A comprehensive guide to white privilege in South Africa

After spending two hours on Aubrey Masango’s Radio 702 show [email protected] this week, fielding questions and accusations around my views on racism and attempting to explain white privilege to white callers, I decided to write an extensive guide to recognising white privilege, borrowing from this anonymous Thought Catalog document, which extrapolates from Richard Dyer’s work on white privilege, and reworking it into the South African context.

[Note: This blog has been updated. Although there were links to the original work posted by “Anonymous” on the Thought Catalog website, the original version failed to explicitly reference the original work and, where direct quotes were used, did not make adequate reference to the source material. This was pointed out by Jacques Rousseau on his blog.

However, I believe his suggestion that I have quoted from Richard Dyer’s work is erroneous as I borrowed only from the Thought Catalog text, openly and with three linked references.

While the links provided have been deemed inadequate referencing in this case, it is my understanding that “embedding material by reference (sometimes called an embedding form of hypertext link) causes the embedded material to become a part of the embedding document” as stated by Tim Berners-Lee in his commentary on links and the law.

No attempt was made to hide the fact that this piece was intended to be an extrapolation of the Thought Catalog post, adapted for the South African context. Direct quotes from the Thought Catalog post have now either been placed in block quotes or referred to explicitly in the revised post below.]

1. White privilege, like whiteness itself, is almost indefinable to white people. There are few words to describe the invisible. However, white privilege is only invisible to white people and to those people of colour/black people who benefit and buy into white privilege.

2. Many whites in South Africa are generally unwilling to engage in the topic of racism – most crying out that we “must move beyond race’ and that they “do not see colour”. This is the new phenomenon of “colourblind racism” that denies and ignores the fact that for people of colour/black people, race still matters because they still experience it. This is because colourblind white people still practice racism.

They will make blanket statements like “we don’t have slavery anymore” or “there’s a black president now” or, even worse, “all of that stuff happened so long ago.” But that’s just it – it didn’t happen all that long ago, actually, and it is still happening. Cultural amnesia.

3. These white folk will make statements such as “we don’t have apartheid anymore” or “there’s a black president now” and “all of that stuff happened so long ago and now there is BEE which has made us the victims of black racism or black supremacy”. But 20 years is not that long ago and it will take decades for the pain and destruction of our history to subside.

4. Because of the transitional system of reconciliation, which seemed only to benefit white folk – coupled with the implementation of a business-biased macroeconomic policy – whites have continued to benefit hugely from the system. Economic studies have shown that many whites have in fact grown richer in the past 20 years – while the majority of blacks and smaller pockets of whites and minority groups have just grown poorer.

5. Yes, there is a burgeoning black middle class and many white people will often use this to point out that blacks are taking over and “stealing” their opportunities. This sense of ownership over opportunities is a sure sign of white privilege.

6. White privilege means not recognising that there is no such thing as Black Supremacy as black folk have not occupied and oppressed the world under a dominant ideology of Blackness.

7. There were also no “benefits” to black people under the colonial and apartheid rule, though some whites will argue that whites “brought civilisation to Africa for the blacks”. They did not. They built “civilisation” on the backs of black slavery, for themselves, and were just recently forced to share the spoils of their exploitative history with the indigenous people of this land.

8. This is because black people fought a long and hard struggle to overturn a system from which they received no benefits. White privilege means you do not make the connection between the struggle and a system of historically racialised oppression.

9. Whenever BEE comes up as a way to create opportunities for the previously disadvantaged, a white person is sure to say, “Race shouldn’t matter as much as merit. I don’t think people should be judged on the colour of their skin. Everyone should be judged regardless of their colour.” So why then do white people continue to judge black people according to their skin colour? Why does critique of blackness by the white regime always centre on their morphology, their blackness, ‘their culture‘, ‘their penis‘, ‘their bad use of English‘ among other things? This message is implicit and sometimes explicit in white critique of blackness, whether in news reportage, art, satire, cartoons or columns.

10. The default here is that white people have more merit and capability and are therefore more deserving of opportunities.

11. White privilege is accusing people of drawing the race card when whites are critiqued for being racist and then saying skin colour has got nothing to do with it.

12. As per Thought Catalog, “It is true race isn’t theoretically about skin colour,” race is “a systemic, governmental, juridical set of processes” rooted firmly in an exploitative history that have embedded “racial inequalities”. Race is a set of laws that are entrenched to favour whiteness and that most often vicitimise black folk.

