Thursday, June 15, 2006


The Diary of a Tired Black Man video clip reminded of the custom in the African-American community to describe people in one’s community as “brother” and “sister,” even if they aren’t relatives.

Curiously, Afrikaners – those paragons of racism – used to do the same. The secret elite that ran Afrikaner culture was called the “Broederbond,” that is, the society of brothers. Afrikaners of my father’s generation (though not my father) would often call each other “broer” as a sign of solidarity.

I’ll take as read the vast differences between these groups, such as the oppressed/oppressor distinction.

There are a few similarities, though, that might have led to this common usage:

  • Both communities are deeply religious, with a strong Protestant strain
  • Both see themselves as threatened racial minorities in a sea of people of another color
  • Both have a folk memory of being displaced, of being strangers in their own land