Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi

Reflections on an epistle to white people

By Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi

Yesterday morning, on my breakfast online media trawl, I ran into Gillian Schutte’s latest epistle to white South Africa. “Dear white people,” it opens, “[I] implore you to wake up and smell Africa with a fresh white nose.” Intrigued by what Schutte might have say to whites following a year of powerful pieces calling out and critiquing whiteness and its oppressive and arrogant hegemony, I was compelled to read on.

True to form, she eruditely exposed some of the quintessential and all too habitual expressions of whiteness in South Africa unapologetically. Each paragraph spoke to and against so many of the enraging experiences I had suffered at the hands of whiteness and would continue to with every encounter. Each sentence so poignantly invoked an accumulated history of normalised structural and material degradation and violence, which have left me with so many deep-running nervous conditions.

But it wasn’t to me that Schutte was writing. It wasn’t from me that she required an honest appraisal, acknowledgement and abandonment of those oppressive and unseen beliefs and behaviours. After all, being white, what does Schutte know about my experience, being black, of being overdetermined from without? Of the quiet violence I must often stoicly endure with every moment I come into whiteness? Of my fatigue from the endless dance between whiteness as it didn’t see itself and black-ness as it was seen, all of the time trying to find a moment’s pause to see myself? All she could offer was to know and acknowledge that they are there. And, perhaps, do something that would result in them no longer being.

And yet, as I read her letter, I saw much of the same entreaties I had been making from the moment I was raced. And as I heard the responses, I laughed mirthlessly at the sameness and difference of our experience. The all too familiar responses intoned. And with the same inflammatory rage. Schutte was dividing a united nation (in which blacks still came to work here and then went back to live there). She was too damning of whites who had proved their commitment to embracing diversity (by going on regular jaunts to Mzoli’s and learning a little fanagalo). Just who did she think she was?

But there was something else in the texture of the response with which I was not familiar. What felt like blind rage for her blood-treachery, much of which was elegantly encased in polite misgivings about her tone. Of course, Schutte is right, but she just shouldn’t have said it like “that”. There was even the white outcry about her condescension over both blacks (really?) and whites about something which had been resolved 18 years ago with the casting of a ballot, and the production of a little beige book. Why, it was asked, when it was so hip and comfortable to be part of the post-racial white rainbow, was Schutte just begging to be black (too?)

Begging to be black? What, exactly, did that mean? That being white, Schutte had nothing to decry about the overwhelming and unbearable whiteness of being? Or that, being white, she lacked the chip-on-the-shoulder victim mentality so often inscribed on black subjectivities by white to speak out against whiteness with any authenticity? You see, unlike me, Schutte couldn’t be dismissed as yet another angry black who couldn’t “get over it”. No. She, at best, could only be dismissed as a confused white behaving like one.

I was both astonished and enraged by the typicality of it all. In one letter, Schutte had managed to elicit more response than what I had and could in a lifetime of feeling, speaking and pleading. She was seen. Her point heard. She caused an outcry. And just hurt white people’s feelings with her tone. She hurt white people’s feelings. Because this is what mattered? Their feelings? And here I stood. Unheard and unseen. Simply angry and delusional. Ungrateful, even. Most often ignored. And where I wasn’t, unwilling to move on “like the rest of us”.

But how could I when the texture of my experience was so different to “the rest of us”? When I was told what it was and wasn’t appropriate to feel, when, and exactly how to respond? When I didn’t enjoy the luxury of not having to change my oppressive behaviour until I was spoken nicely to? When my experiences of whiteness were silenced by invocations of Our Father in Qunu and his immutable cleric in whose names the wholesale erasure of generations of collective memory and absolution from past, present and continuing sins was demanded, or simply taken?

I laughed again, mirthlessly, trying to process what this all was and what it might mean. Here we both stood, in the same place, but worlds apart; worlds apart, yet in the same place. Both staring up at this indomitable beast. Anticipating the violence. And the silence. Fighting to be ourselves.

Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi is a black feminist who trained as a lawyer and, later, accidentally fell into journalism. When he’s not working as a media activist, he can be found looking for justice in unusual places @MrPhamodi

Tags: , , , ,

  • Times are changing…
  • #Bringbackourgirls, Lwandle, Gaza and detaching from this world
  • David Saks and the naturalness of white contempt
  • Mandela Day – a neocolonial exercise in the commodification of the good black
  • 52 Responses to “Reflections on an epistle to white people”

    1. Philip Cole #

      Sekoetlane, your article is a more positive contribution as it reflects your experience of the reality of racism. But to whom is Schutte’s article really directed? Leaving aside the arrogance of an individual writing a letter to a race, Schutte’s article isn’t directed at white people at all!

