Opinion: Helen’s type of white is dangerous for South Africa

Aneesa Fazel

Helen Zille’s tweet on Friday about #BlackPrivilege caused a roar on Twitter – and it was indeed fun to watch. Every now and then, Helen rears her carefully wrapped white privilege sentiments in a shroud of supposed South African-ness, then disappears into the unknown until another opportunity to outwit the masses arises.

Ultimately, she has fooled South Africans – Black, White, Indian and Coloured – many a times.

It would be righteous to assume that Helen, through her obnoxious tweets, is only attempting to rid the country of racialism in all forms, and by doing so incorporate the white minority into the racial mixture of South Africa. There are problems with this assumption, though.

Helen does not speak for all white people in South Africa. Many white South Africans were not born into Apartheid and yet still acknowledge the privilege they carry – something they did not ask for. Some of them shoulder immense ‘white guilt’, recognizing the wrongs of their race in South Africa’s history and try to make amends by genuinely involving themselves in nation building.

Sadly, Helen’s sour comments have the worst impact on South African whites – every time her racism rears its ugly head on social media, it is they who face the effects of her words. She does not have the best interests of white South Africans at heart. In fact, she plays against their interests.


It cannot be denied that, behind the Twitter handles and fiery comments on social media, relationships between South Africans of all races have been built.

Would it be wrong to say that millions work alongside white people across the country daily, and there are genuine friendships, marriages and business partnerships that exist across racial lines?

As bitter a statement as it is to make, it must be acknowledged that all races in South Africa have reservations about one another.

And that’s okay.

Unlike most countries worldwide, South Africans only had the past 25 years to begin living, working, marrying and making money with each other. Considering the country’s history, that’s quite a success over this short period of time.

To assume that being skeptical or having reservations about each other is racist, would be false, but to make those reservations public and one-sided like Helen does – well, that stirs anger and divisions. It fuels a premature fire. More importantly, it shows a lack of maturity and understanding of the society in which we live.

South Africa is a young nation, it needs more time to heal – and it will.

See, Helen represents a certain kind of white privilege that must be properly examined and understood if we are to stop being fooled.

Helen’s type of white has and continues to cause wars in our world. Her type of white has divided and conquered, and if it wasn’t doing that, it was using the conquered as proxies to win wars among themselves.

Helen’s type of white publicly denounces the power of one race over another, but secretly funds terrorist and guerrilla groups in non-white nations to keep them divided.

Her type of white invests in global charities to save the poor in economically-stricken countries, but back home it makes sure those same poor people live on food stamps and state welfare, because it’s better to have them down there than sharing the wealth.

Her type of white is the Trumps, Netanyahus, Macrons and Australias of this world.

In fact, they do it so well that they’ve convinced the world that Apartheid will never happen again, and as soon as the guard was let down – Israel (Helen’s type of white) ripped Palestine from underneath the Christian and Muslim Arabs, and then called them terrorists when they tried to defend themselves.

Closer to home, they fooled the DRC into believing that colonialism was over. They went home. Then came back with smiles and drills, offering to help DRC unearth their riches. They never left.

Never trust Helen’s type of white.

Indeed, it seems almost nauseating to explain why black privilege is simply not a term that is proper to be used, especially by a political and public figure. However, for the ignorance of Helen’s type of white, here are a few reasons:

  1. Black people have not experienced power for even a quarter of the time whites have in the history of the world.
  2. No other race has been more physically, mentally and emotionally ill-treated than black people have.
  3. White Americans make up the majority in their country and the black minority are economically deprived. Black people in South Africa make up the majority in their country and the white minority are economically more privileged – Go figure.

Helen does not know black privilege. If black privilege were to indeed take effect, it would inspire a global revolution. It will erupt as a domino effect. Not only would the African continent wear the privilege chip on its shoulder, but the black diaspora and the many many many non-white nations who have tasted the wrath of Helen’s type of white privilege will follow suit and join the revolution.

In hindsight, maybe Helen’s type of white does know black privilege, and hence fears it. 

Helen’s type of white wants South African white people to feel hopeless and attacked. To feel that their efforts to contribute to nation building are fruitless and so they should take their skills and leave the country.

Helen’s type of white perpetuates the white privilege hashtags and the Twitter handles that exist purely to defend whiteness from a South African civil war that only Helen’s type of white dreams of.

We don’t need that type of white – or Black, Indian, Coloured – yet Helen perpetuates it.

If Apartheid were a person, it would be basking in pride for having so successfully accomplished its second goal: to psychologically chain the masses.


More than a certain type of white, Helen is power hungry and uses her skillful tactics to mentally bind anger and divisions. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Helen, she will not go down in history as a nation builder.

Helen is in her second phase of power; the backseat. That’s where the puppet master pulls her strings best. Do not be fooled that Helen has no weight, that’s exactly what her type of white wants people to think.

Beware. Helen is dangerous for South Africa.

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