Albie Sachs on whiteness

Albie Sachs on whiteness

The museum in Freedom Park in Pretoria is an incredibly interesting and also under-visited place on the heritage and tourist trail. This photograph of a quotation from Albie Sachs, targeted by National government security forces, although white, for his anti-apartheid politics, condenses in one succinct statement the privilege of whiteness and that it was bestowed on him in spite of his rejection of it. It accompanies one of the museum’s many excellent displays and is come across unexpectedly by turning a corner and going round behind one of the main showcases. It catches the eye and fixes the attention all the more powerfully as a consequence. It really brings home an essential lesson that needs to be learnt, the axiomatic and unthinking privilege that whiteness accords itself – its privilege is not to know that it is privileged or indeed white. When it has systemic force, as in apartheid South Africa, it takes many terrible forms, and also of privileging its white enemies over and above those who are black.

 

Last updated:  20 April 2019


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