Every dispute is not a racial issue

THE video of a heated exchange between two customers at Texamo Spur, east of Johannesburg last week, is a grim reminder of how hard it is for many South Africans to shake off the shackles of racism.

Footage of the encounter, oozing vulgarity and uncontrollable anger outbursts, went viral within minutes, with online users jumping on the bandwagon by sharing the link and recklessly pronouncing their own judgments.

This ironically took place as the country commemorated Anti-Racism Week – something that could have easily been avoided.

The crux of the matter is that this was not a black and white spat.

This was an everyday parenting issue that could have been amicably resolved between responsible parents.

Would the end result have been the same if two black parents or two white parents were involved in the same predicament? Most likely not.

Just last week, this scribe visited Spur in Empangeni, where a similar encounter could have played out had we chosen not to be sensible parents.

My child was exploring the playroom, drawing on another child’s page with crayons while interacting with the other kids.

As a parent, I was present to monitor his behaviour and correct him when necessary.

At that moment, another child jumped in, vigorously pulling the balloon from my child, saying ‘it’s mine, it’s mine!’

Her father followed closely behind, disciplining her immediately and using it as an opportunity to teach her about sharing.

I did not take offence to the child’s action, understanding fully well that they were ‘just being kids’.

These sort of mishaps are daily occurrences, but why is it that whenever it involves people of different races, it immediately erupts into a racial row?

In this heated clash, both parents were out of line, and instead of teaching a child, accepting responsibility as a parent or addressing each other respectfully as adults, it became a platform to vent suppressed anger with a child being manhandled in the ordeal.

This is all too common in a country where a fist fight on a school ground, misunderstanding at the workplace or a road rage incident can immediately be labelled a racist attack if two different races are involved.

It is obvious that anger and bitterness of the past are still simmering under the surface.

The problem with suppressing such feelings is that it has a nasty way of boiling over in the most unexpected way.

What was even more shocking was the way in which the public responded to this video with no consideration for the legal ramifications of such actions. One Facebook user called for revenge in the form of ‘brutal killings, rape and mutilation’ of the young and vulnerable.

Incitement to violence is a gross violation of our country’s Constitution.

Just as the parents in this video have faced an onslaught from the public jury, those who have used this incident as a means to fuel racial wars should also face the full might of the law.

As the country commemorated Human Rights Day last week, we should be advocating the enshrined principles of our hard fought for Constitution, not tearing it down.

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