Brendon Shields
Brendon Shields

Why (I think) I don’t have more white friends

Last week I was asked to explain why I do not have more black friends. Turns out I am just a prejudiced and complacent old fart with baggage that I need to get rid of. I thank each and every one for their replies to the article for getting a worthy debate going. However this week a good friend rather sarcastically said: “OK Brendon so we know why you don’t have more black friends, bus what is your excuse for having so few white friends?” Once more my challenger was spot-on. I do not have many white friends and the ones I do have are mostly from my schooldays.

Once more I had to look myself in the mirror and as honestly as possible try to answer this question – and I am afraid that once more the truth is rather unflattering. I do not have more white friends because I am insecure and once more, a bit prejudiced.

I was raised in an Afrikaans home, school and church. I grew up watching rugby, reading Rapport, eating melktert and looking for any excuse to braai. I also grew up sceptical of the black man and distrustful of the English man. Now I cannot speak for all Afrikaners or Afrikanerdom as a whole, but in my experience all this distrust and fear stems from a deep insecurity about my place in the world. Was it because the Afrikaners lost an awful lot of dignity in the war? Was it because the South African economy at first was structured around the English language – leaving “Van de Merwe” to look and sound stupid? I don’t know – and this is not the real issue I want to discuss.

All I know is that if I drive with my dodgy Free State car into Parkhurst I feel uncomfortable and insecure. Everyone looks smarter and dresses better and it’s always as if people are staring at down at me – knowing merely by looking at me that I am a plattelander and an Afrikaner to boot. It is as if they can see that I don’t know what a good cappuccino tastes like and that I still eat at Wimpy and wear Crocs. Ironically I am yet to meet anyone in Parkhurst who gives credence to this image I have of white English folk. The people I know who live there are great and down to earth and were merely lucky that they bought homes there before the suburb became posh and expensive.

When I arrived at Wits after school I could barely speak English — yet the confidence I attained later in life corresponded roughly with my newfound proficiency in the language. Yet to this day I find it very hard to be myself and try and befriend English people as I still see myself as inferior to them. It’s dumb and at my age inexcusable to still harbour insecurities, but I do. However as with my prejudice against black people arising from one bad experience in Yeoville, I have now stopped really beating myself up over the fact that I don’t have many English friends. I like Wimpy burgers sometimes and even though I don’t own Crocs, I think they are perfectly reasonable shoes – especially the affordable fake ones.

I also don’t always want to be proper and sit up and pretend to know about organic farming and the latest art film. Sometimes I just want to talk about the rugby and I find it hard to relax enough around English people to do so. It’s my own issues I know, and once more I am probably totally out of line, but this is how I feel.

More prejudice
You’d think I would have lots of Afrikaans friends, but due to a few bad experiences in the past I don’t socialise often with Afrikaans people either. The blunt truth is that I don’t like their music and I don’t like how they re-enforce their fear and victimhood when they have a few drinks. Now before Dan Roodt sends me hate mail – I know not all Afrikaners are like this, just as not all English people are clever and posh and all black people are loud and lazy.

I simply do not like music about someone’s “meisie” who lives in a “huisie” and cannot spend four hours next to a braai listening to it. And even though farm murders are another horrible SA reality, I prefer to bury my head in the sand about it. Afrikaners have endured and created an awful lot of bad vibes in this country and when I socialise I don’t want to be dragged into this maelstrom.

Dr Phil anyone?

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    • Ian

      Nice one. Enjoyed both your articles and your responses to the commenters…more please.

    • Zeph

      Jeez Brendon, you are whipping it up now. I’m gonna switch off the art movie, collect my popcorn and watch…

    • Morne

      Nice honesty dude – but the answer you are looking for is to first be comfortable with yourself – once you achieve that, you will be comfortable with everyone else, their culture, language, race, etc. Sounds over-simplistic but in my experience, it is really that simple.

      No-one says you need to like souties, there is no universal law that you need to understand and appreciate African culture. Kurt Darren is not for everyone just like Bieber is hated in Canada by some folks there.

      In all of this there is just one human quality you need to be aware of, respect.

