“South Africans as a people are not racist,” Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa told the Press Club in Cape Town on Thursday morning.
He was addressing a group of media representatives, many of them young black professionals, at 15 on Orange.
Mthethwa’s speech focused on the racism conversation and the media’s role in battling the scourge.
He said there was still “racism without racists.”
“The discrimination experienced was no longer overt, but nevertheless a cancer that is killing us.
“Racists don’t know any boundaries,” Mthethwa said.
“Despite progress, the legacy of colonialism and apartheid is deep-seated.”
Mthethwa called on the media to tackle racism by “framing the conversation”.
“If we become aware of how we frame stories, we can change the frame,” Mthethwa said, referring to the manner in which the news is reported and its influence on society at large.
He said racism was the result of a society built on colonialism.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” he said, saying all South Africans had a responsibility to be on the lookout for racism and all other forms of discrimination.
“Media is a tool for transforming society.”
Mthethwa also mentioned last year’s groundswell #FeesMustFall movement saying colonial statues had no place in public spaces.
“In Germany it’s not like you can have a statue of Hitler. How can we justify having a statue Verwoed? Those guys (apartheid leaders) were the antithesis of democracy.”