When asked how much racism affected his upbringing during his interview with Vlad TV, South African rapper Nasty C’s response was similar to the one he gave Sway about three weeks ago: “It didn’t affect me at all, man,” the talented lyricist told the interviewer. “That racism stuff never ever got to me.”
During his Sway In The Morning interview, the rapper also revealed he had never experienced racism. “I don’t want to speak on behalf of everyone else,” he said. “Personally I’ve never experienced any sort of racism ever in my life. Never, ever, ever,” he said shaking his head, to Sway’s disbelief.
Sway wasn’t alone in his incredulity. I, and other South Africans, and Africans, envy the rapper’s life. For a person who grew up in South Africa that statement makes little sense. As much as it’s his reality, it’s hard to believe.
No black person is exempt from racism in the whole world, let alone in South Africa, where the repercussions of apartheid are still affecting black people. I personally think Nasty C is just not aware of what constitutes racism.
“Nobody has ever deprived me of an opportunity ‘cause of the color of my skin,” he continued. Well, Nasty C, you are deprived of a whole lot of opportunities by virtue of you being black. You also don’t have access to generational wealth. And land.
The rapper went onto to say that having a white girlfriend is celebrated where he’s from because one is not expected to date a white woman. Which proves the point. The two of you just don’t shoot in the same basket, so you aren’t expected to have an intimate relationship. That’s because a white person is usually your superior. That, Sir, is racism.
Nasty C went to a mixed race school, where it’s inevitable to face racism from both teachers and fellow schoolmates. There have been a lot of incidents that have been reported (and even more that aren’t reported).
Last year, at Pretoria High School For Girls, young girls protested the school’s hair policy, which dictated them to straighten their hair, because their natural hair didn’t look “neat.”
A few months ago, it was revealed that muslim students in NorthCliff High School who wore head scarves during Ramadan were made to carry “concession cards” for identification.
Last year, at the Cape Town school Sans Souci, black students were victim to the school’s hair policy. It discriminated against black girls, and they were not allowed to speak or learn in their mother tongues, but were forced to learn in Afrikaans.
The list goes on.
It’s just that some of us take time to realize that we have been experiencing racism, be it in school, university and even in the workplace. It’s highly likely that Nasty never had that epiphany.
The racism in such high schools can be so subtle that most kids end up believing that since apartheid is over, and they are allowed to be in the same classroom as white kids, or even date across racial lines, all is well. But they overlook factors such as the medium of instruction (which is usually English and Afrikaans), Eurocentric textbooks and syllabuses, among other forms of racism.
Afrikaans, though, not necessarily a white language has a dirty history, as it’s the preferred language of Afrikaners. After Afrikaans, alongside English, was made the compulsory medium of instruction in South African schools in 1974, thousands of young people across the country revolted in 1976. They were brutalized by police—that day is now commemorated as Youth Day on June 16 every year.
I’m not condemning Nasty C. I wasn’t born woke myself, and I know I still have a lot of learning and unlearning to do. At a point in time, I was blind to systemic racism, and thought because no one had ever called me a kaffir directly before, I had never experienced racism. I got my own awakening just like many other black young black people who went to white institutions and/or schools. Movements like Rhodes Must Fall are revealing to a lot of us just how much racism we put up with in institutions without even realizing at times.
Nasty C is part of a self-absorbed generation of hip-hop artists whose music is only about themselves. He’s among the likes of Emtee, who once tweeted that racism is so throwback, and Cassper Nyovest who once rapped that the biggest killer in the country isn’t HIV but Twitter, just because he was facing a lot of backlash on the social media platform.
As much as not all artists can be as socially conscious as Dookoom or Stogie T, or Zubz or Black Moss, completely ejecting yourself from such realities is an irresponsible stance to take in a country where a majority of its citizens face a lot of ills.