Is Helen Zille Campaigning for the ANC?

If the Western Cape Premier and former DA Leader is merely confusing on Twitter, she was mystifying in her Daily Maverick opinionista contribution, From the Inside: Zuma’s Alternative Facts for the Alt-Left.

It can be read as saying Jacob Zuma and his ANC aren’t absolutely terrible for South Africa.  Things can work significantly well, even if it’s despite them.  They don’t have to be “stopped as soon as possible,” as the DA’s urgent messaging normally pleads; their influence can be bypassed.  As a matter of fact, Zuma could steal more credit for successes that have happened despite him instead of embarrassing our (otherwise functional) country in front of the world.

Gareth van Onselen pointed out a similar dissonance in the DA’s messaging when it lauded the ANC of Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.  Instead of positioning itself as fundamentally different from it at policy and implementation level, the DA was saying the ANC had a leadership crisis but could be left to run South Africa once that had been sorted.  That, van Onsenel argues, creates zero compelling incentive to switch for good.

Zille’s article mentions the Financial Mail’s “breathtaking exposé” on how “the Zuma network had used the State’s electricity generation-and-distribution monopoly to enrich the Zupta circle.”  Is she not reiterating what became broad public knowledge after State of Capture was released?  Since then, the ANC has said investigation on state capture has to include “white monopoly capital” and not just focus on brown-skinned beneficiaries of corruption.  The Premier acts as though she’s missed that more South Africans believe in the existence of “white monopoly capital” than before, and rightly or not, that her constituency has a log in its eye while pointing out specks in others’ eyes.

It is against this backdrop that the ANC’s unstated reason for pushing the Bankorp-ABSA uncovering, for revelling in rating agencies’ tacit admission of pro-West bias in Moody’s agreeing to pay a fine for its role in the 2008 meltdown, is it shows what’s commonly thought of as white power being as corrupt as what’s commonly thought of as black power.  Even former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has remarked on the increased frequency of the use of “white monopoly capital” in public conversations about justice.

This is ANC-style dog-whistle politics, messaging at a pitch mostly black people will hear.  The ruling party’s implicit ultimatum to its constituency is it has one of two possible futures to choose from.  The ANC-led future, which is hell, and a DA-led future is one in which government works well but the economy continues being defined by over 50 years’ worth of White Economic Empowerment.  This is black hell.

The article further plays into the ANC’s trap by dismissing affirmative action as “the fig-leaf Zuma calls Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, which is in reality a flimsy cover for bribe-based black elite enrichment” while failing to suggest alternative legislation to ensure black people catch up to the effects of apartheid’s White Economic Empowerment.

For the benefit of those who are otherwise unfamiliar with the DA’s proposed solutions to poverty (“war on grime,” anyone?), Zille could have replaced some of her article with the DA’s thinking on how to address apartheid’s legacy.  But she didn’t — because she, too, is playing at dog-whistle politics, and that article’s target audience was wealthy people.

After citing “the real” statistics on restitution, she says, “The facts do not suit [Zuma’s] strategy” for survival.  Is she saying that overall, we aren’t drowning in economic difference along racial lines?  If that’s the case, then what’s wrong with the current administration other than failing to take enough credit for the good that’s happened despite its failings?  Why should ANC voters switch to the DA?

She unwittingly traps herself between two positions: BEE has been a smokescreen, and we now ought to “clear the air” by moving on to something more investor-friendly (read: non-racial, and therefore extremely racist).  She’s saying this now — when everyone’s screaming Black Consciousness and Wokeness?

The other position says racial economic difference isn’t that real, so the ANC’s biggest mistake is using SONA to push its agendas for problems that have already been solved when they could draw for credit for the solutions.  Again, this makes the DA less compelling an alternative.

This argues the official opposition right off of the political equation.  But of course, for the DA is a business interest group that occasionally dabbles in politics.

Its goal isn’t to win elections.  Its message won’t be absorbed by more than 30% of South Africans.  Commercially speaking, this absorption rate is enough for them to politically protect business interests.

The Gospel of post-racial trickle-down economics won’t bring about the political realignment South Africa needs.  But it doesn’t have to; it need only convince the existing DA voter base that it someday will.  For if that base understood that the DA isn’t there for the distance, it would lose its motivation to vote.

Winning national elections would be more than the DA bargained for.  That’s why its people are campaigning for the ANC.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

More Vlog Posts!

Happy Friday!

Two things.

There is a vlog post on the ABSA/Bankorp scandal, this is especially pertinent since the ANCYL paid the bank’s Durban branch an unexpected visit.

After Somizi schooled Grace Bible Church about the dangers of hypocrisy, Zakhele Mbhele, the first openly gay African Member of Parliament, shared a few words of wisdom and encouragement for LGBTI youth who may be concerned about religious homophobia.
Write-ups coming soon.

Thank you so much.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

There is a book working on me coming out later this year… 

Who Is Fooling Whom? (On Current Political Sentiment)

What have

Cyril Ramaphosa

Helen Zille

Jacob Zuma

Julius Malema

Nelson Mandela

Thuli Madonsela

got in common?

They’re populist demagogues.

Lesson 1: Politics is Business

Getting people to buy into a governance vision package is more an expensive exercise than ordinarily expected.  It involves lobbying business, labour, church, environmentalists, civil society  and so on.  Law firms find their way into the mix.

So the politician’s deepest allegiance is to donors who fund the logistics of  schmoozing these prospective stakeholders until they think he or she is God’s gift to politics.  The costs vary wildly.  Mining bosses like expensive drinks; prospective voters like KFC.  The KFC packages for all the prospective voters who eat KFC probably total up to the same price as just one of the mine boss’s drinks.  And some people can drink.  So though campaigning involves telling voters that they’re the buyers, they’re the bosses, they’re actually the product being sold to funders; more fundamentally, they are slaves picking their own slave-masters with government as go-between through the ruling party.  You get said voters to agree to this transaction by having a “good story to tell” about how they’re the primary beneficiaries.

Politicians call this tweak of perspective, “campaigning.”  A little child, unfettered by the moral complexities of adulting, would call it “lying.”  Imagine if children got to vote…

Which leads us to the second point.

2.) Politics Is the Art of Brainwashing People While Convincing Them that Their Superior Control of Their Own (Impeccable) Thought Processes Make Them Impervious to Brainwashing

Think about how often you’ve heard the word “populist” bandied about recently.

It’s become an accusation by the middle class / “the learned” that Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma use frustrations instead of “the truth” to get votes.  The implication is that poor people are more impressionable.

But this allows the upper classes / “the educated” to locate the ultimate explanation for poverty in poor people themselves so they, the well-off, may absolve themselves of benefitting from systems that impoverish those poor.  Believing that the status quo and the rules upholding it are fair enough that everyone has a decent chance at life is how the rich sleep better at night.  The nice cotton sheets probably help too.

