Quote of the week

It is clear that no legitimate objective is advanced by excluding domestic workers from COIDA.  If anything, their exclusion has a significant stigmatising effect which entrenches patterns of disadvantage based on race, sex and gender…. In considering those who are most vulnerable or most in need, a court should take cognisance of those who fall at the intersection of compounded vulnerabilities due to intersecting oppression based on race, sex, gender, class and other grounds.  To allow this form of state-sanctioned inequity goes against the values of our newly constituted society namely human dignity, the achievement of equality and ubuntu.  To exclude this category of individuals from the social security scheme established by COIDA is manifestly unreasonable.

Victor AJ
Mahlangu and Another v Minister of Labour and Others (CCT306/19) [2020] ZACC 24 (19 November 2020)
3 December 2007

On race and the black middle class

This morning in the Business Day there is a very interesting article by Eusebius McKaiser, touching on some of the same kind of issues tentatively raised on this blog last week about race, racial essentialism and the like. He bemoans the fact that members of the so called black middle class are criticised for not having a bigger social conscience. Money quote:

But the critique of the black middle class does not stem from these humanist considerations. It is an argument that is explicitly couched in race terms, as if the white middle class is incapable of being moved by mostly black poverty. And therein lies the problem with this attack on the black middle class. It betrays deep-seated race essentialism that is overlaid with latent racism.

The argument is essentialist in that it effectively demands that every member of the black middle class accept special moral duties towards other black people solely by virtue of the fact that they both have black skins. But how, and why, does one’s membership of a group generate duties in respect of that group?

I think we should talk more about race and race essentialism because it remains the elephant in the room in almost any interaction and discussion. This article is an interesting and provocative step in that direction.

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