My friend Tsholo commented on the Bob letter in the comments section, but her comment was so long and specific that i didn’t want it to be missed and so i asked her if it would be alright if i ran it as another post in this series and she said yes:

Tsholo

[Meet Tsholo: I am a 31 year old black female – lover of music and all things pink. Born and raised in the Free State (mostly) and now a permanent resident of Cape Town. My wish for Africa: Renaissance (that Africa would re-member itself and love itself), Unity (that we would embrace our diversity and learn to love each other), and Healing (that as we come together all of us as a people would heal from past scars, and from our current struggles)].

Feel free to not let this one go through…but I did really try to be civil and play nice…

1. “I am a white South African and I feel I have no place in the country I grew up in and love.”

The Freedom Charter clearly states that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white…” so maybe instead of waiting for people to make you feel welcomed/wanted in SA, you should just live in the knowledge that this is your home and no one has the right to say otherwise. If you love this country, stay and help build it.

2. “The leaders only seem to be interested in making sure they are comfortable and wealthy, while most of the people of South Africa struggle to eke out a living. Crime is high, service delivery is worse than disgusting and parliament has become a global joke…one our own president seems to have a good laugh at. However despite this all and after 20+ years its the fault of apartheid, the Dutch and the English. Let’s be honest it will take a great deal of time for South Africa to come right and for a while we were on a decent track, now we are in reverse. ”

Apartheid laws may have ended, but the effects…the legacy of Apartheid is still very much alive today. As you say yourself, “it will take a great deal of time for South Africa to come right”. I agree with you most of the politicians in power are there for their own benefit and not to serve their people. I’m gonna have to disagree, though, that “for a while we were on a decent track, now we are in reverse.” I don’t think we are moving in reverse at all. Things are still changing. We are moving forward. We might not like Zuma and the incumbent government – there’s so very many things I don’t agree with them on, and I do criticize them on those points – but I still acknowledge the good that they do. Sometimes those changes don’t directly affect me, but I see the good happening for others, and I acknowledge it.

3. “Well as a business owner in Cape Town my so called white privilege was non existent. I wasn’t part of the Jewish community and so wasn’t able to find clients there. I wasn’t black and so larger companies who use freelancers were hesitant to use me because they didn’t want to loose their BEE status. Likewise as a non Muslim my business practices and ethics clashed with their beliefs and so they wouldn’t work with me. But I blame no one and angry at no one for this, its the way of the world and its up to me to do something about it and make sure that I succeed and provide for my family.”

I don’t think you understand White Privilege as well as you think you do…maybe read up on what it actually means a bit more…

4. “Recently there was a discussion I came across along the lines of “It’s time James Bond was Black”. Would there be just as big of a discussion around the question of “It’s time Shaft was played by a white actor”.

The point of the discussion around a black James Bond was about representation in the media. Generally – unless it is a movie with an all black cast (a race themed movie, as they are called in the media regardless of the actual content), or a movie about slavery/apartheid – the only roles people of color get to play are designated black roles: the token black, the ratchet ghetto chick/fresh out of prison gangster, the maid, etc. Very rarely do you get a movie where black people just get to be people. And if the movie does feature regular black people doing regular people things, then it is promoted as a movie for black people aka The Best Man Holiday – a movie about 4 couples that just happen to be black – being called a race-themed movie by The New York Times or The Post or someone.

There is a movie being made right now where Scarlett Johansson will be playing the role of what was originally a Japanese woman…do you think that’s because they couldn’t find a Japanese woman who could act, or because they know that movies with white people make more money? “Exodus: Gods and Kings” was about Egyptians but the cast was all white (very tanned but still Caucasian) because the people who fund movies know that white audiences only go see movies with white people in them. Just look at the uproar caused by a middle-eastern man playing the role of Jesus…

5. “Statues may fall , but history stands. Auschwitz has not been torn down but serves as a reminder and a monument.”

Auschwitz stands, but Auschwitz is not celebrated. I could be wrong, but I doubt that if you walk through downtown Berlin you are going to find a giant statue of Hitler on a pedestal. The architects of Apartheid – the people who were behind Apartheid – are still celebrated in South Africa. Take a walk around Cape Town and all you see is monument after monument of such people behind held up as great leaders, being celebrated, being given places of honor in this “New South Africa”…which still looks a whole lot like the old one.

6. “However I strongly believe that this anger a is misplaced.”

The #RhodesMustFall movement was never about the statue in and of itself. It was about what the statue represents. Some people didn’t understand that, made no effort to actually listen to the people who started the movement, and therefore hijacked it and turned it into something it was not.

7. “If Rhodes caused so much pain and South Africans as a whole want to remove all trace of him, then surely the things that he left as a legacy should also be removed, the Rhodes scholarship and other western/European traits were a result of his rule… infrastructure, technology, clothes and so on.”

I hear this comment a lot whenever colonization is rationalized/defended, and I have to wonder: do you think African’s were just sitting around twiddling their thumbs before white people came? Do you think we knew absolutely nothing? That we weren’t evolving as a people? That we didn’t know our own land? That generations upon generations survived by sheer will of waiting upon their white saviors? That their purpose on earth was to wait on the white man to tell them what to do? I’ll stop there…ok, wait, one more thing..
“Colonization didn’t bring progress to Africa. Colonization interrupted Africa’s progress.” Think on this for a bit…
Also, Rhodes brought us clothes??? lol!

8. “To be honest I have no idea what the New South Africa wants. We constantly hear that whites and Europeans must get out of South Africa and that “Western Imperialism” and interference is not wanted. Yet EVERY day in the UK there are adverts asking for donations…”

Africa doesn’t have a problem with Western Aid. Africa has a problem with Western Aid when there are strings attached. “We will help you but…” Western Aid comes with fine print…Africa must bow down to the West – conform to Western ideologies and principles – in order to receive aid from them, and that’s why Africa doesn’t want (to borrow your own word) “interference” from the West.

9. “In fact (to my knowledge and stand to be corrected), while the xenophobic attacks were taking place recently, Zuma and Mugabe were enjoying a dinner party in Mugabe’s honor, despite his human rights abuses against Zimbabweans (black and white).”

Pretty sure the attacks started after – I could be wrong, maybe I just heard about them late. And yes, Zuma took way too long to speak up on the attacks… and when he did he said some rather dumb things… sorry, I’m getting side-tracked.
I think you should go read up on the purpose of Mugabe’s visit, and the outcomes of that visit.

10. “I am white, I am made to feel ashamed of a history I had no control of and no one is interested in what a white person has to say because what ever they say or do is racist or from a point of white privilege. Yet Africa is happy to take my contribution whether it be a donation, or supporting a feeding scheme or giving free medical services to remote regions, then I am valued.”

You are white. You have White Privilege. No one has asked you to be ashamed on other people’s behalf, only that as a human being you recognize/acknoledge that you have been unfairly privileged. And if nobody is interested in hearing what you have to say because you’re white, why the heck did I just take time to not only read this, but to respond to it as well? *sigh*

Also, you are aware that black people also give donations and support humanitarian organizations, right? Your value should come from being human and being humane, your whiteness should have nothing to do with it. When you give to those who have less that you, your humanity is celebrated and welcomed, not your whiteness.

[To return to Bob’s original email and see a diversity of responses, click here] 

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