Home Opinion & Features Let’s drop the cruel racial categories

Let’s drop the cruel racial categories


The second is a re-read of Pearl Cleage’s gem of frankness and in-your-face narration that will leave you hating or loving her

I do not, as a rule, review or discuss books in my column. But for the past few weeks, I have been immersed in two books, as different as any two can be. I wish to share the experience.

The first is a 587-page tome gifted to me by researcher and academic Dr Ruben Richards. This is volume 1 of 2.

The book is a compendium of academia, anecdote, philosophy, interrogation – indeed, name any genre in the creative act of writing and you will find it here.

It is written in a way that either makes it a straight-through read because of its courage and innovative cognition, or a browser that will give you hours of digging into the subject matter.

Either way, it now has pride of place on my over-crowded book-shelf. Thank you, Dr Richards.

The second is a re-read of Pearl Cleage’s gem of frankness and in-your-face narration that will leave you hating or loving her.

Very close to the classic Celie in Alice Walker’s classic The Color Purple.

Ava Johnson doesn’t mince her words in relating her story and discussing her condition regarding race, sexism and all the other baggage inflicted on the darker-skinned people who inhabit planet Earth. It’s called What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.

Which is a shoo-in to my topic. I think it’s time that we drop the racial categories.

A young woman complained to her dad that the four basic blocks for racial identity were limited to white, black, coloured, Indian. It did not cater for her own self-concept.

Her father’s response is a classic. “Draw your own block.”

I think the category I am said to occupy is ready for a make-over. I am told that I am coloured. I have never bought into this.

It was a colonial construct, or an apartheid political ploy to manipulate votes.

The category was created, and we all supposedly fell into it and occupied it, to the amusement of the whites and the disgust of the blacks.

Suddenly, we have Trevor Noah being born a crime.

We have the academic sorties into hybridisation, creolisation, mixed, mestizo, brown, caramel – the list grows as we try to justify the category.

My advice? Drop the category.

Face the fact that DNA tests will cause some blushes, denials and possibly (I did not say “hopefully”), self-immolation.

We didn’t drop out of the sky. We have no mandate to appease your denial of your progeny that was the result of mixed-marriage.

We have no mandate to justify the denial on both sides and the incipient cruelty of absent fathers and blushing and/or chortling mothers.

Access these books and see what courage is.

Drop the categories.

It is cruel name-calling and perpetuated emotional cruelty.

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