Friday, March 02, 2007

Topic is Racism - pls ignore if you are sensitive to this topic

Yesterday afternoon during my whole two minutes in the office I obviously was sure to read my personal mail. One was a forward, of a forward, of a forward. With these, I usually glance over the content. If it has not grabbed hold of me & rubbed itself alluringly up against me (yeah, yeah, I’m in a certain mood today & I think it requires me needing to see that Model soon) within one second I delete it.

This mail came close to being given bat, just considering how far I had to scroll down to find the actual content. But when I found the content, oh boy, but wow.

I did a double take of who had sent it to me and wondered, what on earth was she thinking. Firstly, it is directed at white Afrikaans people. My Afrikaans is slightly more improved than my ability to greet in Tswana. Plus, this friend is fully aware of my gushingly liberal perspective on life, and well, the general mixed nature of my friends & world I have chosen. Surely she would know that this would have my upper arm muscles tighten as I read, at ready to punch something with disgust & frustration.

However, my friends also know that I appreciate being exposed to all perspectives on life. Even if you do not like that perspective or belief, ignoring it does not delete it from the world. It still exists. For such a reason, I prefer to know it exists, and debate with myself why I do not like it, and how can I rationally argue against it (yes, I know, I have been told before that I should have been a lawyer).

Back to this infamous email…

At the end of its rant, it tells the reader, who is expected to be of a pretty focused stereotyped South African demographic, that “There is nothing improper about this email. Let's see which of you are proud enough to forward it”. Now being the non-confrontational, passive, just-let-things-be person I am (ja ja, it was more difficult for me to type that than it was for you to read it!), I realized I had four choices ahead of me:

Hit FORWARD
Hit DELETE
Hit REPLY TO SENDER
Hit REPLY ALL

My decision follows the cut-and-pasted mail. (I debated for a long time whether to include the actual mail in this post, and whether it would be beneficial or unhealthy, sensationalist & fueling anger, or good to make people realize these thoughts & illogical arguments are very present in our country.)

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 01 March 2007 01:38 PM
Subject: FW: Afrikaners ??? Rasiste ??? (SA)

>Very interesting when you look at it like this......

>
>You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction.
>You call me "Whiteboy," "Famma," "Maboeroe," "Lekoa," "Whitey,", "Settler," "White Trash" and that's OK.
>But when I call you, nigger, caffir, piksteel, houtkop, muntu, or Gook,
>you call me a racist.

>You say that whites committed a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos, townships and Africa the most dangerous places to live?

>You have bursaries for previously disadvantaged.
>You have Freedom Day.
>You have Youth Day.
>You have Thabo Mbeki.
>You have affirmative action
>You have Black Economic Empowerment
>You have Employment equity.
>You have BCM, PAC and Azapo.
>You have people singing "kill the Boer, the famma".
>
>If we had WET - (White Entertainment Television) we'd be racists. If we had a White Pride Day you would call us racists. If we had white history month, we'd be racists.
>
>If we had an organization for only whites to "advance" our lives, we'd be racists or white supremacists.
>If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships, you know we'd be racists. There are 100% Black colleges and universities in SA, yet if there were "Afrikaans universities" that would be a racist college.
>
>In the Soweto March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists.
>
>You are proud to be black, and you're not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.
>
>You rob us, murder us, rape us, hi-jack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white man shoots a black man, murderer or burglar posing a threat to society, you call him a racist.
>
>I am proud. But, you call me a racist. Why is it that only whites can be racists?
>
>There is nothing improper about this email. Let's see which of you are proud enough to forward it>

My decision... I hit REPLY ALL (even if I don’t have the first fucking clue who the rest of the recipient list are but by now I am irrationally thinking that, seriously, people cannot really think so illogically and callously. Was Apartheid school history really that brilliant with its propaganda’d view?! And now I am fuming calmly, trying to yogic breath):

“I think it completely confuses, incorrectly interlinks, and simplifies issues that are far too complex and far too sensitive in this country.
There is a relevant point in saying racism does not flow in only one way. And it highlights the voice the white Afrikaans people feel they are losing.
But be careful of tearing down others in order to have your claim acknowledged.”

