What Biko would have told young black people about racism

01 February 2018 - 10:03
A teacher at Hoërskool Die Burger in Randburg, Gauteng, was caught on camera, scolding his pupils. This is a screen shot of the video that went viral after it was uploaded to Twitter on January 21 2018. Image: Supplied
A teacher at Hoërskool Die Burger in Randburg, Gauteng, was caught on camera, scolding his pupils. This is a screen shot of the video that went viral after it was uploaded to Twitter on January 21 2018. Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

When a white Randburg teacher was recorded telling black school pupils that they were “idiots” who did not achieve academically and had “only invented peanut butter”, I braced myself for the inevitable.

The recorded message would be posted on social media, outrage would fan across the country, the teacher would be called all kinds of vile names, and there would be a call for his head. This Hoërskool Burger educator, of course, joined a growing list of white South African adults from estate agents to fellow teachers who had recently written their names into infamy with their naked racism.

But the visceral reaction from us as black South Africans has me puzzled. Why are we so easily rattled by idiots such as this teacher? This was the question I posed to my Stellenbosch University colleague, Professor Pumla Gobodo Madikizela, a world expert on trauma studies.

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