      South Africa is a country of gross racial inequality rooted in an apartheid legacy of half a century of racial oppression. But this is no surprise to the thinking, largely progressive readers of the M&G. Others have written in the M&G more eloquently and with stronger argument and evidence than Schutte.

      If Schutte really was writing a letter to ‘white people’ then it would not be in the M&G but in a mass market paper. It would use well considered, evidence based argument that could not easily be refuted. It would start from the attitudes of reactionary white people and attempt to argue them to another, more progressive place.

      This isn’t Schutte’s article, which is just an extended rant! There is no evidence and little argument. It drives the uncommitted reader away through crazy and irrelevant points about penises.

      That’s because Schutte’s article isn’t directed at ‘white people’ but at herself and the hard left. On the hard left it is more important to be right than to be effective and have an impact. Schutte wants to assure herself and the rest of her ilk that they are ‘right’. It’s not a positive contribution but a digression from the real tasks and…

      January 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm
    2. Momma Cyndi #

      So, essentially, you are agreeing with the majority of the comments in that she has no clue what she is talking about?

      I cannot ever know what it is like to be a black male in SA and you cannot ever know what it is like to be a white female in SA. That is the reality. I cannot ever be able to dictate to you how you should or should not feel and you have the same restrictions regarding me.

      Gillian’s problem is that she doesn’t question a belief, she dictates what that belief should be – that is why so many people don’t listen to her or use what she says to question their own beliefs

      January 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm
    3. Just a Thought #

      @Sekoetlane

      Nobody in this country debates the fact that the white minority benefitted while the african majority were disenfranchised, enslaved, dehuminised and removed from the economy. These facts are true and undisputed.

      But when I read these types of articles I also cant stop myself from laughing while wondering how come we have a government where parliament unanimously support proposed laws that assist the prosecution of whistle blowers and go to any length to protect JZ and the top brass (all black). I dont see this government saying lets bulldoze legislation that allows us to bypass the redtape of having to follow laborious town planning and environmental processes so the required houses and services (roads, sewer, shops, schools etc) can be built.

      That would be too easy and result in success too quickly.

      Basically you begrudge a past regime when the current dispensation are actively eroding the youth of our country’s chances of getting good education and bettering themselves (just like all the whities you refer to have done and will continue to do). But I will apologise for being rude because we cant expect the president of the ANC woman’s league to distribute textbooks and use her budget (30% of our total budget) wisely.

      So yes, apartheid has set the african population back substantially, but i know the ANC wont take responsibility in 50/100 years time for continued black poverty. you will still blame the whites who arent involved in decision…

      January 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm
    4. The Creator #

      Yeah, nothing terrifies whites more than talking about race. Unless you’re saying that there’s no such thing as race and we’re all one big happy family, that’s OK because it doesn’t challenge white supremacy.

      But say that there’s anything wrong with the white mind-set, and if you’re black the response is “Gaan bars, kaffer!” and if you’re white the response is “Maak die verraaier dood!”.

      Sometimes they even say it in English.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm
    5. Benzo #

      Where this lady said: “whites, shut up and listen…” I simply commented: “ja, baas..ek verstaan baas”. The way to get an argument across is not by command.

      Do I have a racial bias, no not at all. I grew up in Holland. During WW2 we sheltered amongst others a seaman from Dakar and in that colour. My mother’s comment when queried on the danger when discovered: “they are all god’s children, He will look after me and my children”. The dangers were real!!

      Based on experiences during my 30 years in SA, I have developed certain prejudices but more as in “expected behaviours” followed by an instinctive “on guard” attitude where necessary (having been burgled once on the streets of JOburg). Sometimes based purely on hear-say, sometimes on earlier experiences. Certainly not colour based.

      Your article reminds me of the old negatives in the photography world of the past. Put them on a white “light sensitive” paper, hold them in the sun and a beautifull picture arises. You seem to have forgoten to hold the combo in the sun to get to the beauty of the resulting image.

      Keep smiling.

      January 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm
    6. RandomPaleMale #

      Sekoetlane, I am so sorry.

      For what it’s worth, this white guy is also tired of whiteness. Of the norms and values of whiteness being held up as the One True Way to be human. Of Whiteness cozying up with its bosom buddies Maleness and Heteronormativity to create this subtle picture of what the best kind of human being really is.

