Gillian Schutte
Gillian Schutte

A comprehensive guide to white privilege in South Africa

* Taken down on request of blogger

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    • Parktown_Prawn

      Gillian: Your explanation is simply not sufficient. I have now gone back and done the reading of the pieces at issue. Your explanation for your “oversights” or lack of adherence to convention and so on is indeed very weak. You sound just like any other business or government hack defending the way they do things. When push comes to shove, even the most sanctimonious sound like Jimmy Manyi in his GCIS heyday.

      As someone who wants the dreadful white people to come to terms with their awfulness, you should set the example of how you want us to behave. Come on out and admit that you did something wrong. Admit that you did it deliberately. Do not revert to the spin-doctor-y explanations that you so despise. Say you are sorry. Not that you are sorry this has happened. Not that you are sorry that some people are offended by plagiarism. Just a genuine sorry that you — Gillian — did something wrong.

      You are the one who chose to live by the sword of high-handed arrogance and dismissiveness of all views but your own. Prepare to die, reputationally speaking, by that same sword. Every time you post something now the inevitable question will be about where you cribbed it from.

      Come clean and show that you are genuinely sorry. Then take a break from posting for a month. That way you remove the pressure to produce which is what often drives this kind of behaviour.

      Darrel Bisto-Gravy spent a long time in the virtual wilderness for similar transgressions. You should learn from…

    • Skerminkel

      41. An unwillingness to be forced into self-loathing by obscure bloggers, perhaps?

    • George

      Gillian, please urgently seek professional help, with your own personal issues. You obviously have unresolved internal conflicts and anger, which you are projecting onto society at large. By making fictional generalisations and unfounded broad accusations, you are frustrating yourself and many other innocent individuals, who do not form part of your internal cognitive dissonance. With Love, George

    • Koman

      Honestly, what a load of drivel! A white man born in Africa trying to live and raise his family is ‘privileged’ to go to the toilet it seems in your eyes. Take a look at the world lady, it ain’t all sunshine and roses. Having a job that I studied hard for (paid for by myself through part-time work), paying taxes, buying everything I own honestly and generally trying to make a success of my life is a ‘privilege’? Give me a break!! Do you apply the same twisted logic to white Americans and Europeans. Privilege is not the same as oppression. Apartheid oppressed blacks but it did not offer privileges to whites other than the governmental elite (same applies for the ANC). Under apartheid whites still had to study (and pay for it), compete for jobs, pay taxes and sky-high interest rates, buy homes etc as normal 1st world citizens. This is not a privilege. You miss the point here. Blacks were oppressed. They were not offered those opportunities. What you should be saying is whites were not oppressed. Saying whites are privileged is taking away their hard work, intelligence and capabilities.

    • MastersVoice

      I am White and have a proper education, thanks to the Apartheid government. This is my sole privilege. Because of my education, I have a decent income, which is as a direct consequence of starting a company with other well-qualified South Africans.

      If White South Africans are becoming richer, then it is because they are reaping the rewards of superior education. It also means that the majority of taxes supplied by the same White South Africans is not being spent properly on educating the previously disadvantaged South Africans. 20 Years on, and our education levels are worse than before amongst Black South Africans. How much longer do you want?

      Black South Africans are lagging further behind in education. More Black South Africans are unemployable than White South Africans. So now I am a racist? Your article is a stupid and clumsy attempt at feeding off the White South African guilt trip. You clearly do not know what racism is.

    • Tom

      Meh. Inadequate. The extent of your plagiarism goes further than your attempted corrections. See for the full match of your quotes with those from Thought Catalog. Then read the excellent essay on plagiarism from Irving Hexham, available at in which he notes:
      “Academic plagiarism occurs when a writer repeatedly uses more than four words from a printed source without the use of quotation marks and a precise reference to the original source in a work presented as the author’s own research and scholarship. Continuous paraphrasing without serious interaction with another person’s views, by way or argument or the addition of new material land insights, is a form of plagiarism in academic work.”

