Do blacks have low self-esteem?
The University of Pretoria (UP) has suspended two white students for taking photographs of themselves in domestic worker clothes, with their faces and arms painted with black material, portraying themselves as black female domestic workers.
According to the university’s registrar, Professor NJ Grove, after preliminary investigations, the university decided to suspend the students from their residences temporarily, pending a full disciplinary investigation.
While we are awaiting the outcomes of investigations by various institutions, I think much of the condemnation towards the incident is not a product of objective criticism but, rather, of most black South Africans’ inferiority complex.
Most black South Africans who saw something wrong with the picture probably have very little self-esteem – I will get to the reasons behind this conclusion later on.
Now, let me pose this hypothetical scenario to spark some debate on the matter:
Let us assume that there was a private 21st birthday party in Mamelodi, or at any of the university’s residences.
The organisers of the event announce before the party that there will be an award for the best and worst dressed patrons.
Two black students then dress like Afrikaner farmers with long socks and khaki shorts, while they also cover their bodies in material that make them look white.
Were we going to cry racism? I do not think so.
Well, I must be honest that I do not know the reasons that made those UP students to wear the way they did.
And, at the time of writing this article, I had never come across any caption or statement attached to the picture that suggests racism, or any racist connotation.
It is therefore obvious that allegations of racism are far-fetched in this incident.
According to vast literature, racism consists of both prejudice and discrimination based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples.
Prejudice is defined as prejudging, or forming an opinion about the other person, without first looking at the objective facts.
And discrimination is said to denote action that denies social participation or human rights to categories of people based on prejudice.
Now, given the definition above, and also considering the fact that if a black person were to wear like an Afrikaner there would most probably be no cries of racism, can we objectively conclude that there was racism in that “blackface” picture?
And, if so, what do we say of actor and producer Leon Schuster’s movies where he dresses like a black maid?
But if the “blackface” picture is not racist, which I believe it is not, I can safely conclude that its condemnation was based on blacks’ self-hate and lack of self-esteem.
Black South Africans generally hate everything about themselves to an extent that when they see such on a white body it only brings them shame.
Not all black women in the country are domestic workers.
And domestic work is not restricted to blacks alone.
There are white domestic workers in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Moreover, domestic work is also a type of work that needs to be valued like all others, despite what our history did to the image of domestic workers in general.
It is therefore wrong that every time a white person makes a joke about a female, black domestic worker we cry racism.
Jokes and other forms of fictitious products should not define any person or any race for that matter.
Every person should craft their own individual destiny without relying on stereotypes created by others.
Just as blacks are able to, among others, put on Brazilian hair and wear Scottish traditional clothes, other races must also be allowed to wear African hair (if at all we do have such – another sign of self-hate), wear our traditional clothes and pose as Africans without fear of being labelled racists.
It is only when such antics are followed by calculated racist insinuations that we should be worried.
We should not allow our lack of self-love make others to be afraid of poking fun at us.
As much as we accept that some whites still refuse to join the South African rainbow nation project, we should stop behaving like victims all the time.
This “we are victims and we were oppressed” mentality often affects how we relate to, and work with, other races.
It is either we are too suspicions of our white counterparts, or we hero-worship them to an extent that some believe that you need a white person to produce results.
Low self-esteem and self-hate are self-made.
They are not natural and they are by-products of an unfortunate history.
It is upon us to start loving ourselves and having confidence in ourselves so that we can relate better with our fellow countrymen without any form of inferiority complex.