Tuesday, September 06, 2005

To My New Pen Pal from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

I'VE GOTTEN MY FIRST, shall I say, disagreeable response to a blog posting. Before I respond to it and taint your opinion, I'll just provide the facts:

Here's my post from 31 January 2005.

And following is the not so agreeable response:



I find it amazing meeting some Americans in South Africa. I never imagined that there could be people so opinionated regarding subjects on which they have very little real cultural knowledge. I am a South African living in Pietermaritzburg, and the depth of the issues of which you speak is way beyond your comprehension, as a tourist, which is what you are. You are American, not African, as much as I, as a white person, born in this country, am not British. I am an African, and I resent your ignorant opinions regarding a country which is not your home. Stop chasing your roots, and enjoy being what you are, which is what you know, obviously.

DearAnonymousSouthAfricanTooChickenToEvenPostYourNameWhen-
You'reSixOrSevenTimeZonesAwayOntheOtherSideOfTheWorld:

I should first point out that this posting was a part of a DIALOGUE. Say it together now, DIA-LOGUE. Ever had one? That is, a two-way communication which involves speaking and LISTENING. LIS- TEN- ING? You know, that thing that some White South Africans (perhaps like yourself?) refused to do with Bantus for over 40 years under apartheid? But what do I know. I'm an ignorant American.

Back to this dialogue thing. The post to which you responded was part of DIALOGUE I was having with another South African. It was my attempt at addressing my lack of knowledge, an attempt at gaining understanding. As a matter of fact, there were 7 total correspondences with that South African, Vonani Bila. Did you read those? Or are those dialogues invalid because they were with a BLACK South African. I imagine Vonani is as ignorant as I am - that neither of us knows the story. So, why don't you tell his-story for us? But isn't that what you did for 40 years under apartheid? (And continue to do with revisionist textbooks?)

But this is not about apartheid. Apartheid is over. Whites peacefully relented to democratic elections and now South Africa is the model of social equality.

...

...

...


This is about me and my roots. Which, according to you, have nothing to do with Africa. Have you ever visited the States? Have you ever lived with a Black American family? Have you seen the pictures of the impoverished hurricane victims in the Superdome in New Orleans? If you can't see the similarities between the systems - if you can't see the similarities between the peoples on both sides of the waters, then you are as blind as you are ignorant.

In searching for (not chasing) my roots - which is a lifelong journey - I found that not everything was there in South Africa, but something was there. You might be surprised to find that I also found a strong kinship with several White South Africans. You might be even more surprised at how much you and I might have in common as minorities in a White-Black dynamic.

And furthermore, I'm quite comfortable with who I am, which is why I am comfortable posting my thoughts without the cloak of anonymity, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.

And even further more, how can you resent that I have opinions about my experience? Who better to have an experience than someone who actually has visited your country? And especially when I presented my opinions alongside someone actually from your country? I would say that this speaks more to my objectivity than bias.

And to further demonstrate my objectivity, I am inviting you, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, to challenge/correct me on any ideas which you find resentful. In fact, I encourage it because I am not interested in defending myself, but rather in growth.

I am comfortable with myself, yet I am also uncomfortable in my ignorance. So, if you happen back to this site, articulate your side. I'm open. Human to human. I'd love to hear. I'd love to grow.

3 comments:

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