Or maybe I should have been a diplomat!

So what do you think? Should I have just deleted it? After all, it is just one email amongst thousands. Does it really impact on our minds?

Even publishing it here on a blog is making it live further.

But maybe in deleting & ignoring this email & the mindset that ignited it, is rather pushing down exactly what one of the points is, even if the point came out in such a poor way – that certain minorities in SA feel that they are losing their voice in our Rainbow Nation, that the rest of us are not listening to their pleas to recognise them. And many people fight back when they are feeling threatened. If the relevant people listen, and allow discussion, then such extremes of thought & conclusions would not be reached.

Also - Does this mail prompt response? I have eventually reasoned, Yes. As soon as my friend FORWARDed it, she raised a serious topic. She should then be able to uphold the points put forward through this topic. This is why I felt justified in replying. My friend started it! ….but more importantly, can she continue it. And if not, then honestly, she probably should have held her mouth, thought, and THEN spoke.

Words, concepts, beliefs and ideas are more powerful than actions. They rule the world, but are so abstract that there is no direct target when you fight against or for them. They are elusive, and so, the more educated you are, the more you should know you need to handle them carefully.

I worry about what some people who choose to read my blog would feel emotionally & mentally after reading such ridiculous statements, considering your race. And I apologise immediately should I have made a bad decision in posting this.

As many of you just may have realised, I am a tester of the status quo. But I am learning that one must choose their fights. And also I must be tolerant to others’ views. Mine are not correct, no matter how strong my emotions evoked around them are. Does such a random random forwarded mail deserve my disgust. Should I just let it be, and let others reason however they choose to.

I am left asking, how tolerant are we obligated to be as we search for understanding and unity?

Or maybe it was just a forward joke I didn’t get.

[Day long meeting now.]

31 comments:

Robert@iScatterlings.com said...

Champers,

You made the correct choice as far as I am concerned. I will support anyone who decides not to ignore this type of communication.

My opinion is that the author lacks any intelligence or knowledge of the issues at hand.

Even worse is the total disregard for the history we 'whities' created for all South Africans regardless of colour and creed. It appears to me that it is too convenient to 'forget' that the decisions made by a 'witseun' government inflicted incredible hardships on all of the county's poulace.

Have we forgotten that we had to smuggle in videos of Fawlty Towers and Match of the Day as a result.

Have we forgotten that we did not support the black students in 1976 when they stood up to a government that took away their freedom of choice about their education?

Have we forgotten the economic sanctions the government subjected us to? Whaty government in their right minds would want to do that to its citizens.

Have we forgotten the petrol prices we were forced to pay despite the petrol lakes and lower prices paid by landlocked countries who bought their crude from us, had it refined in SA and then transported to their countries and still managed to sell it at a lower cost per litre than what we paid?

Ir was all a big lie and an inhuman period from 1948 - 1994 that is only superceded in history by Hitler and his Nazi thugs and Pol Phot's regime in Cambodia.

So when we whites are called racists the answer from history is unresoundingly - yes we were and we accept that government for the people by the people will have a nasty backlash for us whites.

We are humans and the black population will exact their revenge knowing that it will not change history or make our future any brighter.

But time will pass and the healing that has already started will outgrow the backlash. Maybe young white people will learn what horrors we whites inflicted on the blacks of South Africa and accept that retaliation is a part of the healing process.

Meanwhile, all whites should refrain from complaining too loudly lest history smack you in the gob. That fist will be a white fist. Mine.

# 302 said...

It was just before the referendum vote, a good friend and I walked into a café which we frequented to have supper, whilst we were sitting at the counter waiting for our food to arrive a woman who was sitting at the opposite side of the counter said, "Don't look so worried, we will vote yes!"

He shook his head, raised his eyebrows and muttered something along the lines of, "I don't care."

And then he looked to me and said, "Where do you f###in' start."

I replied, "I wouldn't know." And we continued to do what we were doing.

I've got that same feeling now.

ChewTheCud said...

That kinda thing would be get the sender put straight into my blocked list, and the mail would be deleted. Theres no trying to reason with someone who's sending that kinda mail cos they are obviously too far gone. Arguing with them would in my view be a waste of time.

