I have to apologize for the click-baity title. A lot of people are going to start reading this expecting one perspective, but in the process learn a whole new perspective.
The theme of this article is, “white privilege”, and how it is racist. Just to clarify, I do not mean that white people are all racists with “privilege”, I mean the actual term, “white privilege” is a racist term that should only be used by racists.
Before we continue lets break down the meanings of a couple of the words that I have used so far. The first and most important definition I want to touch on is the definition of, “racism”. What does it mean? Having recently seen a lot of EFF supporting racists make the statement, “but black people cant be racist”, and then go on to call for a genocide of all white people (often followed by the hashtag, “#RacistsMustFall”), I feel the definition of racism is not something enough young people in South Africa understand.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (what I consider an authority on the meaning of English words)
1.1The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”
The next definition I am going to is “privilege”
a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
When they talk about “white privilege” in the South African context, it implies the following:
- All whites have this special “white privilege”
- Just by being born white you get this privilege
- White people cant understand black people and poverty because of this privilege
So before I talk about privilege, lets just see if the comment “white privilege” is a racist statement. Let's go back to our definition of racism which says:
“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race,”
Using the standard definition of racism, we can see that the term “white privilege” is racist as it applies a certain characteristic, ability or quality to a group of people based on the color of their skin. So yes, it is a racist statement. However is it true?
To a degree it is. Privilege (when wealth blinds people to the suffering of poverty - also known in the USA as "affluenza") is a very real thing. But here is the kicker. It doesnt just apply to white people. It applies to all people with wealth. No matter what their skin color. If someone is born into wealth they often can not identify with the needs and the suffering of the poor. Especially when they live in ivory towers and only view echo chambers online.
But many white people do not suffer from "privilege". Many white people today are born into poverty and inequality just like their black brothers and sisters or come from good homes, but are deeply involved in their communities so see the effects of poverty daily and are not out of touch with the reality of what is happening on the ground.
To highlight how privilege is not just a “whites only” problem in South Africa I have included the following news headlines of a messed up new craze that wealthy black South African youth (born frees) are doing in front of their poorer countryfolk in the townships and squatter camps.
In the following two pictures we see young black South Africans, who clearly suffer from privilege, burning money and brand new clothes directly in front of their poverty stricken fellow citizens in a practice known as, “Izikhothane”.
Privilege is a real concept, and many white people DO suffer from it. This is not some kinda apologetic piece to make it out that white people do not suffer from privilege. White people are humans just like everyone else, so its pretty obvious they suffer from the same conditions as every other human does.
Many white people are in denial about the past. Many white people in their wealthy suburban homes do NOT understand poverty (even though they think they do). They think the only reason why a large group of black people is poor is because they are too lazy to get up and go work for a living. They dont understand that blaming the poor for poverty is like blaming a soldier for a war. Most of these white people do not understand real hunger, do not understand real poverty and do not understand suffering at grass roots.
They also do not see an understand the advantages that the previous Apartheid government has given them that they still benefit from to this day.
However, saying that. I can say the EXACT same thing about a massive portion of South African black people who now live in the middle class.
We must not forget that there has been a huge shift in financial demographics over the last 20 years. So much so, that the black middle class is now larger than the white middle class.
Hundreds of thousands of (born free) black youth are now born into privilege… and like their white brethren, are ignorant to the suffering of poor South Africans. White people are like black people and black people are like white people. There is nothing that the one cultural group suffers from that the other does not
So when people talk about “White privilege”, let them know that that is a racist statement. Get them talking about “privilege” and how it impacts all youth, not just white people and how we can best educate those youth and people to be more sensitive and understanding to the plight of the poor in our country. However, when we make it about “white privilege” instead of just “privilege”. we detract from the issues of social and income inequality and add to the fuel of racial divisiveness.
Not enough is being done to address inequality in our great nation. Government money is being squandered, corrupted and stolen. ANC cadres are looting the system and money is not getting to the people who need it the most.
Been white is not a requirement to suffer from "privilege", being wealthy and having shitty parents is.
South Africa needs to deal with the issue of privilege and inequality. Fighting racism with racism is kinda like shagging for virginity. Its going to get you nowhere and just piss off a lot of people.