a delightfully civilised facebook conversation with some scared white liberals about UCT

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

It’s quite fascinating to watch how unwilling most white people are to listen to people talking about experiences that differ from their own. For example, in a conversation about institutional racism and changing Eurocentric curricula to syllabi balanced with African perspectives, having been taught from tiny that their white perspective is the only valid perspective, they are so utterly convinced of this that they are unable to hear the reasoning around what is happening. So, they become more and more threatened and confused, and say more and more strident, prejudiced things.

Here is a typical example of the trajectory of conversations I have been having with white liberals I know lately – people who defend rainbow nation rhetoric unquestioningly, because it stops them having to think critically about themselves and their comfy little self-made worlds, how they remain complicit with oppression. It starts with a status update posted by a Facebook friend, a South African doctor currently living in Europe. The main antagonist, whom I have never met nor spoken with before (and hopefully never have to again!), is just aching for an excuse to dismiss what I am saying, until he can’t hold back anymore and attacks me personally with a flood of childish insults. My grateful thanks to the voluble, rude, bigoted Roland Paterson-Jones for providing me with this perfect study of white arrogance. ;)

Anne* – 11 April at 00:19 ·
I too used to jump up and down in the safety of my little UCT play pen and protest all manner of things. But if you tried the sort of vandalism and intimidation that goes on now in your real-life work place, you would be out-on-your-arse fired and prosecuted. ‪#‎realitybites‬ ‪#‎youllseewhenyougraduate‬
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Ingrid, Abby and 19 others like this.

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Irene  So true
11 April at 01:12 · Edited · Like

Roland Ha, snap! Maybe we just getting old and boring
11 April at 04:15 · Like · 1

Candy Well said A, my point exactly!
11 April at 05:34 · Like

Rosemary Sjoe, A, it’s really a different kettle of fish now, I’m telling you, having been there with you back then and also there now. These are big issues, not petulance.
11 April at 07:16 · Like · 1

Roland  Bringing down apartheid was not petulance. Bringing down a statue? Meh!
11 April at 08:13 · Like

Rosemary  The issue is institutional racism, which is still very much alive – and that statue is but a small symbol of its persistence. If you actually care, read the mission statement, here: https://www.facebook.com/RhodesMustFall/posts/1559394444336048 and understand that as a person who has historically been on the lucky side of the racial divides put in place by apartheid, i.e. someone who has never felt oppressed by the institutional climate at UCT, you will have been oblivious to the hurt and insults that persist due to the lack of transformation. As white people we don’t have a perspective on this pain, and, if we care about ACTUALLY bringing down the legacy of apartheid, we need to pay attention to what people who are still feeling its effects are saying.

UCT RHODES MUST FALL MISSION STATEMENT
11 April at 08:21 · Edited · Like · 1 ·

Francesco Nassimbeni Spotted on Twitter

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland Oh stop bleeding, Rosemary! They’re a bunch of spoiled arrogant privileged youngsters. Make a positive suggestion or contribution, and stop wringing your hands in shame. You’re actually being deeply condescending, rather than helping, which is, in turn, actually exacerbating the problem of unequal opportunity.
11 April at 08:26 · Like

Roland  Your deliberate separation of ‘white’ and ‘black’, ‘us’ and ‘them’, is, similarly, entrenching damaging zeitgeist. Please stop!
11 April at 08:27 · Like

Rosemary  Don’t get me wrong: I think racial categories are incredibly damaging. The fact that their legacies persist is something that needs to be dealt with though, not denied.
11 April at 08:30 · Like · 2

Rosemary  I have no shame, and no condescension, Rather, I am doing my best to listen to what people say they need, and to make space for them to actualise those needs, rather than sitting with an imaginary panoptical viewpoint (that as white people we have been taught we have) and presuming to tell people what it is they need to do. THAT is condescension.
11 April at 08:32 · Like · 1

Roland Fair enough – at some point we need to take a stand on what we personally think is right though, rather than bend too much to dangerous philosophies, just because they come from sectors that may or may not have genuine historical grievances. The rise of naziism is a case in point.
11 April at 08:34 · Like · 1

Rosemary I can assure you that there would not be this hullabaloo if their pain was not real.
11 April at 08:35 · Like · 1

Roland  And I assure you that nazi’s only rose to power through significant collective pain after WW1.
11 April at 08:37 · Like · 1

