Archive for the Engish Category

Gillian Schutte: Dear White People

Posted in Engish on Januar 12, 2013 by androsch

Dear White People

I have decided to start the New Year with a letter to you all. It is a letter that implores you to wake up and smell Africa with a fresh white nose.

Before you get angry and defensive, think of this letter as a crash course survival kit for navigating a new reality, and please be assured that if you take heed of the call in this letter your life will change in miraculous ways. Once the blinkers are off the world is a much more colourful and celebratory place to engage in.

Let me begin by wholeheartedly apologising for what my ancestors did to the people of South Africa and inviting you to do the same. I reject their legacy as much as is possible and, as you already know, have made it a life mission to deconstruct the phallocentric white view of ”white as right” and the misguided precept that white is central to all reality.

I reject the discourse of white domination but I acknowledge that I was brought up in this construct. Though my single-mother household was never economically privileged we were privileged by virtue of our skin colour and my mother was given assistance by the state that a woman of colour was denied.

I call on white people to reflect on what it means to be born into unearned privilege, to excavate our long history of racist exploitation and assumed superiority — to acknowledge that this is what we were taught and then to reject it wholly.

I call on white people to acknowledge that whiteness has become invisible to us and we no longer recognise it for a discourse that perpetuates the dehumanisation of black people in ways so subtle that they appear normal.

I call on white people to admit that the rainbow nation is a myth and until we truly are able to recognise the humanity of all people we cannot claim to be post-racist.

I call on white people to acknowledge how white supremacy continues to play out in the media — in representations of blackness — in the constant accusation that black people are racist when they speak their truth.

I call on white people to recognise the black-bashing trend of our media, which is largely white owned, and to put an end to this dehumanising and destructive infantile idiocy.

I call on white people to recognise that by jumping in on national debates that do not concern them they are usurping a platform for authentic black voices to air their grievances about our leadership. You may have noticed that the black voices we need and want to hear choose to disengage because they are skaam to share the podium with a lot of cacophonic white outrage about the same topic but from a white racist perspective.

White people please just shut up for once and listen. Not everything is about white people being accused of racism. Sometimes it is about the black middle class and whether or not they have adopted vile white practices.

I implore you, white people, to listen to black voices calmly and not to react defensively to every outrage a black voice presents.

I call on white people to accept that they are not the only race that is entitled to rage, to hurt, to pain, to anger.

I call on white people, to recognise that they fear the emotions of black people — that it is this fear that makes them shut down black voices and defend themselves from the suggestion that they are complicit in the continued oppression of black people.

I call on white people to recognise that we have all been taught (in varying degrees) that black people do not have the same emotions and psychology as us and that this fallacy is built upon the double-edged sword of domination and fear. To dehumanise a people is to exploit them with no guilt. To recognise their collective pain is to admit the guilt thereby see the humanity.

I call on white people to recognise how whiteness has unconsciously used blackness as a conduit for its own darkness and unacknowledged savagery.

I implore white people to get over their fear that black people are out to slaughter them in a wholesale genocide of revenge. It has not happened yet and there is so much evidence that it will never happen in a country that has built its economic policy on global standards that favour whiteness and rely on the middle class as a buffer zone between the people on the ground and the elite corporate and political class. Just get over yourselves. White people of middle class are still safer than people living in townships.

I call on white people to work on a strategy to lessen the growing gap between rich and poor because, white people, it is the poor who are really suffering in this country and it is the poor who are the wretched fall-out from a more than 360-year history of white domination, slavery, subjugation and theft of livelihood.

I call on white people to understand that poverty and unemployment are social conditions. By renaming them ”laziness”, ”lack of ambition” and ”stupidity” you are furthering your own illogical delusions that whiteness has nothing to do with the untenable conditions that most black people are forced to live in. These are not inherent traits of being black, as many of you are fond of saying. These are the social consequences of a brutal colonial history and current globalisation — coupled with weak anti-the-poor leadership.

And please white people, when you feel compelled to criticise Zuma, as we all do, please ensure that you are critiquing him for his favouring of white corporates and the white middle class over poverty issues — for his pro-capitalist stance and his failure to deliver to the poor — for his patriarchal utterances that threaten to usurp women’s rights — rather than obsessing over his penis, his wives, his second-language command of English and using him as a scapegoat for all your fears and negative unconscious stereotypes about all black folk.