The implication is that the poor are to blame for their circumstances — perhaps because they vote in politicians who don’t uphold the Constitution as they should.  You also see identity politics not just critiqued but criticized as though the critics’ real intentions aren’t as obvious as the bigger suburban houses and cars they live in and drive.

Where do the educated / rich get these ideas from?  They get them when they believe that some politicians are demagogues while others are not-demagogues but noble, heroic “truth-tellers.”  They must believe this story to justify the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed, and then, to put the cherry on top, say it is the poor whose desperation makes them more susceptible to emotional manipulation.

The Housewives may have lived on Wisteria Lane, but they, too, were desperate.

3.) Politics is Theatre 

I don’t want to sound cynical, nor do I mean to trample on the great, heartfelt work done by our noblest “heroes of the day.”  But when someone is congratulated, thanked or awarded for serving the state well, he or she is being praised for maintaining the illusion that the status quo and the laws pertaining thereto are just and worth fighting for; that there is a system to put faith in.

The “impartial”  media is there to frame and communicate this drama of heroes and villains to us.  We buy into it, believing it is as real as people thought Ntsiki Lukhele from Generations was all those years ago when they attacked the actress who played her, Pamela Nomvete.  Or Cherel De Villiers Haines when they attacked Michelle Botes.  So Thuli Madonsela: good; protagonist.  Jacob Zuma: bad; antagonist.

But are we not just responding as the politicians’ primary clients (the 1% who own 50% of everything) want us to?  Look at the evidence.

ABSA was pulled into scandal with leaked Public Protector’s provisional report.  Report found State should have made Bank pay back undue benefit it gained in its acquisition of Bankorp, which was beneficiary of apartheid-era corruption.

Did this investigation not take this long to spill into broad public awareness because The System cannot have politicians telling their clients that they’re visibly implicated as the bad guys — as Ntsiki Lukhele, as Cherel De Villiers Haines — of the drama those donors commissioned the politicians to make in order to take attention away from their offstage existence?

It is like that time South Africans were more fascinated by the drama between Generations producer Mfundi Vunda and the cast of the soapie than they were by the storyline of Generations itself.

What we are seeing is the ANC blackmail white monopoly capital, so-called, with the prospect of exposing its role as producer / scriptwriter if it does not stop sending investigators after the party.

The political drama only works as long as the gentlemen’s agreement of not uncovering one another’s most damning sins is maintained.

4.) Politics is Chess

If the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just keeping capital in check, its response to the provisional report would have underscored that Apartheid-era crime didn’t prejudice “South Africa” in the abstract; concretely speaking, many white people were enriched by it, and many black people harmed by it.

And if Thuli Madonsela could say she was not going to accept questions about whether the provisional leaked report had been tampered with (which says it was), then neither am I going to say if the ANC were sincere about reversing injustice for its own sake and not just holding capital hostage, it would have told Busi Mkhwebane to tamper with report findings (before arranging for its leak as though it were a sex tape or Hip-Hop single) to end with a stronger, more quotable, more sound-bitable reminder that the people prejudiced were black.   It did not end this way sufficiently to penetrate the media statements on the report.

ANC apathy towards black exploitation for its donors and stakeholders is wholly incompatible actual liberation.  For black poverty is not a problem to be addressed; it is a resource to be harnessed.  Desperate people (are supposed to) accept desperate wages.  Remember Marikana.

5.) Politics is About Stalling Justice

Cecil John Rhodes said UCT would be built “out of the Kaffir’s stomach” as would just about everything else.

It is the noon of apartheid.  A company has two labourers.  One is white; the other is black.  Job reservation says the white person has a more covetable job and higher salary than the black person.  Structured efficiently, this discriminatory labour practice makes the company more profitable, which, if there are enough companies run like this, makes South Africa look more investor-friendly (until the world decides apartheid is morally odious or economically unviable or both).

The State can also tax these companies or their employee incomes harder.  It benefits whichever way; it’s either selling its country as an investor’s dream, or using tax money to bail out banks that are funding white people things that otherwise would not  be funded.  The apartheid state gets to enjoy the thrill and patina of capitalism without doing away with the artificial mechanations of the communism it purports to protect its white voters and business stakeholders from.  Because your impeccable thought processes.

How else do you get the edifice of white supremacy built, unless white people who can’t afford suburban houses get loans from banks that are being bailed out; unless white people who have no capital are lent money to start businesses, at really low rates?

So when white supremacists tell you, “We white people built this country,” please paraphrase Jesus in your response: “Therefore you testify against yourselves that you are the children of them that used black blood, sweat and tears to build what you so eagerly take credit for having built.”

When we separate “good” politicians from “bad” ones in government, we’re saying that the laws we have in place are inherently just, they’re worth fighting for, there is a system to put faith in, and those politicians we’ve deemed “good” have fought well for it.  But is there such a system?

I’m going to make a #Scandal / #TheFixer reference, and yes, this blog will reference Shonda Rhimes’s series without warning.

On one episode, the Vice President was asked to sign a drafted bill intended to decrease the incidence of unarmed black men being shot by white police officers.

To everyone’s surprise, the Vice President insisted she’d have to read the whole bill again — not just the parts that had been amended, but the whole document, before signing it.

After reading it, she refused to sign it off.  Her reason?  “It’s a bunch of requests; it’s unenforceable.”  It was designed to give the impression that the issue had absorbed the government’s efforts.  But priorities and political will were split among too many conflicting interests for the drafters to actually solve the problem they were making a great show of solving.  Its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises.  In the Vice President’s understanding, to quote a review I read long ago, “A bill that would effect no consequences would, in the long run, turn out worse than no bill at all.”

What if our Constitution was a bunch of requests?

What if its intended end was a quiet death by a thousand compromises?

What if, insofar as it speaks to racial inequality, its requests are unenforceable — and that, by design?

What if its purpose was to give us all the impression that somewhere in all the ceremonying and awarding and thanking, there had been found enough alignment along enough interests for a solution to emerge?

The ANC’s losses at local government elections last year weren’t a sign that the party is in decline or that it has to get rid of Jacob Zuma.  Rather, they were a sign that the ANC has used up every card it could play without sacrificing “white monopoly capital.”  The race card has neither expired nor is it exhausted; it remains valid for at least as long as apartheid ran or until the funds apartheid stole are transferred back.

Contrary to the white-populist narrative the DA would have you believe, you can still swipe the race card in South Africa.  Unlike a lot of other things here, it happens to still work just fine.

6.) Politics is War

Does the ANC have enough time to properly implement the BEE that could have possibly addressed public frustration at racial inequality?

Or will its survival lie in white Jesus’s atonement crucifixion?

Will the drama turn to action and the unreal into reality?

Whoever you are and whatever your race: if you have a God, start praying.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

There is a book working on me; watch this space

First Vlog Post

Hello!

A lot of people have said to try vlogging.  Here is the first video.  Write-up coming soon!

