Writer and editor Lerato Tshabalala caused a storm of outrage this week after an extract from her book was published stating that she’ll hire ‘blue eyes before black guys’ because ‘the majority of my people are chancers and don’t give a damn about customer service’.

In this extract though, she is bound to offend all race groups:

There are things which, whether you’re a man or a woman, white, black or Indian, you’d like to say but, because you fear death, prison or divorce, you simply never utter.

For instance, when you’re at the cinema and the person sitting in front of you keeps checking his or her cellphone and the flashing blue light ruins your movie-watching experience.

Now, if you’re a middle-aged white guy, you don’t give a shit – you will tell the person to switch off their phone or put it away.

But if you’re a black woman in her 20s, you’re probably going to sit there and not say anything for fear of a heated confrontation in the dark.

But I’m one of those people who believe in complaining and standing up for myself, especially if I’m paying for something. Whether I’m at a restaurant or in a queue at the bank, if I’m not getting the service I deserve, I’ll complain.

I don’t protest at every turn, the way some of my white cadres do, but I do agree with Trevor Noah: you’ve got to know when to let rip. Too much complaining and you start sounding like you’re whining. However, I’m saddened that black people don’t complain.

We’re so worried about causing a scene or being seen as “difficult” that we accept any kind of bullshit, which is a real pity because, when you demand the best from people, you raise the level of service.

I won’t lie: I do think that some white people are too quick to call the manager and declare how “the service is utterly shocking”, but I’d rather have someone cause a scene than suffer in silence.

When I booked an overseas trip with a travel agent in 2015 and they mucked up almost everything (wrong pick-up times, no transfers), I wrote a letter to the agent to complain.

When I didn’t get anywhere and after the manager of the local agency was rude to me via email, I escalated the issue. Eventually, after I sent another email complaining about the treatment I got, the regional manager got in touch with me. She listened and addressed the problem.

At no point did I use swear words or capitals or unnecessary exclamation marks (don’t you hate it when people do that?) to make my point.

I wanted it to be clear that what I was unhappy about was the conduct of the agency manager and the lack of regard for my feelings and rights as a customer.

When you pay for something, especially something as expensive as an overseas family holiday, expressing your feelings is important. What I’m about to say here could potentially make me persona non grata, but some things are not best left unsaid.

And right now, I want to keep it real with everybody. I may have to enter a witness protection programme afterwards, but I’m going to say it anyway. The truth shall set you free, right?

So, here goes nothing…


1. Stop calling black people ‘white’ when they do things you don’t deem to be ‘black’. Seriously, loving wine and knowing there’s more than just one type of cheese has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. To say someone is trying to be ‘white’ is an admission of your own prejudice and self-esteem issues. Stop it.

2. Can we please resist the urge to eat at inappropriate times and places, my people? Eating pies in a taxi or chicken at the movies is not a good look. Especially if you don’t have a toothpick on hand and you’re going to suck your teeth for the duration of the movie/taxi ride and stick your nails between your teeth in an effort to remove said chicken. Wait until you get home, please, tu bakithi.

3. Just like cars need brakes, some of my people need to be muzzled. There’s no need for you to tell someone they’re fat, that they’ve been single for too long or that their children are ugly. You can think it, but there’s no need for you to voice it. Keep that shit to yourself. It makes you look tactless and uncultured. Just gossip like the rest of us.

4. Poverty is not our destiny. We shouldn’t accept living in bad conditions simply because that’s how it’s always been. Accepting the status quo is the fastest way to a life of mediocrity. We deserve more than the bare minimum; we deserve to have braais at night and raise our children in a safe world. Accepting a life of suffering and pain is to deny the gifts that the Universe has been kind enough to bestow upon us.

5. And finally, don’t gloat about having white friends or partners. Some of you think there’s prestige in dating outside the colour line. It’s not an achievement. People are people – there’s nothing exceptional about befriending or sleeping with someone of another race. They shit the same, eat the same and will most likely let you down the same way. Let’s stop being our race and just be people. It is possible.


(hahaha, y’all thought you were getting off scot-free, huh? WRONG!)

1. Some of you, like the Chinese, choose to be black only when it suits you. I don’t need to remind you that the Nats sent Uncle Kathy (Ahmed Kathrada) to Robben Island along with Walter Sisulu and Madiba. Had it not been for people like Jay Naidoo and others like him, who saw that they were just as oppressed as black people, freedom for all South Africans would have taken longer to achieve. We’re all in the struggle together.

2. Most South Africans love curry, but some of it is helluva over-priced. I mean, it’s lamb, rice and a couple of spices – why does it have to cost an arm and a leg? Especially if I’m in Fordsburg and eating at a table with a plastic tablecloth and cutlery from 1992. It’s as if you know we have no choice, so you hike up the prices. I’m just saying, if I’m going to pay R120 for a curry, then please can I at least have a proper napkin?

3. Not to sound funny, but some of our Indian brothers from Durban need to provide subtitles for us when they speak. I consider myself quite good with accents, but the Indianese from KZN often leaves me confused and defeated. Maybe an e-book or something could help us decipher the language, no?

4. Half the car boots of the M3s owned by Indian men are occupied by a booming, oversized sound system. Do you not do groceries? I don’t understand this. What are you listening to that you need such huge speakers? And what about your eardrums? I’m starting to worry that some of you might be partially deaf because of the volume levels you’re exposed to. It can’t be good for you.

5. I don’t blame you for not really dating outside your race. Indian men are spoilt for choice. I mean, let’s keep it real: Indian women are gorgeous. You get the brown skin and curves without the fake hair and lashes. By the time the midriff starts to expand underneath the sari, at least four babies have been born. And let me just say, big ‘up’ to y’all for bothering to learn Zulu – that shit is awesome.


1. To my coloured people from Cape Town, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve got to get down from your high horse: you are not better than black people. No, you’re not. Whoever told you that you’re superior, lied – just look around you: coloured people also live in townships, just like black people. That is a fact.

In Joburg and Durban, coloured people, like my friend Annaleigh, who grew up in Stanger (KwaDukuza) in KwaZulu-Natal, are well aware of the fact that we’re all just people. Nobody is “lesser than” or “better than” anyone else.

2. Please could you help us understand the rationale behind the origins of the passion gap? I’m aware that you are moving forward as a people and a lot of the more progressive among the coloured population don’t practise this bizarre “tradition”, but just out of interest: where and when did this practice start and who convinced who that removing one’s front teeth is a good idea? (And don’t say it’s for fellatio.)

3. Not every mixed-race person considers themselves to be coloured. I’ll make an example of Trevor Noah and Brighton Ngoma – they are mixed-raced, but Pam Andrews is coloured. Geddit?

As an outsider, I’ve come to realise that being mixed-race and being coloured are two different things. Being coloured is a uniquely South African experience. It’s not wise to assume the two are the same.

4. I speak for most of my countrymen when I say that all a coloured person – both male and female – has to do to intimidate anyone else is to just stand there and look hostile. Breaking bottles and throwing punches are not required to scare the shit out of the rest of us.

Almost all South Africans who are not coloured find many coloured people to be alarmingly volatile. Unfairly so in most cases, but then again, this is a book about generalisations, so…

5. You should never feel ashamed about walking around with curlers in your hair. Black women are married to the doek the way you are to curlers. There are some things that just need to be left alone.

So if some people want to make fun of your curlers, let them – you still look more exotic than any other South African community ever could.


1. Please help me understand how you can live in a country where 80% of the population is black and not have a single black person in your social circle? Am I wrong in assuming that this is a choice? That you’re choosing not to befriend black people? It can’t be for a lack of opportunity. Surely you must work with some black people, or interact with us outside your home? Aren’t you alarmed by the fact that the only brown people you know are the help?

2. It’s not Nonshlanshla, it’s No.nhla.nhla. The same effort you put into pronouncing French and Italian words, you should put into learning African names. I’ve met Americans who can pronounce Nobuhle with no qualms, and yet, for some reason, those of you who were born and have lived here all your lives refuse to learn the proper pronunciation of black people’s names. It’s not cool.

3. Don’t be scared by large groups of black people. We’re not always out to rob you, scare you or gossip about you. Trust me, as a black woman, when I’m in Pretoria and I bump into a group of burly white boys, I get really nervous (you know why), but you won’t see me running in the opposite direction (even though the urge is strong). Acting scared invites problems into your life; just be normal.

4. When you’re driving, try not to let your inner racist come out. Not all of us bought our licences or don’t know the rules of the road. Some of you get so hot under the collar behind the wheel that you act as if we killed your cat. The finger wagging and staring us down in your rear-view mirror while screaming maniacally only makes you look crazy. I understand it must be hard to share the road with people who are supposed to clean your floors and mow your lawns, but I promise you, everything will be alright.

5. Some of you can be incredibly racist when you’re in the company of other white people, because for some reason you think they share the same views as you. I’m only saying this to warn you, because some of your comrades not only have friends who look like me, but their kids might have friends who are black, too. To assume someone shares your racist views is ignorant, and in the age of cellphone recordings, you could find yourself in big trouble. Be careful: not all white people are intrinsically racist.