The Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA) is an alliance of organisations working to respond to racism in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation facilitated the formation of ARNSA and currently serve as the secretariat.
ARNSA aims to co-ordinate anti-racism activities, share experience and best practice and launch initiatives to revitalise action.
On Friday last ARNSA distributed the Media Release contained below, which was sent by Lunga Nene.
I wrote the following in response and await their reply.
Thank you for this anti-racism week Media release.
I hope that the inaugural anti-racism week will be successful.
So much has been written about racism in our print media, we have listened to endless debates on talk shows and witnessed it live on TV.
Nevertheless I think the debate and the deliberations during this week would be better informed if the Anti –Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA) does the following:
- Defines what racism is and what it isn’t
- Defines the difference between racism on the one hand and discrimination, prejudice, bias, bigotry and intolerance on the other
- Defines who can and who cannot be guilty of racism
- Defines whether the manifest display of cultural preference could under certain circumstances be described as racist
And finally what is ARNSA’s departure point on the definition of race, is it:
- one of social science that describes race as a social construct, sometimes artificial or
- a historical construct that considers race as the evolution of ‘only’ different cultures, languages, and customs or
- a biogeographical construct which argues that different social groupings are on different evolutionary trajectories, but not of different intelligence, and that when these trajectories collide there are accusations of racism based on indefensible perceptions of the grouping’s superiority/inferiority.
I’d be most interested in your response
The inaugural anti-racism week starts on 14 March 2016
Date of Issue: 12 March 2016
South Africa finds itself at a point where the denial of racism no longer has a place. Racism is crippling the fabric of who we are and the great nation we can be. Frustrations have reached fever pitch and those affected are no longer content keeping their views to themselves.
The Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA) creates opportunities for these conversations to take place constructively. Honest and difficult dialogue will contribute towards breaking down racism in all its forms.
Anti-racism week was recently announced and runs from 14 to 21 March 2016. As the week commences, we would like to share some of the activities facilitated by ARNSA. The week, however, is not only about ARNSA supported activities. It is also an opportunity to focus national attention on the issue by focused media attention, continuing difficult conversations about race in our homes, communities and churches and encouraging South Africans to get involved to be part of the solution.
A media campaign #TakeOnRacism will kick off next week on radio, television and social media platforms. The call is never to allow colour to divide us. ARNSA has also embarked on an ambitious million signature campaign. We’re asking South Africans to sign a pledge to commit to anti-racism and join the movement to end the scourge. The pledge reads: “I pledge to #TAKEONRACISM. I will learn about racism, Talk about it, Speak out against it, and Act to stop it.” The pledge will be driven on digital platforms and can also be found on ARNSA’s website.
“Our media campaign is designed to promote the steps we feel are important to address racism at a personal level. We’re encouraging South Africans to have the conversation about race and never to allow racist sentiments to persist in our homes, schools, universities and boardrooms or braai. We need a zero tolerance approach to stop it,” said Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“Racism is a debilitating problem in our society. To not give it the attention it deserves is to gamble dangerously with South Africa’s future. Our history, structural inequality and the way we were socilised resulted in racism digging its heels deep into our national identity. Undoing something that runs deep in our veins is an enormous task for each one of us, but not impossible to overcome,” said Neeshan Balton, CEO of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
While it is advisable, we appreciate that not all South Africans can show their support by attending events. For many, a personal commitment is all that may be required. For those, however, who would like to attend an event to learn more and speak about racism, ARNSA has supported a few activities.
Some of the activities include:
- Religious bodies have agreed to focus on anti-racism in churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other places of worship.
- The South African Human Rights Commission will host a conference on racism at Gallagher Estate to mark anti-racism week on 14 and 15 March 2016.
- Human Rights Day (21 March) will be commemorated at Sharpeville Cricket Pitch with an event focussing on anti-racism.
- The Nelson Mandela Foundation launched a new exhibition on 20 years of the Constitution at the Foundation’s offices in Houghton.
- The Wits School of Governance in collaboration with the School of Law, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Oliver and Adelaide Foundation and the Delegation of the European Union will host a dialogue on “The Constitution, Prejudice and Racism: Should Racism be Criminalised or Not?”
- The film “Seeking Asylum” will be screened at the Rapid Lion Film festival. A panel discussion with the filmmaker will follow the screening of the film. The festival runs for the week and includes other films dealing with issues of race and identity.
Starting in 2016, anti-racism week will be an annual call to focus attention on the issue.