White Rooms

Guest post:

I thought your readers might be interested in an incident that happened in our office just before Christmas.


This is a Chartered Accountants office, where we have several client meeting rooms and a few internal meeting rooms. Because of the number of people involved, ( a staff of about eighty people) a booking system for the rooms was introduced. But there were constant problems as it seems that smart, professional people are incapable of coping with places called Meeting Room 1 and Meeting Room 2  and double bookings would regularly ensue which could be a bit difficult if there was a client involved. It happened to me twice with the same client, and the second time, we ended up in the local coffee shop, because it wasn’t worth the trouble of trying to find another vacant room in the time available.

So, it was decided to rename the rooms after local suburbs. And, so it was that the Parnell Room, the Newmarket Room, and the Ponsonby, Takapuna and Mairangi Rooms came into being.

No problem, right?


It only took a day… and the complaints started. And the complaint that I heard was that in an office of predominantly European employees, with a few Asians and no doubt a few people of Maori descent, but it is hard to tell these days, the main complaint was…

…wait for it…

the suburbs selected were TOO WHITE!!!

And before you jump to any conclusions, the person who said this to me was a white European with no socialist leanings that I could ever see. Not a snowflake in any shape or form.

Which in itself is a worry because this suggests to me that this whole “Oh So White” thing has now gone mainstream.

What should we call them? The Martin Luther King Room? The Malcolm X Room? The Black Lives Matter Room? Honestly?

I read an article recently where Jessica Chastain complained that an article she was part of showing a group of female actors who had reached new heights in 2017 – did not include any Women of Colour.

Geez, we don’t have enough women doing well, and yet, when there is an article showcasing those that do, hey, guess what! They are Oh So White!

This stuff just gets scarier by the day.

Can you imagine a black actor featured in a similar article with five other black actors, saying,” hey what about the white guys?” Chinese? Indian? Anything? Of course not.

Seems to me that white people are going to be responsible for their own demise, if this attitude is anything to go by  – although why those making these crazy statements cannot see it, I have no idea.

It seems that the term ‘white’ is now equivalent to ‘privileged’  although none of us actually knows how many non-white people live in any of those suburbs and this is totally wrong. There are many white people living in hardship and misery, who would laugh out loud if anyone called them privileged because they are white. But the mantra exists nonetheless.

As a matter of interest, in my ‘white suburb’, my next door neighbours are of Samoan descent, lovely people, whose children are an interesting mix of colours, clearly showing some European heritage – but definitely, do not count as ‘white’. Shall I let them know they live in a ‘too white’ suburb? Actually, I won’t. In the 10 years, we have been neighbours, we have never once mentioned the gnarly subject of race, and I do not intend to start now.

Can’t we just be people? Can’t we just be New Zealanders? Why does everything have to be categorised in a negative way?

Just to add to the perplexity and amusement, I made the point of asking what the rooms should have been called. Apparently, it had been agreed that they should have been named after birds. Oh God, so we would have had the Tui Room, the Kereru Room, the Weka Room but then I remembered how the Bird of the Year almost ended in fisticuffs this year, because the Greens wanted the Kereru and the Kea was the overall winner and the fact that cheating had gone on in the 2016 competition and my heart sank. Really, people have nothing better to do than complain these days, do they?

In actual fact, I think this is a big part of the problem. In a hundred years, after two World Wars, life has become relatively easy for a large number of people on the planet, particularly those in developed countries. Now that we don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, we have to invent problems and hey presto! Welcome to the multi-gendered world of 2018.

But the truth is staring us in the face. White = Privileged. In ordinary places in New Zealand, this is the reality. Whether you agree or not and I certainly don’t this is now a generally accepted view.

And it scares me beyond recognition.



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