I really wanted to have this writing put in black and white. By staying in South africa I became aware of something and it might be shocking for many, but I am white.
The song I used to listen to most on cassette tapes was the song Black & White by Micheal Jackson. I always found one sentence of the song extremely powerful, which is:
I’m not gonna spend my life being a colour
I haven’t been that for 30 years, a colour, to my own feeling then. For me, white is not a colour, it does not mean anything that I am white. It certainly doesn’t give me any status at all. Not positive, not negative. This colourless vision was created because I grew up blank. Our family has an enormous openness where everything is discussed with each other. But you don’t talk to each other about what it means to be white. Why would you? It’s not something we are confronted with in our daily lives or have the direct awareness about. Although I did grow up with other cultures and colours around me from an early age. I played football at SV Raalte, a huge multicultural club. I have welcomed Jarah, Jonathan and Christiaan on Schiphol Airport. Children who were adopted by friends of my parents from Colombia and with whom I grew up at the same age. I was (and still am) a friens with Zhen-je, a Chinese. And in my class I had a Turkish refugee and Usama a refugee from Yemen. I have been a friend of Usama for a long time and have experienced from up close what it is like for a family that has everything well organized and who enjoys wealth to have to flee from their home and country. In which they lose their father and may start in a foreign country insecure and at the bottom, treated as undesirable, treated as colour. In all these examples lies the essence. I see them as the one with a colour, a different colour, a different background and a different culture. The colour palette I know lacks a colour, white. I am therefore very colour-blind
The realisation that I am colour blind comes in South Africa, where I am confronted with the scars and remnants of the apartheid era. We arrive in restaurants where the customers are white and the waiters are dark coloured. We go shopping and the shopping carts are filled by white people, the shelves are filled by dark people. I notice on all kinds of fronts that our white colour stands for wealth. And I am addressed with ‘Goeiemôre boss’, ‘yes boss’ or ‘thanks boss’ in restaurants and on the streets.
Boss from the African word ‘baas’. My hopeful reaction “I’m not your boss”.
Coming clean about colour
It so happens that the documentary ‘White is also a colour‘ has made it a very relevant subject in recent weeks. With the central question: ‘How does being white colour your thinking? It’s time to come clean about colour, I’m white and it also colours my thinking. That is very important to realize, because that way I can contribute to make this world grey. Grey is a beautiful colour!
Gray is the colour of intellect, knowledge, and wisdom. It is perceived as long-lasting, classic, and often as sleek or refined. It is a colour that is dignified, controlled, and carries authority. It’s considered a colour of compromise. Gray is a perfect neutral that lives between the extremes of black and white