      Further (and just one example), what you have done here (e.g. at 15) is an example of run-on plagiarism, as discussed by Hexham.

    • Luigi

      Your explanations are not good enough, and as is usually the case, your abrasiveness and arrogance overshadow the issues about which you speak.

      I believe that ThoughtLeader should take this platform away from you – you have have shown that you are not worthy of it. I’m still disgusted that you feel no shame about what is essentially intellectual theft and that you have not apologised for actions that would get you fired from any right thinking publication or booted out of any university campus.

    • Hugh Robinson

      Well now, Do you feel better now that you have defined your guilt trip? I voted for a country free of all discrimination but still I am stereo typed and told to repent. As time has passed I have gone from agreeing with your stance to one of loathing.

      All it does is cause arguement and does not show a way forward except licking boots which in truth if one gets low enough allows one to be stomped upon.

    • Maria

      While I am in full agreement with you about the continued existence of racism – of all stripes, however, not only white-on-black racism – Gillian (if I am right that this is the subtext of “white privilege”), I believe you oversimplify. There is a metaphorical meaning of “whiteness” and “blackness” that goes beyond pigmentation, and in that sense, I know many white people who are marked by their “blackness” in the sense of resistance to oppression of all kinds. This is a more important meaning of “whiteness” (oppressive classes throughout especially the modern history of colonialism), and “blackness” (the oppressed classes/races throughout this history). Joseph Conrad, who, in and through his novelette, Heart of Darkness, protested the oppression of Africans by colonizers for the extraction of wealth from their land, was, in this sense, on the side of “blackness”. If you read it this way, it is also obvious that “whiteness” coincides with the exploitative character of capitalism. As Bert has often pointed out, the link between racism (“whiteness”) and capitalism is not sufficiently recognized.

    • Mbonisi

      Gillian, I agree with all the points you raised. As you can see from the comments above, those who are criticising you are not dwelling on the issues you raised point by point. They now seek to divert attention to your person.

      This is not about Gillian folks, its about whiteness, the white world. I personally have read and hear white people say most of these things so very regularly.

      “My best friends are black…..”

      “What do you expect, this is Africa……”

      Mind you, this is coming from white people who everyday cry about wanting to also be counted as African, when it suits them, that is.

      They will tell you they are 10th generation this and that and have never lived anywhere else. But what they will never explain to you is why they seem to disassociate themselves from being African, whenever there are problems.

      I can tell you now, Europe has been going through excruciating economic pains. There have been demonstrations against sitting governments, particularly in the PIGS countries. But dare I say, I dont think you could at any time hear a European proclaim “.. this is Europe of course, what would you expect..”

      This whiteness world view of “whiteness” being always about order, hard work, innovation, inventiveness etc, etc is not borne out by history.

      All human societies have gone through upheavals at some point in their past, Europeans/Whites/the West included. Europe stabilised politically ONLY after earlier tribal blood letting of past…

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      Whiteishness is about employing black people to do your dirty work and justifying it with sentimental rationalizations about black people “needing jobs” and pretending that a job with low wages is better than no job at all!


    • Peter Win

      I’m afraid much of what you’ve written is hogwash.

      Let’s assume for example you are wealthy enough to employ a maid. Do you therefore assume it’s ok if you’re a a black employer – but wrong if you’re white (as you seem to imply) ?

      Is it ok to be wealthy black – but wrong to have middle-class wealth if you’re white ?

      In a society where the law once again discriminates significantly – in theory on behalf of the oppressed but actually on behalf of the black elite – should whites now shoulder a new load – and give up all their jobs and possessions in some strange breast-beating exercise ?

      And if this is truly what you believe, why have you not undertaken some type of remedial action – sackcloth and ashes and menial labour, not possession of a job as a blogger that should be filled by a black counterpart.

      Sorry, I just don’t buy this beating the breast and eternal damnation theory that you propose – and I don’t see you doing it either. Talk is cheap, my china.