      Respecting any culture or language does not mean you like it or even agree with it. But you find yourself in a position where you ‘judge’ yourself for questioning it. Stop judging yourself, and people will stop judging you.

      And like I told you before, if you can’t say it, sing it.

    • Richard

      The Greek aphorism “Know Thyself” you have admirably demonstrated. I won’t give the Greek version, as that will make me conform to a stereotype. The responses to your blogs have been fascinating, and illustrate the neuroses and other issues revealing themselves when ideology, morality, politics, indentity, self-loathing/other-loathing, dishonesty/honesty, ad infinitum, converge. It is worthy of an entire psychiatry conference!

    • Christiaan

      Dear Brendon, I am astounded that Wits never taught you the principles of not using stereotyping as underlying basis for forming well thought-thorough opinions.

      Stereotyping Blacks, Afrikaners or your “other Whites” – your reasoning is flawed over so many areas that it is amazing, if not tragic, that you have spent so much time to try and publish them.

      You are seriously confused, aren’t you!?

    • Momma Cyndi

      I can’t wait for Dave’s opinion on this.

      My dad was an egter boer and my mom an english speaking South African. Holidays were spent either hearing about the anglo/boer war from one side or about the ‘rockspiders’ from the other side – so I get what you are saying.

      Luckily, I live in a normal neighborhood in Pretoria so we don’t have the pretentious snobs and we have semi-detribalised most of the population – in some parts. The experiment has been so successful that the English talk rugby at the local pub and the Afrikaans talk soccer. The de-tribalisation has been such a success that it is debatable as to what language we now speak as there are at least 3 or 4 different SA languages mixed into most sentences.

    • Brendon Shields

      #Christiaan of course Wits told me to not generalize and stereotype and I got the degree being cautious and academic.

      Do this exercise: think of something you don’t like, then ask yourself honestly why you do not like it and write it down. Dont write what you think people want to hear. Forget political correctness.

      See what you get?

    • PartofnoPart

      You are sadly a reflection of typical white privileged society…We have such a long way to go….and what makes it even worse is that you don’t see a problem with your reasoning…Oh Boy…It reminds me of my children who glibly go on taking daddy for a fool while balancing on the edge of the bed. And when they(my kids) eventually falls and knocks their head or knee or elbow and comes crying to daddy…… what does daddy say?……… I told you……..

    • MKT

      brendon, are you sure you arent ndumiso ngcobo in disguise churning these missives ? “Now before Dan Roodt sends me hate mail ” – only Ndums can churn a line like this.

      But i digress….

      Overcome your inferiority complex and you’ll discover that the world is indeed an oyster !

    • Ms Ann Thrope

      I retract my opinion, you’re not racist, and if you are you’re the “ignorant racist” kind.. like old white folks in the middle of europe who have never seen black people.
      You rely on sterotypes (probably instilled in your nice Afrikaans home, school and church) and then are happy when you perceive everyone to fit into the neat little boxes you have in your head.

      The world is bigger than Parkhurst, or the Free State… get some perspective please.

    • Mr. Direct

      Have you tried to befriend any animals?

      Seems that you have some issues relating to the human race, might want to try some therapy. Or not of course, just stick to yourself. No harm in that…

    • Brendon Shields

      Thanks As Ann, please let me know when you up or downgrade my form of racism – and what do you propose I do with the neat little boxes in my head – if not fit people into them? :-) Either way enjoy your weekend.

      MKT, no sadly I am not Ndumiso, who gets to use electric and wit whereas I get to rely solely on my raw sex appeal.

    • Brendon Shields

      autocorrect made ‘intellect’ “electric”. Suppose Ndumiso has an electric intellect.

    • Gareth Setati

      Brendon. Yes, I’m afraid at this rate Dr Phil could assist, only if you can’t find within your educated self to overcome this issue.

    • Jens Bierbrauer

      “Shields” doesn’t sound like an Afrikaans name to me. Oh well, it seems as if I have decided to comment on a furor I didn’t want to get involved in.

      The nature of my work is multi-cultural. Many races, if you must. I have travelled a lot and I have found that, firstly, I form friendships faster with people who are culturally similar but a little bit different from me. I don’t like humanity but I like individual human beings. Secondly, we have limited time on this planet. I will spend some of that time trying to understand other cultures… I just don’t want to spend ALL of my time trying to understand other cultures.

      There must be some selfishness or we are lost to the vastness of the world. I don’t see a little selfishness as racist. Mr Shields, have you considered that your inabilty to make friends of any/many races is simply a conservation of energy… Have you considered that you just might not like people?

      I have a dark sense of humour. When I find an Afrikaner who still vents about the Boer War (should I say the South African War?) I joke about Kitchener. History is terrible. We have all been devils to other people at some time or another. I just hope, one day, we can stop being cyclically oppressive.

      You are who you are. I’m a friendly bastard of an educated Engelsman with German blood and raised in Africa. My girlfriend is Chinese. I am used to cultural difference. You are not. Why would any sane person without an agenda judge you for that?

    • Dave Harris

      @Brendon Henry Shields
      Gosh, it seems like you just don’t get it do you?
      Your endless stereotyping based on race and class and now conflating both concepts in your pea brained confusion, is getting downright boring!!!
      You “brutal honesty” as some of your fans on this forum call it, was exposed by Gillian Schutte for what it truly is.

      Many of my Afrikaner friends are wonderful human beings who have worked through their indoctrination and made great contributions to our society in a multitude of ways. Your self-deprecating racial stereotypes of Afrikaners is as ludicrous as your demeaning stereotypes of blacks. There are may gifted healers and medical professionals who can help exorcise your inner demons of racism through counselling or medication. Please get some help soon.

    • http://- Yvonne Marais

      Brendon, you are honest ! Most of the negative comments will come from people who are trying to fit in saying,pretending to do the right thing. They will keep on doing that forever. I have lived my whole life in various Countries overseas due to my husbands employment- In Muslim Countries, Germany,London, Eastern Countries,glorious Singapore/Thailand and Hong Kong. and USA and an African Country. South Africa, is a country totally based on Race.!
      Always in denial ! People like their OWN people all over the World. It is a culture.language tradition thing and even a religion preference. It does not bother
      other nations that there is a China Town or Little India,Little italy, a Jewish Quarter or whatever, within their Countries.! Nobody is shoved own each others throat, and what would a Westerner find amongst a Chinese majority and he does not even speak the language or an Italian Community? BUT here in South Africa it becomes a racial issue !! Why? Why do people here NOT want to live amongst their own and
      uplift their own and always want to encroach on other Communities that are different? UNTIL this mentality changes, there will always be friction ! Accept who you are and live amongst your own and be happy! Let the other races do the same and do not begrudge other people their preferences and their traditions. Nothing wrong with you Brendon, BUT a hell of a lot wrong here in South Africa, mentality wise.

    • Themba

      And this passes for debate?

    • Ali

      Rather tongue in cheek, and probably quite cunning in the sense that the writer knows that the responses to this blog will be less strident and hysterical than those to his previous missive – as indeed they are. Probably the only really strident and discordant note is the absurd Harris, whose accusing others of racism always makes one laugh given it is his only theme, and his ‘some of my best friends are Afrikaners’ is the most hollow and insincere line of the unremittant racist.

    • Brendon Shields

      David you have not discussed a single point in either of my articles. All you did is attacked me for what I said and voiced your own prejudice about what you perceive me to be.

      You have more issues than me and for that you get a medal and a bar-one.

    • Brendon Shields

      Yvonne I suspect in SA its more important to be politically correct than it is to be honest to oneself. That’s fine – but I do not have subscribe to it, and so far this approach does not seem to benefit relations in SA much as we are maybe more polarized today than we were in 1994.

    • RubinBanana

      @Dave Harris:
      So you actually have some Afrikaner friends! Wow!
      I assume your conversations normally cover things like taking away farms (without compensation, of course) and nationalising the mines, giving it all to their “rightful owners”.
      Why not enlighten us? It might just be hilarious.

    • Brian B

      Hey Brendon !!

      People are what they are. warts and all . Stop double thinking everything and start living.

      Dave Harris

      Have you ever considered working through your own indoctrination ?

    • Shamwari

      I feel sorry for these ‘friends’ – Afrikaner or other, of this strange individual. Their lives must be rather unpleasant.

