So one hold over of South Africa’s apartheid is an oddly specific classification of people based on color. There are many people who in the US would be called black but in South Africa are called “colored.” So basically colored people are mixed, Think Collin Powell. But it’s not simply based on skin tone. Sometimes a colored person can be shades darker than a black person. Those people are considered Dark Coloreds. Huh? It comes down to language and even if you’re pitch black but you speak only Afrikans (the language of the Settlers based on Dutch), then you are colored. Meaning somewhere along the way your pure African lineage must have been broken. Coloreds also lived separately from blacks and thus didn’t retain or learn any of the tribal languages.
The US had the field slave versus the house slave. That was often based on skin color but I can’t help but marvel at South Africa’s formalized system. I can’t figure out if it’s more racist or less racist because the settlers were at least acknowledging their own blood on some level. Were the US oppressors more racists, less racists or simply lazy when they just decided anyone with an ounce of black in them would be considered black.
The whole thing is silly. Perhaps the size of the Black population in South Africa dictated a stronger “divide and conquer” approach.
I had a colored guy after a show spend 10 minutes trying to convince me that I was colored. See, most of my SA crew is black and they assure me I am black. I think it’s because they like me. They waffle on Beyonce and are torn down the middle on Chris Brown’s black status. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time running names by them to see where they would fit. It’s a lot of fun.
The colored guy actually looked a lot like my cousin Haywood and to be honest the characteristics of colored people in SA is similar to those of blacks in the US. We both seem to suffer from identity crisis. Them because they never really fit in anywhere and us because we were stripped of our culture and basically had to create a new culture which is still a work in progress.
In case you’re wondering I consider myself black, even here in SA. I feel a kinship toward the Black people here. My advice would be for the coloreds in SA is to re-assimilate into the Black community. I am, of course, woefully unqualified to say this and it probably opens up a can of worms over a century old. Or we can have the coloreds move to the US where they can be black to their hearts desire. Either way they can’t be white. That’s what started this whole mess to begin with.
For American blacks we need to keep our black title. It anchors us and every body needs an anchor. Not sure who celebrated harder, the blacks or the coloreds, when Barack won.