Why We’re Not Singapore

Assuming Singapore is perfect (a discussion for another day) and where we’d like to go, why are we taking so long get there?  Is it that we’re not drawing on the gifts that colonialism bestowed upon us?  As Western Cape Premier Helen Zille tweeted:

“Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence?”

and,

“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

The previous blog post answered — at the risk of making it sound as though whose ancestors built what toys is the measure of civilisation — that Africa had specialised health care, medication, impressive (if not “independent”) judicial systems, as well as transport and water systems that were on par with or ahead of anyone else’s, before colonialism.

That post also said the anthropologist jury is still out on whether a civilisation’s development is dependent on the duration for which its people are settled and their infrastructure maintained, or dependent on cycles of conflict, displacement and resettling.  Either way, bearing in mind that it had just been settled by Bantu people from further up north (not forgetting the Khoi-San), the region we now call Southern Africa was, by Eurocentric standards, relatively “civilised” by the early 17th century.

Zille’s view not only passively says to take advantage of what colonialism left behind; it actively says we’d have to have gone through colonialism to advance as Singapore did.  That undermines everyone except the colonialist while failing to judge said colonialist for his crimes against humanity.  That smacks of white supremacy.

There’s a reason Helen Zille felt the need to tweet that at this discursive moment.  South Africans are under a lot of pressure, especially economically.  Politically, we’re feeling helpless.  When something is squeezed like we’re being, what’s on the inside starts coming out.  If you squeezed something you’d thought was an orange but its juice was sour, you’d start wondering whether it was a lemon or a grapefruit instead.  Likewise, if you squeeze our Rainbow Nation, and white supremacist thoughts start flowing out, then perhaps our economic and political issues are symptoms of that identity crisis.  Misidentifying South Africa as “new” when its thinking is fundamentally old is akin to getting your name wrong at the start of a test.  In the unlikely event that you could still remember the correct answers after that, your mark would still be misallocated.

The reason our strengths don’t match Singapore’s is that one party that could arguably take us there — the DA that Helen Zille is a member of — insists on being a victim of its own success.  When it explains its governance successes, in none of its statements, articles, or other communication does it say, “A significant number of our core members and network of service providers achieved these results because they got major head-starts under apartheid, which the party therefore benefits from.”  For then, restitutions would be unavoidable.

We can describe the DA as non-racial and non-racist until we’re blue in the face (to match the flag), but it would be more responsible of us to admit that a significant number of South Africans believe the DA exists to protect white interests, despite having heard arguments to the contrary.  We’d logically extend that responsibility into the way we explain the DA’s successes, conceding that the DA started out with a structurally unfair advantage.  These wouldn’t be concessions to empty populism; they’d be giving others’ views the benefit of the doubt.  What happens if we don’t take this approach?

The DA’s Penny Sparrows, Dianne Kohler Barnards and Helen Zilles still unconsciously believe corruption and incompetence are inherent to majorly black political parties, whereas good governance and ethics are inherent to majorly white ones (or colonialists) — and they’ll say that on social media.

We could have had an ANC that was as corruption-free as the DA, or we could have had both parties’ members start off on similar economic bases in their private capacities and their respective networks.  But we’re being dangerously naïve if we tell ourselves we could have transitioned into healthy democracy without reparations, and have nothing go terribly wrong.  There are no free lunches in the universe.

At dog-whistle politics’ pitch, we’re explaining “black corruption” and “incompetence” without reference to this initial disparity or the presence of racial bias in the way we ruminate on, say, state capture by persons of varying skin colours — and then we’re shocked to discover that people like Helen Zille think colonialism was beneficial.

The intellectual white supremacy Zille openly tweets of is a natural flowering of the moral white superiority that’s been assumed all along.  This is why black people would rather countenance the ANC get away with murder than vote the DA into power.  They can hear the dog-whistle messaging.  (And yes, I know I have said a lot of this before.  Do I at least get marks for consistency?)

