By BO Staff Writer
A couple of days ago a video emerged on social media of a burly white man threatening to beat up a black woman at a Spur restaurant in a mall in Johannesburg.
The white man is seen in the video almost overturning a table with black children sitting around it. As this happens, the man, who has now been identified as Nico Viljoen, is lightly stroked by his white girlfriend who seems to not even acknowledge the existence of the black woman, Lebohang Mabuya, being victimised.
In an interview where she narrates what happened, Mabuya says her children were playing in the play area, when they came back complaining that a white girl (Viljoen’s daughter) kept on “terrorising” them. Viljoen’s daughter kept on pinching Mabuya’s little girl, until she told them to leave the play area and sit down.
Children being children, they left the table to go play again, that’s when all hell broke loose. Mabuya says her daughter was slapped by the white girl. When she retaliated – with a harder slap – the white man, who says he had been viewing the incident from a nearby window, intervened. “I asked if he had seen his daughter hitting my child. Then he grabbed my daughter like a chicken and told his daughter to hit her! I stood up and told him that he will never threaten my child. Who the hell did he think he is?” Mabuya reflected after the incident.
Before we get to the actions (or lack there of) of the white women seen in the video, it’s interesting to see how white people reacted when a black (child) retaliated to terror and how race and racial solidarity amongst whites played itself out.
Viljoen, a white man – physical embodiment of white supremacist patriarchal terror – sat and watched when his daughter terrorised a black girl. It is almost as if this was the natural state of things. In the mind of the patriarchal white father figure, the black girl (destined to be a servant of the white girl somehow), was invisble. When his child hit Mabuya’s daughter, it was like she was hitting a wall. When the little black girl – meant to be subservient and docile – retaliated, hitting harder, the order of humanity was disturbed. How does a monster touch an angel? The sanctity of the innocent, pure white girl was slightly distorted, resulting in war.
What started the whole Spur incident, was a little black girl not knowing her place. Reason leaves the room when black people defend themselves!
On to the white women who stood timidly as a black woman was violated by a white man, this has its roots in history. In how white women never objected – or even intervened – when their white husbands, brothers, fathers and friends, raped black women during and after slavery. During aparthied, white women timidly watched the humiliation of black women on a daily, adding on to it when black women worked in their homes as domestic workers. And currently, this humiliation of black women continues, with white women watching on the sidelines with folded arms, as black women wait in long lines every month for R150 to feed their children, calling them lazy and entitled, whilst also the same white women gather in NGO’s to “defend” grant beneficiaries, gaining social currency through the use of the same black women.
You say that ‘not all whites are the same’ or ‘there are some radical white women’? The emergence of a black radical feminist movement around the world nullifies that claim. As many black feminist theorists have noted, the racial antagonism between black and white women makes it impossible for the two groups to work for a common goal. White women – whether conservative, liberal or ‘radical’ – directly benefit from the structure of white supremacy which maintains their economic and social security. The Spur incident happened because a white girl’s (woman’s) body was touched. White women looked on as a white man was willing to “klap” a black woman with her children watching.
There is a willingness with which all white women form racial solidarities with white men, whether socially or organisationally. A solidarity which, even in the face of white male violence, shields white men from culpability. This solidarity is always at the expense of black people. Funded by white males, occasionally, white women also form bloodsucking “solidarities” with black women to humiliate, jail, murder and lynch black men for doing the same transgressions which they protect white men from. The sickening danger of white women, and their ability to use white power for white solidarity and preservation, is most evident here.
Had it been a black man who had threatened a white woman in a similar way, white women’s NGO’s would have been up in arms about the abuse and the man would have been threatened with jail by now. Because it is a white man assaulting a black woman, the true nature of the altercation has now been downplayed – called a misunderstanding between two parents – and it will be forgotten in a few days. Viljoen, who has white power on his side, will find another spot to eat and continue with his life.
The actions of the white women in the video – timid, blase – (one comes to calm down the black women and not the white man) are a crude representation of white women generally. Beneficiaries of a white supremacist structure underpinned by patriarchal violence to maintain the value of whiteness.