Saturday, August 12, 2017

Caster Semenya – “the Other”

The book I penned, based on my life experiences, is titled “The Other”. It was a title that was self-suggestive once I had written the thing.
This is because it became blindingly clear to me that, as a general proposition, people had a regrettable propensity to relate to each other as “us”, “them” and “others”. This was certainly the case in Rhodesia, my birth country. Native Africans and settler Whites were very much in an “us” and “them” relationship. We Coloureds, "makarhaadiis" or "mabusumani", were regarded as “others”.
Conferring human beings the status of being “the other” is to render them as ambivalent and irrelevant. They are divested of, not only the right to equality, but the right to participate and contribute in social and political interaction, be it confrontational or cooperative. They become sub-human.
The key to, and the purported justification for this state of affairs, was that we Coloureds were different from the dominant groups. As much as we had the genes of both these groups we emerged from the womb as neither white nor black, but mostly as a rather nice shade of brown with hair that was also neither really straight nor really crinkly.
We were physically different from the other groups. That difference was ensured by the admixture of our Native African and settler White genes. Genes are capricious. So some of us Coloureds are visually more Native African in appearance and others are more settler White.
That visually obvious difference ensured my status of being “the other”. Being “the other” divested me of the basic human right of equality. It was used to justify subjecting me to pernicious discrimination and exclusion … even as regards the political contestation between the “us” and “them” groups.
Any anthropologist would have certified me as human. Science confirms that my visually obvious difference to the settler Whites and Native Africans is due to the admixture of genes I possess.
And so it is with Caster. Her visually obvious difference ensures, in the opinion of so many, ample justification to discriminate against her and exclude her from sporting contestation. As was the case with me, in Rhodesia, the admixture of her genes guarantees all this, despite the fact that science has fully confirmed her as being female.
Now who are we kidding here.?
Do we really not know that the athlete that is a champion at high jump is tall and has long legs because of his/her genes? So too as regards the burly shot putter and the big chested light weight track stars. Are we really not aware that they are good at the events that they compete and excel in is mostly attributable to their genes??
Caster is no different from you and me. She is human. She is female. Her visually obvious differences have been determined and set by the admixture of her genes, as is the case with you and me.
Because of my gene structure I have an enviable honey brown complexion and have been a champion at shot putt, pole vault, chess, darts and golf. However I came third last in the 100-yard sprint. Because of my gene structure I have never been a runner and could never have been a champion at running. My genes conferred an advantage as regards the events in which I excelled but divested me of any meaningful prowess at sprinting.
Caster is no different. Her gene structure undoubtedly confers an advantage as regards track events. As much as hard work and training helps. Her sprinting prowess is primarily attributable, as always, to her genes. Her visual appearance is due to the capricious nature of genes.
She is to be lauded for having got off her butt, (as I tried to do) explored her capacity and talents and exploited them on the world stage. Caster is not “the Other”. She is not sub-human.
She is part of “us” and “them” as regards the track. She has every right to compete equally … just as I had a right to be treated as an equal.
This strident carping about her status as a human being needs to just stop for being the product of crass ignorance, irrationality, and even bigotry.

No comments:

Free counters!