Laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage were in force in many US states until 1967 when they were more or less scraped, thus making Obama possible. In South Africa, the ban on interracial sex was lifted in 1985 and in 1991, Michael Jackson – who had more of a right to tackle this issue than anyone else – sang the deeply meaningful and catchy ‘Black or White.’
Yet, in supposedly progressive 2012 the Democratic Alliance’s Student Organisation felt fully justified in slapping an entwined multiracial couple onto a membership campaign poster and captioning it with a primarily old-fashioned: “In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice.”
Where do they think this is, the South Africa that was in the grip of apartheid circa Immorality Act of 1957? Who, in this day and age, even looks twice at multi-racial couples? I had always assumed that a same race couple raises more eyebrows than an interracial one.
How wrong I was… and how right DASO was!
Intolerance, ignorance and blind hatred quickly hijacked the conversation as everyone from the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) to that-girl-who-had-her-boyfriend-stolen-by-a-white-chick jumped onto the bandwagon.
The Christian Democratic Party outdid themselves by calling the poster ‘sexually immoral’ and then trying to make it an AIDS-related issue, then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by linking it to farm murders. That holier-than-thou attitude fooled no one when words like distasteful and insulting were bandied about. Did you find the image itself ‘distasteful’ or was it the concept of a lily-white man sullying himself with a black woman that you found particularly ‘insulting’?
Barely civil and wildly racist theories abounded about this metaphorical representation of a future South Africa. The irony is that, in attempting to imagine a non-racial future, DASO kicked off the mother of all racial arguments. Are we really a society that takes umbrage at two consenting adults, who happen to have different skin colours choosing to be together? Have we lost our minds South Africa? Is this what we are reduced to arguing about?
If nothing else, DASO’s metaphorical poster has once again exposed the hypocrisy and bigotry that always seems to be simmering beneath our façade of rainbow happiness.
Personally, I choose to imagine a beautiful, beige future, where black and white are no longer barriers to communication but form a basis for us to relate to each other because interracial relationships are inevitable. Embrace them.
To see more reactions on the DA Youth campaign, read this post: DA Youth Gets Controversial