A popular South African author, columnist and documentary filmmaker Max du Preez charged whites not to be intimidated by blacks’ consciousness and pride.
The writer, in his usual column on news24 page, told white South Africans not to be worked up when a 13-year-old Zulaikha Patel with her formidable afro and raised fist expresses herself strongly on what it’s like to be a young black woman in a mostly white environment.
“We should know where that is coming from and what it means” he said
“We should rather show respect to black teenagers who stand up and fight for their own dignity and that of their peers.
“We shouldn’t overreact if black compatriots vent their feelings about blackness in strong terms and dish out a few klaps in our direction because they feel that white is still the norm in our society.”
Max du Preez called on the whites in the country not to think that Apartheid has long gone and therefore shouldn’t be mentioned or say things like ‘get over your race obsession’ to the blacks.
“…we simply have to try and decode their words and accept that they represent widely felt frustrations among younger black generations.
He said Whites should rather ponder how it happened that the black consciousness prophet Steve Biko is now, 39 years after his death, read and quoted more than at any time before.
Whites should also ask how it is that black youth still feel alienated and marginalized in a country with an overwhelming black majority and a mostly black government.
“I think we white South Africans should try harder to look beyond our own white middle class problems and perceived victimhood and acknowledge that our black compatriots had adjusted and compromised more than we did since 1994; that most of us are indeed still at the top of the food chain; that there are more than enough cause for black South Africans to firmly assert themselves” he said.
Max du Preez further pointed out that White South Africans love to call upon the bill of rights in the constitution to protect their rights, but fail to remember that the same document undertakes to “heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights” and “improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.” It also states: “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.”
Too many of us whites behave as if the slate was wiped clean in 1994 and as if there was a 50/50 division between black and white, “them” and “us”. Du Perez noted.
According to him also, White South Africans are obsessed with their “minority rights” and the so-called “injustice” of black economic empowerment and affirmative action that they fail to see the bigger picture of the entire South African nation.
Black South Africans clearly experience this as selfishness, arrogance and racism. He said as he charged the Whites to learn to be more sensitive, understand better and sometimes listen rather than speak when dealing with the black.
“We have to realize that if we have a more just and egalitarian society, there would be much less motivation for race-based assertiveness. That is something we middle class whites can help achieve,” Max du Preez said.