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, 16 July 2012

Thoughts on racism...

I follow Pierre de Vos's blog (sporadically) and I thought what he said about whether we should criminalize racism in SA very though provoking. Check it out here http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/should-we-criminalise-racism-in-south-africa/ I particularly liked what he said at that end that in SA we are "trained" to not say offensive things and we think we aren't prejudiced... So true! I guess my question is "how do we get people to look at themselves and really examine themselves for prejudice?"

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tea with Tobias (Philip Tobias)

This morning Prof Philip Tobias passed away. He was an incredible man that inspired loads of people and last year I had the privilege of having tea with him. In preparing to start this blog I contacted a few people who I find inspiring, including Prof Tobias. And he invited me to have tea with him... I was really nervous but he was so kind and accommodating and had even ordered petit fours for us. The longer I spent with him the more blown away I was by this kind man... He was a true icon and his office was like a mini museum, filled with pictures of him and loads of famous people... My real reason was to find out how he came to have such a heightened sense of equality. He was a man who stood up against apartheid. He told me how at some points in his university career he had undercover policemen following him! His answer was that he knew no different. He had been brought up in a very open and non prejudiced home. His school and university career was also before the laws that introduced legal segregation. he says as a result he knew no different! What an amazing thing- to only know integration! Prof Tobias will be remembered for his amazing contributions to science but he will also be honored for his amazing fight for equality in South Africa!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

What would Gran say?

Been thinking a lot about my Gran lately... Not sure why? probably because as Aubbie is growing (and boy is he/she growing!) inside me i am thinking about things i want to pass on to him/ her...

My Gran- Mabel Abercrombie was born on the 11/11/ 1919- My brother Mike always loved her birthdate! She died 2 years ago, 1 week after her 90th birthday.
I love this picture of her because she looks so happy and is in a garden somewhere. She loved being outdoors and loved gardening.

i am sad that Aubbie wont know Gran  and i wonder what she would want to pass on to our Aubbie.
Gran loved the outdoors and was such an adventurer. Every year my cousins (as many of us as can come) get together to do a hike. the 1st year we slept on top of the amphitheatre in Mid June just like our Gran used to do yearly until she was about 85.

 Gran was much tougher than us! We moaned about the cold and generally didnt cope very well! it was  THE coldest night of my life! but in the midst of defrosting the next morning we found an even deeper respect for Gran on top of the Drakensburg! what an incredible woman  who didnt let anything stop her!

i guess thats what i hope Aubbie will get from Gran- a sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors. And a better ability to deal with the cold than his/her parents have!

Gran was also no- nonsense about things. She wouldnt have made a fuss about the cold or moaned but she'd probably have told us all to stop "playing silly buggers" and just do what needs to be done!


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Crying Racism or crying wolf

This furore over the "spear of the nation/ JZ" picture has really got people stirred up, hasn't it? What I find most interesting is that people are calling the picture racist... I don't really agree... I couldn't disagree if they said offensive, disrespectful, inflammatory... But racist? Racist implies that one race is put above another or one race group is put down based solely on race... I think , we as south Africans need to stop crying racism whenever anything happens that we don't agree with. I am whole heartedly opposed to racism but I think crying racism too much is like crying wolf... People stop taking you seriously! And I won't even begin to comment on what I think about the painting... That's a whole nothing story for a whole other day...

Thursday, 12 April 2012


For a while I have been suspecting a terrible thing about myself...
That I am a coward!

Sad but true...

I hate racism, I hate injustice, I hate apathy and yet I so seldom find myself actually standing up against it or speaking up about it. Sure I blog about stuff and sometimes I throw in a fb status and I think about this stuff but I definitely don't speak up IN situations and especially with people who I find intimidating or who I don't want to offend.

Is not offending someone more important than what I believe is right?
No! Definitely not!

I don't want to be a coward and as a result am consciously going to try to overcome my fear of offending other people!
Here's to COURAGE!

Monday, 9 April 2012


Went for a walk on Sat morning. It was early enough that my shadow was beautifully tall and thin. I love that kind of shadow... Tall and thin!

What it made me think of is our reputations or how people view us. Sometimes those things precede us, like a shadow, and it can be tall and thin and impressive looking or it can precede us but be short and round and not very big.
Or sometimes our shadows, or reputations come behind us... The impression we leave behind.
And sometimes they walk next to us, much more in line with our real shape and size...

The point of this pondering was to wonder what reputation or impression precedes me. If people hear about me are they impressed? Or what impression do I leave behind?

Is it any at all? Is it one I'd be proud of? Is it one I'd be proud for Aubbie or Philippe to know about?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Conversations with Aubbie

This weekend i was chatting with Aubbie- one of the joys of being pregnant, you can chat to "yourself" and its normal, actually encouraged- Just about the type of person i'd love him/ her to be when he/she grows up.

Something important to me... is someone who stands up for what is right, even when it is hard and you may be a minority.

Next important issue is HOW DO YOU INSTILL THAT IN A CHILD? How do we teach Aubbie to be that individual?
Modelling it...
Allowing Aubbie to be secure enough in himself/ herself to worry more about right and wrong and not so much about what people think of him/ her...

