So here’s the dealio. I have NOT watched the Spur video. I know, I know, how did I manage to not press play on a clip that flooded my timeline?? The power of the scroll down is a forced to be reckoned with…
But let me tell you my side of the story…
Right now I’m not even in South Africa, I’m in Florida, in the USA. And a few mornings ago I woke up, found my glasses and opened my Facebook App. And it was EVERYWHERE. Almost immediately I had zero interest in watching it, all I saw was a large white man, towering over a table seating a black family and I knew if I pressed play, it would add nothing to my life. I’ve seen situations like this before. Whatever they’re arguing about doesn’t matter, it’s probably racist.
*Scrolls down to watch tear inducing animal adoption videos*
I manage to forget about it until I see a video on my ( black American) friend’s YouTube trending list titled “South African White supremacist Attacks Black Woman.”
Since it was posted, I’ve managed to avoid watching it, commenting on it, or even liking the encouraging posts, but here, across the world, on a different continent my black, American friend has asked for my opinion.
Since he asked me, I’ve decided to put my trust in a blog post and open myself up to the endless abyss of potential backlash and give my opinion. I can’t believe I’m this person now. And as much as using big words like bigotry and supremacy makes for a great read, I’m going to do my best to keep it simple.
Let’s break it down and start with the easy bits.
1. I’m NOT going to watch the video. I’ve seen situations like this before in real life, just because it’s one of the few times it’s been recorded and posted, it shouldn’t surprise people.
2. When I get home, I’m going to eat at Spur. Because if I had to boycott every restaurant a racist incident happens at in South Africa, I’d have to make a lot more of my own food. And I also thoroughly enjoy their ribs.
Now it gets a bit more touchy but let’s touch on the BIG ONE.
3. “White Privilege,” she says as white people everywhere flinch. If I see one more post ( from a white person ) that says it doesn’t exist, I may do something as dramatic as removing you off Facebook. The horror.
Now as a person whose last name is Whitehead, as if my skin tone wasn’t obvious enough, I know what being white is all about. I grew up in a middle class home, who’s parents provided for me, but I wasn’t privileged in the “normal” sense. When I left school, I worked and earned for myself , which I still do. And that is when I learned about the difference, between that “normal” privilege and white privilege. And I got to learn about it in two different countries. And this is how I explain it.
South Africa – When a young white woman can shout and belittle an older black lady working at the Woolies Pie section, using a, “loud voice you reserve for people who you perceive as stupid” saying, “GIRLIE! Hello?! Don’t you think you should help the customer standing in front of you and stop what you are doing?! NO girlie, you help me first. Okay?” * Please read the full article here on The Daily Vox * And believe me, I work in the customer service industry, I have dealt with disrespectful customers, but I don’t get treated as the maid, or just the pie lady. People don’t talk to me in a ‘white accent’ the way I hear people dumb down their accents to talk to black people. I hang out with white people, I’m not going to pretend I don’t hear the statements, “agh all of the blacks are lazy,” or “don’t go to that festival, it’s filled with blacks.” I’ve seen a woman not let her child play with a cup my black school friend had drank from because, “germs.” WE KNOW THAT APARTHEID IS OVER, WE KNOW THAT BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT BEING BEAT, SEPERATED AND ENSLAVED BUT DO YOU SEE THAT THEY ARE STILL JUST “THE BLACKS.”
America – I have straight up seen a white woman hold her handbag closer to her body as my black friend walked past her. I have watched every horrific video of unarmed black men being shot down and killed by police officers. I have seen the text messages from my black American’s friend mom asking him to keep safe because, “it isn’t a good time in to be a minority in this country.” Have I ever received a text message from my mom saying, “it’s tough to be white these days, do your best not to get shot, love you,” No, I have not in case you were wondering. And it felt very weird reading that, a mother telling her son to be safe because of his race. It wasn’t a nice feeling.
And to completely simplify it, let this ROCKSTAR of a white professor explain it to you on this video, and watch as Jane Elliot shows a white girl what racism feels like.
3. Farm murders. Because that is the first response to any post acknowledging black people. Please let me state VERY CLEARLY, that murder is a horrific crime, to take a human life, to leave children parentless, to kill a child, I do not condone, or justify it at all. And that is how I feel about ANY race. And don’t you dare threaten me with, “Well what if YOUR parents get murdered by black people!? ” I will release my wrath and delete your comment. I have friends that live on farms, I don’t want them to be murdered either. But know that I do NOT accept the racial excuse, the wage dispute excuse, “the murder them because they are white”excuse. It is murder, it is a crime and the people responsible should be taken account for their actions.
Boy, this one has ended up being a pretty long one but let me finish up. I want it to be clear that I am learning, I’m still learning about the, ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement by reading and trying to understand, I’m learning about my black friends lives by listening to them and reading their opinions without using my trigger comment and saying things like, “well not ALL white people are bad.” Or trying to justify my race and take away from their struggle or ignore history that isn’t perfect no matter what your race. I’m also not perfect, there are also things I don’t agree with, for example I will not accept my friend being treated differently because her native tongue is Afrikaans, or deny her a place in South Africa because of the culture she was born into, grew up with and embraced as her own.
There is such fire in South Africa right now and I worry that it is being fueled by hatred, bias, ignorance, arrogance but I also know that this fire is better than trying to put it out and pretend there isn’t an awakening in our generation. I am not the only one that needs to learn though. And Jane Elliot explains it AGAIN, in the perfect way right here.
I don’t know if in a years time I will learn more or events that may occur and my opinion will be completely different from what I shared today but today this is my opinion and this is what I do know, I am a young white woman, trying to unlearn what the world has taught me, I’m trying to be the difference in my generation.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Nelson Mandela