Tag Archive: white guilt


So this morning was a little bit of soul searching time for me as i took into account a lot of what different people have been saying in the comments on my blog recently [and over a longer period of time].

i realised that not only are some of the things that have been said true, but also came to think of some other things i’ve been doing that have actually been completely unacceptable and so i needed to apologise. And for something of this magnitude, i didn’t think written word would actually be enough. So i went for face-to-face by recording this shortish video in the hopes that those i’ve wronged will see it and really hear my heart on these things. And that we can move forwards together in the hopes that i can be better moving forwards.

So thank you for the words that caused me to really think about these things – i hope i am a changed man:

 

noloyiso

I woke up on election day, my thumbs ready to be inked and itching to say something to challenge people to get up and vote seeing as a friend of mine  had just expressed disinterest in politics and thus voting itself.

As I lay in bed contemplating if it would be better to sleep the morning away and vote later, my brother sent me a message; a speech  allegedly delivered by PW Botha in 1985. In a nutshell, the speech ( which turned out to be fake)  justified why apartheid was good, how whites were superior to blacks as God intended ( yes, God) and how foreign countries supported this concept.

The stuff about black people only being good enough to make a noise and have sex really got my blood boiling. I got so angry that I immediately got up and went to vote in an attempt to prove myself better than what that speech was saying about me as a black person.

In an attempt to cause the same stir in my fellow darkies, I posted the speech to my Facebook. BIG MISTAKE! An Afrikaans friend of mine politely pointed out that the speech is fake and that it was released during the last elections. I didn’t realise that and I admitted as much. We went on to talk about how sad it is that there are still people who carry these principles in our society and concluded that we had no time for racists.

What followed was a heated comment from another Afrikaans friend who was clearly offended by my loading the  speech without verifying its authenticity and social irresponsibility at posting something that had little to do with our country’s current issues of corruption etc.

It didn’t end there. This friend went on to post a status on his own wall ( in Afrikaans) in which he encouraged his friends to read what I posted and expressed his disgust ( again) at my irresponsibility. We had some words and I realised something. This guy, underneath it all, felt guilty about  what apartheid did to [all] of us. He hated that I brought it up because it triggers something in him as though he played a role in what happened. He had me for a moment; until a number of my [white]friends came to my defense pointing out the white guilt that had reared its ugly head. These guys were not angry about what I’d posted and saw his reaction for what it was – A white guy trying to appear good to everyone so that they don’t see what he hides in his heart.

In a nutshell, I think its time we throw this ” I don’t see colour” rubbish out the window. I am black and you are white and we are friends and most importantly, we see it! Whether you were part of apartheid or you reject its principles, you don’t need to prove yourself worthy to me. I don’t want you to speak my mother tongue and listen to house and kwaito music.  I will not be afraid of you because you have a thick boer accent and you prefer your veldhoed and boeremusiek.I, in turn am not going to strive to be polite, or use my inside voice or speak fluent Afrikaans to prove that I have been tamed like a chimp. These are just the masks we put on so that we can survive a night out on the other side of the fence.

 

[To catch some more of the multi-faceted conversation we have been having on all things Race-related, click here]

[To read some stories of Mixed Race and Culture Relationships, click here]

apartheid

 

 

 

a short while ago two South Africans sparked an international discussion about racism, guilt and responsibility when they printed and distributed forty t-shirts with the slogan ‘I benefited from apartheid’ written on them:

 

 

 

 

 

zapiro

 

 

well-known political satirist Jonathan Shapiro [aka Zapiro] came up with this minimalistic but powerful cartoon which expressed his take on the matter:

 

 

 

are they right? yes, for sure, i definitely had [and still have] benefits from apartheid – they were not as a result of my choosing, or even my parents choosing, but they are real.

so in a nutshell i have to feel guilty for being white.

i also have to feel guilty for being male. women have been oppressed in this country and around the world for who knows how many decades, centuries even. have i benefited from that? surely i have. i may not have chosen my penis but it has served me well, just by being there.

what else is there?

english-speaking? because surely as one of the dominant languages that worldwide communication and media have been presented in, this has forced some kind of pain and trauma on those who have been forced to speak it?

christian? while i prefer the term ‘Christ-follower personally’ i know that being grouped in this group racks up the score column for guilt and shame [no-one expected the Spanish Inquisition…]

how about heterosexual? [because heaven knows we’ve treated the gays badly]

i imagine there are probably more, but it seems as if there is enough data to suggest that i am part of the most privileged demographic imaginable – white male heterosexual english-speaking christian… and therefore the most guilty.

i think i get it. to a large extent. having benefited from apartheid etc etc i need to own that and take responsibility and be involved in reconciliation and reparation where possible as well as doing what i can do to address the various imbalances that now exist as a result of the past.

at the same time, is there a time when it ends? when i can stop feeling the need to feel guilty because i am white, because i am a man, because i…

because, to be very honest, i did not have a lot of say in the whiteness of my white, i wasn’t all that involved in the maleness of my maleity, i was born into english, i am attracted to women [and one very beautiful one in particular]

the only thing on my list that i can see that i had any part in choosing to be a part of is the christian one and even there i have chosen to align myself to a Christ-following which i hope looks a LOT different from the majority of wrongs and perversions that the typical historical christian [those who profess one thing but live another] has gotten horribly wrong.

in terms of the apartheid debris in South Africa, i will continue to do what i can to make amends and take responsibility for the past i largely inherited, but will there be a time when i am allowed to ask questions of the post-apartheid government who continue to be a hive of corruption, mismanagement, greed and nepotism and spend/waste/party this country into the ground?

because, to be honest, it’s been 18 years now. you’re practically legal new democracy. Mandela showed you the way you could choose to live – with grace, forgiveness, honour, invitation, integrity… and it is up to you at some stage to embrace that.

to be honest, i don’t actively carry any guilt for any of who i am, no matter how much the pressure is exerted to do so. i know that i’m far from perfect and i try to live better, day to day, than how i lived the day before. i try to take responsibility when i mess up and make things right with the people i have hurt or wronged. and i believe this is something that needs to be embraced by every one of us, so that we can really turn this country around and make it the incredible place it should be.

so when do we stop blaming apartheid? when do we start taking responsibility together?

unity.

ubuntu.

you and me. let’s do this.

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