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Mark Boucher’s Admissions A Great Leap

Mark Boucher acknowledged, accepted, and apologized for his behavior in the teams in which he played, taking a significant step forward in South African cricket’s struggle with racism. As a result, he was the first figure from that era to bear responsibility for what has been revealed as the toxic culture of past dressing rooms.

Hearings on the CSA’s Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) project, which began on July 5, have heard disturbing testimony of racist abuse suffered by black and brown team members as perpetrated by their white counterparts. Some of the allegations have targeted Boucher, including that he was part of squads made up of players of all races that sang a song during fines meetings in which Paul Adams was referred to as “brown shit.”

“In that environment, lots of us had nicknames for each other which had a racial connotation and we all called each other those names – the black African guys, the African guys, the Asian guys, the white guys,” Boucher wrote  “I was also given a nickname which referred to my color by one or two players but I can categorically say that I did not give Mr. Adams the name ‘brown shit’. I don’t know who gave him the name.”

Achieving full potential in every way

In the same locker room, Boucher was known as  “wit naai” an Afrikaans expression that translates to “white fuck”. That is undeniably offensive, abusive, and racial, but in a society where whites continue to be at the top of the social and economic pyramid, it cannot be interpreted as part of the systemic racism that blights the country more than 27 years after the first democratic elections.

Boucher is not a victim of racism as a result of this. Instead, it demonstrates that whites were and continues to be trapped in the same ugliness that prevents South Africa – and South Africans of all races – from reaching their full potential in every way.

However, whites are born privileged, which gives them advantages that their black and brown counterparts do not automatically receive, and they tend to be able to buy a better life due to generational wealth. Whites have the ability to pretend that racism does not exist. As a result, inequality – and thus racism – is allowed to flourish. Even whites who would be horrified if they were labeled racist refuse to acknowledge these facts.

“I have listened to the hurt some of my teammates felt, the feeling of exclusion, and some totally unacceptable and inappropriate examples of alleged racism that they endured. I apologize unreservedly for any offensive conduct, real or perceived, that has been attributed to me.

We, the team, coaching staff, selectors and CSA, during the period in question, should have been more sensitive and created an environment where all members of the team could raise and talk about these issues without allowing them to fester, as they clearly have.”

“real or perceived”

The phrase “real or perceived” will grate on many people’s nerves. It could be explained as an attempt to cover all the bases by using legalese that obstructs proper communication. But does this imply that Boucher dismisses the allegations leveled against him? Or that he and his attorneys don’t care about the distinction between “real” and “perceived” racism? What, after all, is the distinction? And since when do we rely on white people to define racism? How could they possibly know?

Only those who don’t need any more reasons to oppose Boucher’s appointment as South Africa’s coach – and there are plenty of them, many of them giddy with irrationality – will try to hang him on that blunder. That would be a grave error. His 14-page submission contains much to value, not only about an individual but also about white thinking at the end of official apartheid and the birth of the invariably flawed reality that replaced it and is now failing to meet the expectations of the majority of South Africans

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