An open Letter by Busi Mjiyakho
You all have white privilege. This does not mean life was easy or that you (or your parents) did not have to work hard for anything. This also doesn’t mean you don’t have struggles. This also doesn’t mean you are racist. Accepting it also doesn’t mean “you have to give everything back”. It simply means that you are now aware of how society has been structured and that you, as a white person, can do things such as walk into a shop without having the security guard follow you. It also means that in any establishment or workplace people automatically assume that you are in charge.
It means that having any accent makes you special or sexy, regardless of how bad your English is. It means you have the responsibility to inform other white people of these things so that breaking barriers and fixing the mess that is post-apartheid South Africa much easier. You need to be able to see criminals as criminals and not as black criminals. You need to stop going on and on about how much better life was 20 years ago. You need to accept that this, right here, as bad as it seems, will never be worse than apartheid. You need to stop looking at the current situation we are in now without putting it into context.
You have to accept that this is your mess too and that if you are African you will help fix it. You need to stop following these pages that spread fear about an impending doom. You need to start showing how much you love Africa. You need to learn an African language and see value in it. You need to greet people on the street. You need to stop telling your children what your parents told you.
You need to understand why people protest. You need to start living the reality.
You are all disadvantaged, regardless of your family’s income. Apartheid determined where we started off from but it doesn’t have to determine where we end up. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourselves and start capitalising on these policies that white people stay complaining about.
You need to realise that imali yeqolo and gogo’s pension is not an income. You need to grab whatever opportunity you have with both hands and never let go. You need to show what black excellence is. You need to show that it is not a “miracle” or a “special case” but a preview of what is to come. You need to work your butt off and land those CEO positions and do your job so well that no one can dismiss it as a mere case of compliance. You need to stand up to racism.
You need to respect your elders. You need to stop this fighting amongst yourselves. You need to be able to look at another successful black person and feel nothing else but pride. You need to be able to go back to emafaarm and inspire those that are left behind. You need to do all this without throwing away your culture and your roots. You need to be able to utter your clan names with pride. You need to love your hair. You need to love your skin. You need to love your country. You need to love Africa.
You need to love Africans. You need to show that success is not only attained by conforming to a Eurocentric and Westernised lifestyle. You need to look at white people the same way you look at yourselves. There is no difference. They are not better. They are not lesser. They are us. We are them. They too are Africa.