Mandela Rhodes Scholars
Mandela Rhodes Scholars

‘Don’t you want to be white?’

By Lorato Palesa Modongo

“Coming to a new country always forces you to confront things about yourself that you never considered before.” — Staceyann Chin, poet.

I am from Botswana. Literally next door. I came to South Africa in 2013 to take up postgraduate studies at Stellenbosch University. I had three reasons. Firstly, psychology is not offered at postgraduate level in my country. Secondly, I read on the internet that it is one of the top African universities, so I wanted to experience this “topness”. Thirdly, it was the first university to give me an affirmative response.

With the fickle finger of fate having pointed me to this quaint town of Stellies, I made it, March 2013. I arrived with my luggage and a great enthusiasm and verve in my spirit. I fell deep in love with Stellies at first sight. Stellenbosch is picturesque, the pointy mountains, the wine farms, dainty lined-up coffee shops on Dorp Street, the breathtakingly spotless Victoria Street and the air, the air, so unpolluted. Most notably, the white people in this place. For me, being in this space was an achievement. Being this close to whiteness. I had arrived.

Growing up in my home village of Palapye, my people idolised whiteness. My people revered whiteness. My people viewed whites as demi-gods. I still wonder if my people are aware of this fascination they have with whiteness. Maybe it’s because we have a pretty homogeneous population of black people. Maybe it’s because we mostly saw white people on TV and magazines and the few tourists who passed through my village taking snap-shots of us with their cameras (without our consent). We really held whiteness in high regard.

I remember being in standard six and after I got straight As in all my subjects my teacher, with a huge smile on her face, pronounced to my grandmother: “Ngwana o, kelekgoa” (This child is a white person). I beamed with pride. To an 11-year-old girl this teacher was implicitly saying: “You are smart but you are not smart in your blackness. Your smartness is close to whiteness because whiteness is the only thing that can achieve the As you scored.”

“O lekgoa”, I was bursting with pride. I was only 11 years old.

I also remember how many of the adults in my community would say “My child is a white person” whenever children displayed what was/is considered to be a high level of discipline and propriety. “O lekgoa” was thrown around whenever one looked good. This looking good to us young black girls included having soft silky hair. Kinky hair fried with Dark and Lovely relaxer cream. Sometimes Sta-Sof-Fro or Easy Waves relaxer. Our scalp usually burnt during this demonic exercise of acquiring straight hair. The salon lady would say “Bokgarebebo a itshokelwamma wee” (Looking good requires resilience). This resilience meant my scalp burning. It was worth the price they said. Kinky hair was ugly. The teachers told me. My classmates too.

“O lekgoa” was thrown around whenever we smelt good, or “O nkgasekgoa” (You smell white). “O lekgoa” was thrown around whenever one spoke good English. Good English meant eloquence, sometimes an accent too. We call it a twang. “O lekgoa” was thrown around whenever one pronounced words the way they were apparently supposed to be pronounced. Certificate instead of steve-kate, world instead of wereld, question instead of khweshen, social studies instead of shoshalstadis, South Africa instead of SataFrika.

“O lekgoa”. I was 11 years old.

I remember Dineo*. My teachers were fond of her. Dineo spoke good English. She was light-skinned, what my people now call “yellow-bone”. My standard five teacher really liked Dineo. She never beat her up. She sometimes let Dineo carry her books on her behalf. My teacher chose Dineo to be the class monitor. Dineo wrote down names of noisemakers during class. She had power. Dineo won all the primary school beauty pageants. All the boys loved Dineo. But Dineo spoke good English with a twang, so these boys did not bother her much. Dineo was a lekgoa. One day our head teacher called her up during morning assembly and we were told to emulate Dineo in dress, hair and speech. “Ha le bate go nnamakgoanyane?” (Don’t you want to be white people?)

