Dating a white guy in post-apartheid South Africa

You may be wondering why falling in love with a white South African warrants an article. Well a lot is said about black Womxn who date white men, especially in woke spaces. I have decided to say my truth, mainly for myself, and I know my partner will appreciate this.

Race is very important because we live in an anti-black world, but as a South African black Womxn it matters a lot to me. I was born in the 90's. Shortly before 1994 historic national elections where black people stood and voted for their desired leader for the very first time. I am a child of Nelson Mandela's government.  


While our parents tell tales of being born under one of the most overwhelming crimes against humanity, our tales are about the tragedy and trumps of living after that regime. 


The first time I knew being black was a negative was in primary school. My family had to make ends meet and work was far from the small township we lived in so my family took me and my brother to an Afrikaans boarding school that is where I began my school career.


My parents were raised during a time when they were socialised by the system of apartheid to feel less than. And because white South Africans still hold 90% of the wealth of this country, they couldn't miraculously just believe they are not inferior after 1994. I was raised by people who knew apartheid was wrong but still believed they were inferior. Indirectly my parents taught us that whatever is white is better. 


Most of my childhood was spent trying to attain whiteness. From only speaking Afrikaans in primary school, to learning a little bit of Setswana and switching completely to English, to my father, who could not read or write, this was an achievement.


My family was privileged compared to the majority of black people in South Africa. This meant myself and my brother got exposed to white spaces from a very tender age. I spend two years in two townships schools back home during my schooling years, but my father managed to remove me from those schools before I completed grade 12.


It was at this Afrikaans high school in one of the most racist towns in South Africa that I fell in love with a white Afrikaans boy. When I say fell in love, I mean the teenage love affairs, my day dreams would switch between him and Chris Brown weekly.



But Afrikaans kids didn’t mix with black kids. This was 2007, thirteen years after 1994. My parents were not really into politics, they only spoke fondly of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, Mandela was called Tata in our home.


In 2007 I didn’t understand racism nor did I understand how to fight it since I believed it had already been fought, however I knew how it made me feel. 


So when a group of white boys hit me with a rugby ball in the face and laughed at me. I thought I was just being bullied. After laying a complaint and told by the white principal I was exaggerating I believed him. 


I forgave, even when the teachers called me Falatsile instead of Phalaetsile and laughed when I corrected them. Mandela forgave, everyone believed in him and white people loved him. So surely they’ll love me?


I never got close to the white boy I crushed on. I planned to write him a letter or walk up to him and tell him I day dream about our wedding. But I soon realised there was a wall between me and him. 


I could see him from the other side, but I couldn’t go passed that wall, this was the status quo between blacks and whites and this still continues today. Even if I wanted to be their friends. It was impossible, they didn’t see me. Unless they were humiliating me or laughing at me. In their world I didn’t exist. 


I remember one day during assembly just before the principal took the podium, one of the black kids had a scuffle with my crush. I don't know what started it but I remember her asking him, why do you hate me? He aggressively replied, because you are black.


I developed a hatred for white people. I remember sitting in the school hall the next day listening to them pray. I asked myself, what kind of God do these people love? They treat us so badly. What did we do? 


My matric year was the tipping point. I remember being told I look like a maid by one of the guys at the hostel. The same guy used to bring biltong to dinner and give all the white kids. When he came to us blacks he would say, not for you, “Jy is swart”. 


When I got to university it all made sense. The wall was racism. Although I was lectured Black Consciousness by a white European man, I fell in love with Steve Biko's texts myself. I was drawn into them. I loved comprehension in school and I was good at it. So you can imagine being a first year reading Biko's truth, it was like a found gold. 


I didn’t believe the wall could ever be broken down. Even at University white people socialised with white people and blacks with blacks. There were those exceptions but not so much. 


I remember breaking down in class during a video showing how black people were terrorised during apartheid. What hit me hard was the stories of political prisoners and just black people who were thrown off 6, 7 10 story buildings and families were told they jumped. 


I stopped believing in the rainbow nation because black people are still marginalised and white people are still defensive about the fact that apartheid benefitted them.


I started building my own wall, my wall was from anger, anger from generations and generations of trauma.  

I had no reason to trust white people more so a white boyfriend. But the worst was believing they were out of my league. See even though consciousness was activated. I still battled inferiority complex. 


When I met my boyfriend, it had been a long journey for me. I had already graduated from University and became a black radical feminist. I had already befriended many white people by then. I just never believed I could date one. I had even stopped thinking about it. See the personal is political and the political is always personal.


When he contacted me, he was not looking for love and I most definitely was not. I didn’t even think about it because to me, we were from two different worlds. One thing we shared in common was our condemnation of racism. It came from two different views though and unlike me, he could easily just stop speaking or acting against it, as for me, I have to face it each day.


One day we shared voice notes after chatting on social media for a few weeks. I remember being totally turned off by his voice. It wasn’t that his voice sounded horrible, but rather it reminded me that I was actually speaking to a white person. It made me uncomfortable.


I was uncomfortable because of my wall and although my wall was built on valid anger, if I allowed it to continue I was going to miss a great opportunity. It also made me nervous because even though it looked like he was breaking his wall I didn’t know if I could trust that he will continue to and if I want to share that space.


I am an advocate of white people working on themselves and their racism away from black people without us having to do the work and teach them. So for me, to have to date and fall in love with a white person who is working through his issues posed a serious burden.


We established that we liked each other and kept it to ourselves for a few months, for two reasons, 1. We were both wrapping our minds over what we were about to do, and we occupied spaces that severely criticise inter-racial relationships.


One thing I loved about this was the fact that we allowed ourselves to grow into each other without the interference of anything external. I was very careful what I said to my friends and when I said it because I wanted a sound mind.


We fell for each other, we both have an energy we enjoy and my three year old just loves this man so much. I decided then that I would break my wall, but my wall broke for this man, and my wall is still breaking. I found him on a journey, his wall had been breaking for some time, and it continues to break today. This is a choice we have both taken and this affects only us.



What is ironic is that we both believe inter-racial relationships between whites and blacks should not exist, yet we are both rebelling to our own views. This just fuels our love for each other even more.


There is nothing revolutionary about our relationship, it was never meant to be revolutionary. It’s just that, our relationship.


But the honestly there are days where I do not see him as a white person and days where he does not see me as a black person, that just means we do forget our racial identities because to the core we are human beings and race is in the end not absolute.