Oh and one more thing … asseblief white people, from well-meaning liberals to white supremacists — just stop telling everyone who is not white how to behave, what to think and when to say what. By trying to control the public agenda you are participating in your own imagined oppression and avoiding the possibility that we are all human and can co-exist very nicely.

Be grateful that you are still welcome in a land that was stolen.

And stop bitching and telling black people to get over their history. Goddammit — if those things had happened to white people there would be an entire world domination film industry built upon the “legitimised suffering of white people” so why will you not understand that colonialism was a holocaust of epic proportions and it will take many, many more decades for the pain to subside.

Instead of defending your privileges by denying them and nursing your guilt through misguided outrage — why not get your hands dirty while helping to restore this country to a space of dignity and respect for all.

Try now to reconsider the possibility of the healing potential of apologising collectively and genuinely for the wrongs our history has perpetrated against the indigenous people of this land.

Oh ja … and white people, please try not to respond negatively and vilely to my letter because I will never stop pleading with you to get over yourselves and get with the current programme. It is as easy as the blink of an eye.

Yours sincerely,

Settler Sister

Tags: debate, featured, Gillian Schutte, race relations, whiteness

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523 Responses to “Dear White People”

Barry Saayman #

“Let me begin by wholeheartedly apologising for what my ancestors did to the people of South Africa and inviting you to do the same. I reject their legacy as much as is possible …”

Dr Samantha Vice et al did an excellent job in formulating a comprehensive new-academic foundation for the ongoing NDR (liberation struggle for self-determination against a foreign power/economic freedom/towards a national democratic SA) with her paper titled “How Do I Live in This Strange Place?”

The various “rescuers” in the Karpman Drama Triangle that demonize others in generalized terms as e.g. “evil settlers” in an ill-conceived effort to validate their construct of reality advocates racism, collective guilt, -punishment, -innocence and even more so, collective white guilt, -shame and undue white privilege.

“The rescuer, who intervenes, seemingly out of a desire to help the situation or the underdog.

Of these, the “rescuer” is the least obvious role. In the terms of the drama triangle, the “rescuer” is not a person helping someone in an emergency. It is someone who has a mixed or covert motive that is actually benefiting egoically in some way from being ‘the one who rescues’.”

Me Gillian Schutte should carefully rethink her role if she wants to play a constructive role in the post-colonial/apartheid SA.

The ongoing victim rhetoric, the “we and they syndrome” and self-righteousness are the poison in the pot…

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January 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

Mariana #

I would have loved this letter if it didn’t sound so arrogant and preaching. Is your 2013 new year’s resolution to be sanctimonious and arrogant? Because your holier-than-thou attitude is realy tiresome.

I think if you wrote this out of a place that was a little more humble and less self-righteous, you might have gotten a better response so this…

I grew up in a rasist household in the apartheid era and I make the choice every day to be a fair, unbiased person (to all demografics not just ACI races), to try to unlearn learned behaviour and people like you who get up on your little soap box irritates the living daylights out of me.

Get off your high horse and smell the reality with your “fresh white nose”. People will be people… All we can do is to try to be less arrogant, more patient and think before we talk/accuse/point fingers… A few things you should have done before you commited to the tone of this letter…

We shouldn’t just stop telling “people who is not white how to behave” – I think it goes for just about everyone else… Including your readers… So take your own advice there.

“white people, please try not to respond negatively and vilely to my letter because I will never stop pleading with you to get over yourselves” … you should follow your own advise here as well because your ego is blocking the page.

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January 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Paul Barrett #

@Mfana Ronald Conco: I don’t know that you will read this, but I thank you for your comments. They should serve as a guide to Gillian Schutte on how to write about this issue. For all her (and her defenders’) talk of how it’s our problem if we don’t like her overly aggressive and openly prejudiced approach, you manage to show that such an approach is not required in order to get the point across. In fact, many are likely to be more inclined to listen if more writers could do their jobs without resorting to generalisations and condescension.

@Those who say “you wouldn’t be defensive about what Gillian has written if it weren’t true for you” I’d like to ask one question: If you were accused of murder without evidence, would attempting to defend yourself indicate guilt?