    • Belle

      All I want to say for now is that Brendon has made ThoughtLeader like an intellectualised soap opera. The opinions, the attacks, the retaliations, the accusations! Very interesting palava this all is :-)! Thanks.

    • Momma Cyndi

      ….. and Dave doesn’t disappoint. If he has Afrikaner friends then Brendon is King Goodwill’s most favoured son.

    • Rose

      You just suffer from an inferiority complex… Sort this out and everything else will fall into place – and you will stop blaming others for your problems.

    • jandr0

      @Brian B: You suggest: “Dave Harris … Have you ever considered working through your own indoctrination ?”

      For that, I suspect Dave would need to have the vaguest inkling that he has been indoctrinated.

      Only after that are you able to open your mind.

      Same as Alcoholics Anonymous only wanting to help you AFTER you acknowledge you have a problem.

      But in Dave’s case, I suspect the indoctrination runs too deep.

      Somehow, Dave Harris always reminds of an Alan Parsons Project album from my younger days.

      The album’s title: “I Robot.”


    • Brendon Shields

      #Belle its me opinion that the truth (and true progress) often gets lost in academia.

    • Lesego

      Well Brandon, my advise to you is that you must do you. Life is too short to be running around trying to please everyone. I was telling someone the other day that I don’t think were I from an Islam background I would be practicing it. I’m from from a christian background and I have grown to really dislike religion completely. I have learned to construct my live in such a way that I dont really have to completely conform to someone’s norm. What about my norm? How about I create my own rules.

      Brandon, Create you own world. Why should you live in other people’s worlds. Why should you live according to some religion or tradition when they were created by people like you and me? Create your own religion, write you own bible.

    • Belle

      @BrendonShields: Yes sometimes the truth does get lost in academia; but then again the truth gets lost in most places: politics, history, art, science, comment sections 😉 You have to look hard to maintain truthfulness. Maybe there is some of it in these posts, maybe there isn’t. For now it’s interesting to watch how it all unfolds.

    • The Creator

      Shields is apparently a pop singer from Bethlehem. The image of the alienated artist certainly seems to apply here.

    • mirror

      So now we have 2 articles explaining at length that the reason you don’t have friends is that you have prejudices / don’t like certain “types” of people / behaviour. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t seem to even cross your mind that people don’t like you. You write as though, if you had no prejudices, you’d have friends coming out the woodwork – because you’d be more accepting of their stereotypical faults. It’s a fascinatingly narcissistic view of the world.

    • Brendon Shields

      #mirror thats a great comment. I thought about this just yesterday – I create my own world and have all these restrictions placed upon it due to these prejudices and hang-ups and complexes I harbor – yet I am sure were these not in place I might have had even less friends as my personality might just be daft.

      Yet I believe we create our own life experience and mine has been inhibited greatly by these restrictive prejudices. The result is ignorance and insolence – both characteristics I never thought I would be associated with sadly are.

      I need fixing, but I aint the only one.

    • Brendon Shields

      #Belle its rather annoying when people try to hide a bad argument behind bid academic words – or conversely when people scream “raceeeeeeeeeeeeest” to drown out an argument they don’t think they can debate.

      its all fun fun fun

    • Eva B.

      Do you have any friends?

    • mike venter

      RubinBanana #
      @Dave Harris:
      So you actually have some Afrikaner friends! Wow!
      I assume your conversations normally cover things like taking away farms (without compensation, of course) and nationalising the mines, giving it all to their “rightful owners”.
      Why not enlighten us? It might just be hilarious”

      RubinBanana, you all people like Harris use the “I have black friends but…………………………………………..” phrase to make them look like they are open minded kinda people.

      Harris is the racist type whom always start with, I am not a racist but…..

    • mike venter

      Sorry was meant to be:
      RubinBanana, you know most people like Harris use the “I have black friends

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Are you sure you actually have ANY friends?

    • Andrea Shearn

      great. read both, understand you. good laugh too.

    • Wineou

      Brendon, I’ll be your friend. You sound like the sort of straightforward ou that I get on with.

    • MaDor

      ” It is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will”

    • KMS

      Well said! Most of dont have enough friends