Dear Julius, what if all your preconceptions about me were wrong?

2018-03-09 11:07

Dear Julius

I read on almost a daily basis about what you have to say about white people and, without fail, I find myself asking, "I wonder what white people Julius hangs out with, because that’s not me."

In fact, it’s not any of my friends and nobody that I would willingly spend time with. Perhaps Julius, you should be a little bit more discerning about these white friends of yours. Some of my best friends are white people – not one of them is a racist. Admittedly though, one of my best friends has a friend who shared an Uber with a racist once. I don’t know what that says about me? 

So, you don’t know me Julius. I don’t know you. You paint me with the broad brush of "generalised racist white other" and I see you as an "emotional toddler with megalomaniac totalitarian aspirations". Could we sit at the same dinner table and debate the complex issues of land expropriation and white privilege? Well, a debate requires two voices and two opinions, with the possibility of finding common ground. Pardon the pun. And when I say two voices… they can’t both be in your head.

One voice would have to be mine. The other opinion would have to be mine. You would be required to listen with an open and mature mind to a woman’s opinion without shouting me down. So there – now you know that I am not just white, I am a woman. I won’t assume that as a man you are a patriarchal, chauvinist male who will treat me with less respect because I am a woman, but in our South African society, the possibility exists.

Back in the dark days of apartheid, I used to march for gay rights against a system which deemed me to be a criminal under the immorality act, because I did not conform to an ideal of heteronormativity. Yes – I am gay. Now you know that about me as well.

Discrimination comes in many flavours. When it’s legalised or even normalised, it places people in the direct path of "sanctioned" violence. A part of me wants to assume that you subscribe to the homophobic attitude of gayness being "not African" and further assume that you support the corrective rape of lesbians, which barely makes it into the news anymore, however I don’t know you. To assume that you share the exact same opinions and attitudes of certain high profile figures based on one or two commonalities would surely be ridiculously reductionist. So, I too have two voices going on in my head – reactionist and reason.

One of my happiest days was when I voted in our first democratic election, because on that day my partner of 10 years was voting for the first time. The very first time that she was allowed to. Ah, I hear confusion in that voice in your head now. Is it becoming tricky to keep me in the "white racist" box?

We’re a little bit complex – us people. And come to think of it… why was there an immorality act anyway? Was it because all white people really hated all black people? There’s a possibility that some white people really loved some black people and some black people really loved some white people in return. And clearly not always in a religiously sanctioned way. Aren’t people complex, Julius? Do any of your voices agree that people are hellishly complex individuals?     

So, other fun facts about me: Like you I have an honours degree. I paid for it myself. Like you, I’m confused about my role in my current job, but also trying to make the best of a bad situation. I guess we can both blame Zuma there.

Like you, I don’t own a farm. Mugabe owns 21 farms apparently, so don’t lose heart. Of course, if your sneaky plan works out and the state owns all of the land and you are head of state one day, it will all be yours! Even Zuma’s Nkandla. Poetic justice? Everyone wants to be a king it seems. Or maybe sometimes just a screaming queen?

Anyway, I must dash. I have "productive to society" things to do. If you would like to debate over dinner sometime Julius, please drop me a line. I am a vegetarian though, and I drink red wine not white… I hope that won’t be an issue? 

Read more on:    julius malema  |  racism  |  discrimination  |  homophobia
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