In the hilarious opening scene of the movie Hitch, a nerdy and clumsy character played by Will Smith is standing in the rain desperately pleading for an ex-girlfriend — who is busy kissing another boy in the car — to take him back. He asks: “What have I done wrong?” and the new boyfriend answers: “Exactly what you are doing now.”
After reading all the letters by DA members and supporters responding to my letter, I feel the same. It is like the DA is asking me: “What have we done wrong that you won’t vote for us?” How about the public lynching, labelling and demonisation because of dissenting views? When you demonise me, you are destroying the bridge between us.
Is the intent to muzzle an opinion you do not like? Why not engage me? You want me to get “past being black”, but how is it possible to get past yourself? How can my lived experienced be reduced to a chapter in a book you can simply page over? Every day I look in the mirror and see myself. My blackness. My history. Buy a copy of Ralph Ellison’s classic The Invisible Man. He is talking about me.
Please do not reduce identity politics to the bigotry of Verwoerdism. Kanye West, a black man, identifies with Donald Trump’s politics. I, a black man, do not identify with Gwen Ngwenya, a black woman. I would vote for Helen Suzman over Jacob Zuma. I identify with the politics of Bram Fischer, an Afrikaner, more than Julius Malema, a black man.
The people I identify with share my views of multiculturalism and universalism. Most importantly, they see my colour and embrace it as theirs. They defend my right to have dissenting views without being demonised.
Identity politics is not synonymous with race or class. It is more complex than that. But you cannot pretend my skin colour does not matter. When I look at the DA I do not see myself reflected in its image. For them to accept me I must divorce myself from my history. But my history is a product of my lived experienced as shaped by my colour.
Dr Lucas Ntyintyane
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