Koketso Moeti
Koketso Moeti

What are vile white practices? Really?

I was most perplexed to read fellow Thought Leader Sarah Britten’s “What are vile white practices?” written in response to Gillian Schutte’s “Dear White People”.

Let me begin by pointing out that Britten was correct to say Schutte showed no sense of humour in the post. As a person who has actually experienced racism, there is absolutely nothing funny about it and the endless black bashings we regularly come across.

So to answer Britten’s question about what vile white practices are, please find a few here:

— To naively believe that more than 350 years of oppression can be undone in less than two decades and that Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994 magically made what happened prior to then ”okay” or even worse, expect it to be erased from our minds.

— Want us believe the rainbow nation is in fact real, as if 1994 on its own somehow changed what was in people’s hearts prior to that.

— Want us believe that apartheid was merely about slegs vir blankes signs. It is a vile white practice to point out how every place in South Africa is now open to blacks when black people can still not access certain spaces as a direct result of apartheid. You see, apartheid was a system, a system that was deeply entrenched into every facet of everyday life in South Africa. It was not merely about signs.

— To feign shock and disgust, condemning the use of words like k****r yet protect their privilege by entrenching institutionalised racism. It is not enough to rant and rave about the racism happening over there and overlook that which is happening right on your doorstep and even that which you perpetuate.

— Daring to speak about how “we are all humans/South Africans” when race is brought up, as if black people were suddenly humanised in 1994. Weren’t we always humans? And if so, why weren’t we treated as humans then. It smacks too much of a humanity recognised only when it benefits a certain side.

— The sudden case of colour-blindness so many claim to have developed. They seem very eager to ignore that to be colour-blind is to deny very real experiences of racism and even render us unable to address racial problems and inequalities. Apart from that, it seems rather opportunistic to miraculously ignore race when not too long ago many of the same people were (and still are) enjoying the benefits of their race, which came at a high cost to some of us.

— Calling affirmative action (AA) reverse racism when in fact it should shame the white community that we live in a country where the majority of its citizens need AA to ensure they access certain opportunities.

— The naturalisation of whiteness, which makes many white people think “that’s just the way it is” — rendering our history and its role in the present invisible.

The post itself was a vile white practice. It fulfilled what all vile white practices aim to do — trivialise black experience. Considering the topic and context of Schutte’s post, I believe these are but a few of the vile white practices she was alluding to, Ms Britten. She was right to be concerned about the black middle class adopting these practices, because it isn’t about white people — but whiteness. Meaning that even black people who identify with whiteness and white culture contribute to not only perpetuating but also entrenching the oppression experienced because of it. But I do thank you for the post, it proved the need for the likes of Schutte.

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