'Colour still shapes how we think'

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

A public forum debating the role of exclusive organisations has highlighted the complexity of racial identity in South Africa, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) said yesterday.

"It made it clear that blackness and whiteness still shape who we are, how we think and how we organise ourselves," said HRC chairman Jody Kollapen.

Kollapen said that the debate emphasised the need to vigo- rously interrogate issues of reco- nciliation and transformation in the country.

He said reconciliation on its own was "romantic and unrealistic" and that the debate provided an opportunity to begin the process of transformation.

"I can't glibly say we are a rainbow nation. We need to be a rainbow nation but much has to be done before we get there," said Kollapen.

Talk Radio 702 news editor Katy Katopodis, who lodged the complaint against the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ), said the forum was "worthwhile" but that it should not be a platform for personal attacks.

"We can never discuss these issues without emotion, but that does not give the right for emotional and scathing attacks," said Katopodis.

Abbey Makoe, the interim chairman of the FBJ, defended the objectives of the forum.

"We shall exercise our right and freedom of assembly. We have never been guided by a hatred for whites but we will inevitably respond to challenges of transformation that affect us as black journalists."

On whether the FBJ would admit white but "like-minded" journalists in the future, Makoe said: "It is not up to me as an individual to decide.

"But going forward, it may be something that the members may consider in the future."