    • Ryan Peter

      Thank you Thought Leader for maintaining journalistic integrity and having this post revised.

    • Matthew

      Mikhail, you hit the nail on the proverbial head.

      While all the other comments have merit, simply talking and discussing so called issues is fruitless. What this country needs is action and dare I say it, compassion.

      Sadly, in a free market society, I as the employer have the upper hand, especially when so many of our country men & women live way below the poverty line. This therefore allows me to offer less than survival wages for menial jobs and someone will take the work as a little bread in the tummy tonight is better than going to bed (often without kids) hungry is the alternative.

      Simply put, this environment does nothing to build a nation and this injustice lives at every level of our society. Government ‘employment’ programs often only pay R80 a day to beneficiaries, which is less than min wage for a domestic worker! Then government happily tout the numbers of beneficiaries as an example of what it’s doing.

      This is going to be a long term projects and take all of us working together. Some time ago, someone asked me if I paid my gardener a fair wage and I can say yes. For about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs work he earns R150 which I am happy to pay. Clearly, our garden is modest, but he’s finally realised that if he puts his head down he can be done in a short time.

      Its an age old battle, productivity vs wages and wages vs standard of living. No easy solutions, but we really do need to focus on having an education system that adequately serves our citizens.

    • Graham

      “While the links provided have been deemed inadequate referencing in this case” – who exactly deemed them inadequate?

    • proactive

      @Mikhail….sorry, you are also wrong & ad to emotions! Europe’s and any growing economy employs millions of guest workers for such purpose, whoever is too busy or simple whoever can afford it- employs according to the prevailing labor legislation- and that applies around the whole world by all races!

    • proactive

      This blog- bloated with generalized but anti white rhetoric only contributes nothing! It just exposes the ongoing dilemma of none performance, none accountability and irresponsible behavior of cadres put in charge by a regime who by vote and choice control everything for the last 20 years.

      These ongoing failures in administration, implementation and misery of today have nothing to do with past or present “white privilege”- nor can they be hidden by ongoing diversions using apartheid polemic. Most of these whites are either hidden in the background as expensive consultants or are excluded by law in assisting with service delivery and are reduced to either cheering or booing bystanders.

      Make a positive contribution and refocus your “social justice lens” and deliver the many justified critiques to the correct address, namely to “ANC Luthuli House”

    • ThomiDaSilva

      Schutte’s lack of humility in the face of being caught doing one of the most embarrassing things an academic can do is shameful – this is not an apology! As a curated platform that chooses its writers and is run by a respected publication, I should hope that Thought Leader has had some firm words with her.

    • Spoogzx

      I agree with @Master’svoice that Yes whites, blacks, coloureds, Indians, Chinese do pay taxes to educate the previously oppressed blacks but I don’t think this article is stupid. It’s true that most whites don’t wanna talk about race, smile @ me 4 no apparent reason and do believe that they are superior than all other races even if they don’t say it overtly or even if they are not as educated as @Master’sVoice. And Yes whites still had to study and work hard like they still do, but you can’t dispute that you had a head start coz you only competed among yourselves. I for one also wish our education was a lot better after 20 years and I blame the government for that, but this white guilt rhetoric is stupid. The point of this article is not to force whites to apologize for their white privilege. And I’m disappointed that people are failing to interpret the article properly and are instead focusing on alleged plagiarism. Convenient amnesia.

    • Mbonisi

      White privilege is like white atheletes who are allowed by the rules of the game to start the race some 50 or so meters away from the starting point.

      All those atheletes who start from the starting point are by design of the rules of the game black.

      As the race continues the white atheletes “work very hard” to maintain or even extend the gap between them and the black atheletes.

      And when they keep “winning”, they claim the “worked very hard” for the privileges of winning they now have!!

    • PrettyBelinda

      “While I have never really been economically privileged, with a single-mother household for most of my childhood, I know I have white privilege and that definitely effects how I relate to society and shapes how I choose to live in the world.”

