What does “Rainbow Nation” really mean for Observatory? Race, racism and other forms of discrimination in our everyday interactions

In 1994, South Africa was heady with excitement and hope. We had just negotiated a peaceful transition from apartheid a system based upon the most profound denial of human dignity for black people in the country, to one where respect and dignity became the bedrock of a new constitution. We were children of the “Rainbow Nation” looking forward to an inclusive society where respect, equality and dignity were to shape our collective futures. Unfortunately, 28 years later, we know that Bishop Tutu’s descriptor ir aspirational, in the main. Our South Africa remains a place where your colour, gender, secual orientation, social status, religion and multiple other aspects of your identity remain markers of how you are treated. Sadly, that treatment continues to be with disdain and disrespect for many.

Last month, we were told an incident where an Observatory resident and her children were walking their dog down a quiet Observatory road. Her dog had stopped to sniff at the gate of a house, causing the residents’ dog to start barking. As we know, a dog fracas behind a gate is not unusual in Observatory. However, what then ensued was that the residents of the house emerged from the doorway to hurl a torrent of abuse at the passing walker and accuse her of loitering, threatening to call Obsid to remove her.The expletives thrown at the walker reinforced the message that she was not welcome in Observatory…