Not sure whether this nauseas feeling I have, and discomfort I feel, is due to me having to express in a white space, or due to having a black writer argue against other black writers, in defense of a white writer; whichever one it is, fact is, I am nauseas and uncomfortable at the same time. Firstly, Gillian Schutte writes to fellow “settlers”, about what she considers their arrogance and ignorance at the face of black structural marginalization, social death and economic deprivation. Her letter, let alone the contents and tone thereof, sparked a thought or struck a nerve, so much that Cde Jacke Shandu wrote a piece, not necessarily as a response to her but a view on the excitement it seemed to have ignited within black circles; urging blacks to cease being that naïve and seeking of white approval. However, Schutte’s letter, with its obvious impact on the psyche of blacks, judging by their reaction, could not go unchallenged, and that’s where Andile Mngxitama and Athi-Nangamso Nkopo came in, repudiating not just Schutte’s “good-intended” letter of confession and plea towards white guilt, privilege and acknowledgment. To both Andile and Athi-Nangamso, Schutte’s letter was nothing but a common white liberal agenda, to sustain white racism under the guise of anti-racism. A liberal ploy to save and even absolve whites from any blame should the swartgevaar become and when it does become, a reality. Enter, Malaika wa Azania, guns blazing, acknowledging the efforts of both Schutte and Shandu for their respective inputs, and dismissing Mngxitama and Nkopo of backwardness and being less progressive, for amongst other things, suggesting white racism cannot be unlearned and for even making mention Schutte’s black husband and mixed race child( which I believe is her business, even though her “bold” activism” and seeming propensity to speak openly about white racism and privilege, could well stem from her marriage[a topic for another day I suppose]). So yes, we had, one white writer, four black writers, and all four talking across and to each other, all because of the white writer’s letter.
There is something seriously disturbing about this scenario, one, Cde Shandu did not necessarily had to write back, well one may argue he had to, especially judging by the uproar within the black circles, so his letter seems appropriate and necessary(plus he was not responding to Schutte); two, Malaika openly cheered on, even if she was unaware of it, deliberately or not, a white writer, against black writers and views. Well, I am not saying reactionary views should be excused just because they are from a black writer(and I am in no way saying Mngxitama and Nkopo’s views were/are reactionary), rather they should be challenged openly and strongly so. Here lies the rub though, Malaika spoke against Mngxitama and Nkopo, either(I am strongly convinced) from an uninformed position or from a position of misunderstanding, because she seemed to not challenge the theoretical basis of their views, but what she assumed they meant, hence her constant emphasis on, if white racism cannot be unlearned, black oppression is permanent. Three, Mngxitama and Nkopo, could have as well ignored the letter or resisted the urge to table a response, if it was a response, but I can imagine that, they could not afford to miss out on a chance to provide a racism 101 lesson and put into perspective obfuscated issues, only they know why, even if I have this little view that, all should have ignored the letter.
Allow me then, to get a bit deeper in what I am saying, Shandu’s letter proved on point towards what seemed to be misguided and shameful excitement of blacks over letter to whites from a whitey. Mngxitama and Nkopo’s letter was justified due to the same reasons that justified Shandu’s and in fact, they needed to go a level further, to clarify those blacks who may have a contrary view to Shandu’s and to even, give an education from an Afro-pessismt point of view, a view that locates blacks exactly where they belong in terms of the current status quo and what is needed to overthrow it. And its the latter part of the whole response that I believe Malaika totally missed or miscomprehended(assuming she knows it). Between me and you, I believe Schutte’s letter smacks of patronizing, is apologetic and very misleading. Her tone is not at all impressive, she seems to try to act as if she is scolding or frankly confronting other whiteys but in actual fact, she is pleading and begging really, for their understanding and cooperative. She is scolding their openly racist and arrogant attitude in spite of their ill-gotten privilege, she is begging them to give blacks a break and in fact, assume their “parently” role and understanding of blacks a “toddlers” who were historically disadvantaged and are more like mentally handicapped children.
Anyway, Mngxitama and Nkopo, armed with their Afro-pessimism, shattered this liberal posture open, exposed it for what it is,(should they have mentioned her marriage? Maybe, maybe not), Schutte, despite her bravery and her with standing of “right wing” bile thrown at her by conservative whiteys, was left bruised and maybe confused, afterall, she was a “good whitey” speaking against white racism in “her own white circles” as Biko advised; but here she was, attacked ferociously as the next right winger by Mngxitama and Nkopo. Furthermore, Mngxitama and Nkopo revealed the impossible, the end of the world, that there lies no solace and repentance for whites no matter what they do, except their death as whites and beginning as cave dwellers like the beginning of civilization. Outrageous, how can this be possible? whites just need to treat blacks like equals and all will be well, their descendants will live Martin Luther King’s Dream. Mngxitama and Nkopo were just insane, they must have been smoking drugs, I mean, Schutte was one of the “rare and good’ whiteys, she spoke against her privilege and surely this counts for something, so these ones have lost it, there are better days before us. See, such revelations shake the world as we know it, they bring a turbulence as massive as a nuclear bomb explosion.
This is where Malaika feels vindicated to respond, nay, intervene, clarify these two darkies who have it all wrong, who are taking us backwards in times of progress. To her, they are wrong to suggest that white racism cannot be unlearned, afterall this equally means black oppression is permanent. I am just curious if, as an avid reader(she is said to have read over 2 000 books, maybe its 3 now), she has stumbled upon this view by Marx “the economic system is the foundation on which the political superstructure is erected.”. And to white supremacy as a political superstructure, what is its economic system? Is a political superstructure, which includes attitudes such as racism or religious belief, be sine qua non to the changing of the status quo, without altering the economic system that actually erects it? Can whites merely unlearn their racism without giving up their superior structural positionality, informed by their economic status? The only way for this to happen, not unlearning, but removal of whites from their structural positionality, is the total destruction of the economic system that erects the political superstructure that sustains their racism against blacks. With an economic system that make it impossible for the political superstructure of white supremacy, there will not be a need for white unlearning racism, there will not be a need for whites to be taught not to hate blacks. Malaika’s limited knowledge and understanding of afro-pessimism or lack thereof(I say all this because I do not believe she can intentionally mislead and selectively use the argument of permanent black oppression as her pole of resistance), exposes her badly, in her courageous but half-hearted and lame attempt, to defend Schutte’s right to mislead and confuse. She runs short of steam and its Schutte who carries her forward, by pasting her(Malaika) letter all over her FB page, quoting her and projecting her as the voice of reason amid the misogynist and backward misappropriation of BC by Mngxitama and Nkopo.
I have no doubt in my mind, that, to Mngxitama and Nkopo, Malaika’s letter was/is irrelevant, hence no response from them, more so, when they are convinced that their letter did the job against Schutte’s racist liberalism and because they believed that Malaika was speaking past them not to them, but I had to respond to Malaika’s mischievous antics of cheering on white supremacy under the guise of reasonableness and objectivity, especially with her misinformed and inaccurate letter splashed all over the internet for the consumption of unsuspecting blacks.
All in all, I believe Malaika is just badly schooled in radical BC fused with Afro-pessimism, because if she was, a different line of argument was going to be utilized by her. I firmly and genuinely believe that either her beef against her former Blackwash comrades has blinded her so much that she jumped to attack them at the first opportunity that presented itself or her BC is severely bastardized. Either way, its just unacceptable to have blacks on each other’s throats over a whitey’s view.