Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Annelie Botes: "I Don’t Like Black People"

IOL News
November 30, 2010 (8am)

Annelie Botes
Remarks made by a prominent Afrikaans author have opened a debate about race in South Africa.

Author and columnist Annelie Botes told Rapport newspaper in an interview last week she did not like black people. 

People have since either hailed Botes as “brave” or called for her to leave the country. 

Asked in the Rapport interview which people she did not like, Botes paused before she answered that she would be honest despite knowing her answer would shock. 

“I don’t like black people.” 

She continued: “I don’t understand them! ... I know they are people just like me. I know they have the same rights as me. But I do not understand them. And then I do not like them. I avoid them because I am scared of them ... My neighbour was brutally murdered. For what? 

“If black people are hungry, why don’t they, like in the old days, break in, steal the fridge and walk away? I know where their anger comes from. It has f**k all to do with apartheid. They are angry because of their own incompetence.” 

Botes had since told Rapport this weekend she was not a racist and should have instead said she did not like “all black people”. 

Her publishing company, NB Publishing, had distanced itself from her comments. 

A number of people have tweeted their feelings, left messages on Facebook and commented on the Rapport’s website. 

Zimo2 tweeted: “Why don’t you relocate you ugly minded? Are you beautiful by any chance?”

Zena wrote on the Rapport website: “I agree 100 percent with her. Too many people out there are false.” 

Pierre de Vos, constitutional law expert at UCT, wrote on his blog Constitutionally Speaking that Botes’ comments were an indication of the feelings of other South Africans. “We all know now that this is not an aberration. These sentiments are rife and are supported either tacitly or more loudly by many white South Africans.”- Cape Times 

See comments at IOL on this story.

Comment: Most white South Africans harbour resentment toward blacks in general.  The same is true for a large portion of the coloured and Indian populations as well.

What makes the white case unique is the manner in which victimization has become so central to white South African identity or whiteness.

Over the years I have talked about crime and race here.  The simple truth is that whites are not uniquely victimized by crime.  In fact, white men are more likely to die from suicide than at the hands of a black criminal.

Whiteness will deny this reality.  Whites in the post-apartheid era need to feel victimized to verify their existence inside of whiteness.  

Whiteness in post-colonial terms is, after all, a vain attempt to hold onto to the fading reality of racial centrality and control.

Annelie Botes is just saying what most whites believe and need to believe to exist in post-apartheid South Africa.

She should not be heralded as being truthful or even applauded for opening up yet another space for race dialogue aimed at contrived reconciliation.

Botes' is merely signifying the existential anxiety/angst that is white South African identity 16 years after the end of apartheid.

Nothing more.


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