I also remember Kabelo*. She was dark-skinned. A shade or two darker than most of us in class. My teacher said Kabelo was dirty and ugly. Her hair wasn’t straightened. She couldn’t participate in any beauty contest. With those dikgong (logs) for hair? Skiripot. She paused and said ummm many times when reading in English. Kabelo was an easy target for bullying. We nicknamed her “black mamba”. MaBlakwana. Blackie. Legala (coal). Boys didn’t woo Kabelo. They said her blackness would rub off on them. O ta re taka. She used to cry about it while we laughed about it. Whenever Kabelo made a noise or misbehaved in class, my teacher would yell “Wareng ne yo a montsho” (What is this black one saying?), throwing the rest of the class into an uproar of irrepressible laughter, and Kabelo into a shameful silence. Kabelo was a Koko-ya-Setswana (Tswana chicken) unsophisticated, uncouth, low caste. Black mamba with her broken English and Fanakaloo was a representation of the upper echelons of shame that we all wanted to disintegrate and disassociate from.

I was 11 years old.

I have a vivid memory of the weddings we gate-crashed in my neighbourhood. The songs fused with ululations. “Ngwana o tshwana le lekhalate” (The child looks like a coloured). The child was the bride. The food we ate at weddings, dijotsaskgoa (white food): rice, chicken, beetroots and some of its relatives, oh the trifle!

South Africa
So here I was in Stellenbosch, about 10 years later, in close proximity to whiteness. There were just three black people in my class. I genuinely thought this was an achievement. Mama, I made it! I learnt how to properly pronounce Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. I had tea at the dainty coffee shops on Dorp Street. My “Rs” tried to flow with a twang. My newly-found friends were white, and they could finally take a picture of me with my consent. My teacher was right, kelekgoa. See? If you work hard enough you will end up escaping everything black and assimilating whiteness. Whiteness and its possessions is a sign of hard work and excellence and superiority. Whiteness is an insignia of sterility and immaculate peace. Just like clean Victoria Street. I had arrived.

Students hold a banner reading "Stellenbosch" during a protest against allegations of racism on campus brought to light by a documentary called Luister ("Listen" in Afrikaans) on September 1, 2015, in Stellenbosch. The protest was organised by the Open Stellenbosch organisation.  (AFP  / Rodger Bosch)

Students protest against allegations of racism on campus brought to light by a documentary called Luister (Listen) on September 1, 2015, in Stellenbosch. The protest was organised by the Open Stellenbosch organisation. (AFP / Rodger Bosch)

Then the coffee dates with my white friends included other white patrons ogle at me with disapproving looks. They only relaxed and let me close after hearing me speak. My vocabulary wasn’t bad. I could nonchalantly use the word dilapidated, or bourgeoisie, or preposterous, or equanimity, or magnanimous. My command of the language became a tool for accessing these places. These coffee dates turned into conversations of how different I am from other blacks, resulting in my friends having an obsession for touching my natural hair.

My friends started conversing about how they wanted Mini Coopers and Audis as their 21st birthday gifts. An Audi, a car I will probably buy after about 15 years of serious toiling. My other friend said she got a house on prime land on her 18th birthday.

My friends got comfortable enough to explicitly tell me that their parents “owned” people. People of colour. My friends said “these” people were hooligans and violent, even when they toyi-toyi, you can see that they are “savages”. “These” people are lazy. I knew something was very wrong with this narrative but I remained silent until I disassociated from these “friends”. Whiteness wasn’t as clean and as nice as my standard six teacher said it was. Whiteness enjoyed shaming people whose skin colour looked like mine. Whiteness wasn’t all about working hard. There were lots of handouts from parents in this space. Excellence by association.

I went to Kayamandi township. I saw people languishing in penury, alongside the whites who were a stone’s throw away in their coffee shops swimming in opulence. People packed in shacks like sardines. No land. No access to good sanitation. These people came in very early in the morning to Stellenbosch to sweep and keep Victoria Street clean, to push trolleys at Ekeistad Mall and guard cars at the university parking lot. These people’s skin colour looked like mine. This is all they did, clean, guard, cashier, push trolleys. They worked all day, sometimes all night and walked a long distance. What was lazy about these women cleaning in Firga at 2am?

I looked at the structure and corridors of the university, there was not a single black, female lecturer in my department. Someone I could identify with and use as a mirror to see potential in myself, particularly in this white, male-dominated space. None. I do not want to believe that black intelligence is non-existent.

I started reflecting. I was a child, fed with subliminal messages about what academic achievement, beauty, ideals and the command of English meant. Here I was, having been taught denigrating, implicit and contorted views about the inherent ugliness and inferiority of blackness and anything that represents it. My language, my food, my hair and my skin colour. I was fed these lies.

I got close to whiteness and it has been the most violent space to my being. It thinks it has inherent superiority and therefore a right to dominance. It is a space that is hostile to black bodies through its jokes and anecdotes and institutional culture and structural white privilege and supremacy. It is arrogant, and has a loathing for anything black.

This space damages one’s psyche and soul. It is a space that excludes and aims to keep on excluding the other through politics of language and deception. This space, informed by white pedagogy, limits access to quality higher learning for “the other”. This space tries to pacify people of colour and police them on how to behave and when to behave — “Your #FeesMustFall is hooliganism”. This space requires that you use your energy to explain why and how it is violent. This space is taxing.

It is a space that can easily invalidate one’s lived experience, because, well, you are just a dramatic, angry, young black woman.

Stellenbosch, what’s good?

* Not their real names.

Lorato Palesa Modongo is a 2014 Mandela Rhodes Scholar pursuing her master’s degree in psychology at Stellenbosch University.

Tags: , , , , ,

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    • Chris Andrade

      Welcome to South Africa. I hope things go well for you here. Please remember that Stellenbosch is a very small exclusive area in South Africa, and your white ‘experience’ is not representative of the country as a whole.

      Most whites I know certainly didnt get an Audi for a birthday gift, or any land from their parents. Most of them have study loans and pay their own way in life, and got nothing handed down to them.

      It is true (and also sad) that we have such poverty and squalor amongst the black population. But please lets not perpetuate the myth that all whites see themselves as ‘superior’ and are dripping with wealth and privilege. That is utter non-sense.

    • Martin Young

      It hurt to read this. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Martin Young

      White privilege has nothing to do with wealth or hard work, but is all about access to opportunity. There is an excellent podcast on CliffCentral about this with more to come. If you listen to this, with all sides represented, you’ll understand how your comment reinforces the common stereotype of how we whites just don’t get it.

    • Suntosh Pillay

      Dear Chris,

      I think it is obvious that not all white people are like the white people Lorato encountered in Stellenbosch. This goes without saying. People are different; humanity is not a homogenous group. Obviously.

      I think your comment misses the point and purpose of this article.
      This is an ethnographic account of a black women’s experience of being black in Stellenbosch. It is true and real for her. Whether or not this reflects other experiences in other places is irrelevant. She is not claiming this.

    • Peter Win

      That’s a very privileged stratum of society. I was a student at UPE and Wits , and spent a lot of time at Rhodes. There must have been students there who were as fortunate as yours, but not in my acquaintance. It’s a mistake to extrapolate a personal experience to the norm. Martin Young does that. It’s a bit like being a senior manager. You associate with other managers and see the norm as Business Class travel, jaunts overseas and cars on 18th birthdays. It took me 10 years to pay off my student loan. Your friends were probably gifted that by their parents.

      I went to the army for 2 years. It was an eye opener to see how under-privileged a large number of whites were. Guys who had been taught to pull off their caps and cringe (literally ) when a superior approached… Some whites are more equal than others. Sounds like you and Martin have been “privileged” to walk in that rarified society.

