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 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.)
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.]