I’m not going to comment much on the piece itself, except to say despite the heavy handed and clumsy manner in which it is presented, much of what it says is worthy of attention (excluding the ridiculous assertion that whites should butt out of national debates, and similar silliness.)

One more thing: though the piece is filled with generalisations and condescension that a better writer would avoid, one in particular stands out – the claim that we were all taught that blacks are inferior. You may have been taught this, Gillian, but I certainly was not. If anyone had tried to teach me such, I would have rejected it. Not everyone allows themselves to be indoctrinated.

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January 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Tofolux #

@Mariana. it is an old practise to accuse someone of arrogance when one’s own response to issues lack articulation. Noting by your response and obviously others, when you insult someone in a debate it is a given that you cannot respond or you are unable to rebutt the content. Now I suggest that you and others be more constructive and rebutt with a well thought out reply. Surely this should be easy for you simply because you enjoyed a priviledged education by super intelligent educators. So can you please use this priviledge and super intelligence and stop your personalising your attack but articulate this is the same faith that the debate has been put.

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January 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Doubt it #

Thought leader? Nah….

There is nothing new or original to your article. Not even the heading.

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January 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

radiodave #

nice podium. i agree, this separation’s a bit of a mess, and people like you need to say so. i’m a white dude and my partner that i love is a black chick – she’s moved in with me and everything – for a while i thought i was the least rascist person i know. but by analogy, this article finds comfort in me at the fact that i changed my religious stance from atheist to agnostic. that way people just leave you alone and get on with their lives. while it needs to be said it need not be dictated. i understand though that sometime you’ve gotta throw toys, and thanks for doing so.

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January 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Gosiame Peter Seleka #

Well thought out resolution Gillian.You are truly upright within yourself.

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January 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

michael #

This country is going to end up in tears.

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January 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

Innocent #

Dear Gillian Schutte,

The “white man” has treated the “people of South Africa” very good compared to what happened in other countries such as the United States of America and Australia. In these countries the “white man” went in and killed as many of the natives as possible. To such a point that these natives are the minority. In South Africa the “white man” tried to teach the natives about God. I am not saying the South African “white man” did not make mistakes, but in most cases it was in self defense in response to the native’s actions and/or the British influence/involvement.

The situation in South Africa is very complicated due to the “white man” always trying to co-exist with the natives in harmony. If the “white man” just killed the majority of the natives (as in other countries) then it would not be complicated at all. The situation in the USA and Australia is not as complicated as in South Africa, because they took a different approach. I do not agree with their approach, but I sometimes feel that people like you (Gillian Schutte) sometimes forget about the struggle the “white man” of South Africa went through to try and live in harmony with the natives. There are off course a few exceptions to the rule, as with everything, but the majority of people that fall under the “white man” group are not racist.

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January 11, 2013 at 9:25 am

Riana #

Dear Gillian

You do make SOME valid points and I assume that you wanted to make South Africa a better place for all and you hoped to eradicate white racism. But
really, the assumptions that you make, the stereotyping and generalisations of
white people, the judgemental tone, these surely are not to your credit at all.

I am glad that the whole situation seems so simple to you – white people
are to blame for everything that was, is, and will be wrong in SA?
My perspective is that the situation is a whole lot more complex than that.

As a young adult I read Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena by Elsa Joubert and
Call me woman by Ellen Kuzwayo and these two ladies did more to change my
mindset than your sanctimonious and “eenogige” letter ever will. I try my best
to treat all people who cross my path every day as I would want to be treated.
I am glad you think you have all the answers, in principle you don’t seem to be
much different from Hendrik Verwoerd, he was equally sure of what he deemed necessary. All I know is that I have to try to do my level best every day to roll stones out of people’s way. I cannot and will not be held responsible for what other people (white, black, Chinese, Muslim, Hindu) think or how they choose to act. It is the only way for me to deal with the overwhelming reality, both the ecstasy and the agony that is my homeland, South Africa.