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      It really hurt. It hurt mostly because i can identify myself in this story. I was the boy people laughed because i was a darker than most of my schoolmates. this story makes me question my own identity and experience. Thank you for sharing

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      Chris, there is a difference between whiteness as a social construct coming with white privilege, and white people (a category of race). But then you cant get it and want to make the fact that whites have privilege a personal issue aimed at people rather than the system.

    • DavyH

      I’m afraid this article says more about poor choices in friends than it does about white people.

    • Robin Carter

      If it is obvious to us, Suntosh, it most certainly isn’t obvious to the author. She begins her narrative with her memories of white supremacy found in the language of her mother country. She continues with perceived racism she finds on Stellenbosch campus. She links the discussion around fee reduction with white elitism (racism, effectively). This ‘ethnographic account of black women’s experience of being black in Stellenbosch’ ironically feeds into any prior race polarity that already exists. If we can not transcend our own colour, how can we expect others to when they engage with us?

    • Penellope Jones

      “”I got close to whiteness and it has been the most violent space to my being. It thinks it has inherent superiority and therefore a right to dominance. It is a space that is hostile to black bodies through its jokes and anecdotes and institutional culture and structural white privilege and supremacy. It is arrogant, and has a loathing for anything black.”
      Firstly I would want to say, the person who wrote this article definitely did not contact me and asked how I feel so she CANNOT include me in her automatically accepted perspective, just as she cannot include my children who work very well together with black colleagues on equal foot, do sport together, go out together!
      Why is it when there are those who choose to work hard at school, university or college, work hard at their jobs, and think in a way which hopefully brings progress, a future and just living and breathing like anyone else, it’s seen as supremacy and all the other now famous words and phrases adopted and used on a regular basis as a convenience to blame and get what you want?
      Why can’t those who prefer to WORK at something with openness, commitment, to work at their future be allowed to do that? Why are people so scared of those who work hard at their future, that of their children’s? This is something ALL people want, not white people only.
      There’s an obvious “commitment” to blame and badmouth Stellenbosch, whites etc. The question remains and will remain until such time people realize it, but if you don’t like a workplace, where you live, where you study, change it! You have the choice, there are many other options so do something about it, rather than joining those who are so committed to blame and badmouth whites, without perspective but own perception and probably an over the top inferiority.
      What will one find when one goes to Swaziland, Lesotho or any of our black neighbouring countries? Whiteness? No you will find only blackness with all it’s habits, cultures, thoughts, attitude and whatever else.
      What will happen if I as a white student attends the University of the North who’s mainly black with a black culture? Probably the exact same said in the paragraph I copied.

      Different cultures can’t be forced together – it’s just not possible, more so when it’s political. If they get along well because they want to, it’s fine and as it should be. “Beware of trying to accomplish anything by force”

    • Penellope Jones

      No , I don’t want to be white, I AM white, by no contribution from my side though, just born that way I suppose in exact same way as blacks or any other colour person was? Being born white doesn’t necessarily mean I should be seen as “whiteness” – it’s somewhat of a generalization, perception and perspective.
      There’s quote saying the following: “Get the facts first, then you can distort them as you please”.

    • Suntosh Pillay

      I don’t think transcending race is an objective of this article.
      Also, we cannot deny our own experiences simply because they do not fit into a narrative that will make people feel more comfortable with their privilege.

    • Martin Young

      Peter, it seems you want to be able to determine the norm, and that is entirely the problem with ‘white entitlement.’ It is not yours to determine. Where did I say my experience is the norm?

      I also went to the army – in my case the freefalling out of airplanes with full kit deep in Angola kind. I saw those poor whites too. But many more much poorer blacks not in the army and under our control and/or dominance. For the record I was brought up very modestly, and took 10 years to pay off my student loan as well.

      The issue is this – the poor whites you talk of still have an advantage because of their skin colour simply because they are white. That they don’t use it or haven’t benefited from it may be due to socioeconomic reasons other than simply their race.

      May I point out that being white and poor does not make one immune to having the attitudes I speak about in my post.

      ‘Whiteness’ as I now understand it has nothing to do with the colour of your skin or your wealth. It appears that you still don’t understand the essence of the problem.

    • Fuzz

      It’s sad to read this account, though in ways I can also relate to some of the experiences. University is a challenge on so many levels. For most it’s probably their first time away from home or their home town and without the usual support structures of friends and family. We’re also in close contact with people who are ostensibly, by virtue of having passed the admission criteria, our intellectual peers.

      I also encountered the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians of the world. With their flashy cars, weekends away at the home in Hermanus/Ballito or summer holidays travelling. It made me painfully aware that that wasn’t my (hi)story and that I didn’t “belong”.

      Is that my inferiority complex? Or the glass ceiling to my life…missing the rounds of golf or the rugby box? I found peers I can relate to, some more privileged, some less. Yes, university highlights the realities of privilege, but we need to see it, learn from it and use the opportunity to educate and build awareness. University is so much more than what happens in lectures/exams. Embrace it!

    • Penellope Jones

      No , I don’t want to be white, I AM white, by no contribution from my side though, just born that way I suppose in exact same way as blacks or any other colour person was? Being born white doesn’t necessarily mean I should be seen as “whiteness” – it’s somewhat of a generalization, perception and perspective.
      There’s a quote saying the following: “Get the facts first, then you can distort them as you please”.

    • Eugen Straeuli

      Thank you for sharing your lived experience, Lerato. Thank you for contributing to this important debate and I hope you are able to ignore unkind comments and perhaps understand the defensive one’s. I attempt to grapple with the concept of “white privilege” , sometimes have an inkling what it may mean and mostly struggle.

    • mabruno

      BTW, according to Statistics SA (2011 Census), the population of Stellenbosch is 36.7 % “Black African”, 35.4 % “Coloured”, and only 26.5 % “White”. Stellenbosch is not exactly a “white” enclave in Africa then, or , at least, not anymore.

    • HughRobinson

      Seriously I liked the article but get one thing straight the hostility is in the mind even if the roles were reversed. It is a mind set that will haunt blacks even if whites had to adopt everything black.

    • HughRobinson

      Lucky you if you had that access. I made my luck through shear determination but also lost out big time due to BEE and other laws

    • HughRobinson

      but blacks have black privilege in a society that now revolves around its blackness. Being white as the comments and article show is not what it is cracked up to be. Picked on daily blamed for every ill.

      If some white wrote an article with the same ‘ truths’ from his point of view but in reverse accusation, I will bet a pound to a pinch of salt that the article would be considered racist, a lie and devoid of feeling or used as a reason why transformation is important.

    • HughRobinson

      Could it be that the second class mentality plays too heavily? Lack of identity and witnessing daily failures from law compliance to services delivery must weigh heavily on some who look everywhere for excuses.

    • Voldemort Rupert

      Actually this is an ethnographic account of growing up black in a black environment which taught her to denigrate blackness. Only by coming to our beautiful rainbow nation did she learn the truth about whiteness. (Which is not to say white people as we ARE all different but whiteness has a very ugly face).

    • Voldemort Rupert

      Thanks for that. So now we know it’s still dominated by a minority.

    • Voldemort Rupert

      I too live in a place where black people seem to revere whiteness (Qwaqwa). I cannot explain how much it hurts me. Whenever a child is old enough to start school (3yrs old!) the girls get their hair relaxed and the boys get theirs shaved. It’s so important to love yourself and to teach your kids to love themselves, their roots, their culture. But all they want is a smart phone :((

    • Mark Linderoth

      As much as I empathise with your experiences, and know the kind of people you speak about, I still struggle to remove myself from your blame, because of your use of the term ‘whiteness’. This is a money/snobbishness issue, one that many people, of all cultures and skin colours, experience, yet they can’t name it outside of themselves (by calling it blackness for instance) and have no cultural option but to see themselves in the ‘pecking’ order of money, or family status, or gender status etc. But I am glad you have put it outside of yourself, well done on your growth away from a shallow and purile system of judgement. But in a little way, you made me feel the way they made you feel, by judging me on a superficial value system, and that goes against the inherent honesty of your story.

    • Gee Ket

      I can attest to what Lorato is saying, in an African context whiteness has always epitomised success. An association to white folk elevated you in the social strata as one who is civilised and “cultured.” However, i must admit that the blame also partly lies with the black folk for not recognising and believing that there is potential in being black….

    • Maria

      I found this piece disturbing. It not only reminds me of the hard hierarchical metaphysical – which I also call apartheid – thinking happening in isolated rough & ready rural areas, but it makes me wonder why we aren’t calling for a #bad(readracist/sexist/etc.)teachersmustfall?! I hope Lorato can see that – to use the words she described Kabelo with – “unsophisticated, uncouth, low caste” thinking not only happens everywhere, but that it is often the result of the environment (parents, schools, broader society) in which kids grew up.
      Perhaps the key to the higher educational crisis is better teacher training – why must a doctor study 6 plus years before s/he can touch my body and a teacher only 4 years before s/he touches my mind?

    • NeurenPietersen

      This article should be read in conjunction with
      Many whites do not fit into the mould as described so well by Lerato, but most are assumed to be on board the supremacist band wagon, it takes courage and uncomfortable silences to start breaking down the status quo.

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      But this person, when she says ‘whiteness’, she is talking a bout a system that is privileged and supreme. A system that allows for white people to enjoy certain benefits that other people do not have. Not all white people work hard, but because of whiteness and the social capital that comes with it, they succeed. And these are facts. This is the violence she is talking about. Now you want to make this personal, it is something bigger than you. Why are you quick to defend Stellenbosch, when we all know that it is not friendly? Watch the Luister video and repeat that she is ‘badmouthing’ Stellenbosch.

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      Interesting. Because your struggle was a class issue. Now in this narrative, there is clearly class, but it is intertwined with race. One class aspiring to be closer to one race, because that race is viewed as supreme, by many institutions the narrator grew in. Worse, even as a young girl, the beauty ideals lies with the race issue. Making that a 3rd struggle of gender issues and how black women must look like, informed by the media etc. You travel, indeed you are lucky for you to be able to work in 20 countries, for some people, that is waaaaay out of reach. Just because of their race.

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      Haha. exactly. The minority owns and dominates Stellenbosch together with its economy.

    • Nkosinathi Mazwi

      Read. There is a difference between being white, and the social construct of whiteness, Please read and learn.

    • CloneMe

      I would like to know what benefits i enjoy that others do not? Can you clarify please? or were you reffering to life in the 70s.

    • nidrob01

      Very well written Lorato. Growing up white in the old SA before the change in the 90’s was all about white priviledge.

      Many of the older whites in SA still harbor the old beliefs of “My friends got comfortable enough to explicitly tell me that their parents “owned” people. People of colour. My friends said “these” people were hooligans and violent, even when they toyi-toyi, you can see that they are “savages”. “These” people are lazy.”

      Just look at some of the rabid racist comments on interner news forums across SA to see that many of these beliefs still exist.

      These older white South Africans have passed on their beliefs and attitudes to their children. I am confident that many, not all, children of these people in small towns across South Africa subscribe to their parents attitudes.

      It was only when I left SA and moved to Canada, and lived in a completely integrated and inclusive society, that I shed the old attitudes of my parents who were also racist.

    • Rory Short

      I read of your childhood experiences with sadness. Sadness because it is terrible to be reared in a context which demeans or debases one, period. Whether the debasement is based on externals like skin colour or hair, etc., etc.. is irrelevant, the debasement is the problem. The demeaning of people happens in every human society, it is a human weakness, we all too easily try to elevate ourselves at other’s expense. But right now that is the baggage that we drag along with us into adulthood and our task is to try free ourselves from it for the sake of ourselves and future generations.

    • TomT

      Whilst I respect and appreciate that you have taken the time to express your
      feelings of alienation and anger, I still find your article
      offensive. You are railing against racism, but being racist as you do
      it. I am white, but by family is not racist, not at all, and they
      never have been. We have been living here for over 200 years, and my
      grandfather always taught me that every man is created equal; black,
      brown or white. I am not a racist, and nor are most of the whites in
      this country. And it is getting very tiring, and very upsetting to be
      called one, when one is not. To suggest that there is a thing called
      “whiteness” that is somehow definable and negative is to create a
      fiction: White people in this country are a very diverse group of
      people. We all come from different countries, we have a huge array of
      different beliefs, traditions and backgrounds. Just like black
      people. To suggest that we are all like the unpleasant people that
      you met is naïve, just like your belief that all white people would
      be nice was naïve. Western civilisation is something that has run
      alongside thousands of years of war, and Europe as a continent is
      incredibly complex and diverse. It is therefore offensive when
      somebody stands up and paints us with a “whiteness” brush. Yes,
      we share similarities – most of us are descended from the Western
      World. But that’s where the similarities end. Imagine your outrage
      if I was to write an article condemning “blackness”, and picking
      out perceived negative traits of “blacks”. I understand that this
      is what certain white South Africans do, and there is a certain kind
      of white who is filled with racist disdain. However, I know very few
      people like this, so I cannot comment on their motives. There is also
      a certain type of white person who is not at all racist, but just
      baffled: They simply cannot understand why the masses are not able to
      uplift themselves. They do not know that a lack of education is a
      prison, from which it is hard to escape. So, to them they simply see
      a group who, in their eyes, are extremely lacking in initiative.
      Personally, I believe that Freedom is education. Nothing more,
      nothing less. The fact that the ruling party seems unwilling or
      incapable of providing education for those that need it most means
      that the rich will keep getting richer, while the poor keep getting
      poorer. Each side will become increasingly wary of the other. I
      believe in equality before the law. I believe BEE is an horrific
      idea, as it assigns value to race. People need to stop pointing
      fingers at whites, and take a long, honest look at their own systems:
      Are their systems working? Does their work culture promote education,
      growth, and forward-thinking honesty? If not, then go away and fix
      the system, until it works. White people are not in charge of the
      system, and have not been for 20 years, so it’s very upsetting when
      someone blames us for the shortcomings of their own systems. I
      happen to greatly value many aspects of Western Civilisation, and I
      genuinely believe that many of the modes of thought that have been
      imported here from Europe have been good for our land.
      Universities themselves are Western imports, as is the entire concept
      of tertiary education. There are obviously many good things that
      “whiteness” has brought here. I also believe that there are many
      positive things that South Africans have that are lacking in Europe.
      I think our job is to use our intelligence to extract the best of all
      of our cultures, and build something new . Our country is unique, and
      filled with and incredibly inspiring love and warmth. When white
      people leave SA and try to live in other countries, it is always the
      open hearts and love that we share, across all races, that they miss
      the most. A good friend, who is white and lived in England for many
      years, returned for a family event. The black woman who greeted him
      at customs was warm and friendly, and my friend suddenly broke down
      into tears. Not because she was friendly, but because in that moment
      he realised how much he missed being able to live with an open heart,
      and how much he missed the warmth of our land. I know many, many
      whites that are warm, caring, loving, sensitive, intelligent and
      inspiring people. And the same goes for friends that are Indian,
      Coloured and Black. People that I would stand by, and die for.
      People that are not racist or arrogant. People that work incredibly
      hard, that love passionately and fight for what they believe in. So,
      thanks for offering to paint me with your “whiteness” brush, but
      I won’t accept the offer. I am just me, and I always will be. Down
      with racism.

    • Peter Win

      Might I point out that “the norm” is not yours to determine either…