13. Race is the law that becomes apartheid and is then replaced by neo-colonialism. As the poster on Thought Catalog points out, race is the hysterical “stereotype that if a black family moves into a neighbourhood”, property values plummet and noise levels go up, as we often see locally, when too many black kids move into a private or public school it soon sees whites leaving the school. Race is shooting 44 striking black men dead because black working class bodies still have very little value in a white dominated system and many white people will think and say that they deserved it. Race is the common white assumption that all black people are lazy even though between 4am and 7am, the streets are filled with black folk making their way to badly paid jobs in white areas because they work hard to survive and feed and clothe their families.


White privilege is reflected the second a person asks why we are still talking about race.

15. These people act offended, angry and often hyper-aggressive if another person calls out and probes their white privilege. As pointed out on Thought Catalog,they assert vociferously that questioning their whiteness is “reverse discrimination”. They accuse white people who interrogate whiteness of being mad and ‘other’ them in dehumanising terms.

16. White privilege is accusing a black person who critiques whiteness of being racist.

17. White privilege is asking your badly paid maid to unpack your daily clothes-buying splurges in which you spend more in one day than you pay her for the month.

18. White privilege is asserting on a public platform that a white woman learning to Twerk is some sort of nation building exercise.

19. There are 56-million people in South Africa. Half of those people live below the breadline – the majority of poor people are black. This means they are trapped in a system that favours whiteness and white business at the expense of the poor. Many white people will blame this entirely on the government and while government must be critiqued for failing to adequately change the system and deliver to the poor, white people refuse to see the role of white greed and corporate power in this systemically skewed and racialised economy.

20. White privilege is investing in red rhino horns and demonising impoverished black poachers while never once considering marching against hunger or pointing their fingers at those at the top of the value chain in poaching, which is, sometimes, a white game farm owner.


“I don’t see race” or “we should all just look past race” are two general statements that can only be said by a person for whom race is not a daily struggle.

22. White privilege is entrenched entitlement because it is the authority to continuously demand presence of whiteness in all transformation processes and using black representation to further their “causes” only when it suits them. If white people are not in charge of transformation processes, which has become a white industry, they cry racism.

23. If black organisations spring up to take charge of their own representation and transformation white people will use sympathetic media to make a huge hullaballoo about the exclusion of whiteness and label it racism instead of seeing it as self-determination. This has ensured that the means-of-production has mostly remained in the hands of white business and has created another industry from which whites can benefit – the constant training of black people.

24. White privilege is being able to endlessly exploit black body for financial gains and pat themselves on their backs for doing “good” and “beneficial” work.

25. White privilege is the groundless fear that affirmative action programs are going to open the way for “the blacks to take over”, or more specifically to take “my position” at university or in the workplace. As the poster on Thought Catalog points out, white privilege is the assumption that the position is yours by default of being white.

26. In South Africa black people have also often been overlooked for coloured or Indian people for leadership positions in institutions of learning. This is because white people perceive minorities as less threatening and have more inherent trust in those who are not “fully black”. It is a deeply entrenched prejudice towards blackness that has been cultivated and passed down from generation to generation over the past four centuries.

27. White privilege is not noticing that in a country that is majority black and has a black government, the amount of black teachers and lecturers in schools, colleges and universities is not representative of the country’s demographics. Neither is the number of black directors of NGOs in civil society, or owners of film companies and media outlets. The corporate world remains largely untransformed too.

28. White privilege is blaming this on perceived black incompetence rather that seeing how the system is designed to provide opportunities for white people, then Indian and coloured people, and lastly black people, excluding the small black elite and elements of burgeoning black middle class. This is the racialised hierarchy of privilege entrenched in the apartheid system and still in place today. White privilege is accepting this status quo to preserve white benefit and ignoring the negative impact it has on the next generation.

29. White privilege is also blaming the poor for their poverty instead of looking at systemic issues that create poverty.

30. White privilege means not constantly having your intelligence or integrity questioned just because you are black. It means not having to work that much harder just to safeguard yourself from deleterious critique when you achieve prominence. It means never having to second-guess yourself about your competence or being sideswiped by disparaging comments by white people who are shaken by your success. It means not automatically being suspected of being open to corruption. It means not being racially profiled as the rapist, the tsotsi, the hijacker and the monster in the shadows, simply because you are black and male. It means that if you are raped you are more likely to see justice.

