If FBJ is racist, what about other exclusive groups?

The Forum of Black Journalists, agree with its re-launch or not, has made a grand entry, albeit not without controversy.

The Forum of Black Journalists, agree with its re-launch or not, has made a grand entry, albeit not without controversy.

Whether I agree with its formation or relevance 14 years into democracy is beside the question at this point.

But it is imperative that the record should be set straight right from the outset.

First, it is the democratic right of anyone to choose who he or she wants to associate with.

Second, I sense a lot of mischief from the forum's (FBJs) detractors, namely the white journalists who labelled it racist.

The FBJ, rightly or otherwise, made its intentions clear from the beginning: Black journalists still need to get together to discuss their craft and how opinion is influenced by the movers and shakers of South Africa.

Cardinally, the FBJ said, whatever would be discussed at its sessions would be strictly off the record and not for publication.

So, it would be the same when ANC president Jacob Zuma was invited as the FBJ's guest last Friday.

Ben Said of e.tv and other white journalists who went to the Sandton gathering knew exactly what to expect, but they went all the same.

Initially they blamed poor Zuma for addressing an exclusively black group, with some saying he should have refused to speak and that it did not bode well for his state presidential ambitions, blah, blah, blah...

Zuma, for once, was right when he responded by saying he had been invited and would not refuse because he had addressed many other diverse groups before.

Indeed he was right, because he has.

Why I say Said and the others were mischievous is that I smell a rat, and I mean double standards here.

And this begs a question.

Why don't they baulk at other exclusive groups such as AfriForum, a conglomerate of Afrikaner organisations, which includes its powerful union Solidarity and the Afrikaanse Taal, Kuns en Kultuurvereniging, otherwise known as ATKV?

Many did not even as much as whimper when only this past Saturday AfriForum laid trespassing charges against ANC MP Butana Komphela and the mayor of Frankfort.

This after Komphela drove into Hoërskool Wilgerivier's sports grounds "illegally".

I guess e.tv viewers and the FBJ's white critics regard the Jewish Board of Deputies as racist.

Another dimension to this saga is the claim by black journalists who walked out in solidarity with their white colleagues at the meeting.

Some of those who walked out said they were called "coconuts" - a term referring to people who are "black outside, but white inside" - and are now fuming.

Now the overworked South African Human Rights Commission has another load added to its burden of investigating discrimination claims.

I wonder if the commission will win this one.

But it would be interesting to know what readers or the public in general feel about the exclusivity of the FBJ.

Also, what needs to be scrutinised is the notion that opinion is still dominated by white journalists in this country, even after 14 years of democracy and a Constitution that guarantees freedom for all.

Therefore, under the microscope, I submit, should be the question whether the black journalist is still an oppressed species in this new nonracial dispensation?