Rosemary Reductio ad Hitlerum
11 April at 08:39 · Edited · Like · 1 ·

Roland Ha – sorry for drawing an attempted analogy. My point though, is that damaged people are significantly more likely to be drawn to extreme viewpoints and actions. So, the real question is how do we reduce damage and polarisation? I have not seen any constructive suggestions emerging from RMF. I see only destruction, coupled with meaningless rhetoric such as ‘transformation’ and ‘africanisation’. What does that even mean?
11 April at 08:49 · Edited · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland And remember, in life little is fair – we all have reasons to feel aggrieved in some way. I’m sure you do. I know I do. The universe does not owe us our existence.
11 April at 08:48 · Like

Rosemary  Are you at UCT right now? It’s been an incredibly moving and inspiring thing to see what Rhodes Must Fall has accomplished. It’s absolutely not about believing anyone owes them anything, and all about doing for self. They’ve had teach-ins and debates organised every night, and worked on what a non-Eurocentric curriculum would look like. One of my black colleagues at the Archive and Public Culture research initiative has been involved in facilitating this stuff. I assure you, this is a moment to rejoice in, not to be fearful.
11 April at 08:52 · Like · 1

Rosemary (I really don’t think the press has covered what has been going on in any vaguely satisfactory way. That is why I feel I must say something when people are all gloom-and-doom-and-contempt about it.)
11 April at 08:53 · Like

Roland No, I was at UCT in the mid/late 80’s. Why don’t we see more of the positive intent? I have read the RMF manifesto and am appalled.
11 April at 08:53 · Like

Rosemary  I don’t know. It’s what fits narratives, I guess. I have to leave Facebook now. Thanks for the chat!
11 April at 08:54 · Like · 1

Roland And you really do like to cling to black and white
11 April at 08:55 · Like

Rosemary  Um, I hate racial divisions as much as we all do. It’s just that rainbow nation rhetoric has not changed material reality, and people are still stuck in them – we have to acknowledge that, not deny that. We only have the luxury of denying that these divisions still persist if we are the minority privileged not to be hit in the face with them every day of our lives. The majority of our fellow South Africans continue to experience, and talk about experiencing, this oppression. To tell them they don’t experience this is to disrespect and dismiss their own lived realities and say we know better than them what their reality is. And that, to me, is disgustingly arrogant.
11 April at 09:00 · Edited · Like · 1

Roland Ok. So we listen. I don’t see that that materially (!) changes anything. What do we do?
11 April at 09:11 · Like

Roland And I will, frankly, continue to struggle to listen to the deliberate fascist polarisation inherent in ‘1 settler 1 bullet’.
11 April at 09:15 · Like

Anne  Ah, now this is the stuff tertiary education is made of, two UCT alumni in eloquent, intellectual debate. That, ladies and gentleman is how it should be done. No poo flinging here.
11 April at 09:22 · Like · 4

Roland I think that Max du Preez is spot on, particularly the conclusion:
Radicalisation and polarisation: the encroaching threat – Moneyweb
11 April at 09:22 · Like

Roland Flattery will get you everywhere, Annetjie
11 April at 09:23 · Like

Anne  Thanks Rosemary Lombard and Roland Paterson-Jones for your insights and wisdom. The atrocities of Apartheid must have been agonising, and yes I was lucky enough to be born who I was. However in my opinion, this is not about race. It is about civil and sensible behaviour. Debates, discussions, peaceful protests, go for it. Faecal flinging, chanting agricultural ammunition targets and reneging on tolerant and progressive agreements with the university, unacceptable. I want someone teaching me who is highly qualified, experienced and wise. Quota systems are unreasonable if candidates are to be elevated above more qualified counterparts. The interesting opportunity here is adding curricula that would broaden the scope of academic expertise and allow a broader selection of course material in both Afro- and Eurocentric studies. I for one am glad that I went with the Eurocentric option for medicine. Goodness knows how many people I could have let down in their health if I had gone with muti and bones option.
11 April at 09:36 · Like · 4

Roland Ha ha I was satisfied with my eurocentric maths and computer science too.
11 April at 10:15 · Like · 1

Roland For full disclosure, I have spent time with a sangoma too, and it was an interesting and positive experience.
11 April at 10:32 · Like · 1

Tanya  Agreed Anne!!
11 April at 15:37 · Like

Rosemary  “When democracy arrived, the legal barriers tumbled; deep-rooted beliefs that whites are superior did not. The “liberal” universities now had the right to teach who and what they pleased: they used it to keep alive the racial pecking order in a “colour blind” guise. In the early 1990s, sociologist Harold Wolpe warned against a view that white English-language universities were the only “real” institutions of learning and should be left alone to do what they had always done. He argued that they were also products of the past and so they too needed to change.” Really worth a read.
The racial denialism of South African liberals – The Rand Daily Mail
RDM.CO.ZA|BY STEVEN FRIEDMAN
13 April at 09:47 · Like · Remove Preview

