[OPINION] We want people to share how they've challenged racism - Derek Hanekom

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 marks the beginning of Anti-Racism week in SA, which will come to an end on Human Rights Day on 21 March.

An appeal has been put forward by the Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA) encouraging South Africans to do their bit to combat racism.

The hashtag created is #TakeOnRacism.

ARNSA is a network of some 60 organisations in South Africa, and is spearheaded by the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations.

It aims to tackle the scourge of racism at a grassroots level by organising all sectors of society into a united front against racism.

Derek Hanekom, Chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation recalls, in an article published last year, struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada saying that “the fight for non-racialism, equity and equality is not short-term work, but generational work. It requires a united effort, and a lifetime of commitment…”

He says the commitment displayed by the generation symbolised by people like Ahmed Kathrada, is required by today’s generation to eliminate the vestiges of apartheid- institutional and attitudinal racism.

The purpose of Anti-Racism Week is to call on people to learn, speak and act against racism.

Individuals and organisations are encouraged to do something within their own means and capacity to challenge racism.

Hanekom suggests schools, faith based organisations and business could host engagements against racism while sporting teams may host games dedicated to Anti-Racism week.

It is reported that The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) dealt with 505 complaints on racism - an 82% increase from the previous financial year.

This may point to increased awareness on reporting racism, which is a positive factor.

Hanekom says, however, that we should be asking if 500 cases about racism were reported to the SAHRC, what about the incidents that have not been reported?

Several weeks ago, the SAHRC listened to presentations from various organisations on racism and social media in South Africa.

The Kathrada Foundation's submission detailed a collation of social media and online race-related issues. Penny Sparrow and the Pretoria Girls High stories featured in the top ten social media and online news stories of the year, indicating that these incidents - both closely linked to racial issues - remained a major talking point for South Africans.

Derek Hanekom, Chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Incidents of racism over the last year should leave us deeply disturbed.

Derek Hanekom, Chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

The Foundation has also noted that social media both reflected and influenced reality and racial perceptions.

It suggests changing racial attitudes, tackling structural racism and leveling inequality are the long-term goals and must be factored into solutions.

One of many solutions is having ongoing national debate and action against racism, for which Anti-Racism Week provides a platform.

We must unite to build one nation, in one South Africa.

Walter Sisulu, Anti-apartheid struggle veteran

This Anti-Racism Week, we should all be asking ourselves what we are doing today to ensure that post-apartheid racism is challenged in all its forms.

Derek Hanekom, Chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Hanekom urges South Africans commit to #TakeOnRacism with greater determination.

*This letter has been edited

Derek Hanekom is Minister of Tourism. He writes in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

For more information about the Anti-Racism Network South Africa, visit www.kathradafoundation.org or follow @AntiRacismNet on Twitter

Share ideas on how you have tackled racism by emailing info@kathradafoundation.org

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