An insightful thoughtful piece about racism written by a “middle-class” white woman living in South Africa. I don’t know if reading this piece and her other piece about what life is like living in South Africa’s Townships makes me feel better about the sad state of affairs in the US but it’s food for thought. I suppose we are every bit as corrupt but in a less visible way.
I don’t know enough about the ANC (pre and post Mandela) and South Africa’s current political situation (besides that it’s really “messed up”) to comment much.
But from reading this lady’s blog, for the white minority in her country, the narrative went from white people was doing this to you during apartheid and that was awful and unforgivable but now apartheid has ended for 20 years and every president since Nelson Mandela has been black and a member of the ANC, and South Africa is still messed up and even more messed up according to some people, so you (meaning blacks) are just incompetent and are doing it to yourselves now and we white people can wash our hands clean of one of the worst crimes in history. In fact, the same could be said for most of Sub-Sahara or black Africa. They wanted colonialist and imperialists out, so they out they went. The sub-saharan Africa has been independent from white colonialists and imperialists for about 50 years and what have they done with themselves in the 50 years?
This piece points out that it’s not quite so simple. Specifically referring to whites in South Africa, racism is a birthright. White supremacy is a birthright. Access to good schools, good jobs and living in safe good neighborhoods is a white birthright, so ingrained that not one white person gives it a second thought. And it’s a birthright that’s not been given up just because apartheid ended. De jure apartheid may have ended, but de facto apartheid is still alive and well.
“The legislative bit of apartheid might have ended 20 years ago, but it is not white people living in cardboard boxes beside the highway. For those countless people, apartheid is alive and well – only they have no hope of anything ever changing. For them, the cycle of poverty is as entrenched and ongoing as it’s ever been.”
And just for perspective, as of 2011, Whites comprised of 8.9% of the population in South Africa, Blacks are 79.2%, Coloured are 8.9% and other Asians and Indians are 2.5% and less than 10% of 50 million people control all of the wealth and access to wealth. The current unemployment rate is 25% and even with these appalling numbers, its neighbors are still flocking to South Africa to find work.
Nobody wants to think of themselves as being a bad person. Bad people are ISIS fighters, child molesters, Shrien Dewani. They do horrible things which are blatant and obvious and talked about in the media. But in the last few months I have found myself in spaces where I’ve had to take a long and careful look at who I am in the world, the attitudes that have formed me and how I conduct myself in certain situations. And to say that it’s been an uncomfortable awakening is an understatement. Because many of you who follow my blog know that I’m relatively outspoken about race issues in this country. I have strong feelings about the socio-economic disparities and the white attitudes that feed them, and while I sit behind my computer screen in my nice study on the Atlantic Seaboard it’s easy to wax lyrical about egalitarianism and the way…
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