CONTROVERSIAL advocate of ‘racial fluidity’ and ‘trans-racialism’ is to visit South Africa according to the BBC, to promote her biography, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World . The arrival of Rachel Dolezal is bound to kick up a storm in the ongoing debate being waged between non-racialists and multi-racialists. The latest round has seen non-racialists being accused of hiding behind a smokescreen of privilege, effectively using the idea to escape responsibility for past injustices.
Non-racialism is the result of successive ideological developments within South African politics, beginning with Robert Sobukwe’s claim at his treason trial: “There is only one race, the human race” and “multiracialism is racism multiplied”; This was followed by Steve Biko’s historic 1971 statement: “Being black is not a matter of pigmentation — being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.”
The ANC, once a champion of multiracialism, adopted the non-racial agenda after Nelson Mandela was converted to the cause on Robben Island. According to Mandela, ‘race was to be rendered immaterial’, ‘all persons were to enjoy equality before the law’. That the current administration gives such nuances of non-racialism and equality lip-service (both ideas enshrined in the country’s constitution) can be seen in the abundance of one ethnic group in the latest cabinet, all given preferential treatment under the current Kwazula-Natal focused administration of Jacob Zuma — this while race classification issues and the legacy of apartheid continue to dog the regime.
This writer is currently under sanctions by a local court for denying his appointed ‘race category’, following an offensive race-testing probe by an apartheid media firm. Remarkably, critics of Dolezal, appear to judge her case on the basis of special criteria (see below), in the same way that a special clause, known as the Sobukwe clause was added to legislation in order to justify the founder of the PAC’s continued incarceration. It should be remembered the apartheid regime insisted on the existence of discrete racial categories and thus racial bias in a system supported by scientific racism. There is no scientific basis for the assertion that race exists as anything more than an informal taxonomy.
Critics of non-racialism often confuse issues of class exploitation and poverty. While South Africa is an example of a tragic ‘confluence of race and class’, in which persons labelled black are more likely to be poor, (and dramatically so) there is no direct correlation as such, which would make this a universal rule. As science shows, adaptive traits such as hair and skin colour are not indicative of a separation between the species, there is thus no direct correlation between one’s genes and one’s physical appearance, and being wealthy and being poor. In other words historic racism is not the same as institutional racism. Blackness is not the result of a preponderance of African ancestry, if this were so, Native Americans for instance, would be white.
Attempts to define people according to physical features and anatomy have invariably resulted in discrimination. One should thus not mistake the impact of past exploitation on the basis of race criteria, for normality, and in so doing, assert that race criteria is or should be the norm. The ‘racial wealth gap’ is not overcome by resorting to more racism.
That the strange idea persists can be seen by a recent comment this week: “Race is real the way maths is real. It’s something humans created that can be used to our detriment or to our advantage.” The assertion without any evidence, was made by a reporter associated with The Citizen in an online debate on social media on Friday, following the breaking of the Dolezal story, and is consistent with the position of Media24. One can only respond: “There is no ‘maths of race’. The only persons making such statements have been discredited eugenicists.
Another participant in the discussion, was even harsher in her use of irony: “Please come to South Africa and enjoy the full experience which the majority of black woman endure. There are plenty of overworked maid jobs with below the breadline pay …” The various criticisms of Dolezal, that she is effectively ‘trading off the misery of others’, is ‘passing herself off’ as something which she is not, and is ‘guilty of cultural appropriation’, need to be seen within the context of similar criticisms of Mother Teresa and others. The criticism has no basis nor place in human rights law. Cultural appropriation (in whatever form) is a factor of life in a polyglot, globalised society, one remarkably difference from the former colonial empire, based as it was on ideals of racial purity and for which cross-pollination itself was anathema. That Dolezal herself is breaking taboos within the so-called white community from which she sprung, is hardly remarked upon by opinion-makers slamming her membership of the NAACP.
That body presentation and identity issues are par for the course in the 21st Century can be seen by the fact that nobody would think the unthinkable and slam albino model Thandi Hopa for not having enough melanin, and trading off the resulting racial dysphoria. Instead in Rachel’s case, her attempts to deal with her ‘black experience’ , resulted in an obscene racial witch-hunt, and highly public race-probe based upon discredited apartheid race science. Doleza says that “challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness”
Dolezal has an adopted black brother Izaiah , and a black child from a black man. To put this in a nut-shell, Rachel isn’t “pretending to be black”, her life is not a parody as in ‘blackface’, but rather the result of attempting to deal with her existence, in particular her troubling relationship with her brother Ezra. The mix of reactions around the globe is certainly unprecedented, and indicative of a new far-right discourse which has entered the mainstream.
It will be interesting to see how Dolezal presents herself to an audience remarkably different from the one which pilloried her femininity and for which her latest biography is her considered response. Medialternatives therefore takes this opportunity to unreservedly welcome Rachel to South Africa.
Medialternatives has followed the Dolezal story and you can read previous postings here.
As a hostage to the conflict being waged by conservatives on either side, I wish to once again place on record my objections to the war in the Middle East. In particular the internecine, sectarian conflict involving members of various faith groups, who refuse to recognise the rights of secularists such as myself.
