Sunday, April 29, 2007

To white or not to white, whitey?

There are many issues in contemporary South Africa that are discussed, pondered, thought and fought about. As always the topics most heatedly debated are the negative ones - crime & corruption, aids, etc. For white South Africans an issue that is rarely spoken about by name, but which often lurks underneath the surface of discussions by another name, is identity. Being white and living in Africa can cause a bit of an identity crisis. Am I 'European', 'western', 'African', etc.? I do have some strong opinions in this regards, but won't touch on those in this post.

I noticed an opinion piece by Marianne Thamm on News.24 today, dealing with one aspect of the identity issue. My wife buys the Fair Lady from time to time and Marianne has a regular column in the Magazine. Whenever the Fair Lady makes its appearance in our house, I always page to her column first. She is an extremely sharp thinker and excellent writer. Her columns dealing with contemporary matters is always worth a read. She has a way of slaughtering holy cows with wit and sarcasm. I have seldom found myself differing from her opinions and when I did it was with some discomfort... may she be onto something here?

The News.24 column, it may have been published elsewhere first, is titled White Like Me. The title alone may be interpreted as a form of sarcastic social commentary. Black Like Me is a range of beauty care products launched in the 80's (I believe). Back then it was a statement in itself, proudly proclaiming that 'black is beautiful' in a time that Apartheid (white supremacy) was the order of the day. Sarcastically stating 'White Like Me' in present day South Africa packs quite a punch. What does it mean to be 'white like me', should it mean something?

That it is in fact an emotive issue is clear in the amount of comments the relatively short column drew. It represents a small sample of the way in which the identity question is dealt with in the larger (white) society. Read Thamm's article and contribute your 2-cent's worth if you feel like it.

1 comment:

aksn1p3r said...

Im not too sure about this, but would like a clearer perspective from a white south african, I have heard of English origin South Africans who have british citrizenship granted with more bias than a normal South African, if it is true, is it because of colonial heritage?

I am indian, or asian *hehe*