Showing posts from 2015

The gentle approach

There has been some talk in my various  spaces about the gentle approach when it comes to  "educating" fellow white people. Some even demand gentleness from black people when confronted with an unconscious or unintended racist agenda.

Being perceived as angry, emotional or even aggressive, is generally seen as counterproductive to any conversation around racism. This has been bugging me for a while, but I have so far failed to come up with  a reasonable argument  whenever somebody was getting to me by demanding that when I talk to white people about their racism I should do it gently.

So what is wrong, I have to ask myself, about entering a conversation "gently" in order to facilitate the other person's listening abilities? In most cases I suppose nothing (coming from the heart and all...)

The problem is that when it comes to racism, the gentle approach doesn't cut it, because instead of educating  people and calling them out on their hidden bias, it create…

Waiting to talk to the the king of Woolworth - Everyday racism at our local branch

Hello,  it's us again, the notorious 12-Apostle trouble makers, and guess what? We're back shouting "racism", with the only difference that this time, there are no visible white people involved (other than me).

So what happened?

Two things really, which on the surface don't have much to do with each other, but are really the result of the very same thing, that is the lingering sickness of our society.

In the one incident, I am shopping with my friend at Woolworth Palmyra Junction early yesterday morning, when a black guy in business attire appears out of nowhere just as I am opening the fridge door to get to the pesto, and asks me:
"Are you two together?" pointing at my friend who is standing a little away from our trolley, rocking her baby.
"Yes." I say, and : "Why do you ask."
"Oh, ok." He smiles and makes to turn away.
"No, really," I stop him: "Why do you ask?".
He  seems embarrassed, mumbles somet…

White Consciousness - What are we missing?

This is a bit of a long shot, inspired by a conversation I had recently about black double consciousness and how it might not be pathological after all , but seen as a resource that us white people are missing.

Du Bois termed double consciousness as a state of being of black American people, a sense of self that is split between the authentic self and the self that exists in the context of  whiteness. The awareness of how  blackness is perceived and judged by whiteness creates the underlying standard to which blackness is morphed into an existence that poses no threat to whiteness, thus supports white superiority.

What is described here as some form of mental illness can also be seen however as an evolved form of being, something that white consciousness lacks altogether. The underlying theory here is  that black consciousness is  connected to a communality, a recognition of kinship amongst black people,  that white people lack altogether. As a white person it is not my place to exp…

Using my white privilege

So the other day my friend, who happens to be black, sent me a text: could I please call this number and book a table for six people for the following evening. Her dad had tried and was told it was fully booked. He suspected racism.

Well, I thought , or rather hoped, it's the holiday season, tourists everywhere, chances are, the place is fully booked.

But I was wrong. I got a booking no problem.

I even asked twice: are you sure, you have a table for six people tomorrow evening? The friendly lady said, yes, that's confirmed. She took my name and number and that was that.

Needless to elaborate on my feelings of outrage, frustration, dismay and the whole scale in between.
I was gutted.

My friend thought about not going (rather not give them her money on top of the insult that is) - but at the end of the day, what would that achieve?

We had talked before about claiming white spaces as a means to fight racism,  but should people really have  to spend their friend- and family-time…

White fragility and the nice racist

Last week I was invited to a race-dialogue hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the HRC in Johannesburg. That sounds like a mouthful. And it was. There I was surrounded by names and titles, bringing "only me" to the table and feeling not just a little intimidated.

But as the afternoon progressed, and we were all sweating alike in the midst of a load shedding summers day, I got a little more reckless and dared myself to raise my hand. The occasion was somebody's contribution towards a definition for the elusive species: the racist.

The racist, he argued, is a narcissistic personality type amongst white people, who believes in his/her own superiority based on genetics.

Phew -  great sigh of relief from the attending white folk, because, we are not that. None of us believe in the idea of white superiority and none of us have an identifiable psychological disorder. So we are in the clear.

Of course I had to disagree.

The majority of racists are nice peopl…

The Aftermath - 12 Apostles blog gone viral - Apology not accepted

I did not expect the tornado that broke over this blog in the last 48 or so hours. I am glad this story got the attention of so many people. I am also overwhelmed and unprepared for all of this.

I am unprepared for the haters, the irreparable racists and the moaners, who have a problem with just about anybody on this planet. But it is my choice not to let these voices invade my personal space and as such I am not responding to "haters", I am not deleting them either. I leave it up to the many voices of reason, support and emotional intelligence to moderate.

So here is my response to the 12 Apostles public apology:

 Dear Michael Nel -  thank you for posting on my blog - Apology not accepted
We all know that this apology would never even have been made, had it not been for the media-storm of bad publicity that rained upon your institution after it had gone viral.

Your apology did not even touch the experience of my friend. In fact the experience was dismissed, denied and turn…