I HAVE been asking myself what blacks in this country have done to deserve the respect of whites.

I HAVE been asking myself what blacks in this country have done to deserve the respect of whites.

I ask myself this question trying to understand how we have responded to Jonathan Jansen's pardoning of the four white students at the University of Free State (UFS) who had engaged in racist fun games with black workers.

I think black people are either hypocrites or just plain stupid, because Jansen did nothing that is against what we have been doing since 1994. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is correct to compare Jansen to Nelson Mandela for promoting "reconciliation".

If we are angry with Jansen, how come we were not angry with Madiba who, worse than Jansen, pushed for forgiveness for the whole white society without demanding justice?

This is hypocrisy!

The ruling party itself has issued a statement saying it agrees with Jansens' vision of nonracialism, so when ANC Youth League president Julius Malema says we must leave Jansen alone because he is "one of us", he is simply defending the policy of the ANC alliance regarding racism.

So we must see Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's threats against Jansen as mere politicking and opportunism. The truth is that our democracy has no mechanism to deal with white racism. In fact, the ANC has yet to criminalise racism.

If you are not a hypocrite or blind, South Africa is a racist country. Every day blacks suffer racism from the government, private sector and individual whites.

It's surprising that blacks don't know what racism is and how to fight it, despite having suffered from this scourge for more than 350 years.

Essentially racism is about power, formal and informal. Where does this power come from? In South Africa racism is related to three historical dispossessions black suffered at the hands of whites - the dispossession of land, labour and the black sense of being.

To end the power of racism we have to end the power that comes with material superiority enjoyed by whites as a result of the dispossessions suffered by blacks.

The whole South African sociopolitical and economic reality is based on these dispossessions and the 1994 democracy did not correct this, hence the continuation of racism.

Democracy has legitimised racism. In fact, many government policies are racist against blacks, like the RDP housing schemes, the refusal to give proper education to blacks, a land reform programme that continues to favour whites and facilitate massive black evictions from farms, the fact that blacks are mere workers, blacks don't own or benefit from the mineral riches of this country.

So what gives the four white boys of the UFS power over grown-up black workers is a historically evolved position of power, which wouldn't be changed by "remorse", "repentance" or "restorative justice".

As long as blacks remain a powerless voting majority because our government refuses to correct the historical injustice of dispossession, whites have no business respecting a bunch of servants trapped in poverty, townships and squatter camps, who must beg for jobs from whites to live.

The question remains: what is the basis for the respect that blacks demands from whites? The fiction of ubuntu? Well, ubuntu didn't help blacks against slavery and colonialism. I have no reason to think it's going to help them against white racism. Let's make things easy for whites, let's give them a legitimate reason to respect us.

lThe writer is publisher of New Frank Talk