A Simple Answer

2 Aug

This blog is mostly about words. The power of words to shape the way we think. Without us even realising it.

Democracy. It’s one of those deceptively simple words. And it’s one we like to spout, right up til the second it stops working in our favour. Here are a few definitions of it:

  1. government by the people or their elected representatives by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
  2. a state having such a form of government
  3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
  4. a political or social unit governed ultimately by all its members
  5. the practice or spirit of social equality
  6. a social condition of classlessness and equality
  7. the common people, esp as a political force

A black friend of mine (@TOMolefe, for those of you on Twitter) asked me a “simple question” last night. Yeah right, Osiame. His question was, to paraphrase, “why do you not get sucked into the ‘making the issue the issue without bringing race into it’ thing that many  white people do?” My response was: I really don’t see what’s so earth shattering about the way I think. To me, what I’m about to say is just plain sensible – and is my interpretation of democracy, as above.

Quite simply: I find it crass to force my assumptions and opinions on others. And I find it dangerous to dismiss theirs without truly hearing them. It’s about a letting go of ego, and the desire to constantly whine “but I’M not like that” – and to look at the bigger picture. There’s that democracy thing. Elected leaders. Mass opinion. Hello white people: you are the minority. Just because you don’t like the elected leaders, doesn’t make them wrong. And here’s where the danger comes in. We can’t dismiss Malema and his opinions any more than we can dismiss the concerns of the disenfranchised poor white Afrikaners. To focus on the bombast, and the “cheap” issues like trust funds, is to ignore the very relevant concerns Malema raises, and the vast numbers of people who share those concerns. The majority of smug white people, as my last post indicated, piss the hell out of me. I can fully understand him being angrier than I am. Furthermore, even if you do choose to consider Malema a twat, it does get rather tedious using that as your go to response as to why you’d never vote ANC. Please don’t let Malemaitis blind you to reality. Let the issue be the issue, but realise that here and now, in this country, the colour of your skin is, well, as obvious as the nose on your face.

I am perplexed by white people who live in big cities, have never been to a township, let alone a rural village, and haven’t spent time getting to know or understand anyone else’s culture believing they have the right to cast judgement on others. Where do you live? What makes you think you think you know better than everyone else? Democracy not looking so pretty to you after all, is it, when the majority is “wrong”. Oops. Apparently, this makes me a #badwhite. If so, it’s a label I’ll wear with pride. All I’m asking is that you get off your hobbyhorses long enough to actually, truthfully, listen. To me, that just seems like common sense. “A social condition of classlessness and equality” – a little scary, isn’t it?

I stand by my words. Democracy. Crust and all.


3 Responses to “A Simple Answer”

  1. meganshead August 3, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    I love this post. I often say the same thing but with a lot less tact. Sometimes white people (including me) just need to shut the f***k up.

    • solotus August 3, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I also love this post. The average white South Africa pisses me off no end
      (I am one too, for the record). But… I think white people should shut up only in so far as that is necessary to LISTEN. I am guilty of not engaging with my backward white compatriots (“why bother?” I think to myself). And this is where like-minded people are guilty. People need to articulate their views (this means everyone) and we need to make the arguments that we need to make, and win them. And even when we can’t win them (usually with people over 30 I’m sad to say), we need to confront them anyway, because there are always younger people listening in on the conversation. I’m not an “everyone’s entitled to their view” kind of person – I think some views are valid and some aren’t – but I don’t think anyone should be silenced.
      Gail (@lotusdrifter)

  2. anib79 August 3, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I could’ve written this myself. Actually, I kinda did: https://plus.google.com/113965223929399086601/posts/MK1UdzS1Uc3.

    White people just need to calm the heck down already and maybe stop thinking of themselves as different or separate from this democracy we’re trying to build.

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