31. Whiteness is invisible to white people.

A white person doesn’t think of themselves as white. We are just people.

White people very quickly revert to being white when they need to differentiate themselves from perceived “bad behaviours” of “these people” though.

32. As the Thought Catalog poster points out, when we talk about white privilege, we’re not only talking about being wealthy. Wealth is about class and we all know there is a small elite class of black and minority groups in South Africa (onto whom many whites project all elements of corruption and unfair power acquisition as they somehow think blacks do not deserve to be rich). What we are talking about a set of automatic but invisible advantages, like never being told that we speak well.

No one has ever told me that I have good diction or that I speak well because I’m white.

It means never having someone walk towards you with a face-cracking smile that seeks to prove that this white person is okay with black folk and is inwardly congratulating herself for her magnanimous and non-racial attitudes. It means never being spoken to in broken stilted English in a fake African accent.

33. White privilege is knowing that the stuff you are taught at schools and universities is largely centred on your culture and value system.

34. White privilege is appropriating aspects of black culture in carnivalesque situations such as Rag or pantomime or as some kind of fun celebration but then returning to whiteness with no inkling of the experience of living black.

35. White privilege is claiming you are “African” and into “Ubuntu” but doing and saying nothing about the inequalities you see around you, thus maintaining your white privilege while assuming commonality and brotherhood with those exploited by the system of which you are a beneficiary.

36. It means co-opting and appropriating black words to push your own business while not fully understanding or practicing the meaning of the indigenous knowledge that you colonise with little reflection on the privileged act of stealing from black awareness.

37. White privilege is thinking it is normal to say you are not racist because you have no problem with “these people”.


Not all white people are racist, but all white people have white privilege.

This is so even in a country that is African – because we belong to and are privileged by a “white regime” that is global and not just a local neo-colonial phenomenon.

I know I have white privilege, and that definitely impacts how I relate to the world and it shapes the kinds of relationships I cultivate … When you understand your own white privilege, you’ll be better equipped to see and understand systemic discrimination and inequality.

39. The first step to overcoming racism is recognising you have white privilege. You cannot deconstruct a social construct if you do not recognise how you have benefitted from it as a white person. While I have never really been economically privileged, with a single-mother household for most of my childhood, I know I have white privilege and that definitely effects how I relate to society and shapes how I choose to live in the world.

When you are cognisant of your own white privilege, you are better equipped to “see and understand systemic discrimination and inequality” and begin to deconstruct it from within. It is hard to imagine being anti-racist without being anti-imperialst and anti-neoliberal as these are the very systems that perpetuate inequality and racism globally.”

40. I am sure there are many more examples of white privilege and I invite readers to please add to this list by sending me your examples of white privilege.

Related posts:
M&G editor-in-chief Chris Roper weighs in on the plagiarism debate. You can read his comment here.

  • Priviliged

    White Privilege is knowing that The World Does Owe You a Living and that you have to work for what you want, including studying to equip yourself for the job market.

  • Skerminkel

    I am a bad white person and could therefore not get myself to read the whole piece. On #20, though, would it not be terribly patronising for white people to rise up/march/complain/make a noise on behalf of black people? Are there really people in this country who think that all the poachers are black? As far as I have it, the first people to be prosecuted in Limpopo included a white vet. At least, I assume by the sound of his name that he is white. I did not have the opportunity to put a pencil in his hair, or whatever the modern version of it is.

  • Melanie

    It is also asking for a favour, fully expecting to be helped/trusted. I could not pay for my parking as I left a small parking lot with a boom. I told the attendant I would go straight to the ATM and come back and pay him. I did, but would a black person even have asked?

  • Elario Muller

    A great article.
    And i agree.
    This Red October issue:
    I feel is totally missed placed. The issue is CRIME…
    we all experience it.
    We should all STAND UP AGAINST CRIME. we all suffer from it.


  • mashudu ramuhala

    White privilege is being constantly reminded that you are the only clever black person who by virtue of your education and progressive thinking, gets invited to predominantly white dinners & dinner parties – and everybody yearns for your attention because in their eyes, you conform to their standards.

