Let’s be real – Kasi Mlungu is problematic AF

Wouldn’t it be nice if I woke up tomorrow morning and decided from now on I am white? I would be ‘The black white’ and no one would criticise me for not being white enough. Would it be that simple? I don’t think so.

Kasi Mlungu, real name Anita Ronge – a commercial house music DJ, known as DJ DuchAz, who performs mostly in townships – says she can be whatever she wants. She also says she is often criticised for not being black enough. This has made black people angry, and our anger is justified.

If you understand systematic oppression and what it means to be black in South Africa, you would understand why Ronge’s brand is problematic. I say “brand” here because she herself admits what she is portraying is a brand. But why wouldn’t it be simple for me to wake up tomorrow saying I am white?

Because as a black person in South Africa, I cannot choose who I want to be – as Ronge as repeatedly argued she can. In the same breath, she told 702 listeners she does not believe she has white privilege. The contradictions of her statements are appalling, to say the least, and it’s because of this that black people are angry.

If I decided I was white tomorrow, would society treat me as such? Ronge’s assertion that she is attacked for not being black enough is disrespectful because she is not black. What would treating her as black person look like? Do her lived experiences mirror those of black people?

Her idea that she is proudly black is an insult to black people and black liberation. Being a black person is not an outfit or attire white people can wear when they see fit, it’s the hardest thing I myself have ever had to be.

Blackness comes with socio-economic circumstances, which black people cannot escape. If I was to classify myself as a white person, society would never accept this – we have seen this through the continuous criticism of what our society calls “coconuts”. Black people who try to assimilate to whiteness and reject their own culture and background are scrutinised by society.

If this is the case, why do people like Ronge who masquerade blackness get a free pass?

Going through the social media outrage, I came across people who suggested it’s a double standard for black people to be angry at Ronge while they themselves practise western culture. If this is not a denial of the power that colonialism and apartheid had, I don’t know what else it is.

Black people’s assimilation to western – or if you can call it, white – culture is not a double standard, but a means of survival in an inherently anti-black society. If speaking English better than my peers in the rural areas of South Africa can get me a job, why wouldn’t I do my best to learn and speak it as best as I can? If straight hair and light skin have been the only standard of beauty that we have been exposed to from childhood, why wouldn’t I get a weave? Are we going to deny that blackness has been systematically rejected by society just because we want to give a free pass to white people? I say not.

Ronge’s expression of her love for African culture and how she has embraced township culture and feels accepted by Africans is not the issue. The issue is the fact that she uses it to further her career in black spaces and justifies doing so.

Images of Ronge draped in African regalia are also problematic because they are used to give more flavour to her “Kasi Mlungu” persona, which results into a blackface scenario. She also does not learn their real use and incorrectly places garments together. African cultural attires are not fused into one simple attire that can just be paraded. They have deeper meanings to them and are used for different cultural practices and ceremonies.

Ronge admits she didn’t give herself the name “Kasi Mlungu”, yet she embraced it without looking into how problematic it is. This speaks to the ignorance afforded to her by white privilege. She has in fact accepted the label “black person trapped in white skin”. There are no black people trapped in white skin as much as there are no white people trapped in black skin.

This colourblind approach to dealing with racism only seeks to fuel it.

Every time I spell something wrong in English or make a grammatical error, I am corrected as quickly (and condescendingly) as possible; one white person once said to me: “If you are going to use English, rather get it right”. How many times are black people laughed at for speaking and writing English incorrectly? Let alone Afrikaans? Yet, it’s acceptable in South Africa for a white Afrikaans woman to wear African attire incorrectly. Even black people get corrected for wearing their own cultural attires incorrectly but when a white person is corrected, apparently we are being racist. When will this stop?

I have no problem with Ronge being a commercial house DJ, and I think a lot of black people would agree with me on this. I enjoy a fair amount of house music and know of a lot of white DJs – but I have a problem with her suggesting that hanging out with black people and frequenting the townships makes her black and takes away her white privilege.

House music isn’t inherently black. It started in a Chicago club called The Warehouse, opened by DJ Frankie Knuckles. He mixed old disco classics and new Eurobeat pop. House was the first direct descendant of the 70s disco movement, being deeper, more raw, and more designed to make people dance than the poppy nature of disco. Basically, it has no race attached to it. When it came to South Africa, it was the beat that spoke to the black people in kasi. But being a House DJ doesn’t mean you have to be black.

