On 7 July at Christ Church Midrand, the topic chosen for our dialogue was “How to kill white supremacy” with the themes of “land restitution” and “dealing with anger” influencing the conversation.
Apartheid was described as “successful in meeting its goals”, because the structures it put in place largely remain and this outside structural racism has penetrated our insides. Our inner racism, even in those who don’t want to be racist, is pervasive. Often both white and black people think that white people are superior and black people inferior. Many black women feel they are at the bottom of the oppressive systemic racism pyramid. At the same time, black women spoke from the pain of being married to black men who feel trapped in their circumstances – they want to be strong for their women but feel they have to swallow racism to keep their jobs and survive financially.
The voice of anger consistently spoke from a deep place of pain. It was observed that people often take anger personally when it is not directed at them and then become consumed with their own pain. “How can anger be used constructively?” was asked. “We usually suppress it until it reaches explosive levels, damaging others and ourselves, and making the way forward together more difficult.”
Towards the end of the dialogue, the voice of pain extended a hand to the voice of fear, asking more white people to join the conversation. “What are you afraid of?”
A conversation focusing on pain and anger is not easy. Sometimes we feel as well-meaning South Africans that we should focus on the positive to build a community, and yet it is often the hard conversation that meaningfully draws people together.