The conflict is clearly a long-standing, religious-based conflict involving the deployment of displacement theology by either side, in the battle over identity and the status of Jerusalem, a city regarded as holy by many religions.
I also wish to reiterate my objections to the separation barrier and my rejection of the so-called ‘right of return’ on the basis of my Jewish ancestry, placed on record shortly after the wall was built in 2000, and published prominently in the Israeli media.
As a secular humanistic Jew and subscriber to the principles of the Society for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Jewish identity is best preserved in a free, pluralistic environment. The freedom and dignity of the Jewish people must go hand in hand with the freedom and dignity of every human being.
As a struggle veteran and war resister, I also wish to remind my fellow South Africans of my objections to the rationalisations of members of the IDF, in a combined ECC-IDF platform on UCT campus during 1987, and also the continued dispute involving my Jewish identity recorded in the decision of a South African court, and involving offensive race testing.
Apartheid, and its sequel in the new South Africa, should never be used as the justification for domination by one group over another, nor should its motivations be forgotten. Dialogue and compromise by all sides, is the only way forward. As objectors on both sides have shown, another reality is possible.
Let peace prevail on earth.
EXACTLY dow do the authors intend to update their badly thought out and obscene journey into apartheid-era paternalism? The object may as well be renamed ‘Getting the Rainbow Nation All Wrong: A Recidivist’s Guide to racialising South African culture’
That the book in question clearly has no insight into its purported subject matter and appears to immediately launch into an illogical binary, an ‘Us vs Them’ proposition along with its absurd claim to normativity, and thus directing an editorial voice at an audience who are clearly ‘not coloured’ is highly problematic.
The otherisation of people is what hurts and what needs to be tackled here. The problem is not incidental and I have found the exact same condescending, patronising tone expressed within the transcripts of a 2010 court proceeding, only accessed this year and involving apartheid publisher Media24 and its own insane claim to demographic normativity.
In 2008 the same company won the right to use the term “bushmen/boesman” in reference to “coloured” persons. The latest offering from Logogog fairs no better in fictionalising and failing its subject matter.
Exactly who are “they” and what is “them”? Why the race stereotyping, profiling and patriarchy, and why is there something wrong with tackling racism by identifying with the oppressed?
Equally unacceptable is the continued use of apartheid race criteria to label people. The term ‘coloured’ itself is an anachronism, same way that the ‘National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Persons’ is anachronistic and harking back to a previous period before the ascendency of civil rights.
As a person who was disenrolled from the ‘white race” back in the 80s, sectioned under apartheid laws and assimilated into the self-same ‘coloured culture’ portrayed inaccurately and with contempt by the publishers, due to the Group Areas Act and other legislation, I find such chocolate box portraiture (in essence race stigma) highly problematic — as too my ongoing legal problems (mostly contrary to received science) surrounding my presumed race identity and thus the publisher’s supreme right to act accordingly.
Apartheid never worked, and its many sequels in the new South Africa of today are equally doomed to failure. This is not what the authors of the freedom struggle intended.
For starters, at South Press, (a struggle newspaper) we all decided we were black. Under a black government, the ‘coloured” label saw renewed contestation. The term is not so much an identity as an imposition.
Under apartheid persons could be classified ‘coloured’ or “other coloured” merely for looking coloured, or by associating with persons of mixed race. Such was the problem inherent to ‘coloured identity’ and the criteria enumerated by C Vogel and A Abdurahman. Yet, a 2010 decision, applauded by the press, and handed down by one H Cheadle, labeled me an “absurdity” for being just who I am.
The problem appears endemic, at a recent peacebuilders conference, a young spokesperson for the Fallist movement, who happens to be ‘black and transexed’, when questioned as to what a ‘transracial or postracial identity might entail’, claimed that “white people cannot experience racism … since they don’t have the same baggage…” to which I replied, aside from the fact that you choose to label me, do you mean to tell me a straight person cannot experience homophobia, similarly a non-Jew, anti-Semitism, and ergo, a non-Muslim, Islamophobia?
Lest we forget, I had a school mate named Marcus who attended my prep school and migrated to the village primary institution along with the rest of the class. Then one day an investigator from the Cape Provincial Administration (CPA) pitched up, yanked Marcus by the scruff of the neck and removed the dear from the school because his hair wasn’t straight.
The tragic case of Happy Sindane, the boy who thought he was ‘white’, despite having ‘black parents’, also springs to mind. Pseudo-scientific racial criteria and the ersatz and equally obscene ‘cultural wash’, now laid on thick by the publishers, and even the press, should not be a defining factor of life in South Africa. To reiterate, the Rainbow Nation is not about the colour of one’s skin, but rather, the colour of one’s rights. Equally, the Rainbow Nation is not about maintenance of racial privileges but rather the restitution of the innate rights we all hold from birth.
— David Robert Lewis
Upon the investigation, the Ombud has established that:
- A total of ninety-four (94+) and not thirty-six (36) mentally ill patients (as initially and commonly reported publicly in the media) died between 23 March 2016 and 19 December 2016 in Gauteng Province. This total number of 94 should be seen as a working and provisional number.
