Monday, May 7, 2007

Megan Kleyn

Megan Kleyn
Megan Louise Kleyn recently completed a Psychology Honours degree at UKZN. She has lived most of her life in Westville (a suburb of Durban) with her parents, brother and two dogs. Durban, she says, has treated her alright thus far. She describes it as a bit boring though, as not much ever seems to happen. The nightclubs and pubs, she says, haven’t changed for several years. It’s also far too humid. But all her friends are here, so she has fun despite all her complaints (she quite enjoys moaning anyway).

In her chapter, Guess who’s Coming for Dinner?’ and other Suburban Tales of Horror, Megan—a white SA woman with a black SA boyfriend—describes her mother as unequivocally opposed, on ‘racial’ grounds, to the relationship. Megan uses this to illustrate how difficult a mixed relationship can be to sustain, attaching significance to her mother's role in the process. Megan distinguishes three kinds of problematic responses from others to her relationship. 1st: ‘white liberals’ who applaud her relationship as if it signifies the dawning of a Rainbow Nation. 2nd: black men who construct her as a woman who desires black men and try to seduce her. Not only do they racialise her, but they sexualise and reduce her to a white alluring object. 3rd: assorted types who denigrate the relationship.

One implication is that celebrations of mixed relations are not necessarily progressive. They may end up idealising these relationships, even exaggerating levels of integration. However, the extent to which it is acceptable, common or normal is an important gauge of just how much integration has occurred in the post-apartheid context.

Kleyn, Megan. 'Guess who’s Coming for Dinner?’ and other Suburban Tales of Horror', in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 112-116.