      So tired of “I’m not racist but”.
      So tired of “They….”.
      So tired of people who assume you’re going to agree about the “injustice” of BEE.

      Oh I know what any responses to this comment are likely to look like.

      Because you know how it is. People who notice privilege and oppression and injustice are just “oversensitive”.

      But nothing makes privilege invisible like owning it. Like being part of this system which makes your values, beliefs and aspirations Right. While everyone else can only be Right in as far as they conform to what you think is important.

      And you know, this doesn’t fix it.

      All I can say is that I’m sorry. I’m fed up and tired with whiteness from the inside. I can only imagine how draining it must be from the outside.

      January 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm
    7. ntozakhona #

      Philip Cole I am sure you did not read the responses from the overwhelming majority of your progressive M&G readers. They basically said do not expose racial inequality, we assist blacks and we brought civilisation to this country and even suggesting laziness on the part of blacks. Gillian may have also indvertenly exposed the colonial mentality of self styled liberal whites.

      Just a Thought there is a tendency amongst colonials to equate good with all its missteps with merciless prime evil, equating a democratic order with a torturing apartheid monster. As Marion Sparg ( MK veteran) writes in her face book timeline, 1994 was not merely about a change of goverment but the sweeping away of a greasy, dirty regime based on the hatred of the majority of citizens.

      Momma Cindy let us again simplify this for you, if you are a criminal we will not only question your actions, we will TELL you to stop and show you alternative ways of living with others. Apartheid and its residues are a crime against humanity and cannot be engaged with as if they are abstracts for the entertainment of mental gymnasts.

      January 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm
    8. Max #

      The Creator I love talking about race. I talk about race all the time. I love your use of the passive voice:
      “Say there’s something wrong with the white mind-set and if you’re black THE RESPONSE IS… and if you’re white THE RESPONSE IS…”

      Whose response exactly? White people? Um… this may be news to you but most white people, pretty much all white people would certainly NOT respond as your paranoid mind says they would.

      I love your construction: “the white mind-set”. What are you talking about? You know nothing about my mind-set. Do you have some essentialist biological insight into neural patterns and orientations of the brains of caucasian people? If so, wouldn’t that be rather, um… racist of you?

      You have a damned cheek telling the world how I would respond to an idea.

      January 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm
    9. Jo #

      Thanks for your beautifully written article, Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi. And thanks, RandomPaleMale, for a response that doesn’t make me cringe.

      January 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm
    10. Enough Said #

      @Sekoetlane

      I am white and think Gillian’s article is brilliant. She has done a lot of soul searching and has exposed deep rooted home truths. Now I would like to see a black person expose their soul as Gillian did, as I certainly don’t think that being black and a victim of 360 years of oppression makes one perfect either. Maybe you, Sekoetlane would like to tackle that.

      January 5, 2013 at 9:33 am
    11. zoo keeper #

      Nobody chooses the colour of their skin, or the circumstances of their birth which includes the economic and cultural circumstances of one’s upbringing. These things are arbitrary. We can only be true to ourselves.

      We have different cultures, but the basics of our cultural norms are the same.

      It is not for folks to dictate to others how to conduct themselves like Gillian tries to do. All cultures must understand each other, it is not for one culture to dominate another or bow down to another.

      Just because we express ourselves differently, does not make one wrong and the other right.

      January 5, 2013 at 10:11 am
    12. Momma Cyndi #

      ntozakhona

      Who died and made you the god of the thought police?

      Let me ask you this. If I viciously attack your way of thinking, will it make you defensive or make you thoughtful? Now if I question why you believe what you do, will that make you question your own belief system or will it make you defensive?

      I’ve said all along that many of the points that Gillian brings up are very valid but screeching hysterically it at me is not the most productive way of making me change my mind and all that the hyperbole does is to taint everything else in the article as untrue.

      January 5, 2013 at 10:30 am
    13. senzo selepe #

      What are you saying boss (uthini mima angikuzwa????

      January 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    14. Stiff Upper Lip #

      @zoo keeper

      Race and cultural prejudices exist. Gillian’s honest forthright manner of writing is not being dictatorial unless you are oversensitive.

      We have to talk and debate these prejudices, keep them in our awareness and keep learning. Gillian talks specifically about white peoples prejudices, however, there is also in my opinion many black peoples cultural and political prejudices that must be examined and admitted to, so we can create a truly harmonious diverse multi-cultural, multi-racial society.

