bridge

…by the time you read this post, you’ll be gone…

So in response to my post directed at my white friends in South Africa and Americaland with regards to race-related things, i got a rather strong sounding response from a guy called John. Which i thought it might be quite fun to respond to:

The reason I write you off as another white “Arts-degree” imbecile: You compare the history and economics and politics and sociology of America to SA. They are NOTHING alike. And they NEVER were. You are painfully Anti-White and Pro-Black throughout. Why would you not only deny Whites their voice, but decide BEFOREHAND what your outcome in your head will be? “My white friends, my white family, white strangers who i don’t yet know, but who some reason have landed in this place, we are the unaffected ones [directly] and it is time for us to be outraged and informed and engaged.” The unaffected ones??? You are so, SO out of line bud. And you have effectively wished away with that limp wrist of yours the history, dreams, blood, prayers, sweat and tears of a nation that had it harder than most, and is AS entitled to the country as any other. I am outraged. By your type. Not only are you ignorant, racist, hateful, you are glib and biased. Do you have MSM each morning for breakfast, or do you choose ignorance and bias freely? What truly, truly angered me was this drivel: “As white people…hold the power for change in both situations”] … (whites) are …uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around (them).” Just go home before you hurt yourself. You’re a six year old taking a tomy gun to an international arms trade. You are in so deep, and you have no clue. And as for proclaiming to be a Christian, that’s terribly hard to believe when all you seek to do is vilify, nullify and crucify a Nation you know NOTHING about, or simply care NOTHING for. [John]

hey John,

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Some thoughts in response:

[1] What a pity – why would you ever write anyone off? That sounds so unoptimistic and as the self-proclaimed eternal optimist just completely outside of my life experience – there is always hope that people will stand in front of a mirror and see what is really there and choose to change. Always. As a follower of Jesus i believe that 100 fold as inviting God to come in and bring change just accelerates that in my experience.

[2] i feel like ‘Arts-degree’ imbecile is a step up – you see i am a 40 year old white guy with dreads and so usually get asked at traffic lights for weed or high fived by other drug takers because of wrongful assumptions made, so i will take Arts-degree imbecile – i actually got kicked out of art in high school for spending the year mixing paint colours [because they just expected us to do art and never taught us how to and i couldn’t do art] and officially i am a primary school teacher [by study] although have spent most of my life working with young people in the church

[3] “You compare the history and economics and politics and sociology of America to SA.” – not true, or not intended at least – in my most recent blog dealing with #Ferguson whiplash vs South African White Privilege vibes i maybe say it more clearly but the point is that in terms of the focus on race issues at the moment, there are similarities between what the two countries are presently facing and some huge differences [in USA white majority, in SA it is minority being a big one] and so very interesting to me keeping an eye on both and seeing what might be learned on either side of the ocean.

[4] Painfully anti-white and pro-black throughout? Hm, i don’t see that. i am white firstly and i kinda like myself, and most of my white friends. i AM pro-black in the same way that i am pro-white and Indian, coloured etc… Not one above the other. HOWEVER, that doesn’t for a second mean i overlook where we have made mistakes and as white people in South Africa we very much do need to stand in the front of the line with our hands raised and admit a few things. With apartheid having been officially turned over 20 years ago or so we can [and would love to] decide that racism is all done now in this country and let’s move on, but because a lot of black people [and possibly others] feel aggrieved still in terms of work of reparation and restitution that was not done, i think we have a way to go still. At the very least taking time to listen and try hear and then see if we can in fact do something about it. This conversation is probably heading from race towards social economic status, but while people still have racist thoughts and comments and behaviours [see white guy at university peeing on man of colour just a week or so ago and more] it seems like many people still have a bit of a way to go. Just because it is uncomfortable doesn’t mean the hard conversations shouldn’t happen. My heart is complete unity and togetherness and it is going to take a long and difficult journey to get there still.

i really honestly am not sure why you think i am anti-white – that is so far from the truth – i can be completely pro-white and still feel we have a responsibility to bear some of the cost of change. absolutely.

[5] Not sure how i have denied whites their voice – i have used the platform of this blog to give all voices a chance to be heard – because less whites seem to be engaged in this conversation there has been less of a pool to draw from but take a look at Michael Talbot’s piece at one example of hearing a white voice here.

[6] i am two weeks into the hundred week pushup challenge and we have added some weight exercises to that as well and so my wrists are anything but limp at the moment. My pushups need a lot of work though. Also not sure how this unaffected wrist has wished away the history [blood, sweat, tears etc] of this nation that has had it so rough – at the moment i am reading Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better to try and understand a different perspective of our story and learn a little more of the history especially the blood, tears and sweat side of things. i am not wishing it away at all but taking it into consideration and starting to understand more deeply about the people who shed blood, sweat and tears and now feel like they may have lost out in the process. Taking a bit of extra time to see if they might be right and if so, what can we do about it.

