It sounds simple, but I believe that when people see the above sentence or phrase, the immediate image that springs to mind is a traffic jam from which you need to get out of if you’re in a hurry or a tight faucet that doesn’t open with minimum force.
It’s different when the above is applied to your day to day life as opposed to dismantling systems of oppression. The Will, of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, must have been strong because she is revered as one of the women who brought about meaningful change in the States regarding gender equality.
She could have decided to sit back and do nothing, but she chose to take up the mantle and fight for change. Her change did not happen as South African white people think; that by giving to a charity or feeding the beggar at the traffic lights, change she knew had to be done by working hard, by going against resistance and by not giving up when she met with an obstacle.
How much change have white people affected as a collective in South Africa towards inequality?
Very little change is my answer because some white people refuse to acknowledge the glaring inequalities that exist. Instead, they will blame the failure of the current Government, and corruption and leave it in the hands of a Black Government who, yes have failed us but they have not failed the white community; at least not in the way white people have taken to the streets to protest.
When I was an admin of a Facebook group and wanted us as a collective; all races, to march against racism, I was told by a few allies that white people don’t march. Well, that was a lie because given that they marched against the former President Jacob Zuma and now against what they term “farm murders,” it is evident that they do March. They don’t March unless there is interest convergence or they are affected, and their livelihood is under threat.
The right-wing can spout whatever they wish and continue to demean and degrade black and brown people, and the majority response is that we, as black and brown people, should ignore them. How can you ignore people that are harming you physically, socially, mentally and financially? Yet, conversely, if a black or brown person like Julius Malema, stands up for his rights and sings freedom songs or marches against inequality, and so on, he gets hauled to the Equality Court or to the South African Human Rights Commission. I’m guessing we can’t say ignore him, can we?
Through my years of educating and writing about racism, I have concluded that most white people don’t want to do away with racial injustice and the on-going systemic racism that is very much at play in the country. They don’t want to lose an iota of the privilege they have. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they will insist on the “White privilege is wealth privilege,” narrative.
There is no will for most white people to change because they’re comfortable and only once their comfort is threatened will they get their butts off the fancy couch, put on some SPF 20 on their faces, grab their bottled water and march against injustice.
This is black and brown people’s reality, and the sooner we realize that we need to empower ourselves, the sooner we can get out of the quicksand we have been placed in.
The Will is not there, and if there is no will, there is no way!