Francesco Nassimbeni cancel scholarship

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland Rosemary, are you an academic? Are you prepared to show integrity and resign from your job in order to provide an opportunity for a less privileged person? If not, are you not simply representing the ‘other people must change’ attitude inherent in most of the RMF debate
13 April at 09:51 · Like

Rosemary I’m currently an MPhil student in Heritage and Public Culture, and, yes, thinking about where best to employ my energies after that. If I were to remain in academia, which I probably won’t, it would be in research, on colonial archives and production of knowledge, which is what I am looking at in my thesis – in an attempt to respond to the damaged legacy of those who came before. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a teaching post at this juncture.
13 April at 09:57 · Like

Roland Cool, these are tough questions. We all have no choice but to pursue our necessary imperative to stay alive; yet we also have to look more broadly towards our larger environment. I can’t help but observe that Steven Friedman is a pigmentally challenged individual, presuming to represent the experience of others, both formerly privileged, and not. Nowhere do I see him offering a personal experience: for example, “I, as an English speaking South African have been guilty of denial, etc.” Let’s hear some first-person perspective.
13 April at 10:01 · Like

Roland I guess another way to put this: How are you, Rosemary, going to put food on the table, after you have fought so hard for your cultural irrelevance?
13 April at 10:44 · Like

Rosemary Don’t worry yourself about that, Roland, I’m sure I’ll find something useful to do.
13 April at 10:49 · Like · 1

Roland  “We had imagined that, after the removal of Rhodes, the vice-chancellor would come back to us and ask… what the plan of action is,” [Chumani Maxwele] said. “But instead we were just woken up by a letter of eviction.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Arrogance personified.
UCT occupiers consider their options – Western Cape | IOL News
13 April at 12:39 · Like

Roland  I believe that this is what is colloquially known as ‘stank vir dank’:
“You, Max Price, chose not to engage us like humans. You referred to the black student as a problem,” said the RMF’s Thato Pule.
Occupiers speak out against UCT – Western Cape | IOL News
13 April at 17:14 · Edited · Like

Roland Rosemary, presumably you can give the contrary perspective? I am struggling.
13 April at 17:15 · Like

Rosemary Hey… This is longish, but I think it is really worth a read:
Reason after Liberalism
SACSIS.ORG.ZA|BY RICHARD PITHOUSE
Yesterday at 10:12 · Like ·

Rosemary  In fact, read this one first:
South Africa in the Twilight of Liberalism: Richard Pithouse
KAFILA.ORG
Yesterday at 10:13 · Like

Roland Hey Rosemary, had a first pass at Richard Pithouse. The first half (about) echos, very strikingly, many observations that I have made very recently, on FB and other online discussion forums. The second half is less familiar, less accessible, and less appealing to me. I am an unapologetic liberal, with bent towards libertarianism, and informed by my casual adherence to (how I understand) buddhist principles.

The problem I have with Richard Pithouse, is that he presents more absence of ideas, than presence of ideas. What is the proposal? Liberalism is bad, we need something else. Why is it bad? Empirically? Perhaps – it certainly hasn’t been widely embraced. So, what are we proposing as the solution?

I had the same problem trying to engage directly with RMF on FB (they have now blocked me and deleted all of my posts). Time and time again, members would reply to me and tell me what (they believed) I was thinking, rather than what they were thinking.
Yesterday at 11:11 · Edited · Like

Roland Stated perhaps more primally, it appears to be human nature to grab what we can, and cling to what we have. It requires considerable religious or cultural principle, contrary to base instincts, to counter that. Communism was exactly an ideology that proposed a radical set of principles to ensure equality. What happened? It turned into yet another vehicle for crass inequality, and oppression of many people. I don’t know what the answer is, or where the answer lies, but I will continue to support what I see, personally, as the best system we have. Yes, IMHO
Yesterday at 11:11 · Edited · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland  Also, “the enduring racism and coloniality of some of our universities” appears to simply be accepted fact. No-one has convinced me that this is fact, despite many pleas. We can take an audit by race group of various stakeholders. That is irrelevant. What is important is equality of opportunity, and the belief that that will eventually allow personal emancipation of anyone willing to buy a ticket. Yes, the abject poverty of much of our population is, itself, a massive barrier. So, how do we tackle that problem?
Yesterday at 11:03 · Edited · Like

