Whether Oscar Pistorius intentionally murdered his girlfriend or not, better than anyone he embodies the deep racism in many South African whites.
That’s hard for me to say, for two reasons in particular. First, I don’t think anyone anywhere is completely free of racism. Second, I personally know several white South Africans who eclipse Rev. Al Sharpton politically and socially.
And there are many, many more – perhaps a majority in some places like The Cape – who are far less racist than a random community in Texas.
But what the world is seeing in Oscar Pistorius’ life trial is a perfect reflection of racism.
If he is the premeditated murderer the prosecution contends, the anger that fueled such action followed by an attempt to disguise it as a reflexive response to a presumed home invader, is about two millimeters if that apart from Florida’s stand-your-ground laws.
And that, my friends, is racism through and through.
Yes, he’s also a murderer then as well, but my point is to show how deep and pervasive racism among some whites still is.
If on the other hand his self-defense defense isn’t a gimmick, but for real, that also reveals a trigger-happy mentality to shoot anything black in the dark.
I really have no sense whether Pistorius is guilty or not. My friends in South Africa are split, as I expect many friends and acquaintances of the growing number of self-defense accused in Florida are.
And South Africa, I believe, is trying to deal with racism a lot better than Florida is.
The South African Human Rights Commission is one of the best and most efficient mediators of racism on earth, a stand-out in a country built on such stellar principles, that is today in other respects breaking up miserably.
The commission reports of 10,000 cases it investigates annually, 80% are of racism.
Bad actions driven by racism are terribly tragic. They often reveal the schizoid nature of an individual who is racist, pitting a loving soul against a hating one, in the same body.
We like to think the loving soul will be the stronger, but it often isn’t.
Racism doesn’t begin willfully. Ending it requires great will, but the point at which someone’s behavior is governed by racism is not a conscious choice.
Their family, their community, their schools all contribute to creating a mind-set that makes judgments reflexively. Moments of life-and-death push racism to its extreme, because in such instants it’s hard to reflect carefully.
So whatever the Pistorius outcome is, it will likely be as incomplete and unsatisfying as the outcome of the George Zimmerman case. And guilt will never surely be known except for one thing:
The actions and the outcomes were determined no more by facts than racism.