UCT “Decolonial” Winter School: No Whites Allowed

The opening of this annual University of Cape Town (UCT) Winter School has come with a startling message: no whites allowed at the evening dinners. Evidently, the programme for the current Winter School has caused quite a stir, not only in name but with the message, as articulated clearly by one of the organisers, that “it is time that whites get used to being excluded.” More articulation on the organisers position brings up the lovely post-modernism bull-sh *ahem* I mean – notions – of “safe spaces” where POC [people of colour] can be sheltered from “white fragility”. This position is expressed further in their Facebook post on the topic:

Our intention was to create a space where black people can come together to communicate their experiences of the day without having to shelter white fragility. Following the truth in the safety of womxn only spaces relevant to the persistent patriarchy, hegemonic masculinity and abuse of womxn of our current existence. We feel that in this period of interrogation of the question of Decolonisation, there is safety in black only spaces, resultant from the trauma and oppression of the past and present. This was our intension when curating the event, however following in conversation with the university this is null and void and therefore all events are open to all participants.

Yes, it appears these decolonisers have taken the religious extrication of “onto the third and fourth generation” rather to heart – paying pride to repackaged Christian dogma, originally adapted from Middle Eastern tribes to suite “white” European ideology before being unceremoniously gifted to the peoples of Africa. It all seems a tad too ironic for words. But enough about the ridiculous notion of “sins of the father”. Let’s get this straight – instead of learning from the mistakes of the past, those now finding positions with even a modicum of power have decided that they want the tables turned and see “whites” experience a little bit of exclusion. This coming from an institution that once prided itself on its anti-apartheid activism. It makes one rather ashamed to ever have been connected to this institution.

UCT has now done an about turn – most likely after realising that the majority of its alumni donors are “white” liberals – and stated that they will not “…exclude anyone from an official event on the basis of race.” Short of apologising for this fu-(insert naughty word here)-up, management has “distanced themselves from the wording or the intent to exclude certain people” but only after “when the issue was raised at the executive level after the programme had become public”. So if no one had complained and pointed out the hypocrisy of excluding people you want money from, would management have done anything? Why were they not more careful considering the vile race politics involved in the whole saga of “free” tertiary education over the last three years? Or perhaps did the people signing off on the programme agree somewhat with the organisers, and now they have apologised for this “oversight”.

We cannot tiptoe politely around the topic, not when self-styled “activists” wish to perpetuate what human beings have been so good at – excluding and vilifying other human beings classed as “other”. This kind of behaviour has no place in a so-called progressive society, let alone an institution which has proclaimed itself to be beholden to liberal values. If certain people wish to stew in their historical “pain”, so “traumatised” by black oppression that they only wish to inflict something similar on those with a different colour skin, we can only vehemently oppose their backward and retributive ideas, not limply apologise for their childish behaviour. Otherwise, what separates ourselves from the forefathers with the power to subjugate those classed as “other”?