Journalist. Writer. Researcher. Editor.

My experience of white violence #1

These stories were submitted by South Africans who refuse to obfuscate, deny or minimise the violence perpetrated by white people. By speaking out against white violence, the authors counter the pervasive and racist narrative of Red October that sees violence as the product of only black men, when it is a systemic scourge that affects all South Africans – and is perpetrated by all South Africans. Please submit your story to michelle at journoactivist dot com. All submissions will be published anonymously unless the author specifies otherwise. 

The most horrific and violent things that happened to both me and my family were not perpetrated by the anonymous black stranger, not by anyone impoverished or convicted of criminal acts, but by people we knew. Our friends, our family. People who also happened to be white.whitesagainstwhiteviolence

My mother was molested by three of her male cousins when she was young. Her mother did not believe her when she told her what had happened, and punished her for telling lies by having her father whip her with a sjambok. She and her sister were physically abused by both parents until they left home. The parents were white, extremely religious, well-educated, and well-respected in the community.

My father was badly beaten up walking home one day. His attackers were a group of friends from his high school who believed he was a sympathizer of the ANC and a communist, because he had attended a rally. They were all white, and had known him his whole life.

My brother is schizophrenic. Last year (he was 26), after a heated argument with my cousin, he attacked her with a knife, stabbing her five times. It was the most violent thing I have ever seen, or happen in my presence. She needed over thirty stitches. My brother is white. So is my cousin. She is still afraid of him.

I stayed at a male friend’s house during the last December holidays, with a bunch of other friends. I woke up in my sleeping bag one night to find him standing over me, with two of his friends, all mostly nude. They asked if I would have sex with them, that they would take turns, and that it would be fun. They said I must have been keen for it because I was sleeping apart from the other girls (I sometimes sleep-talk and prefer to be alone at night.) I said no. The friend closest to me moved forward, hands out. I flinched back, scrambled over the couch and ran to his mother’s room – I was so panicked I can’t say if he was following me or not. I pretended I was upset over a nightmare (almost true) and we talked for a couple hours. When I returned to my sleeping bag, there was no sign of the boys. I nevertheless fell asleep holding my pocket-knife. I never thought I’d have to be afraid of my friends. All of them are white. They still pretend like nothing happened.

This year (I am a Rhodes student), I have been manhandled by several men when things got heated during a hook-up, but I refused to go back to their places. I have been pushed against walls hard enough to bruise, slapped once and shoved hard enough to make me fall and sprain my wrist. It was not ok. I am never going to see these men again, and have warned every friend of mine against getting involved with them. They, incidentally, are white.

None of what I’ve said compares to the violence that is perpetrated every minute against other women and children, every day, in this country, who were born into far less privilege than I was. I am white, after all.

People hurt people. And men hurt women, often. The idea that crimes are solely or mostly black-perpetrated is not only incorrect and offensive to black people, but offensive to all those who have experienced violence at the hands of white men, and all other races.

Steve Hofmeyer should talk to a few of his Red October marchers, or anyone else in his “tribe”. Men and women. I am sure they have stories like mine to tell, but whether they would admit them, who knows. People have a way of omitting facts and memories that do not correlate with their views of the world.

Is it so easy to forget about Johan Kotze, the “Modimolle “Monster”, and what happened to Ina Bonnette?

I guess her story is a too inconvenient to remember.

 

Tagged as: , , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. This comment was submitted to me by the author of the above post:

    The comments that are a response to my story do not surprise me much. I am aware that black people perpetrate violence (as do Indian people, Coloured people, blind people, women, men, people who like The Beatles, and yes, white people.) I am also aware that many would rather not accept that I am aware of this.
    However.
    The accusation that I am discriminating against the mentally ill was unexpected. Here is what I’d like to say in response to it, in numbered form, for those who have trouble with more complex reading.

    1. Saying what actually happened, the truth, is not discriminatory. If I had called my brother “crazy” or “violent”, it would be. I did not. It happened, and I relayed it to try and change people’s idea of what violence/crime is. Particularly, who does it.

    2. I did not say that all schizophrenics or those who suffer from a mental illness are violent. I would never say that, because it is a sweeping and incorrect generalization. But many are saying something quite similar in regards to black people. Ho hum.

    3. I love my brother. I do not blame him for his illness, nor do I believe that his action was his fault. As his sister and fellow sufferer, I actually do have a fairly good idea of mental illness and the stigma surrounding it. I fight it every day.

    4. The whole point of relaying what happened was not to portay him in a bad light. It was to emphasise that people (yes, even white people, white family members) are violent for a number of reasons. My grandparents were violent because they believed it was discipline; my father’s friends, because they disagreed with his views. My friends almost were violent with me because they were conditioned to believe it was ok. And men have been violent with me because they wanted power. Crime happens every day for many reasons, as many as there are crimes.
    My brother was violent towards my cousin, dangerously so, because of his illness. That doesn’t change the fact that he was violent, and what happened was a crime. I still love him, and so does she. Life is complicated like that.

    5. I suffer from depression, and will battle with it my whole life. I’ve been through the stigma, the ignorance, the isolation, the doctors and pills. In future, do not throw accusations around before you understand context. And don’t recommend I “go get help”, either – focusing on these events’ impact on me, or just me, is merely another way of distracting from the bigger issue. Namely, that people commit crime, and to think that only black people do so is wrong.

    I am glad that a discussion was provoked as a result of what I’ve said, despite my objections to what some have said. I hope you are all well, and wish you the best.