Roland How are our universities any more ‘colonial’ than universities in China, Russia, Japan, Korea, America, Brazil?
Yesterday at 11:10 · Like

Roland  ‘Black studies for UCT’
Curricular change could prove the most contentious element of UCT’s transformation in the wake of recent…
TIMESLIVE.CO.ZA|BY TANYA FARBER
Yesterday at 11:43 · Like

Roland I would be very interested in the student demographics by faculty. I suspect transformation is lagging in Science/Engineering, and I suspect that that is a reflection on the failure of our primary and secondary education systems (rated worst in the world for science recently).
Yesterday at 11:45 · Like

Roland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Town#Demographics
EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG
Yesterday at 11:59 · Like

Roland On the face of it, UCT has had extraordinary success in racial (yuck!) transformation in a single generation.
Yesterday at 12:06 · Like

Roland Rosemary, I challenge you to read this again, and identify aspects of it with which you are not 100% in agreement.
https://www.facebook.com/RhodesMustFall/posts/1559394444336048
UCT RHODES MUST FALL MISSION STATEMENT
Yesterday at 12:40 · Like

Rosemary  I’m 100% behind it.
Yesterday at 13:37 · Like

Rosemary I’ll send you an essay I banged out the other day which mentions a few concrete examples of institutional racism if you PM me your email address. Further than that, I don’t think we’ll see eye to eye if you’re a dyed in the wool liberal with libertarian leanings, so I will tip my hat and bid you adieu.
Yesterday at 13:41 · Like

Roland Fair enough, I’ll as the same questions I posed to RMF:
1. Can you provide precise examples of ‘institutional racism‘ at UCT?
2. Can you provide precise examples of ‘white supremacy and privilege at our campus‘?
3. Can you provide precise examples of how ‘students, workers, academics and interested staff members [are] alienated in their own university‘?
Snap: rolandpj@gmail.com.
Yesterday at 13:41 · Like

Roland And before you bid me adieu, how would you most precisely describe your personal philosophy of society?
Yesterday at 13:42 · Like

Roland Note that I have actually been more productive than simply labeling myself – I have provided data and interpretation that you are welcome to respond to. If you simply can’t or won’t, based on my self-characterisation then fine – but that is a little hypocritical coming from someone who, just above, referenced Pitthouse quoting Fanon motivating for a new dialogue to establish a new philosophy.
Yesterday at 13:47 · Edited · Like

Roland What are you pro? It’s so easy to be against stuff.
Yesterday at 13:47 · Like

Rosemary I don’t have a word to describe my political orientation, other than a general suspicion of those in power, and how they got to be there.
Yesterday at 13:48 · Like

Roland We have something in common
Yesterday at 13:48 · Like

Rosemary I’m pro the destruction of hierarchies and inequality.
Yesterday at 13:49 · Like

Roland Hmm, anarchist, unless you have a cogent vision for a replacement. I agree, somewhat, in principle. Go well.
Yesterday at 13:51 · Like

Rosemary Not an anarchist because I believe in the rule of God… although not a manmade conception of God.
Yesterday at 13:53 · Edited · Like

Roland Surely not a European God? Just messing with you. As I said, I am more of an agnostic buddhist. I have very little faith (ha!) in societies built on religious law.
Yesterday at 13:55 · Like

Rosemary “Not a manmade conception of God” indicates my lack of faith in human interpretations of God, I thought… so I’m hardly advocating religious rule. Sorry, as I said, my beliefs don’t fit boxes.
Yesterday at 14:41 · Edited · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland Ok, I’m off to the Burn to take maximum advantage of my elite whitey privilege. I leave tertiary academic libertarianism in your capable hands
Yesterday at 15:15 · Like

Roland From a non-anarchist person of colour: “UCT students, direct benefactors of what Cecil Rhodes made possible, have clamored to remove his statue. Now that its gone, and with it an important, though controversial, aspect of its history.. what now?
Where a distinct statue once stood, now stands nothing. Very symbolic of that UTC Azania stands for.. nothing. Its one thing to know what you’re against.. its quite another to know what you are for. All this energy and vigor spent on a piece of stone could have been channeled to create real change. Like instead of focusing on perceived racism of the last century, the students could have protested the real and ugly racism taking place today across South Africa as people are killed in xenophobic attacks. But its always easier to deface and destroy something that can’t defend itself than to spend the blood, sweat and toil to build something better.
I love all the people of South Africa and say this out of love. You can never build yourself up, but putting someone else down..specially when that someone has been dead for a long time.”