Robert@iScatterlings.com said...

Chew,

I agree with your sentiment but by not engaging these arseholes, the problem will perpetuate, gain traction and get taken up by more dickwads.

Otherweise re-eduction on a mass scale gets to be carried out. I hate to think that the 're-education' will take the form of needless violence.

Rather smack one guy in the gob than face up to a mob of misinformed angry white supremists.

Triggermap said...

I also think you did right and you were extremely diplomatic in your response.

Everything the email accuses black people of doing, white people did exactly the same things during apartheid - from Sanlam bursaries for any afrikaans person who could read to protected jobs at Sasol, Iscor, Post office, railways etc. for those who couldn't.; The SABC broadcasting TV in only english and afrikaans for many years; die AKTV etc. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it doesn't seem right to them. What were they expecting, beyond silly marketing encuraging otherwise? Cause & effect...

And a lot of that previous benefit came off exploited black labour. Farms, gold mines and factories don't work themselves afterall. Emails such as this seek to legitamise the past as a means to proclaim victimhood.

Guinness "2 cents" Piggy said...

IMHO, just delete it. Everyone is entitled to free speech, not deleting it you become their spokesperson.

"Words, concepts, beliefs and ideas are more powerful than actions." -
Interesting belief, considering how many people go back on their words or are just all talk. Words are important, but they need to be backed by action.

Action is the hard part, anyone can rant and rave, but do we do anything? Maybe drive with our lights on?

Irony is, here is me ranting but doing nothing :-)

Insane Insomniac said...

As a white, afrikaans (well, bilingual) south african woman, may I please state for the record that historically speaking, yes. We fucked up. But it seems to me that as hard as many of us are trying to move on and embrace this new South Africa, many are still walking around with a chip on thier shoulder.
Its this emotional baggage that blinds people and raises thier fears of everyone. Remember, apartheid wasn't just white vs black, it was each culture vs eachother.
Thank you for posting the email. I know so many who would agree with it and many who won't. the point is, this is what the average person in the street is thinking. And that is a sad reflection on our society.

Guinness "Devils Advocate" Porc said...

Trigger, just because it happened in the past should not give license to do it again. Did Nelson go and chuck FW into prison?

Yes, there is a case for addressing the past and rectifying things, but dewlling on what was is never a good thing. If one dwells on what was it is all to easy to forget the bad and go back to old habits.

One of the great lessons in life we can learn is to realise when something is broken, learn and not do it again.

Her Infinite Cuteness said...

Champers i do believe it was right to publish such unadulterated rubbish. i too am extremely liberal and people who composed that email and share such views make me sick! in fact i still feel ill after reading it.

i am so sick of hearing how hard by the whites are because of things like affirmative action. what they need to realise is that there is 50 years of injustice to be undone here. they come from their private school education, life of privelege and all the luxuries the previous government afforded them and behave like they are the ones being treated unfairly! please wait while i vomit.

yes, the crime is bad (but this is a world-wide trend) in this country but where do they think it all started. people were taught that life is cheap for decades and so why should people now respect the lives of those who never respected theirs. Crime also stems from unemployment, poverty and lack of education which our previous government is SOLELY responsible for! another thing that enfuriates me is that people assume all criminals are black and all black people are criminals, like it is in their gene code or something. All of the crimes commited against me were done so by WHITES. And it is not just me who can share this sentiment.

The country is not in the best of ways but our constitution is only 13 years old. and look at the mess that the ANC has to pick up from the previous government. if they are corrupt, it is because they learnt it from the white government! (learnt from the masters so to speak). And black people should be proud of their heritage and their colour, they were taught for so long that it was something to be ashamed of.

People i have spoken say that the sense of community in townships is amazing and if a neighbour needs help, there is always willing people. If a scream is heard in suburbs, how many people jump to aid the person, or even wonder what the problem is? there is no caring for your neighbour, this is not the case in townships, so i have been told!

Every country has its problem and i am extremely proud of how far we have come in such a short time.

