Airy-fairy young fools vex me more than old racists

When you begin to "understand" and accept racism and racists, it is time to get scared.

When you begin to "understand" and accept racism and racists, it is time to get scared.

I am pretty scared.

I am not talking here of blatant kaffir-in-sy-plek, skiet-en-donner racism a la Ku Klux Klan, nor the paper tiger racism of the AWB.

It is the subtle, even polite kind of racism that concerns me - and the kind I fear I am beginning to accept. The type of white person who calls and says: "Hello Charles, my name is Mr Snyman ."

If you are Mr, what makes you not return the courtesy of the title to me? At any rate, it is just plain dumb and small to introduce oneself as "Mr" Whatever.

I find myself understanding, though, that many aged white folk mean no harm when they believe in their superiority. They were brought up that way and decades of indoctrination cannot be legislated away by the stroke of a pen.

Take my dear, departed grandmother. A God-fearing woman, she preached to me ad nauseam about the importance of humbling myself before whites if I wanted to make it in life.

She would throw up her hands in frustration when I argued that I would never ever address a white person as "baas".

I can almost hear her desperate and hapless: "Okay, my boy. You are too clever. It's up to you. But lekgowa le a tlhomphiwa" - a white person is to be respected.

Now, when you come across an old white lady in her late 80s and she tries to be "nice" to you, her "nice" is much like her being gentle to a pet.

A couple of years ago I found myself helping an old white man who had had a breakdown on some lonely stretch of road between Rustenburg and Johannesburg.

I gave him my phone to call his son-in-law to come and get him.

He was almost in tears as he bellowed into my phone: "Jy sal nie glo wie help my uit nou, 'n swart man. " - You won't believe who's helping me out, a black man.

He did not call me "boy", but if he had, I probably would not have made an issue of it. He was much older than my father, and on those grounds I could excuse anything.

My tolerance levels snap though, when one deals with younger folk who ought to know better. On Freedom Day I sat on a panel in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, discussing the issue of gay and lesbian relationships.

I could not believe the level of intolerance and homophobia displayed by young people. I was astounded at people who pranced on stage chanting "Equal rights . one love . Jah love . freedom ." one minute, and then spewed homosexual hatred the next.

In their warped view, the constitution should allow them to smoke the weed and do other things generally frowned upon, but hell no, others mustn't have their freedoms if they don't fall within their cult's dictums.

Thank God they don't claim to represent the broad Rasta family.

Give me an old racist any day, but spare me a young fool.