What kind of society allows racist tweets?

2017-03-16 13:36

I will not dwell much on what has happened and been said regarding Hellen Zille. All of that is public knowledge. What I want to focus on is the society that Hellen Zille is coming from and still lives in that gives her the licence to release her racist statements without blinking. She is cushioned by an intersection of violent social structures that are heavily seated on the weight of South Africa called white supremacy, white liberalism, white racism, and anti-Blackness.

These violent social structures make it easy and acceptable for a white person to utter degrading comments about another race without distress. They see people from another race as being invincible and non-existence. They can easily state humiliating statements about them in public because white supremacy treats Black people in society as though “they are not in the room”.

Sara Ahmed writing in 2007 on the Phenomenology of Whiteness says that “whiteness could be described as an ongoing and unfinished history, which orientates bodies in specific directions, affecting how they ‘take up’ space and what they ‘can do’. If to be human is to be white, then to be not white is to inhabit the negative: it is to be not”.

White people as individuals are born out of a racist socialization and upbringing within the white community. The white community is built on anti-Blackness, isolation, exclusion and is, therefore, inherently racist. Therefore, the anti-Black attitudes of white individuals are a reflection of the value system of the group to which they sociologically come from.

As a group and as a race they are socialized into a world where it is only them who are human beings and entitled to taking up space. Anything else that does not look like them is unknown and invincible. The world speaks their ethnic languages and uses resources of their violent and corrupt innovation. This gives rise to their arrogance and ultimately to white supremacy.

The weight of white violence and white supremacy managed to gain hegemony, and ultimately gained legitimacy through its infiltration of the South African education system and public literature. The teaching and learning of Eurocentric ideas and the consistent distribution of their knowledge outcomes to the imagination of the public through the media has sustained the violent social structure of white liberalism.

The hegemonic violence of white liberalism is best demonstrated by the disabling of the capacity of Black people to define and discern their problems for themselves. Hence, Hellen Zille, a white person, has the audacity to describe to Black people how apartheid colonialism was of good benefit to Black people.

The hegemonic weight of white liberalism over the public discourse of South Africa has normalized the use of insignificant words and phrases by Black leaders and even some Black academics, young and old, to analyze the problems of Black people. One often hear words from entrusted revolutionary movements and previously conscious academics such as “integration”, “rainbow nation”, “diversity”, “unity” – words, analysis and concepts that are historically and geographically associated with European white liberal fundamentalism.

These are the same values that define the curriculum content and institutional culture of the overwhelming majority of South African universities at the expense of terminating the value and presence of Black students and the teachings of the communities they come from.

Helen Zille is a racist. She is a representative of the value system of the group to which she sociologically comes from. A group of white people as a unit who have been taught carefully from childhood about a violent social structure of white importance, white supremacy, white liberalism, white racism, isolation, exclusion, and anti-Blackness.

She must be rejected the same way Lewis Gordon and Frank Wilderson rejected white supremacy by saying to the oppressed: “In anti-black societies, to be black is to be without a face. This is because only human beings have faces, and blacks, in such societies, are not fully human beings ... anti-Blackness empowers the discourse on Black radical resistance today to come to the realisation that, the anti-Black nature of the world doesn’t merely Other Blacks, proletariatise them or confer upon them the status of the subaltern, it brutally and physically obliterates the very idea that Black people exist. The Black world will therefore have to formulate a framework and language of resistance that will contend with these realities, both at theoretical and practical level”.

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