The price one artist is paying for highlighting white supremacy
CAPE TOWN – A visual artist in Cape Town has come under fire for trying to get white South Africans to reflect. But despite a violent backlash to their work, the artist is determined to continue promoting anti-racism. Watch here.
**Really enjoyed my chat with Dean, so many parts of our conversation I didn’t get to use, but that’s the business.
Clifton waiter apologises for ‘2 Blacks’ bill
“CAPE TOWN – The waiter responsible for describing patrons as “2 Blacks” at The Bungalow at Clifton Beach in Cape Town has said he never intended the offence taken.
The waiter, Mike Dzange, says he regrets the controversial incident.
“I’d like to apologise deep from my heart for the trouble I have caused; it happened without intention of hurting anybody. I’d sincerely like to apologise to Mr Scott and partner,” Dzange, a Zimbabwean national said.
He has been suspended from The Bungalow, where he has worked for eight years.
Scott Maqetuka tweeted a picture of this slip describing him as one of two blacks, accusing the Bungalow restaurant in Clifton of racism.
Dzange admits he was wrong to use racial descriptions for patrons. He has been suspended in the interim.”
eNCA caught up with Dzange.
Race (still, probably always will) matter(s)
In light of the blackface incident involving two Tuks students last week, I asked TO Molefe a few quick questions on the matter. He indulged me with the most enlightened and thorough answers anyone has ever left in my inbox. As such, I figured I should share and let his words hit you with some knowledge.
Q:The two girls have now been expelled from res but not the University. Do you think this action was appropriate? If so why and if not why?
A: I think the university needs to follow due process as such decisions on individual students’ fates can’t and shouldn’t be arbitrated based on public sentiment. Hopefully UP already has in place an objective process to assess infringements of its student code of conduct and to assign the appropriate sanction(s). I personally do not believe punitive measures like expulsion are necessarily the best way to handle things, but like I said, the university should be following whatever pre-established protocols it has in place to deal with these situations.
The unfortunate thing about UP’s response to this incident is, as I said in my column, is that it singles out the two young women’s behaviour as an exception. They should definitely be held individually accountable, but the university, too, needs to examine its role in allowing such behaviours and attitudes to go unchecked among its student body. The university needs to use this example as the motivation for a compulsory education programme that uses South African history to teach about prejudice and oppression, particularly racism, sexism and sexuality. Right now they seem to be panicking because of all the public scrutiny directed towards them.
Q: In your opinion what was problematic about the girls dress?
A: For me it is pretty clear cut: If, when you think “domestic worker”, the first thing that comes to mind is black women with big lips and behinds, you’re playing on a racist stereotype of black women’s bodies and a long-held belief in that such bodies are the ones best suited to domesticity. Your intention is to poke fun at black women. It is racist and sexist. It is what queer scholar Moya Bailey calls misogynoir (anti-black misogyny).
Q: Some have said they the girls were having harmless fun, much like Leon Schuster. What are your thoughts on that line of thinking?
A: I think anybody who thinks the girls were having harmless fun has chosen not to think at all about what their performance tells us about the cycle of servitude millions of black women are trapped in, many from birth. The two young UP students probably grew up in a house where a black woman cleaned up after them and took care of them. That woman has daughters of her own who, without some kind of intervention, will probably have few work options other than to become domestic workers, too. And chances are that woman’s mother was also a domestic worker. We’ve seen this in the mines where low-paying manual-labour jobs ensnare generations of a single family.
Yet, these two girls, when asked to imagine a domestic worker, a figure that has been a feature of their whole lives, they imagined a stereotype instead of a real human being. These two girls will probably go on to hire domestic workers for their own homes when they grow up. And I imagine it will be difficult for them to find it within themselves to pay their domestic workers a living wage if they can’t imagine them as human beings in all their complexity.
What I’m saying is that the dehumanising way in which the girls imagined domestic workers is how many people imagine domestic workers. And that dehumanising imagining is directly linked to why many domestic workers in this country have never been and are not paid a living wage.
Q: Black comedians make it a point to talk about race in their sets – do you think the way they do it is helpful or harmful?
A: I think it’s great when black comedians talk about race. I think it’s great when anybody talks about it. However, for something that is so divisive, race is generally poorly understood. And even those of us who read, write and think about it every day have to keep our wits about us when dealing with it out of a fear that we might be reinforcing misconceptions about race and promoting racial prejudice. I’m not sure how many South African comedians and satirists exercise this kind of thoughtfulness or care.
This might be a bit utilitarian of me, but the objective of talking about race should be to expose its contradictions, and to subvert people’s deeply held misconception that race has no social significance. (I think most of us by now are comfortable with the idea that race isn’t a biological reality in the sense that it was once believed to determine traits such as intelligence, athletic ability and creativity.) Comedy is a great way to challenge people’s ideas about themselves and the world, but only if the comedian has stopped to think about whether they are repeating and reinforcing stereotypes, or subverting it. There are too many comedians doing the former because it’s easy and because the latter is hard and takes tremendous skill to pull off while being funny.
Q: Lastly, have you seen the trailer for Dear White People set for release later this year. Do you think the South African audience has the capacity to engage with the movie meaningfully?
A: I have seen the trailer. I am ambivalent about the movie’s relevance in South Africa. I mean, we will definitely see parallels to situations here. But, although related, the contexts and histories are a little different. Because of that, I am hesitant to adopt American (or other) anti-racist narratives wholesale. We have a rich history of anti-racist thought and activism here that I think we’re making too little use of. So, I don’t think there is a need here for black people to address white people as this movie does. Instead, I think what this country needs right now is a “Dear Black People” written, directed and produced through an immersion in black consciousness thought.
Op pad na Oppi
By Pheladi Sethusa and Shandukani Mulaudzi
Three camera bags, two spare batteries for each camera, sleeping bags, tent, camp chairs, bags and booze all squeezed into the back of a Polo hatchback.
Even though the day had been coming for a month, two Oppikoppi virgins were scrambling to get their things together at the last minute.
Rosebank Mall was full of people getting last minute supplies, mostly of the liquid variety.
The journey begins
Within the first 30 minutes of the drive, a wrong turn made it clear that it would be a long journey to Northam Farm, Thabazimbi.
The scenic route made up for the potholes and narrow roads which made for a bumpy ride and also provided plenty of photo opportunities.
After two hours of driving a toilet break was needed but no Engen, Shell or Totall garages were in sight – only kilometre after kilometre of dusty road and the odd bush. The only solution to this problem was found inbetween the two car doors of the little Polo.
A wrong turn gone right led directly to the Oppikoppi gates.
Thorn bushes and dust in the air welcomed the first-timers to what would be their home for the next three days. Setting up a tent and easing into the campsite took no longer than 30 minutes.
After settling in, it was time to explore the festival they didn’t know but had heard so much about. Having heard rumours about poor to non-existent sanitation, drunken mosh pits and rampant racism – only first-hand experiences could tell.
Rumours turned true-mours
A performance by band, CrashCarBurn proved the mosh pits true, leaving a rocky taste in our mouths.
A bird’s eye view of the ShortStraw performance from the shoulders of a strong man proved the racism claims.
While many sat on shoulders and waved their hands to the music, it was not a fun experience for one.
As soon as she was lifted to the gracious man’s shoulders, pushing and shoving came from the girls in the front. It could have been a matter of jealousy however, we learned differently.
The guy let our reporter down, and apologised for the failed experience.
His friend, known only to us as Francois, told Wits Vuvuzela journo Caro Malherbe: “I’m sorry. I really would like to talk to them (the black colleagues) but the girls won’t like it. They are of a different race classification.”
With shock and disappointment, the short straw was indeed pulled: by us. We went back to our tents feeling disheartened, but still hopeful.
That hope was quickly snuffed out by comments that came from a neighbouring tent. To our left was a tent with two black men who were very chatty, to our right were two white, Afrikaans men who were also very vocal.
We overheard the white campers saying “Ag, ek gaan nou iemand klap as hulle nie stil bly. Ons sal sommer die nuwe Waterkloof 2 wees”, this was followed by the two men laughing.
That was within a few hours of being on the farm, two more days to go.
- Team Vuvu Oppi ball (thejourneytoadream.wordpress.com)
- Oppi-Road-Trippin’ (oppikoppipoppie.wordpress.com)
Literary Post-Mortem: A Bantu In My Bathroom
Disclaimer: I wouldn’t really call this a book review – just don’t dig the term. Also don’t feel like I’m qualified to write such yet. I’m just telling you that I read this book, how it made me feel and why or why not one should give it a read. That’s all. Let’s rather call it a ‘Literary Post-Mortem’ (I like that)
Onwards with A Bantu in My Bathroom by Eusebius McKaiser then. Been wanting to read this book for some time, but being the broke student I am it just never happened. Umtil I got this as a gift, yays.
Before I tell you how awesome a read it was, I must mention that I am a fan of the man. At some point in my second year at Wits I considered taking up Philosophy in the hopes of being lectured by him at some point. However, reason and a passion for what I was already doing steeled me. Anyway back to why I’m a fan – I love his insights and the way he chooses to deal with difficult topics that many are reluctant to. Along with this I find him quite relatable – not all the time but I mostly get him/what he’s saying.
The book is basically a collection of essays based on a variety of topics. Namely race, culture and sexuality. Under each section there are about four to five essays, which aim at tackling various aspects of the ‘big issue’ at hand. Unsurprisingly, my favourite essays were in the race section. I think that it is still important to look at and understand why race is still an important contributing factor to the lived South African experience. He mentioned that we can’t pretend we don’t see race just to avoid being labelled ‘racist’.
McKaiser highlights some of the most important race related challenges South Africans face. He explains why Affirmative Action is necessary, discusses white privilege, tackles the issue of whether or not black people can be racist and much more. Even though one might disagree in places, I did find myself agreeing with him 80% of the time – not just in this section but throughout the rest of the book.
In the sexuality section he spoke about ‘coming out’, love and even rape. This part of the book was the most personal for me and as such riveting to read. When it came to culture he looked at ploygamy, divisions present in our society and the advantages and disadvantages of being a so-called coconut. The range of issues raised in his essays is quite big. I was not left wanting when I was done reading – I legit felt like he discussed everything one could in 209 pages.
We should instead accept that we are deeply divided – spatially, linguistically, culturally, ideologically – and reflect on how we might live in each other’s space while disagreeing deeply with each other. The alternative, fake national unity, is simply childish. (excerpt from the book)
What I enjoyed the most were the little anecdotes that coloured his essays. For me it helped to bring home his points and also offered an unique peep into his personal life. I have often seen McKaiser on tv, attended seminar’s that he spoke at and listened to his show on radio. This book felt like the literary incarnation of those experiences. Not the content but with regards to style. It was easy read and understand because he was just being himself (or so I assume). He did stress how important authenticity is to him so I imagine he wrote in a way that would reflect that.
I also liked and admired the fact that he didn’t ‘other’ people. He didn’t speak about racists, homophobes and misogynists in a distanced manner. He made it clear that we are these people, that we are our biggest problem in many cases. Also highlighting that change can only begin with us.
If I had the money I would go out of my way to buy a few people a copy. The idea’s put forward are of great import and I feel that the more people they reach the better.