We’re not Singapore because the impulse that causes us to look to colonialism to make us a Singapore is indistinguishable from the impulse that divides us into coloniser and colonised, undermining the latter to justify the former — while we delude ourselves into thinking our identity is Rainbow Nation.  The juice that comes out when you squeeze is racism.

We’re not going to be Singapore until we figure out how to be who we say we are first.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

I’m nearing the final stages of that book working on me.

The Case for Letting Helen Zille Stay in the DA (and Keep Her Twitter Account)

Zille asked,

“Would we have had a transition into specialised health care and medication without colonial influence?”

and said,

“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”

At the risk of making it sound as though whose ancestors built what toys is the measure of which race group is more civilised, I answer in two parts.

The first is that Africa had these things before colonialism.

The second is that the anthropologist jury is still out on whether a civilisation’s development is dependent on the duration for which its people are settled, undisturbed, and their infrastructure maintained — or dependent on cycles of conflict, displacement and resettling.

By either measure, bearing in mind that it had just been settled by the Bantu from further up north (not forgetting the Khoi-San), the region we now call Southern Africa was, by Eurocentric standards, relatively “civilised” in the early 17th century.  So saying colonialism wasn’t all negative is a bit like beating a child bloody, and then attributing the subsequent recovery to the medicinal effects of blood-letting.  It is colonial-age thinking.

If Zille is acquainted with these basics of history, why is she asking what she’s asking?  If she isn’t, what does she gain from wilful ignorance?  Would she tweet of the positives of the holocaust her relatives escaped?  Did she stick her neck out for the Steve Biko story so she could leverage the admiration of liberals for political prominence in this dispensation, only to use it to spew the antithesis of everything Biko died for?  Her remaining role is as a mirror for many white South Africans to look into.

I’ve described why, to the extent the DA explains its governance successes without reference to the post-apartheid gains its mostly-white network got to keep, to that extent, its supporters unconsciously believe corruption and incompetence are inherent to majorly black political parties, good governance and ethics to majorly white ones.  The white intellectual supremacy Zille openly tweets is a natural flowering of this white moral superiority.  This is why black people would rather countenance the ANC get away with murder than vote the DA into power.

The DA cannot denounce those who celebrate apartheid and colonialism without likewise denouncing the blatant economic disparity that resulted from these crimes, and from which many of their members currently benefit.  To hold Zille to account properly, the DA would have to challenge much of the thinking that makes it a popular choice amongst its current constituency.  If the DA is unwilling to go that far, I’d rather they keep Helen Zille and not discipline her at all.  Their feigning a purge would be worse than their not having one at all.

Zille subsequently asked,

“How much does our freedom rating actually mean” when “we cannot even get the rudimentary criminal justice pipeline functioning?”

and,

“What does freedom mean without the rule of law?”

She’s playing God — playing freedom and the law against each other — so as to undermine the equality, freedoms and rights she claims to stand for from the other fork of her tongue.  Yet even she knows that law and order were divorced from justice in 1994, after which apartheid’s beneficiaries used its spoils to dazzle us with their “better” governance and, therefore, white supremacy.

The DA knows that justice isn’t the same thing as order.  But to let white South Africans get away with acting as though they’re more entitled to comfort, law and order than black people are to justice, reparations and redress, it’s conflated justice with law and silently passed them off as conjoined twins, hoping nobody would notice the hidden (and false) premise of white blamelessness, but would call into question black consciousness-style questioning of the structurally racist status quo.  But it seems Biko’s ghost has said, “over my dead body” to Zille’s using the platform he built for her (because the black man has been building shit for white people way too long) to silence the kinds of questions and thoughts he would have us voice today.

Zille’s individual martyrdom would prove inconsistent (and therefore illegitimate) all resistances to white minority rule that pick on some racists, but not on all systemic racism.  She would have “taken one for the team,” and with her expulsion, the DA would have staged a purge, only to re-broadcast its old message — now aired with more apparent credibility than ever before — that it alone can carry the “reconciliation” project forward.  Without redress or the elimination of systemic racism, of course.