    White privilege is when I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of colour who constitute the world’s majority, without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

    White privileges is when I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

    White privilege is when I can criticise our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

    It is when I can go home from most meetings of organisations I belong to, feeling somewhat tied i rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

    When my culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

    That if I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

    The mere fact that I am outlining these privileges in an alien language is a symbol of white privilege.

  • lester

    Don’t know how to respond to this but surely want to cause this is pure stereotyping and perpetuates the cycle of discrimination, many things stand uneven to all people across the world and me being white is not in my mindset ever. why not write a book empowering and equalizing the mind set of people of different races , rather than breaking down those of us who actually want to move on and I may have benefited from what my grandfather believed in, but I am not him.

  • CraigB

    Glad to see you are doing your bit to keep the hate alive and well.
    You are a hero! is this to get suckup points with the ANC?

  • VoorvelVisser

    You lost me at… ” After spending two hours on Aubrey Masango…”

  • Tofolux

    Adding to your list: White priviledge is calling us ”refugees” in our own country and not reprimanding and demanding a blanket apology. White priviledge is believing that there is is portable flushing toilet, when a portable toilet cannot flush. White priviledge is believing that a white person is not corrupt.

  • Chavez

    It is completely illogical to say ‘It is hard to imagine being anti-racist without being anti-imperialist (i.e. anti-Western) and anti-neoliberal as these are the very systems that perpetuate inequality and racism globally.’ Totally untrue. Socialist systems can be as racist as any – the old USSR was great at manipulating black nationalist movements resulting in disaster and poverty in countries such as Angola and Mozambique. Cuba regards black citizens as inferior – Che Guevara made the same comment. Socialism perpetuates poverty and inequality – the enforced inequality between the elite Communist party thugs (as in SA) in their Benzes and Black Sea dachas and the rest of the suffering population. Compare the former East and West Germany for a lesson of the utter failures of socialism, and the evils of its tyranny, in a race-neutral context. The race angle is total bunkum. An analysis of socialism vs neoliberalism may have more merit.

  • Suzi

    Wow! I am actually not sure what you would like about us whities – can you come up with a few solutions rather than just brushing whites with the tarnished brush? Since this is part of the public sphere and opinions are invited I feel your litany of faults about white people are demonised to the point of being ridiculous. I am not sure what your field of expertise is but I surely have difficulty with reading through that long litany of the failures of being the privileged white. I disagree that all white people duck and dive when it comes to speaking about racism. We live with it and some deal with it and some ignore it from all sides. But your examples do not hold water for me. People from all of the spectrum of society in South Africa have difficulty in dealing with racial issues. So tell us how we should deal with it? As far as I know there is no magic wand that is going to solve the problem. I am a problem solver and spend more energy on solving the problem than looking for the problem. The problem is enough in my face. I also don’t dig into the failings of a specific culture one-sidedly. Maybe because I am an academic and accustomed to being unbiased. Maybe you feel that is racist but please bring on solutions just like many South Africans right across the spectrum is trying to do. Eish!

  • Bobby


    These are your examples of white privilege? All I see in your entire article Gillian is someone who has sweet FA clue about the real world, about reality, about anything. Someone who is so hung up on trying to make their tired and pointless opinion heard.

    Nobody of any importance (and this exlcudes the government etc), actually gives a toss, we all just want to get on with our lives.

  • Wondering…

    So now, what is the solution?

    What do black people want us to do?

    Perhaps you, Gillian, can answer on their behalf.

    Maybe a surgeon who can perform mass lobotomies on white people so we can stop expecting the best of everything, so we can stop trying to perform well at our jobs and expect others to do the same.

  • DorothyAnne Sutton

    I couldn’t finish reading this ……. There was something wrong with it, couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was not anything here which would build rather than destroy. So sorry but I don’t think you achieved anything with this,

  • Tapera

    This is at the level of Julius Streicher’s argument at Nuremberg, which tried to define ‘Judentum’ (Jewishness) – just like ‘whiteness’ or ‘white privilege’ as some kind of ethereal attribute that attached itself automatically and invisibly to all Jewish people. The idea is that a convenient, unchallengeable, meaningless label attaches itself in an entirely deterministic way – regardless of peoples’ individual merit, beliefs, values, actions or even their own morality or personal behaviour. It’s rubbish.
    Likewise, Streicher insisted, with equal lack of logic, that his views were not racist towards individual Jewish people. It is rubbish posing as argument. It is cynicism posing as sympathy. It is on the level of similar propaganda rags such as Der Sturmer or Die Ewige Jude. It does not merit serious intellectual consideration.