Uploading the content ended up taking days longer than I expected.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.  Remember, this is the first time I’ve “blogged” this way so there’s still a long way to go before I start getting it right.

Thank you so much.

Please follow and retweet @SKhumalo1987

Book coming soon

Will 2017 Be the Year White People like #BrendonWare tell Black People they Were Too Sensitive About #PennySparrow?

Happy New Year, everyone!

It has been ages.  I kid you not, I was working on another blog post when something happened on Facebook that I was going to ignore.  It is the kind of thing I ignored throughout 2016.

But this is a new day.

One of my friends posted, “Penny Sparrow sparked the year of racism (2016) a year ago today.”  I replied that this was “the Facebook post that launched a thousand battleships.”

Brendon Ware, whose Facebook profile shows him to be a young white man, replied to my comment that Sparrow’s was a post that “proves people are too easily butthurt and offended. No excuse for letting text or sound vibrations in the air trip you up… wow people…wow.  Be better than them, don’t let them get to you with petty remarks.”

I advised him to delete his reply to me.  I then sent a message to the guy who posted the initial status, saying, “I’m not above crucifying the Brendon Ware character on your thread.”

Meanwhile, Ware was replying to my advice.

“Take what back, a comment on FB, tell every person that posts a chune online to take it back.  I never tuned anything so I have nothing to take back”

and

“I simply made a conscious acknowledgment of the fact that people on Earth get too offended too easily and blow things way out of proportion.  I find it funny how thousands of racist, sexist, xenophobic posts are actually posted on social media everyday and people seem to only nit pick on and run with that and make a mountain out of a mole hill, if other people can’t see that… this species has a serious problem with consciousness, and intelligence.”

Why is this one young man the first topic of this blog for this year?  Isn’t it overkill and vindictive, taking one individual — a young one with his future ahead of him, at that — and broadcasting his moment of indiscretion to the world?  Do we like “manufacturing” outrage?  Am I that desperate for reads?  Shouldn’t I be finding a more “constructive” way of engaging people like Ware and telling them why I think their opinions are inappropriate?  Is this blog not supposed to be holy ground instead of a battlefield?

Here’s why the answers to all of the above are No and Not Anymore.

1.) “He’s young.”

For this, the young master is not too young at all.

Racism, insensitivity to racism and white privilege (among other kinds) are nipped in the bud at as early an age as possible or not at all.  Each time someone feels free to propagate an opinion that excuses or minimises racism, it tells me he lives in a huge social bubble where there are no consequences for racism for those close to him.

If this poster is the age I think he is, he’s a “born-free.”  One of the reasons our economy is defined by racial inequality, and will be for some time, is that a huge number of white children are completely apathetic about this country’s past, though they’re beneficiaries of apartheid.

In a limited sense, then, this comment is worse than Sparrow’s because it shows a total refusal to learn from Sparrow’s.

2.) “He’s just an individual and it’s not fair to blame individuals for attitudes held by many.”

Racism exists because enough individuals harbour it, and other individuals allow them to.

3.) “Hasn’t He Got a Right to an Opinion?”

Sure, everyone has the right to an opinion.  That’s why I’m inviting everyone else to have an opinion about Ware’s opinion.

4.) “If this follows him into the future, it will ruin his career prospects.”

If we can be okay with discrimination ruining the career prospects of those discriminated against, then we can be as okay with the ruin of the career prospects of those who minimise the ugliness of racism.  Besides, I’m pretty sure that all talk of this young master’s career prospects being ruined is exaggeration.

5.) “He’s young. He’ll be traumatised if society reacts badly to his comment.”

He can take it.  After all, he’d have us take Penny Sparrow’s comments with a stiff upper lip.

6.) “Siya, you have no right to judge him.”

I was given this moral-high-groundist admonishment when I blogged about Mabel Jansen’s rant.  But what I’m posing to you isn’t a judgment; it’s a question.  Will 2017 be the year white people like Brendon Ware continue tell black people that their responses to posts like Penny Sparrow’s are hypersensitive?

7.) “We are tired of these racist people outings and pillorying.”

This is precisely the topic the Ware incident brings up, that of who gets to decide what the appropriate responses to racism are.  People like him people can afford to get tired of racial justice because they are buffered from racism.  But South Africa is headed for something disastrous if we, citizens, do not take it upon ourselves to dismantle oppression and inequality.  The discourse does not sleep.

So that’s his name, guys.  Brendon Ware.  I think it’s catchy.  Like a hashtag.  #BlackTwitter, I am counting on you.  You know what to do.

Persons of colour, you allow people to walk over you year after year.

White people, do not tell me you hate racism if you also turn a blind eye to your children when they minimise it, for that is also minimising it.  Those children are simply repeating what they have heard you say.  Is Ware a reflection on you?  Let us know.

That other blog post is coming soon.  May you have a blessed and beautiful 2017!

Thank you

Please follow @SKhumalo1987 and retweet

 

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Why #Trump Voters Are All Being Painted with the Same “Racist” Brush

Trump voters and supporters with an online presence have seen an unprecedented withdrawal of ally, non-homophobic, non-racist and non-sexist cards.  The internet has also seen a surge in very us-and-them thinking about them.

Is this polarisation justified, or is it the left being the overactive, hypersensitive whine-fest everyone says it is?

I’m not American.  But when that country sneezes the rest of the world catches the ‘flu.  So I’d like to first cut through a lot of mitigating arguments that have been used to justify the choice Donald Trump voters made.

  • The Media Misrepresents Him

Nobody has had to twist, edit or interpret Donald Trump to paint him out as a bigot; on the contrary, it takes more PR gymnastics to paint him as a human rights’ champion.  “The media” can only accept so much of the responsibility for being there with rolling cameras whenever he opened his mouth.

  • He Has Indicated He Will Be Everyone’s President and Wants to “Heal The Breach”

But his definition of “everyone” remains exclusive until he “heals the breach” by owning up to how it was his divisive campaign rhetoric that exacerbated differences.

He would have to apologise unreservedly, by name, to each group he insulted — for if he could name and put target marks on them while he was campaigning, he ought to likewise name and re-humanize them now that he’s president-elect.

Failing this, all talk about being everyone’s president is just that — talk.

He would have to also apologise for using vulnerable groups as campaign fodder at risk to their lives.  For there has been a swell in hate crimes and threats in the last few days.  We know, from #Brexit as one of many examples, that leaders’ words provoke action.  Donald Trump has to take his share of the responsibility for that if he really means what he’s saying about being every American’s president.

By the same token, he cannot claim to be pro-LGBTI while appointing staff-members who are trying to pass laws that are known to be anti-LGBTI (or espouse them himself, as he has).  Holding rainbow flags and saying, “I love the gays!” is meaningless if his campaign promises are to undo the rights they have realised.

