“Now it is our contention that true democracy can be established in South Africa and on the continent as a whole, only when white supremacy has been destroyed.” – Robert M Sobukwe (2010:23)
This call from the Seventies should still be our rallying cry today. Not to say we have not made radical progress, but the call to end white supremacy is still a helpful one. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy looked different in the seventies where whites literally ran everything, had all and exclusive access and where black people were exploited and humiliated. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy lingers on today, stubbornly in the minds of South Africans, both white and black. This is our joint disease that affects our national health. Back then the supremacy was justified by so-called biological differences, a nonsense that has been mostly debunked.
The two notions that still plague us are, the idea of cultural superiority and the idea that material wealth and education is linked to intrinsic qualities. You just need to look at a useless corrupt fat cat today, driving a Bentley and realise that theft buys fancy suits and expensive whiskey. It is not classy, it is material profanity built on theft. When the spoilt little kids of this fat cat goes to expensive private schools, how dare they look down on and make fun of struggling kids from hard-working honest parents?
In my description of an exploitative class in the paragraph above, did you imagine a white or a black person? The answer is very important. Whichever picture you had in your head, might point you to your blind spot, whereby you need to learn to see the other side.
Today, for someone living in a shack, notions of white supremacy are real when every day, you walk past a white family in a Prado, going on holiday, getting Christmas gifts, practicing public speaking, discussing books. White wealth is a legacy of white privilege which is a legacy of white oppression and exploitation. Privilege allows certain cultures to develop and flourish. Privilege allows certain cultures to be trampled on and deteriorate. This applies to ethnic cultures, but also the specific culture in a home or in a neighbourhood. Kids growing up surrounded by gangs, surrounded by rapes or violence, they grow up in a new culture. Hatred can infiltrate any culture and hurt can become a culture of rebellion. Culture is not about cutlery and clothing; it is about shared values. Shared values and ethics that put you on a productive and developmental path is a privilege.
Sobukwe speaks of the myth of race that is used to build a myth of cultural superiority linked to colour. Nobody can deny that in todays world certain cultural traits will help members of a clan and certain cultural traits will disadvantage members of a clan; any clan. I hold that our culture should serve us and we should not serve our culture. We live in radically changing times, our groups are not geographically isolated any longer and that which used to make a sub-grouping of humans stronger and safe can today make a sub grouping stupid and dangerous. We need to change.
Our most pressing challenge is that of moving away from race, moving away from ethnicity; towards a shared humanity. This is not contradictory, as long as the notions are prioritised. Sub cultures can be used in service of a unified culture. Tribes can use their tribal heritage to serve the common good. A practical example can be the coming together of Afrikaners in a church with the vision and calling to eradicate white supremacy. That will have two legs, one being the extension of opportunity to blacks and the other being the deconstruction of internal and habitual stupidities that perpetuate racism. A black man or women who becomes successful through excellence and goodness should be top priority and something whites cherish. It would be a privilege to be part of such stories.
A tricky question in the discussion on dismantling white supremacy is that of white suffering. In theory nobody should suffer. In reality, in an equal South Africa, white poverty has to grow. That will be normal and even healthy. Whites should live in shacks, as long as blacks are living in shacks. White people passionate about uplifting ‘their own’ in a context of exploitative racial oppression need to do very serious soul searching. Let blacks look after poor whites. We have a historical burden, we have restitution as prerequisite for reconciliation; or at least the two needs to be implemented in unison.
Whites and blacks need to go about dismantling so called white supremacy in two different ways. Im not going to be PC and Im not going to be rude, but every honest South African knows that blacks and whites have different nuances and narrative we need to voice and advocate in order for our country to be equal and free. Democracy is impossible without the dismantling of so-called white supremacy- it is our call in this day and age to fight towards this same, unifying goal.
It can only be achieved if we work together. Other countries have shown that it is not something that is automatically fixed over time. We need a concerted effort, a brave leadership and a sacrificial life-style in order to be counter cultural and show the world that indeed we belong firstly to a human race.
To give up, is to have failed.
To give up is to have caused the thing you were supposed to fight.