Thursday, June 10, 2010

An interesting... stereotype breakage

I follow a smart man called Kojo Bafoe on twitter. This morning he tweeted this: "The day people don't freak out when I speak Sesotho to them is day I reckon some of the racial stereotypes will be fading in SA".

So I asked him what he meant. And he said this: "light-skinned 'coloured' looking guy is not expected to speak Sesotho. Number of times I get spoken to in Afrikaans."

This immediately reflected in my own life. I have had plenty of people be surprised at the fact that I know sport so well. Gays aren't supposed to know anything about football outside how wide Cristiano Ronaldo's butt-cheeks are, let alone stand up in an argument about sport.

Do we REALLY still get surprised when things out of the ordinary happen to us?

Is it still surprising when a white folk can speak Zulu, a woman can fix cars, or a domestic worker is a vegetarian? Is it REALLY unheard of for a homo to like cricket, parking attendant to be a white folk, or a female boss to have a male PA?

Can girls not go fishing?
Can straight men not be hairdressers or dancers?
Can coloured folks speak languages that are not English or Afrikaans?
Can black folks play cricket?
Can men knit?

Are these still SO surprising, in this day and age of blended society?

(Can white men jump?)

1 comment:

The Mrs said...

How can there be no comments on this post??? Well, Simon. To answer ur question the sad reality is... yes, it *is* still a surprise. Not to say that a gay man CAN'T know sports or that a coloured person CAN'T speak 'native' languages (anyone living in SA that thinks any of the things you ask about above should/can not be possible really should not be living *anywhere* in this decade, frankly).
Stereotypes,like cliches, are so for a reason - they're widely held and deeply entrenched perceptions. Sad but true.
I believe that the only solution is to "just do you". It's one of those things. While it is a form of prejudice - it's not the institutionalised sort that can exactly be mobilised against. Only a bare-bones darwin-esque process of evolution will bring this kind of benign non-conformism into the mainstream. I say, if it's not against the law... naa na-na na-naa na!! Love me or leave me alone.