      January 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    15. dillon #

      I takes massive courage to look at your indoctrination objectively and then to denounce it, no matter how horrible it may be. Our indoctrination is our point of departure and kind of sets the tone for how we will see things in our life….unless we are self-aware and courageous enough to put it through its paces and see how much water it really holds.

      All credit to Gillian on a superb article. She obviously realizes what a lot of people dont and that is that we do not choose where or when we end up in this world. You open your eyes and you are here amongst people that are essentially perfect strangers and they hopefully do the best they can to guide you based on how they have been guided. In light of this fact, i feel like i have every right to consider my indoctrination, extract and apply that which i feel is of use; and DAMN TO HELL that which i feel is wrong, especially when it impedes on other people’s freedom to do the same.

      January 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm
    16. Gavin Storrie #

      Humans are not nice creatures. People talk about civilisation as if we all know what it means: it usually means, “how I and my group think the world should be”.
      Pointing out that the concept of ‘race’ is a racist myth does nothing to silence those who believe that there are different human races, and who depend on others’ believing this for their sense of belonging and their ability to acquire and wield power. Humans generally have to believe in things – culture, religion etc – and humans need to belong to a group called “us” that is defined by its difference from a group called “them”.
      Until we humans can see the we-ness of all of us we will continue to waste energy trying to persuade “them” to agree with “us”.

      January 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm
    17. ntozakhona #

      Indeed Enough Said 400 years of degradation, humiliation, oppression, repression and suppresion does not turn the victim into a saint by any means.

      It is however making light of and insulting to seek to compare an organised evil system based and feeding on hatred, deliberate impoverishment and dehumanisation to anything, I mean anything wrong that the oppressed may have done.

      Rape, insult and assault a woman for years and then argue that her faults must also be discussed, that is ridiculous and cruel.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm
    18. Geoff Smart #

      I grew up in England but have spent most of my working life in Southern Africa.
      I do recall, on one trip back to England, that I was shocked to see a white person sweeping the streets. Reading the recent articles on “blackness” and “whiteness” brought this incident back to mind and made me think of our job perceptions in South Africa.
      Under Apartheid certain jobs were for whites and other jobs were for blacks; BEE is dealing with jobs that were reserved for whites. What I believe we now need is a program that tackles those jobs that were ‘reserved for blacks’.
      I can imagine the impact on all South Africans of being served by a white tea girl or seeing a white face doing refuse collection, and this would be from all sides of the racial spectrum! Remember Zuma’s comments on Madam Zille and her tea girl; that was totally grounded in his perception that that job is reserved for blacks.
      There was huge resistance to BEE from the white community, I have a gut feeling that this will be nothing compared to the resistance from the black community to having white people do “their jobs”.
      Incidentally this program should not be called ‘White Economic Empowerment’, check your dictionary for why not.

      January 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm
    19. Solly #

      @Sekoetlane

      Being a black male and having to grow under apartheid, I appreciate the fact that there are white people in this country who are willing to accept the damage that apartheid has inflicted to so many of us white and black. To try and now find fault in Gillian’s sentiments is like saying to other white people (who want to come out and acknowledge that apartheid was wrong and we are willing to listen and change our thinking), we don’t want your compassion, no harm was done to us just leave us in peace.

      To Gillian. I say keep writting your inspiring comments and don’t be descouraged by people just writting for the sake of writting. Some of us (black and white) do appreciate your columns.

      January 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    20. There must be another way.

      January 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    21. Neuren Pietersen #

      The responses on Thought Leader are encouraging and enlightening.

      On IOL, intensely depressing.

      January 6, 2013 at 7:02 am
    22. Kreef #

      You should blame the anc for the increasingly negative and yes racist attitude of whites . So much was promised and so much hope generated about the ctreation of a true democracy free of race with equal opportunities for all in 1994 . Sorry to say so little was produced by the black anc led government in 18 years . Many whites who were hopefull then are losing it because of the ever increasing obsession with race , incompetence , corruption and disregard of the have nots’ by the black ruling elite . So yes many of us are racist because those who were voted in by the mayority turned out to be such a bitter dissapointment to us all . In fact with every passing year they prove to us whites that the warnings of the ” swart gevaar ” by the likes of old P.W.Botha were in fact well founded .

      January 6, 2013 at 9:27 am
    23. ntozakhona #

      Momma Cyndi if saying evil should be condemned, fought and the evil must be made to show remorse, if saying that those who seek to justify evil must be challenged, corrected and exposed makes me a thought police then let it be.

