FRIDAY BRIEFING | The battle of Brackenfell: How racism and toxic populism ignited a suburb

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Friday Briefing

Brackenfell and othering: Will we ever learn to be unified?   

High school is hard. You are under pressure to perform. You need to think about what direction you want to take with your future career. It is also a time when you are trying to fit in and make sense of the world.

But this is also where cruel lessons are learnt. Someone might tell you that you are not thin or pretty enough, or the right colour, to be included. 

I was in the middle of my high school career in 1992 when our doors of what was a white government school opened to allow all races to attend. 

At the time, I didn't think about it, but often do now.

It must have been bewildering to the handful of black girls coming into the heart of whiteness of a boarding school, where they were regarded as other. 

The fact that 28 years later we are still dealing with the issue of othering at a former white Model C school is heartbreaking.

That it descended into a street brawl after the EFF decided to protest over the exclusion of black children from a matric farewell, where it appears only white children were invited, is even more so.  

In this week's Friday Briefing, former pupil of Brackenfell High and News24's editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson asks two of his former classmates, Nashira Davids and Carryn-Ann Nel if their experiences at the school were similar to what he encountered when he was at the school 21 years ago. 

Another former Brackenfell High pupil, Annabel Korke, recalls what her Muslim friends endured when they were called 'terrorists' and were not allowed to wear their hijabs during exams in case they 'cheated'.

Analysts Fanie du Toit and Felicity Harrison examine the issue of the Constitution and exclusion, while Mabine Seabe, who has strongly advocated for transformation at schools, writes that better leadership is needed in order to prevent more Brackenfells. 

It is a tough read this week, but one I hope you will take to heart. 

Vanessa Banton 

Opinions Editor. 


Analysis: Brackenfell High: A letter about racism and memories of our beloved school

Adriaan Basson writes to two former school mates who attended Brackenfell High with him, to ask whether it is possible that attempts to transform and diversify the former Model C school have regressed since he left school 21 years ago.

Analysis: Brackenfell High: Were we too high on the rainbow to see the dark clouds lurking

Nashira Davids responds to a letter written by Adriaan Basson, saying her high school years at Brackenfell High were filled with unbridled happiness, but this week something broke. 

Analysis: Brackenfell High: As a coloured girl, I knew I had to perform in the white school

Carryn-Ann Nel responds to letters from Adriaan Basson and Nashira Davids, saying that since Monday's incident she has been thinking back to her friends in Northpine, who had to take a taxi to school, but decided to rather walk home to save money for "snoepie" sweets.

Opinion: My Muslim friends were called terrorists at Brackenfell High

I only realised how bad the racism was through the eyes of my Muslim friends, who were called "terrorists" and had their hijabs banned during matric exams, writes Annabel Rorke.

Opinion: Brackenfell High: Change the children, change the world

Dirk Jacobs is a parent and community member. In the wake of developments at the school this week, he considers how he, as a parent, can raise a thoughtful child. 

Analysis: Brackenfell incident: Where is our country's leadership?

The Brackenfell incident on Monday showed a lack of leadership and that our deepest collective mindsets remain heavily influenced by social hierarchies and past prejudice, writes Fanie du Toit. 

Mabine Seabe: Brackenfell should force us to question and act on the kind of country we want to build

Monday's incident outside a Cape Town high school revealed the story of the country - one of conflict, writes Mabine Seabe. It's critical we build a just and fair future, free from racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and bigotry, he argues. 

Analysis: Brackenfell High: Is there a line between anti-transformation and right of association?

Our schools cannot be places of exclusion, Felicity Harrison writes in the wake of Monday's incident at Brackenfell High School.

To receive the Friday Briefing, sign up for the newsletter hereNow available to all News24 readers.

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