Let's start a conversation...

"We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they have all learned to live together in the same box!"

Monday, 21 November 2011


So this is something I have meant to write for a while but haven't been 100% sure how to tackle...
It is a controversial so please comment and disagree and let's debate!

Whiteliness is a term coined by philosophers to describe a way of being and acting that can be quite separate from being white. As male and masculine are different. So being white and whiteliness are different.

A couple of months ago there was an afternoon seminar on "being white in SA" at Wits... So off I went (with 2 of my similarly pale colleagues). This is where I first heard the term whiteliness.

Basically whiteliness is an attitude of I am right, my way is right, my language is right and it is also a habit of expectation. Of being treated a certain way. It stems from an imbalance of power that has in history favored white people.

I don't know if I am making this clear... But it resonates with me! Despite the fact that I don't think I am pushy or in your face or racist or arrogant I know I have an expectation of how I should be treated.
I do think my language is best- of course it is, English is a universally accepted language.
I expect good service- but I should because we all deserve to be treated well.
I think having a tertiary education is how it should be done- but of course it is because it
gives people the best opportunities, doesn't it...

These seem innocuous things but it is an underlying, deeply ingrained attitude of being right. More and more I think that these typically accepted things are not necessarily best but are only thought to be best because of this previous history of power imbalances.

I guess practically... What do we do with this?
Firstly I would suggest examine our attitudes towards what is right... Just because it is generally accepted as best it may not be!
I again urge you to get to know people who are different- co our, religion, culture...find out what they think, deep down.
And as much as we embrace being white, let's step away from whiteliness.
Let's listen, let's be humble, let's learn.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Loud Americans!

Philippe and I just had a gorgeous dinner. For those of you who know us well, you can guess where! Yes- Doppio Zero. We sat outside. It is a magnificent evening in Joburg, hot and beautiful...
We had a table with 2 young couples and lots of kids on one side and a table of loud Americans on the other side. Both tables made the same amount of noise, the kids probably even more noise, but it was the loud Americans who grated on our nerves.

Why is this?

Is it because of our preconceived ideas that Americans are loud, opinionated and loud? I think it's a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy... We expect loud Americans and when they are it further entrenches our ideas. Never mind the 100's of quiet, shy, softly spoken Americans we've met in our life's!
And how many groups do we do that with? All afrikaners are racist? All English SA are entitled? All Indians drive fast? All coloreds have gold front teeth? All blacks are loud?

Not true is it? And when I say it like that it seems silly! But we do think like that and only remember our interactions that reinforce those preconceived ideas...

An idea I have already expressed but I think is relevant again is... We need to get to know individuals, hear their stories and break down these preconceived ideas we have about groups.

Hears to the Americans!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Been thinking lots about politics in SA following last weeks ANCYL march... To start, another disclaimer, I am not hugely political and don't really understand all aspects of SA politics. But here are a couple of thoughts...

Just before the municipal elections earlier this year one of the radio dj's said that SA's will still vote along racial lines. I was quite troubled by this statement. Is that true? Do we as SA vote along racial lines? Do us whiteys just vote DA and black people vote ANC, Indians minority front... Is that true? Do we rather vote for a similar racial group rather than a group whose policies we agree with?
How many of us even know what the different parties stand for?
Do i (do we) vote and just hope there wont be a two thirds majority that will upset our status quo?

Next thought... Julius...

He scares me! And I think most white people I speak to are scared of him. Partly because he can be so openly anti- white and because some of the things he says and advocates really challenge our pale status quo.
I also think some of the things he says are purely inflammatory and attention seeking.

But is that because i am white and if some of the things he says come to pass i will be out of a country?
I havent really heard black people criticising JuJu which makes me wonder... Is my objection to him purely on racial lines? I'd like to think its not because i get uncomfortable with far right wing rhetoric too...

In writing this i am really challenged though...
  1. i need to better understand my counties politics
  2. i need to really think and pray about who i vote for- they should be the best people for the job regardless of skin colour.