Tag Archive: privilege


i crawled into bed sometime after 2 this morning… Exhausted, challenged, frustrated, reflective, inspired, hopeful. It had been a long, packed day.

The night before had seen 11 of us sharing a meal and then sitting outside in our tiny courtyard, wrestling with the idea of what it means to Live Simply. Continue reading


i have read some REALLY helpful articles about privilege this week.

My fear is that the appearance of the word ‘privilege’ with the assumption of it being specifically ‘white privilege’ on my blog immediately drives the very people i am wanting to hear and engage with this stuff away.

But my hope, which is so much stronger than my fear, is that there are people like Bob [who a bunch of us had this long and helpful conversation with a while back] who genuinely are wanting to understand and be involved in the conversation and change where necessary, there are others who get or kinda get the need for change and just don’t know how to go about it and hopefully there are others sitting on the edge who will eventually at some point hear the proverbial penny dropping and let out a positive and helpful and transformative, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh!”


The first one i read was titled ‘What Privilege Really Means’ by Maisha Z Johnson and doesn’t even use the word white, so maybe we’ll be okay here. She starts off like this:

I’m pretty fed up with privilege. But that doesn’t mean I hate privileged people.

When I write about the privilege that certain groups have, some people – usually those in the groups I’m writing about – get upset.

For example, I say how tired I am of how the system of white privilege excludes and harms non-white people, and some people accuse me of hating on white folks.

There’s only one problem: If you get upset when someone points out that you have privilege, that probably means you don’t fully understand what privilege is.

Because if you think having privilege means that you’re a bad person, or that you haven’t had struggles, or that you haven’t worked hard for what you have – then I can totally feel why you might be frustrated. If that were the case, then yes, it’d be completely unfair of me to claim that all white people or straight people or men or people of any other dominant group are living easy off their unearned privileges.

But having privilege doesn’t mean any of those things.

She lists 18 points which i found very helpful as many of them address specific things that people-who-have-issues-with-the-term-white-privilege are raising, some examples being:

# Having Privilege doesn’t mean you’re a bad person

# Having privilege doesn’t mean you haven’t experienced oppression in other ways

# Having Privilege doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard or you should feel bad about your good fortune

As well as some of the positives, such as:

# Having Privilege means you can support the most vulnerable among us to strengthen your own fight

# Having Privilege means you have a choice about what to do with it

But go read the rest of that article because i found it so super helpful and i imagine if some of the people who have a reaction to the words ‘White Privilege” or “Privilege” in general got to read it, they would have their eyes opened a little bit more. Maybe if you’re a choir person and know someone this would really help, print out a copy and go through it with them and ask if they agree or disagree.


Then Jordan Pickering wrote this piece on news 24 that contained some REALLY helpful points as well. Please go and read the whole thing.

It begins with a similar mantra that many of us could repeat from heart:

I was born into a system that I had no role in setting up or choosing. If asked, my family would have said that racism is an evil. When Mandela was released from prison, I was barely 11 and only followed the sports section of the news. If an apology needs to be given for Apartheid why would I need to give it? When it comes to taking responsibility for Apartheid, should that include me?

But then goes on to ask a series of challenging but helpful questions and makes some statements that dig more to the heart of the matter:

And this is really the main issue. The problem is not that whites haven’t apologised for our racism (after all, who would someone like me apologise to and what exactly would I be sorry for?). The problem is that we have never owned it at all. It was all someone else’s fault.

Apartheid may be dead, but it bequeathed to all of us those coloured contact lenses that make racism part of our way of seeing. Realising to what degree you see the world with Apartheid’s taint is the first step to owning the past, and taking nation-building forward into the future.


Hardly anyone read this latest extract i posted from the Steve Biko book, ‘I Write What I Like’ and yet it feels like an incredibly important one to take in as well. [Who would have thought solving all South Africa’s issues would actually take a bit of time and effort and energy and research? Seriously, these conversations are worth reading more deeply on. Make the time!] i was strongly convicted about my attitude of superiority when it comes to black people in general – wow, that is NOT a fun line to think, say or type out loud. Yet i see it in myself. i need help. And i imagine i am not alone in this…

And lastly there was this piece i wrote the other day in response to some of the pushbacks to White Privilege conversation [which continue in the comment section if you have time to engage] which was a response to a response to an article i posted on Facebook the other day.

You’re tired of me blogging about Race and Privilege and Hope for South Africa and more? Well i’m sure people of colour are tired of being racisted upon and so until that stops, there is a lot of work to do. i’m not the best person to do it, i don’t doubt that for a second. But i know some pretty good people who are helping me along, being gracious and sending me stuff to read and having conversations and writing for this blog and more.

The answer answer i’m convinced is RELATIONSHIPS – genuine, authentic, life-transforming friendships with people from other races and cultures and socio-economic groups who will continue to be gracious and loving and patient and more. If you don’t have those in your life and are arguing against any of this stuff, then you really need to shut up and go and make yourself some friends. This cannot be an isolated conversation in the mind space. This is real and has to be worked out and beaten out and wrestled and pushed-back upon and get-a-little-bit-out-of-control and fought over and repented about and confessed and loved and shared over meals and walked, but together. Come on, South Africa. i believe.

[To continue reading and engaging on topics relating to South Africa and beyond, click here]

so today was a breakfast of 50g Jungle Oats each [slept over at my folks house and they had 50g sachets so less than the 150g between us we were meant to, but was enough] for breakfast [little bit of butter, no sugar, sigh]

then for lunch we feasted on a “soup” the beautiful val made altho it was more a stew than a soup with lentils, potato and butternut in and we had that with rice – could see if lentils was all i had to feast on every day then i might get tired fairly quickly altho they did kinda dominate the meal – but we were quite hungry by lunchtime and the meal we had was really amazing. and more than enough.

supper is happening in the backgound now and consists of a pork sausage each and a bean and carrot mix and some rice and should be equally yummy.

i ended last nite quite sick [have had throat for a while and some flu’ness threatening] and i guess today’s understanding of the poor is in line with that – i had friends on facebook suggesting all sorts of remedies and felt like it was kind of a cheat to go for them, but i did compromise and have a med lemon [just to try and combat the throat because we have a bunch of unpaid – but that’s another blog – work to do this week and i don’t want to get completely sick] but the realisation is that good health is another pretty much large choice/privilege/score of the rich.

if i have R12 per day and i have to choose between food and medication i would imagine food would win every day, also because i think medication of any type starts at a base level of around R12 and then jumps to R85 pretty quickly… you’re rich and you get the smallest hint of a sickness, you go to the doctor and pay a crapload for an antibiotic, or you duck into the chemist and grab a bottle of pills or into pick n pay like we normally would and overdose on orange juice to kill it before its set… a bottle of OJ going for R16 or R19 or above…

also if you are poor it is probably a lot easier to get sick [cos of living, eating and other conditions] and a lot harder to get better [lack of money for doctor visit, medication, vitamins etc]

and again the realisation that we are doing food and drink whereas if we were living on an average of R12 a day that that money would have had to have somehow covered rent and electricity and appliances, clothes, transportation, petrol, cellphones, calls, internet etc etc in terms of how we spent our day.

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