On 25 March 2019 the Commission partnered with Freedom Park to host a closed expert dialogue on so-called “coloured” identities in response to graduating tensions in these communities.
The dialogue was intended to enquire into the claims of socio-economic exclusion and neglect of the “coloured” community; to enquire into the continued relevance of racial markers separating these groups and the implications on social identities for these community members; to identify key priority areas in promoting social cohesion in the affected communities and finally to craft a strategic and informed way-forward with the aim of promoting social cohesion and equitable access to resources.
The dialogue was a closed meeting between Freedom Park, the Commission and relevant experts with expertise on the abovementioned questions/issues the main purpose of which was to capacitate the Commission on improved strategic interventions. This dialogue was the first of many future engagements on this subject and the Commission will in due time expand the discussion to include the affected community members.
25 years after the birth of our democracy we indeed find ourselves in the most critical moment in South Africa. We must either take serious and collective efforts to address the injustice of our disturbing past and do the honest work of building an inclusive and restorative democracy based on human dignity and equality, or we will indeed be confronted with the consequences of the unravelling and alienation that results from dreams that have been deferred for segments of our society. We believe it is time we seriously interrogate the conditions and representation of the so called “coloured” community in our national narrative.
While there has been mainstream discussion about the disparity between black and white South Africans, the Commission in collaboration with Freedom Park has recognised an increasing need to hold a dialogue with relevant stakeholders to interrogate the political, economic and social dynamics in particularly the poorer “coloured” communities – which has led to this contentious situation that is often positioned along racial lines.
As a society we must come to terms with the deep-seeded legacies of the Apartheid system of racial discrimination, group areas, dispossession and forced removals, and other evils.
The dialogue was a first step in the process of reflecting, rebuilding a national narrative that is inclusive and based on equality, human dignity and the advancement of human rights and freedoms for all.
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Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission