Can it ever be ME and YOU and not US and THEM?

Will I ever me more than part of ‘them’? Those people that was responsible for the suffering of millions, in this land?

And by part I mean my skin colour and not my beliefs. I was a child at the time and you can read more what I have written about apartheid here I benefited from Apartheid – did you? and I hate that I fear

With the death of Mandela and thinking about all he stood for, and watching A Long Walk to Freedom last night. I am again reminded of what a great man he was. It was also an eye opener to see what it did to Winnie Mandela and that her anger was her survival method and it made me understand more. It is one thing to read stuff and to know theoretically what happened, but to see it, even in a movie which can never be perfectly the same, is another. It brings more of the emotions home.

Not everyone thinks like Mandela, people I still very angry and I don’t blame them. I would be too. While I am a English white South African and so also not the old governments favourite kind of white, I am still white and had benefits way more than most in this country. Actually I think as a child I was blissfull unaware of most of what was going on. Many other children were not so lucky.

My question is now, 20 years later is there hope that we can ever see each other as more than US and THEM. Will I ever not be hated by some people in this land because of my fate of birth? I am not sure I could forgive if it was my people so I ask in honesty. What do you see when you look at me? Can this wrong ever be righted? It is so much easier to use our stereotypes and group people collectively and hate them as such than to see individuals.

Please be honest, I will never insult anyone by saying I want to understand, because I never never will. But I want to know.


3 thoughts on “Can it ever be ME and YOU and not US and THEM?

  1. I grew up during apartheid, but I don’t hate White people because of their skin colour. There are people I dislike, but they come in various races and my dislike is based on their actions ( and maybe mine?) and has nothing to do with their race. So yes, I do believe there will be a time when fewer Black people hate White people because of Apartheid. But there will always be people who prefer to hate than to forgive. That’s human nature. And you can’t take responsibility for that.

    I also want to tell you something that I learnt recently. When I was growing up, there was an adult in my life who really picked on me. He picked on the way I looked, what I wore. I was not competent enough to do anything. Whatever I did, it had to be critiqued. I dealt with the situation by distancing myself from him, and didn’t see him unless I had to at family occassions, where I was very polite but not warm. I thought I was over it, because I’m an adult and have learnt that his opinion doesn’t matter. But I honestly felt he was verbally abusive, and because we are relatives, it felt like a double betrayal.
    Fastforward 2013 and I’m back living with my mother, seeing this person on a regular basis. And over the past couple of months, I’ve come to realise I’m very angry with this person. Most times when we see each other I’m OK, but the littlest things set me off with him. And this week? I realised everything he says sounds wrong to me. I’m very critical of him- what he says, his belief systems, the way he lives.. was struck by the fact that I tried hard to stand for the opposite of what he stands for ( which is mostly good). But oddly, I realised I correct him quite a lot, a verbally critical, and I think I embarassed him a number of times when we were with other people. I also realised that he’s very cautious about speaking when in my company, as if he’s losing his confidence.

    You can imagine my horror when I realised I am becoming HIM! And it was sad.. and scary…

    he’s just an old man… like I was just a child… and I’m very sad that I was making him pay for the past. I’m not implying that he is sorry or that he has changed. But, because of our stages in life, he is more vulnerable. And I don’t want to be this person who victimises people who can’t fight back.

    You can see the analogy, I’m sure. So basically, what I want to say is, yes, Black South Africans were/are victims of apartheid. But the balance of power is/has shifted, and despite the crime, we have to forgive. Or we are in danger of becoming the very thing we fought against.

    Huh! And all I wanted to check to see how pinhairgirl was, not wax philosophical:-)

  2. Thank you Demaria, I can always count on you for an honest and profound reply. What you said is so true and this is what came though in the movie so much about Mandela. It was not that he was not angry or did not want revenge at times, but he said he wanted peace more, because otherwise he would turn into them and be no better.

  3. There will always be prejudice and racism and people from all races who will hold on to the hatred of “what your people did”. I think in some ways they may believe that in doing this they keep that history alive so that it can never repeat. (Look at the Jews and Germans – American Indians /African Americans and White Americans – Pretty much any country and Britain).

    But if you take the time to look around you will see the younger generation growing up as equals and eventually there will be more acceptance, tolerance, equality and friendships. 20 years is not really that long to have reached that point. We all have upbringings and society influences that we have to outgrow.

    English and Afrikaans – growing up I remember there being a lot more hatred and intolerance between our cultures stemming from our own history. It was still strong when my siblings were in South African state schools, but by the time I got to that point things were changing – there were still minor issues between us, but not of the same type of intolerance of each other, name calling, irritation and separation that my siblings experienced. Nowadays you hardly ever hear the name calling and antagonism that was pretty much everyday attitudes in the 80’s.

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