      January 6, 2013 at 9:30 am
    24. Enough Said #

      @ntozakhona

      You say: “It is however making light of and insulting to seek to compare an organised evil system based and feeding on hatred, deliberate impoverishment and dehumanisation to anything, I mean anything wrong that the oppressed may have done.”

      As Gillian rightfully pointed out, the regime now in power and supposedly representing to oppressed are not much better than the oppressors of the last 360 years. It really is time some real soul searching is done by all South Africans, especially those who hold political power, not just the whites.

      I think the biggest insult and most degrading dehumanizing confidence trick is to mislead your own people that trust you, and use them for your own political and economic gain. Millions of people in South Africa who are not well educated are used as political cannon fodder by those currently in power.

      Is that any better than the evil of apartheid? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

      January 6, 2013 at 10:41 am
    25. Momma Cyndi #

      ntozakhona

      What ‘evil’?
      When Brendon held up his prejudiced to the light, he was condemned by you. When Gillian holds up her prejudices up to light whilst hiding behind ‘whiteness’ then you praise her.

      Your idea of shooting people who disagree with you is a very poor way of making them change their minds. You do better when you know better – not when you are beaten but not educated

      January 6, 2013 at 11:37 am
    26. ntozakhona #

      ENOUGH SAID show me a law in the statutes of the current government that banishes large categories of people to arid land. Show me a law that says they cannot do certain jobs. Show me a law that allows for their mass uprooting and forcing them to carry pass books, show me anyone arrested, tortured and detained without trial for demading free education, show me a province or city where certain categories of people have been prohibited frm trading.

      Apartheid was pure, prime and adulterated evil and I will never ever apologise for being combative against its apologists.

      I have MOMMA CINDY stated where I differ with Gillian. Whatever differences – and there are many – are not about my humanity and being undermined they are just a healthy and creative clash of ideas. She is what I regard as ultra left with impractical and self-indulgent solutions. But of course she is noy anything like those who think they are better beings for being thieves and oppressors.

      January 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm
    27. Enough Said #

      @ntozakhona

      You are in denial of what is happening in South Africa. Why did we have Marikana and service delivery protests, why so much corruption by government officials, why tendrepreneuship, why are workers rejecting the unions and negotiating direct with employers? Why Nkandla? We have unofficial economic apartheid between those who get economic advantages and those who don’t.

      You are an apologist for a current political order that is destroying the ANC and South Africa. Honestly examine your prejudices like Gillian Schutte did for whites, then you are getting somewhere, otherwise you are no different to an apartheid-era apologist.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm
    28. Kreef #

      @nthozakhona , The corruption , incompetence , manipulation of the justice system and the total disregard of the poor by the anc government anyday rivals the evil of apartheid . The only difference is that it is the majority party raping the country this time around . Communist indoctrination of the freedom fighters has any day caused more harm to this country that segregation did .

      January 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    29. mythos #

      I would like to experience just being a South African in South Africa. Enough said.

      January 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm
    30. ntozakhona #

      Not was apartheid a legislated evil as we mark hundred years of the enactment of the Land Act which resulted in thousands of families losing trace of each other apart from losing their livelihood at the stroke of a pen. It found strength in the baaskap of whiteness.

      Theses are people whose children would urinate on our parents and expect them to say dankie kleinbaas, thank you master. Our forebears were stripped naked in the names of health checks. Our fathers lived in overcrowded compounds far from home with us and our mothers not allowed to visit them, Our names were boy and girl and our surname was kaffir. The police were white and had black appendages, the magistrates and judges were similarly white to ensure that Africans get hanged for a slightest offence against the baas and missus.

      We know apartheid and we can smell it from afar when it feigns sophisticatio, it is demonic and diabolical..
      ,

      January 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm
    31. Mr. Direct #

      @ntozakhona

      You and your ancestors were victims of apartheid. 18 years ago the laws changed.

      But what is the next step: retribution? Yeah, come on, make them pay, make them all suffer. Kick them until they fall down, and kick them some more. Make them feel the way you did.

      Feel better now? Did they apologise when you were punishing them. Did they beg for forgiveness? Did you forgive them? No? When? When are you going to forgive them? Never?

      Now what?

      Kick them some more? Find different people to kick?

      How long before you realise that you can never punish the people that did this? How long before you realise you are punishing their children?

      Do you expect the children of mass murderers to also spend their lives in prison?

      And lastly, how long before you realise that this does not solve any of your problems?

      January 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm
    32. DeeGee #

      What’s the end point? This is not offered up by Gillian or anyone else. So all whites say sorry. Is that it? We contribute financially? We make strides to uplifting the previously disadvantaged? I know a lot of people who do this already, yet they’re tarred with the same brush Gillian’s flinging around. Do we all get BBBEE credits to prove we’re part of the solution and not the problem?

      And what of the likes of Malema? Or is he exempt from making any efforts, because he’s previously disadvantaged (let’s just be absolutely clear he’s certainly not currently disadvantaged)? Should we draw the line between those born pre- and post-94 so we make sure we’re being fair (Zim’s 18 year old war veterans spring to mind)?

      And in 50 years time when the Chinese have had their merry little way with us, do we continue to blame old colonialism, or can we then blame new colonialism?

      Or do we all just get on with our lives the best we can; be nice to our fellow human; pay our taxes; and vote how we please…?

      January 7, 2013 at 9:03 am
    33. Kreef #

      @Ntozakhona , In my opinion we should stop arguing about race and rather focus our energies on fixing up education and creating an economy that will provide a descent job for all . Why continiously argue about race and the past whilst the country around us is burning . Build a wailing wall and enact a law forcing all whites to cry and repeat the word ” sorry….sorry ….” at it for at least an hour every year ( and make a nice monetary contribution of course ) . Then please ,pleeeeeeease get over the past and get with all of us trying to build a better country now . By the way nothing breaks down racial prejudice like competence at doing and delivering in a job aswell as a possitive attitude .

      January 7, 2013 at 9:55 am
    34. Enough Said #

      @ntozakhona

      Apartheid happened, like the Holocaust of Jews happened. The genocide in Rwanda happened. They were all terrible, but dwelling on the past is not going to change it or the future. Losers dwell on the past.

      The future is what you make of it. Change for the better means you need honest competent just government who genuinely represent the interests of those who were negatively affected by apartheid, not a bunch of greedy, corrupt, incompetents.

      Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is going to pray for Zuma and the present government like he prayed for the old apartheid National Party. Tutu is a great man who understands how things work, you should take a leaf out of his book or continue to do nothing except dwell on the past, which takes your mind off the current cesspool of political leadership we find ourselves in, its known as denial-ism.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:48 am
    35. AnnJ #

      I have read this article and the commentary that followed with as much interest as the article and subsequent commentary on Gilian Schutte’s letter.
      What I find most interesting of all is the “us” and “them” attitude present in almost every comment. If we are really interested in building a better future we should start by viewing each other as human beings first (instead of someone from this or that race) and treating one another with the kind of respect we want to be treated with.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm
    36. Enough Said #

      @AnnJ

      Unfortunately all debates I know of take some form of ‘us’ and ‘them’. When we accept we are one humanity which is part of the greater cosmic order, there will be no debate. Natural Law, not human prejudices will pervade.

      January 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm
    37. ntozakhona #

      Mr Direct the point is not retribution or even some an acknowledgement of guilt. The point is to admitt that baaskap is still ingrained in many of our fellow white South Africans. It informs who they employ to senior postions ( they remain the emloyer), it is found in their interpretation of freedom of expression, it is evidenced by their zeal to deligimate a democratically elected government, please I am not refering to write to differ but amongst others comparing apartheid order with our democracy.

      Kreef the country is not burning, not yet at least. It was burning in 1985 and will probably burn when service delivery protests take the Doorn direction.

      Most of the do not talk race or the past commenters miss the point, it is not about the past but how the past informs the present. The issue are the attitudes that say blacks are lazy, incompetent, everyone in govt is corrupt etc that is not in the past but is very much current.

      Enough Said the Nazis are still being hounded till this day for their crimes even after the vengeful Nuremberg trials, that however is not what we are asking for but an end to a superiority complex celebated at dinner parties that is the undercurrent of social relations in South Africa.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm
    38. ntozakhona #

      AnnJ but that is what Gillian was saying and there is this defensiveness that seems to suggest that some feel their superiority is questioned.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:15 pm
    39. Neil #

