When I was little, you’d probably have found me in my room playing elaborate games with my dolls or with the rest of the kids in our road, riding our bikes like we were part of some international biker spy gang. It was marvelous – that feeling of running and playing without a care, the only worry we had was being forced to say goodbye when the street lights came on.
Did I notice that some of my friends had a different skin colour to me or that my absolute favourite doll (Bobby) was “black”? Obviously I did. I’m not freaking blind you know. But did that matter? Not a damn.
My parents tried their hardest to instill in us that we shouldn’t be treating people differently because of their skin colour. And so we didn’t. In fact I didn’t even know that racism was a thing until I experienced it first hand.
We went to a public school in our neighbourhood that was open to all – even though it was in the early 90’s. I made friends with people that had different cultural and religious backgrounds and a wide variety of skin colours. Those relationships were formed because we had something in common, we laughed together or it was just who we gravitated towards at the time, it had nothing to do with any of our backgrounds.
It wasn’t until Grade 3 where a fellow pupil persistently and tirelessly started calling me nasty names based on my skin colour, that I found out what being racist was all about and how much it hurt to be on the receiving end of those senseless words. It still brings this weird feeling of dread to my tummy just thinking about it. Back then it made me so ill that for a long period of time I just stopped going to school altogether.
Normally in situations like this it’s easy to take the same approach as the perpetrator. To retaliate with the same hurtful words or harmful actions is more natural to our inherent human nature than to stand up against it.
I could have taken that stance all of those years ago but what is that going to solve? Thankfully with the help of my family and teachers we worked it out and instead of it having a negative effect on how I approached “colour” moving forward, it did the opposite.
8 Years ago on this very day, I married my best friend. One who has loved me despite my flaws, my all to frequent moods swings and the fact that untidiness is my natural gift. And I love him for his random sense of humour, how much he values time with our kids and how we can be our “real” selves with each other. Together we have weathered the storms of parenting three children, moving house, death of parents and just the everyday trials that sharing life together brings. There is no one else that I would choose to do life with.
Did I notice that he has a different skin colour to me? Of course I did. But do I care? Not a damn!
22 thoughts on “Pulling The Race Card”
I love this! I was brought up te same way – living on a farm un the middle of nowhere my best friends were Xhosa and Zulus… I have never understood racism. It makes me sick. My mom always said- The colour of your skin os not the colour of your heart ❤️
Apologies for the essay here. I tried best to shorten it. It has taken me a long time to be confident of my right to challenge racism where I encountered it. I had chosen a form of quiet ” let’s not draw attention to us” because as a family we stand out a bit. We sometimes joke that we look a bit like the United Nations of Benetton but it’s the subtler forms of racist stereotyping and bigotry that are annoying. Like the assumption that my Asian daughter should be able to do Maths (cos all Asian’s can), or the saleswoman at Edgars who without asking sprayed my younger daughters hair with some curl spray cos you should really put more conditioner on her hair. Well meaning, but invasive. My worst experience was when my now 15 year old was about 2 and we were at a busy Waterfront Restaurant and my daughter played the game of drop stuff our of her pram and laughed each time it got picked up. A woman, sitting at a nearby table, said something along the lines of ” you Chinese with your little empresses”. I am not Chinese but Polynesian heritage lends itself to that assumption. But of course my clearly Chinese child blurs those lines for a numble of people. As a child, my family left Rondebosch when I was about 7 years old after having avoided the implications of the Group Areas Act for a long time. My parents were of different races ( read White and Indian/Polynesian) and when we finally moved and left my wonderful grandmother to live in a less green and serviced community, it came as a big shock to us. White kids had teased us in Rondebosch, and on entering our new suburb/township coloured kids teased us!
I recently had cause to quietly and gently challenge a Groote Schuur High student who did not realise that I was the mother or the student walking ahead of her. She had been comfortably sharing her negative comments with a fellow student. She did not know my daughter but they were both attending an afternoon class at Frank Joubert Art School and my daughter is chronically shy and therefore does not speak to anyone without them talking to her. The Groote Schuur girl was a bit taken aback and mortified and then said “sorry aunty”. I did not identify myself as the mother of the girl she was being negative about, I simply asked her why they thought what they’re were saying was ok.
Congratulations on 8 years, you two!
You know what – I never noticed until I read it on your blog at some stage. I think we have come far in this country – we need to push it that one step further now. And that diversity in genes certainly makes the most beautiful children ever!
Why do i often read / stumble across stories about white people saying how much they embrace the nations and pour out their hearts in kumbajaness? I have never seen it documented the other way round. Do whites feel it is necessary to declare this as opposed to *i wonder* what other colorful people think / say.
Congratulations on 8 years Cindy and Seth! May you be blessed with a life time more of happiness and love ♡
I was one of those kids who grew up and attended primary school with Cindy and have so many childhood carefree memories of afternoons at her house and many sleepovers, while being aware of the colour difference of our skin but it never had any impact on our friendship. I remember Aunty Dawn and Uncle Roly treating like I was one of their kids and making me feel right at home.
Best childhood memories 💜
Great post !
I’ve always been pleasantly surprised that people have never commented on mine and husbands our marriage . The race card has never come up , I’m not sure if it’s because people don’t realise that about Rasheed because he is quite fair skinned . But none the less it’s never ever crossed my mind since being with him for the last ten years .
I love him inside and out and can’t wait to grow old with him ❤
There's someone special for everyone x
Beautifully written x
Beautiful pics and lovely post! I was exposed to racism for the first time when I went to high school and it came from my peers who are the same colour as me…quite bizarre!