Tag Archive: White people


Let’s crank this thing up a notch. Two articles that have caught my attention recently [Thankx Tsholofelo for the first one] and have a lot to say in this Race conversation that we’ve started and are engaging with each other on [although am still hoping to see more of that].

These feel like they could be part of the ‘can of worms’ and ‘Pandora’s Box’ i was promised [threatened with?] when i said that i was going to start a conversation about Race on my blog, which thus far feels like it hasn’t happened. But i have this idea that a lot of people who are a greater part of the problem, if i could even get them to read these two articles, would easily dismiss them.

The only problem is that there is so much truth in each one. And it is truth that white people [who have traditionally or historically been the dominant race group in both Americaland and South Africa] really could do well with hearing, and trying to understand.

I have only included snippets from each article in this post, so do yourselves a favour and go and read the whole article and then come back here and share your thoughts, whatever they may be.

The first is an article titled, Racism 2.0: Living in a post-racial America by Zach Freshley [the lines i have quoted are not one section but rather different thoughts i have pulled out from different places in the article]

If I had a dime for every time I’ve been called “the whitest black guy I know”, I could pay off the national debt. Ok, not really, but you get the point.

That HAS to be one of the most offensive things someone can say to a black person i imagine? Black friends help me out? And the worst is, i have this strong inherent feeling whispering to me from some distant memory that i have probably said that to someone before. Completely not meant offensively. i dunno, am i over-reacting? today it just feels really unkind…

Wrong. Racism is sneaky nowadays. It lurks in our conversations. It slips its way into the way we interact with people of different races. It embeds itself into the way we think. It’s not blatant and it’s not obvious. And most times, it’s not even intentional. But its subtlety is exactly what makes it so dangerous.

People say things like this all the time and it drives me crazy. You take one look at the amount of melanin in my skin and assume that you know everything about me. You assume you know the type of music I listen to. You assume you know how I should dress. You think you know all these things because you don’t see me as a unique human being. You see me as a category. You see me as a box to be checked on the census form.

And while I don’t apologize for anything I’ve said, I don’t want you to read this as a white person and feel like I’m attacking you. Because I’m not. I just want to let you know how we as minorities feel. I wanted to give you a small taste of what I go through on a daily basis. Not to elicit sympathy. Not to make you feel like a terrible person. I just want you to think. I want you to think about the way you treat people you don’t even know simply because they have a different shade of skin than you do. I don’t want you to treat me any differently as a person because I’m black. I don’t want you to see the color of my skin and make judgment calls on who I am because of it. I don’t want to be Black Zach. I want to be Zach who happens to be black. And if I can get you thinking about that distinction and how it applies in your life, then I’ve succeeded.

the second article is one that has been doing the round on the book of facements and it is titled 18 things white people seem to not understand [because, White Privilege by Macy Sto. Domingo and i think there was maybe one i didn’t agree with, but the rest are so true [and i only came to realise, see or believe a bunch of them since living in Philly and now Oakland where we have witnessed them first and second hand to be true]. Again, go and read the full list, but here is a taste…

2. White Privilege is being able to watch a movie, read a book and open the front page of a newspaper and see yourself and your race widely represented and spoken for.

4 White Privilege is living in a world where you are taught that people with your skin tone hold the standard for beauty.

9 White Privilege is not having your name turned into an easier-to-say Anglo-Saxon name.

10. White Privilege is being able to fight racism one day, then ignore it the next.

14. White Privilege is being pulled over or taken aside and knowing that you are not being singled out because of your race/colour.

15. White Privilege is not having to teach your children to be aware of systematic racism for their own protection.

It is quite easy and maybe tempting to dismiss some of these things, either by denying that they are true at all or by throwing out a ‘Can’t we just be done with this all and move on?’ statement which refuses to admit and own up to the reality that some people face. White privilege for the most part, with people i know at least, is not something we necessarily have chosen, but rather something we need to realise we have simply by having been born white in the country we were born in. I encourage you to read through both of these articles with fresh eyes, really seeking to hear the truths that are being shared. The come back here and let’s engage in some conversation.

How does reading that make you feel? 

mymind[To jump back to the start of this conversation on Race, click here]

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]

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