I am in such a rage after what i have just read i forgot half of the things i wanted to say and i am sure this comment makes absolutely no sense! people who are so ignorant and have their heads so far up their own asses they can smell their own sh*t should leave this country and go live somewhere else, we do not want their poison here!!!

Guinness "the Liberal" Pig said...

Before you call yourself a liberal please understand what it is.

For those not wanting to follow the link
"It seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals,..."

Just because we don't agree with it does not mean its wrong. Its their view, they entitled to is and it only hurts those that choose to carry it.

Someone calls you a Pig, what do you do?

ChewTheCud said...

alls i'm saying is picking a fight with a bigot/bigots never got anyone anywhere ;) you might as well argue religion with these people, it seems to be for them.

Phlippy said...

Hey Champers - OK where to start. Not a bad things to post what you have posted at all. Forgive me but I have not read everyone elses comments yet, so if I regurgetate what has already been articulated don't take offense.

Firstly, I received this same mail about a week and a half ago. Funny thing is, when it came, it had a different Subject title, so somewhere along the way that has been changed. I know it is only a subject line, but that in itself elicits a particular thought process before reading.

The thoughts laid out in the mail are clearly thoughts driven by anger about what the original person felt prejudiced about, that is very clear. Whether or not racism was the initial DRIVER for the mail can remain in quesion, although racialsitic undertones are definitely apparent.

My view, similar to Rob, is that there is a lack of thought involved in what was said, and was totally emotional. There is so much history, and so many driving factors behind the change that is being pushed in South Africa, that if you are not aware of these, then don't fcuking comment!

I'm sorry if you feel hard done by because there is more focus on another culture, deal with it.

Racism seems to be the crutch that so many people use to quickly and completely unecessarily in this country. Far greater in SA than in others for that matter.

Racism is just as rife in both cultures, black and white alike. It is frightening actually.

Yes Rob, I agree, what was done was attrocious. No argument, to the point where I cannot watch a movie about it because it pains me that people can be so barbaric and inhumane. Bu that is not now. We ARE healing the wounds, but each time the wound is opened up, it takes longer to heal.

History is history, my generation now, yours Champers, Cuteness, Rob, Chews et al, we did not commit those attrocities, nor could we possibly fathom ever doing something like that, but the history will haunt us. Looking forward, as a NATION as a whole is the only that healing begins. Arseholes, on both sides of then fence, that dwell on these issues, cause more injury than good.

In summary, the mail is not acceptable, and - in my opinion - it brings about the wrong kind of thinking.

I deleted it btw, not reading further than the third line.

Guinness "no logic"Swine said...

Chew, you hit the nail on the head!

ChewTheCud said...

I was gonna mail you guys this but I thought I'll save some time and give you the link. Well it got me laughing ;P

spoon said...

A very good response and brave challenge!

Phlippy said...

Dude, I LOVE Bash.org, that racked me up

Revolving Credit said...

Personally I'd rather people state what they're thinking, so that we can deal with it. Ignoring their views, whether you think that we're right or wrong, doesn't resolve the underlying issue.

That was the whole beauty of the TRC. Put it out there in the public space and deal with it in a structure manner. If we don't, we stand the risk of having this fester under the surface.

I challenge the author to raise their views in a public forum. I further challenge the public to give them the opportunity to express their view before ripping them to shreds.

Only by doing this do we achive the true level of an undertanding, respect and less racist( if not non-racist) society that we have striven for.

Is this not part of our African renaissance?


PS> Champs, is that you who replyed all? Did you just inadvertantly email me?

Not! But thats how you accidently stalk yourself.

thegodowner said...

I think the original author definitely had the right to express an opinion,
and while it's being forwarded it's going to raise the kind of response you have here. which i don't think is necesarily a bad thing...

I get frustrated when that racist curveball hits me on the nose.
AA & BEE etc are unfair to me & infringes on my constitutional rights, why can't I admit to being against it?
And no I won't leave my country for thinking so.

Would it be funny if the mail was written by a black person?

Champagne Heathen said...

Rob - as you say, the author lacked extreme knowledge of the issues they spoke of & completely disregarded a very painful and unjust history that has shaped our country, its people, & its patterns of behaviour today.