      Very interesting, i wonder just how many white men and women can claim that they lived in a less economic privildged and still developed the consciousness about their whiteness, its priviledge and how their whiteness. How their priviledges and attitudes towards the black person’s struggle for complete freedom, spiritually and economically have changed over the last twenty years of political freedom in South Africa.

    • Mariana De Leuca

      Many whites are privileged in the sense that have the opportunity and resources to enable them to devote their time to do volunteer work for various NGOs, fundraising organisations such as Rotary and Lions, and lifesaving organsations such as NSRI. And many privileged whites think nothing of supporting such organisations in a material way if they don’t have time to offer. They do it for love of their fellow human beings, not for thought of reward.

    • Skein

      Correct me if my reasoning is faulty, but Tim Berners-Lee’s statement means exactly the opposite of what Gillian understands it to mean.

      In other words, when he says:
      “embedding material by reference (sometimes called an embedding form of hypertext link) causes the embedded material to become a part of the embedding document”
      it means that the original content is appropriated – read stolen – when a blogger copies a section and provides no other reference than a hypertext link.

      Changing the original title from a “definitive” to a “comprehensive” guide to white privilege is both sloppy and inaccurate, as all she presents are selective, anecdotal examples of white attitudes.

      As to the merits of the argument, it seems Mrs Schutte paints us, and herself, into a corner with her finger-pointing attitude. Having heard her expanding on the original “8 ways of being white” column on 702, i could see the point of bringing up the debate: to challenge the complacency of the dominant white perspective. It is challenging, but necessary, to look into the mirror from a different, more acute angle and see the the telltale signs of prejudice we – white/male/hetero/adult/bourgeois – exude.The defensive, abusive reactions of listeners showed how much we need to strip our ingrained bigotry bare. However, focusing only on negative traits, in a black-and-white way, only entrenches the antagonism that thrives in our socio-political discourse. Rooi gevaar vs EFF is no solution,…

    • http://notapplicable Neels Mostert

      I honestly would have thought, that given the allegations and proof of plagiarism as is evident by the above article, one would have thought that M&G would have at least had the decency to remove it. By leaving it on the M&G page, you are casting doubt into M&G credibility, something that you have worked very hard on building over the past few years. Credibility, like trust, is not easily gained, but easily lost, and I urge you to remove this article and break all ties with Ms. Schutte to save face.

    • Tofolux

      @Gillian, is there a streak of ‘anti-apartheid” right-wing tactics at play here? Have we not seen this before by the same old section playing the same old tricks. Well, it proves the point doesnt it? Have they confronted their demon/s?

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      Brilliant article Gillian!
      Unfortunately not many are able to understand the concept of white privilege yet; they’ll get there one day … perhaps.
      Admire your courage and perseverance! Keep doing what you do!

      P.S. Have ‘scooped’ your article here:
      (what Jacques Rosseau would call “plagarised” :D)

    • Mariana De Leuca

      @ Samantha Tesner.

      I can’t speak for others but I certainly do understand ‘white privilege’ in the sense that Gillian intended. My comment was deliberately facetious because I dislike being lectured on how I should think and feel.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      White privilege is all about saying the Preisident Zuma can’t read – when all you read yourself is pretentious political biographies, volumes of theoretical diversion, and liberal WHITIST newspapers!

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      Whiteishness is about editing a newspaper that focuses day and night on President Zuma’s alleged faults – while turning a blind eye to Aunty Helen’s violent succession battles, and her drive to make the Western Cape her private Volkstaat!

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    • Paul Roman

      Judging from the outrage you must have hit the nail on the head. I am hoping my American friends will reflect on this, as racism has reached a pinnacle since Obama has come to power. I enjoy reading your articles as much as sitting by the fire on St. Johns road and having political discourse with you, Bafana and Lex 20 years ago sipping sherry.

    • peter

      What a joke today with BEE and AA who is privileged? Today bore Africans then whites employ a full time domestic as most whites cannot afford the minimum wage. Whitch begs the question who is earning these high salaries or are minimum wages not being paid?