Blacks are right to mistrust whites - Marius Redelinghuys
Marius Redelinghuys |
08 December 2014
In personal Facebook post DA national spokesperson calls on privileged white minority to admit to its racism
Post by DA national spokesperson, Marius Redelinghuys, on his personal Facebook page, December 8 2014:
White Privilege Anonymous, or "I'm racist, but..."
Whenever I, or any other person really, speak critically against or condemn violence against women we are confronted by a refrain, admittedly from a select few, of "men are also beaten up".
This is true. There are such incidents.
But violence against or abuse of women is not simply a string of incidents. It is an institution. It is a system.
It is a social, economic and political system that is a product of thousands of years of male domination, discrimination and oppression. It is so pervasive and deeply entrenched in the psyche of humanity and the social fabric of our society and communities.
This system has created a power dynamic and power relationship between the sexes which disproportionally favours and benefits men.
This system bestows upon men a set of social, economic and political privileges, positions and advantages - known collectively as "male privilege". Male privilege operates, predominantly at the subconscious or unconscious level of individuals and society, but often manifests itself in very tangible, often violent, abuse or discriminatory ways.
It is the latter which we frequently and incorrectly solely label as "sexism".
It is correct that this is an active and outward or public manifestation of sexism.
Sexism, however, also operates at the subconscious level - tacit or latent sexism, where it consists of assumptions about, expectations of, and attitudes towards women and their "appropriate" or "expected" roles and positions in society.
Sexism is therefore about asserting, defending or advancing male privilege and entrenching the system - in this case patriarchy - from which it operates.
Sexism is about asserting, defending or advancing male privilege, whether actively and aggressively or passively and tacitly.
We cannot effectively combat violence against women without fighting sexism.
It is impossible to fight sexism without confronting and exposing male privilege and breaking down the system that creates it and which it perpetuates.
We cannot have a conversation, let alone fight, sexism without recognising, confronting and challenging male privilege.
Without understanding male privilege and the system that created it and which it now perpetuates, we are fooled into believing that formal legal equality - in the form of various equal rights and freedoms - will eradicate or has eradicated sexism and substantive inequality.
We are fooled into believing that 10, or 20, or 40 years of formal legal equality is a sufficient period in which the entire system disproportionately skewed towards men will "correct" itself.
We are fooled into believing all of this not because it is an easy mistake to make, but because we want to believe it.
Wait. Before we continue. We may as well kill two birds with one stone.
Go back and reread the above, but replace "women" with "black people", "sexism" with "racism" and "male privilege" with "white privilege".
Exposing and calling out privilege is an indictment. It makes us uncomfortable, because it should.
It is like telling an alcoholic he has a drinking problem. He will protest, he will deny it, he will reason it away because and find excuses for it because he likes the way drinking makes him feel. He doesn't want to make it stop.
Who does it hurt anyway? Those who suffer most at the hand of alcohol abuse are usually not those doing the drinking.
This is of course an overly simplistic overview of alcoholism. It may even be argued that the comparison with the intoxicating effects of privilege is unfair because alcohol abuse is a devastating disease.
But unlike alcoholism its impact, its scars, and its destruction is far more intergenerational and affects millions of people daily in every aspect of their existence.
Is it really surprising that millions of black people across the world mistrust white people? That millions of black people are angry?
If I were a black person I'd also be angry. I'd be pissed off. Not the nice peaceful placard waving outside City Hall kind of pissed off. I'd riot, rampage and burn shit down.
Even if we are not black, we should be pissed off.
We should be outraged at the fact that, after centuries of injustice, exploitation, oppression, discrimination, persecution and alienation - which continues to this day, systemically, actively and passively - people are told "move on", "deal with it" or "what about..."?
We should be horrified that we dismiss the pain and suffering of millions with a shrug, wish it away, pretend it never happened, that it is all over now, that we had no part in it or that we don't see colour.
Like alcoholism, however, admitting you have a problem is the first step in addressing it.
Calling out white privilege is also a call to action to, as a very basic first step, become aware of what we say, what we think, how we speak to black people, our body language, our attitude, what we find funny or laugh at, or what we allow other white people to get away with in our company.
It is a call to action to change, as a very basic first step, what we say, what we think, how we speak to black people, our body language, our attitude, what we find funny or laugh at, or what we allow other white people to get away with in our company.
Unfortunately, I share the despondency of and sense of helplessness of most black people about the state of affairs.
Most white people will never read this or something like this. Most people who do, will argue against it, deny it, or downplay it.
Most white people will ask "when will it be enough?" instead of "where do we begin?"
You can start by changing your "I'm not racist, but..." into "I'm racist, but...". It's a painful admission, isn't it? Good. It should be. Now the healing can begin.