Bruce Muzik, a world class trainer and speaker, talks on The Big Secret Nobody Wants To Tell
Find out more about Bruce at www.brucemuzik.com.
Bruce Muzik – Founder and Chief Marriage Repairman at Love At First Fight
Thank you. So I’m 10 years-old and today is going to be a great day because my mom is going to take me to the beach. And so we scramble to the car and we drive down to the traffic lights and that we stop at the traffic lights and — we lock the doors.
And as we drive along the coast road to the beach, a bus fares down towards me and above the driver’s head is a big sign that says Whites-only. As we arrive at the beach, there is a big fence down in the middle of the beach dividing the beautiful white big sandy section into a small little black rocky section.
So I turn to my mom and I say, “Mommy, where is there a fence on the beach?”
And she says, “Honey, that’s to keep the white people separate from the black people”.
So I am 10 years old and on this journey alone, I have already learned that black people are dangerous because they might hijack our car. And black people need to be kept separate.
I am 10 years-old and I’m already a racist.
Now fast-forward 18 years and my life is starting to look pretty rosy. I am a music producer. I’ve just written a song that wasn’t a number one on the South African Top 40 charts and stayed there for six weeks. I’ve just fallen in love with a beautiful woman but underneath my thin veneer of the appearance of success, I felt really numb inside. And have you ever felt numb inside before? Who had that feeling? Thank you.
But, of course, I wouldn’t tell any about that. When people asked me how I was doing, I’d say, “Hey, I’m fine. How are you” to prevent I am already discovering the deep resignation I had about my life.
Now around about that same time, during the transition from South Africa’s apartheid government to democracy, it became really have to be seen as what we called a New South African and a New African was somebody who was a liberal white South African who embraced the change. And I proudly wore the badge of being a New South African until one day a mentor of mine come up to me and he said, “Bruce, how many black friends do you have?”
And immediately I lied to him and said, “Three.” Because I couldn’t actually think of one.
He said, “You mean to say out of 58 million black people in this country, you only know three of them?”
And at that moment, it hit me what a hypocrite I was. Here I was wearing the liberal New South African badge when in fact I was still a racist. When my black house cleaner came to clean my house, I get really uncomfortable and couldn’t wait for her to leave.
When I leave my recording studio at night to go home and I saw black people loitering around the car, I’d wait in reception even for half an hour I had to until they left before I got into my car.
So I decided to do something about it.
I decided I was going to get to know my culture and conquer my fear of black people and I went to the house in the black ghetto called Gugulethu just outside Capetown, in an area called Cockyard which directly translated from afrikaans means the crap yard.
So imagine the scene, I’m driving down the street at 10 o’clock on a Monday morning two weeks later to move into this new house that I’ve never seen before. And the street is deserted except the two men sitting drinking beer on beer crates. And I open the door to my new house. I am thinking, “Wow, several steps down from the house I used to live in, right, which was that one. But I’m pretty grateful because I could have been living in that with no running water.
So I got out of my car to unload the boxes off my car. And as I do, a crowd started to gather around the car. I’m thinking oh, man – it must have been 10 to 15 black people standing there. And a woman comes forward to me and she says, Umlongo, what are you doing? Umlongo, means whitey in their local language which is called [kotta].
I said, “I’m moving in”. Now if there ever was a textbook picture for what the — like facial expression of confusion looked like, her face would have been in the book right then. You could have heard a pin drop as you translated this into [kotta]
And then one of my favorite African expressions for disbelief which is aaooo! And they were shaking their heads. I was even thinking you know, want to know what’s going on. She says, “Why are you moving in?”
Now at this point I’m thinking, things are going to go a lot smoother if I just kind of say, you know what I wanted to get to know my culture. So I came here to kind of get to know you guys for a bit. Please don’t hurt me. I’m not dangerous, right?
But I knew what would happen if I did. I would never conquer my fear of black people and I’d always be that hypocrite pretending to be liberal New South African.
So I took a deep breath and I said, “Well, I recently discovered I’m a racist and I’m terrified of black people and I’ve come here to conquer my fear.”
Total looks of disbelief all-round and more aaaoooo! I can see them thinking why this crazy white guy would a) even visit the Cockyard, b) rent a dilapidated house as the only white guy for five miles and then c) admitting I was a racist.
So the woman comes forward and she says, “Umlongo, can we help you carry your boxes into the house?”
I am thinking oh, no, no, they’re going to steal everything I own.
If I say no, they’re going to be offended and they might get upset, reject me from the community, maybe even kill me.
But in that moment, I caught my racial conditioning. This is the exact thing I’d come to conquer, to get past. So I said, “Sure. Why not?”
So one by one, they take the boxes off my car, load them into the house. Nothing of course gets stolen. Instead a party ensues like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
This is me on the right hand side drinking [Ung Abotti] and Ung Abotti, is an African beer brewed in paint cans that you drink out of paint cans, tastes disgusting. If you’re ever offered it, do not say yes.
But this party ensued like none I’d ever experienced. I was hugged, I was kissed. I was questioned. I was fed. I was poured alcohol and generally treated like a prodigal son returning home. The exact opposite experience of what I had been expecting.
And that evening I went to bed a little tired and a little drunk but I couldn’t sleep because I was kept awake by the sound of gunshots and the sound of police sirens and the sound of screams from the house next door. And I fully expected in every moment that something was going to beat on my door, steal everything I own and put a gun to my head and pull the trigger.
I woke at the next morning and obviously that hadn’t happened. So I went outside and did what everybody else did, which is going to take breakfast onto the street and eat in the street because in the Cockyard everything happens on the street.