What are you for?
Yesterday at 19:28 · Like

Rosemary This is what I am for. The statue affair has catalysed discussions like this one last night which should have been happening in earnest years ago: https://youtu.be/RCkXeMaaSwU
UCT Panel Discussion: Decolonizing the University
Charting a path forward for anti-sexist and anti-racist scholarship and activism. This discussion was hosted by the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Chair, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and UCT’s SRC and moderated by Prof. Xolela Mangcu on Thursday 23 April 2015.
22 hrs · Like · Remove Preview

Rosemary Listen at 26 minutes to Pumla Gqola. This is the most constructive thing that has happened to UCT in years. I’m really out now. I have nothing further to say on the matter.
22 hrs · Edited · Like

Roland Rose, you have such a narrow perspective. Maths is maths. Engineering is engineering. Medicine is medicine – black people’s bodies look the same to pathologists as white bodies.

If you want to transform your own faculty, then do so, and kudo’s to you. Don’t presume that you speak for the more important pursuits.

As you said, once you are out of varsity, you will find a useful pursuit.

But, society needs scientists – when last did we have 24/7 power to write on FB?

We can do african pottery and weaving together, and even believe it;s important, but in the end, you won’t have electricity to your house, you won’t have water in your taps, you won’t have roads to drive on, you won’t have ‘colonial’ society.

I get that you are a lesbian feminist, just like my mom. But you are being used. Silly girl.
17 hrs · Like

Roland She got to the crux at about 29:00 and then walked away!
17 hrs · Like

Roland Cecil John Rhodes was more gay than straight, for god’s sake.
17 hrs · Like

Roland  33:31 “We are supposed to decolonise gender” – ha ha, “decolonisation” has become the void term for any new personal struggle.
17 hrs · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland Does anyone in south africa actually know what colonialism is? Apartheid was not colonialsism – the afrikaners had no european master.
17 hrs · Like

Roland Seriously, in Zulu culture, lesbianism is just not cool. Transgender is just not cool. As for you, Rose, just a litany of self-hurt, which, in any non-colonial society would have been a lot more difficult to you all than in learned european society.
16 hrs · Edited · Like

Roland 47:37: “capitalism, patriarchy and racism”. No, that online video is only available, due to technology that your brothers and sisters are learning in the science faculty.
16 hrs · Like

Roland Stop masturbating, Rose.
16 hrs · Like

Roland What the fuck does ‘intersectional‘ actually mean?
16 hrs · Like

Roland Paterson-Jones Sorry, university is not about wanking off about personal experience. It is about important learning. Not about obvious personal sexual proclivities. Seriously, go and wank off on your own.
16 hrs · Like

Roland University is about teaching the important knowledge that really holds our society together. Housing. Food. Water. Electricity. You fucking idiots in humanities will fuck it up for all of us, cos you really don’t get it.
16 hrs · Like

Roland How about you stop toppling statues and focus on maths and science education in primary school?
16 hrs · Like

Roland  And yes, I am angry now.
16 hrs · Like

Roland  You are an idiot, Rosemary, because you lack perspective.
16 hrs · Like

Roland  Patriarchy and the power struggle. Feminist bullshit. Colonialism and the power struggle. Black bullshit.
16 hrs · Like

Roland Rose, you are not old or experienced enough to understand.
16 hrs · Like

Roland  One day you will, or else you are going to be a very bitter old woman.
16 hrs · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland  I have six kids. Four of them are teenagers right now. Two of them are legal adults. One of them is studying science at UCT.

Seriously, you guys lack perspective. No matter what ideology you aspire to, no matter what gender or race you aspire to, no matter how much you support the underdog, however you see that in your own mind: You still want water in your taps. You still want electricity in your stove, lights, fridge. You still want a fridge to keep you food fresh. You still want a car to drive. You still want roads to drive on.

How does that all work? Could that, perhaps be colonial influence? European influence? Good science?

Fucking idiots, sorry.

