Hope: The one sided double edged sword

Leonard Thipe

Throughout our lives, we are taught and prepared to respect hope and then accept the hand of fate when hope is deferred. This is a hard lesson…for so many reasons as we find out through living life. A very good lesson from parents who have already put in their yards and have the scars to show…A harsh reality for the inexperienced imbeciles coming through the ranks. And even harsher as one realizes the injustice, inequality and unfairness of life.

I have lived my entire life on hope and trust. Largely because that is what my name means. Tshepo. Hope….trust…faith. The substance and evidence of things not yet experienced or proven. I believed justice and fair play were a pregone conclusions, a matter already established and entrenched in societal conscience. I thought equality was finalized by Nelson Mandela and the advent of the rainbow nation; that it was no longer even a point of disagreement. I could never have been more wrong.

I continue to sit today in corporate level meetings where white is automatically right. I continue to fight for justice for the black company whose only error is the color of their skin before they even tender or win the tender. I am the sole black manager who sits at an an exclusively white table to discuss why white incompetence is forgivable while black mistakes are pure evidence of the evil that “these people” will be our downfall. I look up to black senior managers and leaders whose sole purpose is self-preservation and they completely refuse to see justice or fairness. I sit with white people who speak the lingo to my face and then go right ahead to act harshly, unjustly and racially biased against black entrepreneurs. They Haye us, but have developed the art of “looking just”. I sit daily, listening to black professionals who will never be entrepreneurs, will never understand the prehudice;calling their black service providers names I will never repeat. I sit with black entrepreneurs who entrust me with the weight of achieving justice for their cause against a tide too strong for me to withstand. My staff believe I am either superman or superstar depending on daily outcomes that cost me my health daily. I am on antidepressants, sleeping pills and huge doses of: know where your bread us buttered. I work for a company that is not overtly transformational, but absolutely inertly white uninterested in transformation…they will never take a stance that promotes reversing the harm of apartheid, yet will quickly and efficiently squash all evidence throughpower PR and marketing campaigns. Giving hand-outs…shoes and computers and food parcels here and there as long as the PR machine is looking. But any black person coming into the system is on pure merit…they were the best candidate. Once in the system, promotion depends entirely on different factors that continue to show who braais with with who, who knows who…while the blacks fight for their miniscule slice of the cake. We are so overburdened we never have time to realize what is happening around us. We are so consumed with retaining our fragile privilege that we can never risk taking any career limiting position. We dare not have a voice; or if we have it, voice it. We could be cast back into the wilderness from which we have come.It is pure economic manipulation, classic inequality bias tactics.

And so, we continue to live the lie…to preserve the status quo. We continue the status quo; white supremacy, Indian/mixed race tolerance and “different black” tendencies. “Oh, you speak so well. What school did you go to? You sound so white…you are not like the others, you are so perfect for that mediatory/reconciliatory role I want to fill “…the list is inexhaustible.

And so, we continue living in this very obvious and blatantly biased bubble of white supremacist bias. We continue to hope that being “better blacks” gives us enough leverage today to pass on to our children’s future prospects. All this, in a country where Mandela magic reigns…the rainbow nation. The world example of how racism can trump politics…as long as the societal poverty balance favors the whites. We keep the black child poor…we all take corruption, bias and injustice and wear it around our necks like a value-lacking piece of jewelry heavy in sentimental value. We lie to ourselves; worse, we believe our own lies and use that to perpetuate the fictitious fragments of our imagination our bias supports. We are hopeful bigots. We wear our one sided bigotry like the double-edged sword we know it is: it will damage us all very badly one day soon. ALL of us are guilty, and will suffer the consequences. I feel sorry for our future generations.

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