    Like

  2. Twelve Ways to Deny Genocide
    Israel Charny outlines the tactics of denial in “Templates for Gross Denial of a Known Genocide: A Manual,” in The Encyclopaedia of Genocide, volume 1, page 168.

    1. Question and minimize the statistics.
    2. Attack the motivations of the truth-tellers.
    3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent,
    4. Emphasize the strangeness of the victims.
    5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict,
    6. Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings,
    7. Avoid antagonizing the genocidists, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
    8. Justify denial in favour of current economic interests.
    9. Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment,
    10. Claim that what is going on doesn’t fit the definition of genocide.
    11. Blame the victims.
    12. Say that peace and reconciliation are more important than blaming people for genocide,

    Like

    • What exactly are you contributing here? Are you denying that whites commit violence? Are you suggesting that this author’s experience of white violence is less important than other whites’ experiences of black violence?

      I can also play Genocide Bingo – simply because those points are raised in the interrogation of claims of a “white genocide” doesn’t mean it’s actually happening. Also, do you only take exception to ‘black violence’, or are you just as concerned about white violence against whites? And what about white violence against black people?

      Oh, and regarding your list, I can do that, too. Here’s how to be a rape apologist:

      Step 1: Frame an effort to curb rampant sexual assault in the military as a “war on men”

      Step 2: Call sexual assault “sexual recklessness,” and imply that women (also “sexually reckless”) ask to be assaulted

      Step 3: Use the word “histrionic” whenever possible, but particularly when minimizing the experiences of rape survivors

      Step 4: Imply that prosecuting rape boils down to a “he said-she said” dispute (though what “he said” is usually right)

      Step 5: Explain that the perpetrator has been punished enough, and disregard what happened to his or her victim

      Steve Hofmeyr managed to flag most of these in just a couple of tweets. It was rather impressive!

      Like

  3. [Mod note: This comment had so many delicious fallacies in it, I thought I would reply in-text. Enjoy! – Mish]

    Wow, yes, because whites in South Africa regularly gangrape and torture people to death in front of their families, before murdering them.

    ]Perhaps you need a refresher on colonial history:
    British government admitted publicly for the first time today that Kenyans were
    tortured and sexually abused by colonial forces during the Mau Mau uprising.
    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2169002?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102763521407
    But we needn’t go so far back. See: Apartheid.]

    You create a strawman argument that because some people commit crime, we can ignore facts?
    Fact: South Africa has the highest rape incidence in the world. [Actually, this is false. The DRC is the rape capital of the world.]

    If this followed your strawman argument regarding race, it would follow that at least 10% of rapists are white. Sorry to say but the actual facts point out something different. [Since you’ve already gotten one fact wrong, could you please provide evidence to support this ‘fact’? Also, I think you need a refresher on the meaning of a ‘strawman’ argument.]

    Any culture that teaches its people that having sex with a virgin will cure an STD is not only condoning, but facilitating and enabling a rape culture. [And what about a culture that sees rape of its own as “average”, as Steve Hofmeyr so eloquently put it? Furthermore, this myth is only prevalent in extremely poor rural communities – where white people by and large don’t reside. Do you believe all black South Africans believe in the virgin cure myth? Do you have evidence upon which you base this assumption?]

    And before anyone responds oh you racist, it has nothing to do with race. [It has everything to with race when you ascribe one particular belief to millions of people.] What it does have to do with is culture, and some cultures unfortunately carry out misogynistic, anti-human beliefs. [And white people don’t do this? Why then have studies shown that white women are most likely to report physical violence at home?] Being born into that culture, raised in that culture and acting within the constricts of that culture is what causes this, NOT race.

    But please, keep telling us how the disproportionate percentage of crimes in SA are not committed by black people, or the fact that because some white people also commit crimes it is okay for black people to do the same. [Now that’s a strawman. I did not argue such. Obviously most crime is perpetrated by black people, because they make up over 85% of the population, and are also the worst affected by poverty. No crime is acceptable, and neither is the minimisation of white violence. Which is what you’re doing.]

    You need to get your head out of your behind and realise it has VERY LITTLE to do with race and EVERYTHING to do with how you are raised, parentally, socially and culturally. [So, white men are raised to beat their partners, judging from the relevant data?]

    What is truly ironic [no, it’s not ‘ironic’ – look it up] is that there are several respected international news groups [like?] that have started labelling what is happening to Afrikaners in South Africa as a genocide, yet there is no diatribe against that from you. [I am concerned with the minimisation of white violence. So, your point?]

    Again, in case you missed it, I don’t live in South Africa any mroe because of crime. because a friend of mine was gangraped by 8 men in her house, all black. Because another friend was hijacked, shot and died, again by black men. That a colleague’s business was invaded by black men, everyone held hostage, and only the white people beaten. [I am truly sorry that this happened, but statistically, this is a highly likely and probable result, and therefore insignificant. Black people make up 85% of the country and are the most disenfranchised. Simple arithmetic and logic makes it likely that crime will more often be perpetrated by black people over other, much smaller racial groups.]

    Get your fat head out of your arse and see the truth. Yes white people also commit violence. Yes white people also commit crimes. However very few of those people commit crimes that match the UN prerequisites for racial genocidal violence. [A basic course in stats and maths should help you with that. And many, MANY more black people are affected by crime than white people are. There is no genocide. It is violent crime the country over.]

    [Perhaps consider doing some research before you visit next time? – Mish]

    Like