What is your counter-proposal? ‘Intersectionality’? ‘Decolonialism’? ‘Africanism’?
16 hrs · Edited · Like

Roland  Rose, you said you wouldn’t be a lecturer, because you were not worthy. But can you take that all the way and be a subsistence farmer? In the true sense of the word. No european technology at all.
15 hrs · Edited · Like

Roland  Don’t pretend you are doing society a favour, Rose. Have the courage of your own (lack of) convictions or fuck off. Seriously. Go find how useful you are to society as a white post-colonial feminist intellectual. Respond when you have grown up a bit, perhaps in 5 years?
13 hrs · Like

Rosemary You’re trolling and I don’t appreciate it, Roland. Turning off my notifications now. I would suggest you go somewhere else to rave to yourself about someone you don’t even know, and events you are very far removed from. Sorry Anne for this mess on your wall.
12 hrs · Like

SCARED-HECK-NO-FACE-AFRAIDRoland Rose, this is not sexist or racist. You are an idiot. Why? You have no idea how little you know. Like, when you turn the kettle on, what actually happens? When you climb into your car and turn the key, what happens?

You and your friends are dangerous because you make the arrogant assumption that your knowledge is more valuable than that of others. It’s going to be a hard hard lesson for you. Good luck.
12 hrs · Like

Rosemary  Don’t patronise me. Nobody is trying to throw out infrastructure and western knowledge. They’re trying to reframe the curriculum and restore the balance. Get a grip on yourself, and leave me alone.
12 hrs · Like

Roland  In case I haven’t beeñ.clear. Thànk you, but please don’t decolonize my faculty. Please don’t decolonize my children’s faculties. I believe that will destroy their education.

By all means decolonize your own studies but don’t be so arrogant as to assume you are doing any more than that.

I will leave you alone just as soon as you stop jeapardising my and my children’s future in our country?

Let’s touch base in 5 years. I predict you will have emigrated to europe.
10 hrs · Edited · Like

Roland I am not trolling. You posted the video. It was drivel. You are trying to change my world. I have a right to respond, and particularly a right to be angry. Anne has the right to remove my contributions, and some of them are admittedly personal. Just like the chairperson in your posted video personally buttering up the young feminist you so admire.

Tough, I know, but I think it needs to be heard lest we descend into the same empirical mess that is the rest of (actually) post colonial africa. Hell, even Anne has found a better life in europe.
10 hrs · Like

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Image: Francesco Nassimbeni

Roland I think what worries me most is the supremacist irrationality of you, Rosemary, and RMF.

We are right so we don’t even have to engage in dialogue. We don’t know what we want but in the mean time we are going to tear down what we have.

Welcome back to the dark ages.
6 hrs · Like

Anne Roland Paterson-Jones and Rosemary Lombard firstly let me say that I love you both and you both have extraordinary minds. Debate is great but Roland, please do not be rude to my old friend and family member. She has had her own in depth journey to where she is today. She is kind, thoughtful and highly intelligent and is entitled to her opinion. She is not the only proponent for what is happening today. I agree that we would be nowhere in terms of infrastructure and medicine without European science. I think it is diabolical how people are behaving in this revolution. It is my wish that we and society are civil and maintain the intellectual debate and energy to move forward without resorting to insults, damage and violence. I miss South Africa greatly and look forward to returning with better financial footing thanks to the relative strength of the Euro. Roland, I share your frustrations at having your voice removed from the RMF page. I agree with your debates, but please continue to deliver them in a manner that is respectful. I respect Rosemary’s opinion and believe that brave women like her might help us find a way forward in crazy times like this. Rosemary and Roland, be kind to yourselves and each other you beautiful people.
6 hrs · Like · 2

Roland Mea culpa. Apologies.
4 hrs · Like · 1

*not her real name

goo goo g’joob

The Beatles’ song, I am the Walrus, slowed down 800% and set to the 1969 film Vertige by Jean Beaudin.

“Sympathetic but subtly critical, Vertige presents itself as a psychological portrait of the escape and/or contestation tactics of the decade’s youth: while war, violence, famine and poverty continue to devastate the planet, these youngsters seek refuge in the hedonistic haven of sexual liberation, lysergic research and communal fictions.”

Watch the film at ubu.com. And HERE is an etymological investigation into the phrase “goo goo g’joob”.

jean-beaudin-vertige-1969

biko on “white allies'” place in the struggle against racism

steve bikoWe are concerned with that curious bunch of nonconformists who explain their participation in negative terms: that bunch of do-gooders that goes under all sorts of names—liberals, leftists etc. These are the people who argue that they are not responsible for white racism and the country’s “inhumanity to the black man”. These are the people who claim that they too feel the oppression just as acutely as the blacks and therefore should be jointly involved in the black man’s struggle for a place under the sun. In short, these are the people who say that they have black souls wrapped up in white skins.

