The meaning:

“Tarred and feathered: a form of public torture and punishment used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge; it was used in feudal Europe and its colonies in the early modern period, as well as the early American frontier, mostly as a type of mob vengeance.”

Considering that this type of public torture and punishment happened centuries ago, one would think that this would at least have “been outlawed,” in the same way that the steam train is no longer used to carry passengers. And while this refers to a literal aspect, I have noticed a disturbing trend of “tarring and feathering,” in a figurative sense.


Black and brown people, who, according to white people- possess the inherent trait of criminality and barbarism, are the only ones when in the face of wrongdoing, are publicly shamed and destroyed. In much the same way that Jesus Christ was when the mob chanted, “crucify him.”

What is it about black and brown peoples “sins,” that needs to be “held up” to the spotlight? Why is it that the wrongdoing is “worse,” when it pertains to people of colour?

Black and brown history is filled, with savage murderers such as King Leopold II of Belgian, who nearly wiped out an entire country for nothing more than greed. However, African leaders, such as Idi Amin, are, consistently referred to, when examples of black “savagery,” is needed.

Very few people other than the people of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo know about the murders and mutilations caused by this “genteel” man, (if he can be called that).

Fast forward to modern-day and more white people in this country will tell you how corrupt the ANC Government is, whilst blatantly denying and or diminishing the brutality of Apartheid. By this, I don’t mean to justify the current Governments failures to address issues such as poverty and corruption, but should white people not sit this one out?

How do they get to be more vocal when most of them are not affected except that they know about it? How many white people have publicly shamed people such as FW.De Klerk for his active role during Apartheid?

Instead, as with “Dr Death,” Wouter Basson, white people who do wrong are “rewarded,” either by continued employment or silence regarding their role in wrongdoing.

During my lifetime, I’ve never witnessed such active citizenry from white people as I have since black people started “running” the country.

The racism levelled at our black politicians is astonishing besides disgusting and violent. White people have now become good at protesting, marching and taking Government to task, about any failures. They would argue that this is what’s supposed to happen in a democracy and while I agree, I can’t help but look at who is being “tarred and feathered,” and who’s granted “immunity” from public call-outs.

The poverty levels and housing crisis in the Western Cape are, because of Apartheid, yet Helen Zille and her political party, are never publicly shamed by white people. Instead, black and brown people call them out, and suddenly we have to hear how hateful, “racist,” and terrible we are. How, our “inability,” to forget the past is what’s holding the country back from moving forward. Can you see how the narrative gets twisted to proclaim “white innocence,” and “black guilt?”

There are white people, “active citizens,” that has moved very quickly to “mobilise,” and form groups to march and protest the lockdown, the closing of beaches, the absence of alcohol, and of course, the “unacceptably” high levels of corruption in this Government.

While I admire the increased interest in activism, I can’t help but see the interest convergence at every turn. In other words, only when they are directly affected by the above, are they “spurred on” into action.

When the Sharpeville massacre, the Soweto riots, the murders of Steve Bantu Biko, and so on occurred, white people sat comfortably and safely ensconced in their living rooms discussing the day’s events. 

The forced removals, burning down and destroying our homes, could not compel white people to join us and demonstrate against a violent, murderous, corrupt Government. And if you think it has changed, I want you to remember recent events such as racism and violence against black students at Brackenfell High. They know about it and wherever else it’s happening but will not move until it affects them. In Brackenfell High’s instance, their children deserved a matric dance.

Due to our unequal society, and because of the continued exploitation of black and brown people, white people have the resources to have beautiful posters and t-shirts printed, and use their vehicles to drive to a particular meeting place and protest closures of beaches.

Not because the Government of the day said white people are not allowed on the beaches but to curb the spread of a global pandemic.

When we look at Steinhoff, Absa and others, corporate greed and corruption are dealt with in the same manner as described above, but banks such as black-owned and managed VBS is the one that is tarred and feathered. This phenomenon is not unique to this country, because when we look at the States, we need only remember that killing a black woman in her sleep, (Breonna Taylor), was not enough for white people to march against police brutality and racism.  They marched on the Capitol when they thought they were “wronged,” by being “cheated” out of votes. 

Wouldn’t it be great if all people could matter to them as much as they matter to themselves?


It is disheartening when only a few white people have been willing to stand up against evils such as racism. Most of them demand to see our “competency” certificates when we have even the slightest upper hand -conveniently forgetting that a chief white economist had no credentials- a white pilot flew without proper credentials, etc. The list goes on, but like statues, they will remain unmoved until one of their “toys” is “temporarily taken” away.

The only rainbow nation that seems acceptable to them is where white people can be superior even without adequate credentials. 

White people, I want you to read black history and to comprehend that globally white leaders in both Government and the corporate sector do not have good track records. History attests to this!

If black and brown people must be “paraded”, tarred and feathered for wrongdoing then also do it to white people. And if, as a white person, you are silent and immoveable in the face of black and brown injustices, then racism is at play in your inaction.