RACISM REMAINS A HOT TOPIC
Written by: Xolisani Khumalo
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) had a racism dialogue today at the International Convention Centre (ICC), which focused on racial inequalities and racism: visions and ideas for change.
Dr Kira Erwin, senior lecturer at the Durban University Technology’s Urban Futures Centre who formed part of the panelist, expressed that what’s more frustrating than violence and racism itself is the silent observer who in essence promotes the behaviour indirectly.
“The young kids that are classified as white become numb to exploitation and racism to a point where they don’t see it anymore,” said Dr Erwin.
She also added that this is seen in homes that have maids, where a grown woman would be treated as a child.
“You’d find that even the children in that household grow up to treat that grown woman the same way, as a child,” she said.
Bathobile Dladla, a DUT student who was part of the audience, explained that she thinks such dialogues aren’t advocating for much change.
“My DUT isiZulu course pack is written in English. How does one learn isiZulu in English? How am I expected to understand the word plagiarism in isiZulu? I understand that one of the speakers in the panel is from DUT, and she is here to address racism, what does this all mean?” questioned Dladla.
The panel also included Panashe Chigumadzi, a storyteller, founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine.
She compared racism to violence where she revealed that violence has become normal on black people and that society only gets touched when white lives are involved.
“It’s become okay for black people to live on bread or whatever they can for that evening. If you go to a township today you realise that we live like dogs; think of what happened in Marikana years ago and did anyone protest the killing of more than 30 black men? No!” explained Chigumadzi.
Some of the issues that arose from the audience were how people have to address and understand the roles of black leadership when it comes to racial and social issues.
“Black leaders are people who were once here like us fighting for change but once they acquire certain positions they become defenders of white privilege,” said Pastor Nathi Zondi. He added that if black leaders had a role, #statuesmustfall would not have happened after so many years into democracy.
“Why did black leaders wait for university students to start the statues must fall movement,” Zondi asked.
Chigumadzi further developed her argument by stating different incidents where black people suffered even harsher consequences for demanding a decent living and trying to challenge the status quo.
“Marikana is a prime example of that or they get expelled and UCT is a prime example of that too,” said Chigumadzi.
The CEO of HSRC, Professor Crain A. Soudien closed the discussions by thanking the panellists and the audience and advised that people need to listen to other people’s views.
“The capacity to listen enables us to engage with each other and in that be hospitable. It enables us to surface what we think and know as black, white, indian and as women, and enables us to take that knowledge and put it in a space where we all can talk in a hospitable manner,” said Prof Soudien.
*Caption: CEO of HSRC, Professor Crain A. Soudien, addressing the audience.