OPINION: White South Africans, speak up. Please
Last week, I saw an article posted on Facebook referring to the horror "race attack" in the Northern Cape involving a newly enrolled black student and the perpetrators, four white students.
I did not know the full details until the following day.
When I had gone to bed, I was - shockingly - hoping that this was an attack fuelled by boys who had themselves been sexually molested. Who were now traumatised and acting out on a boy who was vulnerable. I did not want to believe that added to this were feelings of hatred toward another because of the colour of his skin.
I do not want to believe that one person - let alone a group of young South Africans - could hold so much hatred and anger.
So, once I finally read the details on the rape and the destruction of the young victim's dignity as a human being, I went completely numb.
I, a 23-year-old so-called coloured female, am lost as to what to do and I am very nearly reaching my boiling point.
It is not as if racism is a rare, novel occurrence in South Africa, but since the beginning of 2015, I have witnessed hate speech and acts of racism in rapid succession.
From a fellow clubber drunkenly lashing out at a bouncer and calling him a k****r and then claiming he had inappropriately touched her (I was there - the bouncer had been nowhere near her), to the on-air breakdown of a grown man who was publically humiliated by white tow truck drivers, to the racial division of classes at Curro, to the mimicking of my "plat" accent, and then this attack in the Northern Cape, the violation of an innocent human being.
It is too much and far too little has and can be done - at least not legally.
I often take to Facebook and chat to my immediate circle of friends about my feelings on racism. However, I will never be able to rest knowing that this is where I limit my conversations on the critical and urgent need of white South Africans to truly accept reconciliation.
So, I make this one, final, and very public plea to white South Africans.
You were given the opportunity to accept or reject change, to decide to be a part of transformation and true reconciliation - not just accepting that Nelson Mandela was no longer a terrorist and was in fact a very nice black man.
I have no doubt, unfortunately, that a large group of white South Africans did so reluctantly.
But, because I know that there are indeed great pockets of white South Africans who care deeply about change, progress, and their fellow South Africans, I will stand firm in my belief that my requests will not fall on deaf ears.
* Please stop telling us to move on. It is hurtful, dismissive, and indicative of a lack of understanding of how we got to this place.
* Do not sit in silence when your friends - in the security of an all-white group - talk about "those blacks". Your silence is an acceptance of the status quo and you are, by association, a racist.
* Stop mimicking black accents. There is nothing funny about it. Your feelings of superiority are blatant.
* Change the way you discuss the longevity of apartheid. Someone had to vote for the National Party. Unless your family was clearly defiant, they must have had some role to play, whether actively or passively so.
* Stop crying reverse racism about BBBEE or affirmative action. It cannot be the reverse of anything when trying to undo centuries of oppression and mental slavery. It is a universal concept and programme and unless the full 80% of your population is empowered, we will not succeed.
* Get to know your country's history. Know that in all his greatness, Nelson Mandela was not the only freedom fighter (and on that note, he was exactly that - he fought, he was a fierce warrior for justice and equality, not a passive old man full of forgiveness). There is an abundance of great, black leaders in this country. Choosing to hold up an entire population against the most fallible of the same colour is both dangerous and, well, plain stupid.
You did it once, my white, fellow South Africans.
You helped bring about change.
Now, you have the opportunity to again do the right thing.
Speak up against the cancer in the South African nation. This is your home too and the longer you sit back in silence, the closer we get to a point of no return.
That's all I ask. Speak up.
Carla Bernardo is a content wrangler and Honours student in African politics.