Sjoe... Hectic... Let the parenting begin!!!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Exciting news!

Philippe and i would like to introduce

Aubbie! Our little miracle...

Aubbie is 16 weeks and 6 days old today and growing well. He/she is 21 cm and 200g and dancing around happily...altho i cant feel anything yet.

we are so excited but also terrified (me, more than Philippe) to be parents. we are really enjoying the scans and seeing our little miracle growing and developing.

can't wait to see what Aubbie looks like...
my order would be coffee coloured (good mix of my super pale and dads melanin), dads eyebrows and eyelashes and mouth, my eyes...
But actually we just cant wait to meet our little miracle!

Friday, 23 March 2012

"Reconciliation starts at home" PART 2

As i mentioned previously i have asked some friends to write pieces on "reconciliation starts at home" and their experience of what that means.

Please read my special friend Sonja's take on this:

Living as a trans-racial family in South-Africa is certainly challenging at times. So many people we meet just don't seem to understand re-conciliation and sadly don't seem to care to work towards it.

Our family is regularly confronted by other people's prejudice and we continue to experienced a fair amount of racism on a regular basis. But we have decided to be positive, to be patient, to challenge stereotypes where need be, to answer awkward questions and not to be quiet in the face of blatant racism. This includes continuously  checking our own hearts and minds. We have to choose to change the way we ourselves think and feel, in order to live as people who have the opportunity to be re-conciliation in this world. Furthermore we are determined not to burden our kids with a legacy of prejudice, segregation and fear.

While shopping one day, my five year old asked: “Mommy why is everyone staring at us?” Once again, I  explained that because we have different skin tones, people might find our family different, interesting or unusual and that might be why they are staring. Mia nodded and happily ran off, but in my heart I felt unsettled … Yes the way we became family is different from many others, adoption vs birth.  But I think we are an amazing example of what makes you family - no one in our family is related by blood or cultural ties - not my husband, myself nor either of our kids.
I believe our love, acceptance and encouragement of each other and our commitment to share our lives with each other makes us a true family, no different from any other loving family. We are not family by birth but by choice.

For me being part of the process to restore our country and it's people is also a choice. It is a choice to deal with our own prejudice and to challenge our “inherited” mindsets. It is a choice to face our own fears. It is a choice to step out of our cultural comfort zones and not to speak in a derogatory way of others. It is a choice to judge others only according to heir own words and actions free from any stereotypes. It is a choice to speak and act with respect towards all. We can choose to live humbly and accept others. We can choose to change and grow as a people. It is a choice to accept the fact that my way is just that - my way, not necessarily the best or only way! It is a choice to put away the past. A choice to love. It is a choice to work towards healing. We can choose to restore. We can choose to reconcile.

One of my favourite experiences as a trans-racial family is when we meet a person/s  who just accept our family without flinching, no second glances. These individuals interact with us in the most accepting way not finding the need to make some kind of  comment like “So are these your kids?” or ask the obvious “So you adopted them?” I love and appreciate these encounters so much as they fill me with hope for a future where the colour of your skin (or that of your child's) is as unimportant as the colour of your eyes or hair! A future where we are all accepted equally. Voetstoots!

I hope for that kind of future!
I choose that kind of future!!!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"Reconciliation starts at home" PART 1

A couple of months ago I was struck by a phrase i heard on TV- "hate starts at home" which started me thinking about where reconciliation starts?
So i have asked a couple of friends who are thinking and doing and living and grappling reconciliation to write for me about "RECONCILIATION STARTS AT HOME"

My first contributor would prefer to be anonymous but really captures my heart for the future of reconciliation:

Despite what untruths we have been taught and brought up with, it is each of our choice to live in reconciliation. By sheer introspection alone, one is able to see the many prejudices that still exist within us, even those of us that work hard at not outwardly displaying those prejudices. I would say that reconciliation starts first and foremost in the heart and thoughts. Having an ability to be honest with ourselves when we do find ourselves judging an individual based on a preconceived idea we may have based on their outward appearance. It takes a certain ruthlessness with ones own thoughts and one’s own heart. A brutal kind of honesty with oneself, as only once we acknowledge our clumped low expectations and soft bigotry, are we able to actually challenge ourselves to think differently and hinder preconceptions.
The exciting part of the journey, is that as we individually start to take responsibility for the “ism”s in our own lives, there will be a knock on effect within our families, as we raise children who are not exposed to rash broad group judgements at home, we raise children who will start to see and value all people equally. What a beautiful responsibility we have to start reconciliation at home. For our own benefit, for the benefit of the generations to come, and I believe that as we rise to the occasion, for the benefit of preceding generations, as they see the fruit of freedom and equality and choose too, to partake.

As usual pls let me know what you think...

Monday, 13 February 2012

opinion or fact?

In the middle of an argument the other day (i think with my father... We are living with them until we can move into our new house on the 1 March. Makes for some tension!) i realised that the line between opinion and fact is rather blurry in our minds.
We assume our own opinions are fact.