I know such an apology would leave him in an embarrassing spot, but is he really willing to live with the alternative (the reign of hate that’s already underway) just to save face?  This alone reveals the extent of his narcissism.

It also shows that that the things he says in the heat of the moment are bigger than his ability to take back.  That says the likelihood that he’ll surround himself with a government that successfully keeps a lid on his temperament is just as slim.

  • He Is Anti-Establishment

There’s a lot to be said about Trump’s importance as an anti-establishment candidate.  However, it would be damnably irresponsible to separate his rage against the machine from his vocalised disdain of every human who isn’t a straight white able-bodied male.

It would be as damnably irresponsible to ignore, from the shakiness of his shaky human rights’ framework (and his readiness to use nukes to solve problems), that his approach to resolving the issues he and other frustrated Americans have identified will most likely be as shaky, if not devastating.  Any idiot can diagnose a problem, but not any idiot should be called upon to perform brain surgery to fix it.

That American voters have chosen the deadly toxin that is Donald Trump as the antidote to the fatal elitism represented by Hillary Clinton points to a bigger problem, and it’s not just that Americans’ options sucked: it’s that in the broadest possible measure of what the United States now chooses to be, Hillary Clinton was the penultimate answer and Donald Trump was the only answer to her or the final answer itself.  If that does not scream “back to the drawing board,” nothing ever could.

He been accused, believably, of sexual assault — a proclivity he relished in with his “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment — and he’s threatened to sue those who came forward with allegations against him.  If he’s that willing to exert all that power in that context, then he’s likelier to use military power the same way.  All that stands before that is who he surrounds himself with.

If this was America’s only way of draining the Washington swamp, I’m left wondering whether its people shouldn’t have let the establishment reign a little longer.

  • He Hasn’t Got Enough Power to Actually Hurt Anyone

Legally, Donald Trump’s uglier campaign promises won’t pass overnight.  But bigots have already been emboldened; they’re echoing his campaign rhetoric and taking it to its white supremacist logical conclusion.  And he isn’t correcting them.

Why should he, though?  Where others would try to temper his words about Muslims (“He only means Radical Islamic Terrorists”) he said he would ban all Muslims.  He has deliberately pushed the envelope on hate.  Is it any wonder the haters feel they have a champion in him?

  • We Cannot Judge Him Before He Even Starts

Ah, but we can judge and condemn him out of his own mouth and stated intentions.  We can judge him on what he has not retracted.  That’s only fair.  In a world where politicians are almost expected to do worse than what they have promised, it is very rare for a politician to effectively say, upfront, “I am here to make the lives of those already othered miserable,” but it is shocking that a number of people think he does not really mean that.  Short of incontrovertible assurance from God himself that Donald Trump will not screw this up, the chances that the future is already reading about this moment in history books and asking, “Why did no one believe him?” is too high for you not to be getting sleepless nights.

And those are the only mitigating arguments I can think of to respond to.

Now, back to the original problem: why are Donald Trump supporters all being painted with the same racist brush?

Because, if you’ve been following the argument, any reasonable human being in their position should have foreseen that they’d be choosing the embodiment of everything we should be trying to evolve beyond as a global community.  I do not accept that they were passively ignorant: they have been actively ignoring.  He offers catharsis, but the price is astounding.

Trump’s promises to clean up the U.S government or stand with a class whose living conditions he’s never been immersed in are not only highly unlikely to materialise, they’re also inextricable from what is already being actualised — violence.

This is not, by the way, an argument against the legitimacy of his presidency.  We can agree that if he’s who the American system ultimately picks — if President-Elect becomes POTUS — it is what it is.

We can also agree, as have a lot of influential Democrats, that he ought to be supported to the extent that he really does act for all Americans.  If America really swears him into office, then he is President, end of story.

That is not what I am discussing.  What I am saying is that someone who would take the initiative to pick Donald Trump is actually everything the internet says he or she is.  If you press a clearly marked detonate button because you needed somewhere to rest your finger, you are not someone who needed a place to rest his or her finger: you are a bomber and mass-murderer.

The Internet will make you own that.  There is no other way to make people come face-to-face with what they give oxygen to.

“But why all the anger and name-calling?”

Well, how else are people supposed to respond to anyone who openly owns up to supporting someone who stands to make their lives and their loved-ones’ lives hell?  Offer tea and scones?

Siya Khumalo has gone from working on a book to having the book work on him. Please follow and retweet on @SKhumalo1987, thank you.

 

Nothing Has Changed. Do Not Panic. Yet.

When Donald Trump first announced his presidential candidacy, I was among those who said he would win.

A lot of people — a lot of them being white progressive friends, some American — insisted this was alarmist.  They also insisted that Hillary Clinton was the more qualified candidate.  “I didn’t say Trump should win,” I explained.  “I said he will; whether he should won’t matter when he does.”

Which polls did we study to know this?  Not the pre-election polls.  Those are normally run by nice, respectable people talking to nice respectable people; “experts” with a bias towards people who think like themselves, believing those to be representative of the majority, extrapolating within psycho-social parameters they find believable.  But the human element is inescapable: that’s why the best predictor of human behaviour is human behaviour.  The best polls to study to determine a political outcome is the incidence of hate crimes.

***

Consider the bullied kid who insists the class bully doesn’t bully in isolation.  He has support; he’s popular with the jocks and athletes; he’s a formidable terror in the bullied kid’s existence.

Imagine classmates shrugging off the bullied kid’s story.  They say he’s exaggerating.  The bully is just a dumb loud-mouth nobody listens to.

The time to vote class captain comes.  As candidate, the bully says all the wrong things.  The average student imagines there’s no way someone like him would win.  But he does.  It is only then that everyone realises the pervasiveness of the bully’s kind of thinking.

Will things worsen for the bullied kid?  Yes.  But at least he will now be believed when he describes the subtler workings of the school’s power systems.

***

Let’s talk about rape culture, systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and the nice, middle-class white progressives who make it all possible.

After slavery and segregation were lifted from black folks in the USA, there were no reparations (a fact the UN is now making sounds about).  Redress for injustice is a concrete way of quantitatively and qualitatively coming to terms with its wrongness in all its dimensions.  If the one (the quantitative or the qualitative) is prioritised ahead of the other, if reconciliatory ceremonies and gestures are put ahead of the actual work on the ground or vice-versa, it will lead to two things happening among those who had not previously been oppressed:

Those who hold on to bigoted attitudes will think they’re good people because they have not come to terms with the extent of their prejudice.  Those who don’t necessarily hold on to prejudice — that’s our nice, white progressives who constitute the bulk of voices on social and traditional media — will overestimate the efficacy of changing discriminatory laws, and underestimate the importance of shifting attitudes on the ground.  Really, the one should be tackled in tandem with and in proportion to the other.

