tsholo

This is perhaps too long, but I’ve just been given a platform to vent out years and years worth of frustrations and I’m jumping in head first. But before I begin, let me say that I have way too many white friends to think that white people as a whole are racist, and I don’t know if all of what I’m about to say applies to my friends cos I think (or hope) my friends know some of this already…anywho…

Firstly, white privilege is real! You not being able to see it doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from it, it just means you’re blinded to the injustice others are experiencing. Having said that, white-adjacent (my own terminology) privilege is also a thing – the right accent, the right facial features, the right physical appearance (ie weave/wig vs Afro), listening to “white” music, etc – can also open doors for you that others might never get entry to.

When you’re black, it doesn’t matter how talented, skilled, or studied you are, you are always aware that the job you have is probably because of BEE. You are aware that, although you might be more qualified that a lot of the other people in the room, no one actually cares, you are just there to fill some quota. People hear that you’re in IT and you just see on their faces that they resent you for taking a job from some fictitious more well deserving white person…doesn’t matter how well deserving you are, there is probably a white person who deserved it more…what is more commonly known as “reverse racism”.

It might come across as if black people are always looking for racism, but it’s not. Black people see racism because we’ve dealt with it before. We know what it looks and feels like. You don’t see it because you don’t need to. You’re not aware of it because it won’t affect you anyway.

I hate it when someone (ie Helen Zille) says/does something offensive, then when black people call her out on it white people come to her defense and explain to black people why we are being over-sensitive, why we shouldn’t be feeling the way we are, why we are selfish for focusing on one small detail when there is so much wrong with this country…when white people make themselves arbiters of what is and isn’t worth getting worked up over.

I’m having a rough time reconciling Christianity and blackness. This is a new thing for me... this new found blackness or black consciousness, but it occurs to me that Christianity is very white/westernized…whiteness is close to godliness. Which is weird since, well, Jesus died for the world, not a culture or cultural norms. (The movie Noah has been getting a lot of flack for not being Biblically correct, the other day I read another article that criticized it for it’s all-white cast…which I hadn’t noticed…hmmm… )

It really doesn’t matter to me that there’s only a handful of white racists left…at the end of the day I only have to come across one on a bad day and I become another victim of an isolated hate crime. I think about this every time a white person casually drops the k-word, the n-word, or makes some racist joke.

Don’t say things like “blacks people do this” and “black people think that…” or “black people are like this and that…” and look to me for confirmation. I was not appointed to be the black representative in your group of friends. There are too many different tribes/cultures/subcultures within the black race in South Africa alone who do and say and behave differently, and within that there are individuals who choose to do their own thing, I have not been given permission to speak on behalf of anyone so please don’t ask me to…

And I really don’t like generalizations like black people can dance, black people are cool, etc…I know it’s meant as a compliment, but…black people are humans – individual humans, there are cool ones, there are uncool ones, there are even those who can’t dance…black people are individuals too.

I realize that it is never the intention, but when I’m the only black person in the room and race topics are brought up in whatever context (be it political – bee, or discussion on black culture, or a compliment – how “cool” black people are) it makes me very aware that I’m the only black person in the room. Makes me feel like I’m “the other”, the odd one out, the one that doesn’t belong. As I said, I realize that it is never the intention, and I’m not saying it should stop – I’m glad you are comfortable to discuss racial issues and not act like race isn’t a thing (SA is way too racialized for people to claim to be colorblind) I guess I just wanted you to be aware of it…*shrugs*

Blackface is never ok! “Black accents” when talking to black people sound patronizing…to me at least…

Yep, definitely too long…sorry about that.

*cue Intellectualize My Blackness by Skunk Anansie* Grinning face with smiling eyes

[To continue on to Tsholo part II, click here]

 [To return to the beginning of this series, click here]

Advertisements