Birds of a feather do flock together. The reason for this may be found in the idea that you are who you are because of others. Others meaning the family, friends, neighbourhood, school and the community one is brought up and situated in. This is where Artful Dodger (AD) and I agree. AD’s argument has Universalist strands to it. Universalism is not a bad thing per se, however, it is this notion of an equal society in which beliefs and life orientations are seen to be similar and applicable throughout the world that has created problems for the not so equal. Before I continue, do not misinterpret me: I am not saying that the intermingling and interaction of people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders and races should not occur. My point is that one should not confuse the ability to participate in this interaction with equality. Universalism makes the mistake of conflating the two. A quick note: equal/equality in this argument refers to historically similar social and economic status.
To be able to say at the dinner table or rather or on a blog site that I (any person not just me) have white, Asian, black, coloured, or foreign friends (potential or real) and partners does not make you (any person not necessarily AD) a more rounded or open minded person. Nor does it make you more equal than the next person. What AD has done is exactly what he says he is against: using the idea of different race groups to illustrate how he does not limit himself. This is a dangerous path to tread because to call someone a racist because s/he says has black friends (as some white racist South Africans do and I also hate that kind of talk because it is racist), and think it is less racist to say I have white friends because it is said by a black person does not make that person a ‘non-racist’ (if such a word exists). The history of this country and the world has led us, as human kind, to believe that racism is a (for lack of a better word) bad thing, and yes I agree with that. Due to the fact that most racist acts have been directed towards people of colour; it is my feeling that it is correct for us to feel aggrieved and insulted that such acts still occur in overt and implicit manners and should fight to stop it where it occurs. However, one must not think that racism manifests itself only in the historical and dominant perpetrators.
For every action, there’s a reaction and accordingly those who were/are racist towards us have taught us to become racist towards them and ourselves because we have learned to see the world the way they see it and that is through race. Thus we all become racist. I’m a racist, you are a racist. And just because you do not overtly or consciously act in a racist manner, it does not make you less of a racist. This is what I feel the issue of race has not resolved in this country and perhaps the world. It is common for people (and yes this is a generalisation), the moment they see the next person to look at what colour their pigmentation is first, then their gender then their culture and religion. Understandably since we are a race-obsessed nation – which does not deal with the issue of race – AD’s illustrations were, I suppose, obligatory. However, he also inadvertently demonstrates how race and racism manifests itself without even realising it. The problem is that when you (any person) see people through colour tainted eyes you stop seeing people for who they and rather for what they are. But it is difficult to find a person’s essence from the first impression and so people get comfortable with labelling first and asking questions later. This is what so-called black conscious movements and people today are like (another generalisation).
Although due to the historical treatment of people of colour it is necessary I feel for us to reclaim our identities and define them ourselves, the way we want them to be defined, it seems to me that so-called black consciousness people has limited itself by limiting itself to defining black consciousness as the antithesis of white; in other words as in opposition to whites by putting themselves in relation to whites. They do this without doing what is in fact their first task to deal with unity amongst blacks and secondly digging deeper into the issue of equality. In the end AD and I agree. We must not get caught up in the buzz word of ‘globalisation’ and get lost in fashionable phrases like ‘having an open mind’. To be able to allow yourself to step out of the parameters of your specific social box is great and yes I agree a good thing. Meaningful, enriching and rewarding relationship between human beings can take place in such places. However, one must not forget that the personal is also political and so every such encounter has hidden layers of history that one has to pull out and examine. It goes back to the idea of the universal singular, broadly described in “A faceless Consciousness.” I am because you are and you are because I am, living in the present as a product of yesterday and a creator of tomorrow. This is the lesson of consciousness.