The role of the white liberal in the black man’s history in South Africa is a curious one. Very few black organisations were not under white direction. True to their image, the white liberals always knew what was good for the blacks and told them so. The wonder of it all is that the black people have believed in them for so long. It was only at the end of the ’50s that the blacks started demanding to be their own guardians.

Nowhere is the arrogance of the liberal ideology demonstrated so well as in their insistence that the problems of the country can only be solved by a bilateral approach involving both black and white. This has, by and large, come to be taken in all seriousness as the modus operandi in South Africa by all those who claim they would like a change in the status quo. Hence the multiracial political organisations and parties and the “nonracial” student organisations, all of which insist on integration not only as an end goal but also as a means.

The integration they talk about is first of all artificial in that it is a response to conscious manoeuvre rather than to the dictates of the inner soul. In other words the people forming the integrated complex have been extracted from various segregated societies with their inbuilt complexes of superiority and inferiority and these continue to manifest themselves even in the “nonracial” set-up of the integrated complex. As a result the integration so achieved is a one-way course, with the whites doing all the talking and the blacks the listening. Let me hasten to say that I am not claiming that segregation is necessarily the natural order; however, given the facts of the situation where a group experiences privilege at the expense of others, then it becomes obvious that a hastily arranged integration cannot be the solution to the problem. It is rather like expecting the slave to work together with the slave-master’s son to remove all the conditions leading to the former’s enslavement.

Secondly, this type of integration as a means is almost always unproductive. The participants waste lots of time in an internal sort of mudslinging designed to prove that A is more of a liberal than B. In other words the lack of common ground for solid identification is all the time manifested in internal strifes inside the group.

It will not sound anachronistic to anybody genuinely interested in real integration to learn that blacks are asserting themselves in a society where they are being treated as perpetual under-16s. One does not need to plan for or actively encourage real integration. Once the various groups within a given community have asserted themselves to the point that mutual respect has to be shown then you have the ingredients for a true and meaningful integration.

At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man, each group to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination there will obviously arise a genuine fusion of the life-styles of the various groups. This is true integration.

From this it becomes clear that as long as blacks are suffering from inferiority complex—a result of 300 years of deliberate oppression, denigration and derision—they will be useless as co-architects of a normal society where man is nothing else but man for his own sake. Henc what is necessary as a prelude to anything else that may come is a very strong grass-roots build-up of black consciousness such that blacks can learn to assert themselves and stake their rightful claim.

Thus in adopting the line of a nonracial approach, the liberals are playing their old game. They are claiming a “monopoly on intelligence and moral judgement” and setting the pattern and pace for the realisation of the black man’s aspirations. They want to remain in good books with both the black and white worlds. They want to shy away from all forms of “extremisms”, condemning “white supremacy” as being just as bad as “Black Power!”. They vacillate between the two worlds, verbalising all the complaints of the blacks beautifully while skilfully extracting what suits them from the exclusive pool of white privileges. But ask them for a moment to give a concrete meaningful programme that they intend adopting, then you will see on whose side they really are. Their protests are directed at and appeal to white conscience, everything they do is directed at finally convincing the white electorate that the black man is also a man and that at some future date he should be given a place at the white man’s table.

The myth of integration as propounded under the banner of liberal ideology must be cracked and killed because it makes people believe that something is being done when in actual fact the artificial integrated circles are a soporific on the blacks and provide a vague satisfaction for the guilty-stricken whites. It works on a false premise that because it is difficult to bring people from different races together in this country, therefore achievement of this is in itself a step forward towards the total liberation of the blacks. Nothing could be more irrelevant and therefore misleading. Those who believe in it are living in a fool’s paradise.

First the black-white circles are almost always a creation of white liberals. As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with the blacks, they call a few “intelligent and articulate” blacks to “come around for tea at home”, where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question “how can we bring about change in South Africa?” The more such tea-parties one calls the more of a liberal he is and the freer he shall feel from the guilt that harnesses and binds his conscience. Hence he moves around his white circles— whites-only hotels, beaches, restaurants and cinemas—with a lighter load, feeling that he is not like the rest of the others. Yet at the back of his mind is a constant reminder that he is quite comfortable as things stand and therefore should not bother about change. Although he does not vote for the Nats (now that they are in the majority anyway), he feels quite secure under the protection offered by the Nats and subconsciously shuns the idea of a change. This is what demarcates the liberal from the black world. The liberals view the oppression of blacks as a problem that has to be solved, an eye sore spoiling an otherwise beautiful view. From time to time the liberals make themselves forget about the problem or take their eyes off the eyesore. On the other hand, in oppression the blacks are experiencing a situation from which they are unable to escape at any given moment. Theirs is a struggle to get out of the situation and not merely to solve a peripheral problem as in the case of the liberals. This is why blacks speak with a greater sense of urgency than whites.