Please, do not denigrate the little that little people like me do! We have to…

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January 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

Pat Allen #

My experience as a white child growing up in South Africa: At home, I saw my parents, living on a gold mine, earning a pittance with which to raise 4 children, always treat people in our home with the utmost courtesy, friendliness, respect and generosity. They assisted in all things within their means, such as going directly to the employer of the husband of our faithful house-helper to have a percentage of his salary deducted and paid directly to the mother of his children, before he drank the whole amount each week, so that she would be able to feed and clothe their children. I recall those times, such as when our parents managed to afford anything new. The old item, still in perfect condition, was never sold, but given freely to the same faithful woman. In fact, much of her household was furnished with gifts from my parents. Her children were clothed with warm jerseys knitted on my mother’s knitting machine. Christmas presents for each one were sent home. She was fed twice each day with the freshest food, in enormous quantities. Her transport costs were paid by my parents, and a better-than-average salary paid to her. She was given medical care as necessary. My memories are not guilt-ridden but happy. Differences we were not responsible for were eased by the little my parents could do to help being offered freely. We did not receive tertiary education, due to a lack of money, but we had enough education to cope, and so did they. Apartheid was not good, but humanity…

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January 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm

stan #

Firstly let me dispel the myth continually being presented as fact by the misinformed and by those promoting their own agenda at the expense of the truth. Stating that there has been 360 Years of white domination, slavery, subjugation and theft of livelihood of the blacks is simply nonsense. To continually repeat this incorrect statement simply feeds the unjustified sense of entitlement and perpetuates racism.

When van Riebeck landed in the Cape there were NO blacks, in what was to become South Africa, except for a few who were migrating down the East Coast. Where there were populations they were Bushmen and the Hottentots. Early explorers noted that the interior of the country was devoid of any human habitation. Whites did not come across blacks in any numbers until they met in the Eastern Cape when the whites were migrating up the cost and the blacks migrating down. This resulted in clashes and the Government found it necessary to bring in the 1820 settlers to act as a bulwark to protect the lands they had settled in – which were not previously populated by blacks. The slaves in the Cape were imported from Malaya and Indonesia and some from the African East Coast simply because there were no blacks around. In fact it was found worthwhile to rather import labour with a work ethic from India and China to work the sugar cane fields of Natal and the mines in the Transvaal.

Both the Whites and Blacks perpetrated genocide on the indigenous inhabitants (the Hottentots and…

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January 11, 2013 at 8:19 pm

The Big Fig #

Gillian, that is very high ground you have taken to on your high horse in order to patronise ‘white people’.

When the haters go forensic on you, what hypocrisy might be uncovered?

The whole black/white issue is a distraction from the real problem that most ‘developed’ nations and indeed the world, through globalisation, are ruled by a corporate plutocracy.

My intent is not to trivialise or ignore the race issue, but merely to point out that when looked at from above, some of the issues in the race discourse turn out to be less about race and more a symptom of corporate plutocracy. It’s just that in SA, the race issue is still visceral and all too easily gets conflated with other issues.

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January 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm

keke #

@innocent& @mariana I suggest to you a book called “things fall apart” by Chinua Achebe…a thought provoking read

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January 12, 2013 at 1:16 am

ChrisMuis #

If you want to give a balanced view, at least also list bad things blacks have done and is currently doing.

Alternative, also list the good things the whites has done in South Africa.

Can’t or won’t do it – then your dribble is only for silly emotional reasons and I would go so far as to say I won’t support your press freedom.

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January 12, 2013 at 2:04 am

Theo #

Creative writing, this is what it is. Nothing more.

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January 12, 2013 at 9:21 am

Yaj #

Great article.

Now let us all join hands, black and white to tackle the rotten corrupt system of fractional reserve banking and compound interest which continues to rob and impoeverish the mass of humanity.

Let’s unite behind a programme of fundamental monetary reform to 100% (full ) reserve banking and debt-free social credit and build a more non-racial and equitable society in which peole of all races calive in relative harmony.

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January 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Gerard #

I call on you to acknowledge that I was but an idea and single cell in daddy’s underpants when those pigs were perpetuating their terrible ideas.

I call on you to recognise that everyday I drive through the streets of Stellenbosch (because I’m a horrible white who made the choice to be born into privilege and can thus afford a car even if it put myself in so much debt I won’t pay it off in tis lifetime) and feel ashamed every time I drive past a struggling person of colour asking for change at a traffic-light and am frustrated that I can’t live without guilt even though the guilt I feel stems from the action of people who lived and died before I was born.

I call on you to step off your bloody pedestal.

And most of all I call on you to shut the hell up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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January 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm