The Black Body: (still) a site of oppression?

The month of March is human rights month. After almost 25-years of democracy, does South Africa have a healthy human rights culture?

The global history of colonialism, and anti-black racism specifically, is in important respects a history of sustained and multiple assaults on black bodies. These assaults range from physical assault, psycho-social assault and also, among other forms of oppression, political and economic subjugation.

Today, the Lonmin-Marikana massacre and Life Esidimeni define human rights in South Africa. The images of human beings killed in a hail of bullets ripped through our awareness, the preventable deaths of children in pit latrines and mostly black patients dying in state-sponsored mental health facilities, raises consciousness about the hard truth that the right to life and other Constitutional rights are still denied to many who are Black, poor and working class.

According to a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report released last year racism and infringements of socio-economic rights were the most reported human rights violations in South Africa for the 2016/2017-year.

The report revealed that for many poor black people, for example, farm and domestic workers, in South Africa, racism is a part of the daily fabric of their lives, and they remain vulnerable to racist treatment and name-calling, and race-based attacks.

In the light of the above, the Apartheid Museum will host a dialogue on the 21st of March entitled: The Black Body: (still) a site of oppression?

This forum will explore what it means, despite our impressive local political history of fighting for the recognition of the inherent dignity of all people – now enshrined in our progressive constitution – what life is (still) like for black South Africans twenty-five years after the transition out of apartheid? How much, really, has changed? And how big or small is the gap, now, between human rights jurisprudence, and anti-black lived realities.

The discussion will feature Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Prof Kopano Ratele, Prof Pumla Gobodo- Madikizela and moderated by radio personality Eusebius McKaiser.