How should white South Africans who benefitted from the history of colonialism and apartheid live in a racially charged country?
Should there be a political project to shift white consciousness? What would that mean? What would it look like and who should own it?
To discuss the complexities that white South Africans face living in the country, Eusebius McKaiser sits down with Tiso Blackstar specialist reporter Karyn Maughan, author Melanie Judge and political journalist and writer Jan Jan Joubert.
You can't be unaware of the fact that you are incredibly privileged. Just the underlying fact like driving a car and you see all the people around you that don't have that and move from place to place in taxis. We are confronted by the inequality of our society all the time. I think that your understanding of your racial identity and your privilege is instinctively linked. Yes, you are aware that you are white often at a level that is problematic and sad. I know that I am not someone who is going to be followed around at a store; I never go into an environment thinking that someone is going to kick me out.— Karyn Maughan, Specialist reporter - Tiso Blackstar
She is aware that her reality is not the same experience for a lot of people she cares about.
Joubert, on the other hand, says he is not a person that notices race all that much.
I don't open the door every morning and decide that I am a white South African. I cannot say that I have that exact experience as Maughan. As for me, I think I am relatively a privileged South African. I believe that race as a proxy for privilege will in the South African context always be a huge factor but not an uncontested element. I think that white privilege plays itself out as far as relatively wealthy South Africans are concerned and relatively poor black people are concerned, but it changes every day.— Jan Jan Joubert, Political journalist and writer
He adds that the racial proxy for the disparities in income becomes less and not more as the country moves along.
More and more people who are not white are also privileged and many people who are white are less privilege than they may have been 20 years ago, it depends on the individual situation.— Jan Jan Joubert, Political journalist and writer
Judge says she feels in contrast to Joubert.
I as a white person feel compelled to note race and part of that is because I think what is essential to whiteness is the denialism of its violence, its oppressive force, its power and its authority. In a sense, I would argue the ultimate form of privilege is to deny that privilege. For me, I feel compelled to notice and that noticing is a place of profound discomfort because it demands one to self reflect critically.— Melanie Judge, Author
Listen below to this interesting conversation: