07 May 2007

I left the meeting with a great sense of despair: we definitely live in two worlds at UCT: the still privileged who cannot see what the "whinging" is about, and us who have "perception/entitlement" issues. Abu Adams, Black Caucus discussion list

As 'sophisticated' as David has tried to present his case, he appears to me to use philosophical methods and arguments that are largely a?historical and a?contextual and wishes to set itself up as 'normative', 'absolutist', and virtually 'disengaged' and 'disconnected' from the our history, at least, the history of the majority in SA who have suffered the political and socio?economic injustices of the past. He does not, and appears unable to appreciate how social location has shaped his thoughts ? but then, he is a philosopher, rather than a sociologist. Roger Adams, Black Caucus discussion list

I was shocked that Professor Benatar believed that it was possible to evaluate redress mechanisms, such as affirmative action, purely on the basis of logical considerations. But more importantly I was struck by the apparent ease with which he was able to dismiss the effects of apartheid on the lives of black people in South Africa and the effects of the legacy of being a historically white institution on shaping the institutional culture of UCT. I looked around the room and some of the black people seemed visibly pained by the callous manner in which he was able to dismiss the long term effects of apartheid. As a white person, I firmly believe that it will really only be possible to create an environment that is conducive to debate if white people are able to acknowledge the long lasting effects of the legacy of apartheid on all black people as a result of the colour of their skins and reflect on the extent to which the cultural capital accumulated by whites as a result of apartheid continues to privilege us. Judy Favish, letter to Monday Paper

Once you erase the term 'race' from discourses on equity, you underestimate the continuing impact that apartheid has on South Africa, which has a large class divide that is still split along black and white lines - this despite the growth of a relatively small black middle class. If you remove the term 'race' from discourses on equity and social justice, you strip subjects of a vocabulary that allows them to articulate their continuing experiences of marginalisation and discrimination. Dr Adam Haupt, letter to Monday Paper

Professor Benatar's failure to really reflect on the meaning of racism for South Africa presently is insulting to people who still live with the legacy. The problem is that he really is unable to see why this is the case. Nazeema Mohamed, Black Caucus discussion list

Where is the black voice at UCT? Have we internalised inferiority so much that we cannot openly speak for ourselves? Could it be that we are so desperate to be 'included' that we have given up our souls, are we fighting for space? Whose space? Has apartheid been successful in fragmenting our voice that we are confused or are even doubting whether we do in fact have a voice? Are people weary of defending, justifying and explaining? I certainly am. Funeka Njobeni, Black Caucus discussion list

Professor David Benatar's inaugural lecture . . . and the subsequent debate with the deputy vice-chancellor Professor Martin Hall . . . is welcome if only because it reveals the sectarian nature of the affirmative action/employment equity. It is also a demonstration of the ingrained sort of right-wing politics that underlie the façade of gentility providing a gloss of a liberal-leaning community of the university. Dr Sam Raditlhalo

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