The moment you take reparations and redress out of the equation, you create a disjointed world void of consequences.  This is the kind of world moderate, mellow progressives live in.  This is why it’s impossible to explain intersectionality and systemic oppression to them: their whole words are disjointed and de-systemised.  They can afford to put together idealistic, utopian pictures of what should happen, and think those are what will happen, because that’s what has happened in their worlds for them.  I’ve blogged about this before:

White privilege is the freedom to deny that constructs exist because once you have the resources and mobility to opt in and out of the group, its guilts and its prejudices, you have no reason to admit that constructs have been constructed, let alone that you have unduly benefited from them.  White privilege is the gift of not knowing about white privilege whilst benefiting from it.

And,

To have white privilege is to be given from birth the tools needed to move through the world without having to reckon with the power of constructs.

This is why #BlackLivesMatter exploded last year, and it’s why Donald Trump won this year.

This means the bullied kid, be he the Muslim, the transgender black woman or the Mexican immigrant, has been vindicated in his insistence that the issue is systemic and pervasive.

In the next few hours, we will hear unspeakably tragic stories of black churches being burnt, of gay-bashing incidences spiking the way they did just after #Brexit, and we will see a nauseating explosion of misogyny and hate online.

And all that will be is the full horror of the nightmarish monsters the oppressed have had to live with emboldened to come out into broad daylight.  Nothing would have actually changed.  Who you install as president, which laws you pass or repeal, says only so much about the work that’s actually been done on the ground in terms of confronting attitudes, unpacking privilege and making reparations.

Who really knows the guts of a system?  It is not those who know the broad economic ramifications of this or that decision: it’s those who’ve been squashed by that system’s underbelly.  They’ve had face-to-face exposure to what it’s really like, in real life.  Blessed are the poor, the meek and the oppressed: they know the world better than anyone else.

The United States of Amnesia did not “go backwards” in this election; it simply proved that those who looked at progressive laws alone as a measure of where the country was at, had failed to take into account the (now vindicated) fears of those who’d been left behind.

Siya Khumalo has gone from working on a book to having the book work on him. Please follow and retweet on @SKhumalo1987, thank you.

How the #StateCaptureReport May Help #ANC Win in 2019 (Or, Should We Have Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?)

A Madhouse ride can disorient you.  It can give the impression that you’re being turned up-side-down, spun into a vortex, or that you’re weightless — without moving your seat more than a few feet.  It achieves this effect by changing the background.

I wonder whether we aren’t being “captured” by a similar optical illusion by the Powers-That-Be.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s 355-page report addressed (or undressed) the Gupta family’s control of the state.  When Jacob Zuma abruptly withdrew his interdictory appeal from the High Court yesterday, which opened the way for the report to be released, I sensed the ANC already knew how to spin the report’s findings (assuming they would not have tampered with it).  A paragraph on page 106 of the Report says:

“Mr [Fana] Hlongwane [possibly] has had access to one of my official documents relating to the investigation prior to any correspondence with my office.”  Now, he was an Arms’ Deal consultant (who may have been paid R150m for his hard work) and former advisor to Mandela cabinet Defence Minister, Joe Modise, just to give you an idea of the type of access he has.

My sense of the direction in which the ANC’s spin is going was further confirmed by the ANC Women’s League’s response to the Report:

“We hold a firm view that there is a need for a full investigation on state capture,” said Secretary General Meokgo Matuba’s statement.  “Any investigation which excludes white monopoly capital is an advancement of white supremacy and serves a racial political agenda that hinders the building of a non-racial society.”

This was planned.  Anyway, here are three reasons the race card never gets old.

It converges with and amplifies the party’s response to that other national crisis, the Fees Must Fall protests.

It helps the ANC survive the findings of the State Capture Report, and even let President Jacob Zuma finish his term, by changing the background against which the report’s findings are viewed.  One flick of the switch, and suddenly it is not just the ANC but everyone who is guilty of state capture.

Which leads to the third reason.  Those families that fall under the umbrella of “white monopoly capital” — often listed by EFF CIC Julius Malema by name — will not let the state expand its state capture investigation beyond the Gupta family, though it was they who arguably started and funded the campaign against corruption in the first place.  It is now a game of who blinks first.

The EFF will probably be reabsorbed into the ANC before the 2019 elections.  What the ANC does with Zuma in particular will not be as material to the EFF as what the ANC does about the State’s relationship with capital in general, for therein is Zuma’s corruption rooted.  This will open the way to nationalisation, the solution the EFF has called for all along as a deterrent to corruption (!), which was why Malema felt it necessary to list the Oppenheimers and Rothschilds in the same breath as the Zuptas.

Is nationalisation a real solution, though?  Silly question.  Politics isn’t about solutions; it’s about ideologies.  It isn’t about substance; it’s about shadows, the “the optics” that legitimise access to obscene power through token gestures and believable Madhouse ride illusions.

They’ll say the land issue can be resolved, albeit indirectly, once white monopoly capital is also under investigation.  The increasingly clear connection between apartheid policy and apartheid corruption will make it look irresponsible — corrupt, in fact — of the ANC not to vote with the EFF on the land issue in parliament.  The ANC will say its commitment to clean governance has left it no choice but to go down this path.  So intentionally or not, Thuli Madonsela’s recommendation for further investigation will prove as terrifying for the Zuptas as they would for a few white families here and abroad.

The DA, in its current form, would have no compelling alternative offer to make the black voting majority in 2019 — a fate for which the Blue Pill peddlers will have no one but themselves to blame.  It’s one thing for the DA to be happy living under the 30% ceiling; if, however, it purports to climb beyond that on the back of Zuma’s corruption, it will pull the rug out from under itself with the ANCWL’s help.  Again, the ANC need only modify the background against which Zupta state capture is being viewed to make it look like the continuation of something that’s always been there, now made scandalous by race alone.  Jacob Zuma’s only sin would have been turning the process in a direction nobody was familiar with — Indian families: the Vivian Reddys, Shabir Shaiks, and ultimately, the Guptas.

The State Capture Report will tip us, not away from Jacob Zuma, but towards the leftist policies his thievery was proxy for (for the connected many) in the absence of post-1994 reparations.  Reparations arguably would have lessened the temptation to corruption for ANC cadres.  As I’ve said before, the the DA’s mostly-white network of government officials, service providers and constituency yields better results on measurables like clean audits because its individuals never returned what they gained under — or after! — apartheid.  Many of its people’s temptation to corruption is lessened because that corruption was never rectified.  The normalization of white state capture allowed it to continue seamlessly before and after 1994, a fact that is inadvertently publicized when interference in that pipeline is met with loud cries from the white victimhood gallery.