If we want to end racism, we need to be honest about the past and the lingering systematic oppression that carries on in South Africa, despite 23 years of democracy. We cannot erase 55 years of oppression by using a colourblind approach – it erases lived experiences and gives rise to personas like Kasi Mlungu, who only use blackness to further their own careers.

White people have a responsibility in this country, to be honest about their privilege and use it to correct the wrongs of the past.

The rainbow nation idea to our democracy sounded beautiful in the beginning, but it has proven to add more insult to injury than heal the wounds of the past, due to the systematic exclusion from the economy that the majority of black South Africans still have to endure. It’s something we can no longer ignore.

Featured image via Facebook

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13 Comments

  1. Wank Monopoly Capital says

    LOL, maybe people correct you because you are a shit journalist. Your article is riddled with contradictions. It must be nice to be privileged by law when you apply for a ob as a journalist.

    1. Devin says

      People correct her because she gets some things wrong. And she stands corrected. Go get a better rebuttal by the way, this one is pathetic.

    2. Vimbai-Naye Chatitai says

      She’s a “shit journalist”, you say. But you still took your time to read the entire article. Time that is lost from your life for good. And even more of your time to troll. Your life must be very tough living with so much anger.

  2. JC Bunch says

    It’s a shame that the 1St comment on your wonderfully written article is a white supremist. We in Amerikkk has a long on going discussion on this very topic which is more wide spread here. White people uncaring have capitalized off of many things of our Black culture here while not addressing any of their racist privilege that allow them to portray what they have stolen as their own. On twitter, singer Ntsiki Mazwai, has allowed me to express some of our experiences and how this relates to Black women erasure here in Amerikkk. Your article said it all and so much more wonderfully written. Thank you for your words. I believe Black women in Africa and Amerikkk should have more diologues together on this topic.

  3. Stellies Afro Chick says

    Cultural appropriation by definition is “the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture.” The main point for me is that the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate. I think a lot of of people miss this aspect of culture appropriation in their rush to defend it.

    I loved your article, it’s beautifully written and captures most of my thoughts when it comes to Anita and others like her.

  4. Anele says

    Cultural appropriation by definition is “the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture.” The main point for me is that the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate. I think a lot of of people miss this aspect of culture appropriation in their rush to defend it.

    I loved your article, it’s beautifully written and captures most of my thoughts when it comes to Anita and others like her.

  5. Tshavhuyo Mutshena says

    You know you struck a nerve when all anybody can do is insult your intelligence, but don’t let that phase you.
    Just by the way “Wank Monopoly Capital”, your little comment about how she got her job just proved her point, to make it more clearer you’ve just posted your white privilege for all to see and seeing as you do not understand the term…maybe you should google it but i digress Gao well done!

  6. Iain says

    Well, first commemt lends credit to your article. The fact that he or she or it is so worked up by the article’s contents so much that he or she or it has to resort to mentally challenged retorts speaks volumes.

    Dear idiot, white privilege & law aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. Perhaps you require an article expounding these obvious connections?

    On second thought, you’d just resort to this behaviour again. I’d call it childish or barbaric or trash but I fear this would offend children and animals, even garbage would feel insulted to be compared to you.

  7. general overstand says

    Great article! Very insightful. The term we use here in Amerikkka for people like ‘Anita’ is Culture Vulture. They are parasitic individuals.

  8. therealmidnite says

    Ok, I get that… Ronge is white and should therefore act “white” (whatever that may mean). I myself don’t have too much empathy for her, since I’ve never felt much attraction to anything with the word “traditional” attached to it.

  9. Zweli says

    I couldn’t be bothered. Black people need to man up and stop forever being victims.

    We need a backbone and to stand up and define our own cultural narrative, not one that’s a result of being subservient to another.

    This article, as well written as it is, is a non issue with regards to what the black race needs.

  10. Bob says

    I’m fairly sure if you replace Kasi Mlungu with another character and replace the word “race” with “gender”, you will start to ask yourself if people can actually “choose who they want to be” or not.

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