A game at which the liberals have become masters is that of deliberate evasiveness. The question often comes up “what can I do?”. If you ask him to do something like stopping to use segregated facilities or dropping out of varsity to work at menial jobs like all blacks or defying and denouncing all provisions that make him privileged, you always get the answer—“but that’s unrealistic!”. While this may be true, it only serves to illustrate the fact that no matter what a white man does, the colour of his skin—his passport to privilege—will always put him miles ahead of the black man. Thus in the ultimate analysis no white person can escape being part of the oppressor camp.

“There exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant”.

This description of “metaphysical guilt” explains adequately that white racism “is only possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty” meted out to the black man. Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society, liberals waste lots of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal. This arises out of the false belief that we are faced with a black problem. There is nothing the matter with blacks. The problem is WHITE RACISM and it rests squarely on the laps of the white society. The sooner the liberals realise this the better for us blacks. Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track. White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society—white racism…

… Does this mean that I am against integration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up by and maintained by whites, then YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that). I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.

If on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you. For one cannot escape the fact that the culture shared by the majority group in any given society must ultimately determine the broad direction taken by the joint culture of that society. This need not cramp the style of those who feel differently but on the whole, a country in Africa, in which the majority of the people are African must inevitably exhibit African values and be truly African in style.

What of the claim that the blacks are becoming racists? This is a favourite pastime of frustrated liberals who feel their trusteeship ground being washed off from under their feet. These self-appointed trustees of black interests boast of years of experience in their fight for the ‘rights of the blacks’. They have been doing things for blacks, on behalf of blacks, and because of blacks. When the blacks announce that the time has come for them to do things for themselves and all by themselves all white liberals shout blue murder!

“Hey, you can’t do that. You’re being a racist. You’re falling into their trap.”

Apparently it’s alright with the liberals as long as you remain caught by their trap. Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate. What blacks are doing is merely to respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin. We are collectively segregated against—what can be more logical than for us to respond as a group? When workers come together under the auspices of a trade union to strive for the betterment of their conditions, nobody expresses surprise in the Western world. It is the done thing. Nobody accuses them of separatist tendencies. Teachers fight their battles, garbagemen do the same, nobody acts as a trustee for another. Somehow, however, when blacks want to do their thing the liberal establishment seems to detect an anomaly. This is in fact a counter-anomaly. The anomaly was there in the first instance when the liberals were presumptuous enough to think that it behoved them to fight the battle for the blacks.

The liberal must understand that the days of the Noble Savage are gone; that the blacks do not need a go-between in this struggle for their own emancipation. No true liberal should feel any resentment at the growth of black consciousness. Rather, all true liberals should realise that the place for their fight for justice is within their white society. The liberals must realise that they themselves are oppressed if they are true liberals and therefore they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous “they” with whom they can hardly claim identification. The liberal must apply himself with absolute dedication to the idea of educating his white brothers that the history of the country may have to be rewritten at some stage and that we may live in “a country where colour will not serve to put a man in a box”.

The blacks have heard enough of this. In other words, the liberal must serve as a lubricating material so that as we change the gears in trying to find a better direction for South Africa, there should be no grinding noises of metal against metal but a free and easy flowing movement which will be characteristic of a well-looked-after vehicle.

From I Write What I Like.

ethel waters – his eye is on the sparrow

Pause to watch, listen and reflect.

Have you ever experienced the weird magic of coming across something obliquely on Youtube, on your way somewhere else, and it speaks so powerfully, so uncannily, to all the things happening right now around you that all the hairs on your body stand on end? This is one of those times. The scene comes from a 1952 film called The Member of the Weddingbased on the book/play by Carson McCullers, starring Ethel Waters, Julie Harris and Brandon De Wilde. I came across it because my housemate Khanyi and I were singing this old hymn, hamming it up Lauryn-Hill-in-Sister-Act-2 style. I wanted to check out some of the older versions… and this clip revealed itself to me, complete with contextual preamble.

Just to tether this to a little of my own current context (I unfortunately don’t have time to write much right now), here is something written by one of my MPhil classmates about the student protests demanding the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes that are currently happening at UCT, and here is the official SRC statement on the matter.

member-of-the-wedding-julie-harris-ethel-waters-brandon-de-wilde-1952