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Dear Whitey

I hope you are well. Even though I’m sure you are not really interested, I am fine. I know that you are not too concerned about others, until you hear about them on Twitter, or Facebook — or someone at the office sends you an angry email, summarising something they’ve heard about that could ruin life as you know it.

I’ve noticed that you seem to live a constant inch away from furious anger, I was curious if you were aware of it. Hypertension is a silent and remorseless killer. My mum told me there was once a white guy (in some drawings, he was blonde — they didn’t have cameras then — but they had faith, which they tell me is similar) who tried to tell you to chill out, rather than resort to mob morality — and you nailed him to a symbolic tree and poked him in the ribs. No one is sure if that really happened, but everybody has felt bad about it since, just in case.

There was another one later on, and I know he was real, because I’ve seen the video — he got shot on the street. Imagine that.

Anyway, I was writing to tell you that I’ve been watching you get tired and angry and frustrated at what you see as the slow decline of all you and your muscular kin acquired, claimed, amassed and constructed in the past. “These blacks break everything”, you don’t say it, but are programmed to think so.

I wonder if perhaps you realise that your involvement in the above is as real as it remains hidden. Circumstantially at least, you are complicit. Historically, you are culpable, and peripherally, your crimes are tangible — in the ignorance of the lower classes, the shared shanty toilet rage and the march of disease, rape, pregnancy and mutilation through our people. Our people. Ubuntu is an African ideal, as African as you, if your loud claims to entitlement hold any clean water. With power comes responsibility, but you knew that, because you have been educated properly.

How quiet you go when our government authorises the execution — on a shit-strewn koppie, via their own law enforcement — of people who pose a threat to the profitability of their silent partners (contracts with whom are buried as deep as the metal they seek). Your distinctive voice is nowhere to be found, above the letting of unhappy blood.

“But they killed people,” I hear you protest — did they? Are you certain? If your child was in that mob, you would agree to a sentence of three in the back, and a final breath on a bed of turds? You don’t really want to know what happened at Marikana, you don’t have the constitution for it.

But when a chain of luxury grocery stores you worship takes a blatant step to speed up the inevitable, and get on with the changes we must see if we are to be real rainbow children, you hurl down your individually wrapped sandwiches, spit out your pre-grated cheese and spew hatred on social networks.

Imagine all the people, living on 702 …

“I said a prayer for those miners, because they spend their lives down there, for what? So I can wear this on my finger — who am I? Some rich cunt, that’s who.”

Thank you, Belinda, you raised a barbed truth. Easy to give up shrink-wrapped, homogenous and irradiated GMO fruit portions in self-righteous indignation in a Summercon unit, a financed Korean entry-level model with airbags and aircon in the bay outside.

How about having a shit job, a shit room and a shit life? How about dead wives and hungry kids? How about believing Vaseline will stop the bullet?

Perhaps it is not just the “savagery” of “these blacks” that renders us ungovernable, but perhaps there is another part to the equation, ironically, one to the right of the equals sign? Perhaps our own moral laziness and selective participation in building a future is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Is it feasible, brothers and sisters, that our own behaviour is fuel for the pot and the kettle? Reflect on that, my people will tweet yours.

We cannot change the way things are, but maybe our job is not to protest, to be outraged, to add venom and stir. Maybe our job is to be bigger people, to use our clear advantage to elevate us all. We seem to bleat about education for everyone else but we don’t use our own.

Maybe our job is to be grateful, tolerant and show some respect. To stand back in the emergency room queue and make way for gunshot victims before we ask for a Disprin to address the headache their screaming has given us.

Love to the kids.


  • John Vlismas

    You can follow John on Twitter if you like @fortyshort. John Vlismas is an increasingly reclusive former hell-raising coke fiend and fall-down drunk. Now a scuba teacher and far better father; he is an award-winning anti-socialite, has played The Royal Albert Hall and has been described as "blunt" but also as "sharp". He has little regard for team sports and his name is very often mispronounced. He is also the co-owner of a company called "Whacked", which does good things for local comedy.