Examining how prejudice colours your compassion

This Wednesday, CapeTalk and 702 host Eusebius McKaiser has asked listeners to examine how prejudice colours their compassion.

Human rights activist and managing director at Diversi-T‚ Terry Oakley-Smith joined McKaiser to help get down to the nitty-gritty of the topic under discussion.

The aspect of 'othering' is a very interesting phenomenon, as it's only been about twenty years since it has been used as a verb. Now the concept that we 'other' people is beginning to be more conscious.

Terry Oakley-Smith, Human rights activist and managing director at Diversi-T

I think it started off because years ago, we had to surround ourselves with what we called 'People Like Us' (PLU's) in order to be safe, get food and find mates, explains Oakley-Smith.

She says such behaviour can be seen today in all sorts of ways and uses football supporters as an example to illustrate the concept. Because she a Liverpool supporter, she is 'othered' by Manchester United and Arsenal Football Club supporters, she explains.

Oakley-Smith also adds that sexual orientation is one of the biggest reasons people are 'othered'. She says this then means that those who are 'othered' are perceived as a different species, which she points out happened during apartheid.

How is Europe going to cope with all the refugees when they are constantly 'othered'? We need to see the basic humanity in all of us. We need to see what we have more in common, and in South Africa, it is much more difficult because of our history.

Terry Oakley-Smith, Human rights activist and managing director at Diversi-T

I'm married to a white Afrikaans guy. His family was initially skeptical about the relationship. My sister-in-law and her husband came to our house from Canada. After their arrival, my sister-in-law's husband greeted everyone in the house except me. I was shocked, I felt violated and felt like he drew a line in my house and dared me to jump it. And I didn't jump and that's what irritates me.

Nthabi, caller

I don't think there's a question of upbringing on the part of white people to not greet. I do think there is a question of upbringing on the part of white people to have a superiority and a sense of entitlement about who they greet and I think that is systematic racism. In my view, I would be reluctant to make this about an individual who is rude but there is something deeply systemic here. That system is what actually allows an entitlement to enter a person's home and to differentiate between whom you greet based on status, race, and class.

That's what we call a system of oppression and a system of racism.

Bonny, caller

Listen to the full conversation in the clip below:


This article first appeared on 702 : Examining how prejudice colours your compassion


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