UCT has become something of a battle ground of late, which I’m sure you’ve all heard something about.
I am a white, Afrikaans speaking young woman. Some of my family are the stereotypical racist Afrikaners (who I no longer have contact with because of this). I grew up as one of the many heirs of White Privilege. I myself am not racist, and I do not tolerate racism when I meet it, nor do I maintain friendships with people who are racist. It is unacceptable to me that racism still exists anywhere in the world, and I hope and pray that it is eradicated.
However. I feel that I have to say something on this subject, and I realize it may be unpopular, but here it is. In the struggle for equality and transformation, it would be just as wrong to go to the other extreme. Lest we forget, this is how the cycle is constantly perpetuated. Our country’s history is essentially defined by racism and oppression: it is in our DNA. We can change it, but some generation somewhere has to decide that enough is enough.
I have been accused of being racist simply because I am white and Afrikaans. I have been told that I cannot possibly be Afrikaans because I’m not racist. Is this not a form of racism in itself? Putting someone in a box and defining them and the way you treat them based on skin color, language, and culture? I have been told to ‘go home’ but South Africa is my home. I have been identified with colonization even though I hate it just as much as the next person. It’s not like I’m proud of what my ancestors did to your ancestors. I am disgusted and appalled at what they did. But I’m not them and I can’t go home because I am home. I, too, am an African, and I have never been anything else. Can we not work together to make our home a great one, a peaceful one, without fighting against each other? Should we not fight together against the still prevailing white narrative, inequality, and corruption? Should we not look ahead and ensure that our children don’t have to fight this fight because we did it for them?
I am all for transformation. I am all for removing the statue and making UCT listen to its students, regardless of race, nationality, or color. I am all for doing away with institutionalized racism. But I wish that we could all stand together without hating on each other and following old patterns of ‘us and them’ and continued racism on all sides. I don’t pretend to grasp the discrimination and disadvantage that non white students have experienced and continue to experience, but I know that it is a reality and that it must change. What I’m saying is, let’s work together without antagonizing each other and let’s try to make sure that the generations to come won’t have to deal with this anymore. Are we going to perpetuate hate or unity?