted some quotes from his talk:
1. Racism demeans us. All of us, black and white. It opens the wounds of its victims, and exposes the ignorance of those who perpetrate it. It robs us of the dignity that so many fought for. And racism divides us. Just look at us. At the very moment we need to be standing together, we are being torn apart.
2. Like in a marriage, we made a commitment to each other. Our antenuptial agreement was the Constitution we signed twenty years ago on the 8th of May 1996. On that day, we vowed to respect each other. We vowed to grow old together. We vowed to stick together, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.
3. We – as black South Africans – are still made to feel inferior because of the colour of our skin. And this inferiority complex runs deep. I remember growing up how we used to refer to successful black South Africans as ‘ngamla’ (a white person). And I cannot tell you how many times I am told by black South Africans that I have “done well” because I happen to be married to a white woman.
4. The injury of racial inequality is compounded by the insult of racism. It is like pouring salt in a deep wound.
5. I also know that, for every racist incident that makes the front pages and trends on Twitter, there are hundreds that don’t. I know that there are people who talk to each other around the braai as if they were still living in the 1970s.
6. 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.
7. It is equally important to acknowledge that racism is not the preserve of any one group. To say that black people are not capable of prejudice is itself a twisted form of racism.
8. I am not going to stand here and pretend I have all the answers. I don’t think anybody does. What I do know is that any road to reconciliation starts with a conversation.
9. No DA member must ever turn a blind eye to racism, no matter how subtle or coded. We need to call people out on their behaviour, even when confronting them makes us feel uncomfortable. We have a duty to stand up and speak out for our values. Because racists are not welcome in the DA. And if you’re a racist and you are thinking of voting for the DA, please don’t. We are not the party for you.
10. My objective is to ensure that, by 2019, our parliamentary and legislature caucuses, and our decision-making structures at all levels, reflect the diversity of our complex society. And we will do it without resorting to dehumanising quotas that reduce human beings to statistics.