Not okay to discriminate in private

2008-05-15 00:00

Several white journalists were recently barred from attending a briefing with Jacob Zuma at an event hosted by the Forum of Black Journalists, on the grounds that black journalists need a forum from which whites are excluded in order that they may discuss issues confronting black journalists in private. Surely the exclusion of white journalists amounts to impermissible racial discrimination? And are there not measures that could be taken to ensure that the FBJ and other groups do not racially discriminate in future?

The distinction between the private and the public sphere is important here. Should the Forum for Black Journalists be considered to fall within the private sphere or the public sphere? The FBJ will no doubt characterise itself as a group of friends associating with individuals they find congenial. It will say that the FBJ is private in nature. Others might argue that journalism is a public profession and that inviting public, political figures to give an address makes the FBJ public in nature.

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