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In South Africa — and, I imagine, in many other places in the world — black people’s intentions and competence are constantly questioned, whether it be when simply walking into a supermarket or shaking the hand of their patient for the first time.

Forced to play by rules and standards that say that dark skin and nappy hair and black bare feet are equal to poor, to uneducated, to dangerous, then the first line of defense is to present an unquestionable appearance.

Seriously, let’s just get down this mountain or I don’t know what I’m going to do. To quote a protest banner I’ve seen circulating on the internet, “Privilege is when you think something isn’t a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.” What became so painfully obvious to Irene and I that day on the side of Table Mountain was that most white people in South Africa don’t get angry about black murders the way they do about white murders. It’s not their community, therefore not their problem? As writer Sisonke Msimang puts it, “We need not use our imaginations to envisage violence against blacks of any social standing: We have already seen it happen.” Either way, there is an empathy gap where color and class are involved.

Don’t they realize people get murdered every single day in the townships? In 2016, roughly 51 people were killed every day of the year. Despite being a majority black country, law enforcement and the national news seem to follow suit.

Is it not strange that, as a queer white woman, I feel safer being gay in Cape Town than I have in any other city I’ve lived in, but my black queer sisters are victims of corrective rape and murder on a regular basis? Wherever the white body is violated in the world, severe retribution follows somehow for the perpetrators if they are non-white, regardless of the social status of the white body.” “The global sanctity of the white body” is why, when black South African miners protest to ask for more money, 34 of them are killed at the hands of police, but when white people block freeways in Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town waving old apartheid flags to protest farm murders as part of #Black Monday, the police merely “monitor” the situation.

Sisonke Msimang writes, “It is impossible for me to picture this government authorising police to shoot at a crowd of white protesters.

” What follows is a quick succession of questions: “Really? White privilege in Cape Town manifests in much the same ways as it does anywhere else in the world, but it’s particularly painful to witness and uncomfortable to experience in a country and region with such deep racial wounds.

When I have to tell them I finished high school and went to university in France before coming to Cape Town. When it becomes painfully obvious that, while we’ve both lost our home to the same political and economic unrest, I was dealt the better hand — I was born white – and that is why I am being driven and they are driving.

I repeat the license plate’s digits over and over in my head, scanning the passing cars to find a match until finally, my Uber driver pulls up beside me. “Hi, I’m Jo.” When I first started taking Ubers in Cape Town, I made a point of always sitting in the front seat next to the driver. The brutal event sparked outrage and thousands gathered in a silent vigil to mourn her death.Alfred had merely stopped to change the song on his i Phone before continuing his jog. This is not what I ordered.” “Which one did you order? There is an insistence on public humiliation, an obvious commitment to playing dumb, a seething frustration below the surface that far surpasses the matter at hand.I could just picture the old white woman peering down from her balcony that had made the indignant call. ” “This one,” she says tapping the glass display cabinet vigorously, “This one! In fact, the conflict really begins long before the interaction.I had come to believe it was an unfortunate but unavoidable part of city living.And yet, I haven’t experienced bad body odor once since getting a My Citi bus card or riding the trains here in Cape Town.

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