“I tell you it tickles the governor
He never minds it
seeing his natives in western dress
But such times he entertains a delegation
Then, you know, it’s about pleasing the customer
If you get me
The coffee-baron’s wife said it three times
On the boat coming up the river
How she’d like to be a wedding guest
Well, there is a reason
Because it looks…you don’t mind if I tell you this
A little like ambition
Like insurrection, if you were to follow
The notion to its logical end
No, I tell you, the governor thinks your book-learning
Is a treat”
The Smell of the Crowd
The commission was appointed to inquire into the general condition of the colored races in South Africa; into the lines on which their natural advancement should proceed; their education, industrial training, and labor; the tenure of land by natives, and the obligations to the state which it entails; native law and administration; the prohibition of the sale of liquor to natives; native marriages; and into the extent and effect of polygamy. The question of native franchise was also considered.
Excerpt, article, The Morning Post (London), 19 April 1905.
There is a kind of prejudice I call “shadow colonialism”.
As the above implies, on this commission were busy people with a plan, and with the intention of doing well. Not all colonial officers had the mindset that led to 1919’s Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
In 2017, we’re not talking about early twentieth century injustices, so much as the legacy of the white perspective. Consider, if in childhood you had read The Lord of the Rings, and were asked to imagine (the reader of fiction being asked to imagine everything), the surpassing beauty of the Elves . . . would you see a white person’s face?
If you are a speaker of English, do you give thought to the effort of one who speaks another language, in having learned yours? Or do you assume, in such an interior place as to be unaware of it, that this person has not given you a gift, by choosing to make your path the easier one? Have you unconsciously put a higher value on beauty and youth, where women are concerned? Do you feel that being female belittles achievement, feel safer with a male pilot, for example; or feel that women, while holding high public office, authoritative rank in private industry, must still concern themselves with feminine appearance and mannerisms?
Good and kind people have these limitations of viewpoint. We want no one beaten up over it, but we want to think about it.
(2017, Stephanie Foster)
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