On Colouredness

Disclaimer: This is no new conversation. In fact, race and identity politics classification to ensure superiority and “humanness” goes against the very nature of God and what it means to be human. It does not, however, mean we cannot and should not engage in this debate. Recently the concept of Colouredness has been brought to the discussion. Here’s my brief thoughts at the moment.

I am a South African. I am a proud citizen of where we are as a country in relation to where we were as a country, yet I recognise that there is still quite some distance before we arrive at the point where we can all openly say we have arrived, if ever. South Africa’s history, not just the contemporary/modern history but the entire history of South Africa, is one that is complicated. While I’m no historian nor expert on Colouredness, but as a Coloured and citizen of this country, I am acutely aware of the violent and oppressive history of this country. But it’s not just an awareness of the historic conditions within this country but also the present struggles and challenges we all face.

To ignore identity politics in South Africa, is to be naive and irresponsible. When one discusses race according to identity politics, it does not automatically mean that one is a racist. Race and identity politics, often is a point of departure, of identifying with one’s history and fellow South Africans, but more importantly, it’s about constructing identity. By embracing a racial identity does not demean or undermine one as an individual nor does it label one from another race as inferior or superior. In a country like South Africa, to deny one’s race is to deny one’s culture and ultimately one’s identity. Yet, one’s identity is not dictated by one’s race.

Politically, there is no Coloured. Politically, there is only black and white. But if you live in South Africa, you know that Colourdeness is also an ideology. In the daily lives and lived realities of Coloured people, we are not Black. We are not White. We are not Indian. We are Coloured. Yet, we are also Black, and White, and Indian, and Coloured. We are indigenous African and yet we are not indigenous African (who can make claim to this in any case?).

Colourdeness is oppression. Colouredness is liberation. Colouredness is history. It’s race. It’s culture. It’s attitude. It’s language. It’s food. It’s clothing. It’s a way of life. It’s a choice.

But what does it mean to be Coloured?

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