  • Anna Brown

    while it is true that most whites are still in a privileged position due to historical reasons, and that many don’t recognise this, this article absolutely crawls with generalisations about the attitudes of white people, which diminishes its credibility to zero. What Gillian seems to be saying is that all whites have these terrible attitudes except her. Is this credible?

  • Bushco

    World Order!!!! white privilege is everywhere even in Africa

  • VoorvelVisser

    So…..since you got a nice cushy job at Mail&Guardian (because of, you know…you being white and all such) why don’t you take the lead for all us whites and quit your job ? You know, so that a “Previously Disadvantaged Community Member” can take your place. Yeah….just as I thought.

  • Tebe

    Madam you are fighting a loosing battle judging by the responses from white people. You see white people just don’t get what you are saying and they never will. I am black. The first time my mother entered a classroom she was seen teen years old. My father never made it to the classroom. They live in what is now west gate shopping mall before they were forcibly removed to dobsonville in the Westrand. White people do not understand what we had to overcome to make something of our pitiful lives. Today I am a graduate of wits university.

  • Tebe

    The true tragedy of apartheid and racism is the wasted human black capital. Without apartheid Oliver Tambo would have become an outstanding mathematician instead of wasting forty years in exile. Steve Biko would have become a doctor of note. Mandela would have developed a jurisprudence of note. The list is endless.

  • Your neighbour

    Isn’t the main white privilege inheritance? Can we put all our assets on display. All pre-1994 wealth above a certain threshold, then becomes subject to a special reparations or privilege tax for whites. Conversely, since 1994, a special tax should be applied to those who have accumulated huge fortunes because of policies that favored them unfairly.

    These taxes can be used to fund small business interest free loans and free training for those who can prove under-education and/or poverty traps. Historically this would include most black people and a small minority of white people.

    The way I see it, the conflict arises for the average skilled white person, who while “inheriting” a good education, hasn’t inherited many assets. They are say a schoolteacher or plumber or scientist or university lecturer etc. Middle class but owning say a partially paid off house, a respectable but older car, furniture and a pension fund. Who in fact, by choosing to stay in SA are relatively poorer than their peer groups in developed countries. They are the ones that perceive the system is indefinitely loaded against them and their children.

    Why not go after the Oppenheimers, the Akermanns , the Ramaphosa and the other 1% ers who really did benefit from asset ownership due to monopolistic ownerspolicies or being singled out for unfair opportunities? Scared of their power? Easier to go after Mev Blou or Mr Green.

  • Drogo

    What an idiot!!Wake up tanie

    it is true that most whites are still in a privileged position because white people were the ones to build this country to where it is today.what will happen if all whites closed there bussinesses down and resign from top position???Take some farms for an excample

    but hey at least you try to say something while not saying anything at all

    5brownie point for you

  • http://ntshangase15.blogspot.com/ Brian Ntshangase

    it funny on how the truth incites scorn of the guilty most of the time. I think the article has done its part in articulating what we all know but fear to say in fear of disturbing the hues of the rainbow. It is good to see such overwhelming denial because denial is better than pretense; denial is one step before taking ownership of a wrong done.

  • guest

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white

  • johann

    The lady is totally out of touch with reality. I can’t even begin to answer and point out disagreements that I have with MOST of her points because it is painfully apparant that she is totally prejudiced. Perhaps when her or her family are ‘touched’ by the gross injustices and/or violence and/or discrimination (or worse), then she might take off her “score-points-with-the-ANC” glasses and start seeing what is really going on in this country that has been destroyed six-love, six-love already…

  • Jack

    Can you imagine an article about “blackness”? The screeches of “racism” would reverberate for decades.
    In any case, first the author objects to whites not learning about black culture then when she objects to their embracing black culture in their business practices.
    Please make up your mind.

  • Michelle

    This article expresses so much of what I experience when I work in rural communities in the northern Cape. White supremacy is alive and kicking rural SA

  • Momma Cyndi

    The obsessive compulsive need for labels!

    Of course whites are privileged! We are treated differently by every nation on this earth. This is not a South African phenomenon. It is a global one.

