A recent conversation with a colleague of mine sparked a sudden desire to express how I feel about the state of inequality in South Africa.
She is a white freelance journalist and has come from afar to work in Cape Town for the next couple of months. At first, I felt empathetic toward her about the fact that she had no other choice but to leave her husband and children to come and work in Cape Town so that she can provide for them. “I only see them once a week,” she said whilst we were driving toward her home.
We exchanged stories about our respective life experiences and she even grabbed out her cell phone to show me pictures of her two adorable children. “She’s only 12 but she thinks that she’s 21,” she joked about her daughter.
She then went on to speak about how her husbands contract had expired and that it was not renewed. She sounded disappointed and as if life had wronged her in some way. I felt her pain. I know what its like to feel disappointed with very little beneficial solutions to certain issues.
“That’s life,” I thought to myself.
Our conversation came to an end as we were driving in her road. Our driver pointed out that we were about to pass the house of Premier Helen Zille.
“Neighbours with Helen Zille? It can’t be,” I said to myself.
After she got out of the car I anxiously started thinking about the different types of definitions people give to “their struggle.” And no she didn’t say that she was struggling. But I could hear it in the tone of her voice. That she was not used to this type of life. Being away from her family wasn’t easy – but what about the black maid who can’t see her child at all because she has to work a seven say shift for a minimum wage – to able afford to put a zinc roof over the heads of her children who have no father figure at all?
“This is nothing compared to what I go through, even less a black person living in a shack. “Her struggle” sounds like it could be paradise to some people I know.”
How would she survive in the townships? How do people who live in the townships even survive?
This is a privilege issue – Yes, a white privilege issue. And no I’m not blaming her because of the colour of her skin. She is a nice lady and I am not racist. I blame the system. I felt a deep sense of sorrow because of the gap between what “white struggle” is and what “black struggle” is. I would have still felt this way if the roles were reversed.
But it is what is and where are where we are. There is no time for denialism – white privilege exists
With that being said, I hope change does come in the future, even if it is not during my time (hopefully it is).
To my fellow black brothers and sisters: The opportunity for you to do so has come at a rather late time in life, but – Hold on, press on, push your way forward – work against the odds and fight for a better life for your children.