Prior to 1994, the ANC was set to nationalise key businesses and use state power to effect post-apartheid redress.  Was there going to be redress without white people/business losing something in the process?  Was there ever going to be a non-corrupt reason the ANC would refrain from changing the status quo and bringing white money to book?  Given that the beneficiaries of apartheid were never forced to make reparations, and that the ANC did refrain from changing the status quo, it follows that the ANC was bribed corrupt from Day 1.  It also follows that DA-type investigations into ANC corruption will, in the end, undermine the perceived legitimacy of the network the DA itself works for and with — by exposing how and when it interfered with the ANC’s road to nationalisation.  That the DA came into existence long after 1994 does not mean it is not shooting itself in the foot.  There was nothing wrong with vocally standing for everything the DA claimed to stand for per se, but there was much wrong with their pretending to be innocent newcomers to the game.

The ANC has until now maintained both white supremacy and the corruption many black people turn to for relief from the economic exclusion that comes with white supremacy’s maintenance (two sides of the same coin, really), and the DA should have thought long and hard about what it was prepared to lose for the gratification of upsetting that balance.  It wasn’t going to gain anything beyond 30% of the votes because black people aren’t that dumb.

The ANC will present white monopoly capital as a sacrifice of atonement through the same investigative process whereby Zuma could be crucified — a pledge, if you will, to govern well on the black majority’s behalf after 2019.  This will be received in good faith by the EFF and its disgruntled black followers.  The ANC will do this to demonstrate its righteousness and right to rule, because in its forbearance it left the sins committed before 1994 unpunished.  It will also do this to show forth its justice at that opportune moment, so as to be just and the justifier of those its members who participated in corruption until now, to whom amnesty will be extended (Romans 3:25 — 26 paraphrased, because religion is politics and the ANC is its shrewd and omnisapient God).

It is fitting that the party’s “Hail Mary” will be nothing less spectacular than Christ and him crucified: Zuma, the racial lamb who bears the racist sin of the country put up on the cross where it is not he, but his accusers, whose naked shame is lifted up for the world to marvel at.  And on the third day he will rise again to rule and reign forevermore.

For the DA’s job description has been pinning South Africa’s troubles on the ANC in order to deflect attention from any narrative in which the ANC’s current wrongs were contained in, explained and produced by white supremacy.  It has been to offer the contrary explanation in which it is the ANC’s wrongs that worsen the legacy of apartheid (which is never used to expose the DA network’s advantage).  But when the ANC is the primary explanation for its own corruption, seen in isolation from what catalysed it, it will accidentally feed into a narrative in which black incompetence and corruption exist not alongside white criminality, but within black people as a comment on them as human beings.

This, the majority of black voters will not tolerate.  They would rather vicariously rule another million years in the hell South Africa has been than be pulled up to serve and worship in white heaven.  So they’ll vote ANC-EFF in 2019 and continue waiting for Jesus to return.

Thank you.

Siya Khumalo has gone from working on a book to having the book work on him.  Please follow and retweet on @SKhumalo1987, thank you.

What Can White South Africans Do?

This question keeps coming up.  After much wine and against my better judgment, I’ve decided to try answering it.

1.) Reparations

If our businesses can pay CEOs R100 million bonuses, we can afford justice for their employees, whose terms of labour were decided more by our country’s history than they were by the fair, non-exploitative labour practices we pretend they work under.

So white people and white-owned businesses can set up a model for reparations.  I don’t want to call it a “fund” because that sounds static, passive and dead.  We need something more participatory.

This model can be based on a simple pact between white people and members of other races: the more tax money is lost to state corruption, the less funds are available for reparations.  Conversely, the more white capital reneges on its pledge to make funds available for poverty alleviation and free high-quality decolonised tertiary education, the less accountable the black voting majority is for ensuring the state stays clean.

So if we want anything to change, reparations in exchange for holding the government accountable have to come on the table.  The one cannot possibly happen without the other.

***

Yesterday, one Ziniko Zini posted a status on Facebook that included this complaint:

“When did the ANC become custodians of blackness?  Whenever you criticise ANC you are labeled as anti-black.”

Much turns on who gets to define the word “corruption.”  I have argued in previous posts that any definition that abstractly, conveniently fails to take into account the  absence of reparations for colonialism-apartheid can only serve to shield the resultant status quo from transformation.  Or to put it simply, if you can recognise the ANC’s corruption but you cannot recognise the DA’s as it has been described on this blog on past posts, you do have an anti-black view of corruption.

A lot of white people think political/voting power should automatically translate into economic power for black people.

But how would that happen without reparations?  And why should political voting power mean better governance without reparations being made to ensure nobody is starting on a back foot?  If we say the improved governance happens

  • By trickle-down economics (DA), the rich would get richer and poor, poorer.  Apartheid economics would be reproduced.  There is nothing in it for those who started off disadvantaged
  • If by total state intervention, we become the communist regime the apartheid government predicted
  • If by some hybrid economic model, who gets to decide how far left or right the needle should land?

Do you see what is missing?  Redress.

To maintain the economy without disconnecting it from the rest of the world, we made black empowerment a secondary priority except in the case of a connected few.  Black “corruption” resulted.  For black success was only going to happen,

  • By trickle-down economics (DA) if black people were willing to be twice as good to get half as far as white people
  • Seldom by state intervention, or
  • Through corruption and connections

The only way around this, as I see it, is we de-sanitise the gains white business/people got under apartheid and call them what they are: stolen, to be returned.

So the first suggestion is reparations by the beneficiaries of apartheid in exchange for holding the government accountable by the voters.  Then you will see black voters teach one another just what is at stake: more than just the possibility of a better life, but also the upfront means for it.

2.) Repeat: Black Lives Matter

I often ask white friends to stand in front of a mirror and say, “#BlackLivesMatter” three times.  Not to explain it away but just to explain it; not to resist it, but to insist on it.

That’s when many of them begin doing what Christians call “manifesting”: dogs start barking; objects levitate.  The smell of sulphur fills the air.  They begin speaking in deep voices.  You get the idea.

There is nothing “different” or I-have-a-right-to-my-own-opinion about turning aside from the reality that black people are disproportionately targeted for violence in the U.S; from the reality that they bear the brunt of life-threatening structural inequalities in this country.  University students are being shot in #FeesMustFall protests.  Those kids are being sacrificed to white privilege.  Go ahead, roll your eyes: it is still true.  So this is racism.

Why is the exact wording around #BlackLivesMatter so important anyway?  Well, if you as a social justice activist are the first to help everyone reach an important milestone, other social justice activists who claim sympathy with your cause will pay homage to whatever rallying cry you used, by echoing it.  “[God] brought them to Adam to see what he would name them; and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” because first dibs.  Respect says genuine supporters will not correct, ignore or erase the first rallying cry.  They will not kill it by a thousand qualifications extrinsic to it, though they may use their own words to expand on your core concept in a sense consistent with it.

For if #BlackLivesMatter is true in any sense rooted in the real world which we share, we can only demonstrate our respect for it by echoing it without alteration, distortion or qualification.  We can accept in good faith that it does not mean #OnlyBlackLivesMatter but #BlackLivesMatterTOO.  That is the meaning consistent with the moment in which the cry arose.  Think about it if you must, but don’t overthink it.  White people generally have not overthought racist beliefs, so resistance at this point is problematic.

