YESTERDAY South Africans awoke to discover the press were having a field day with Glen Snyman, a teacher at Grootkraal Primary School in the Karoo region. Snyman apparently was charged with fraud after he allegedly identified himself as “African” on his CV for a position at another school in 2017, but had indicated “coloured” on other documents.
If destroying the man’s career in order to promote a new form of petty apartheid in the form of the Employment Equity Act wasn’t enough, the insinuation that Snyman, the founder of People Against Race Classification (PARC), was not merely breaking the law, but was now passing himself off as someone else, in effect, pretending to be black, was truly galling.
In dropping the charges without issuing a retraction of its race-inquiry, the Education Dept, appear to be saying: ‘We’ll overlook what Snyman did, but don’t do it again”. Instead of introducing a points-based system in order to tackle the problem of historical disadvantage within a neutral and objective framework, the law has unfortunately, tended to encourage and even retrace failed policies related to pseudo-scientific racism.
In 2008 Kobus Faasen sued Media24’s Die Burger for collectively describing persons of colour as ‘Bushmen’, only to discover that the law also regarded him as a Bushman, and he had been passing himself off as a “Coloured” for years.
In 2010, my own identity became the subject of a racist religious inquisition at the behest of a corporation instrumental in the creation of the apartheid state, a corporation which thought nothing of deploying one of its own representatives, Halton Cheadle, to act on the bench.
In March this year, global media carried the story of one Jessica Krug a “white professor of African-American Studies, who in her medium confessional claimed: “To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim …”
She appears to conclude “I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken”.
Unfortunately the same may be said of any person who has ever been inspired by the works of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Steven Biko.
The two incidents, that of Snyman and Krug, are reminiscent of the 2015 Rachel Dolezol affair affecting the anachronistic National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) whose aims include ensuring ‘a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race”.
As Jelani Cobb put it, if Dolezol was lying, ‘she was lying about a lie, the lie of race’, or in words of author Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘race is the child of racism, not the father’. Read: We are All Rachel Dolezol Now. And my unpublished letter: The context of race in today’s society is anything but normal.
Both Krug and the Dept of Education, erroneously assumes there to be distinct race categories separating black and white, and thus if one follows the resulting analysis, readers can be forgiven for assuming blackness to be the result of the ‘colour of ones skin’, or a ‘preponderance of African ancestry,’ both claims resoundingly disproven and shot down by science.
It was the late black consciousness leader Steve Biko who challenged the apartheid state by seeking to move blackness away from the realm of pseudo-scientific inquiry and into the realm of political and existential thought, in the process eschewing legalistic definitions deployed by the apartheid state, and related to ethnicity, hair and skin colour.
Recently Dr Lee Berger, well-known paleoanthropologist and discoverer of Homo Naledi, reiterated the evidence that there is ‘no separation between the species’, we are all one species, Homo Sapiens, with a common heritage in Africa.
That there is such a thing as a truly authentic identity, a coherent mental attitude constituting a standard of normality, is unbecoming of our Dept of Education, which should at least be familiar with the tragic attempt by the Nationalist government of South Africa to police race segregation.
In short, all human identity is fictional at best, since the moment one examines a human being in situ, the physical facts of our inter-relatedness emerge, as too our common African ancestry.
SEE: David Masondo’s Are Indian, coloured and white people really African in post-apartheid South Africa?