UCT dinner for people of colour only, organisers remain unapologetic

2018-06-22 20:25
The University of Cape Town's upper campus. (iStock)

The University of Cape Town's upper campus. (iStock)

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The organisers of a supper, planned for the University of Cape Town's (UCT) Decolonial Winter School (DWS), which invited "POC only" (people of colour), are unapologetic about their stance, despite social media backlash.

UCT's DWS is a programme scheduled for June 24, and it has the aim of "challenging the notions of colonisation and putting the theories of decolonisation into practice".

Students and social media users were outraged at the inclusion of a one-hour supper reserved for POC's, saying it amounted to racism and segregation.

'A space where black people can decompress'

"The collective decided that it is black people who are burdened with the process of decolonisation," DWS organiser and student activist Alex Hotz said.

"In these spaces that involve white people, we often find that black people are forced to censor themselves to protect white fragility. It was meant to be a space where black people can decompress."

Hotz said that the programme also focused on "challenging liberal basic notions of racism".

"We received a lot of backlash from white people on social media who argued that this amounted to segregation," she said.

"We are challenging liberal basic notions of racism, which relates to structural and systemic power. It is ironic because white people were silent under apartheid and are silent about the benefits they continue to reap due to white privilege."

Backlash to supper

The university released a statement in acknowledgement of the backlash.

"Entrance to UCT events may not be restricted on the basis of race," UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said.

"Our understanding is that the students and alumni arranging the event have been informed accordingly and have agreed that the programme wording will be changed."

Hotz said that the outrage was detracting from the importance of the programme. She added that the university's response to the controversy was an example of problematic behaviour that needed to be addressed.

"This is an example of how power works in terms of the pressure that the white masses have – to call the university and question the authority of black lecturers," she said.

"They are not interrogating the real issues surrounding power, which need to be looked at with new eyes. We are unapologetic about our politics on decolonisation at this school."

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