      Yes Mr Phamodi, it’s probably the same reason why white people may not say the ‘n’ or ‘k’ words, under any circumstances whatsoever, while black people may.
      The same reason why a lot of competent white males have been denied or lost positions due to government policy.
      It’s because we are fundamentally racist Mr Phamodi, all of us, black and white, we can’t help it because we are black or we are white.
      Some whites who were ‘liberal’ and consider themselves ‘innocent’ may feel angered to be painted with the current white brush as their concienciousness and efforts seem obsolete, and black people are only voicing their angers and frustrations in a fair and peaceful manner, but sometimes it’s hard to see this, because, truly, the new government is incompetent, progress is slow and our current president is a complete and utter stranger.
      The first few years of the rainbow nation were the happiest time of my life, and it showed everywhere on all levels, but now reality has set in and I’m dissapointed with the decay i see around me. The majority of white people in SA are truly sorry for past wrongs, but guilt fades when past mistakes are replicated before your eyes, when decay and the downward spiral is so apparent. What have we learnt from all this, Mr Phamodi? What have you learnt? What did we expect? If a racial war broke out tomorrow would you finally be able to get this off your chest, and which side would you be on? How do we measure progress?

      January 8, 2013 at 9:51 am
    40. Tofolux #

      @Sekoetlane, for once someone has used her window of opportunity ie writing on this forum, to put the debate on a real and critical issue. As evidenced by all the denialism eg Cole and the insulting and patronising dismissals eg Momma Cyndi,Just a thought,randompalemale, it is obvious that this debate has hit a very raw nerve. Sure some might now want to intellectualise and deny that overt and covert racism exist muchlike the wholesale amnesia they ask of us eg ”forget and move on”. ‘Try telling a rape victim “to forget and move on”. The flip side however, is that Gillian is going where others have dared to go eg, Bram Fischer, Beyers Naude etc becos the heavy price they paid, should give her resolve and inspiration. For those who have a conscience, it is correct that they should lead and it certainly must give women in general, great pride that once again a woman leads. As we celebrate a centenary of a particular liberation movement, let our continuous fight for equality always be the beacon of hope here and across the globe. It has been written that we will be blessed with progressive leaders. The eg of her letter should add as a lesson to media and expose how far removed they are from society in general. In fact, it exposes their failure to be a vehicle to build our nation. A voice of conscience will always ring true with the majority of those who recognise the truth. The denialists can deny all they want. We call upon more activists to voice their conscience.

      January 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm
    41. Momma Cyndi #

      Tofolux

      Do your actually read any of the comments or do you just spout off in a frenzy?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm
    42. nguni #

      @ Neuren Pietersen
      What you read here is not the SA reality, just the (filtered) ramblings of a few white liberals and their off-white pals. Amusing none-the-less, especially those who love to play the VICTIM card to excess ie not just 40 years of apartheid but 400 years of oppression. The V-card is now substituting for the race-card, which has become rather tatty due to frequent use..

      January 9, 2013 at 6:11 am
    43. Mr. Direct #

      @Tofolux

      Race is a massive topic in South Africa, more than it should be. Your comparrison to rape victims is generally a good one, because as far as rape victims are concerned, perhaps they would not heal completely or forget, but they should be enouraged not to allow the crime to define who they are for the rest of their lives. I also believe it would not be fair to promote hatred of the opposite sex in public forums because of their experiences with a minority of that group. I do not necessarily believe that singing songs about violence promotes violence, but singing songs about killing specific racial groups certainly does not promote tolerance.

      I do not consider myself racist, and I do not consider my actions to be racist, yet articles like this suggest that everything I do is race related, which is absolutely rubbish. Race is no more important than the size shoe people wear.

      Now articles that have been posted, and comments to those articles seem to suggest that I am an evil person, because of my ancestory, my skin colour, my likes and dislikes, and even my upbringing. I do not accept my concience or morality is flawed,

      Take race out of the equation, and we can all live together in harmony. So why are we not doing this?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm
    44. Tofolux #

      @Mr Direct, if the shoes fits, then wear it. The time for denialism has come and gone. Your role and relevance should be determined by what YOU have done to build our nation and to assist with social cohesion. It is patronising and downright disingenuous to tell those who are at the receiving end of an abuse, that it isnt there. It is furthermore a smack in the face to play the master -servant role. What you say cannot hold any water,firstly, you have chosen (yes it is a choice) to be dishonest in this engagement and secondly, you once again resort to a role that we know so well. The only suggestion I can make is to make a conscientous decision to be honest. Own up to the wrongs in our society in order for us to address the fault lines. You cannot keep on demanding undue and unholy expectations when you have decided to deny us a wonderful opportunity due to dishonesty. We have given and forgiven, What more do you want until we say enough is enough!