Opinion according to dictionary.com is
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal
Wheras a fact is
1. something that actually exists; reality, truth
2. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true
I guess the difficulty here is that we often believe our own opinions are the TRUTH. But they arent necessarily because they are not proven! But to an extent they do exist for us and are the reality.
The problem with having such fixed ideas about our own opinions is that it makes us closed minded and not able to change our minds. But thinking back to my own argument i guess i dont always want to change my mind or listen to a different opinion to mine.
A personal challenge (for my self firstly) is "am i prepared to not hold so closely to my opinions that i could changew my mind? am i prepared to accept that my opinions are not necessarily the truth?"

Friday, 3 February 2012

Shedding white supremacy- easy as it sounds!

Usually when i post something i have a great catchy Title... Havent thought of it yet. Hopefully it will come to me soon.
The following post on the DAILY MAVERICK http://dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2012-02-01-umlungu-mdala#.TyqCVPyu98A.email was brought to my attention yesterday.
What an interesting and well written article. Please read and let me know what you think!
A lot of what he touches on is what i tried to highlight in my earler posts about "whiteliness".
However i think Xhanti Payi is a bit more eloquent than me!
i partly agree with his statement that white people refuse to shed their supremacy. He is right, because, honestly who wants to not be supreme;-)! The subtelty that he misses is that as apartheid has screwed up futures and pasts of black people it has done the same to white people. i am not excusing racism, white supremacy or whiteliness but i think there is so much wrongness in how we were brought up that it is hard to "shed it" as Xhanti Payi would have us do.
i think the first thing in shedding supremacy is recognising our position of supremacy and many white SA dont. They proclaim non- racism and no direct involvement in apartheid which they feel absolves them. i would argue it doesnt! (another post for another day!)
Once we, as white people have recognised supremacy we can start to step out of supremacist (sp??) skins. But it is hard to relinquish power- ask Mugabe and the rest of the dictators scattering our continent! Practically i am not sure how we do this?
I will post a bit more about this later! But comments so far?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Are rhinos the most important thing happening?

I have been following the rhino poaching stories and people's reactions to it with interest. I agree it is horrific and senseless. And I don't want to minimize that at all.
But I do question whether this is the most important and heart breaking thing happening in the world?
Other things happening at the moment
- human trafficking
- Horrific rapes by family members
- murdering your family and committing suicide
I see people posting comments and pics on fb about the rhinos but I seldom see any reaction to all the ways in which people are abused daily.
Is the difference that we (humans) aren't at risk of going extinct?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

What constitutes a joke?

So... I can't sleep! Doesn't happen often cos luckily I have good sleep genes but tonight is one of those where I am not able to switch off and fall into lala land. Probably cos I had a thoroughly lazy day involving watching tv, reading and eating... My body is like, nope you haven't actually done enough today to qualify for sleep!

So blogging it is...

This holiday, which is sadly drawing to an end, we (Philippe and I) watched Trevor Noah's latest dvd- crazy normal! It is really, really, really funny. Invest In some SA home grown comedy and go out and get it. Definitely worth it!

Got me thinking... Trevor Noah really has the best genetics for being a SA comedian. A black mom, white dad and he is according to SA's highly sophisticated classification system coloured... Meaning he can just about rip off any racial group in SA without offense cos he is part of all of them!

Which made me think some more... When is a joke funny and when is it offensive? I love comedians who make us less self conscious about ourselves and give us those light bulb moments of- that is exactly what I as a white/ black/ coloured person do. I think that's a great comedian, like Trevor Noah.
I guess the other reason Trevor Noah is so great is that he is a SA, talking SA, ripping us off. It's much more palatable when it is an insider doing it... And that brings me back to his great comedian genetics... Would he be as funny and permissible if he were a white Afrikaner from Boksburg?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Thoughts on Durban, racism and Durban racism

Philippe's parents live in Durban, as do both of my sets of aunts and uncles. So we were down in Durbs for a few days before Christmas.
Us, and most of gauteng.
While we were down there I was amazed by a couple of things.

Firstly I realized that most people assume that because I am white, I am racist and feel that they then are able to openly make racist comments about other races to me. Weird! I would never, when I don't know someone assume that I know what they think about something sensitive and make offensive comments about it.

Secondly I was struck by how much more racist Durban, as a whole, is! Or is it just more overtly racist than johannesburg? I have been wondering why...
A couple of thoughts- firstly Durban still feels more segregated than joburg. I am not sure if it feels more segregated because Phil's parents live in a previously coloured area and so I do kind of palely stick out. Also people are not rushing to move into "previously non-white" areas so their area is very homogenous. Whereas where we live in Joburg is a "previously white" area. And it is quite heterogeneous.
But my impression is still of more racism in durban. People seem to have fairly fixed and negative ideas about the different groups.
I wonder why?
Is Joburg more cosmopolitan and so we are more confronted with different people which makes us more tolerant? I am not sure that is true because when I was doing exams at the University of Kwazulu Natal I was really impressed at the diversity of the student group.

I am not sure if my thoughts are fair... I am probably making generalizations which I always warn against, don't I?