White Supremacist Attitudes Still Very Much Alive In South African Sport By Cheryl Roberts

20 May

IMG_9682Get this! That was just the tip of the iceberg when a one time world class black South African international rugby player and now a rugby commentator, Ashwin Willemse told white rugby commentators, on a live broadcast show, in South Africa that he had enough of them and their whiteness.

This whiteness is about their white privilege, their belief that white supremacy reigns, that ‘whites are excellence’, that blacks must learn from this white excellence. As Ashwin Willemse told them about patronising him; that’s how they exist in SA sport. It’s about patronising blacks, black thinking and black performance and black achievement.

This white supremacist attitude and thinking is real in SA sport. SA sport media, has for a long time, been the chief proponent of white excellence in SA sport. It seemingly goes unchallenged because blacks in sport have not spoken out as a force against it, despite there being much unhappiness about this white supremacist control.

This is how it works: blacks are always seen as development players, especially in men’s rugby and cricket and women’s netball and hockey. Black coaches in these sports have to struggle white supremacist favouritism to get acknowledgement. It’s as if blacks just can’t be elite national and international coaches. This terrain in sport is reserved for ‘white excellence’; but through some pressure and questioning, some sports have seen they can’t be holding up white privilege and white excellence all the time, so they have ‘recognised’ blacks as coaches.

This is what we have had to deal with, throughout apartheid years and now in the democratic, unified  era of post-apartheid sport in South Africa. It’s the white supremacist gaze and lens and thinking that ‘white is merit and excellence’ and all those not white are ‘non excellent because they not white’. When I write here about white supremacist thinking, I refer to this as a group thing and do know that ‘not all whites in SA sport have this mindset’. But the most of white people in sport still have this belief about white excellence and white merit, be it on the field of play, in the media, at awards events, and especially national and international representation.

This white supremacist, white excellence thinking is deep-rooted and South African sport has not made much inroads in shutting out this attitude, inherited from decades of white supremacy rule and oppression of blacks in South Africa.

Just because a black rugby commentator has now openly surfaced this white behaviour, doesn’t mean it’s the only indication of such.  White supremacist thinking, flowing out of their white privilege, is all around in SA sport. Look at how we still have white-dominated sports teams in netball and hockey! Look at how black African players were ignored and marginalised when it came to playing for South Africa in sports such as men’s cricket and rugby And look at how black players (all those not white) are referred to negatively as ‘quota’ players, as if they don’t make the selection grade and are brought in just to add some colour.

The two apartheid era rugby players, now turned commentators, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett are not the only people of their kind. There are many more like them! Look at Pat Symcox, Darryl Cullinan, Barry Richards and Clive Rice (who went to his grave believing in white supremacy in sport). They all have this thinking about ‘excellence equals being white’. These apartheid era supporters and beneficiaries don’t want to know that blacks not only played sport with little and minimal resources during the horrendous years of oppression, but that blacks also achieved highly in sport. They just refuse to get it into their thick, thick heads of what is the reality of the South African sports paradigm.

Those leading sport in South Africa  are to blame for the existence of white supremacist thinking. Leadership, black and white officialdom, doesn’t question white privilege in sport and white dominated sports teams. They allow this to happen! That’s why whites still dominate most sports in South Africa. It’s because they have the resources, the money and they push white supremacy. Yes, white officialdom in sport will quickly disagree with me here but I will quickly hit back and say: ‘look at your sport and see who dominates’.

We can’t be silent about white supremacy, privilege, white sports teams in South African sport. It exists! We must challenge and smash white controlling attitudes and thinking that believe blacks in sport are inferior 2 their perceived ‘white excellence in sport’.

Only if @SuperSportTV management, those responsible for content and media decision-making understand the horrendous white supremacy and white privilege attitudes, will they be able to understand what black rugby commentator #AshwinWillemse is raging about and shouting down.

And Black people must stop being coconuts in South African sport! Stop accepting white privilege and white supremacy. Stop being silent when you get a position. Understand critically what transformation/de-colonisation of sport entails. Question white-dominated sport, teams, coaches.

White supremacist thinking and commentary must not allowed to thrive and exist in SA sport. It must be eliminated across the SA sport paradigm. It’s unhealthy!

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