Tag Archives: prejudice

the Jill Goldberg Award for Political Incorrectness #2

I have finally found someone worthy enough to receive the second Jill Goldberg Award for Political Incorrectness* (apart from Mr Trump, of course, but he’s just too easy, plus he already holds the emeritus position).

toilet paper award

Today’s winner is a woman who saw my couch throws at a market and asked if I could make one for her to fit her couch exactly the way she wanted it. She’d had a throw specially made before (by someone else), but it turned out to be way too big and, when she asked them to make it smaller, it turned out to be way too small. Clearly she wasn’t good with a tape measure, so I suggested I pop in at her house and measure the thing myself. Which I did. We talked about colours and textures and got along just fine, until it was time for me to leave.

She walked me outside to my car. There was a buzz of activity at the huge house across the road – construction vehicles, piles of bricks, painters, men in safety hats huddled in groups, armed guards, etc. So I said, Ah, looks like they’re having some changes made to their house – but what’s with the four armed guards?

Customer: Yes, so noisy, it drives us all crazy. They’re having a third floor built, so we’re going to lose our sea view altogether. No-one knows what they do, probably drugs, there’s a permanent team of four guards, sometimes with dogs.

Me: Wow, sounds serious. Maybe they’re diamond merchants or politicians or something?

Customer: Could be. But they’re Jews, of course, so they could be involved in anything. And that’s how they got the planning permission to build so high right in front of us – the rest of the road is also full of Jews so they all band together. They said, don’t use our names but here’s money towards legal costs if you need it. Real Jews, you know.

Me: Real Jews? As opposed to, what, fake Jews?

Customer: Ja, real Jews, so there’s nothing we can do. They’ve got everything all stitched up. People with money can make happen whatever they want.

Me: Ah yes, of course, so many members of our own government are wonderful role models for that! But getting back to the Jews: as my ex-husband, Aaron Rabinowitz**, used to say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stretch to four floors, actually – sounds like they might need permanent accommodation for the guards.

* Awards are made to whomever I want and whenever I feel like it, and I am the only judge. The results are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

**Name changed to protect my ex-husband, who real name is even more “Jewish” than the made-up one!

random

I had a brief conversation with another trader at a market recently.  I was looking for a guy called Rudi*, who used to sell scarves and jewellery.  He didn’t seem to be around so I asked a chap who sells garden furniture* if he knew anything about him.

GF Man:  No, he’s not here. I don’t think he’ll be coming back, actually, he’s thinking of returning to Israel.

Me: Oh okay, thanks. He always seemed to do so well with his products.

GF Man: Yes, he had return customers all the time. And he could talk up a storm. Lovely guy.

Me:  Ja, great sales pitch. Worked nearly every time. He once told me that he got some beautiful new scarves at such a good price he was able to put a 1,000% mark-up on them.  I’ve never forgotten that!

GF Man: Well, maybe he got a bit too greedy. Typical Jew, you know.

Seriously? I remain gob-smacked. For so many different (and yet all obvious) reasons.

 

 

* not his real name

* not his real product

Making assumptions

I have just finished a three-day training program on Victim Empowerment (as a trainee, not a trainer). As a content developer and trainer assessor, it was fantastic to receive such well-planned workshop notes and material scenarios, and also to be led by two such experienced and vibrant facilitators as Evelynne and Catherine. As a new Victim Empowerment Volunteer (old title = trauma counsellor), it was essential learning and understanding.

But as a person living in the incredibly diverse society of Cape Town (and doubtless any other city in South Africa today), it was an eye-opener. And a reminder that no-one should ever judge anyone else on the basis of their clothes, the car they drive, their language, their level of formal education, or the area they live in.

Noma is a small, plump, motherly black woman who does voluntary work at the Gugulethu police station. She was quieter than the rest of us and didn’t contribute much — until she felt able to speak in her home language instead of English. In Xhosa, she was up and running, and another member of the group translated for those of us who do not speak Xhosa. Turns out she isn’t a wallflower after all – this woman is dynamic, involved, and very experienced in assisting those who need help.

Raylene is a coloured woman who works in Kommetjie. She has purple braids, long maroon nails, gold fillings, fur boots, and speaks in a confusing mixture of English and Afrikaans. She was only at school til she was 14, and she works as a cashier at the supermarket. But of all the people there, I would have picked her to go to for help if I was a victim of crime, because of her gentle and patient manner, and incredible listening skills.

I could go on – one could stereotype Riaan as a racist Afrikaner from Durbanville with his blue eyes, blonde hair, and military bearing. But he is actually a qualified trauma counsellor working in the poor and predominantly coloured fishing community in the southern suburbs, where he helps victims of rape and domestic abuse. Nomvuyiso – too young to have any insights? Wrong. Jenny – too ‘larney’, privileged and white to have empathy for a young black girl being abused by her father? Wrong. Cilla – too overtly Christian to have enough understanding to be able to help a Muslim person? Wrong. Tracy – looks down her re-modelled nose at prostitutes with missing teeth and a drug habit? Wrong. Geoffrey – Congolese, male, French-speaking, tertiary-educated, would he be able to work positively and productively with homeless people? Yes.

It’s hard to get rid of one’s prejudices, and even when we try, we don’t always succeed.  But acknowledging them is the first step to changing mindsets.  So, next time you think I’m too ‘posh’ with my British accent and manicured nails to listen to what you have to say, let’s have a beer together at the pub down the road and discuss it properly.  We might both be surprised at how much we have in common  (and you can also tell me where you got those fur boots, I’ve been dying to get a pair!)

To be continued…