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Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Brendan Love


I am astounded.

Perhaps some of my black friends can shed some light on this matter but I really have never discussed the topic with any of them.

I suppose the truth is that everyone has a role model, or compares themselves to others, in some way.

If one takes the example of industry, South African companies in the retail food grocers sector look to the United States (Walmart et al), fashion houses to France. This applies to individuals too.

I think it is a massive generalisation to say 'black people still use whites as the benchmark of quality and efficiency' but that's my opinion.

Agree on round table discussion.


Really interesting can of worms you’ve opened up here Clive, but I have to say I agree with him. Before you get all riled up, listen to what I have to say. For me there’s a slight disconnect in what you’ve said about this. When you tweeted it, what it sounded like to me was that he had been advocating this reality/fact as something positive, that white people should be held up as an example to black people. But, judging from your blog, it doesn’t sound like that’s what he was saying at all. Rather it seems that he was stating an opinion, that black people see whites as an example, not saying it was right, but stating it nonetheless. If this in fact was the case, then yes, I would agree. It is very true, generally black people (particularly older blacks) still hold white people in higher esteem than they do black people. However, I will repeat, if he was saying that this is something ‘good’ or something ‘to be continued’ THERE, I would strenuously disagree.

Clive Simpkins

@Brendan - quite a startle, as for you. @Mvelase has given it an interesting twist. And maybe that's what Louis Itumeleng Seeco was driving at. Yet when Zandile specifically raised the issue of *young* black people not buying into that script, he didn't concede. Interesting.

Itumeleng Malatsi

Sad but true..."Tumi" sees the generalization!!!

For black people; young and old alike; see white people with their comfortable lives...they see whites having breakfast in Morningside on a Sunday morning whilst the help hops into a taxi to the townships or her next "piece job"; they see black-diamonds NOT as hard workers but as "tenderepreneurs" and tacky vulgar opportunists not willing to lend a hand to a struggling brother.

In fact many moons ago my father;an ambitious little darkie; used to take me mother to watch Bond movies and vow to have a house with a lavish bathroom and plenty of foam...goal achieved; the man uses half a bottle of bath foam when taking a bath! My point is this...it happened in apartheid and it still happens now.

Black people barely see their own kind as inventors or orators or philosophers...we tend to see each other as hustlers or thugs (not necessarily the Jay-Z's of the world...more Jub Jub) or some lucky black.

Like I said...sad but true

Anil Salick

Hi Clive

I am not surprised by Louis's comments. In fact, I agree with him in part. I think 'black' would possibly refer to all non-whites/ Caucasians (Indians and coloureds in a SA context). Louis's generalisation is fair and not far fetched. It does not mean that there are no exceptions to this perception.

I would add that it is not only because of "advertising, marketing and media 'conditioning' (and also self-esteem issues)" that "black people still rated white trends, opinions and skills very highly." but also because of culture and genetics (whites seem more trusting, smarter and admirable). Researchers and psychologists may have data on observable facts/ perceptions (by kids and grown ups; kids especially)

Capitalist Nigger illustrates key points (rather repetitively) of this mentality among blacks in the diaspora.

I have a huge hassle with such perceptions if 'blacks' cannot change and initiate solutions.(The problem is not 'out there' but in our minds) Fortunately, I am an optimist and believe that people can change in spite of nature and nurture. It's called 'choice':-)

Clive Simpkins

Anil, I'm truly gobsmacked. I feel as if I've been living in another country of my mind. Had *no* idea that Louis Itumeleng Seeco's thesis held/might hold water, which is why it so shocked me. If this is indeed the case, there's a need for coaches, trainers and facilitators like your good self to create or expand products that address this issue. Because it's at the very core of an individual's ability to function to optimum effectiveness. I also think this would make for an interesting series of radio discussions to get a wide variety of perspectives. Something within me feels profoundly sad about it.

Anil Salick

I think most people live inauthentic lives - 'I should, I ought, I must' trying to comply with the standards of outside institutions, individuals and groups. Most people evaluate their self worth against this. There has to be a solution to the problem, and it starts inside us.
What you have introduced in this dialogue is an angle I would like to include in the book I am working on.