But I do not believe in gob-smacking the author, but rather , maybe, (is it my place to??) exposing the massive gaps in their argument.

Direct their anger to the correct targets so they can use this energy constructively.

Numero - I can imagine. I also just looked at thought, with thoughts to misguided & baseless, where do you even start to argue in reason.

Chews - I respect this friend to the point where I love her even if we differ dramatically on such senstive issues, that I will not attack her for this, but rather attack the argument she is forwarding.

I thought of replying by counteracting every incorrect point in the mail, but i thought, if you can forward this then, as you say, they are "too far gone". And so I kept it short, but got my points across. Hopefully the brevity will make them think, or go back & look into it properly for themselves.

And yes, as Rob says after you, we need dialogue. To expose the mis-reasoned conclusions that MANY of us are holding onto as we try to unite many many cultures, histories, memories, goals, attitudes. For healing sake, we need to stay open about what various spaces we all are in.

Furthering education involves dialogue. Otherwise, we will suddenly find people cemented in the exact unreasoned angry argument the email was written from.

Triggermap - Yes. In SA there were once systematic laws to uplift a particular race. We see this now, in an opposing way. The difference is that, BACK THEN, at the same time as improving the lot of the white Afrikaans person, there were concerted efforts to downtrod other races in digusting inhumane ways. Back then it was an idea of "us" versus "them".

Such emails continue the idea of "us" versus "them". As a Rainbow nation this is exactly what we are meant to be working against. It is ALL OF US in this together. Policies that uplift black South Africans are to bring that previously-systematically-oppressed race UP to the level that the majority of White South African already exist on. I do not know of any exact laws that are at the same time trying to downtred the whites in return.

We need to bring OUR people up to an equal level. OUR people being the multiracial bunch of us.

Guinnie - yeah, I know you & I disagree on this one. You believe in "live & let live". I believe that if we are all going to be living together, we better all be on the same page of rationality at least. Have your perspective, but be able to back it up & have reasonable, not just emotional, means to uphold it.

So, it is fine that she sent it to me. But, as my friend who should know my attitude to such perspectives, she should have expected some response from me.

Maybe the word "word" was wrong to use there. Rather "thoughts". Those elements that guide every person's actions and lives and ways of thinking & of concluding. These can be dangerous, and need to be handled carefully. It is because of concepts in our heads that we choose to not hold promises, or we choose to be apathetic.

Insanity - Exactly. This way of thinking is still very much alive in post-Apartheid SA, even if the adverts of PROUDLY SA say otherwise. They do need to be given a space to be aired to find a base, to be honed with reason, otherwise they will be allowed to fester & appear later on in much more dangerous ways.

After re-reading & pulling the email apart bit by bit, examining whether each line was factually true or logical, I think the 2nd last line is the only part I agree is a valid point & would be willing to forward on to other people.

Guinnie - I think it is actually a point that is needed to be discussed at length: What is dwelling on the past? And What is focusing on the past to allow healing to take place? - I think there is such a fine line there.

Cuteness - there was a lot of sense in your comment.
I like your counteracting to one point raised in the email, that there are some people who "assume all criminals are black and all black people are criminals, like it is in their gene code or something".

Also that "look at the mess that the ANC has to pick up from the previous government". I am only learning now how screwed up & economically in trouble SA really was at the change over to democracy.

Also - your point that black people in this country were taught for decades that their racial status was something to be ashamed of, and it allowed others to treat them like sub-humans. I do not believe, but am willing to be challenged, that white South Africans are being treated like sub-humans through specific policies or laws.

Yes, there is a great sense of community in the areas of townships I have visited. Whole different topic.

They don't have to leave - they can relocate to Oranje, based in democractic SA! ...because as Guinnie say after you, being a liberal means allowing even the most opposing perspectives to co-exist with your own.

Chews - but you know me & how I love to bang against my head against brick walls! ....eg. arguing with a bigot. I have to believe that if the person holds any intelligence, they can see reason!

Phlippy - interesting about the subject line changing some of the email's emphasis! And yes, it was obviously VERY emotional, and def. NOT reasoned!