    A friend of mine calls it our ‘backpack’. We carry it wherever we go. From China to the depths of the Amazon, we are treated differently. Other than investing in boot-polish, there ain’t much we can do about it.

    How about not moaning about it and making people do the same for others? People only treat you the way you ALLOW them to.

  • Joe Citizen

    Did you obtain permission from the author to hijack his/her work?

  • The Praetor

    Just a thought…

    Living in Cape Town, I met a lot of so-called liberal whites, who used to call me buddy, they visiting my house and vice versa, and I had no reason to doubt their genuine non-racialism.

    Then I would travel to other towns and cities, which weren’t perhaps as liberal, and run into these same ‘buddies’, who would do everything in their power to avoid you, to the extent that they would make as-if they don’t know you at all, because they were now among their conservative white friends.

    ‘Nuff’ said!

    The Praetor

  • nic

    i am white (Australian) and i agree with the article’s observations – and it isnt just SA, its deep in every institution globally. I refuse to despair when i read comments that show that people of my privilege refuse to understand/acknowledge this; i will just try to work harder to live up to Steve Biko’s call that its up to me, with my privilege, to persuade others with the same privilege that we would actually *all* have more opportunities (and be more human) if we realised and actively did something about this. We cannot give up.

  • Cam Cameron

    “…there is no such thing as Black Supremacy as black folk have not occupied and oppressed the world under a dominant ideology of Blackness…”

    Mugabe’s had a go at it, though.

    But just because you cannot DO it, doesn’t mean you can’t THINK it, or passionately WISH for it.

  • Brandy Balls

    This article made me think. And I certainly saw elements of myself in some of the stereotypes. But that being said, I think there were a few liberties taken to smear white people with very broad brush strokes without looking at some cause-and-effects.
    I have absolutely no issue losing a job to a black person. But if said black person is getting the opportunity not for being better than me, but only based on skin colour and is – in fact – inferior to my own abilities, that’s not right. And it’s not because I feel entitled as a WHITE person, I just think it’s not right on any level as a human being.
    White farmers stand a 60% higher chance of a violent death than a policeman. We’re at stage 6 of 8 of the global genocide watch. These are the things Red October protesters are trying to bring to light, albeit not in the most poetic fashion.
    Whites have a long history of slavery and racism, agreed. But we have some distance to go before we openly acknowledge that white people can also be on the receiving end of racism… and it has nothing to do with feeling privileged.

  • http://n/a neo

    “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”
    “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
    “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”- Vince Lomabrdi.

    At the end of it all, we all have the privilege of living in this beautiful COUNTRY, and I know it has its problems.

    Problems that aren’t going to solve themselves and aren’t going to be solved by people in positions far from the actual problems speaking nonchalantly about the issues at hand.

    They are problems that can be solved by a collective effort, by us ORDINARY SOUTH AFRICANS who care enough for our BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY.

    I believe the quote above speaks to all of us, we can’t get along if we don’t bother getting to know our fellow countrymen (irrespective of race).
    Its easy to speak to the problems or jump to defenses, by reading some of the comments it seems harder to accept our democratic responsibility as SOUTH AFRICANS.
    A responsibility that is to contribute positively to a COUNTRY with so much POTENTIAL.

    Not by fighting amongst our selves, we have so many different languages, cultures, so many things we can learn from one another.


    Do you know how embarrassing it is having to explain why we have so much animosity and indifference in SOUTH AFRICA to a foreigner who…

  • JLaw

    This article is so painfully anti-academic, it’s stunning. Although not that academic itself, I give you wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege

    First of all, “white privilege” as a concept has very little to do with a lot of what you list, which is not white privilege as much as it is point blank racism. If you’re going to use the language, and educate people, please learn it. White privilege is about benefits to white people, dear, not abhorrent conduct. No wonder radio listeners were confused. For example, numbers 14, 21, 30 and 33 on your list are the correct use of “white privilege”.

    Most of mashudu ramuhala’s examples are also very correct. White privilege is largely about having an unquestioned experience that is easier as a result of being white.

    The second issue with this is that you make a lot of claims that, unless you have some sources backing up your abstractions, are remarkably full of quackery.

    “Because of the transitional system of reconciliation, which seemed only to benefit white folk – coupled with the implementation of a business-biased macroeconomic policy – whites have continued to benefit hugely from the system.”