Nobody ever created an #AllLivesMatter rally except as a response to the traction gained by #BlackLivesMatter (or straight pride except as a response to gay pride); therefore, real social justice champions ought to echo the initial battle-cry of the underdogs revolting against oppression.  They shouldn’t echo alternatives created by those who are simply defending against disruptions of the status quo.  Don’t accept clichés that have kept an unjust world intact while giving the impression of improving it.

Google says #BlackLivesMatter was first popularised by Alicia Garza in mid-2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Read about that injustice.  It happened overseas, but the world is getting smaller and strikingly similar patterns are emerging.  Those patterns indicate that white privilege was created on the back of black labour at cost to black lives.  Silence on this from white people is a loud, clear “Yes” to violence on black bodies.

Police officers only started coming clean about the racial and racist aspect of their work not because someone said #AllLivesMatter in general, but because someone zoomed in on #BlackLivesMatter in particular.

Nobody under the “we are all equal” banner has ever achieved anything like this or so graphically exposed and confronted prejudice.  This is why we suspect that “we’re all equal,” though true, is often used to neutralise those calling out specific issues at specific sites.

Though the permutations play out differently depending on where you are, #BlackLivesMatter is the starting template, and we need more white people to start saying it.  Loudly.

3.) Repeat After Me: “If It’s Not Intersectional, It’s Bullshit!”

Any of us could be the only thing standing between a casual joke and the next rape-and-disembowelment news headline.  So we must understand intersectional feminism, and live it.

If I type in who first used the word intersectionality, the internet immediately responds, “Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.  It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”

Intersectionality is a way of looking at the world too broad and important to describe in one sitting.  It lets us look at the world not through a lens that says, “this is either a race issue or a class issue” but one that lets us ask, “to what extent is this a race and a class and a  gender issue?” because intersectionality is the understanding that these oppressions can and do overlap.

So I’m not shy to ask that you spend at least 30 minutes a day reading on it.

4.) Repeat After Me: “If I’d Been Classified as White In the Old South Africa, I’m Still White”

It sounds helpful to say, “I don’t see race” but until apartheid’s effects are resolved, this is moral escapism.  Whatever you believe about race being an artificial construct, the effects of racism are still real.

5.) Recognise that Black Displacement, Black Pain, is Not an Accident: It’s an Accomplishment

Despite claims to the contrary by colonialists and the architects of apartheid, apartheid’s intention was to elevate white people by putting black people “in their place.”  So black pain is a white accomplishment to be owned.  Abel did not die because a rock fell on his head; he died because Cain struck his head with that rock, and that, hard enough to kill.

So, too, was black pain intentionally inflicted hard enough to persist decades after apartheid itself ended.

What’s happening today is not some mistake; it’s a testament to how serious the architects of apartheid were about ensuring that apartheid could neither be ended nor reversed.  So it is not too far off the mark to blame apartheid for many troubles after all these years.

You were not personally there when colonialists colonised and apartheidists aparthedised.  The beauty of it is you didn’t have to be for the legacy to be given to you as the gift that keeps on giving.

6.) Repeat After Me: “I Am A Born Self-Justifier. Moral Self-Preservation Is Practically Part of My Social DNA.  My Default Mode is White Apologist.”

If what I’m saying about black pain is true, do you really think the white conscience could live with it?  No!  It would hold on to the moral whiteness of being white.  But would the white individual be able to extricate himself or herself from the clutches of white privilege?  Again, no!

See how it is normal in many white people’s minds to see black people oppressed, silenced and side-lined, and then find rationalisations that allow them to live with what they’re seeing.

When black people are beaten by police or starving on roadsides, it’s just another day in paradise for a lot of them.  When dogs are beaten or rhinos are poached, however, their capacity to right wrongs is roused to full stature.  They know, on some level, that they can do this for other species but they cannot do it for their fellow man because it is then that they are the poacher to be brought to justice.

7.) Understand that Blurring the Rule for the Exception and Averages for Extremes Doesn’t Change History, Nor Does it Get You off The Hook

See 5.).

8.) Fees Must Fall and the Decolonisation of Curricula Must Commence

Look up “dead white men” or “Emmanuel Kant was a racist” and this will become clearer.  Oh, and free decolonised education is part-and-parcel of that reparations business (see 1.) so whatever high-and-mighty opinions you may have about the current Fees Must Fall protest, recognise it is happening because there was no plan for reparations.  That is why I say those students are being sacrificed to white privilege.

9.) There Wasn’t “Nothing” When White People First Got Here (or America, or Australia, etc. — You Get The Idea)

So these places were not discovered nor were the countries “built by white sweat, blood and tears” as many of you have been taught (see 6.).

What would you add to this list?   Let us talk.

Thank you.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

Response to “I Know I’m Not Supposed to Ask, But Are We Still Welcome Here?”

The politically correct answer to Steve Sidley’s question is, Of Course You Are, Silly!  More tea and jam with those croissants? 

But politically correct answers are like placebos for Ebola patients, plasters for gunshot wounds, or, to cite a more scandalous comparison, like 1994 rainbowism for apartheid’s aftermath.

While I liked Sidley’s article, I would have preferred one titled This Is What I, As A White Person, Am Prepared to Do About Structural Racism and Inequality.  Or Why Aren’t More White Businessmen Concerned About Structural Racism and Inequality?  Sidley has probably addressed these topics, but what surprises me how much traction this piece got.

But of course.  The question conveniently implies we (black people) have the power to decide white people’s fate and were always ready to use it violently.  It conveniently underplays how much economic power white people hold.  So this is not about accountability; it’s about victimhood.  I submit this is why its resonated.

It is glorified abdication of social responsibility, a sexy way of resignedly asking, What else can I do, but just [pick up my assets while I still can and] leave?

Its a refusal to admit complicity in the inequality that defines South Africa.

If we pretend the displaced shack-dweller has the power to tell the white billionaire to leave the country, we impute powers to black people that they haven’t got and a victimhood to white people that isn’t there.  It is for this reason that Sisonke Msimang has said that post-apartheid South Africa allows white people to reinvent themselves as “the strongest victims in the world” at the expense of wronged black people who are then cast as unfair, unreasonable and hostile.

We all did this as children at some point.  When numbers and raw strength aren’t on your side, your biggest weapon is exaggerating your vulnerability.  Use tears to elicit sympathy.  One black person posts a rant against white people?  Cry global reverse racism.  The newest BEE codes compel you to have at least one director of colour in your business?  Tell the world that reverse apartheid and white genocide are everyday business here.  But what, I ask, has been taken from white people as a group?

