'I try to get people to feel discomfort but then I also give them the opportunity to discuss that discomfort so that we can understand where it comes from,' said Edwin Cleophas. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus
'I try to get people to feel discomfort but then I also give them the opportunity to discuss that discomfort so that we can understand where it comes from,' said Edwin Cleophas. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

'We know who finds it difficult to speak about unlearning racism'

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

Share this article:

Cape Town - An event to bring individuals from different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnic groups together to discuss how full inclusivity can be attained in South Africa was held on Saturday.

Link2Grows’ “Old wisdom, young energy: Community Interactive Conversation” was hosted at the Good Hope Seminary High School during anti-racism week, which commenced on March 14.

Facilitated by managing director at the Social Justice Agency and EduPsychSA, Edwin Cleophas, topics such as discrimination, inherent biases, privilege, white supremacy and guilt were discussed and debated in a safe space.

Cleophas said the engagement was meaningful and impactful. “There were different reactions so people were definitely triggered by some of the words. I try to get people to feel discomfort but then I also give them the opportunity to discuss that discomfort so that we can understand where it comes from and where we need to take it.

“What I do and what I speak about is largely to promote social cohesion and transformation. I don’t find it difficult to speak about because it affects me daily.

“We know who finds it difficult to speak about this but often we are not allowed to say it because then we are accused of polarising our society, as if it is not,” said Cleophas.

Cleophas said despite political freedom having been achieved, the majority of people of colour remained economically and physically excluded.

The event, the fourth of its kind, has participants seated in small intimate groups, and gives each person a chance to talk about their experiences of racism and other related issues.

“It was a very informative session. We had a chance to voice what we think about racism and to unlearn stuff. As a black person I need to unlearn some lies and start seeing myself as this capable person,” said attendee Siziphiwe Ndyilivane, 27.

Link2Grows founding member Suzanne Leighton said: “We’ve called the event inclusivity because we want to think about what we want to achieve through inclusivity, but actually we’re addressing big things like white superiority and inherent racism.”

@TheCapeArgus

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Share this article: