Grethe Koen
Grethe Koen

Welcome to Club Racist

Now don’t all come clamouring at the door, wanting to know where you can sign up and get your free Klan hoods and Jessica Leandra*-themed bikinis. If you’re white and Afrikaans, you already ARE in the racist club.

Let me explain, the racist club is that unspoken society that exists within the white community where racists assume that because you are white, you are racist too.

Being a young white boertjie, I too often find myself being made part of conversations with white people where racism and the k-word is dropped as nonchalantly as chatter about the weather. My agreement and solidarity are assumed.

A recent experience was this weekend. My boyfriend and I had booked a stay at an upmarket guest house in Hartbeespoort.

The place was a three-story house owned by an elderly white Afrikaans couple. Although apparently four star, it had been set up so that the owners’ living room was right in the middle of everything, meaning that you had to walk past the oom and tannie eating quiche and watching those bad Sony Max reality shows every time you wanted to go to the pool. It left me with a very un-four-starry feeling on the whole, but anyway, that’s a conversation for HelloPeter.com.

Being Valentine’s Day, quite a few couples arrived that night, ready for a romantic weekend away. Most of them were black or Indian.

That evening we decided to dare walk past the oupa and ouma’s TV to go out on the balcony by the pool and watch the sunset.

While we were enjoying our wine and cliché-yet-delightful Valentine’s experience, the oom came out, strutted to the balcony railing next to us, leant over, and started yelling down to the black couple relaxing on their patio below us that they must come upstairs.

He was using what I would call a ”black accent” — that feigned accent Afrikaans and English people like to use when they’re talking to black people they think are a little bit stupid. It’s the way some people talk to their domestic worker or gardener.

The man told the couple that they should sit upstairs on the balcony because there is a pool.

Now, I am sure the couple were sitting downstairs for a reason. And that was to be as far away from the bad Sony Max reality shows and quiche-eating as possible. Also, being a free country and whatnot, they probably thought they were allowed to sit wherever the hell they wanted to.

Nevertheless, they gave weak assurance that they would do as ordered.

As the oom walked away he smiled at us and said “Ons moet hulle maar bietjie educate, jy weet” (We have to educate them [black people] a little bit, you know).

And we laughed and we laughed because blacks, you know, they just don’t know anything and why won’t they sit where we want them to!

No, actually, we didn’t. But you get where I’m going with this assumed Team Racist thing.

A good friend of mine, who is also white, went to a recruitment agent a couple of years ago in her search for a new job.

While at the agent, she was told by the white recruiters that they were so glad that she had come in, as they were tired of getting hordes of applications by “darkies” who barely had a Grade 9 certificate.

She laid a complaint with the agent after the interview, making it clear that although their skin colours matched, their ideas on race obviously did not.

Of course, being made an unwilling partner-in-racism is hardly as degrading as experiencing it yourself. But one way of getting your acquaintances to stop cc’’ing you in their racist banter is to identify yourself as “a leftie”.

A few Christmases ago I received a particular SMS from a few of my white acquaintances that went along the lines of: “Why is Father Christmas not black? Because he would eat the reindeer and steal the presents!”

I told those people to never SMS me again. Because come on, you can’t be unfunny AND racist on top of it.

Luckily, having Mail & Guardian “liberal” credentials has definitely stemmed those types of SMSs. Because when it comes to clubs I have no choice being in, I’d rather be Team “Libtard”.

*Whatever happened to Jessica Leandra, does anyone know?

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