Interesting inputs from all!

Clive Simpkins

Anil, I've e-mailed Louis Itumeleng Seeco and given him the blog URL in the hope that he'll add some value to the discussion. Might be worth chatting with him or interviewing him for your book? There's a stand-alone book on just this topic of Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Perceptions, Behaviour and self-esteem.

Keenan Harduth

What an exciting topic!

I like, Itumeleng, Anil and Mvelase have to agree with Louis' observation/statement/truth.

I am a youth of Indian/coloured descent and I have (Somewhat regrettably) held "the whiteman's" dreams, aspirations and even trends as my own, and more importantly as the benchmark for my own.
In highschool the "blacks" (non whites in general) would straighten their hair, get weaves & highlights to mimic what was not natural to them, but was natural to white kids. Girls would obssesively try to get lighter skin. Guys would dress more like the popular white kids than Black "rolemodels" or celebs.
My Grandmother will ask the black repairman where his white supervisor is (bless her soul, she's 83)- but lets face it, historically, white people were more educated, more conencted to the rest of the world and WERE the benchmark in many aspects of life.

Black youths hoiliday in Plett and Mozambique and Umhlanga and Camps Bay like the white kids, and not in the "homelands". They party in Rivonia for Student Night and not at shebeens like their parents were forced to.
The attitude is to move on from apartheid - in every way possible

In the words of Tumi...Sad but true


Hi Keenan! Thank you, for the insights provided. I have learnt some interesting points from your comment. I think that we need to allow decent and respectful points of views (even those different to ours) so that we can all be enlightened and grow. Cultural differences provide us with an immense opportunity to be empowered and build a more harmonious South African community.


Clive i am likewise astounded that you, who i hold to be a knowledgeable and aware person, could be ignorant of the truths Itumeleng expresses.

The inferiority complex is so deeply ingrained, and this has a series of knock-down effects. In terms of SA being the best country we can be, it is a hindrance to well-lubricated, more genuine social relations across racial divides.

The cause? "Internalisation of the oppressor's vision", to quote another.

The Black Consciousness Movement played an incredibly important role in psychological liberation.

Much of what was written by Biko under the Black Consciousness themes is radical- it is extreme and racist. It goes too far. The highest value of Biko's Black Consciousness does not lie in a literal interpretation. The value of BC lies in the psychological liberations brought about through the *process* of contemplating BC philosophies and approaches.

It is too bad that the reach of BC was so limited, that it wasn't more widespread for its time.

There is a dire need in SA for psychological liberation from the oppressor's vision. (The implications of such for the crime situation in South Africa alone make my head spin.)

This is one of South Africa's root problems... which is why I say I am surprised by your surprise. No offence intended of course.

(Mamphela Ramphele's book "A Life"- the chapters on BCM really brought home to my understanding the role and value of the black consciousness as a process).

Clive Simpkins

Debbie, when God dished out Omniscience, I clearly stood in the wrong line. ;-) Had I been an expert on black inferiority issues I guess I wouldn't have written the post. That said, it clearly remains a guilt-concealed issue that is to the detriment of future black generations if not corrected. Being the co-rearer of a black four year old child and a black seven year old child - it concerns me deeply.


My apologies for my arrogance.

Clive Simpkins

It's OK Debbie. Another 3 Prozac helped me pull through. ;-)


Wow Debbie! Your comment has taught me that baseless assumptions can lead to ignorance and generalisation. When I read through your comment, I immediately concluded that you are a black sister from Soweto, writing from experience. I was surprised when I went to your twitter page and realised that you are a white sister. I would appreciate an opportunity to engage with you on the subject to see if this "self-imprisonment" can be overcome, if at all. But you have given me hope, thank you...


Are you trying to say that i am wrong, louis?


Not at all. You made great points...


Oh louis, i see, you were just tying to be funny.


Ha ha ha ha ha !!! Enjoy the long weekend...

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