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Dear White People In South African Sport – From Cheryl Roberts (Sport And Resistance Lifetime Change Agent/Activist)

15 Jan

You have been so accustomed to privilege, power, oppressing blacks, believing in the myth of  your white superiority and myth of black inferiority that you believe this white privilege is bestowed upon you forever in South African sport; just because you have a white skin.

This superior, yet vastly outdated mindset is that white supremacist attitude, behavior and thinking is inherited and carried down through generations. It precludes you from living humanely and knowing that all people, irrespective of colour, are human and that no one skin colour is above or supreme to another.

I start by telling you this because I want to go on and tell you how you have brought this false sense of white supreme being into South African sport and into the democratic life of post-apartheid South Africa; out of the horrendous apartheid era that you so happily and without criticism, supported and benefitted from.

Despite our telling you that blacks have been playing organised sport for over a century and more in South Africa, you refuse to take this into that head of yours, as authentic information and lived experiences of black people and their sports narratives.

When we remind you of the organisation, advancement and talent of oppressed blacks in the apartheid decades, despite the horrors and atrocities that the apartheid regime subjected oppressed black people, you refuse to acknowledge the oppressed sports narratives, as told to you by those who know them and participated in oppressed sport.

You go on and on about how you were denied chances to play international sport when apartheid South Africa was being boycotted internationally, yet you refuse to admit how apartheid South Africa made, supported, assisted and advanced white people, the minority population group whilst harshly and inhumanely oppressing and exploiting the black majority grouping of people, who are amongst South Africa’s indigenous people.

So, you as white people don’t like to be reminded of the apartheid times when you reigned supreme, fasely believed in your white supremacy and when you were outright racists.

We came into the democratic period of South Africa’s life and you insisted on believing in white supremacy, particularly in sports such as cricket, rugby, hockey, swimming, golf, netball and all the other sports that are white-dominated, supported and controlled.

Abundant talent has always been there, amonst black sports people; not only in the post-apartheid years, but years and decades before.

World class talents existed when blacks were being viciously oppressed. But these talents were not only stifled and unsupported by corporate and white sponsors/businesses who exploited blacks, they were used as change agents to move out of the horrific apartheid system into a democratic period.

I have told you this before in my many writings and talks that black and oppressed people chose to play anti-apartheid sport, chose not to support apartheid sport and agitated and fought for a freedom from apartheid.

We sacrificed our sports lives and sports talent so that all of South Africa and all South Africans, that includes you, too could be given a fair and honest chance to represent South Africa legitimately and as a democratic country, not as a pariagh and boycotted apartheid country. We did not fight for freedom so that only white people could benefit from democratic South Africa! We fought and challenged for all South Africa’s people.

Why do you assume that white privilege must prevail in sports such as cricket, netball, rugby, hockey, swimming and many other sports? Where do you get that false sense of belief that white people are the best sports administrators and officials? And, most importantly, when are you going to discard that mentality which informs you incorrectly and disingenuously that blacks must be perpetually ‘developed’ in sport, stay in development programmes until they retire from competitive sport, while you flourish from international selection and representation?

Why do you never or rarely see or acknowledge the talent and sports prowess of blacks? Why have there been massive dismissals of black talent in rugby, cricket, netball, swimming and hockey? Whenever blacks are selected into national teams and for international representation, they are viewed through your white supremacist lens as being ‘token and quota’ players; this in your white privileged mind meaning ‘players of inferior ability and quality to white players’.

By assuming your white supreme being as being the best in South African sport, you are de-mobilising your ability to understand that white supremacy must be smashed, that it should not exist and that it’s not going to flourish in sport in South Africa.

This doesn’t mean that whites won’t be selected to provincial and national individual seletion and in sports teams! What you must understand and comprehend is that talent exists amongst and within all communities and colours of people. Just because most whites go to better and richer resourced schools and play at elite and well-maintained sports clubs, does not give you a complimentary ticket to claim white supreme representation in sport. So when you say that you are being done in because of ‘the quota policy’, effectively you are admitting to your white supremacist thinking which believes your whiteness is superior and blacks are inferior.

C’mon now. How long you gonna take to eliminate from yourself and your being this attitude and thinking? How much longer you gonna go on with a false sense of your existence? I tell you, you are messing up your mental health. You get all agitated and angry when black selection is dominant and being noticed. You don’t acknowledge this as black talent. Why?

Throughout the past 25 years, we have called for the recognition of black talent, emphasising it existed and should not be easily discarded or ignored. We also didn’t dismiss white sports talent; if whites have the talent, they must be selected.

If blacks dominate the provincial and national netball, football, hockey, rugby and cricket teams it’s because blacks are the majority population and they are showing the most talent; this ahead of white talent.

Get this! Those whites who still hold onto supremacist attitiudes and thinking can go on being disgruntled and talking amongst their white selves. Black sports alent exists and must not be ignored or discarded. White privilege in South African sport must be smashed out of the sports paradigm! Whites either accept this or pack up and go try play outside South Africa.

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the letter ‘Dear White people In South African sport’