      January 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    45. Mr. Direct #

      @Tofolux

      Well this particular shoe does not fit.

      I am not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but this is one thing I am not guilty of.

      Where is your honesty?

      How can you defend a corrupt president, an inept government, and a self serving directionless political party with such blind faith, and remain honest?

      January 10, 2013 at 12:14 am
    46. Tofolux #

      @Mr Direct, there you go again, singing the same song from the same hymn sheet you use against blacks in general and african in particular. How very obvious you are despite all your denials. If you care to be conscientous, then please go to the nearest police station and report the corruption against the President. If you have substantive facts you are urged to be responsible so that we can move on from mere allegation. Also, instead of generalising, please list the ”ineptness” so that these can be responded to with facts.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:36 am
    47. Mr. Direct #

      @Tofolux

      And there is your dishonesty for all to see.

      I do not need to supply specific instances or proof or corruption or ineptitude, they are all documented, over and over and over. You know they exist, but you cannot be honest about it. The NPA could not agree on how to proceed with Mr. Zuma’s case, before it was dropped. If there are professionals who believe they could win a case against a president of the country, that is more than enough to cast a shadow of doubt. And it has been all bad press from there on in. Conspiracy? Yeah sure, if it waddles, and it quacks, it is most likely a duck.

      I do not sing hymns, I do not use anything against anyone. Just because you do not like what I have to say, does not mean it is a) wrong, or b) prejudice.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm
    48. DeeGee #

      @ Tofolux. How about this for a start:

      http://cdn.mg.co.za/content/documents/2012/12/06/KPMG_report.pdf

      Based on the above, would you say that our current President is honest, acts with integrity, and is financially sound? If this report was headed ‘The State versus Helen Zille and others’ or ‘The State versus Mangosuthu Buthelezi and others’, what would your feelings be then? Would you also dismiss the report as being biased (or anything else for that matter) if it were about the aforementioned, or would you venomously call for them to be thrown in jail? Discuss.

      January 11, 2013 at 3:58 am
    49. Tofolux #

      @Mr Direct, as expected you are unable to provide any back-up to your anti black accusations. In fact, you cannot provide one incidence of ineptitude. The point that is being made is that this sustained and increased anti-black attacks by yourself and others continue unabated. It further validates the point that you and others have failed this country and this democracy. In fact, if one should generalise one could accuse whites in general of being disingenuous and acting in bad faith. I say this against the example of international campaigns that are ”cooked” by some in particular seeking to discredit our country. The question that needs to be asked should be: what is your allegiance to South Africa in particular? Are you patriotic and do you believe that this country belong to all who live in it? In fact, will you fight and defend this country? THAT surely must be the most important underlying factor that sets the tone for YOUR committment to our country. To my mind, the answer to all these questions would be a resounding NO by you and others. If this is the case then we NEED to ask: why then do we as blacks in general and africans in particular have any allegiance to defend you,others and your interests. Let me also clear another fallacy that you believe, you and others have the financial and legal back-up to take our Pres JZ to court. Unfortunately for you, the courts are not run by apartheid laws or judges which imprisoned human beings and disregarded their human…

      January 11, 2013 at 8:30 am
    50. Just a Thought #

      @ Mr Direct

      Dont waste your time debating with @tofolux. Whatever you say will be met with a propaganda shower and a diatribe about something that eventually goes off on a tangent.

      Apparently even with the ANC in charge, the fact that there is no progress being made and the workers are angry is white people’s fault. The fact that my brother cannot get a job at a local newspaper with a masters degree in journalism – because you have to be black, indian or female to qualify somehow still reflects white control of the media. Dont get me started on the SABC who cancel interviews because the ANC cant/wont be present (wow, great independant broadcaster).

      Striking teachers before final exams, the inability of angies office to spend her budget or deliver textbooks hasnt set back the learners of today. apparently apartheid legacy has.

      if you got film footage of JZ with his hand in the cookie jar, @tofolux would say you dressed up a white man to look like JZ and ruin his good name.

      @tofolux is a pseudo intellectual who defends those who make excuses to deflect guilt and we all know that people always place blame elsewhere else to assure themselves that they do not have a sense of accountability for the situation we are in.

      Whatever you say, the opposite will be forced upon you. and apparently you are wrong because you are white.

      Its just not worth it.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. South Africa: let’s talk about race - January 16, 2013

      [...] Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi: Reflections on an epistle to white people [...]

    Leave a Reply

     characters available