    What does that even mean? It is painful to read, first, and it begs questions like: is she implying business-based macroeconomic policy is a product of whiteness or trying to conclude whites alone could take advantage of it? If I was marking your paper and you were my student, you wouldn’t do…

  • Humanrace365

    @Brandy Balls – your quote…….. “I have absolutely no issue losing a job to a black person. But if said black person is getting the opportunity not for being better than me, but only based on skin colour and is – in fact – inferior to my own abilities, that’s not right”

    Do you not realise that the playing fields cannot just be made equal in 20 years after the evil empire fell. I will give you an example. Most born frees of today still have parents that have self esteem issues based on how they were treated in the past. This manifests itself into what knowledge they can impart on to their “born free” kids. Not to mention migrant labour that ripped families apart….all designed to do exactly that. Strong Family bonds cascade into future generations. You expect people who lived in a shack for more than 80% of their live to just get educated and have the confidence to compete with others that have had social advantages and benefits for 100’s of years. Pity that you dont seem to realise this and think everyone is now on equal footing. It is anything but….

    Had the government done more to provide incentives to white people as part of knowledge transfer etc. could have went a long way. But instead selfishness, corruption and apathy seemed to been the priority and whites who could not take BEE and AA left or plan to. In hindsight, there is no easy answer as another point is “why should black people be so forgiving to whites, when they still think of them in the same…

  • IchIII

    I agree with most of what is said in this article, white privilege really is tiresome when its not aknowledged. I’m white and I have no problem admitting I was born with my ass in the butter – its not like I can afford to buy anything better than a Hyundai Atos and I can’t even afford to buy property yet, but I would still say I live like a king in comparison to most people in the country. I’m privileged because my parents had the money to send me to a good school, have access to computers from a young age (a time when you needed considerable money to own PCs) and brought up culturally so that it wasn’t difficulty for me to get work. What baffles me is how other white people can’t see their privilege when they’re surrounded by the struggling, mostly impoverished working-class, almost all of who are non-white.

  • Herrie

    This whole diatribe can be dismissed with a single quote from the distant past: “You have powerful magic, White Man!”. To put it differently, Gillian infantalises Black people — she is a supreme example of the most insidious kind of racism. She regards Black folk as children, incapable of defending themselves against a tiny disempowered minority. Whites are a minority in this country. They are marginalised by legislation, and can be marginalised even more at the whim of the overwhelming Black majority in Parliament (who have wrapped themselves in the kind of legislation used elsewhere almost exclusively to protect minorities! In what sense can 80% of our population be described as a minority?) If one analyses Gillian’s writings and those of her craven sycophants it soon becomes obvious that it’s basically a crib from African-American writers.: Gillian, Afro-Americans make up ten percent of the American population and have reasons to gripe about White attitudes. In South-Africa the situation is almost exactly the other way round! To put it concisely — let Black people fight their own battles — they do not need you as the Madam to fight their battles. They are NOT children, whatever you might think. And you are not their Madam.

  • Mervyn Brouard

    White privilege is actually writing this article

  • http://blogsausbetties.com Walter

    A comprehensive wailing and litany of “mea culpa” I would call it. Debates around privilege are not unique to this part of the world, they have however become more prominent on account of the many cases where the element of responsibility is missing, the recent banking crisis being a case in point. Twenty years after, the Afrikaner community in particular is haunted by the white ghost of guilt with brutal consequences for some, if you take the suicide of a popular Western Cape farmer as one such example. We, the privileged of the world, have to be serious about our quotidian responsibility to bridge the globally ever widening divide between the privileged and the disadvantaged wherever it is in our ability to do so. Where privilege and responsibility go hand in hand, as it should in all good governance, the populace at large will prosper. There is no point in bewailing a mute point.

  • Thabang

    I recently attended an interview where the interviewer seemingly had no clue of whom I was and hadn’t bothered going through my CV and Academic Transcripts, the man (white middle-aged) just assumed I’m not skilled enough as soon as he walked into the room. The HR Manager couldn’t hide his shock when the man concluded the interview without so much as asking me any question that related to the post I applied for. It was a quite fascinating to experience the narcissism that is so deeply entrenched in whiteness and the assumed supremacy. The HR Manager (White man) apologized on behalf of the firm and tried to reschedule another interview, I graciously declined as I would have had to report to that repulsive old man. It truly is pitiable how SOME white people are so retrogressive and then claim to be connoisseurs of civilization.