- All the 27 NGOs to which patients were transferred operated under invalid licences; therefore, all patients who died in these NGOs died in unlawful circumstances
- The NGOs where the majority of patients died had neither the basic competence and experience, the leadership/managerial capacity nor ‘fitness for purpose’ and were often poorly resourced. The existent unsuitable conditions and competence in some of these NGOs precipitated and are closely linked to the observed ‘higher or excess’ deaths of the mentally ill patients.
- 75 (79.78%) patients died from 5 NGO/hospital complexes (Precious Angels 20, Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC)/ Siyabadinga/Anchor 25, Mosego/Takalani 15, Tshepong 10 and Hephzibah 5);
- There were 11 NGOs with no deaths, 8 NGOs with average deaths and 8 NGOs with ‘higher or excess’ death;
- Only 4 Mental Health Care Users (MCHUs) died in hospitals compared to 77 MCHUs deaths at NGOs; in absolute numbers for every 1 death at the hospitals there were 19 deaths at the NGOs but correcting for the total base population the ratio is 1:7. This ratio is very high.
- When the MEC of Health made announcement on 13 September 2016, 77 patients had already lost their lives.
- At the time of writing the Report, 94 patients had died in 16 out of 27 NGOs and 3 hospitals.
- 95.1% deaths occurred in the NGOs from those directly transferred from LE Health Care Centre.
- Available evidence by the Expert Panel and the Ombud showed that a ‘high-level decision’ to terminate the LE Health Care Centrecontract precipitously was taken, followed by a ‘programme of action’ with disastrous outcomes/consequences including the deaths of Assisted MCHUs. The Ombud identified three key players in the project: MEC QedaniDorothy Mahlangu, Head of Department (HoD),Dr. Tiego Ephraim Selebano and Director Dr. Makgabo Manamela at times referred to as ‘dramatis personae’ in the text. Their fingerprints are ‘peppered’ throughout the project. The decision was reckless, unwise and flawed, with inadequate planning and a chaotic and ‘rushed or hurried’ implementation process.
- Several factors in the ‘programme of action’ were identified by the (Expert Panel, OHSC Inspectors, Ombud and Ministerial Advisory Committee) that contributed and precipitated to the accelerated deaths of mentally ill patients at the NGOs. The transfer process particularly, was often described as ‘chaotic or a total shamble’;
- The Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project, as it became known was: done in a ‘hurry/rush’; with ‘chaotic’ execution; in an environment with no developed, no tradition, no culture of primary mental health care community-based service framework and infrastructure;
Human Rights Violations.
There is prima facie evidence, that certain officials and certain NGOs and some activities within the Gauteng Marathon Project violated the Constitution and contravened, the National Health Act and the Mental Health Care Act (2002). Some executions and implementation of the project have shown a total disregard of the rights of the patients and their families, including but not limited to the Right to Human dignity; Right to life; Right to freedom and security of person; Right to privacy, Right to protection from an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, Right to access to quality health care services, sufficient food and water and Right to an administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.
The Ombud established that the following decisions/actions were negligent or reckless by the Department of Health:
- Overcrowded NGOs which are more restrictive, is contrary to the deinstitutionalization policy of the MHCA and MH Strategy and Policy.
- Transfer of patients to far-away places from their communities, is contrary to the policy of deinstitutionalization.
- Transfer of patients to NGOs that were ‘not ready’, that were ‘not prepared properly for the task’.
- Transfer of patients without the provision of structured community mental health care services is contrary to the Mental Health policy.
- NGOs without qualified staff and skills to care for the special requirements of the patients.
- NGOs without appropriate infrastructure and not adequately financially resourced.
- NGOs without safety and security.
- NGOs without proper heating during winter, some were described as ‘cold’.
- NGOs without food and water, where patients became emaciated and some died of ‘dehydration’.
- Grant and sign licences without legal or delegated authority.
KHULUMANI reports that our Parliament is on track to ‘review and possibly repeal more than 1,800 apartheid-era laws.’
‘In 2016, the programming committee of the National Assembly mandated Parliament’s legal services with identifying all apartheid-era laws or sections in legislation, that could be inconsistent with the Constitution.’
‘Parliament’s legal advisers submitted their report to the committee on Thursday. It identifies 1,850 pieces of legislation passed between 1910 and 1993.”
“Parliament’s legal services will now begin identifying the departments under which each of the laws falls for input and processing.”
ONE year after convicted freedom fighter Kenny Motsamai was released on day parole, the state has lifted restrictions, allowing Motsamai to walk to freedom.
Member of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla), Kenny Motsamai, was released on day parole from Boksburg Prison in January last year. This meant that he was still in prison after dark.
Some 100 Apla members are still incarcerated under apartheid-era laws. Motsamai spent over 27 years in jail for offenses which occurred during the liberation struggle. The main charge against him was for killing a police officer during a botched bank robbery, one of the tactics used to fund Apla.
“The acts that Motsamai undertook where similar in “criminality” (under normal circumstances) to the activities of Dirk Coetzee, Eugene de Kock and Louis van Schoor. The only difference was that one set of activities were in defence of apartheid, and the other set against it,”writes Ayabonga Cawe.