Do you see why calling for Zille’s head could be like chopping off the Lernaean Hydra’s?  Other heads, perhaps less coiffured, perhaps less blond and botoxed, would replace it.

Having fought apartheid not because it was evil but because the form it had could not sustain exclusive white interests forever, she’d have triggered the salvation of the colonial project at a level deeper than we can imagine.  Her crucifixion would be the DA’s salvation.  But what DA would emerge, and what would that mean for the rest of us?

Let’s hope the party treats this not just as a PR disaster but as a much-needed identity crisis.  The identity it arrives at isn’t as important as the integrity of the process it follows.

It might be better if they just keep Helen Zille.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

I’m nearing the final stages of that book working on me.

 

 

 

 

“It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia” Sounds a Lot Like #AllLivesMatter

There are three sources of “alternative facts” we need to be wary of: the devil, Donald Trump and the ANC War-room.  And right now, I’m not so sure the last isn’t the first in disguise.

Last week, a lot of ANC comrades on my Facebook echoed President Zuma’s explanation that the planned march against illegal immigrants, and the subsequent violence, weren’t a manifestation of xenophobia but of people’s frustration at crime and a stagnant economy.

This presupposes crime and unemployment are a relatively new thing in South Africa.  “South Africans don’t really hate foreign nationals; they just hate the ones who are responsible for this recent explosion in crime and unemployment — which makes their enemy not foreign nationals, but crime and unemployment.”  For if crime and unemployment have been around for a long time, contrary to this explanation, it would mean foreign nationals are being punished in government’s place for government’s failures.

If a local and a foreigner committed the same crime, we’d be more likely to notice the foreigner doing it.  We’d even believe the foreigner invented this crime.  This is especially the case when said foreigner is darker skinned; then we’ll credit him with running the whole “black market” of vices and crimes that everyone, our own included, are implicit in.  Because black is the colour of evil and criminality.

Nowhere is this double-standard more revealed than in the complaint, “We tried reporting them to police, but the police were bribed.”  Were these bribable police one of “them” or one of “us”?  If one of us, then the difference between “them” and “us” only exists in our head so we can shift responsibility.  Our police took the bribes.  They took the proceeds of the crimes; this alone proves that “their” crimes are our crimes.  Furthermore,

We have two white men who own half of everything and a white populace who own almost everything else.

We have a black Zulu president with 783 corruption charges hanging over his head and a questionable cabinet behind him, which is also quite black South African.

We have done very little, collectively, to make this cabinet do its job and enforce the letter as well as the spirit of the legislation we have in place.  On paper, we have every reason to be a prosperous nation.  Why aren’t we?

We recently had an Indian family leave, peacefully, with the proceeds of alleged state capture.

Any relatively light-skinned race can get away with murder here.  But the split moment Africans of blacker skin tone are perceived to be running some “black market” of crimes and vices, we sanction marches against them that we know will turn violent.  If this isn’t a xenophobic-Afrophobic double-standard, then please tell me: what is xenophobia?  What would something have to look like to be Afrophobic?

Would Moses have to come down from the mountain to tell us, “Yes, this is Afrophobic”?  Would God’s voice have to boom it from heaven?  Please.

A dark-skinned vendor I used to buy fruit from at a street corner in Durban told me that whenever xenophobic attacks were happening, people, fresh from hunting foreigners, would glare at her and strike up conversations in Zulu — and she’d make sure to reply in the strongest Zulu accent she could pull off.  Because she knew she was being profiled.  She was being tested.

So yes, we, black people, are racially profiling other black people.  That’s what’s happening.  That is why people in Nigeria hate our guts.

If #AllLivesMatter is how many have denied the reality of structural racism, we are doing exactly the same thing when we say, “It Isn’t Afrophobia or Xenophobia.”

Please share and retweet @SKhumalo1987

Look out for my book — it’s coming soon!

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.