  • Lindsay

    As someone in their mid twenties, I take full responsibility for what’s being said here. All of it. I don’t have to. But I do. Not out of martyrdom, but because I know that this is an all or nothing deal and acknowledging anything less means my heart is not truly in moving forward side by side with MY people.

    You have created a blanket narrative for people on the pretense that your Orwellian eye observes all and more. This article was meant to hurt, the tone suggests as much. You don’t know me and yet herding me into the kraal with all your other nicely labelled whites you have made me indifferent to your very person and as a writer.

    I am a human first, every single other thing I am is secondary by a long, long, long way and as you say not by my choosing but you have used a GLOBAL illness as a diagnosis for our debilitation. Please understand that I know for a fact that you are not wrong, I see it everyday, but your refusal to acknowledge people as individuals, I fear, may have put the credibility of this article in jeopardy.

    To anyone reading this, we can only resolve to prove this woman wrong (I even think that she is trying to provoke a positive reaction) and to stand together to lay a foundation for a solution because you will not see the end game in your lifetime, but what you can do is be a small cupped hand on a beach and help build the castle we should be.

  • Karney

    I think Herrie sums it up perfectly

  • Inks

    I, too, think that Herrie’s contribution hits the nail on the head.

  • Willem De Jager

    A pretty black girl dismissing the Red October marches with “crime knows no colour!” in Houghton English is white privilege.

    If crime knew no colour then security companies wouldn’t be making millions out of privileged whites. (Accurate) perceptions exist amongst marginalised black youths that there is wealth to be had from targeting whites. It IS about race. We can either acknowledge this and work towards a new solution or we can continue living behind ornate bars preaching equality from our laptops.

    Where ‘liberal’ used to carry an air of worldliness and open mindedness for me it has come to represent denial of the kind that Gillian describes in this article. But why do whites go to such extraordinary lengths to pretend that they are all for social justice when in fact they are living as though it were still 1985?

    I think it is because we are not America or the UK. In those countries the black minority groups were easily assimilated and they became Anglophones. It was more a matter of window dressing to push the neo-colonialist agenda than anything else.

    In South Africa whites know that if we really want to be fair, the 1 in 10 white people should have no real impact on the way things are run. Black should be the default. Knowledge systems and operational languages should be Zulu and Xhosa. 1 in 10 is a negligible ratio. Are whites ready to become negligible?

  • Keith B

    What a self righteous and atrociously bigoted list of white ideology. There is no wonder the author believes there is white privilege; she clearly believes she is a superior race.

    The faults one sees in others are the same faults overlooked in themselves.

    Why is it that a black can not be racist? It’s absolutely fascinating. The poor blacks. No bloody wonder there are insecurity issues abound. The Zulus back in the day weren’t a peace loving tribe and where horrendously brutal to other tribes AND to their own people. This is not an issue though as it was black on black violence.

    The Nazis destroyed the Jews, the Romans slaughtered Christians, the English murdered the Irish and Scots , the Greeks and Egyptians in their prime dominated other races and all this not to long agp I might add. How is it that these cultures could move on and without forgetting their heritage. The Japanese have progressed after the absolute nuclear destruction brought on by the Americans.

    Can we not work together to make all our lives a little better. I want poverty banished. I want everyone living life on a full stomach and being happy and content and being economically free. REGARDLESS OF THE COLOUR OF ONES SKIN.

    How can we move forward by bringing up the horrors of the past? The world is a pretty fucked up place and it doesn’t help to have a inferiority complex. In the end we’ll all die and squabbling over race doesn’t help anyone.get stuck in and make a positive…

  • Karabo

    This article is a jagged lil pill for many white people to swallow and the so called ‘white liberals’…

  • Khanyo

    Great read. Generalising at times but, I can personally identify with most of your points. I assume you also acknowledge your own priviledge.

  • Just a thought

    The last time a group of people defined another in terms of colour there was apartheid and a struggle. So all I now is that Jillian Schitter just purveys division in the society by using a new colour to define another. So this article is redundant and doesn’t help in any form or fashion.

  • http://none Richard Becker

    Never forget that all races have a history of slavery, but it took the efforts of whites to abolish it,