And yes, the email brings up a DANGEROUS way of thinking - maintaining that idea of "us" vs. "them" (And actualy thank you to Jam for raising the "Us" vs "them" point when we discussed this last night.)

Spoon - thanks! :)

Rev - exactly. We do need to speak about these things. Realise what thoughts do exist out there. Otherwise everyone will hold onto these & unhealthy repressed thinking & actions & practices will start to appear in our society that is trying to heal.

As for the REPLY ALL.... You're a female?!?!?!

Thegodowner - it raises a point if we reason back to that point. Which is why I decided, if they felt they had the right to forward that to me, I had the right to reply to them.

I disagree with you about AA & BEE for a period of time, as I have stated higher up in the comments. It is racially based, but I believe that it is necessary to spur our citizens to reach a general equality. But I do think it is also another topic.

Rather, the argument now the right to express such an emotional unfactual viewpoint, that is prompting hatred & futher divisions, rather than understanding & unity. How tolerant should I be to such a viewpoint? What should my reaction be?

Revolving Credit said...

Champs - I could have a female Nom de Email or a Nom de Stalk as it were.

Stalkers need to be devious littler buggers, don't they??

Champagne Heathen said...

Oh and we are!!! ....you have mail!!...

*Stalk* *Stalk* *Stalk*

Revolving Credit said...

Now thank Peas for the help! :)

Champagne Heathen said...

Actually, Peas wants to know from me, so it couldn't have been her!

Just trust that I have connection EVERYWHERE.

He he he.

Revolving Credit said...

Thanx Chewy!

Revolving Credit said...

PS> Peas should know as I sent direct mail to her as well.

Champagne Heathen said...

Yip, I had an accomplis! Does that still make it stalking??

I'll let Peas know. See if she can figure out the riddles and euphemisms and all.

Now to beat you to me finding a photo of you, before you find my full name!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

ChewTheCud said...

no problem rev ;)

Jam said...

So pleased you posted it. And missing my Friday night date. ;-(

storm said...

to be honest i think the whole thing has been pulled out of proportion. Champs i agree with you, there are a lot of gaps in that argument...but lets not stare ourselves blind to that. the point is that unless the government and prominent people stop blaming current f**kups on apartheid...this country will never ever heal. the fact of the matter is that even though the previously disadvantaged groups were disadvantaged....during that time period, they were terrorists..planting bombs etc. now i know i know...they had good cause, don't get me wrong here...the point is that inadvertantly everybody made mistakes along the way, some bigger than others, but mistakes never the less. i don't agree with the e-mail that was sent, as this only creates more anger and an even more messed up nation than we already are....give us a break, everybody is trying!

stop blaming everything that's happening in 2006/2007 on apartheid.....they're not in charge anymore!!! and start working on a solution together..i'm so damn tired of everybody just fighting for themselves against each other instead of working together as a nation...just imagine how powerful we'd be.....just imagine what a great country we could be:-)

robert@iscatterlings.com......for the record...countries that buy their fuel from us still pay less than us per litre...just thought i'd mention.

montchan said...

Ha! I got the same email but from the US and written from the American perspective, MLK and all that.
Small world!

I wonder where it really started...

Champagne Heathen said...

Storm - as you say, we need to start working TOGETHER on a solution. Enough with the mud slinging and "us" vs. "them". I do agree, do not use scapegoats for one's own fck ups.

I do, however, feel that some people are wanting to move on too fast from some dilemmas based within a certain sick period. When one keeps witnessing extreme inequalities that exist today because of historical social engineering, it raises many emotions, actions, principles, ideas, etc. ...in my case, motivation & sadness that some of the wonderful people I have met are leading daily struggles because of previous racial segregation & oppression. In other people it raises anger or greed.

Many people within our country are where they are today because of this state social engineering, not because of any other reason. That is why Apartheid still is relevant in our lives.

Montchan - very very interesting! I def. thought that it has an american flare when I read it, because of some of those days they claim black South Africans have, but def. don't. Our public holidays are not racially based - like the mail claims.

I think it would've started in the States, and be poorly changed here in SA. Sad that such thoughts are so worldwide!