Speak your mind by Dr Guru Kistnasamy
It is normal to socialise with people with whom you have common interests and ties. However many avoid, shun or refuse to socialise with people based on prejudice and discrimination. Discrimination can be determined by race, colour, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status.
Prejudice is the negative beliefs about a person or group of people that you think are true. Discrimination is directed against a person or group as a result of prejudice. An example in families is where a poor relative is not invited to a function or get-together because of his or her socio-economic status. Many a rich to relative is known ignore or coldly greet a poor cousin when they meet at shopping malls or other public places.
The colour or pigmentation of one’s skin seems to influence people’s likes and dislikes. Often, families express admiration for light-skinned members while others are just average looking.
Even Bollywood movies are mostly filled with light skinned heroes and heroines while their dark-skinned cousins are portrayed as villains and thugs. It is no wonder that there is a boon in the sale of skin-lightening creams and blonde wigs. It does appear to be like apartheid in modern times, “If you are white, you are alright. If you are black, step back.”
This prejudice manifests itself even in the work-place today. It is not unusual to overhear a builder referring to his staff, who are grown men, as ‘boys’. Similarly, a mother or grandmother, who is a helper in the home, is often referred to as ‘my girl’. It is clear that race determines these labels.
A funny yet serious example of discrimination practiced by people in leadership positions, appeared in the recent newspapers. ‘Only virgins qualify for bursaries’. A daily newspaper reported that in the uThukela district municipality, a category provided for only virgins to qualify for bursaries for tertiary studies. A virginity certificate had to be produced as a supporting document!
Girls are subjected to examination by people from the community. One wonders whether girls from other race groups can or will apply?
This criteria of proving that one is a virgin in order to receive a bursary, is unique and not found anywhere else in the world. The practice is obviously discriminatory. On the positive side, this ludicrous practice may go into print as the international joke of the year.
Let us rid ourselves of prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. Let us follow in the footsteps of pioneers like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other leaders who denounced this practice.