[7] “ignorant, racist, hateful, you are glib and biased” – a lot of things to call someone you don’t know, have never met, and i assume got all your information from one blog post one – ignorant? yes i can take that – i know a lot less than i would like and am doing all i can to join in some of the dots of the story including spending this last weekend on Robben Island hearing from people who were imprisoned and families that were affected by that. racist? i don’t think so, not overtly anyways – we all carry some prejudice and i definitely have some towards other races that needs to be worked out of me – and will as i grow friendships with people from other backgrounds and contexts. hateful? i don’t think that’s fair and am really not sure where you got that? i have so much love for people that i believe God filled me with – if anyone comes close to feeling unloved or hard done by me it is likely to be christians who don’t live out what they say they believe as that is when it is hardest for me to show grace and mercy but even then i think i do okay. Could always be better. Glib – embarrassed to say i need to go google that which does back up your ignorant comment – insincere and shallow? hm, no, i think you’re thinking of someone else – i say it as i see it which means i am open to being wrong on occasion or missing the mark but definitely not insincere and shallow. and biased? maybe, i work from what i have and so each story has a bias derived from the teller’s experience and sources and prejudices – definitely not intentionally biased but there is probably a little in there.

[8] Also had to look up Methylsulfonylmethane so clearly am not willingly taking it, although it is possible Megs slipped some into my porridge this morning, but that doesn’t seem like her style. And so no i don’t choose ignorance and bias freely – i am doing what i can to add knowledge and learn and am trying my best to not be biased but to give space for all sorts of voices and opinions. We will never get the perfect story but we can definitely work towards getting a more balanced and close to the truth one.

[9] And then there was the part that “truly angered” you, which was this – As white people [those who in many instances hold the power for change in both situations] it is not good enough for us to sit back and be uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around us.

Although in your comment you changed it around to this: “As white people…hold the power for change in both situations”] … (whites) are …uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around (them).”

So kinda like looking at me holding a banana and saying, “I hate your apple, bud!”

My point is that “it is not good enough” for us to sit around and be uninvolved – that is not suggesting that everyone is uninvolved [although a lot of people certainly seem to be] but it is rather a call to action and saying that given the circumstances around us, we really need to make sure that we are not allowing injustice to go on around us.

If it angered you because you don’t like the statement, does that mean we should sit back and be uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around us? Or that you felt i was imposing a judgement on all white people. Again, the words “it is not good enough for” are really important as they speak to a situation that would not be favourable as opposed to declaring a situation that is.

[10] Then it got a little personal [although you did seem to be looking out for my safety when you suggested i go home before i hurt myself – although to be fair i wrote this at home and in the broader picture South Africa is my home so either way i am fully there and in not too much danger of hurting myself]

“You’re a six year old taking a tomy gun to an international arms trade. You are in so deep, and you have no clue. And as for proclaiming to be a Christian, that’s terribly hard to believe when all you seek to do is vilify, nullify and crucify a Nation you know NOTHING about, or simply care NOTHING for.”

i tend to dig it when people think i’m younger than the 40 year old i am but usually they go for mid twenties or maybe thirty and so it feels like you are a little off there. i am not a huge fan of guns and so that is unlikely in a non-metaphoric sense but interesting that the language used is that of violence which my hope and optimising and belief in the goodness of people [and of God] really believes we can avoid if we continue to have healthy and helpful and at times uncomfortable conversations so that we can move towards change which works for everyone. And your accusation of me villifying, nullifying and crucifying a nation i don’t care about and know nothing about feels so far from the truth – i imagine i have lived here longer than you and so quite possibly know a decent amount, i don’t know many people as passionate as i am about this country and you should perhaps go and read some of the Robben Island blogs i’ve been posting more recently to see that [i will fight for the right to be called an African cos this is my home – i am a man of this soil] and yes, basically just the opposite of what you said back there.

Finally, John, i don’t expect you to read this – i would love if it you did and i would really dig it if we could sit down over a drink and have a full on two way conversations and really get to hear a little bit of the other person’s story before we make snap judgements and think we know what the other person is about. I doubt this will happen though because you wrote me off right at the beginning, but i thought it would be fun to let you know what i would have written had you stuck around a bit to have some conversation.

May you have a most excellent week
Let’s build this nation together
love brett fish

[For a previous encounter with internet trolls, check this out]

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