Let me just start off by saying I am Afrikaans, so please mind grammar or spelling mistakes.
My life has changed so much over the last 48 hours. On Monday I woke up, saw some stirring on Facebook like most mornings (because we all have friends who complain ALL the time), but after the 3rd, or 4th comment about Woolworths, I decided to have a read myself. I initially did not make much of the articles as, well, for the past 13 years it has become “norm” that corporate and government positions would mostly be given to non-white members of the South African society. As a young lad I have decided to side-step this and continue with other ventures, making peace with the fact that, as a young South African white male, I will never get to work as a manager at any large corporate or government department.
The issue became somewhat clearer when I, for the fun of it, went to the Woolworths Facebook page and saw an outrage of individuals; I mean we’re talking thousands, stating their concerns and disappointment, because as you say, it was your white friends who shopped at Woolworths. It went through some messages and realised that these are concerns from young people but also older people. Young people concerned that yet another possible career opportunity are taken away from them, and older people, possibly parents, concerned that their children was cut from another corporate. The shocking part was, Woolworths did not respond to those individuals, but rather, whenever a person would go on saying “I love you Woolworths”, they would like that message and respond with a “We love you too.”.
I realised that so many concerns was going to waste, here you’re sitting with loyal supporters but because you have decided that white people will not even be considered for a position, and I mean NOT EVEN CONSIDERED, it should really ask questions about a) how loyal are you towards your clientele, and b) is the regulations put in place by employment equity really protecting all individuals within the framework of our society?
So let’s address each of these in a simple term, keeping some objective that, each one has his own opinion and that we need to, unfortunately, consider the racial impact on the matter.
I am an owner of a small business, I although I have had some up and downs, I have matured into the laws, or fundamentals, of what works to make a business successful. One of the key factors to business is without a shadow of a doubt, service delivery and customer support, and would be probably the one deciding factor of whether clients will return to your business or not. One could even argue that in some cases people would support a business that may charge more, but deliver a good service, because at the end of the day, service is included in the overall shopping experience. Woolworths has never failed me when it comes to product quality, and when it comes to the service we get in store, well, I cannot really complain, as it is much the same service I expect from any other large chain store.
But in this particular case, I realised that it was almost that Woolworths decided to turn a blind eye on literally thousands of complaints, but singled out the compliments and chose to comment on those. So from a business perspective, they have failed to give comfort to loyal clients and also decided that they will address literally thousands of complaints with 1, very generic, message, whipping their hands clean from “discrimination” and giving government policies the blame. So it would be fair to say that, Woolworths has in fact turned its back on the white people with straight teeth, before they decided to turn their back on the chain group.
Secondly, we time and again see those shocking signs from the apartheid era saying “Whites only”. Seeing it today makes you wonder, “How on earth did they get away with that”, “How immoral were the people in the apartheid years”. Now how is this any different when seeing it on an advertisement for a job vacancy? Word for word, it is exactly the same, but because there is a scape goat, the act, which “prohibits companies larger than 50 people from employing not necessarily the best person for the job, but based on their skin colour they will get it”. Can you HONESTLY tell me, without being bias towards your or my skin colour, that this is fair?
For the past 13 years (since the act came into play in 1998), white people have offered very little resistance. In fact, and I will make a bold statement to say this, this has been one of the biggest active movements against a corporate in 13 years. White people have accepted this as a part of life; we have sat down and decided that there is no point in fighting this. All we asked was to give us SOME sort of chance, which for most of us was not too much to ask. In this particular case, and the main reason why we’re boycotting, is not because we want an advantage, and we accept to be at a disadvantage, but allow us at least to stand in the queue. Putting a job offer out and explicitly saying white people are not allowed to even apply, really hits hard, and that Aunty Ferial, is discrimination at its very best.
What you also fail to see is that, the act does not introduce and “fall back”, nor any “cut off” point. It is an act put in place without an end date, and to be bluntly honest, there is no one in parliament who will propose on the 13th of July 2033 that “Today, the act is officially closed and we can return to a normal, equal rights to all citizens country”. Is this not somewhat a concern to you, or better put, are we as white individuals not allowed to be concerned about this? Generation after generation has thought us one thing, if you do not fight for yourself, no one will.
I want to conclude my letter to you by saying, we have one life time. I, hopefully have a good 50 years (if I don’t die of a heart attack) left on this planet, and during this time, I want to believe that I will be able to bring children into this world, into South Africa, and I pray that my children will not live in a country where they are judged because they are white. I do not want to leave the country and look for a new home, or a place where I can without fear know that I can guarantee a future for my young, so I will rather stand up and fight for something, because if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.
Our campaigns are not revolved around violence, but around the one thing we have control over, and that is where we spend our money. We know that we won’t be able to close down a company, but we at least can go to bed at night and know that we’re giving our money to companies, or even small businesses, which do not discriminate against ANY skin colour.
Albert Einstein had a wonderful definition to insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. I will rather stand up for my role and my place as a South African than see South Africa allowing for another generation of people retarded due to a broken system.
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