Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Racism's Sad Legacy (D)

I find it incredibly distasteful that at a time when we COULD be celebrating as a nation, (how much else is to feel this good about?) we choose rather to attack the heroes of the rugby world cup, and divide ourselves. When will we ever learn to enjoy being South Africans?

Of course many people are and have been. It’s just sad to see the aftermath of the RWC deteriorate into blogger basement debates on racism. Is that always where every achievement will gravitate back towards?

Because it’s always a choice. Focus on what’s wrong or focus on what can bring us together…

There have been at least two columnists (bloggers?) who have gotten on the Racism Bandwagon thanks to the Boks winning in France. There has also been plenty of reaction. It reminds me of terrorism, quite frankly.

You find a target, one that has a lot of attention, and one that could conceivably garner a lot more if attacked in the sweet spot, and then you make sure you time your terrorism just perfectly.

Why do you you think Jake White has left? Is White ahem, the best man to coach an All Black Team? Probably not, if your intention is just that, to paint first a certain sort of officials and a certain sort of player into a side, rather than starting where you should start: figuring out how to win, doing the math, do the work.

Some people - and I'm guessing they don't even play sport - seem to think you get to the top by playing eeni meeni myni mo. You win because you did more WORK, more preparation than anyone else.

Using the same sense SARU appear to be using, why do we have a white Brazilian coaching the almost All Black Bafana Bafana? Because the plan is to win, or at least attempt to do well. But see, these are actually irrelevant questions. The questions really being asked is:
how can we score a free pass, a free ride, a free handout, using the race card?
That really is what it looks like. There's not a love for the sport, there's a greedy sense of opportunism. And I agree: it's very sad. How can we ever win, not just rugby, but anything, business contracts, respect, international relationships, if this is our skewed, weaseling and money grubbing focus.

I've heard the argument about how hard it is for disadvantaged people to make the SA Rugby team. Well it should be hard - for everyone. Sorry but I don't believe - for a second - that Jake White chose his team based on anything other than merit. And how ironic that the world's player of the year is a non-white South African.

Now, though, we're supposed to anticipate seeing the sort of Affirmative Action in rugby as we've seen in cricket. I don't watch cricket any more. Somehow, at World Cup level, we manage to come up with a dismal performance. It beggars belief, but we do.
So now we're seeing SA Rugby Transform. No harm in that you think? It's the equivalent of a 9/11 attack on this nation. It's the equivalent to decapitating one of the most positive skyscrapers rising right now in the nation. Why do I say this? Because effectively the spirit of the nation is being crushed, when we should be celebrating and enjoying our place in the world. The current agenda demonstrates that politics and power are overtly, ostensibly more important than crowds of people - all people - coming together on the streets to demonstrate support for one another.

Yes, now's the time to attack, and we so we see stories and columns like these doing the rounds:

M&G: Racism 101: What is racism?
My last posting suggested that the decision to scrap Soweto off the Springbok victory parade was racist.

The Times: Black fans deserve rugby’s respect, too

I watched the Rugby World Cup at a friend’s place in the southern suburbs of the great city of Johannesburg. It was an instructive experience — not just watching the game itself, but watching those who were watching the game.

There were about 14 of us, all black. The tension was palpable right from the word go. There we were, huddled around the screen, with our sweaty palms wrapped around cups and glasses of our favourite beverages.

We sang along as the players broke into our national anthem. There were excited comments: “Hhawu, these white boys are actually singing our anthem!” It was as if we were relieved that the white players had humbled themselves enough to learn the Nguni part of the anthem.

NVDL: I just imagine a win in ANY other country; New Zealand, Australia, France, England...the LAST things they would do is immediately fire their coach (or let him go), then launch debates on how to change a team and other analyse the sideshow issues to death. Only in South Africa can we find a way to spoil the celebrations a soon as possible by bickering about what's not right.

Francois Pienaar provided this cogent response to Mr Khumalo's stirs on racism and rugby:
As mentioned before in other posts, and in support of your post, rugby cannot be transformed from the top down, it needs to start at grass roots. Get the facilities up, get the coaches there and then get the kids interested. well, how do you get them interested? Well, by winning. Whether the team is pink, blue or black, if they win, people will be interested period. If they don’t people won’t.

On the M&G blog I answered the question: What is racism, as follows:
Racism is a conscious effort to hurt, malign or in other ways infringe on another human being using their race (against them) as a means for this attack.

And then there are arguments and counterarguments about the 'official' definition of what racism is. Jeepers guys, that's helpful. Notice how we go from celebrating something, to getting so losty and sidetracked in the negative offshoots that we lose all the momentum we once had.

So I would say that Jake White has been a victim of racism, and so has this country. Why? Because they can. Unfortunately, as seems to be a lot we cannot but avoid on the African continent, this strategy from the top will effectively transform us - unless some sanity previals - also into first a losing rugby nation, and then a nation of losers, both economic and otherwise.

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