When the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke incident of segregated children in the classroom broke, people quickly seemed to rush to pick sides, with a lot of white people doing soem rather impressive gymnastics to try and defend the white teacher.
This is such a helpful comment from my friend Nobuntu Webster which expresses better than i did what i was trying to say earlier:
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“What you all may not realise in this whole conversation is your racial bias. When you choose to make up an alternative narrative to experienced Black pain, that’s racial bias. You are inadvertently saying: I don’t believe the Black mother who has expressed her pain, I choose to rather make up an alternative story to protect the White teacher.
What I am saying in my comments is that this is not as impossible as you all make it out to be and I believe the victim.
What’s more, there’s a whole thread on twitter (follow Tumi Sole) were it’s been proven that the subsequent photos where taken after the first photo trended and people went as far as tampering with the images to make it seem like they were taken around the same time, to protect the racist act that took place in that classroom.
When the first response of White people is to defend racism and dismiss Black peoples lived experience, we have no chance of reconciliation. None.” [Nobuntu Webster]
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It’s relatable to rape culture when a woman is raped and people respond with, “What was she wearing?” “Why was she in that place by herself?” “Why didn’t she watch her drink more carefully?” “Was she maybe giving him some indication that she wanted it?” and so on when the initial response should be: “Dude, don’t rape!
We revictim the victim as happened with this school situation by not trusting the mother and doing everything we can to find a way that shows that the teacher was in the right. Where have you been living? And are you not having conversations with your black, coloured and indian friends because this crap happens all of the time and once you know that then we can start responding appropriately when things like this happen.
What is in it for you for the white teacher to be presumed innocent?
Some thoughts from my friend Jacqui Tooke:
I have been wondering what is going on for the many white people who are working towards creating an alternative story…”What if it was x,y or z and not racism?”
And I wonder where this comes from? It’s one thing to get defensive when you are accused of racism, but what is driving people to get defensive about someone they have never met?
Why can’t we just say “that was bad and shouldn’t happen?”
What is psychologically happening for white peeps?
Some more thoughts from my friend Christie Mae Roberts:
I have been thinking about this so much today in the various conversations I have been having online. Because the overwhelming response from white people is the predictable “let’s wait for the full story” blah blah
And when you take that on, it’s hard to pinpoint what the problem is with wanting the facts and truth (that’s a good thing, right?) but this analogy really crystallized the problem for me – that we need to examine our default position (and ensure that if we are skeptical about news stories that we need to be consistent in that approach (not just in cases where we WANT the truth to be different).
Also, given our history, the onus should not be on a black persons (or coloured or Indian) to PROVE racism, but rather that it’s safe to assume that it’s racism (even if only subconscious bias) until proved otherwise.
Also it’s so arrogant to assume, as white people who have grown up and exist in a racist society, that we are better judges of racism than those who experience it every day.
If you found that when the story broke that you were siding with the white teacher as your gut reaction/go-to response, you should probably get hold of the book ‘White Fragility’ and give it a read. Check out some excerpts over here and do yourself a favour cos it is the best book i have read so far on unpacking these things in a surprisingly gentle way.