Jo-Ann Downs: “I have a dream for SA in 2017…”

By Jo-Ann Downs*

I have just read Trevor Noah’s book “Born a Crime” expecting humour and funny anecdotes. Instead I came away far more educated about apartheid, township life, domestic violence and the role that women play in families in South Africa.

This is not a book review although I think it should be mandatory reading for every white South African. It helped me to articulate how I have been feeling about race relations, unity violence and hate speech which has been accentuated in social media particularly.

I dream that white people would really look at how apartheid still affects the majority of our population. I want us to truly think about and speak about the wrongs that continue to drive inequality. I would like us to know in our hearts how “black tax” is holding back another generation of people. I would like to see white people visiting and seeing the deprivation and poverty in rural schools. I want us to understand how white networks, access to books, magazines, internet, general knowledge that surrounds us everyday and see how these things almost by knowledge “osmosis” give us a huge advantage.

Image courtesy of Twitter

Most white homes have one or two people in full-time employment with a liveable wage. Those not employed have some skill which can be sold as a self employed business. Most white homes are supporting 4 to 6 people .

Most black homes are supporting 8 to 10 people on a grant or on minimum wage. In black homes only 12 to 16% of the children have an opportunity for any tertiary education. In white homes 58% of the children have the opportunity to receive tertiary education.

Of course I dream that inequality will reduce and that everyone will have opportunities to improve their lives and make wonderful homes and endless possibilities for their children. I dream of a better education , especially for poor rural people. I dream that racism will not exist and all of our people will be united in one nation. Of course I dream of the rainbow nation. These are all things that will take a long time and are a dream of the future.

I know that this little article will attract outrage and misunderstanding but for right now I dream that white people will understand the occasional bitterness of some black people. I dream that we will understand the enormity of the incredible grace and forgiveness given by the large majority of black people towards us and return the grace we have been gifted with. Patricia Noah epitomises this strength, dignity, belief and grace . She is my hero.

  • Jo-Ann Downs served as an MPL in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature for 18 years representing the ACDP. 
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