This resistance of historical justice is only possible because the level at which we’ve chosen to bring about redress has been persuasive rather than coercive; dialectical rather than confrontational; peace-based rather than violent.  And I’m afraid a respectable, even likeable piece asking whether white people are welcome here may serve, in the end, to legitimize this sleight of hand.  Hilarious, this thought, that the noise of white victimhood will probably be inversely proportional to actual white losses (or as my mother used to say, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about”).

This is not to say the concerns listed in Sidley’s piece are not legitimate.  It is to say that a reaction that goes from 0 to asking whether you are still welcome in 4 seconds rushes past questions like What Can I Do To Help? and for this reason reeks of a quest to skip accountability.

What inspired the question was Sidley’s observation of events associated with #FeesMustFall protests.  Allow me a tangent?

***

British surgeon Dr. Paul Brand discovered that leprosy doesn’t “do” anything to damage sufferers’ limbs and eyes.  It deadens pain sensors, making the sufferer more likely to sustain a thousand little injuries.  Infections accrue to precipitate life-threatening syndromes.  This is how diabetics and lepers lose their limbs and lives.

The doctor spent five years trying to develop an artificial “pain device.”  He would put electronic pressure sensors inside modified gloves and socks, and those would beep when users’ hands and feet were exposed to undue pressure.  But a glove can’t tell the difference between useful force and unwanted stress the way a functional nervous system can.  Did you really mean to tap those keys so hard, or is something biting your fingertips?  Even if it could tell the difference without seamlessly referring to your background knowledge about where you are and what you are doing, device users would ignore warning beeps from those gloves/socks and continue with strenuous tasks, worsening their existing injuries anyway.  This is human nature.  So whatever its imperfections and drawbacks, there’s no substitute for nature’s ingenious early warning system — pain.

Since 1994, South Africa’s progress towards equality has depended on white people vicariously, artificially feeling pain they’d been systemically insulated from; pain they’d in fact been positioned to benefit from.  So instead of actually entering this pain and dismantling the structures that inflict it, many have turned to two escape routes.  The first has already been discussed, and that is resignation disguised as vulnerability.

The other has been to remove the gloves and the socks when the beeping got annoying.  And what #FeesMustFall and many other protests is, is beeping from a second-hand pain detector.  It’s annoying, but it’s not actual, direct pain inflicted on those who’ve gained the most from the inequality being protested.

At its worst, this has been referred pain.  Referred pain is when, for example, your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen and you feel a pain felt in the neck, down your left shoulder and arm.  In such instances, the issue is never the issue.

Likewise, Fees Must Fall isn’t about fees.  It’s about the unequal status quo that law, order and the 1994 settlement have served to uphold.  That’s why the protests, which began so peacefully, have devolved into lawlessness and disorder.  This is a snapshot of how even the most peace-loving people will turn ugly if you keep bullshitting them.  “They are discrediting their cause,” say those who probably have not suffered half the injustices the protesters are revolting against.  But they are no longer playing to that audience because that audience was never going to help them.

Had a dignified life been accessible and affordable to all in South Africa all along, nobody would have thought about protesting for free education.  Nobody would have had to.  So #FeesMustFall is a proxy #BlackLivesMatter movement with a subversively narrow and indirect focus — or if you prefer, it’s referred pain.  The students cannot turn it political (I imagine) because they come from different political backgrounds.  But they can still cause unspeakable pain and inconvenience for all of us at an issue they all have in common.  So this is about the unspeakable everything.  Absolutely everything.

I point this out because an easy way to abdicate the responsibility being placed at society’s feet is to say, “Vote for change” or “Use the ballot.”  This ignores that our political options will never have to be better than the audience they play to or the funders they get money from.  Quite frankly, our political parties suck.  To explain the ways in which they are irrelevant and out-of-touch, I would have to duplicate explanations as to why I think we like being lied to.  I would also have to repeat points made in previous blog posts.  It is enough to say that the task of questioning our political stars is not the students’; it’s ours.

The violence that’s followed #FeesMustFall protests is more the State’s than the students’, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.  Assuming it came from students, I submit such violence is their rejection of the dangling plastic carrot-stick lie that “someday” they’ll have access to the world they’ve systemically been excluded from.  I was sent a cartoon in which a protester burns his own car to reject a fuel price increase.  But the analogy falls apart because while the car belongs to the guy in the cartoon, our university spaces (along with our economy) belong not to all who are admitted into them, but to those who have the money to stay and thrive in them.  So this cartoon makes the same mistakes as the Are We Welcome Here question —  false imputation.  The car is not to the driver what the university is to the student protester.  That is why the protester will burn the university but the sane car owner will not burn his car.  This all reeks of a move to paint rioting students as uniformly insane; by extension, angry black people as hostile and unwelcoming.  It is a fucking abdication of fucking responsibility, and yes, I will swear to stress that point.

“But they’re burning the very facilities they’re going to need!” we’re told.  Ah, so that, and not the sight of thousands of your countrymen living in squalor, is what makes you sit up and pay attention.

Let’s get back to voting as the solution.  Against what standard do we grade our political options?  The constitution?  The freedom charter?  Why are so many South Africans convinced that the constitution is an expansion (and not a dilution) of the freedom charter?  You don’t have to support the freedom charter to see that a number of sleight-of-hands have been pulled, and shall continue to be pulled, to keep South Africa from ever becoming anything other than a playground for the obscenely rich and a cheap-labour farm for the obscenely poor.

So are white people welcome on this playground by the badly-paid labourers who maintain it?

Are the bourgeoisie welcome with red carpets by the proletariat?

I don’t know, hey.

A friend of mine — white guy — often says the earth will “sneeze humanity off” because we’ve become a plague, a parasite.  Does this mean we’re not welcome on this planet?  The question makes it sound as though the planet went out of its way to not want us.  That makes it the planet’s fault.  Bad planet.  Hostile black people.  Etc.

But any being’s sustainable occupation of the corner of the universe it finds itself in is dependent on that being’s awareness of its impact on and interaction with that corner of the universe.  In other words, rather than asking whether we are wanted, we should each strive to not be parasites.  Let us not embarrass other people by putting them in positions where they have to teach us not to litter, or not to exploit unjust power relations.  We cannot change a second of the past, but we can fight to act with greater awareness going forward.

For if I say “No, white people are not welcome” I’m the bad guy, the racist.

If I say “Yes” I make it sound as though we’ve achieved rainbowism and I’m pleased with how far we’ve gotten.

If I keep quiet, I make it as though the white people I’ve loved and respected should be left without defense.  Or I am seen as passively endorsing that white people still live off of material goods they gained under violent circumstances.  Are white people welcome here makes it sound as though I have been deciding whether white people keep those goods or run with them; it avoids the hard question of what white people are prepared to give up so a better South Africa is achieved.  That is not a question that should be abdicated to other agents, or political parties.  It is personal work and group effort.

Assurances that white people are welcome only serve to guilt black people into feeling they may have been too harsh in their critiques of whiteness, or may have drawn white tears.  This makes it about white people all over again.

Thank you

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