Biko

Black people, fight your own battles

Black people, fight your own battles.

In a response to Gillian Schutte’s article, “Dear White People,” author Jackie Shandu writes: 

The letter says “Dear White People”. A white person writes to fellow white settlers to discuss their collective and unique problem of race privilege, supremacy and racism. Very well. This is precisely what Biko taught us, that the work of white anti-racists is in the white communities — they need to talk each other out of racial arrogance while we blacks talk each other out of self-hatred. Later we meet as equals, to decide on the kind of South Africa we want to build — if whites are interested. Biko reprimands white liberals out of black communities and reminds them they can’t have it both ways: gladly accept exclusive race privileges but also moonlight as anti-racists. The blatant hypocrisy is out there for everyone to see: accept skin-colour benefits and repeatedly vote back into power that racism machinery, yet make an empty claim to non-racism.

I welcomed Gillian’s letter because I thought she would create an alternative space for white activists who are crowding and collapsing the black struggle. I thought at last we would have white people talking among themselves about their issues, as opposed to the dominant practice of imposing themselves on black initiatives while their stomachs and purses are full of white privilege.