by Keiryn O’Connor
The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. This is the step that a lot of white people in South Africa have not yet taken. We have a problem that we haven’t admitted to yet: we are racist. We have not defeated the racism that has lived in the minds, hearts and reality of our forefathers and we won’t defeat it until we take a step back and acknowledge that our whiteness has been and will always be the problem.
Sins of the children is the first step of my anti-racist work. Throughout my research I found that many white artists who criticised whiteness did not put themselves under scrutiny; a common theme with white people who believe that they are different from ‘racist white people’. What they fail to see is that there is racism that has been passed down through generations, even if they don’t actively know that (myself included).
With influences from the past and present, this exhibition hopes to encourage a deeper reflection into the direction we are heading towards the future. The acts of the past still have impact in the present, influencing the unspoken effects of whiteness in post-apartheid South Africa. The ways in which we speak, think, look, and behave all continue to reinforce the power that whiteness holds over us.