Entitlement is a huge problem in South Africa.

i would suggest it is more a problem in the white communities because Apartheid was specifically created with that in mind – the elevation of whiteness and superiority. While white people need to wrestle with their entitlement in different areas, a lot of people of colour are still wrestling with the insecurity and inferiority complexes that systems of stamping them into the mud helped put in place.

One example of entitlement was this comment by Suzanne on my blog yesterday:

It says my comment is awaiting moderation. Well I trust you’ll publish it as one is entitled to their views.

i think i’m not sure that Suzanne knows how a blog works. Of course you’re entitled to your views Suzanne, but when they incorporate sentences that begin, “I’m not racist, but…” [after which anything said can never not be racist] i will enact my right to not publish your comment. You’re welcome to air your views in your own blog or on your own social media. i imagine you would not do that though, because some of the views you tried to express through my blog comments you probably would not want your family and friends and colleagues to be aware of.

i like the simplicity of the cartoon which says so much – the boxes of I WANT and NOT FAIR which sum up a lot of what Entitlement is about.

As a white person i have been conditioned to believe that i deserve a whole lot of things but i don’t feel like people of other races deserve the same things – there is a problem there. 

As a white person i have been conditioned to believe that certain things are not fair – things done to me or withheld from me – but i don’t feel that it’s unfair when those things – and worse – are done to people of colour or kept from them – there is a problem there. 

i think it will be a healthy exercise for each one of us to take some time – maybe sit with a friend or family or group of friends – and list all the things that fit into those categories. Figure out where my entitlement is – i imagine it might be different for different people.

i imagine if most of the people with a similar background and socio-economic status as me sat and drew up a pyramid of basic needs it would differ quite a bit from someone in say a township or a rural area doing the same. i imagine most white people [and others] would have things like car and cellphone on those lists – things i have to have – basic needs – whereas others might be focusing on food and clean water and clothes…

This is a mirror we have to stand in front of if we ever want to move forwards well in the conversation. We could possibly make the conversation a lot more interesting by asking our friends of colour what they see as areas of entitlement in us – Ooh, now there’s a scary challenge – Where do you see me as being entitled?

We can file this in a long list of aspects that South Africans would do well to UNLEARN because it has very much been embedded in us and we need to actively work against it, if it is ever going to go away.

Let me know how that goes… What are your thoughts on entitlement? Do you see any of that in yourself? 

[For the Followup Post i wrote on People digging through your trash and begging at traffic lights, click here]